Kevin Swanepoel


I have been with The One Club for Creativity (TOCC) for 24 years, the last six as CEO overseeing all programming and answering to a Board of Directors made up of top creatives in advertising and design.

The One Club’s mission is to support the global creative community. Revenue generated from our leading global awards shows — The One Show, ADC Annual Awards, TDC Awards, Young Guns, ONE Asia Creative Awards — is put back into the industry to fund more than three dozen annual programs around the world aligned with our four pillars: Education, Inclusion & Diversity, Gender Equality and Professional Development.

Examples of this programming includes ONE School, the free portfolio program for Black creatives; ONE Production free training program to bring greater diversity to the production side; Where Are All The Black People annual diversity conference and career fair now in its 11th year; Creative Boot Camps where students from diverse backgrounds work directly with top creatives; Right The Ratio two-day conference to help advance gender equality in the workplace; Saturday Career Workshops to expose high school students to the potential for careers in creative fields; and many more.

The club has also been responsible for revitalizing two of the design world’s legacy organizations: the Art Directors Club (ADC), which just celebrated its 100th anniversary, and Type Directors Club (TDC), now in its 75th year.

How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?

As someone born and raised in South Africa, I have always been sensitive to issues of diversity and opportunity, and looked for ways to help make creative fields more equitable. Successful design and marketing truly connects various audiences, and the best way to make that happen is to have creative teams that reflect the culture we live in, and speak with authentic voices in their work. Creatives have a unique role, able to speak to a global audience and effect positive change. One great example is our ONE School. Oriel Davis-Lyons, a talented creative director at Spotify, posted on LinkedIn lamenting about the high cost of portfolio school for aspiring Black designers, and vowed to find a way to offer a free alternative. We saw his post and quickly partnered with Oriel, securing sponsorship support from nearly 60 agencies and brands to provide the resources and infrastructure needed for this free groundbreaking 16-week program. In its first year with two cohorts in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, taught by dozens of top Black creative professionals, ONE School has 84 graduates, 80% of whom have been hired at leading agencies and brands.

Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does 2021 present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?

There are many positive takeaways from how — and how quickly — creatives have changed and adapted as a result of the pandemic. The way people work has been re-engineered. We collaborate with others around the world as never before, place greater importance on work/life balance, and gravitate to jobs that allow greater flexibility. This global collaboration leads to greater diversity of thought and work, a true reflection of our diverse culture. People have also become more empathetic and socially responsible, willing to confront big issues. After the killing of George Floyd, support of Black Lives Matter came from people of all racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. That spirit surfaced again this year in the “Stop Asian Hate” movement. For creatives, that has led to greater focus on Design for Good work. I believe the single biggest issue is climate change. The effects of global warming get worse every day, and business and governments are not doing enough to address this critical challenge.