Tuesday, April 21, 2015

12632: Belated 10th Anniversary.

Managed to forget that March 6th marked a decade of blogging at MultiCultClassics.

Monday, April 20, 2015

12631: Tuned Out For 60 Years.

At Campaign, TubeMogul UK Managing Director Nick Reid thinks TV advertising’s come a long way in 60 years. Diversity in advertising, not so much. Ditto diversity in television advertising. In fact, it might take another 66 years before we’ll see even a hint of progress. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

12630: White Pencil Whitewash.

Campaign published a perspective on the D&AD White Pencil by Decoded and HHCL Founder Steve Henry that ultimately underscored the hypocrisy behind the do-gooder trophy. Henry blathered on about “the rise of empowered and knowledgeable consumers who are demanding accountability”—and he cautioned companies involved in shady and/or unethical practices were opening themselves to criticism and condemnation. Um, what about White advertising agencies? After all, these places have made diversity a dream deferred and denied for over 60 years. Leo Burnett won the first White Pencil in 2012, and the agency remains predominately White despite producing patronizing pap calling for an end to exclusivity. Any advertising agency vying for a White Pencil should first be required to reveal the true diversity of its staff. That would surely make White Pencil seekers turn pale.

The power of good

Today’s empowered consumers want brands that make the world a better place. The white Pencil aligns perfectly with this, Steve Henry writes.

A while ago, before all the hoo-ha about Tesco, I saw an ad for a BOGOF on crisps, above that famous line: “Every little helps.”

And I thought: well, you’re helping to make people unhealthy there, which wastes millions of pounds in healthcare and kills people early.

This might seem a tad unfair – after all, crisps are still legal. But it was the BOGOF encouraging increased consumption, coupled with the line, that stuck in my throat like a huge ridged steak-flavour snack. In my view, a brand needs to have the genuine interests of its customers at its heart… otherwise it’s a non-brand.

And that led me to a question: is it time for the trivial industry to get serious?

I was inspired by the fact that I recently met one of my heroes – Paul Polman, the chief executive of Unilever and architect of the Sustainable Living Plan. This pledges to halve Unilever’s carbon footprint by 2020 and make all of its brands a genuine force for good. It’s the most ambitious commercial mission out there. And also incredibly smart.

Because the biggest trend in the commercial world right now is the rise of empowered and knowledgeable consumers who are demanding accountability.

I have been doing some online judging for the white Pencil recently, and a lot of the smartest ideas embrace a grass-roots, bottom-up approach. As Naomi Klein said recently, empowered individuals are our main hope of survival. (Unilever aside, maybe our only hope.) Because big business and politics have proved themselves to be incredibly corrupt, greedy, stupid and short-sighted over the last generation.

Collective activism

The best chance for our children to inhabit a world that isn’t a complete nightmare lies in the potential of individuals getting together via the internet to make their voices heard.

Judging the white Pencil was probably the most inspiring judging I have ever done – and the hardest. Trying to decide if a particular cause is great while the idea may be only average is heart-breaking. But it was great to see all that talent trying to make the world a better place. And, incidentally, usually avoiding paid-for media to do it – making apps, clothing, events, etc. instead.

Clearly, all successful brands will soon be subjected to massive scrutiny. Even as I write this, Nicole Kidman is being attacked for endorsing Etihad Airways by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which claims that the airline is “abusive” to its staff.

Those businesses that have ripped off their customers with misleading promotions – well, the public could come after them like Operation Yewtree on crystal meth. I think this is predominantly incredibly positive.

Of course, there is a negative side to it – and it’s highlighted in Jon Ronson’s new book about the public shaming of individuals on Twitter.

But, to me, the main positive is that the energy is out there. Massive numbers of people are frustrated – and, according to Ronson, the big stimulus for a Twitter onslaught is “misuse of privilege”.

Empowered consumers won’t take cynical behaviour lightly. They destroyed the News of the World, which was the biggest-selling newspaper in Britain, in a fit of moral disgust. And the actions of those ordinary people were far more punitive than anything the establishment would ever mete out.

In the 1976 film Network, Peter Finch played a newsreader embittered by the corruption he saw. He urged his TV viewers to go to their windows and shout: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.” He created a viral piece of action.

And the interesting thing is that a huge – I mean, really huge – number of companies could get attacked.

Tax avoidance? Encouraging addictive or unhealthy behaviour? Exploitative supply chain? Misleading people? Dubious ingredients? Unnecessary carbon footprint? Cover-ups?

You could get attacked for any one of them.

A friend in the newspaper industry said that, going back eight years, nobody really thought phone-hacking was wrong. It was just regarded as an example of what the ever-changing technological world was bringing about. There are big lessons for data exploitation here.

But, as Polman said, the current generation has the opportunity to right all the wrongs and create a decent, sustainable future.

Which is a brilliant way of saying: the last generation has completely fucked the planet up and, if we don’t move quickly, it’s game over for our kids. That’s something to ponder for everybody working in advertising.

Are you complicit in something nasty – or are you one of the good guys? How do you feel about the accounts you are working on this week?

We all have a choice. If Polman can do good in one of the biggest companies in the world, you can do it in yours.

If you want a selfish reason – last year, the two white Pencil winners went on to win black Pencils.

But there’s a bigger reason, and it’s known by a rather unfashionable name.

For me, the only way is ethics.

Steve Henry is a founder of Decoded and HHCL. He is the foreman of D&AD’s white Pencil jury

Friday, April 17, 2015

12629: The Ignorance Of Egotists.

Wanted to briefly extend the examination of The San Francisco Egotist response that read:

First: We judged the people that were nominated. Are there ultra-talented minorities in the SF ad scene? Of course. But they weren’t nominated. If you know a more diverse group that should be recognized, by all means, nominate them when we do this again next year. Nothing’s stopping you. Claiming it’s from “racism” is frankly, bullshit.

Second: Half of the list is women. This wasn’t done on purpose. It just worked out that way, which we think is very representative of the city in general.

Third: If you know great minority ad people who we should recognize, why didn’t you nominate them? Or would you rather just bitch about the problem instead of doing something about it?

First: Claiming it’s not from “racism” is frankly, ignorant. The advertising industry started out as a highly exclusive—and racist—field. Anyone with a brain and sense of history must admit to the truth. For over 60 years, the industry has failed to embrace diversity, clinging to outdated and discriminatory hiring practices. Is the current racism as blatant as what was executed back in the day? No. But to deny that racism is a root cause of today’s predominately White environment displays stupidity of the highest order. Then again, The San Francisco Egotist is barely half a rung above AgencySpy in the IQ department, so the cluelessness is not surprising.

Second: Half of the list is women—and most of them are White women. The San Francisco Egotist thinks this is very representative of the city in general. Sadly, the U.S. Census Bureau appears to confirm the matter. However, that should not justify the exclusivity of the 32 Under 32 clique. After all, the San Francisco advertising community is not creating messages targeting only San Francisco. These White agencies are appealing to a diverse America. It simply makes sense that an agency’s staff might reflect the inclusiveness of the audiences being addressed. Additionally, the industry has allegedly made a commitment to fostering diversity. To use the old excuse of “there just ain’t no minorities in our neck of the woods” is frankly, bullshit.

Third: The San Francisco Egotist snapped, “Or would you rather just bitch about the problem instead of doing something about it?” Um, what the hell has the online publication ever done to solve—or even acknowledge—the problem? Sorry, but the 32 Under 32 list perpetuated the problem. Celebrating exclusivity is nothing to be proud of.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

12628: Dearth Of Dame Directors.

Advertising Age asked, “Have Girl-Powered Ads Empowered Female Directors?” The piece seemed to serve as a soapbox for female directors whining about limited opportunities and pigeonholing. Um, minority directors experience ultra-limited opportunities and institutionalized pigeonholing.

Have Girl-Powered Ads Empowered Female Directors?

Commercials Are Celebrating Women, but Few Are Directed by Women

By Alexandra Jardine

“This Girl Can,” an ad from Sport England, attempts to encourage women to get fit by depicting them exercising in a totally honest way. Far removed from the glossy spots of Nike or Under Armour, it opens with a close-up of a swimmer’s jiggling backside and goes on to feature other “real” females—red-faced and sweaty, cellulite and body fat wobbling proudly. The ad has earned more than 7 million views on YouTube since launching in January and generated massive creative buzz.

But its director, Kim Gehrig, has an admission to make: “This project was the first time in which I actually admitted to being a female director.”

Australian-born Ms. Gehrig, a former creative at Mother who is signed to U.K. production company Somesuch, believes that her unisex first name has helped her get a foot in the door with agencies who assumed she was a man. She’s not alone; another female director named Kim, Backyard’s Kim Nguyen, says this has been suggested to her, too.

“I didn’t want to get pigeonholed as a female director who only did tampon and makeup ads,” said Ms. Gehrig. “But with ‘This Girl Can,’ I felt that it was important that there was a female voice for the piece.”

It’s one of several recent ads with a strongly “female” voice that has proved widely popular on social media; others include the groundbreaking “Like a Girl,” from Procter & Gamble’s Always brand, which was also directed by a woman, Lauren Greenfield.

Known for her documentary work on films such as “The Queen of Versailles,” Ms. Greenfield, represented by Chelsea Pictures, was nominated for a Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials for “Like a Girl”—but says she was shocked to find herself the first solo woman to receive a nomination.

She believes “Like a Girl”—which started out online, drew 75 million views worldwide and eventually became a Super Bowl ad—proved that women’s voices can make a real impact. “I think brands are starting to recognize that women can really drive these huge numbers,” she said. “If success means hiring a woman, it will happen.”

Yet female directors are still uncommon in the commercial production world. Reasons cited include a lack of role models, a macho culture among “old-school” production crews and a flawed perception that women are only capable of working on certain kinds of advertising.

“I still walk into meetings where people are shocked I am a woman,” said Ms. Gehrig. “Agencies are fine but crews can be really intimidating. There is a very blokey culture around the technical side of filmmaking, although that is now changing with younger directors of photography.”

A perception that women “can’t do comedy” is also a barrier for female directors, although that cliché is being demolished by the likes of movies such as “Bridesmaids,” TV shows such as “Girls,” and comedians such as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

“There is only a handful of female directors that do comedy,” said Amy Nicholson, an agency creative and documentary maker who recently signed with Supply and Demand for commercial representation. “Although ‘Saturday Night Live’ has shattered that whole thing about women not being funny, directing is a little different—someone has to trust you to get that performance out of that incredibly funny person. But it would be great if there was to be some dovetailing of those two worlds.”

There are also practical considerations for female directors that men haven’t traditionally had to deal with. “You have to give the client the impression that there is nothing else going on in your life, and that is hard when you have kids,” said Ms. Gehrig, who has a young daughter. “I hid my pregnancy, and couldn’t shoot after seven months because of insurance.”

Lack of role models is widely cited as a reason women don’t become directors. “On 99% of sets, people have come up and said to me that they haven’t worked with a female director before,” said Backyard’s Ms. Nguyen, who has filmed for the likes of MTV and ESPN.

“The tipping point will be when more women are doing it,” said Rattling Stick’s Sara Dunlop, whose résumé includes spots for KFC, Vodafone and the Royal Navy. “When you are a girl and interested in film, you don’t think of directors as being women, so maybe you gravitate toward other roles.”

That tipping point could be coming fast. According to Ms. Greenfield, Sundance is now “almost half women” and a brunch held there for women in film was packed.

Park Pictures’ Alison Maclean, who recently directed a Clinton Foundation campaign for International Women’s Day in which prominent women were heard but not seen, said that while women still need to be “tenacious and bloody-minded” to make their names via the traditional route, “we will see women come up through other channels—for instance via YouTube and social media.”

Sometimes having a feminine touch can be an advantage. Ms. Gehrig believes the (non-actor) women cast in the Sport England ad wouldn’t have necessarily trusted a male director to film them, for example, in such glorious close-ups. “There is a unique point of view that a female director can offer,” she said.

Yet Ms. Gehrig is wary of what some are calling “fem-vertising.”

“That frankly makes me feel quite sick,” she said. “I don’t want brands just to be jumping on this bandwagon.”

And even in a world where female directors are in demand, it’s still important for women not to be pigeonholed, warned Ms. Dunlop. “I work really hard to get a cross-section of work that doesn’t just have female leads. It’s important to get work that transcends your gender,” she said. To make her point, she cited a famous quote from movie director Stephen Daldry: “You don’t need to be a dog to direct ‘Lassie.’”

12627: Egotist Exclusivity.

The San Francisco Egotist presented San Francisco’s 32 Under 32 for 2015—and sparked well over 32 comments on the exclusive group’s lack of diversity. Plus, the publication lived up to its egotist name with snide and culturally clueless responses.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

12626: Havas Honcho Heading Out.

Campaign reported Havas UK Group Chairman and Global Co-President Kate Robertson is stepping down to spend more time on a UK not-for-profit organization she co-founded to “empower young leaders around the world.” Hey, maybe it’s an effort that can bring diversity to the advertising industry. Or more likely, lure additional White women to the field.

Kate Robertson steps down from Havas

By Staff

Kate Robertson is stepping down from her role as UK group chairman and global co-president of Havas Worldwide after 12 years to focus more of her time the One Young World forum.

Robertson co-founded the UK-based not-for-profit One Young World with support from Havas back in 2009, with a mission to empower young leaders from around the world.

She will continue as a consultant to Havas through to the end of next year.

Over a 12-year career at Havas, Robertson has led the UK Havas Group in serving global clients including Barclays, Reckitt Benckiser and Jaguar, and most recently led the UK acquisition of Work Club in 2014.

Andrew Benett, the global chief executive of Havas Creative Group and Havas Worldwide, said Robertson has “contributed considerable value” to Havas over the years, and delivered record growth for the group last year.

He said: “Kate has an energy and enthusiasm for her work that is unparalleled.”

Robertson said: “I’ve had a great time at Havas with brilliant clients and wonderful employees. But One Young World has become an overwhelming passion and one that needs an enormous amount of attention.”

The forum will host its 2015 summit in Bangkok this November.

Robertson’s is the latest in a series of exits by long-term Havas employees. Chris Pinnington, the company’s global chief operating officer, left last July after 30 years and David Jones, the former chief executive of Havas Worldwide and co-founder of One Young World, quit in January 2014 after 15 years at the agency.

At the same time the network has made a string of high profile hirings, including Sean Lyons from R/GA who now leads Havas digital strategy and Chris Hirst, the former chief executive of Grey London who joins in September to lead Havas across Europe.

12625: Kraft On Crap.

Advertising Age reported Kraft Senior Director of Data, Content and Media Julie Fleischer declared not all data is crap. However, the overwhelming majority of digital content excreted by Kraft definitely qualifies as crap. Ditto most of what comes out of Fleischer’s mouth.

Kraft’s Julie Fleischer at Ad Age’s Digital Conference: Not All Data Is Crap

Data Literacy and Clarity Will Drive Marketing, Improve Ad Impressions

By Felicia Greiff

Kraft’s Julie Fleischer took a bold stance at Ad Age’s data conference last October that marketers did not take lightly: ninety percent of data is crap.

“It’s become my calling card,” Ms. Fleischer said today at Ad Age’s Digital Conference in New York. “I’ve sort of become the ‘data is crap’ lady.” Ms. Fleischer, Kraft’s senior director of data, content and media, and Bob Rupczynski, Kraft’s VP-media and consumer engagement, took the stage to clarify their position on cloudy data.

The problem wasn’t that all data was crap; the problem was that most of the data Kraft had access to was crap. Now, Kraft is building its own data system to collect information about its consumers.

“I want to understand our consumers through different lenses,” Ms. Fleischer said. “First-party data is not crap.”

Ms. Fleischer found that Kraft’s marketers were unequipped to analyze and use data. Most of its marketers didn’t have experience with data beyond what they handled in Microsoft Excel.

“It just hasn’t been a skill they teach in school,” Ms. Fleischer said. She spoke to Kraft’s marketers about focusing on addressability and the importance of knowing and reaching consumers on a granular basis, an idea that was well received.

As Ad Age reported last October, Kraft used third-party data to help target consumers, but found that most of the people they wanted to reach weren’t really seeing their ads. Their concerns over ad fraud, viewability and overall inventory murkiness caused Kraft to reject up to 85% of all impressions offered via real-time ad marketplaces.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

12624: Setting Course For Diversity.

The Los Angeles Times reported UCLA approved requiring students to take courses on diversity. Gee, imagine if Madison Avenue did the same, mandating that all employees enhance their cultural competence. Of course, it’s so much easier to delegate diversity and make tax-deductible donations to ADCOLOR®.

UCLA faculty overwhelmingly approves required courses on diversity

By Larry Gordon

UCLA’s faculty approved, by a large margin, a controversial new policy that requires most future undergraduates to take a course on ethnic, cultural, religious or gender diversity.

The strongly supportive vote announced Friday night was the culmination of efforts that began two decades ago and previously faced rejections.

In a tally posted online, the campus-wide Faculty Senate voted 916 to 487 to begin the requirement for incoming freshmen in fall 2015 and new transfer students in 2017. It would affect students in the College of Letters and Science, which enrolls 85% of UCLA undergraduates.

The approval in the two-week online voting is a victory for UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. He endorsed the requirement, saying the courses would help prepare students to live and work in a multicultural society. Other supporters said the case for the classes was made more compelling by several recent incidents on campus that raised allegations of anti-Semitism and a lack of attention to racial bias.

Opponents said students were overburdened with other requirements, particularly in the sciences, and said the budget-strapped university could not afford extra classes. Additional questions were raised about whether these classes improve ethnic relations and whether they typically skew left politically.

Most other University of California campuses and the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture already require such courses.

Similar proposals were rejected by the UCLA faculty three times in the last two decades. And the vote announced Friday came after a lengthy and difficult process.

In late October, the faculty of the College of Letters and Science voted by a narrow margin – 332 to 303—for the requirement. In the following weeks, two other faculty panels added their approval. At that point many people on campus thought the debate was finished. But as allowed by campus rules, opponents petitioned for a vote by the entire campus faculty, a much larger group, and an election was scheduled.

“A diversity-focused course requirement has been a long-standing priority for me because of its clear value to our students, so I am very pleased with the campuswide faculty vote approving the proposal,” Block said in a statement Friday. “I want to thank the many faculty members and students who have worked hard for several years to make the diversity requirement a reality.”

In the recent online election guide, 70 professors and administrators posted statements of support and five expressed their opposition.

Among those for the new requirement, physical sciences dean Joseph Rudnick wrote: “Just as a proper introduction to the nature of the scientific enterprise is an irreplaceable component of a complete education, an exposure to rigorous scholarship on diversity is essential preparation for life in the world that awaits our graduates.”

In contrast, political science professor Thomas Schwartz wrote that there is little need for the courses and that proponents seem to be exaggerating how biased UCLA students are.

“The idea that 21st century American 18 year-olds who have been admitted to UCLA are so afflicted with bigotry that they must be forced to endure an attitude-altering course is preposterous. It is like forcing Norwegians to get inoculated against malaria,” he wrote.

Supporters say the requirement measure would not increase the units needed for a diploma and that many students are already taking classes that meet it. More than 100 existing courses across many departments are said to fit the bill and more will be added.