Havas creative director Nick Elliott is utilizing his talents and network to encourage all advertising professionals to use their digital platforms to spotlight black talent.
While this is not an “official” Havas initiative, many of his colleagues at the agency, as well as those from Wunderman Thompson and Facebook, are assisting with the endeavor.
The “Link it Black” project takes the form of the website linkit.black designed to resemble a letter to the industry. The site features embedded links to diverse talent directories, as well as a video that illustrates different ways for professionals to include them on their personal website or profile.
Elliott’s visual acumen is evident with the consistent black square featured across most of the imagery. This design “really seemed to catch on but didn’t have any action associated with it,” he says. “So we wanted to make sure that whatever we did had a simple, concrete way to take action baked in. For people at all levels and in any discipline.”
To help boost participation, agencies — along with the industry’s biggest holding companies — have been tagged on Instagram @linkitblack, where they are encouraged to share the message with their employees.
While Elliott is spearheading this effort, it is a joint collaboration among a diverse group of talented friends. They originally began discussing developing a platform to reflect their own journeys in advertising and how their creative output, along with career trajectories, essentially amounted to what they’ve made of the opportunities they had been given. “Of course not everyone has the same access to opportunity, especially in this business,” explains Elliott.
The conversation then evolved into transferring some of that opportunity that seems to flow in one direction “toward this very insular, some might say privileged, group of people” and redirect it in another direction, he says. “Personal digital platforms felt like an interesting use of media, since it’s ultimately our own networks that hold the key who ‘gets in,’” states Elliott.
Although he admits it is challenging to tackle side projects on top of one’s normal job, “this is something we are all passionate about, so in the end making time was easy.”
The intent is for everyone who works in advertising to use these platforms not just as a means for self-promotion, but to help draw attention to underrepresented talent. “The hope is that people embrace the idea and make it their own.”