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Another Way: Why Grassroots Change, Data, and Creativity are Creating a More Diverse Ad Industry


LBB speaks to the founders of content agency, Another, about the company’s raison d'être, award-winning work, and passion for grassroots change on diversity

Another Way: Why Grassroots Change, Data, and Creativity are Creating a More Diverse Ad Industry

Producing brand and advertising content differently has been a core to Another’s value proposition since setting up the business in London in 2002. Co-founders Helen Parker and Tanja Adams identified the significant room for improvement in the traditional ways of sourcing and creating photography, film and social content and saw another way of getting things done more efficiently and with a more authentic and diverse lens behind, and in front, of the camera.

While women make up roughly half of the world’s population, when it comes to purchasing decisions, they’re responsible for around 70-80%. Appealing to women rightly is a key focus for advertisers. Yet while women are targeted as consumers, often the people who do the targeting and are creating campaign content are making educated guesses about this diverse section of the population. 

This is similarly the case to ethnic diversity, as the proportion of ethnically diverse Britons is set to rise to 30% by 2061 (from the current 12%). Today, although images on screens are more diverse than ever, the people who make them still tend to be similarly non-diverse. 

Helen and Tanja set up Another as a content agency with a commitment to supporting greater diversity. They met while working at what was then McCann Erickson before striking out on their own. As two female co-founders in a male-dominated space, diversity was an issue they wanted to make a difference to from the very start. “We learned early on the value a diverse team brings to any project, fundamentally it’s good for business and we wanted to ensure that we’re creating and extending opportunities on our clients’ projects and in our industry as a whole,” explains Helen. 

Another has been successfully helping clients like Guinness, UEFA, and Vodafone create impactful work for two decades. The company offers a full executive production service for brands and creative agencies, TV, stills and content producers, specialising in high quality production and creative solutions with an agile, responsive approach and diverse teams at every stage of the process. With numerous awards already under their belt, Another is also actively working on grassroots initiatives to get more diverse people into the industry, addressing the key challenge of nepotism and unconscious bias in selecting talent  into roles. 

Grassroots change

In their latest bid to improve diversity within the industry, Another is partnering with ERIC, a creative career app, on a series of podcasts about the roles available within the industry. A recent report by ERIC found that 19% of 13-16 year olds in UK schools feel informed about the screen industries as a career path, while 41% of teenagers wish they knew more about the industry overall. 

“There are a lot of jobs that young people don’t know exist in our industry, like a gaffer, and therefore they can’t apply for them. Through these podcasts we want to highlight all the available jobs by speaking to the people who do them and to show that this is a brilliant, creative industry to be a part of whatever your background,” says Helen. ERIC’s grassroots approach of reaching out directly to schools and students closely matches Another’s philosophy: “ERIC has a really diverse audience. It makes complete sense to partner with them to help raise knowledge about the industry.”


Above: still from 
UEFA's We Play Strong campaign

An example of how Another continues to apply their unique lens and purpose-driven approach to client work, both because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s great for business. UEFA's We Play Strong campaign wanted to encourage more women to stick with football into adulthood as it found that many quit in their teens. Another produced the shoot, which took place across four countries, using diverse up-and-coming talent. The campaign went on to win a Cannes Lions award in 2019 in the Multi-platform Social and Influencer category, up against the likes of Nike, Apple, Mars and EA Sports.

A further way that Another is addressing the issue of diversity in the supply chain while helping brands to create truly authentic work is Guinness’s Gender Progression Initiative. Another was asked to help create a film about Cameroon’s female football players' dream of becoming professional footballers with the help of a white British creative director, Simon Friedberg. 

Another suggested a pivot to the brief - enlisting the services of a local Cameroonian creative director, Doreen Funju - with mentorship from Simon instead. The resulting documentary is inspiring and powerful, thanks to the collaborative approach and extra layer of cultural authenticity that Doreen brought to the project; it also gave Doreen the opportunity to work on a project she may not have had the chance to otherwise and receive the experience to land similar roles in the future. Helen highlights that “diversity of thought and talent is absolutely critical in ensuring that brands can be authentic and connect with their entire customer base.”

Shining a light on diverse talent

In 2019, Another took inspiration from Free the Work (formerly Free the Bid) and set up the non-profit Equal Lens to promote female photographers in the industry. The team have spent countless hours visiting photography courses, speaking with the predominantly female students and their lecturers. What they found is that not many of the women on those courses ever make it in the industry. Data backs this up - globally, about three quarters of photography students are women while only 15% go on to work as professional photographers. “After looking through the books of over 70 leading commercial photography agents in the UK, we found that women accounted for less than 25% of those represented, so we set about changing that through Equal Lens”, said Helen.

Recognising that the barriers to our industry start at the entry level, we created the hugely popular Another Production Mentorship Programme, with take-up from pretty much every university in the country. This gives promising diverse undergraduate and postgraduate photographers the chance to gain meaningful real-world experience and contacts by partnering with leading brands. “We really believe that this is a way to give people a way in into the ad industry, which can be hard to do without connections,” says Helen.

Equal Lens aims to change that by championing women and non-binary photographers by showcasing their work. By bringing together under-represented talented and as-yet-unknown candidates in one place on their website, Equal Lens provides clients, producers, creative and picture editors with the opportunity to easily browse, discover, and commission new diverse talent. 

Another is also a keen advocate of data and measurement, tracking diversity on all of their shoots and providing all their clients with a report on the diversity performance. “We really believe in data and oversight because we think it’s the right way to bring a focus on this important issue and ensure accountability across the industry. Giving that knowledge to brands is really important so they have greater visibility on their supply chain and specifically they can see which people were chosen for shoots and the impact of diverse talent”, Helen adds. 

As for what’s next, Another is committed to continue bringing grassroots change to the industry by engaging diverse people, increasing knowledge, and championing the work of creatives from minority backgrounds while producing powerful and thought-provoking work. Such as their project with Vodafone at Cop27. Another was behind the whole concept, helping the brand find diverse talent to best showcase how connectivity across the African continent improves people’s lives. Another sourced African artists and asked them to create artworks based around the theme, which will be on display at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

Creating great work while advocating and creating change isn’t easy, but it’s not something Another is willing to compromise on. “Huge strides have been made in recognising and starting to address the diversity problem in our industry. The big issue remains: how do we increase knowledge at grassroots level and encourage more diverse talent into the industry?” It’s a challenge Another is readily taking on in partnership with progressive brands and organisations. 

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Another Production, Fri, 25 Nov 2022 09:25:43 GMT