Saturday, April 21, 2018

14119: Seeing Exclusivity.

AMV BBDO produced this Guinness video featuring a blind footballer from Ghana. The video ends as the hero proclaims, “I am made of Black.” Wonder how he’d respond upon seeing that—based on the credits—the responsible creative team was made of Whites.

Friday, April 20, 2018

14118: COO Is KOOKOO.

Adweek published the following memo to the troops from new WPP Co-COO Mark Read:

To everyone at WPP

Over the last four days I’ve spent as much time as possible speaking to our people and clients. There’s universal admiration for Martin’s achievements, and sadness about his departure. At the same time, there’s a huge amount of support and goodwill for the company, and no shortage of confidence about the future.

That confidence is well founded. The companies and client teams that make up WPP are exceptionally good at what they do. They are major organisations in their own right, with their own strong leaders. The clients I’ve spoken to have all been clear: they value their partner agencies and teams, they expect them to continue to deliver, and they have no doubt that they will.

Andrew and I have been given a very clear brief by the Board. First, to run the business on a day-to-day basis. I’m looking after people, clients and companies and Andrew is focused on operational and financial performance and managing the WPP portfolio. And second, to move forward decisively on the Group’s strategy. We have tremendous strengths within WPP, and we plan to build on those while bringing our own perspective and ideas.

WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you). We’re working closely with the leaders of our companies, and listening carefully to their views, as we develop our plans.

Some things we know already: we’ll get even closer to our clients to better understand and meet their needs and to help them grow in a world of disruption; we’ll get closer to technology partners like Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others; we’ll make sure our structure and offer make it as simple as possible for clients to access our services across the Group; and we’ll put data, technology AND creativity at the heart of what we do.

There’s been speculation about breaking up the Group. We don’t believe this makes sense. In a world where clients need faster, more agile, integrated solutions, we need to get closer together, not further apart.

We’ll share more as soon as we can but, in the meantime, if you have questions let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them:

WPP is a great business with outstanding people, world-class agencies and most of the world’s leading companies as its clients and partners.

Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.

Mark Read

Chief Operating Officer, WPP

Gotta believe the overwhelming majority of memo recipients perused the above and wondered, “Who the fuck is Mark Read?”

To assure everyone that the two new COOs “have been given a very clear brief by the Board” is hardly an inspiring thought. Does the average WPP worker bee really want to know the Board is calling the shots?

Read’s most outrageous line declared, “WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you).” Now, despite the crazy contention that the White holding company represents “perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation,” even former WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell admitted White women are underrepresented in leadership roles and the representation of Blacks, Latinos and the LGBT community is “unacceptably low.” So saying WPP’s greatest strength is its diversity is the equivalent of proclaiming the KKK’s greatest strength is its open-minded tolerance.

Oh, and the leadership at Wunderman—where Read has served as Global CEO—lacks diversity too. To recycle Read’s words, “Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

14117: Noticing The Gaps.

McCann London created this campaign for MysteryVibe, producer of a technologically advanced vibrator. Oddly enough, despite the divertsity trend snowballing in adland, the credits show the responsible McCann teammates are predominately male. Did anybody consider that the best way to “help close the orgasm gap” might have involved closing the gender gap?

14116: Starbucks Store Bias.

The New York Times reported Starbucks will shut 8,000 stores as employees undergo racial-bias training after an incident involving the arrest of two Black men in Philadelphia that sparked nationwide outrage. Look for Brad Jakeman to whine that it’s another case of the “vocal minority” injuring a brand that has done so much for racial harmony over the years. Regardless, the scenario does demonstrate the power of the public to ignite change by threatening to boycott, adversely affecting a brand’s image and bottom line. Unfortunately, rallying the public to demand the end of exclusivity on Madison Avenue has never succeeded. For starters, people tend to be unaware of White advertising agencies’ existence at all. And even attempting to target the advertisers who employ and partner with such shops would likely fail to persuade the brands to mandate equality. Besides, the White advertising agencies would defend themselves by presenting the patronizing smokescreens and heat shields—inner-city internships, minority mentoring, tax-deductible donations to ADCOLOR® and The 3% Movement, etc.—designed to create the illusion of inclusion. Hell, the culturally clueless hucksters would probably advise Starbucks to launch a limited edition Coffy coffee to quiet the protests.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

14115: Lessons In Exclusivity.

Campaign published a viewpoint from >we Founder Carl Martin, who shared his thoughts and experiences on creating a video to promote what he envisions as “the world’s most inclusive company.” Give Martin credit for his openness and honesty relating the standard challenges involved with bringing diversity and inclusion to the creative process. Yet the scenario underscores how exclusivity in the advertising industry extends to the commercial production industry. Martin admittedly fumbled in a few basic areas, and found himself inadvertently swept up in the collateral cultural cluelessness. Specifically, he made the mistake of taking the recommendation of a hip hop artist when selecting a director, not realizing that being a hip hop artist does not translate to having expertise executing advertising campaigns. Martin compounded his mistake by failing to seek competitive bids (hey, it would have been a perfect PR opportunity for Free The Bid). And the director—when asked by Martin to secure a diverse production crew—exacerbated the scenario by delivering the lazy excuse of having insufficient time or budget to risk hiring unfamiliar workers. Because, by golly, you can’t just bring in anyone to handle craft services and key grip roles. (Tip to Martin: you’d be surprised at how many hair and makeup stylists aren’t qualified to deal with talent of color.) Again, give Martin credit for being open and honest in his essay. At the same time, don’t wonder why diversity continues to be denied in adland.

Lessons from trying to build the world’s most inclusive brand from scratch

A view from Carl Martin

The founder of >we, a new app designed to help people build meaningful connections, shares his lessons from trying to build the world’s most inclusive company.

Disruption and innovation are no longer the advertising world’s favourite words beginning with D&I. It’s now all about diversity and inclusion. It’s suddenly ‘become cool’ to make a modern day United Colours of Bennetton ad again. But that’s the problem right there. Without diverse teams behind the creative and production, diversity has been weaponised by the world of advertising for commercial gain. And it’s backfiring.

We’ve seen slip ups by Tesco, Dove, and Pepsi to name but a few — where they’ve been distracted by the aesthetic of diversity for a short term campaign, instead of focussing on building a truly inclusive, long lasting brand. Brand is no longer about your celebrity endorsements and witty straplines. Brand is about having clear and strong values, and operating with authenticity and integrity in alignment with those values. People have a low tolerance and high sensitivity to brand bullshit. If what you’re doing isn’t genuine, and is all just lip service, people won’t just know it, but they’ll be vocal as hell about it too.

For our young company, >we (pronounced More Than We), not only do we hope to help young professionals build more meaningful relationships in their lives and careers, but most important of all, we want this company to be a representation of what it means to be inclusive from day dot. We want to ensure everyone feels valued, respected, considered and equal — whether in our communications, our products or even the fundamentals of our company.

This week we launched a film for our rebrand, and it is a shining example of how regardless of all the awareness and passion in the world, our working mentality, rhythm and biases can lead us to be anything but inclusive. I’m so immensely proud of what we’ve created. I’m proud of the team that worked crazy hours and gave it their all to make something that shares our vision with the world. That said, I know it could have been better.

I wanted to share my reflections and a couple of key lessons learned with the industry — not just because I believe it is valuable knowledge to disseminate, but to also hold myself and my company accountable for improvement and growth from here on in.

Lesson One: Focus on outcomes and feelings, over tactics and aesthetics

I’ve come to learn of the importance of representation in the media for marginalised people over the past few years. I recognise that this film is not fully representative of the broader community I want to build for and serve, and their absence doesn’t sit well with our vision and mission.

I ended up having a drawn out dialogue with Hanna Naima McCloskey (founder of Fearless Futures) in the days after the shoot, as I wrestled with the complex tension between ‘a diverse cast’ and ‘an inclusive piece of communication’. One thing that didn’t sit well with either of us, is what felt like my pushing for tokenism, rather than a meaningful inclusion of these people into the film.

This is the classic ‘tick-box’ mentality that most people experience when they focus on the tactic of diversity, and not the outcome or impact of inclusion. Failing to consider them at an earlier stage meant that they weren’t getting the same treatment and consideration as say women of colour, who I made a conscious choice many weeks before to ensure they were not only represented, but shown as strong, respected and talented, as they are.

I spent significant time mulling over what we could cut or kill from the budget to afford another half day shoot. I’d decided to invest our entire marketing budget into this film, in the knowledge it would create much of our content for the coming months and would be utilised across every possible platform. But I came to the realisation that I was trying to buy away my guilt, and hide the reality of what had actually occurred. That didn’t sit well with me, and it certainly didn’t feel authentic.

Lesson Two: Education of team is paramount in the absence of understanding

I was lucky enough to meet the director for the film, a chap called Michael Garsin, via a mutual friend of ours — hip hop artist Clement Marfo. Michael was the only director I met with, and I do not regret for a moment deciding to work with him. But I didn’t give anyone else a shot at forming that same relationship with me. The inherent trust that was created as a result of a recommendation was enough for me in that moment to move onto the next objective.

I had a chat with Michael in the few weeks leading up to the shoot, and asked him to be considerate of the production team that he built and potentially giving some new folks an opportunity to be part of the shoot. But understandably, he reinforced the need of compiling a team of people he trusts to get the job done and within my budget.

In the end, over the course of a three-day shoot, this nine-person team was composed of seven men and two women, all of whom were white. I made huge assumptions about Michael’s flexibility and network, and that my polite request would be but a formality. Maybe I could have been firmer with Michael. Maybe I could have found a collaborator who wasn’t a white middle class man just like me. What I do know is education of others takes time and investment that I just didn’t factor into the process. Just because I’m on a journey to become an inclusive founder doesn’t mean everyone else is in the same headspace too.

“Nothing about us, without us”

This film is a representation of the company’s reality right now. It was my mentality and network that was brought to life by this film, and it showed the holes and inadequacies. Although this does not undermine my passion or vision for the company, it illustrates where we and many other companies are today.

Instead of attempting to spin the film, or maybe shoe horn in some folks in a mini-shoot, I made the commitment to be open and honest about the process, share the key lessons, and to be clear about my desire to radically improve and grow as the company moves forward. We want, can and will do more to ensure we build a company, brand and products that place everyone’s needs and dreams front and centre.

If you have feedback in whatever form, you can email me directly at I’d welcome it and learning opportunity.

14114: Accelerating Bullshit.

Advertising Age reported on the latest 4A’s soiree—titled “Accelerate”—which ultimately showed the industry is really just accelerating in circles, as evidenced by the following excerpt:

Diversity and equality

Issues of diversity were pervasive at this year’s conference. In her opening remarks, 4A’s CEO and president, Marla Kaplowitz, talked about some of the work the group is doing in this area.

“Although the 4A’s has discussed and created programs focused on diversity issues in the industry, we have not done enough for our members to address inclusion in the workplace,” she said. “It’s time for action, so we are creating a series of playbooks and tools—guides to really help our members.” One new initiative, she said, is an “enlightened workplace certification.”

In a panel Tuesday afternoon on the topic of diverse leadership, Karen Costello, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency, talked about how the agency has navigated the waters since creative veteran Joe Alexander departed following an internal investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment.

“Creative departments are such a unique microcosm at agencies,” she said. “They’re ground zero for the worst behavior in our industry very often, but they’re also sort of ground zero for some of the most empathetic people, because that’s kind of where creativity comes from. So my personal experience at The Martin Agency has been unique because that agency was a bit of ground zero for this Me Too movement in advertising.”

Costello said many of the men at the agency were horrified at what had happened, and asked colleagues how they’d be able to help.

“That’s one of the biggest things: All you need to do is ask “How I can help?” That shows that you’re listening and being empathetic,” she said.

Costello added that the agency has started saying “ouch” as a safe word of sorts—connoting that a comment might be inappropriate or could make someone uncomfortable. “We just create a little bit of an environment that allows people to say, “What you just said isn’t cool, but let’s all just kind of work through this as opposed to making it a big, ‘Oh, you hurt my feelings.’” She added that it’s a balance of employees knowing they can speak up in a lighter way, or be taken seriously if a more in-depth conversation is desired.

First, for Kaplowitz to admit, “Although the 4A’s has discussed and created programs focused on diversity issues in the industry, we have not done enough for our members to address inclusion in the workplace,” is nothing short of pathetic. Why are industry “leaders” so open to share they have not done enough regarding diversity? How long before these “leaders” are held accountable for not doing enough? Hell, shouldn’t someone minimally establish a standard for doing enough? Otherwise, the admissions sound like negligence. Additionally, to announce the creation of playbooks and an “enlightened workplace certification” is even more pathetic, as such lame ideas have already been pooped out and promoted by patronizing White advertising agencies and patronizing White women’s clubs. Does Kaplowitz realize the 4As already published a diversity playbook by Adonis Hoffman—an individual with legitimate cultural competence—that states exactly what White advertising agencies must do for progress? Like too many in the industry, Kaplowitz is regurgitating efforts that have been around—albeit ignored—for decades. It all indicates that the new 4A’s leader has probably not done enough on diversity throughout her career. Ouchy.

Second, Costello’s comments are equally disturbing. To declare creative departments are ground zero for the worst behavior and ground zero for some of the most empathetic people, as well as The Martin Agency being ground zero for the me too movement in adland, deserves a triple ouch. For one thing, it underscores how slow the industry has been to acknowledge me too—hell, the Erin Johnson lawsuit preceded the Joe Alexander affair by at least a year. For another thing, The Martin Agency has been slower to address true diversity, although Costello recently promised, “We’re on it.” Between gender-based discrimination and race-and-ethnicity-based discrimination, Costello is dealing with a diversity double whammy. Ouchy-ouch. Oh, and it appears the “ouch” gimmick means the Richmond-based White advertising agency is finally undergoing diversity training—or watching instructional videos on the topic. But the viewings are likely a mandate from IPG versus a brainstorm hatched by Costello. Ouch to the nth degree.

In the end, Kaplowitz and Costello might be victims of circumstance. That is, former 4As President-CEO Nancy Hill tried to make diversity a priority and arguably delivered contributions to the cause. However, the trade organization has no authority to dictate anything, leaving White advertising agencies to do the bare minimum or less in achieving positive change. So Kaplowitz is fighting an uphill battle. Meanwhile, Costello inherited the reins of a premier shop that has not done enough in the area of diversity and is reeling from the biggest scandal in its history. So she’s fighting an uphill battle too. On the flipside, Ad Age noted, “Issues of diversity were pervasive at this year’s conference.” Um, issues of diversity were pervasive at the 4As Transformation Conference in 2010 too. At some point, the hand-wringing and navel-gazing—as well as the recycling of Band-aid tactics—must be replaced with innovative actions that actually ignite progress. The truth is, the only group in adland to experience progress in the past ten years is White women—as clearly demonstrated by figures like Kaplowitz and Costello. Yet they both admit to not having done enough in the area of diversity. Time will tell if they turn out to be part of the solution or the problem.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

14113: Making Mindful Mentors.

Campaign reported on an organization—Creative Mentor Network—that connects diverse youth mentees with creative industry mentors. But in one critical way, the organization appears to be extremely different than most of the patronizing mentor programs that White advertising agencies use to feign commitment to change. Specifically, Creative Mentor Network requires that mentors undergo extensive training to qualify. It’s hard to determine exactly what is involved in the training, but the very idea sounds progressive. To recognize that mentors—especially those coming from exclusive environments like ad agencies—need education and coaching to successfully engage with minority youth is remarkable. Kudos to the CMN Team for such forward-thinking awareness.

How the Creative Mentor Network is helping advertising’s diversity problem

By James Page

The organisation visits Havas and other agencies to train creatives to become mentors for college students from diverse backgrounds.

The not-for-profit organisation, founded by former teacher Isabel Farchy, aims to connect creative talent with young-people from diverse backgrounds. Through this, Creative Mentor Network hopes to make the advertising industry more accessible as a career for rising talent.

Farchy said: “In the creative industry there is a habit of recruiting through networks, so it can just be a lot more opaque from the outside and a lot harder to infiltrate. I really wanted my students when I was a teacher, but also now the students we work with, to understand that there were real opportunities in the creative industries”.

The London-based network has worked with numerous agencies such as Havas to train employees to become mentors.

Elliot Harris, creative director at Havas who is mentoring a teen, said: “I would love to think that by the end of this course… that there is a much broader set of experience he has had that will allow him to make some choices before he moves into the next stage of his education”.

The mentors at Havas have introduced their mentees to different departments at the agency, allowing them to get a wider understanding of the advertising world.

Creative Mentor Network believes that the course is just as beneficial for agencies as it is for the college students. Farchy said: “Agencies obviously gain the opportunity to do something practical about the diversity issue and also to offer training and development for their employees”.

She added: “When our partner agencies are looking to recruit, particularly for junior roles and for internship roles and for apprenticeship roles, we’re able to put them out to our alumni and its a really amazing opportunity to recruit much more diverse talent”.

The organisation has an alumni of over 200 students.

14112: Predicting Divertsity.

Adweek published a story titled, “4A’s Attendees Predict How the Ad Industry Will Evolve Over the Next 5 Years—Marketers offered thoughts on everything from diversity to tech to the agency model.” Not surprisingly, the report only included three thoughts on diversity—and two quotes came from executives at minority advertising agencies. Don’t mean to pick on the White thought leader, but Anomaly Group Strategy Director Laura Rowan opined, “I really hope that we’re still not talking about diversity being underrepresented. There’s actual pockets [of the industry] where there’s behavior that just isn’t equal or fair to certain groups of people.” Yes, and the “pockets” are White advertising agencies—although it’s a safe bet that Rowan’s “behavior that just isn’t equal or fair” comment is referring to discrimination targeting White women. After all, racial and ethnic minorities won’t experience equality in the advertising industry for 60 years at least.

Monday, April 16, 2018

14111: Schooling Minorities.

Advertising Age reported on the new divertsity stunt from Grey, another White advertising agency introducing a special program to recruit minorities and ignite patronizing PR opportunities. Grey launched the Famous Academy for Modern Effectiveness, a free portfolio school for minority creatives outside of the industry. In other words, effectively identifying colored candidates requires scouring the inner cities, followed by providing assimilation basic training. According to Grey Worldwide Chief Creative Officer John Patroulis, “If we’re honest about one of the barriers to diversity in creative departments, it’s socioeconomic.” Hey, Patroulis is absolutely correct. However, he seems clueless that the socioeconomic barrier is upscale Caucasian men and women taking full advantage of White privilege to dominate the field. Patroulis deserves to graduate summa cum laude from the Famous Academy for Mad Men Exclusivity.

Grey’s latest diversity move: Free portfolio school

By I-Hsien Sherwood

Grey New York has been going full-force in its diversity efforts. Earlier this week at the 4A’s Transformation Conference in Miami, it said it will devote 75 percent of its spending on talent and resources toward creative departments. Late last month, it partnered with the 3% Movement to try to ensure that all work the agency produces reflects diversity. Now Grey is debuting an initiative that aims to tackle both objectives: free ad school.

Last week, 20 creatives recruited from outside the industry began classes at the Famous Academy for Modern Effectiveness, an eight-week, tuition-free portfolio school co-founded by Grey and FindSpark, an inclusion-focused networking site for young professionals. Its goal is to train talented people who might otherwise have been overlooked, or who would have eschewed advertising due to cost or lack of opportunity.

“If we’re honest about one of the barriers to diversity in creative departments, it’s socioeconomic,” says John Patroulis, worldwide chief creative officer at Grey. “College is expensive. Portfolio school is expensive. And then you get your first job, and it’s not high-paying.” Patroulis didn’t go to ad school himself, but the industry is harder to break into now than it was when he began, he says.

Students at Fame, as the program is nicknamed, meet one day a week for a class at Grey’s Manhattan office. The inaugural program is being taught by Deputy Chief Creative Officer Rob Lenois, accompanied by guest speakers from the agency. Students get assignments to work on throughout the week on topics like agency structure, campaign analysis, client collaboration skills and storytelling fundamentals. By the end of the program, they’ll have a portfolio they can use in their job search. Grey is also pairing the students with agency mentors, with the aim of creating long-term bonds that will last beyond the two-month program.

Unlike an internship, classes are scheduled for the evenings to account for students with full-time employment. “These are people with their own lives, many of them with jobs in different fields,” Patroulis says. “They’ve got other stuff to do, too.”

Once the program is over, students will be invited to apply for—but won’t be guaranteed—positions at Grey. And if they opt to pursue a job at a different agency? “There’s no obligation for them to join us,” says Patroulis. “Obviously, I’m hoping some of them do, but it’s something that the industry needs, and if we can help be part of it, that’s a great thing.”

Grey worked with FindSpark to select Fame’s first students by targeting the network’s users “who have produced some sort of creative work, mostly through side hustles and independent projects, but have not gone through a formal portfolio program,” says Emily Miethner, FindSpark’s CEO and founder. “The students chosen to make it to the next round shared personal and professional stories that demonstrated hard-work, perseverance, a passion to create.” They also offered thoughtful answers to the primary question: “In your opinion, what needs to change in the advertising industry?” From that initial pool of candidates, Grey narrowed it down to the final 20.

Fame students won’t end up interacting with Grey interns, since the latter don’t show up in force until the summer. But the agency is planning to retool its internship program with an eye towards diversity. While the portfolio school is focused on broadening recruitment in the creative department, the internships cross all disciplines.

“I think if the industry is going to survive, it needs to find ways to reach out,” Patroulis says of the agency’s varied diversity efforts. “Portfolio school is great, but it’s not the only way. Part of it is having a commitment to diversity in general and diversity of all kinds. You have to try a lot of different things.”

Sunday, April 15, 2018

14110: To Sir, With Love Of Money.

Campaign published a statement to the global staff from WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell—who has historically earned 780 times more than the average worker—on the day of his resignation.

The lengthy letter opened by declaring, “For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP.” Okay, but he probably spent too little time each day considering the present—and the people—of WPP.

Sorrell then stated, “We welcomed J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, Grey…” Um, JWT was the first hostile takeover in the industry, so it’s a little bizarre to say the agency was welcomed to the fold. In roughly 30 years, JWT went from hostile takeover to hostile workplace.

Next, Sorrell proceeded to recite the breakthrough accomplishments experienced over the years. The self-congratulatory list did not include any kudos for being “the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation.” Also absent were salutes for gender equality and talent recruitment in the holding company.

Sorrell promised, “In the coming period, I will be available to the Board and any of you, should you want help with anything, anywhere.” Oh, please. Then again, it would be interesting to learn what Gustavo Martinez might request.

In closing, Sorrell proclaimed that WPP will always be more important than life or death, which likely inspired over 200,000 eye rolls. Sorrell ended by saying, “Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you… now Back to the Future.” Somebody tell Doc Brown to leave Marty wherever he lands.

Sorrell’s full resignation message to WPP: ‘Godspeed to all of you’

By Staff

Sir Martin Sorrell sent this statement to the staff at WPP, following his resignation as chief executive.

“To everyone at WPP

For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP. Over those decades, our family has grown and prospered.

We welcomed J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, Grey, 24/7 Real Media, Taylor Nelson Sofres, among so many others.

We created Group M, including Xaxis and Essence.

We put the focus on Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe, the home of the next billion consumers. We embarked on the early development of digital capabilities; and the evolution of a firm-wide integrated client and country-centered approach.

Our holding company was recognised as the world’s best and most effective through the Cannes Lions and Effie Awards year after year after year.

We pioneered Atticus Awards for original written thinking…. the WPP Fellowship Awards to recognise promising talent…. the Partnership and Practice Awards for client endorsed integrated market and case studies.

Our Stream digital conferences have attracted the best in the digital business for more than a decade.

Our Annual Sustainability and Pro Bono Reports highlight the unique social, environmental and public policy work that we do day in, day out across the globe.

As I look ahead, I see that the current disruption we are experiencing is simply putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business, our over 200,000 people and their 500,000 or so dependents, and the clients we serve in 112 countries.

That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside.

We have had a succession plan in place for some time. A new generation of management, led by Mark Read and Andrew Scott (who have each been at WPP for approximately 20 years), are well qualified and experienced in the Board’s opinion, to deal with the geographic and technological opportunities and challenges our industry faces.

We have weathered difficult storms in the past. And our highly talented people have always won through, always.

Nobody, either direct competitors or newly-minted ones can beat the WPP team, as long as you work closely together, whether by client and/or country or digitally.

In the coming period, I will be available to the Board and any of you, should you want help with anything, anywhere. I shall miss all of you greatly. You have given me such excitement and energy and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done and will do for WPP and me.

As some of you know, my family has expanded recently, WPP will always be my baby too.

As a Founder, I can say that WPP is not just a matter of life or death, it was, is and will be more important than that. Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you… now Back to the Future.

Thank you.”

14109: Roth’s Letter Of Lies.

AgencySpy posted on a letter to shareholders written by IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth, where the man expressed pride in taking “swift disciplinary action” in the scenario involving sexual harassment allegations against former The Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander. Once again, Roth has a questionable sense of reality with time. For example, when responding to racist behavior at Campbell Ewald, Roth claimed to take “immediate action” by firing the agency CEO—roughly three months after the bigoted incident occurred. In Alexander’s case, rumors and reports indicate a history of issues including quiet settlements stemming from bad-boy behavior at The Martin Agency over many years. The only swift and immediate thing coming from Roth is patronizing propaganda poop.

Roth also bragged, “We hosted the U.S. ad industry’s first summit on Black women in advertising. … In 2017, our annual women’s breakfast at Cannes attracted several hundred attendees and was a historic first focus on women of color, involving new research and gaining significant press coverage.” Of course, Roth failed to mention the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recorded less than 100 Black female executives in the U.S. advertising industry. Plus, a Cannes study revealed divertsity efforts have not benefited women of color. If Roth were required to run his missives through the legal department, he’d be instructed to add numerous disclaimers.

Another disturbing statement in Roth’s letter read, “In early 2018, IPG encouraged its leading women executives to become signatories to ‘Time’s Up Advertising,’ an industry movement aimed at addressing sexual harassment and gender inequality.” Gee, the IPG women needed to be “encouraged” by corporate headquarters to participate in the initiative? Wasn’t Joe Alexander encouragement enough?

IPG CEO Michael Roth Cites ‘Swift Disciplinary Action’ on #MeToo in New Letter to Shareholders

By Patrick Coffee

Michael Roth is proud of the progress IPG made last year on sexual harassment and gender equality—and he wants company shareholders to know about it.

Last October, the IPG chairman and CEO made some headlines for writing an all-staff memo declaring that his company would have a “zero-tolerance policy for all types of harassment” and “behavior that runs counter to an inclusive, respectful workplace.”

The memo, titled “A Workplace Free from Harassment,” also directly addressed the very real concerns of retaliation against whistle-blowers. It came in response to reports about the chronic harassment of women by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which soon sparked the nationwide resurgence of the #MeToo movement.

It also came just one week before that movement hit very close to home.

Sources tell us that, when the October memo went out, Roth and the larger IPG organization were unaware of an investigation into harassment claims made against The Martin Agency chief creative officer Joe Alexander, who was fired on June 7.

Roth appeared to address his company’s response to that case in its most recent letter to shareholders, which went out yesterday.

The letter opens by playing up IPG’s successes in “a challenging year for our industry” and referencing 1.8% organic growth for 2017. The relevant section comes two pages later and acknowledges that the company is “not immune” to bad behavior by unnamed individuals.


Our work to foster a culture of inclusion is a personal as well as a corporate priority, because an environment that encourages respect and trust is key to a creative business like ours. Helping our clients effectively connect with the marketplace can only take place when we have a variety of perspectives and beliefs solving communications and business challenges.

There are many ways we have brought this commitment to life. Most significantly, and uniquely for our industry, we ensure accountability by tying executive compensation directly to the ability of our leaders to achieve diversity objectives. For seven years, we’ve made a focus on women’s leadership the mainstay of our presence at the industry’s most important global awards competition. We hosted the U.S. ad industry’s first summit on Black women in advertising.

This year, we hosted three conference calls for all employees on the topics of race, DACA and overall inclusion concerns.

In 2017, our annual women’s breakfast at Cannes attracted several hundred attendees and was a historic first focus on women of color, involving new research and gaining significant press coverage. While we are pleased with our progress to date, we know there remains a great deal to be done on this vital issue, especially with people of color.

As we worked to reinforce our core values, two key areas of discussion and focus in 2017 included:


In 2017, sexual harassment became impossible to ignore. We have worked hard to create a culture where all our employees — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and other dimensions of diversity — can feel safe and that they can be their authentic selves at the office. However, with 50,000 employees, we are not immune to behavior by some individuals that runs counter to our values.

The key for IPG is that when behavior that runs counter to our values does happen, we acknowledge it honestly with our employees, and we take action. Ours is a company where women and men can come forward to report issues that concern them, and not fear retaliation. When employees bring forward credible allegations about sexual misconduct or unethical behavior, we investigate. And as we showed in 2017, we take swift disciplinary action when required.

In early 2018, IPG encouraged its leading women executives to become signatories to “Time’s Up Advertising,” an industry movement aimed at addressing sexual harassment and gender inequality. IPG women made up the largest portion of women leaders who signed up in support of the group, and IPG could not be more proud.

IPG releases its earnings for Q1 on April 27.