Black-owned inventive company Motnreal hopes to rework the advertising and promoting trade
MONTREAL – Creative Director Ash Phillips and brand strategist Miro LaFlaga are looking for change and embracing it.
The duo founded Six Cinquieme in 2018 to create a space for black creatives to work in, noting that various messages weren’t as valued as mainstream white messages.
With the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting in devastating detail the need for businesses to get online, the creative team of two has seen increasing demand for their services.
Your service also sheds light on topics in the industry that go beyond the health crisis.
“One thing we do notice is that many agencies lack diversity internally and that is then reflected outwardly in the type of work they produce,” said LaFlaga.
The two have been in the industry since 2016 and have noticed that companies often make awkward, nasty mistakes in their campaigns that you wouldn’t expect in 2021.
For example, when the Quebec government teamed up with the Montreal Canadiens in 2020 on a commercial with the tagline “Towards COVID-19” (We’re all on the same team against COVID-19).
However, for minorities in Quebec who are not white, the “team” does not appear to include them based on the ad.
“I wasn’t on that team, in this ad,” said Phillips. “That makes us wonder who the people who created this ad are. Was your team, the production team, diverse? There’s a big division there.”
“We have to respond to diversity and inclusion now,” said Marjolaine Merisier, who runs the Black Owned Montreal Instagram page. “Consumers are a diverse group of people and they look for marketing agencies to involve and represent them.”
Merisier said many of the companies featured on her website started working for other companies but started their own businesses after not being taken seriously or clearly heard in the mainstream industries.
“They have to climb the corporate ladder and once they get there they find that their voice has been found out and they are not as valuable as the homogeneous group they are facing,” she said. “This is often the breaking point when deciding whether to spend a decade in this field or make the transition to starting my own black-owned business.”
Fabiola Geneste is one of those entrepreneurs.
She runs the Haitian catering company Lakay Lola and hired Six Cinquieme to build her brand.
“I specifically wanted to work with people from the black community, and I particularly like what they brought with them,” said Geneste.
When Geneste spoke about her brand, she said Phillips and LaFlaga already understood the troubles of being a black-owned company in Quebec.
“They knew the certain struggles I might already be having within the company trying to start a business and the visual elements I wanted to push forward,” said Geneste.
According to LaFlaga, the blame does not always lie in the boardroom or corporate management, as the creative teams can play a role in creating campaigns with more or less different representations.
“It’s easy to blame companies,” said LaFlaga. “The companies also have a responsibility, but the agencies and the creative teams also have a responsibility to play. We were involved in projects and we lacked a specific representation and we approached them. It’s like ‘Yo. We have me.” gotta change that. This doesn’t look good. This is not a representation of the world and they would listen to us.
LaFlaga said it is often unconscious that companies simply fail to realize that their imaging and advertising are not diverse.
“When you grew up in your life and that’s all you know, it’s a kind of subconscious mind. That’s why it’s very important to have different people from different backgrounds to question these beliefs, or at least your mind for different ones Open up perspectives. “He said. “A big change is needed in this environment.”
Phillips added that the goal is to create products that meet everyone’s needs, not just those who look like you.
“It’s about accessibility,” she said.
Phillips pointed out that adding multiple perspectives, along with adding cultural and moral value, is directly good for business.
“When we live in our own reality and are in our own bubble, we can sometimes get lost in it and be completely blind to the realities of others,” she said. “It’s about opening our eyes and having that mindset to deliberately involve others in what we do and see that as value rather than an extra task or step.”
For black entrepreneurs like Geneste, they found it more convenient when someone understood their products and their culture without having to explain anything in order to promote their food.
Food is all over Montreal and Quebec, but not as represented as it could be.
“We have these amazing restaurants, we have these amazing foods and dishes,” she said. “People may be reluctant to go to a Haitian or Caribbean restaurant because it’s the kind of food I don’t like, because I don’t know the ingredients, but there is a reason for it.”