It's no secret that bringing in voices from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences can create more innovative and forward-thinking work. Dan Saxby, Managing Director of The Elephant Room, walks us through their strategy of ‘Inclusion by Design’ and how inclusivity powers their work.
Can you give us a brief overview of your structure and some of the clients with whom you work?
We are a creative agency that builds inclusive brands. Brands that genuinely play a meaningful role in people’s lives.
The only way to authentically connect with audiences is to include them in the creative process - engaging them in conversation and working with them to collaborate, guide and launch with advocacy. It’s a philosophy that has guided our entire agency’s way of working since day one. We call it ‘Inclusion by Design’.
Our extensive talent networks bring a mix of non-traditional backgrounds, experiences, ethnicities and skills that enables us to talk to our clients openly and honestly about their brand challenges from different perspectives. We deliver insight that provides inspiration for groundbreaking, culture-making ideas whilst ensuring minority voices are represented and heard.
We’re proud to partner with clients that include Samsung, Barclays, Converse, Puma and Pinterest.
Your elevator pitch please! How do you position your agency to a brand? Why should they work with you – what do you bring to the table?
We set up the agency to address advertising’s elephant in the room - its lack of diversity and inclusion. Since we opened our doors, we have been creating new pathways for under-represented talent into the industry. We continue to ‘walk the talk’ by creating talent platforms that drive learning, inspiration and access in addition to building a global reach through collaboration with our client partners.
Our inclusivity powers our work. We build inclusive brands that reflect the dynamic changes happening in our world and the resulting consumer needs and preferences. We believe brands can deliver commercial growth and be a positive force in the world. We are the living embodiment of that belief and help our clients achieve the same goal.
We partner with clients to ensure their purpose has impact for people, communities, and the brand’s bottom line. A great example of this is our work with Quaker Oats and Magic Breakfast. Or our work with Samsung to help them become more relevant in culture.
We help brands win over new audiences which have previously been rejectors, like our work with Converse to engage teen boys.
And we help clients understand and build trust with under-represented communities, like our work with Clarks through our own One Month Month’s Mentor programme.
Can you talk us through a campaign and how you solved a problem for the client or made a difference to a brand?
We work with many brands to help them find a more meaningful role in people’s lives. For Converse, that was teen boys, with a particular focus on London street culture.
An acute sense of loyalty plays out in the areas where our audience lives. Rather than leaving, they stay and improve it, help build the community and create a legacy. They are intensely proud of the people who champion their ‘ends,’ each member of that community sharing in every success. In our campaign we sought to not only celebrate them, but the area itself.
John Boyega x Converse.
The campaign idea sees John Boyega, a proud and hugely influential star who was born and raised in South London, join forces with Converse to address the lack of Black representation in filmmaking. Together they shine a light on five young, ambitious and undiscovered handpicked Black London filmmakers.
John’s Story: The Last Light On.
The campaign talks to the endless late nights the filmmakers have spent creating, grafting and hoping, as they chase their ambitious futures for themselves. This was also John’s story. Toiling away at night, his and theirs is always the last light on. Our campaign shone a light on this story, inspiring young creatives and filmmakers to follow their journey.
Credibility and impact in culture: The Create Next Film Fund
While the film and surrounding campaign highlights the stories of the five rising stars, this is just the start of the journey. We created a 6-month mentoring programme alongside Bounce Cinema. The project saw John Boyega working alongside mentors from the Converse network and The Elephant Room to provide guidance to the young filmmakers. Each filmmaker was given funding and direction to help create a short film at the end of the project.
Creating a Legacy
In March, we hosted an all-day Premiere at London’s Curzon Cinema where our five filmmakers unveiled their short films for the first time alongside workshops, panels and presentations from an array of talent working in film. This inspirational program and overarching campaign with Converse Media has provided a meaningful and tangible springboard, not only for the filmmakers involved, but also those who saw the campaign. By giving a platform to real people from real communities, we showed that possibilities in film are real, and in turn placed Converse at the heart of that legacy.
Without giving away your secret sauce of course, what does your roadmap for growth look like? Is it, for example, geographic expansion (if location is still a thing), or joining one of the growing indie agency networks? Developing more project work for other clients?
Our secret sauce is not much of a secret - it’s just that we are committed to building a new inclusive agency model with a clear vision of how agencies should work that others find difficult to replicate.
Our ambition is scale. Not in the traditional sense of ‘building a big agency’ but scaling our impact for people, for communities, for talent and for our client’s businesses.
For us, that means scaling our talent platforms internationally and working for ambitious brands that genuinely want to have a positive impact in the world.
And you will be seeing us on the ground in Amsterdam by the turn of the year.