With an extensive career in advertising spanning three decades, Ajab Samrai started out working for the iconic Saatchi & Saatchi as Junior Art Director. One of the first British-born Asians to work in the advertising industry, Samrai was a pioneer and has managed some of the world’s leading brands. Samrai quickly learned that his skills and abilities within advertising could also be used as a force for good and not just for commercial promotion.
Throughout his career, Ajab Samrai led campaigns which focused on social issues both in the domestic market and internationally. It seemed only natural therefore for Samrai to accept a job with the Commission for Racial Equality in 1995 representing the British government. This position gave life to the ‘One Britain’ campaign otherwise known as the Saatchi & Saatchi Anti-Racism campaign, a pioneering movement of great significance.
The Commission for Racial Equality
Now superseded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the original Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) was active from 1976 until 2007. It was a pubic body with a mandate to identify and tackle racial discrimination and inequality. Its vision was to create a society in which diversity was valued and not divisive. Equal opportunities and freedom from persecution were supported by legislation and the power of persuasion to shift attitudes.
The Goals of the CRE
The CRE focused on improving race relations in specific areas, specifically, the integration of different ethnicities and greater public awareness of discrimination and racial bias. The CRE operated at local and national level, advising and supporting a variety of government institutions and other organisations in its quest for equal opportunities and good race relations.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission
This body was born in 2007, combining the work of the CRE with the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission. The Commission is independent of government influence and works broadly in the area of human rights. It is designed to be a single point of reference for all businesses, organisations and policymakers and was awarded ‘A’ status by the United Nations as a National Human Rights Institution.
Saatchi & Saatchi Anti-Racism Campaign
Within this campaign, Ajab Samrai worked closely with senior members of the CRE including Marjorie Thompson, head of communications, and Lord Herman Ouseley, head of the CRE. The campaign was praised for its ability to present non-emotive factual evidence which clearly highlighted areas of social injustice within society.