As part of ongoing efforts to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion is embedded in its operations, Mediabrands has created a new centralized service called Mediabrands Inclusive Media that will support its Initiative, UM and Media Experts networks.
The made-in-Canada service is headed by Justin Senior, most recently senior vice-president of SAMA Advertising, a Toronto agency focused on Canada’s African, Black and Caribbean market, and one of the co-founders of People of Colour in Advertising and Marketing (POCAM).
Mediabrands said in a release that “cultural gaps” exist within Canada’s media industry that have an impact on the messages that are created, the media outlets used to deliver those messages, and the audiences they reach. “We recognized that to do better by clients, grow audiences from every community, and continue to attract and retain top talent, we needed to prioritize enabling and creating work that reflects and promotes DEI,” it said.
Mediabrands Inclusive Media will provide clients with thought leadership, resources, and data-driven research to make what’s described as “informed and inclusive” media planning and buying decisions. It will focus on building “intentional investment pathways” informed by proprietary research and audience segmentation tools, and will prioritize partnerships with companies offering strong DEI practices and products.
Senior officially joined Mediabrands in February, but said discussions about the new service and what his potential role with the company might look like started late last year.
“I kept hearing it was one of those places people would go and stay,” he said. “I wanted to see what it was like to be part of that environment, and go somewhere that cares about making change in the industry.”
He said that his work with SAMA—where he was surrounded by other people of colour—was a pivotal moment in his professional development that helped shaped how he approaches DEI. “[It provided] the ability to shout from the hilltops all the things we wanted to call out and do something about,” he said. “That stage [of my career] unlocked a lot of personal identity and helped me understand where I could make an impact.”
Calling DEI a “business necessity,” Mediabrands has built its strategy around three key pillars: The people pillar led by head of DEI Rayyan Kamal; the community pillar led by UM Canada CEO Shelley Smit; and the work pillar led by Senior. Mediabrands calls the service an “integral step” in embracing and embedding shared values in its daily work.
While Senior will work with internal agency stakeholders, there will also be a client-facing component to the role. “[M]y day-to-day role will be to help everyone on our planning team and our management team have another perspective, and then if clients would like me in the room for some of those opportunities, I’m happy to be a part of that,” he said.
He said his appointment at one of the country’s largest networks represents an opportunity to help lead and shape the conversation. “I’m there to help everyone win, and be a sounding board for anyone unsure about the right steps forward and help carry the conversations forward in other areas,” he said. “With all of the brilliant minds here, there are too many for us not to be able to figure out solutions for creating a better future in this industry.”
The Mediabrands networks are responsible for a “huge investment” in Canadian media, he added, meaning that this initiative has the potential to shape and impact what Canadian marketing and advertising will look like “for years to come.”
Mediabrands CEO Graham Moysey said that the creation of Mediabrands Inclusive Media is an opportunity for the organization to put the talk around diversity into action and set the bar for how the industry as a whole approaches DEI in practice. “We are very excited to have Justin Senior bring his wealth of experience and passion to the team and believe that clients and partners will see tremendous value in this offering.”