Bravery in Advertising – What Does It Look Like in 2020 from Bevan Mahaney, CD, GREY West

From Member Bevan Mahaney, Creative Director, Grey West

How do you define bravery in advertising? 

Bravery comes long before the work is made. It starts by speaking up and having difficult conversations in the rooms where ideas are shared and discussed.

Bravery is pushing for inclusivity and representation and not settling for less because it’s easier or less awkward.

Bravery is not parroting culture, but leading culture.

Bravery is telling a client they need to rework their business model when they are asking for a manifesto.

Bravery is not being afraid to lose the pitch, risk the business, compromise your polite good standing in order to create work that shifts culture in a progressive direction.

Who are leaders that are inspiring you to be brave during this time?

Every single person that protested, posted, debated and spoke out during awkward family zoom calls to be an anti-racist.

Female leaders of countries that quickly and efficiently addressed COVID.

Can you name a brand that has received positive feedback from their bravery, recently?

Eternally Nike. But pretty incredible to see NFL apologize to Colin Kapernick after Nike stood by his bravery from day one.

I also paid close attention to the brands that boycotted Meta/Instagram for their failure to stop the spread of hate on their platforms (Adidas, Ford, Microsoft and many more.)

Everything Ben & Jerry’s does in standing for much more than ice cream.

How can marketers and agencies better work together to create a positive impact?

Create and nurture (on a daily basis) cultures where people are encouraged to speak up and challenge the ways things are done. Let’s ask the questions, are we doing enough? Are we taking action? Are we having the difficult conversations?

We can have the biggest impact on culture when we start by fixing our own agency structures and behaviors.