M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment brings DE&I offer to forefront

Three men stand outside and cheer into a microphone
M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment: Coca-Cola spot celebrated the unifying power of football

Agency will work with brands to deliver inclusive projects in an authentic and credible way.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment has formalised its diversity, equity and inclusion expertise so it can work with brands to deliver inclusive and credible projects.

Headed by Jodie Fullagar, the agency's joint managing director, the specialism is called Step Up and is a commitment to making "passions more equitable".

The worlds of sport and entertainment have systemic, endemic barriers to inclusion for many marginalised groups, according to the agency. Therefore it will work with brands, their cultural positions and audiences to tackle these barriers.

Although the offer is now being formalised as Step Up, Fullagar explained that it is a natural evolution that has been sparked by the agency's internal DE&I strategy along with projects, initiatives and campaigns developed organically with client partners.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment's purpose-led campaigns include "Cricket has no boundaries" for NatWest's England Cricket team sponsorship; "Where Everyone Plays" for Coca-Cola's partnership with the Premier League; and most recently "Re-setting the dancefloor" for Ballantine's True Music platform.

The agency's decision to formalise as Step Up follows a strategic partnership with consultancy Utopia, which has played a pivotal role in establishing strategic culture-change programmes within the agency and across its work with clients.

Step Up will be integrated across the entire business with on-hand expertise from M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment's D&I advisory group and the senior leadership team. The goal is to have the majority of its clients delivering D&I initiatives.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment will be ensuring brands go beyond superficial claims to create long-lasting change, working with people with authentic voices.

Fullagar said: "Having worked with Ballantine's over the past year to champion diversity and inclusion within music culture, we have witnessed the positive transformations brands can provoke when there is a passion for meaning and purpose within the organisation.

"The worlds of sport and entertainment continue to be inherently un-inclusive; it is therefore a cultural and creative necessity for brands leveraging these passions for brand relevancy, to step up and build equity in and through the passions they represent. Brands must start participating in driving the change we all long to see; and we're excited to be a part of this journey with our clients."

The agency describes its commitment to inclusivity as extending beyond client campaigns, with support given to a pro-bono programme supporting black-owned enterprises, businesses and organisations within sport and entertainment. It also holds positions on women's sports organisational bodies and has an official partnership with Limitless Live, a social purpose music festival.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment's four-member senior leadership team is equally split on gender but is 100% white. Its board is 30% female and 100% white, and its business directors are 14% non-white with a 50:50 split female to male ratio. The agency provides this data in an open letter on its website as a commitment to change and has stated that its representation statistics are simply not good enough.

Addressing the diversity stats, Fullagar told Campaign the agency was on a journey and was dedicated to finding the right people. Recognising the importance of diversity and its ability to bring about the best work, this year M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment is actively looking for a diverse candidate to become a board-level director. 

Last month M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment was appointed by Barclays as its sports marketing partner.

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