Friday, December 14, 2018
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Advertising Age reported Procter & Gamble bought Walker And Company and its health and beauty brands for people of color. Expect P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard to count the acquisition as a diversity move. Plus, he’ll likely push to integrate the products with My Black is Beautiful, green-lighting a campaign that will be assigned to a White advertising agency and win gobs of ADCOLOR® trophies.
Procter & Gamble buys Walker & Co.
Tristan Walker, high-profile founder of brands for people of color, will stay on
By Jack Neff
Procter & Gamble Co. has agreed to buy Walker & Co.—a direct-to-consumer marketer of Bevel and Form Beauty personal-care products for people of color—for undisclosed terms.
CEO Tristan Walker, who founded the company in 2013, will join P&G as part of the deal. The former Foursquare and Twitter executive will move operations from Silicon Valley (Palo Alto, Calif.) to Atlanta.
Sold mainly direct-to-consumer, Bevel also is now in a majority of Target stores nationwide as well as on Amazon, Walker says, while Form Beauty is also sold online and in stores through Sephora. He declined to disclose sales numbers.
Walker launched Bevel in 2013 as a razor brand for men with coarse curly hair, whose faces get irritated by mass-market razors such as those from P&G’s category-leading Gillette. The high-profile social-media veteran hit the market with backing from Andreessen Horowitz, marking one of the earliest venture-capital investments in direct-to-consumer packaged goods. A second funding round in 2015 attracted high-profile backers such as John Legend, Magic Johnson and Google Ventures, and helped fuel the 2017 launch of Form Beauty haircare products for women.
Getting bought by P&G doesn’t mean Walker plans to do a big paid media push or hire outside agencies. “We don’t outsource branding,” Walker says. “They’re still going to let us operate and do our thing.”
That thing has involved building brands more slowly than many venture-backed direct-to-consumer players.
Dollar Shave Club, founded in 2011, made a bigger splash faster with a lot more venture capital—$164 million total to $33 million for Walker, according to Crunchbase. DSC spent heavily on media, at times outspending Gillette on TV prior to its acquisition by Unilever in 2016 for $1 billion.
But its growth slowed post acquisition, and possibly DSC had already reached most of its potential U.S. razor subscribers by the time Unilever bought it.
By contrast, Walker opted for a slower cash burn, less use of paid media and more focus on social-media and word-of-mouth, including from his high-profile customer-investors like Legend and Johnson. That more measured growth may ultimately mean more potential for acceleration with new backing from P&G.
“Building great brands means solving people’s problems by building products people love,” Walker says. “That takes time. And building great brands takes even longer. You can spend a lot of money marketing brands that don’t work. That has never been our approach.”
Walker once prevailed in a case Gillette brought against his company before the National Advertising Division of the the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which found Bevel could support its claim that its single-blade razors cause less irritation than Gillette’s multi-blade razors, though it had to modify some “clinically proven” claims. As P&G prepares to launch Gillette Skinguard two-bladed razors for men with sensitive skin early next year, executives have avoided making comparisons to Bevel.
Now, P&G is looking to learn from Walker how he does things. “One thing we can learn from Tristan,” says Lela Coffey, brand director for multicultural consumers at P&G Beauty, “is this ability to use these authentic connections that he’s built vs. the traditional CPG approach.”
Still, Walker says he’s looking forward to leaning on P&G’s capabilities in product development, distribution and media, as well as ultimately help in expanding his brands globally.
“We can really help Tristan broaden his reach and awareness,” says Coffey, whose duties include working on Pantene’s Gold Series and Head & Shoulders’ Royal Oils lines for women of color. “We are going to fuel him with some of the science we have available. Our R&D department will be his playhouse if that’s what he wants.”
Moving from Silicon Valley to Atlanta makes sense for Walker & Co. because Atlanta long has been the company’s top market for e-commerce and physical store sales, Walker says. “We want to be as close to our customer as we can.” And it’s only about an hour away from P&G’s Cincinnati headquarters by plane.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Adweek reported Accenture is among a tiny trio trying to acquire MDC Partners, which is $1 billion in debt. It would be interesting to hear what the White holding company’s Chief Financial Officer has to say about this. Then again, probably not.
Accenture Among Final Bidders to Acquire MDC Partners Network
LionTree Advisors, JP Morgan Chase overseeing the process
By Patrick Coffee
International global management consultancy Accenture is reportedly among a small group of bidders seeking to acquire ad agency network MDC Partners and its 50-plus properties around the world.
Those properties include such agencies as Anomaly, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, 72andSunny, Assembly and Forsman & Bodenfors.
According to a source with direct knowledge of the matter, the deadline for bids was late November. The same source said Accenture is one of three finalists.
Media and telecoms-focused investment bank LionTree Advisors is overseeing the process, which was first reported in September by The Wall Street Journal. JP Morgan Chase is providing assistance, according to another source with financial ties to the business.
“There are always rumors in the marketplace, and we do not comment on them or engage in speculation,” said an Accenture representative.
MDC Partners declined to comment. A JP Morgan Chase spokesperson also declined to comment.
LionTree and hedge fund FrontFour Capital Group, which made headlines for filing an SEC complaint against MDC’s board of directors on Nov. 19, have not responded to multiple requests for additional information.
SEC reporting laws prohibit all involved parties from commenting on an active bid to avoid granting any given company unfair advantage.
This is not the first time MDC Partners, which is currently more than $1 billion in debt, has explored the possibility of an outright sale. In 2016, the organization worked with LionTree and JP Morgan to land a $95 million equity investment from Goldman Sachs.
Since then, many within the industry have speculated as to whether MDC would sell itself, in whole or in part, to an outside investor. Several recent reports named consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte and Bain Capital as potential buyers. A source close to MDC Partners echoed these thoughts and told Adweek that the bids were almost certainly for the entirety of the company, with the understanding that its final buyer would then go through a round of “pruning” to streamline the network.
The fact that multiple agencies (including 72andSunny and Doner) have recently attempted to buy themselves back, only to have their offers rejected by the MDC board of directors, supports this theory.
The party close to MDC called Accenture “the best bidder,” citing its “synergies” with the agency network and its proven ability to cut costs.
MDC Partners’ stock has lost a majority of its value this year and is currently trading at distressed levels.
The deal would also be in keeping with Accenture’s increasing moves into the creative marketing space via its Accenture Interactive division. In recent years, the division has acquired a series of primarily mid-sized shops around the world, including Australia’s The Monkeys, England’s Karmarama, Germany’s Kolle Rebbe, Brazil’s New Content, Meredith Xcelerated Marketing of New York and many more.
A recent Adweek profile of Accenture Interactive CEO Brian Whipple described the company as “the world’s largest digital agency.” However, some advertising executives have disputed the idea that Accenture can compete directly with traditional shops for creative or especially media accounts as long as its primary consulting division is simultaneously auditing their clients’ businesses.
In response, Accenture’s head of programmatic said it would never be in a position to audit its own work.
The company clearly aspires to expand into all areas of the marketing business. A source within Accenture Interactive told Adweek that it’s currently in talks to acquire a business that specializes in helping advertisers scale and measure paid social media campaigns.
The company in question did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Adweek reported the 4As hired Simon Fenwick to serve as EVP Talent Engagement and Inclusion. In his previous role, Fenwick oversaw recruitment and diversity initiatives at Facebook—that bastion of inclusion. Prior to Facebook, Fenwick held talent and diversity positions with IPG Mediabrands and Starcom, more dubious diversity devotees. Oh, and he’s only been in the U.S. for about 14 years. Given the industry’s current climate, it’s amazing the 4As didn’t hire a White woman or woman of color for the job. Or maybe not.
Facebook Diversity Leader and Recruiting Manager Heads to 4A’s
Organization names Simon Fenwick evp, talent engagement and inclusion
By Lindsay Rittenhouse
The 4A’s has snagged Facebook executive Simon Fenwick as its executive vice president of talent engagement and inclusion. Fenwick will oversee the organization’s diversity, learning and development programs starting Jan. 2.
Fenwick’s role will span the 4A’s foundation, which includes the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) and the 4A’s High School Programs, the Workplace Enlightenment Certification (WEC) and the Learning Academy.
Since March, Fenwick has been overseeing creative and brand recruiting and diversity initiatives at Facebook. Before that, he spent two years as executive vice president of global talent and diversity at IPG Mediabrands and from 2012 to 2015 served as senior vice president, group director of global talent at Starcom.
“Today, more than any time in history, people and their experiences across a connected world have become the true currency of a successful business,” Fenwick said in a statement. “As such, I believe in bringing people together to facilitate change and drive success.”
He added, “With the 4A’s being a true champion of diversity and inclusion, they’re the perfect home to help elevate people’s unique experiences to better the industry as a whole.”
According to the 4A’s, Fenwick volunteers with several organizations supporting the LGBTQ community and those that provide early career opportunities for diverse youth. Born in Kenya and raised in New Zealand and Australia, Fenwick has lived in the U.S. for the past 14 years.
He will relocate to New York from San Francisco for the new role, under which he will report to 4A’s CEO Marla Kaplowitz.
“As we continue to advocate for a more inclusive industry, Simon brings the passion, drive and experience to make that a reality,” Kaplowitz said in a statement. “From our MAIP program, which provides a platform to launch and sustain careers, to WEC, which creates safe and productive work environments, Simon will offer invaluable expertise to make the industry a better place to work.”
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Advertising Age reported Diageo is demanding divertsity, pressuring its White advertising agencies to reveal gender figures. That’s right, the client wants to see exactly how White women are faring in the field. As for racial and ethnic minorities, well, keep walking. Sorry, but when it comes to true diversity, Diageo talks the talk, then walks away.
Diageo to agencies: We want your gender diversity stats
The marketing industry needs to make ‘faster progress,’ says CMO
By E.J. Schultz
Liquor giant Diageo is putting more heat on its agencies to share gender equality information after a similar effort earlier this year was met with a mixed response.
Global Chief Marketing Officer Syl Saller recently sent letters to Diageo’s agencies asking for details like the percentage of women on their leadership teams, information on their gender pay gap, and how they plan to address any gender imbalances.
“Despite all of our collective efforts as an industry, the pace of substantive change has been too slow in how women are portrayed in content, how qualified women are represented at a senior level in creative development and how women are selected to be creative directors on content,” Saller stated in the letter, according to an excerpt shared by a Diageo spokeswoman. “We need to make faster progress and the time for action is now.”
Diageo’s shops include 72andSunny (Smirnoff); Anomaly (Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal); AMV BBDO (Guinness); VMLY&R (Baileys); and Carat, which handles media.
Diageo began asking for gender diversity information earlier this year, Gráinne Wafer, global brand director for Baileys, said in July during an appearance at the Diversity in Marketing & Advertising Summit in London. But Wafer said when she started seeking the information she was “met with some blank faces,” according to coverage of the summit by The Drum.
“Some people are able to say ‘I know exactly what it is, here’s ours.’ Or ‘we’re not there yet but we have a plan’. That’s all I want to hear. That you have a plan,” she said, without naming specific agencies, according to The Drum.
Saller’s letter appears to be a way to put more pressure on the agencies to cooperate. While the letter sends a strong message, Diageo at this point has not laid out any specific targets or outlined consequences for shops that are not living up to gender diversity expectations, the company confirmed.
Beth Wade, global chief marketing officer at VMLY&R, said in an emailed statement to Ad Age: “Like Diageo, we strongly believe diversity enables better creative and more effective work. We have received the recent letter from Diageo and will be submitting our response.” She pointed to diversity efforts the agency participates in, including 3% Certification and Free the Bid, which is pushing for more female ad directors.
Wade added: “As part of the Baileys global digital agency-of-record selection process earlier this year, we showcased these diversity efforts to the team. We look forward to working with Diageo on their efforts to achieve gender balance and diversity in advertising.”
Anomaly and 72andSunny, two of Diageo’s largest creative agencies, declined to comment directly on the Diageo letter. 72andSunny publishes its gender diversity stats on its website. It shows that 20 percent of the agency’s creative directors globally are women, while 45 percent of employees at group director level and above are females. Carat declined comment.
Diageo has among the best track records for gender diversity in the alcohol industry. Women comprise 40 percent of its executive committee, while 45 percent of Diageo’s senior global marketing leaders are women. Earlier this year Diageo joined the Free the Bid organization, pledging to call on its ad agencies and content producers to include at least one female director on all creative bids. Also, Diageo recently developed a framework that it will use to improve gender portrayal in its marketing.
Diageo drew headlines in February when it put a woman on the face of Johnnie Walker bottles, calling her “Jane Walker,” as part of a limited-edition run timed with Women’s History Month.
Monday, December 10, 2018
Campaign spotlighted the late Caroline Jones as part of its #TellHerStory series. Sorry, but the piece feels kinda lazy, as it appears the reporter only spoke with IPG SVP Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Heide Gardner. Granted, it might have been difficult to find additional sources, as there are fewer than 100 Black women holding executive positions in the U.S. advertising industry. Gardner remarked that Jones would be “disappointed to see where we are and that we are still having the same conversations about having diversity at the table.” Actually, the entire industry should be disappointed—and embarrassed. Instead, when it comes to delegating, diverting and denying diversity, the chronic offenders are not only forgiven, they’re awarded ADCOLOR® trophies.
‘She would be disappointed’: How the ad industry still fails black talent
Adland is still not living up to the legacy of Caroline Jones, one of the first black female vice-presidents of a major agency.
By Nicola Kemp
“We will not let you fail.”
The six words that advertising pioneer Caroline Jones said to Heide Gardner as she prepared to launch a talent and diversity initiative for the American Advertising Federation in the 1970s. It’s a commitment that reflects Jones’ living, breathing legacy as one of the first black female vice-presidents of any major agency and a champion of young talent.
As senior vice-president and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Interpublic, Gardner is still one of the most powerful and thoughtful drivers of diversity in the creative industries. And Jones has had a major impact on her career. “The reason she and other black icons in the industry wanted to launch this talent programme was that they were so tired of hearing ‘We can’t find any’ as an excuse to the lack of diversity in advertising,” Gardner says. “The entire programme was designed to take that excuse off the table.”
Yet, more than thirty years after the launch of the scheme, that same excuse remains firmly on the table. In many ways, the ad industry as it stands has not lived up to Jones’ legacy and, in doing so, failed generations of diverse talent. Reflecting on Jones’ “huge legacy”, Gardner says she would be “disappointed to see where we are and that we are still having the same conversations about having diversity at the table.”
She adds: “In terms of her disappointment, it would include all the thousands of people who came into the industry 22 years ago when we started the programme. Of all of those people, so few of them are at the helm of major agencies.”
Garnder notes that Jones and many people of a ethnic-minority background who came into the industry did so in order to influence the portrayal of people of colour. “That mattered deeply to her and it still matters now. I can’t tell you how many essays I read from young students that say I want to be at the table to make that change,” she points out.
A legacy of hope
Thirty years ago, a small column in Campaign noted the rise of Jones’ mould-breaking career. The article announcing Interpublic’s affiliation with a “new black shop” commented on the nine out of 10 failure rate of previous “black-managed agencies”. Paul Foley, then Interpublic’s chairman, was quoted as saying: “Black-owned agencies in the past have lacked professionalism, sound financial guidance, strong back-up support services and national and international scope. Our affiliation with Mingo, Jones, Guilmenot has the answer to all of these handicaps.”
Jones, one of the three founding partners of this fledgling agency, was creative services director and described in the article as “the highest-paid black creative in the US and the first black female vice-president of any major agency”.
Back then, the lack of support — and, at times, out-and-out racism — experienced by ethnic minorities in the ad industry was often ignored. For critics of all the press coverage focusing on diversity today — who are either “bored”, dismiss it as “virtue-signalling” or see it as distraction from the work — perhaps Jones’ legacy will provide a much-needed pause for thought.
Because what was sidelined was the impact and business importance of multicultural media; in essence, the work wasn’t as good because it did not understand or represent the markets it sought to serve. According to Gardner, the ad industry trade press did not focus on covering the multicultural side of the business. Instead, it was multicultural media that championed the sector and the individuals within it.
It is a state of play that ethnic-minority people are still dealing with, Gardner points out: “Having a high profile is really important, but it is having a profile internally within the business you work for that drives whether or not you are promoted. This idea of visibility is a problem for women and people of colour.”
True definition of a trailblazer
Having graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in English and science, Jones began her advertising career in 1963 as a secretary and copywriter trainee at J Walter Thompson, an agency where she rose to the position of creative director. She ultimately left Mingo, Jones, Guilmenot (later Mingo-Jones) to launch her own companies — Creative Resources Management and Caroline Jones Advertising, where she was president at the time of her death in 2001.
“She had a huge amount of social capital outside of the industry and she used that to help elevate the issue of diversity,” Gardner explains. This effort culminated in a huge summit that looked at diversity and the allocation of advertising dollars. Jones brought together the likes of Al Sharpton, the Association of National Advertisers and 4A’s alongside members of congress and federal government agencies. “One of the thing she did so well was bring all the sections of the industry together — it was a packed room at the Waldorf,” Gardner recalls.
Frustration as a force for change
Yet, despite being a true trailblazer with an impact far beyond the traditional realms of adland, Jones was at times “extremely frustrated”, Gardner remembers: “White executives and creators were able to leave their agencies, set up shop at a hotel room and immediately get clients. Someone like her didn’t get that opportunity as easily.”
It would be tempting to sugar-coat Jones’ career progression, but to not tell the truth of her struggle would be to ignore the barriers she had to face. “You have to remember that some went into the business as entrepreneurs not just because they saw business opportunities that were being overlooked, but also because they could not see business opportunities for themselves and they wanted to create those opportunities for young talent,” Gardner explains.
When Jones did strike out on her own, one of her founding clients was KFC. She had previously been the brains behind the brand’s hugely successful “We do chicken right” campaign.
Speaking truth to power
Reflecting on Jones’ lasting impact on the industry, Gardner says: “She spoke truth to power and I feel obligated to do the same. She used her social capital, her influence, to do what she could to make a difference and that is a powerful message to everyone.”
Jones was all about opening doors and dedicated her warmth, energy and time into supporting the next generation. Gardner notes that Jones used to show up at student programmes as long as her health permitted and, in many ways, connecting with and championing young talent was her life’s work.
Here is perhaps the point in the story when you might expect a glib statement about the power of role models. But for Gardner, the issue is far more complex than that: “It is not just a question of ‘You can’t be it if you can’t see it’, it is also a question of proof points — is your organisation somewhere where people like you can really make it?”
As Campaign speaks to Gardner, a blog post written by Kai Deveraux Lawson, a producer who has worked at agencies including Wunderman, AKQA and Momentum Worldwide, has gone viral. In the article, she describes the micro-aggressions that led her to quit her job in advertising. She writes: “I used to wonder why people of color leave the advertising industry, never return. It was hard to understand how someone could leave the set of skills they’ve worked so hard to refine, and the knowledge that’s taken so long to gain, only to never look back. Today, I can say from experience, that when it comes to mental health and peace, drastic times will always call for drastic measures.”
“I call it the thousand cuts,” Gardner says. “This is the power of the small. With #MeToo and #TimesUp, we are so focused on the obvious and the egregious that we aren’t paying attention to the power of ‘small’.” She explains that people could respond to comments or actions differently due to their identity and all these small things can add up and become internalised.
“My generation — we expected these kinds of things to happen. We had this mutual support and understanding that helped with resilience,” Gardner continues.
“Millennials are unprepared and shocked by these things. They ask: did that really happen? Does that mean what I think it does? Those are the issues that the business world has to focus on.
“What happens to people as human beings is, over time, you can internalise those thousand cuts and you can lose self-esteem and your faith in yourself.”
To talent from diverse backgrounds, the message is silent but clear: we won’t just let you fail, we will uphold a system in which you are almost destined to. In 2018, it should not require a leap of faith for the creative industries to work towards a level playing field — a legacy that Jones would be proud of.
Pictured above: Caroline Jones, centre, with Bob Johnson, founder, BET; Clarence Smith, co-founder, Essence; Earl Graves Sr., founder, Black Enterprise; and Tom Burrell, founder, Burrell Communications Group
Sunday, December 09, 2018
It’s about two years old, but this FedGroup advertisement actually ran in an HR publication—despite displaying sexist and ageist attitudes that would warrant a reprimand from the HR department.
Saturday, December 08, 2018
AgencySpy posted on the latest happenings at Laundry Service, spotlighting the hiring of Leo Macias as Global Chief Creative Officer and the promotion of Jordan Fox as Head of Laundry Service and sister shop Cycle. Senior leadership defined authenticity, collaboration, diversity/inclusion and meaningful work as the “philosophical and cultural” pillars of the enterprise. Okay, but it’s becoming a tired trend for shops to recruit foreigners for executive positions and label it as diversity in action. Plus, has Casey Wasserman—CEO of parent company Wasserman—ever delivered on his promise to “go on record and refute” the accusations against the firm made by former Papa John’s mascot John Schnatter? Inquiring minds want to know.
Laundry Service Introduces New Leadership Team
By Erik Oster
Laundry Service has entered a new leadership cycle.
The Wasserman creative agency hired Leo Macias (pictured, right) as global chief creative officer and named Jordan Fox (pictured, left) as head of Laundry Service and sister company Cycle.
Macias will officially begin in his role on December 10 and report directly to Fox.
“Leo is a brilliant creative mind with a track record of successfully building and leading world-class global teams. He’s unbound by convention, and shares our philosophy that meaningful work happens through diverse thought, collaboration and authenticity,” Fox said in a statement. “His positive energy is inspiring, and together we look forward to (continuing to build) meaningful relationships between brands and people.”
Macias joins Laundry Service from DDB Colombia, where he spent the past three years as CCO, working with brands including AB InBev, Avianca and Poker. Before that, he spent nearly two years as a creative director for DM9DDB in São Paulo, working with clients such as Mercedes-Benz and Johnson & Johnson. Before joining DDB, he spent three years with the São Paulo office of Publicis Groupe, working with clients such as Nestlé, Purina and Procter & Gamble.
Laundry Service managing director Amy Hellickson and Laundry Service and Cycle CMO Mike Mikho will continue in roles as part of the senior leadership team, reporting to Fox.
Fox and the senior leadership team have identified and articulated “Authenticity; Collaboration; Diversity/Inclusion; & Meaningful Work” as the agency’s “philosophical and cultural” pillars as it enters its next era, while promising an increased focus on collaboration and a commitment to transparency and the “deliberate” and “thoughtful” pursuit of growth.
“Jordan (Fox) has exhibited strong leadership and has worked to establish a collaborative environment focused on cultivating great talent and delivering for our partners,” Wasserman CEO Casey Wasserman said in a statement. “His understanding of our business and command of culture and marketing will drive his success as head of Laundry Service and Cycle.”
Laundry Service played a central role in this summer’s Papa John’s saga. Papa John’s founder and former chairman John Schnatter claimed that unspecified Laundry Service employees had “pressured” him into a conversation in which he used racist language and attempted to “extort” his company to the tune of $6 million before ultimately leaking the news. An internal memo from an unnamed Laundry Service executive denied Schnatter’s claims and advised agency employees to avoid discussing the matter with the press.
Laundry Service resigned the Papa John’s account back in May following the offensive phone call. It subsequently parted with 60 employees, citing “client attrition.” CEO Jason Stein also left the agency in July to launch a new company called Stein’s.