Matthew Chapman
Oct 20, 2017

M&C Saatchi creative chief sparks diversity debate

A creative leader drew ire for saying he was "bored with diversity being prioritised over talent" in a Campaign UK column.

Justin Tindall has since apologised.
Justin Tindall has since apologised.

A heated diversity debate is raging in the UK after a top creative expressed his "boredom" with diversity in a Campaign column. He has since apologised.

Senior figures including Ford brand chief Musa Tariq and Airbnb’s former top marketer Jonathan Mildenhall have all jumped into the debate.

In the controversial Campaign UK column raging about his boredom with the industry Tindall said: "I'm bored. Bored of how toothless, gutless and increasingly anodyne our industry has become. Bored of diversity being prioritised over talent. Bored of creative sobriety."

Outrage has been stirred by Tindall’s comment about his view on diversity.

Tariq labelled Tindall’s comments "embarrassing" and said he was "seriously out of touch".

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Mildenhall simply said in response to Tindall’s article: "And another one bites the dust…".

Debate has been stirred up across social networks with Tariq’s comment coming in response to Ogilvy UK planning partner James Whatley asking "BAME/Women at M&C – how does this make you feel?".

Campaigner and former Bartle Bogle Hegarty US president Cindy Gallop reposted Whatley’s tweet on LinkedIn, sparking over 150 comments including Sabrina Bailey-Navalon stating that Tindall’s column "probably reflects what many already think but haven’t actually written or verbalised it".

Gallop also reposted an image that replaced the word "bored" with "scared".

Emma Brooke, who claims she used to work for Tindall, said: "This generic old-school ad man opinion is why so many women like me leave advertising. It's too tiring to work with such inflated egos."

Alan Brydon, the former OutSmart head, sided with Tindall’s viewpoint and asked "shouldn’t talent be the prime determinant of recruitment and career development".

However, this led Havas Media's former group chief executive Paul Frampton to respond: "Yes in an equal inclusive world".

Andy Gill, content director at VCCP Kin, commented on the original Campaign article, to say the diversity comment had "caused consternation with many of my colleagues".

Gill said: "At first, I thought it was most likely a slightly clumsy but deliberately controversial statement, designed to make people sit up and take notice/form opinion/react. That's what we do in this industry, right? But if that was the intention, the more I thought about it, the more dangerous I felt it was.

"As someone in a position of leadership within the creative industries, you have the opportunity to excite and empower the people you employ. But more than that, you have a responsibility to nurture, to develop, and to enable. It's such an easy option to say 'let's just pick the best person for the job'. It comes from someone who has probably always been picked for the job."

Twitter user Nabeel said that as a BAME creative attempting to make it into the industry "an attitude like this is disappointing".

Nabeel added: "Diversity is not the enemy!"

However, other Campaign readers took Tindall’s comments in jest. 

Luke Wreatham asked: "Is there a Campaign quote of the year? If so, ‘I will happily shallow fry my own lightly buttered testicles’ has it sewn up."

While on Twitter, former TheLadBible marketing director Mimi Turner suggested the argument had been blown out of proportion.

She said: "Ennui avec le toute is understandable. Unless or until Justin Tindall is bored of London, there's no need to call the emergency services."

UPDATE: Justin Tindall apologises over "bored with diversity" comments

Campaign UK

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