Friday, October 24, 2014

12158: Translation Terminates Trio.

AgencySpy reported Translation may have cut President Nils Peyron (pictured above between Steve Stoute and John Norman) and ECDs Marc d’Avignon and Jay Berry—and the the trio had only clocked a few months at the shop. Wonder if Jay-Z canned the executives. Could anything be more embarrassing than getting dumped at Translation by Jay-Z—except maybe receiving a creative pink slip from

12157: Google Is Culturally Clueless.

AgencySpy reported Zach Canfield—who boasts about 15 years of experience as a creative recruiter and director of talent at places like GS&P and Wieden + Kennedy—landed the role of global creative recruiting lead at Google. Um, a company that needs to seriously get its act together on the diversity front hires a White guy from White advertising agencies to lead the charge? Fucking brilliant.

12156: South Africa Beats U.S. Diversity…?

At Campaign, Ogilvy & Mather South Africa CEO Abey Mokgwatsane presented the “three macro drivers contributing towards a very vibrant South African ad industry: talent diversity, digital migration and the changing role of South Africa as a gateway to the rest of Africa.” According to Mokgwatsane, “As it stands, only 42 per cent of the talent in the industry is of African and Indian origin; this percentage drops to 22 per cent at a senior level.” Wow, even the nation with one of the worst reputations for racism still beats out the U.S. ad industry when it comes to Black representation in the field.

Global viewpoint from South Africa

By Abey Mokgwatsane

Three macro drivers are contributing towards a very vibrant South African ad industry: talent diversity, digital migration and the changing role of South Africa as a gateway to the rest of Africa.

It’s appropriate, however, to start off with the fact that the industry has just celebrated its best work at the 36th annual Loerie Awards. We have a dynamic creative industry that has always punched above its weight.

South Africa has also exported some incredible talent, including Gerry Human at Ogilvy & Mather London, Damon Stapleton and Shane Bradnick at DDB Australia and John Hunt at TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris.

This ability comes from living in one of the most diverse nations in the world. South Africa has 11 official languages and a society that spans the entire income distribution range. This brings me to the first macro driver: diversity.

Diversity is one of our biggest challenges. This is not just an advertising industry challenge – most of corporate South Africa is under sustained pressure to ensure that more people of African, Indian and other origins who were previously excluded from the productive economy are included to ensure our sustainable development. While there is an economic imperative to address this issue and increase the talent pool, the South African government is also soon to legislate to accelerate diversity in the industry.

As it stands, only 42 per cent of the talent in the industry is of African and Indian origin; this percentage drops to 22 per cent at a senior level. The industry has to increase African and Indian talent while ensuring that it has effective development programmes for people to progress through the ranks to redress the impact of South Africa’s past.

Digital migration is also at the top of every agency’s agenda. While Africa lags behind the rest of the world in terms of digital adoption, digital media is the fastest-growing media segment. This growth has resulted in global marketing services groups snapping up digital shops in South Africa (four major acquisitions this year already), agencies building digital resources organically and/or purchasing digital shops themselves. This trend will continue.

Finally, the African continent is the last bastion of global growth with an increasingly affluent and untapped market. South Africa has always been the gateway into the rest of Africa. As economies in the rest of the continent develop, South Africa’s position is beginning to be challenged. More global companies are basing their operations in other countries and agencies have followed suit as clients require more effective local insights. The South African industry needs to reframe its role if it is to retain its leadership and relevance on the continent.

Abey Mokgwatsane is the chief executive at Ogilvy & Mather South Africa

Thursday, October 23, 2014

12155: Examining The Mentor Act.

The Mentor Act warrants a closer examination, as advertising people are wont to judge the efforts of peers; plus, the endeavor is tied to the U.S. justice and jury system.

The overall campaign originally launched through a coalition between Esquire magazine and three White advertising agencies. As always, it was likely a well-intentioned and positive initiative, fueled by individuals actively seeking to promote change. The execution, however, raises a few questions.

For starters, does anyone from Esquire or the White agencies actually have any credibility or experience in the area of mentoring? Even a mediocre mentor is familiar with the common knowledge and principles behind the challenges our youth face in today’s world. From Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to UNCF, this ground has been covered—and in far more relevant, effective and provocative ways.

The Mentor Act itself seems a tad far-fetched and misguided. In a nutshell:

We created a bill that gives people who volunteer with an officially recognized mentorship program a legal excusal from jury duty. It’s a fully functional document and all it needs is sponsorship from a state representative to be on its way to becoming an actual law.

Um, do we really want our youth being mentored by douchebags whose primary motivation for giving back involves avoiding jury duty? 12 Angry Men do not necessarily lead to great mentorship. Does anyone even want such morons serving on a jury? Service is something that must be given freely, responsibly and with personal integrity. Sorry, but jury duty exemptions make it all feel uninspired and cheap.

Again, The Mentor Act is undoubtedly backed by caring people. Yet actions of the heart must also incorporate actions of the head. Right now, this bill needs to be repealed, rethought and rewritten. Ditto the advertising campaign.

12154: ANA Grabs More Ass(ociations).

The New York Times reported the Association of National Advertisers is on a merger tear, planning to acquire the Business Marketing Association. In May, the ANA picked up the Brand Activation Association. Wow, it’s just one blockbuster deal after another. Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy must be green with envy—but he vehemently refuses to comment on it or any other merger-related incident. Plus, it’s yet another opportunity for ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice to build troops for the Army to Advance Industry Diversity.

Association of National Advertisers to Acquire the Business Marketing Association

By Stuart Elliott

For the second time in five months, a venerable marketing trade association is acquiring another.

The Association of National Advertisers in New York, founded in 1910, has agreed to acquire the Business Marketing Association in Naperville, Ill., which was founded in 1922. The two associations are announcing the agreement on Friday morning.

It was the Association of National Advertisers that also made the acquisition in May, taking over an organization known as the Brand Activation Association, which had dated to 1911 and was long known as the Promotion Marketing Association. The Brand Activation Association became a division of the Association of National Advertisers, and that is what will become of the Business Marketing Association, effective on Nov. 30, pending approval of its members in a vote that is to begin on Friday.

The Business Marketing Association and the Association of National Advertisers are in many ways two sides of a similar coin. The Business Marketing Association has 2,500 members in what is called business-to-business marketing or b.-to-b. marketing — say, a maker of jet engines selling its engines to an airline or a maker of X-ray machines selling them to hospitals.

And the Association of National Advertisers, which has more than 630 member companies, represents business-to-consumer marketers, the firms that sell goods and services to the public.

The deal, for undisclosed financial terms, is being announced during the annual conference of the advertisers association, which began on Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., and is to continue through Saturday. The conference, called the Masters of Marketing, has set an attendance record, with more than 2,800 registered attendees.

Although “giving up your independence is emotional,” Steve Liguori, chairman of the Business Marketing Association, said in a phone interview from the conference on Thursday, “the A.N.A. can help us because of its scale and breadth.”

“The A.N.A. reached out to us several months ago and said, ‘We want to be all things marketing,'” Mr. Liguori said. “We’ve got the passion and expertise in b.-to-b., but we lack the scale.”

In becoming a division of the Association of National Advertisers, he added, the Business Marketing Association will move to New York from Naperville and its board of directors – which has approved the acquisition — will become a board of advisers. Al Maag, executive director of the association, will remain in his job, Mr. Liguori said.

Robert D. Liodice, president and chief executive of the advertisers association, said the agreement “enriches and complements the A.N.A.'s offerings,” adding, “Through the B.M.A. integration, the A.N.A. will be able to enhance its programs and the insights we deliver to our members.”

In announcing the acquisition in May of the Brand Activation Association, Mr. Liodice described his organization as “always looking to see how we can add to our portfolio” as it seeks to be “a full-service association for our members.”

The pair of acquisitions suggests that additional consolidation in the crowded field of marketing industry organizations may be forthcoming if executives start believing that fewer, larger associations may be more effective than many, smaller ones.

12153: Mo Lévy Says, No Mo To Say.

Advertising Age reported Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Lévy is “fed up” with discussing the botched Publicis Groupe-Omnicom merger—before proceeding to continue yapping about the biggest failure of his career.

“I’m fed up mentioning the merger,” whined Lévy. “I decided not to mention it. There has been far too much attention on the merger. I was personally—and my team—far too much focused on this.”

When pressed why Omnicom Group was doing fine since the non-merger while Publicis Groupe was struggling, Lévy snapped, “It is something that has been extremely important for us. We believed in the merger and we thought it would happen, so we worked very hard for it. I will not comment on Omnicom.” Then Lévy proceeded to comment on Omnicom by arguing, “Clearly they have been less distracted. Probably they didn’t believe very much in the merger. Maybe they were believing much more in a takeover, and that probably has been the real difference. Period.”

Expect follow-up merger commentary from Lévy shortly. He’ll likely want to rebut and/or add to his own remarks.

12152: The Mentor Act Sucks.

This video introducing The Mentor Act is both contrived and crappy. Barton F. Graf 9000’s effort bears little resemblance to the f*cked up bullshit by 72andSunny or the relatively tame stuff from Makeable. The inconsistent messaging is probably the result of two facts: 1) Despite political nonsense like cross-cultural and total market, even the White advertising agencies are unable to professionally collaborate across offices and; 2) White agencies don’t know dick about mentoring. That the campaign failed to integrate non-White partners is painfully obvious—and obscene. An industry based on exclusivity, mean-spirited competition, nepotism, cronyism, racism and more has no business lecturing others on mentoring.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

12151: Campaign On Adland Gender.

At Campaign, Claire Beale wasted Web space commenting on Grey London CCO Nils Leonard’s pathetic Ode to Female Creative Directors recently published in Adweek. Beale claims the percentage of U.S. female creative directors is up to 11.5 percent, which flies in the face of cheerleaders from The 3% Conference. Could Beale’s factoid be a mistake, recording the increase in awards won by female CDs versus actual female CD bodies? Regardless, what’s most amusing is Beale’s wrap-up statement on awards, where D&AD pencils are saluted with high reverence, and “yellow and black still rule.” Okay, but in the advertising industry, the underrepresentation of Blacks is worse than ever and Asians are only at 2.95 percent—so Yellow and Black don’t rule—which makes Kat Gordon and her 3% crew even more pathetic and shameful.

Gender always causes a stir, no less so in adland

By Claire Beale

There’s been an awful lot of heat generated over the past week about a piece written in Adweek, by Grey’s newly promoted chairman Nils Leonard, on the subject of the creative of the future.

It’s got a lot of people very annoyed, and a lot of people are annoyed at the fact that people have got annoyed. The effect of this has been to get people talking about women in creative departments; this is a good and important thing to be talking about.

The first line of the article doesn’t help, though: “The perfect modern creative is a woman.” Quite a few people have objected to that, plenty of them women. Any blueprint for the creative of the future should take gender out of the equation, because being male or female is irrelevant to how good you are. It’s just that it might not be irrelevant to how good you are allowed to be.

Anyway, there’s not much wrong with the ensuing picture painted of a collaborative, inspiring and inspired creative, though I reckon brilliant creatives should reserve the right to fight doggedly for ideas they really believe in and sod collaboration sometimes. And if the pronoun attached to this fantasy creature is “she” rather than the default “he”, should that be a problem?

I do know that the brilliant Cindy Gallop thinks it’s spot on and read the article out to an audience at Advertising Week in New York, where it received deafening applause. And I know that some women find it benevolently sexist and utterly patronising.

Whatever your view of the issue, it’s worth noting that the number of female creative directors in the US is now up to 11.5 per cent — from the original 3 per cent stat nine years ago. That’s an increase of more than 300 per cent. But it’s still awful and progress is actually painfully slow.

The other thing to note is that Grey London is producing far better creative work now than it was under the old regime. There are lots of reasons for that, but there’s no doubt that better creative talent — plenty of whom happen to be female, including Vicky Maguire and Hollie Newton — has made a big difference. The formula is working.

A D&AD Pencil is a rare thing, a marker of excellence in the craft of creativity like no other. It’s quite hard not to win a Lion if you’re any good. It’s very hard to win a Pencil, even if you’re great. Except now it’s less hard, because you can win a wood or graphite one. This sounds like a bad thing, but I don’t think so. D&AD seems shy to say it, but the new Pencils will (hopefully) help the organisation make more money from selling tables at its awards, which it will plough back into nurturing creative talent. That’s important, and yellow and black still rule.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

12150: C’MON WHITE MAN! Episode 38.

(MultiCultClassics credits ESPN’s C’MON MAN! for sparking this semi-regular blog series.)

Adweek presented a partner piece to Grey London CCO Nils Leonard’s pro-female pap via a patronizing perspective from The Talent Business CEO Gary Stolkin. Sorry, but running a headhunter service like The Talent Business—with its thoroughly non-intuitive website—doesn’t establish much equality credibility. A typo in the subhead doesn’t help either.

Let’s be honest. The dearth of diversity—and dearth of dames—in the advertising industry C-suites can certainly be directly linked to the efforts of search firms. These enterprises have helped to perpetuate how “the shortlists for these leadership roles continue to be drawn from the same gene pool of male talent.”

Stolkin called out the stereotypical knocks against female executives:

• Women who are currently 40-plus do not exhibit the collective confidence and ambition of their male counterparts.

• Historically, of the handful of women who have been either global or North American CEOs, most have climbed the corporate ladder only to pull it up behind them and use it to beat down other women in the organization. They suffered from Margaret Thatcher syndrome—surrounding themselves with men and rather enjoying their queen bee status.

• Female rising stars who quit work for a few years to raise a family have, by and large, been deprived of the opportunity to recapture the momentum in their careers. Indeed, on many occasions the careers of women on maternity leave were sacrificed to deliver a promotion to a less talented male colleague who had forced his employer’s hand. There’s been a historical default position of men promoting men.

It’s hard to decipher if Stolkin is trumpeting change or simply acknowledging the exclusivity that he’s participated in for decades. Regardless, it all warrants identifying the man as a hypocritical jackass.


This Is How Agencies Can Win With Transformational Women Leaders

Creating better support systems for career succes

By Gary Stolkin

In a world where there’s a shortage of transformational agency leaders capable of delivering sustainable business success, why are there almost no female CEO and CCO candidates to lead the biggest creative agency networks globally and in North America?

Leadership is the key determinant of business success, and there’s a chronic shortage of effective leaders in the creative agency space. And yet the shortlists for these leadership roles continue to be drawn from the same gene pool of male talent. Why?

My sole recollection from the philosophy module of my degree at Oxford was the difference between priori and posteriori knowledge. That is, stuff you’re born with (nature) versus stuff you learn (nurture). In my 20 years in executive search, I have never pitched a role to a male candidate whose response has been to question whether he is ready to step up. And yet I have often pitched roles to female candidates who were eminently qualified and who nevertheless asked me whether I was sure that they were up to it.

Are men born to believe that they can do anything, or are they raised to believe so? It may be a generational issue, but women who are currently 40-plus do not exhibit the collective confidence and ambition of their male counterparts. This is to some extent a societal issue, but it has been massively reinforced by agency leadership and agency cultures. Agencies need to install drivers that give women a completely different set of expectations at the start of their careers.

A burden of responsibility also falls on the small number of women who assume leadership roles. Historically, of the handful of women who have been either global or North American CEOs, most have climbed the corporate ladder only to pull it up behind them and use it to beat down other women in the organization. They suffered from Margaret Thatcher syndrome—surrounding themselves with men and rather enjoying their queen bee status.

They may have had a female chief talent officer or female chief strategic officer, but their leadership teams were predominantly male and they perpetuated the male leadership model. And if the agency world is dominated by male CEOs, their global or North American CCO partners are, with just a couple of exceptions, all men as well. Female rising stars who quit work for a few years to raise a family have, by and large, been deprived of the opportunity to recapture the momentum in their careers. Indeed, on many occasions the careers of women on maternity leave were sacrificed to deliver a promotion to a less talented male colleague who had forced his employer’s hand. There’s been a historical default position of men promoting men.

While there are no women leading a creative agency network, and only two leading significant North American groups, there are more female leaders among the top advertisers in the U.S. The Fortune 500 employ about 50 female CMOs or svps of marketing in an obvious acknowledgement that the vast majority of purchasing decisions are made by women (even if the product or service is for men).

In summary, I don’t want to be producing all-male shortlists for these key leadership roles in years to come. I want there to be a richer pool of leadership talent and for creative agencies to be able to leverage the largely untapped pool of talented women.

One bright spot to be hopeful about is the role of technology in blurring the lines between professional and personal. The trend should continue to make it easier for women with families to work more flexibly and be on top of the business without necessarily being at their desk. As a man, I can’t truly understand the conflict that arises for some women when they make the decision to delay their career to have children. However, as the CEO of the world’s biggest provider of senior talent in the agency space, I know how difficult it is to find transformational leaders.

If agency cultures help create a different set of expectations and drive a different set of behaviors among women (and men), and we make it easier for women to resume their careers and fulfil their professional potential, we will have a richer pool of leadership talent in the future.

Gary Stolkin (@talentbusiness) is global chairman and CEO of The Talent Business.

Monday, October 20, 2014

12149: Subliminal Inequality.

Blog Action Day took place on October 16, 2014. Sorry for the tardy entry.

In 1974, Wilson Bryan Key published Subliminal Seduction, exposing the sexual symbols or objects advertisers allegedly used in secrecy to attract and manipulate consumers on unconscious levels. Prior to Key, Vance Packard also accused advertising practitioners of employing psychological and subliminal tactics via the 1957 publication of The Hidden Persuaders. Despite the classic books’ contentions—as well as arguments made by numerous related books, articles and reports produced over the years—there is little evidence of advertisers deliberately and successfully executing the insidious schemes.

However, no one ever spotlighted a phenomenon that has absolutely been happening in the advertising industry since its very beginning: Subliminal Inequality.

Subliminal Inequality covers the ways in which the industry’s leaders and managers with hiring authority have maintained White exclusivity despite decades of alleged commitment to equality. Most importantly, the discriminatory tactics persist without any negative backlash or responsibility being assigned to Whites in the industry.

Traditional Subliminal Inequality includes:

• Insisting there’s a limited talent pool

• Believing minorities are not aware of the opportunities

• Thinking non-Whites are non-interested

• Delegating diversity to cheery minorities with no authority

• Conducting inner-city outreach programs

• Bankrolling ADCOLOR®

• Saying minority hiring reduces quality

• Blaming Jesse Jackson for anything

Subliminal Inequality lets Whites arouse the desires of minority job candidates, yet fails to actually consummate a career connection.

How can you prove Subliminal Inequality happens? For starters, White agencies continue to flourish and get off scot-free—feigning concern and dedication to change—even though Black underrepresentation is actually worse today than ever. For a field measured by results and ROI, this factoid alone is grounds for immediate termination.

To conclude, with Subliminal Inequality, minorities get fucked. It’s as plain to see as obscene images in ice cubes.

12148: Changing America Specialists…?

The New York Times reported on Commonground/MGS, a new holding group comprised of eight independent, minority-owned agencies. The Times headine reads, “Specialists in a Changing America.” Too bad the advertising industry has not been changing with America. For now, the principals admit not knowing if their offerings should be labeled as cross-cultural, total market, multicultural, general market or whatever. Well, as they cannot call themselves a White agency, their initial adventures will likely involve vying over crumbs.

Specialists in a Changing America

EIGHT independent agencies and companies that create and produce ads aimed at minority, multicultural, urban and youth markets are coming together under the umbrella of a holding group named Commonground/MGS, which will have its headquarters in New York and offices in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami.

The five principals of Commonground/MGS, all senior executives with decades of experience in those markets, are describing the new agency holding company as the first in the advertising industry to be wholly owned by members of minority groups. Commonground/MGS will have about 300 employees offering clients services that include, in addition to advertising, public relations, event marketing, social media, content development, production and animation.

Three agencies being brought together under the Commonground/MGS banner — Commonground, based in Chicago; MGSComm, based in Miami; and the Vidal Partnership, based in New York — will be combined to form an agency also named Commonground/MGS. The other five agencies and companies — CG Works, the Cunningham Group, Post Master, Run Wild Productions and Sway Public Relations and Marketing — will continue operating under their own names as autonomous units of the holding group.

The formation of Commonground/MGS comes not long after an article in the trade publication Advertising Age described “a surge of small mid-sized agency holding companies,” among them the CHR Group, the Engine Group and Project WorldWide. They, however, work primarily with marketers seeking to reach consumers in the mainstream.

The new agency holding group also arrives as Madison Avenue pays more attention to the changing face of America, studying demographic trends that suggest ads may be more effective if they are crafted with a “total market” approach, also known as cross-cultural or transcultural marketing: directing pitches at a general audience whose demographic makeup is becoming more diverse rather than aiming ads in traditional fashion at specific ethnic audiences like Hispanics or African-Americans.

“We’re ultimately working toward a total market,” said Andrew J. England, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of MillerCoors, which has worked with Commonground on ads intended for African-American beer drinkers, because “a company like ours has to be open to where cultural influences are coming from.”

For instance, ads meant for African-American consumers that Commonground created for Coors Light beer, featuring the rapper Ice Cube, “became a core part of our total-market approach for a while,” Mr. England said.

“I’m very intrigued” by the formation of Commonground/MGS, he added. “A minority-owned holding company fills an important hole in the landscape.”

MillerCoors is among two dozen clients of the agencies uniting to form Commonground/MGS that will also be clients of the new holding group. Others include blue-chip brands like Bacardi, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, NBCUniversal, Outback Steakhouse, Tiffany and Verizon Wireless.

“We bring clients a solution that’s more relevant than ever: how to target the new U.S.” and how to understand “the multicultural consumer’s influence on the new America,” said Manny Vidal, the president and chief executive of the Vidal Partnership who becomes one of the five managing partners of Commonground/MGS.

“Where there’s change,” he added, “there’s an opportunity.”

“It didn’t take much to convince me that this was the right group to join,” Mr. Vidal said of the principals of Commonground and MGSComm, who had been discussing for some time the possibility of a combination. He was introduced to them by a mutual friend, Jorge Moya, chief creative officer of MGSComm. Top executives of MGSComm — Al Garcia-Serra, chairman, and Manuel E. Machado, chief executive, both of whom become managing partners of Commonground/MGS — met the principals of Commonground when “we pitched a pharmaceutical account together and were able to get to know each other,” Mr. Machado recalled.

“When Al and I started this agency in 2003, part of our long-term plan was to grow not just organically but, through the right people, reaching critical mass,” Mr. Machado said. “But it’s tough to do.” “We’ve all had opportunities” for deals that foundered because there was “a lot of personality in the room,” he added. “Here, we put it all together and the chemistry works.”

Mr. Machado acknowledged that “there is this confusion” over how to describe or refer to the kind of campaign that is now increasingly in vogue: “Is it multicultural? Is it total market? Is it general market? Is it all market?

“At the end of the day, the solution we’re bringing to the table is that we’re able to do the whole thing,” he said. “To do it together makes it a lot more powerful.”

Ahmad Islam, who founded Commonground with Sherman Wright, echoed Mr. Machado. “When Sherman and I started Commonground 10 years ago, clients were looking for a new model to reach multiple consumer segments,” Mr. Islam said. “Those once the minority are now a majority.”

Commonground/MGS will be “a brother-and-sister group of companies” developing campaigns with “a human truth based on a universal insight that applies to everyone,” he added, as well as campaigns aimed at demographic groups like African-Americans and Hispanics that do not “ignore the culture that is still relevant” when approaching those consumers.

“It’s being a bit of a Swiss Army knife,” Mr. Islam said, “not defined by one tactic.”

Mr. Islam and Mr. Wright, who are managing partners of Commonground, will become managing partners of Commonground/MGS. The new holding group will seek growth in three areas, Mr. Islam said: “from existing clients, new clients and acquiring entities that fit the culture, the spirit of what we’re doing.”

Correction: October 16, 2014

The Advertising column on Tuesday, about several agencies that are coming together under the umbrella of a holding group named Commonground/MGS, misstated the name of one agency involved. It is Sway Public Relations and Marketing, not the Sway Group. And a picture caption with the article misspelled the surname of one the partners shown in the group. As the article correctly noted, he is Al Garcia-Serra, not Al Garcia-Sierra.

12147: RaceMan Rides Again.

RaceMan rides again—in the Carroll County Times…? Actually, the piece on Lowell Thompson was originally written for the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Literary Supplement, but you can catch it without a subscription via the link above. Check it out.

12146: Bolloré To Buy Moré Havas.

Adweek reported Havas Group received an offer from an entity seeking majority control of the company—Bolloré Group, which already is a dominant shareholder. Hey, if no one is interested in buying you, buy yourself. Turn it into a full-fledged family affair.

Bolloré Group Makes Offer to Take Majority Control of Havas Group

Proposal would increase its stake from 36 percent

By Andrew McMains

Bolloré Group, already a dominant shareholder of Havas Group, now wants to take majority control.

In a brief conference call today, Havas Group confirmed that Bolloré had made an offer that would increase its stake from 36 percent to more than 50 percent. Havas CEO Yannick Bolloré described the offer as “friendly,” but said his board had appointed an independent expert to assess the terms. The board also has scheduled a meeting in mid-November to discuss the proposal.

Even before the offer, Bolloré had strengthened its ties to the advertising holding company through the installation of Yannick Bolloré as CEO this year. Yannick Bolloré is the son of Bolloré Group chairman and CEO Vincent Bolloré, who first invested in Havas in 2004. The younger Bolloré succeeded David Jones in the top job.

During the conference call, Havas’ CEO said that the offer was in stock, with the company offering nine shares of its stock to minority shareholders of Havas for every five shares they hold. As a result of the proposal, share trading in both companies was suspended in Europe.

Havas, whose agencies include Havas Worldwide, Arnold and Havas Media, is the sixth-largest ad holding company, with total revenue of $2.4 billion at the end of 2013. The company employs some 16,000 staffers worldwide.

Market leader WPP Group had revenue of $18.5 billion last year, followed by Omnicom Group, at $14.5 billion, and Publicis Groupe, at $9.5 billion. The number four and five players are Interpublic Group, which had $7.1 billion in revenue last year, and Dentsu, at $6.3 billion.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

12145: Replacing Old White Guys.

Adweek reported on Old White Guys being replaced by new Old White Guys at major agencies in the past year (technically, JWT hired an Argentina-Born Guy to replace its Old White Guy). Not surprisingly, there are always plenty of qualified White candidates exclusively available.

Is Yet Another Global Creative Shop About to Name a New CEO?

5 agencies have found new leaders in the past year

By Noreen O'Leary

Is there yet another high-profile agency executive change coming?

Publicis Groupe is looking to replace Leo Burnett CEO Tom Bernardin, sources said, making it just the latest top executive change at the largest networks in the past year—including Kevin Roberts’ departure at Saatchi & Saatchi, Tom Carroll at TBWA, Bob Jeffrey at JWT and Jean-Yves Naouri (global executive chairman) at Publicis.

That number increases over the past two years, including the exit of Draftfcb’s Laurence Boschetto and McCann Worldgroup’s Nick Brien.

It is unusually high turnover, with some of the current changes generational; Bernardin, Roberts and Jeffrey are all in their early to mid-60s. Still, some wonder about the mounting pressures on casting at the top of networks being remade by technology. “There’s a transformation in the business that is making it difficult for this generation of executives to stay up [in the business],” said John Challenger, CEO at executive recruiters Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

At many U.S.-based networks, execs replacing global CEOs spent much of their careers outside America. Roberts' British replacement at Saatchi, Robert Senior, spent his career in London; Gustavo Martinez, the Argentina-born exec succeeding Jeffrey at JWT, worked primarily in Europe, Latin America and Asia; Australian Troy Ruhanen, succeeding Carroll at TBWA, has also spent time in Australia and Asia Pacific; and FCB's Briton Carter Murray worked in Germany and Europe.

It remains unclear who would be in line to replace Bernardin, with Publicis Groupe dismissing speculation about his departure as a “silly rumor.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

12144: Penelope Cruz Is Mucho Sexy.

12143: Valley Of Digital Death.

USA TODAY reported on the dearth of digital diversity—that is, the abysmal lack of minorities in technology companies. Sadly, the excuses from the tech industry mirror the bullshit routinely shat out by the ever-exclusive advertising industry. Here are a few of the technological turds:

There’s a severe shortage of qualified Blacks and Latinos in the pool of job applicants. Of course, there’s no recognition that the pool is exclusionary—and little effort is being made to wade outside of the limited pool. There are plenty of available and qualified candidates. You just have to look beyond the routine and stop relying on cronyism, nepotism, racism and other assorted isms.

Blacks and Latinos need more educational opportunities. This leads to the belief that there must be greater connections with inner-city residents and historically Black colleges and universities. Look for tax-exempted internships, scholarships and outreach programs to explode in the years ahead.

Tech companies don’t want to sacrifice quality by hiring Black and Latinos. This is simply arrogance and ignorance at work.

If Silicon Valley continues to follow the lead of Madison Avenue, expect to see more Chief Diversity Officers, Diversity Development Advisory Committees, BrandLab knock-offs, ADCOLOR® donations, examples of delegating diversity and tech executives saying, “We’ve got a long way to go and we’ve got to do better—we’re fucked up!” But don’t expect to see any progress.

Tech jobs: Minorities have degrees, but don’t get hired

By Elizabeth Weise and Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO – Top universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Technology companies blame the pool of job applicants for the severe shortage of blacks and Hispanics in Silicon Valley.

But these findings show that claim “does not hold water,” said Darrick Hamilton, professor of economics and urban policy at The New School in New York.

“What do dominant groups say? ‘We tried, we searched but there was nobody qualified.’ If you look at the empirical evidence, that is just not the case,” he said.

As technology becomes a major engine of economic growth in the U.S. economy, tech companies are under growing pressure to diversify their workforces, which are predominantly white, Asian and male. Leaving African-Americans and Hispanics out of that growth increases the divide between haves and have-nots. And the technology industry risks losing touch with the diverse nation — and world — that forms its customer base.

On average, just 2% of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies that have released staffing numbers are black. Three percent are Hispanic.

But last year, 4.5% of all new recipients of bachelor’s degrees in computer science or computer engineering from prestigious research universities were African-American and 6.5% were Hispanic, according to data from the Computing Research Association.

The USA TODAY analysis was based on the association’s annual Taulbee Survey, which includes 179 U.S. and Canadian universities that offer Ph.D.s in computer science and computer engineering.

“They’re reporting 2% and 3% and we’re looking at graduation numbers (for African-Americans and Hispanics) that are maybe twice that,” said Stuart Zweben, professor of computer science and engineering at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

“Why are they not getting more of a share of at least the doctoral-granting institutions?” said Zweben, who co-authored the 2013 Taulbee Survey report.

An even larger gulf emerges between Silicon Valley and graduates of all U.S. colleges and universities. A survey by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that blacks and Hispanics each made up about 9% of all 2012 computer science graduates.

Nationally, blacks make up 12% of the U.S. workforce, and Hispanics 16%.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and Yahoo declined to comment on the disparity between graduation rates and their hiring rates.

LinkedIn issued a statement that it was working with organizations to “address the need for greater diversity to help LinkedIn and the tech industry as a whole.”

Google said on its diversity blog in May that it has “been working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science.”

In his blog post on diversity, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook cited improving education as “one of the best ways in which Apple can have a meaningful impact on society. We recently pledged $100 million to President Obama’s ConnectED initiative to bring cutting-edge technologies to economically disadvantaged schools.”

All of the companies have insisted they are hiring all of the qualified black and Hispanic tech workers they can find.

In an interview earlier this year, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the key to getting more women and minorities into the technology field had to start with improvements to education.

“We are not going to fix the numbers for under-representation in technology or any industry until we fix our education system,” she said.

Others say tech giants simply don’t see the programmers right in front of them.

Janice Cuny directs the Computer Education program at the National Science Foundation. She says black and Hispanic computer science graduates are invisible to these companies.

“People used to say that there were no women in major orchestras because women didn’t like classical music. Then in the 1970s they changed the way people auditioned so it was blind, the listeners couldn’t see the players auditioning. Now the numbers are much more representative,” she said.

The same thing happens in the tech world, said Cuny. “There are these subtle biases that make you think that some person is not what you’re looking for, even when they are.”

One of the key problems: There are elite computer science departments that graduate larger numbers of African-American and Hispanic students, but they are not the ones where leading companies recruit employees. Stanford, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA and MIT are among the most popular for recruiting by tech companies, according to research by Wired magazine.

“That is the major disconnect,” said Juan Gilbert, a professor of computer and information science at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“The premise that if you want diversity, you have to sacrifice quality, is false,” he said. His department currently has 25 African-American Ph.D. candidates. Rice University in Houston has a large number of Hispanic students.

“These are very strong programs, top ranked places that have excellent reputations,” he said. “Intel has been hiring from my lab and they say our students hit it out of the ballpark.”

Justin Edmund says he was fortunate to attend Carnegie Mellon. Today he’s the seventh employee at Pinterest and one of the top designers at the San Francisco startup valued at $5 billion.

He’s also one of the few African Americans in his company.

“There’s a lot of things that can be done to fix the problem but a lot of them are things that Silicon Valley and technology companies don’t do,” Edmund said. “If you go to the same prestigious universities every single time and every single year to recruit people … then you are going to get the same people over and over again.”

Contributing: Paul Overberg