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Change The Lens expands campaign to include ad agencies, with Publicis Groupe on board

Change The Lens expands campaign to include ad agencies, with Publicis Groupe on board

Promonews - 2nd Sept 2022

CHANGE THE LENS, the non-profit organisation works to advance the representation of Black people in the commercial and music video film industries to be more reflective of the greater population, has announced a new phase in its mission with the addition of advertising agencies to its roster of pledges, adding that the first agency on board is The Publicis Groupe, with seven of their network’s agencies already agreeing to take Change the Lens’ 15%+ Pledge.

The Change The Lens pledge calls on agencies to have at least 15 percent Black employees, across all levels and departments, including leadership, production, and creative; and to consult with a Head of Diversity and Inclusion - an initiative to provide a critical structure for moving the industry forward and holding companies accountable.

Change the Lens initially launched in July 2020, asking production companies and talent agencies to commit to raising the level of Black talent on their rosters to 15%+. They also asked directors, producers and department heads to pledge to reach this level of Black diversity on every film set. Production companies and talent agencies were also asked to actively consult with a Head of Diversity & Inclusion, a role that would mediate and oversee implementing the diversity pledge within each company.

Now, with more than 70 production companies, 12 talent agencies, and a slew of individual talent agents, directors, producers, and department heads, all committing to the inclusion of Black artists and talent in commercial production, more than 30 new Black directors have been signed to companies on the CTL list.

Rohan Blair-Mangat, one of the founders of Change The Lens, says, “Since we launched the first phase of our pledge in July 2020 we’ve seen great progress in terms of representation for Black filmmakers in production – not just in terms of Black directors signed to commercial rosters but also opportunities for crew across the board. We’re fortified to see the enthusiasm and interest from agencies as we roll out this expanded pledge.

"Thank you to the Publicis Groupe for becoming the first agency group to officially sign on. We look forward to announcing more signings shortly and we welcome agencies to reach out and discuss the new phase of the pledge with us.”

Fellow CTL founder J.M. Harper adds: “Representation within agencies matters. These organizations play a key role, as the originators of the creative and the decision makers when it comes to awarding jobs. At all levels, agencies need the perspectives offered by Black storytellers, creatives and producers.

"Change The Lens will continue to push for equality and equity within our industry. We’re working on an online resource to help support and nurture the next wave of Black talent, funding for projects from young filmmakers and a newsletter that will help us promote talent from within our community to the wider commercial and music video industry.”

Regarding their decision to sign the pledge, Publicis Chief Production Officer Jenny Read says, “In the past few years, we at Publicis Groupe have taken a critical look at ourselves from the inside, while also identifying how we can actively impact progress in the industry as a whole. Change the Lens is doing the hard work and challenging the production community to address the gap of Black talent both internally at our agencies and externally.

"Partnering with CTL allows me to personally effect change in a meaningful way, by implementing change that opens up opportunities to Black talent. And that goes further than a Black person telling a Black story – the true north star is to become culturally fluent to allow opportunity for Black Talent to create and contribute on all subjects.”

Change the Lens was founded by filmmakers Savanah Leaf and J.M. Harper of Park Pictures, Eleanor’s Rohan Blair-Mangat, and Alli Maxwell, Executive Producer at Somesuch. While Black people represent approximately 15% of the United States and London, the representation within the US and UK ad industry is staggeringly low. For instance, Free the Work notes that only 4% of directors signed to US production companies are Black, and only 3% of directors signed to UK production companies are Black. The Bureau of Labor Statistics records only 0.7% of advertising managers were Black in 2019.

Promonews - 2nd Sept 2022

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