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Lessons on Inclusion and Accessibility at Advertising Week New York

Women in media and advertising are all too familiar with fighting for a seat–and a voice–at the table. The silver lining is that once they’ve been seated, the fight doesn’t stop. Many of these women continue to make space for those who are underrepresented.

At Infillion, two of our core values are inclusivity and empathy. We strive to create a sense of belonging for all our employees and clients and honor the vast differences that make us better, in both our products and our culture. And that starts at the top; our CMO, Laurel Rossi, is a results-driven  advocate for women and people with disabilities in the workforce, and is eager to spread the word about how others can be advocates, too. During Advertising Week New York last week, Laurel sat down with Dara Marshall, the Head of JPMorgan Chase Brand Management, in a discussion entitled Off Script: How Female Leaders are Humanizing Stories, Trailblazing Journalism, and Pioneering Change in Media and Marketing, led by Joi-Marie McKenzie, Insider’s Editor-in-Chief.

The panel shed some light on how female leaders are shaping the future of media, marketing, and DEI efforts. Laurel and Dara spoke on their experiences working tirelessly toward inclusive and accessible evolution in the industry, with advice on some of the following:

The workplace must evolve in order for marketing and advertising to stay on pace.

Look around you. We are an industry looking to reach all kinds of individuals, so shouldn’t our agencies be made up of all kinds of employees? 

Laurel is the co-founder and Executive Chair of Creative Spirit, a nonprofit organization devoted to finding fair-wage jobs for individuals with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual, developmental, and learning disabilities (IDDs) who are profoundly unemployed. 

She spoke about her work connecting this organization with multiple agencies and companies, to not only make the workplace inclusive of individuals with IDD, but to make it fully integrated – physically, functionally and culturally. Through this work, Creative Spirit has helped place 1,100 individuals in positions across the industry.

Including people from all backgrounds makes advertising and marketing more accessible across the board. Not only is it the “right thing” to do, but everyone is part of the market. When the individuals putting thought into each brand and strategy look like those they’re targeting, ads ring true and feel authentic. 

As Dara mentioned, advertising has had to evolve to reach consumers that want to see themselves in branding–and not just as a one-off. She stressed that tone of voice, casting and messaging cannot just be “seasonal.” Brands need to show how they continually serve the society of today, reflecting truths about class, race, gender, sexuality, and more.

Triple the bottom line? Make it quadruple.

Infillion’s interactive canvas makes the most of user attention. Users must opt in to view one of our ads on a streaming platform, choosing this over the typical commercial break of multiple TV spots. And we don’t take that attention lightly. User feedback helps us tailor the ad experience to make it more relevant and interactive.

Humanizing campaigns gives them room to resonate. And that resonance isn’t just on one level; it moves beyond the financial bottom line. We’ve especially seen this on social media, which has become an integrated part of any ad campaign. With regard to this, Laurel brought up the importance of the “triple bottom line,” a sustainability-based accounting method. Infillion works with existing brand campaigns, and expands upon them by building out interactive elements and providing clients with metrics that allow for optimization. In this way, a campaign highlighting the “first female NFL coach” amplifies its empowering message on multiple platforms. This is what Laurel foresees as “making the bottom line more than triple, but quadruple or more.”

Inclusion is never a burden.

Sure, both Laurel and Dara are challenging everyone to work towards improved DEI. But this work should never feel like a burden. Instead, inclusion will lighten the load for everyone, as more informed discussion around a wider table can only result in more authentic marketing that more effectively reaches the desired consumer. In turn, the consumer feels heard and seen, and their needs can be met.

Our industry is one small sector serving a multitude of communities, and community impact matters. How can we positively impact the community, using our penchant for authentic storytelling? Infillion takes its social responsibility seriously, putting thought into action via TrueGiving, our charitable arm. TrueGiving pairs with community-based organizations and nonprofits to develop completely pro bono digital campaigns meant to garner donations and spread awareness beyond the usual channels. Empowering these organizations through targeted advertising allows them to be included alongside big for-profit players in ad campaigns of a caliber they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

Pro bono work is just one way of community building. On a personal level, we can make an impact by bringing our true selves to the workplace, inviting others to do the same. When asked a final question of their best advice to help others do as they do, Dara Marshall emphasized, “Show up as who you are. Authenticity and diversity of voices matter.” Laurel followed up by encouraging all those listening to “follow their passions and be vocal about them.” 

In a world where authentic, inclusive storytelling is the way forward, humanizing the workplace humanizes the work.

Want to learn more about being at the forefront of advertising, retail, and shopping trends? Follow Infillion on LinkedIn for our latest research and insights.


Oct 16 - 23 2023

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