What’s your agency ethos and what impact does it have on creative output?
Culture is our business, at Laundry Service. It’s how we build relationships with people and inspire action. This shapes our perspective, our talent, our relationships and our work. Because we are designed for culture, instead of making ads and hoping for cultural impact, we focus on cultural impact.
That means we create for communities: Old school ad models are focused on exposing consumers to brand messaging. Two problems with that:
“Consumers” is a transactional term that assumes a person’s only purpose is to consume a brand’s product or service. When we create, adapt or innovate, we’re serving communities.
Further, people are smart and have lots of options, so you can’t just force-feed messaging to them. You have to earn their attention, respect, trust and engagement.
How can brands engage different causes authentically without coming off as an opportunist?
Brands can engage authentically by making the cause a part of who they are, and ensuring there’s a long-term plan to continue to support the cause and make a real impact. Anything that “checks a box” and isn’t incorporated into a larger effort will feel opportunistic and disingenuous. We have to get to the point where diversity and inclusion is always considered and “normalized.”
How do you advise your clients to address social and racial justice issues?
I advise them by first providing all of the details, so that they can turn the information into intelligence. The information includes perspective on what the issues are, why they matter, and how the clients can use their platform to bring awareness and ultimately change. I share our social sentiment analysis and the conversation volume so they’re aware of how people feel, the severity of the situation, and the type of impact they can make by doing the right thing.
Are there any specific causes you hold near and dear? What have you been able to do fight for them?
I’ve been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement by advising my clients on the core issues, the long-standing history of systemic racism, personal experiences, and the lasting effects of not only overt racism but covert racism and prejudices/microaggressions. I’m also heavily involved in other efforts such as GLWD (God’s Love We Deliver) which distributes customized meals for the terminally ill, and women-focused organizations such as The Broad Exchange and Girlboss, who seek to bring awareness to gender bias and focus on equal representation and celebration of women furthering their careers.
What do you say to critics that believe brand purpose is just another trend?
I say: that attitude is precisely why it’s important. If this wasn’t an extremely important topic, it wouldn’t have detractors. I have never known a worthy cause that everyone agreed with.
It’s also important for brands to understand that they’re marketing to people who are human beings before they’re consumers. They want to know that they’re spending their hard-earned money with brands that are aligned with their values and are ultimately using their influence, money, and resources to do something that can make a real impact on our country and the world.
Is there any advice you have for creatives in the industry or even within your agency, who are passionate about an issue but aren’t sure what they can do to help?
I will always advise them to research and ask what they can do to help. Researching the issue is an important start, as you often find great resources and information that can tell you where you can help, and what type of help is necessary. Also, connect with someone who may be involved in the issues or may know more than you on the subject. People love to see others get involved and help them fight. There really is power in numbers and every person can play an important role.
Can you give some examples of clients that have adopted a responsible approach? How have they used creativity to help spread their message?
One of my clients in particular has worked diligently to partner with the Black community (who represents a large portion of their consumers) to offer higher education programs, help small business owners, and support the next generation of entrepreneurs. They’ve used their platform to bring awareness and resources, and specifically developed an online academy for higher education and resources.
I am also working with another client that is seeking to represent the LGBTQIA+ community and ensure more inclusive practices in the travel industry. We are using our platform to get the word out about their needs.
Is there a specific campaign for a good cause you worked on that you’re most proud of? Or a favorite campaign from another agency.
I really enjoyed working on Hennessy’s HBCU Grad Party which gave a real celebration to students who didn’t get an opportunity to graduate with their classmates in-person due to COVID-19. We had over 50 celebrities attend the party, share words of wisdom with students, donate to HBCUs, and shed light on their accomplishments.