Advertising professionals tackle adland's diversity problem

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 24 June 2021

A collective of professionals from across the advertising industry, representing more than 20 cultural backgrounds, have joined forces to launch #onlyoneintheroom – a platform designed to create a more diverse advertising community.

While Australia is the most diverse country in the world, with 30% of people born overseas, this is not reflected in the advertising industry.

Only 16% of people in advertising are culturally diverse and often, they are the only one in the room.

The collective launches with a fashion parody film featuring real diverse industry talent modelling a line of merch branded #onlyoneintheroom.

The aim is to highlight the homogeneity of the ad industry and rally industry professionals, advertising and media agencies, industry bodies, as well as brands and clients to partner on initiatives to tackle the diversity issue, with the aim of making it ‘the trend we want to end’.

The platform was co-founded by Cocoa Coffee Gunpowder creative partner and founder Ant Melder, M&C Saatchi executive creative director Avish Gordhan and BMF group creative director Pia Chaudhuri.

Melder says: “Our industry can’t correct imbalances overnight, but changemakers are emerging.

"This is a rally-cry for those who want to act.”

Gordhan says: “Whether it’s by offering a voice, recognising the diverse people that are already in the industry, collectively bringing more young diverse talent in, or even working on eliminating biases that can hold diverse people back, we’re looking to partner with like-minded professionals and brands seeking tangible action.”

#onlyoneintheroom has already garnered support.

With TrinityP3, the collective is developing a diversity, equality and includsion (DE&I) Index, designed to give agencies an indication of their own equity and inclusion practices by benchmarking against the general population.

Drawing on expertise and knowledge from industry and academia, the index will help organisations focus on initiatives and programs to improve their results.

Chaudhuri says: “This is just a start, but with the support of other like-minded folk, we’re hopeful there will be real change in the near future. Ultimately, a truly representative advertising community can only enrich our work and workplaces, and speak more effectively to a diverse Australian audience.” 

The film directs to, where people can join the movement, find out more about current initiatives, and buy the merch, with all proceeds going towards funding future projects.

Creative Directors: Ant Melder, Pia Chaudhuri and Avish Gordhan
Creative Team: Nadia Ahmad and Ellie Jones
Senior Account Director: Bryan Bryant-Steeds
Producer: Esta Lau
Production Company: Versus
Director: Jason Sukadana
Executive Producer: Tanya Babic
Post Production: Vs. Studio
Sound Production: Otis Studios
Composition: Lukas Farry
Music Supervision: Camille Yaptinchay
Photographer: Elaine Li
PR: Lu Borges
Talent: Agnes Soliven, Am Lall, Basir Salleh, Bryan Bryant-Steeds, Dana Al Habel, Diane Villavieja, Joelle Dulaurens, Rachel Tse, Sid De and Vanessa Akem

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