For BHM, the United States Postal Service mailed it in with commemorative stamps.
Friday, February 05, 2016
Thursday, February 04, 2016
AgencySpy posted the Blind Item that follows:
Being an executive at a global digital agency is a demanding job that requires a lot of travel…and one such top marketer chooses to manage his work/life balance by spending time in the company of his favorite young female employees. Seems that every time this thought leader and newsletter writer has a business trip coming up, he asks his assistant to arrange for one of the agency’s early-20s lady staffers to accompany him to whatever hotel his expense account can afford. We hear that this executive doesn’t just like his female companions young—he also believes that variety is the spice of life, and he tries to take a different lucky lady on each trip. It’s OK, though, guys…as far as we can tell, he’s not married!
Can’t believe Kat Gordon didn’t complain that only 3 percent of the White women in advertising agencies are mistresses—or Cindy Gallop isn’t leveraging the story to hype her Make Love Not Porn production. It’s nice to see digital agencies challenging traditional advertising agencies—and PR firms—for leadership in the area of blatantly inappropriate behavior. And if the mystery man is indeed financing his escapades via an expense account, the bad boy behavior is likely illegal too.
Okay, this is technically not a Black History Month advert, but February is running low on legitimate creative candidates. Campaign spotlighted a Guinness commercial from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO featuring “Intolerant Champion” John Hammond, credited with launching the careers of Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Aretha Franklin. Sorry, but this sort of shit comes off as painfully patronizing when originating from a White advertising agency like Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. It’s simply, well, intolerable.
Campaign published a pitiful perspective on the dearth of diversity in adland, pooped out by former McCann London CEO Zaid Al-Zaidy. The essay will induce plenty of ZZZZZ’s. Why do agency leaders suddenly advocate for diversity after they are no longer in a position of power to affect change? Al-Zaidy complements his contrived and clichéd convictions with five guidelines for success. The final proclamation is the most outrageous: “When in advertising, do as the Americans do”—which included, “We have much to learn from the United States on diversity.” Al-Zaidy can’t possibly be recommending mimicking U.S. advertising agencies. Unless he’s suggesting U.K. shops proceed to adopt all the smokescreens and schemes employed by White advertising agencies to perpetuate exclusivity. Look for an ADCOLOR® satellite to launch in London soon.
Zaid Al-Zaidy: The diversity prize is a great one but are you ready for it?
By Zaid Al-Zaidy
The lack of diversity in our industry is a little like global warming, says the former chief executive of McCann London.
The lack of Diversity in our Industry is a little like global warming. Some deny it’s happening, some say that we’re not responsible, some of us of don’t really care and those of us that do, find it bloody hard to do anything about it.
It’s a complex issue but we can’t ignore it. Thanks to the IPA’s diversity survey we now know what we instinctively felt: from a diversity point of view, our industry is in poor condition.
At 87 per cent white, our industry roughly reflects the UK’s general population but it’s wildly out-of-sync with London (like it or not, the country’s creative hub) with its white-Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) split of 60:40, and with Generation Y, which is 25 per cent BAME.
It’s strange for an industry whose currency is being in tune with consumers and culture and being down with the kids.
Alarmingly, the IPA report shows many of London’s most famous agencies have almost zero ethnic diversity at a senior level. What’s worse, I’ve heard that some senior industry figures believe advertising is less diverse than it was in the mid-80s.
Agency leaders will be feeling uncomfortable with the IPA’s plans to record and publish diversity data every year, like another gargantuan task has been added to their to-do list. But I would encourage them to be excited about the future, because diversity breeds opportunity and makes total business sense.
I’m convinced that when Generation Y is in power and we’ve all worked out what technology, data and programmatic means for marketing, we’ll realise again that ideas are still vital and powerful vehicles for brand distinctiveness and business growth. Diversity in our agencies will help fight brand commoditisation, avoid groupthink and be the source of those surprising and different ideas.
A diverse workforce is a pre-requisite for the creation of relevant and effective global ideas and campaigns. We’ve passed the arrogant 70s era of wholesale cultural imperialism and in today’s borderless world; ideas have to be global and local at the same time. London agencies in particular, as often the most important global hubs for client creativity, must have diversity at their core. Judging by a few recent RFIs that I’ve been privy to, clients are beginning to expect it.
There’s more money to be made in diversity. At the recent #IPA44Club debate on diversity, Debarshi Pandit from OMG Ethnic stated, “When I tell my clients that [when you take into account all the religious festivities there are] in the UK, it’s Christmas all year round, their eyes light up. Last year, the UK Ramadan market was worth an incremental £100 million in retail sales.”
Furthermore, as programmatic takes off, it will enable a hyper-targeted fast-content world and will need teams of people who can understand the nuances of differing ethnic audiences and cultural calendars in the UK. Incremental fees we can bill clients for; every penny counts.
Personally, I place great value on my own ethnicity that has given me important work and life skills. It has helped me learn how to engage with a wide range of people and, as a strategist, it has helped me navigate and appreciate the different colours of international markets.
No doubt the concept of diversity is wonderful and we can sing its praises all day long, but the practise of diversity is complex and hard, with many barriers that need overcoming. To succeed we must:
1) Ignore the cynics, the procrastinators, the charmers and change resistors
Some of those resistant to change will think that we don’t have a problem, but there’s a lot of unconscious bias out there. This is different to racism, which I really don’t think is rife in London. But if agencies such as Grey are removing names from the top of CVs, it would suggest some acknowledgement that bias does exist. And I think it’s ok, it’s human nature; perhaps a re-read of Camus’, L’Etranger is called for. If we accept it, we can do something about it.
We will also hear about the meritocracy vs. quota debate. But this is a non-debate: it has been proven that the former will leave us waiting 200 years for gender equality.
So, the argument for diversity is not going away. Syrian refugees or not, our national BAME index is and will remain on the up and the gulf between where we are and where we need to be is only going to leave agencies more and more exposed.
2) Encourage our leaders to take responsibility for the nurturing and championing of the long-term health of our industry
All good agency leaders want to build the right culture for their agency, one that can deliver sustainable growth. But day-to-day pre-occupations are focused on short-term financial goals, satisfying immediate client needs and surviving in an oversupplied market.
Diversity can’t be on the chief executive to-do list, it has to be on the do-or-die list if we’re to see any true change.
3) Prove the commercial and creative case for diversity
Has anyone really built the fool-proof commercial case for diversity, one powerful enough to convince the accountants? Most are familiar with McKinsey’s analysis, showing ethnically diverse businesses perform 35 per cent better than non-diverse businesses. But I fear that these arguments are post-rationalised and border on hypothetical – the case for diversity needs to be a power-punch calling for immediate action.
4) Inspire and enable people with different ethnic background to join our industry
So let’s say we agree that diversity is a good idea, is there even the talent out there from a BAME background who actually want to join our industry?
The IPA’s new-found chartered status is a coup and will help young people feel good about a career in advertising. Also, the IPA’s new commitment to help the industry recruit 25 per cent of new joiners from BAME backgrounds by 2020, is a great funnel feeder.
But we know that advertising is no longer a talent magnet for young adults. We need to pay undergraduates higher starting salaries. The average graduate starting salary in our industry is £19,000, compared with the national average of £30,000… and £42,000 at Aldi.
Advertising is a non-starter for students from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, ladened with university debt. Little wonder it’s predominantly privileged kids who can afford a career in our industry.
Then, what do we need to do to retain diverse talent? What is the ethnic minority equivalent of a flexible working culture for mums? What is the alternative to getting pissed in the pub when it comes to getting to know your colleagues and schmoozing your boss?
5) When in advertising, do as the Americans do
We have much to learn from the United States on diversity. It took legislative intervention there to shift fair ethnic representation in corporations and it has shown that change requires a mandate from the highest organisational level. As far back as 2005, already 20 per cent of Fortune 500 companies had an executive committee-level chief diversity officer and today the role is widespread and there’s even a US publication called Diversity Officer Magazine.
If you’ve had the stomach to read this article, you may be inspired by the need to act but daunted by the true scale of the task. Such is life. But it is doable. The question is, do you really want it and are you ready for this?
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Google celebrates Black History Month by saluting Frederick Douglass. According to Wikipedia, “[Douglass] stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.” Today, Google seems to believe Blacks lack the intellectual capacity to function as employees at the company.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Droga5 was named Creativity 2016 Agency of the Year—and the agency portrait above looks like a deliberate effort was made to push people of color into the picture. However, the leadership photo below shows Droga5’s true colors.
A comment left for a previous post featuring the Campaign Editor’s Letter merits its own post, as the commentator is Adonis Hoffman. MultiCultClassics has spotlighted Hoffman in the past, after mistakenly believing a book he wrote was the kind of stereotypical diversity propaganda often peddled by organizations like the 4As; however, the book turned out to be quite thoughtful, insightful and brilliant. Anyway, here’s Hoffman’s latest comment:
With all due respect to my former colleagues in the advertising industry, this is the same old, same old, and although it is lamentable, it is not surprising.
After leaving Congress and the FCC, I served as senior vice president and legal counsel at the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4As) from 2000 to 2010. At the time, I was one of the few Black executives or attorneys in the industry. When the holding companies and several ad agencies were investigated by the New York Human Rights Civil Rights Commission (2004) and later sued for discrimination, I helped to develop the industry’s effort to systematically address the diversity issue, testifying on behalf of the industry in NYC and in Congress. Heck, we even wrote a book—roadmap really—to help agency execs “do diversity right”. While the initiative was not nearly sufficient to do away with decades of exclusion, it was a start with solid programs, timetables and recommendations. Like so many other well-meaning efforts, I suspect it just died on the vine.
You are correct to point out that there are more diversity officers, diversity events, diversity awards, diversity dinners, diversity discussions, diversity divas, diversity experts, and diversity seminars than anyone can digest. And yet there is no more diversity. Hmmm.
Maybe the answer lies in the simple fact that agency executives are not racist. They just are more comfortable with the illusion of inclusion rather than inclusion itself. That is why we can fill the room with diversity internships, but stumble to find one or two “qualified” account directors or whatever the top jobs are called these days. It’s just easier to feel better about giving a disadvantaged, but deserving, young Latino or African American student a break than to push out a mediocre, middle-aged white guy to give his slot to a hungry, equally (or more) talented minority professional.
The rules of convention die hard, so not much will change in the advertising industry despite all the chatter, outrage, shoulder shrugging, and mealy-mouth platitudes from industry and association leaders about the need to do better. The handwriting is on the wall. If African Americans want parity, they will have to create a parallel universe where their work is smarter, better, and cannot be denied. Then they will get half as much. Good luck with that.
The more things change … the more they stay the same.
Monday, February 01, 2016
Essence magazine celebrates “Black Girl Magic” with covers spotlighting Johnetta Elzie, Teyonah Parris and Yara Shahidi. The covers also proclaim, “Black History Matters.” But from an advertising perspective, the proclamation is highly debatable. After all, the February issue of Essence contains a mere seven Black History Month advertisements. In fact, the BHM advertisements are outnumbered by advertisements featuring White women—which reflects the diverted diversity that’s happening in the industry right now.
As in past years, MultiCultClassics will strive to present at least one BHM advertisement per day during February—but nothing is guaranteed, given the current lackluster interest from advertisers.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
It’s Not What You Say: How To Sell Your Message When It Matters Most by former Saatchi & Saatchi London Vice Chairman Michael Parker is like most of the work from Saatchi & Saatchi. That is, it’s a solid concept and decent execution, but nothing overly unique or breakthrough. Parker provides his presentation ponderings with plenty of alliteration—Principles, Preparation, Pitch, Performance and Perfect.
But what makes Parker so annoying are his references to Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou and Desmond Tutu:
Parker wrote, “Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches were eloquent enough in their written form, but inspiration leaps when we hear and see his performance of his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech—the words become spine tingling.” Yes, but not persuasive enough for White advertising agencies to embrace the dream.
Parker observed, “Nelson Mandela cultivated his likable image through every aspect of his appearance, not least his beatific smile.” Yes, and when minorities ask for a fair shake in adland, White advertising executives wink and smile.
Parker included the Maya Angelou quote that reads, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Yes, and minorities are left to feel like second-class citizens in the advertising industry.
Parker added the Archbishop Desmond Tutu quote that reads, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” Yes, but White advertising executives have not improved their argument to explain the dearth of diversity.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Wanted to add commentary on the previous post detailing the firing of Campbell Ewald CEO Jim Palmer, which coincided with the news of a racist email sent last October by an employee from the C-E office in San Antonio. The news has spread beyond advertising trade publications and ad blogs to local Detroit newspapers and business journals, as well as national media properties like The Wall Street Journal. Not all of the sources are reporting the racist email influenced the decision to dismiss Palmer, citing Campbell Ewald has recently lost a bunch of high-profile accounts. Additionally, it’s not clear that USAA terminated its contract with the shop because of the racist email, despite the client announcing, “We will be searching for a new agency that aligns with USAA’s culture and core values." The insurance and financial client features the standard diversity and inclusion commitments on its website. Then again, so does Interpublic Group, the White holding company that owns Campbell Ewald—and it’s unlikely IPG will expel the advertising agency from the network.
If USAA cut ties with Campbell Ewald over the racist email, it marks a monumental moment in the history of the industry. After all, when has a client ever reprimanded a White advertising agency for biased behavior? So far, no other clients have joined USAA to protest the prejudiced professionals. Hell, clients won’t even demand that holding companies reveal EEO-1 data.
Yet the true hypocrite in the scenario is IPG. The White holding company declares it “is increasing diversity and forging a culture of inclusion.” Plus, IPG insists, “We take this commitment seriously.” The company boasts a list of “IPG Firsts” including being the first in the industry to hire a Diversity Officer. Sorry, but firing the original email author and CEO is not enough. Ditto coughing up charitable contributions to ADCOLOR®. It’s time to hold holding companies accountable for too many decades of displaying deliberate discrimination.