Ahead of tonight's British Arrows Awards, we caught up with managing director Janey de Nordwall to find out why diversity is the buzzword for this year's show. She also talks in detail about the launch of their new BAD initiative; British Arrows Doorway, a scheme to get more young and BAME people into advertising.


Why did you decide to focus on diversity with this year's show?

Everyone uses the word 'diversity' but few are doing something about it. It's taken quite a while for us to work out what we are. We're impartial in the advertising industry, we sit right in the middle but we are involved with everybody - the brands, the agencies, post, production and talent - so our little black book is enormous. We knew we had a little black book that's eager to be opened up and pointed in the direction of new talent, but nobody seems to know where to find it.

So, after doing lots of research, we found that young talent doesn't even know the industry really exists. And that's when we realised where we sat. We want to act as the conduit between young people having completed training and the industry, who is looking for industry-ready talent. Sometimes that will include students or kids with no degrees. 

Our BAD initiative launched last month, aims to link with a load of young people through ERIC, the creative careers festival. They've got a database with some 7000 people on their books, who are 50-50 male-female and 60-40 BAME-white who are all creative. 


Why do you think young people aren't attracted to the advertising industry?

They don't know anything about it. They're skipping ads online and see ads as something that gets in the way. Advertising isnt cool or interesting and young people don't understand what it is. They don't understand that it can be a job. 



Where did the acronym BAD come from?

BAD is good and negative is still popular among young people; (I mean, they're still using sick...) BAD can be anything; be it Bold And Daring. We've asked young people and they've come up with their own acronyms.

For us, it means British Arrows Doorway but it could easily have been British Arrows Does Diversity. We liked the metaphor of the doorway; it's a two way street. The industry and young people are mutually going through to find a solution.


How are you getting the industry involved in BAD?

I've been speaking to the Diversity Task Force, led by grey - in which many agencies talk about diversifying the industry through surveys to find out what sort of people are working in the industry. They linked me in and I'm currently working with them on BAD. 



How are the kids involved in BAD involved with tonight's awards?

We pulled together a group of about 14 kids and we got them to form a jury, much like our Arrows and Craft jury. With the young person's jury, we asked them to enter any work from 2017 that they thought was awesome; any sort of global content; anything that moved. We then took out anything that was already in the awards and then judged their nominations. 

It was really interesting going through their picks. There was a lot of work that should have been in the awards but that hadn't been entered. They had included a bit of everything. We have a real perception of what they're like; that they have a short attention span etc; but they haven't really. They will dive into a 15 min film if it's relevant. This is where we gave them a voice, asking them what they actually liked. 

We're also opening tonight's award show with a BAD award judged by those 14 kids. That way, if the industry is trying to make films that connect with young people, they can know what they like.


How has diversity in the industry evolved since last year?

Last year it was very forced on the screen. It was very obvious and it just felt like brands were ticking off quotas. Hopefully this year, it will start falling into place on screen - now that we know diversity, creativity and craftsmanship are the key ingredients to engage young people.


Click here to access the BAD website.