Had an interesting experience at the Eurobest Festival of European Creativity, the European arm of the Cannes Lions Festival, recently in Rome. I was hosting an ‘in conversation’ session with economist and broadcaster Dr Noreena Hertz on our work together and her research on Gen K (or Gen Z – 14-21 year olds). Noreena spoke with insight and eloquence on the difference between this generation and their slightly older Millenial brothers and sisters (see www.webershandwick.co.uk for more details on our Gen K insights work). High on her agenda was GenK’s fear of debt, and very different relationship with brands.
Literally the next session after was on another generational issue, where my IPG colleague Nicky Bullard, chair and CCO of MRM-Meteorite, spoke passionately on “Ageism, our shocking idiotic prejudice.” She kicked off with a series of short films from multi-award-winning advertising creative gurus saying “you won’t hire me”, because they were over sixty.
Then, to make her point to the largely millennial audience, she got us all to stand up.
Then she got everyone in the audience who were under thirty to sit down. A number did. Then she got everyone under forty to sit down. The majority did. Then she got everyone under fifty to sit down. About a dozen of us were left standing. Then she got everyone under fifty five to sit down. Yours truly was the last man or woman standing – though looking round I could tell I wasn’t the only one over fifty five, just that I was the only one with the balls to stand up and admit it!
Nicky’s point wasn’t just the idiocy of disregarding talent and experience, which Sir John Hegarty has written on in Campaign recently. It was also – and this linked back to Noreena and my earlier session on GenK and their fears around debt, financial insecurity and AI stealing their jobs – that in the breathless chase for the young and increasingly financially strapped audience, marketeers were ignoring the fact that one third of tablets are now owned by people over fifty, and within twenty years in the UK the over fifties will control over 75% of the wealth.
Going back to Nicky’s point on the waste of creative skills and experience, she is setting up what she calls The Cross Project, to have older creatives who would otherwise be sacrificed on the alter of youth mentor young entrants to the marketing industry, while those young entrants mentor their older partners in new social media developments and strategies. Perfect synergy.
I have written before on my strong support for reverse mentoring, going back to when Twitter was first launched and I got the youngest member of our then fledgling social media team to mentor me in engaging on SoMe.
Full praise to Nicky for her project and for speaking out on another aspect of the diversity debate raging within advertising and marketing.