Employee Login

Enter your login information to access the intranet

Enter your credentials to access your email

Reset employee password


The Confidence to Take the Right Risk

February 28, 2024
By Lauren Winter

The power of the collective.

For too long, agencies have been pitted against each other and tension in communications to capture attention has been taught, but as I listened to people from all walks of life at the recent Unstereotype Alliance Global Member Summit, the message was clear: let’s do this together.

I was honoured to be provided with the opportunity to talk amongst such esteemed company at the annual event. The Unstereotype Alliance is an initiative convened by the UN to unite advertising industry leaders, decision makers and creatives to end harmful stereotypes in advertising. My panel discussed the perils of saying and doing nothing for the communities who brands wish to speak to and how brands can be brave and shift out of arrested development. The following is a summary of my key points.

Examine and act on your core values. Often, brands look to avoid reputational loss —  but they miss the reputational gain also. A lot of the time we need to look at our core values; for most humans that’s a challenge, let alone brands with multiple layers of approvals.  Reflective change can feel nearly impossible, but for people to buy into you, they need to know where you’re coming from, which might mean you need to stop thinking about being right for the moment and evolve for the longer term.

Bring everyone to the table. Creating that internal culture of change will allow you to start to feel brave when talking to the outside world and when you’re being brave, you’re taking an element of risk, and that’s OK — you just want to have confidence to take the right risk and that’s where you need to add the EQ to the IQ. Adding that emotionally intelligent person to the table, the person who is culturally connected and who’s a part of the communities you wish to speak to, or curious about them, will give you the confidence to be bold.

That emotional intelligence has layers and is intuitive, and unlike AI, is better at predicting the unpredictability of humans. These people can assess campaigns through what we coin here at FleishmanHillard as our cultural mapping approach — the three E’s: Empathy, Earnestness and Empowerment. It’s a powerful lens for your brand and bottom line. 

Think about the long game. Marketing professions are familiar with the concept of pace. When piggy-backing, news-hijacking and jumping on trend bandwagons, the need to have sincerity when dealing with communities is often unconsidered. Culture has roots and longevity. A brand’s integrity when mapping to culture is more important than the speed. As June Ambrose, renowned creative director, said at the summit — impact takes intention.

Be brave. There’s a rising amongst the youth that feel there’s a lack of originality out there — as famed record producer Mark Ronson suggested, part of originality is just evolving the story for the next generation. Does the current state of affairs and the frozen position many brands find themselves in attribute to the bland over the bold? By brands shifting their mindsets from talking about their own benefits to being an activist for others, they can have the full force of youth on their side.

In closing, keep in mind that to have a platform is a privilege. Sima Bahous, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and executive director of UN Women, made the following suggestions:

  1. Invest in gender equality and you accelerate progress
  2. Highlight the youthful voices
  3. Commit to accountability

It sounds simple but too often forgotten and with the power of our communications, we can be bold and push the agenda for others and our clients – a win-win!