ICA and Bell Media’s contest will celebrate diverse ads

The IDEA competition aims to prove that diversity in front of and behind the camera has benefits for business strategy.
Bell Media-Bell Media and ICA Launch the Inaugural Inclusivity-

To support more diverse advertising work, the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA), in partnership with Bell Media, have launched their inaugural Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity in Advertising (IDEA) competition.

The contest is open to all agencies and brands, and the one that best shows a clear message of diversity and inclusion will receive $1 million worth of media inventory on Bell Media platforms, similar to the prize for the Carte Blanche contest ran by its Astral out-of-home division. But instead of just receiving out-of-home space, creators of the winning entry will have access to TV, radio and digital to carry out their campaign idea.

Entries are also required to be new creative executions and should be able to be executed in both English and French. Though the ICA says it will not be implementing numbers or quotas at this time, entries must exhibit diversity beyond on-camera talent, including with directors, producers, writers and crew who contribute to the campaign.

National and international brands, as well as their agencies, will be evaluated by a diverse panel of judges who will adjudicate their work that celebrates diversity and inclusion through advertising. The ICA and Bell is currently building a steering committee and panel of judges that aims to be representative of marginalized groups, including BIPOC, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities. Further competition info and judging criteria will be announced closer to when entries open in November, with the winner to be announced at some point in the winter.

Scott Knox, president and CEO of the ICA, referred to diversity and inclusion as not just a “global business imperative,” but also “a growth-driving narrative” for Canadian brands and companies. He added in a Tuesday press release that the launch of the IDEA competition is to “bring awareness” to diversity as a business strategy.

“There is research to be found all over the world that tells us that the more diverse our boards, our teams and our creative outputs, the more effective they will be,” Knox tells strategy. “Brands know that authenticity is key – the IDEA Competition will showcase this.” For example, Wall Street Journal research analysts in fall 2019 suggested, after examining diversity and inclusion among S&P 500 companies, that socially diverse groups were more innovative and productive than more homogenous ones.

“Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity simply does not,” Katherine Phillips, Columbia Business School professor, told Forbes in reference to hers’ and other’s research for Scientific American in “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter.”

“We are committed to creating meaningful change in our industry, and this competition aims to encourage greater representation of diverse communities in Canadian media,” said Randy Lennox, the outgoing president of Bell Media, in a release. “We have been working to create a new roadmap for the industry, one that recognizes the added value of BIPOC presence and expertise, and the IDEA completion is one more opportunity to showcase the value of inclusion.”

This is the latest program to fall under the ICA’s IDEA banner for diversity and inclusion initiatives, started in 2017. In June, it launched IDEA Advocates, a facilitated mentorship program aimed at not only helping BIPOC establish themselves in the industry, but to help its member agencies better understand how structural and systemic racism and discrimination can impact talent. The ICA notes that additional judging consideration will be given for entrants that include mentorship opportunities as part of their production.