Thursday, December 14, 2017

13938: XXXL Big Idea.

This campaign from Turkey appears to be celebrating diversity of size for a health club.

13937: Unlimited Exclusivity.

Advertising Age reported We Are Unlimited brought in a new CEO—replacing one White man with another. What’s more, the new White man has ties to Omnicom. Come to think of it, so did the old White man. Given all the hoopla about promoting White women—aka diverted diversity—it’s strange that DDB North America CEO Wendy Clark continues to ignore her restless ambition to diversify her McEmpire. Then again, Ad Age stated We Are Unlimited is seeking to transform from Mickey D’s exclusive peons to “a more sustainable agency.” So maybe that’s why Clark is erecting a typical White advertising agency.

MCDONALD’S DEDICATED AGENCY WE ARE UNLIMITED BRINGS IN NEW CEO

By Lindsay Stein and Jessica Wohl

DDB North America’s dedicated McDonald’s agency We Are Unlimited will come under new leadership after one year in business, with iCrossing’s Mark Mulhern taking the helm as CEO on January 8.

The leadership change comes as We Are Unlimited, which at first was solely dedicated to McDonald’s U.S. marketing, prepares to pitch for other accounts.

Mulhern will fill the post that was initially held by former BBDO Senior Director Brian Nienhaus, who was the first chief executive of the DDB bespoke shop. Nienhaus is moving into a new role within Omnicom. Specific details were not disclosed, but DDB North America CEO Wendy Clark says Nienhaus will work with both DDB and holding company Omnicom in the post.

“Brian was part of the pitch team and came into the account naturally,” says Clark, adding that We Are Unlimited is at a point now where it is looking to pivot from a startup into a more sustainable agency.

She says DDB and McDonald’s made a “collective and collaborative decision” to hire Mulhern, who has been “successfully” leading iCrossing New York for the last two-and-a-half years, as president. Hearst-owned iCrossing was one of Ad Age’s 2017 Agencies to Watch. Mulhern will report to Clark.

Mulhern, who earlier in his career spent three years at sibling agency BBDO as an executive vice president, will look to continue to build momentum for McDonald’s, says Clark. He will also help take We Are Unlimited to other clients by pitching for other accounts in 2018. When the two businesses began working together in August 2016, We Are Unlimited made a deal with McDonald’s to not pitch for other business for 18 months, but after that, the shop will have the opportunity to bring in new clients.

In May, DDB North America Chief Creative Officer Ari Weiss hired Toygar Bazarkaya, known for his creative work at Havas and BBDO, as the first chief creative officer of We Are Unlimited. The agency was created under prior McDonald’s leadership following a major creative agency review at the world’s largest restaurant chain. Back in 2016, Deborah Wahl was McDonald’s U.S. chief marketing officer and Mike Andres was its U.S. president. Chris Kempczinski took the McDonald’s U.S. president role at the beginning of 2017, just as We Are Unlimited officially began as McDonald’s national agency. In May, Morgan Flatley, who knew Kempczinski from their tenures at PepsiCo, joined the Golden Arches as U.S. CMO.

“We are grateful for Brian’s leadership and his incredible commitment during this first year of our new agency model,” Flatley said in a statement provided by DDB. “We welcome Mark and look forward to leveraging his expertise as we build upon our creative and integrated marketing approach aimed at enhancing connections with our customers.”

Mulhern is joining We Are Unlimited as McDonald’s prepares to promote a new value menu. The chain is trying to maintain and grow the sales momentum that has been rolling along since the October 2015 debut of All Day Breakfast. A new $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu debuts Jan. 4, including items such as $1 any size soft drink, $2 two-piece Buttermilk Crispy Tenders and $3 Happy Meals. McDonald’s, which has roughly 14,000 restaurants across the country, posted a healthy 4.1 percent increase in comparable sales in the third quarter.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

13936: WPP CFO FYI.

Adweek reported Sir Martin Sorrell executed a diversity double whammy by naming Stacey Ryan-Cornelius as Chief Financial Officer of WPP Health & Wellness. Then again, Ryan-Cornelius was already a 19-year veteran with Ogilvy, which is part of the WPP empire; hence, she doesn’t necessarily represent a new hire. Plus, Adweek stated the announcement was made shortly after WPP nabbed the Walgreens Boots Alliance account—so was the move maybe tied to client diversity requirements? Oh, wait, that’s not a possibility. After all, WPP is “perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation” on the planet. Finally, Ryan-Cornelius won’t have to use much of her accounting skills to realize her salary doesn’t come close to matching the obscene compensation enjoyed by Sorrell.

Martin Sorrell Handpicks an Ogilvy Veteran to Manage Finances at WPP Health & Wellness

Stacey Ryan-Cornelius spent 19 years with the agency

By Patrick Coffee

WPP made longtime analyst and Ogilvy veteran and worldwide controller Stacey Ryan-Cornelius the organization’s first chief financial officer today, tasking her with managing the monetary policies and procedures of its global Health & Wellness division.

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell handpicked Ryan-Cornelius for the role after working with her at Ogilvy for nearly 20 years. She begins in early January, and the latter agency is currently in the process of setting up succession plans for her.

“One of Martin’s biggest pushes lately is consolidation: picking the best of our talent to give the best to clients,” said the new CFO. “I sit in on all our quarterly meetings, so he sees me five times a year. Over the course of my 19-year tenure at Ogilvy, I’ve had the chance to be involved in multiple WPP initiatives. My reputation preceded me.”

Health & Wellness launched in February as the larger WPP group moved to consolidate its various healthcare-focused agencies—including ghg, Ogilvy CommonHealth, Sudler & Hennessey, Grey Healthcare and media firm CMI—under a single team led by Mike Hudnall, who formerly managed Team Pfizer.

The announcement immediately followed news that WPP had won the Walgreens Boots Alliance account after a competitive review. The client spends an estimated $600 million on paid media globally each year.

Prior to joining Ogilvy in 1999, Ryan-Cornelius spent several years with PwC, where she specialized in conducting audits for such clients as Viacom, Ziff Davis Publishing, Simon & Schuster and WPP’s own Y&R.

Moving forward, she will continue working with Ogilvy across the networks’ shared clients.

“I’m excited for my own Next Chapter,” Ryan-Cornelius said, referencing Ogilvy’s own recent restructuring moves and WPP’s plans to assemble the next generation of leadership across its agencies. “I am thrilled for the opportunity and humbled by the trust that both WPP and Ogilvy have placed in me,” she added, citing the time she spent working with Ogilvy chairman and CEO John Seifert and chief financial officer Steve Goldstein.

Regarding the new position, she said her first priority will be “building strong relations with the rest of the executive team and global network” as WPP aims to expand its presence in one of the most profitable corners of the marketing world.

13935: 15 Minutes Of Infamy.

Adweek reported The Martin Agency appointed a White woman to serve as CEO, replacing the White man who had joined the White advertising agency in 1991 and elevated to the CEO position in 2012. The move was undoubtedly tied to the dumping of another White man who had been running the creative department, as well as allegedly running after and sexually harassing women of all races and ethnicities for roughly 20 years. Hell, it begs the question as to whether IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth wrote his recent memo condemning sexual harassment in response to the predators in Hollywood or Richmond. At least Roth acted quicker with his culturally clueless cleanup in this instance. That is, when Campbell Ewald was caught displaying racist behavior, months passed before Roth held the agency CEO accountable by firing him. It looks like Roth’s reaction time has improved with The Martin Agency, and maybe he rendered a decision in 15 minutes.

So it’s once again fitting to put a spin on The Martin Agency’s popular GEICO campaign: 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on potential sexual harassment lawsuit settlements.

In the Wake of a Sexual Harassment Scandal, The Martin Agency Names New CEO

Agency veteran Kristen Cavallo takes over for Matt Williams

By Patrick Coffee

The Martin Agency announced the appointment of a new CEO today, less than two weeks after the departure of former chief creative officer Joe Alexander amid a wave of sexual harassment allegations.

Kristen Cavallo, a longtime industry veteran who spent more than 12 years with the agency before leaving for fellow Interpublic Group shop MullenLowe, will take over for Matt Williams as the highest-ranking executive at the Richmond, Va.-based company.

The incoming CEO most recently served as U.S. chief strategy and growth officer at MullenLowe, overseeing its offices in Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Winston-Salem, N.C.

“This is an important moment,” said Cavallo in a statement regarding her new position. “I want people to feel the possibilities that exist for this agency. They are talking about us, but soon I hope they are rooting for us. As a strategist, I love opportunities for transformation, and feel fortunate to play a part, with the full support of Interpublic and its leadership, to help re-write the ending of this chapter.”

She indirectly addressed the Alexander controversy: “Obviously, there is a need for a new direction, and the culture has to evolve. To be the first female CEO of this agency, in this year, under these circumstances—the weight of this isn’t lost on me. It’s going to be hard, but we can do hard things. As a mom, I want my kids to see that, and to set an example that resilience and possibility matter.”

The Martin Agency parted with Alexander last Friday but initially declined to comment on the reasons for his departure.

The following week, Adweek published a story based on conversations with 11 individuals who had worked directly with Alexander, two of whom spoke on the record. The piece included summaries of his alleged misbehaviors, which included multiple instances of sexual harassment over the course of approximately 20 years. It also noted that the agency and Alexander reached a monetary settlement with a former employee in 2013.

An internal memo sent to all Martin Agency staff later the same day stated that leadership made the decision to force Alexander out after one unnamed female employee came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. Alexander continues to insist that all allegations made against him are “false” and that he resigned of his own accord rather than face “a drawn-out, hurtful investigation.”

Industry advocacy group the 4A’s later rescinded Alexander’s “100 People Who Make Advertising Great” honor, stating, “We support agencies that take action to create safe and respectful environments for all employees.”

“The Martin Agency has established its place as a storied brand, serving great clients and producing some of the industry’s most awarded creative work. Kristen spent her formative years at the agency, so she knows how special a place it can be,” said IPG chairman and CEO Michael Roth, adding, “Kristen has been described as bringing stability and purpose to teams and organizations, even those on unstable ground.”

A spokesperson for The Martin Agency deferred all questions regarding today’s news to its parent company. An IPG representative did not make Cavallo available for interview today and declined to comment on the current status of both Williams and president, COO Beth Rilee-Kelley. The former executive joined the agency as account director in 1991 and received the CEO promotion in late 2012, while the latter served as head of human resources before being promoted to COO and later president in 2016.

Alexander is not the only longtime executive to leave The Martin Agency in recent months. Chief strategy officer Earl Cox, who spent more than three decades with the company, officially retired in September to be replaced by former senior vice president, managing director, strategic planning Michael Chapman.

According to the press release, The Martin Agency leadership will report directly to IPG as the holding group completes an investigation regarding Alexander’s departure and works to support the incoming leadership.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

13934: Cookies For Gender Equality.

Gee, even Chinese restaurants are jumping on the diverted diversity bandwagon.

13933: Delayed WTF 38—ADCOLOR® At 11.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Adweek reported on the 11th annual ADCOLOR® soiree held in September, which sold out for the first time in history. Sorry, but that historical factoid—along with Adweek misspelling the organization’s name (it’s all caps)—underscores the advertising industry’s true disinterest and disregard for diversity. Two comments were particularly noteworthy:

“Diversity and inclusion has become a hot topic in the recent years, but seemingly relating to gender more than race. Rarely, if ever, do you see black or brown faces in the ad industry. This is the real reality of advertising—the illusion of inclusivity. When it comes to race and inclusion, I don’t know that I can truly say I’ve seen much actual progress. It’s always a discussion but never an action.”

:::

“The industry has barely scratched the surface. We like to congratulate ourselves for small wins, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, the flip side is that we have not made systemic lasting change.”

The first comment came from a Senior Content Producer at BBDO New York. Gee, the Creative Residency Program and Comic Book don’t demonstrate action?

The second comment came from the Talent Director at 72andSunny. Gee, the 72andSunny Playbook and 3% Conference Certification don’t demonstrate systemic lasting change?

Whatever. To salute ADCOLOR® on its 11th anniversary, blog visitors are invited to read the 2007 post commenting on the organization’s birth.

Adcolor 2017 Highlights the Industry’s Progress and Challenges on Diversity as Tech Scoops Up Young Talent

The business has come a long way, but still has far to go

By Patrick Coffee

This week, approximately 700 professionals in the advertising, marketing and technology industries gathered in Los Angeles for the 11th annual Adcolor diversity and inclusion conference.

The event, which sold out for the first time, featured such luminaries as Uber chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John, actor and activist Jesse Williams, ad agency boundary-breaker Carol H. Williams and rapper-turned-Martha Stewart BFF Snoop Dogg.

As in past years, Adcolor 2017 focused on celebrating the achievements of people of color along with members of the LGBTQ community and other underrepresented groups. Conversations across the three-day event mirrored the state of our country: Many speakers referenced the recent presidential election, and the word “Charlottesville” came up several times with no real need for explanation. Despite this underlying sense of urgency and defiance, it was not a time spent bemoaning an industry or a culture in crisis.

“In a world and country where we’re reminded time and time again that our differences should divide us, Adcolor encourages people to come together to celebrate our differences,” said Wieden + Kennedy Portland account supervisor Analysa Cantu. “It’s those different perspectives that will allow us to make better work in our culture-influencing industry and ultimately, make us stronger as a society.”

TBWA\Chiat\Day New York content director and Adcolor Futures honoree Anastasia Garcia added, “One thing we’ve all experienced is the ‘only one syndrome’: being the only LGTBQ, minority or woman in the room. It’s very rewarding to have an experience like this when we’re not the only ones anymore. It’s more than just networking … it’s about the emotional support that this provides.”

Celebrating individual and industry-wide milestones

Even as ad agencies face continued criticism for a lack of diversity, Adcolor made clear that people of color, both established and up-and-coming, are doing great work every day—as they have for decades.

“There’s much more awareness and conversation about [diversity and inclusion] than ever before,” said TBWA Worldwide North America chief diversity officer Doug Melville, who compared the agency world’s gradual progress on that front to its attempts to get ahead of the last decade’s digital wave.

“Ten years ago, there was one chief digital officer, and this poor individual had to solve every related problem at the company,” Melville added. Similarly, many networks hired chief diversity officers in the aughts to better organize their efforts. Agencies and holding groups have approached the challenge differently, with some essentially arguing that every employee is equally responsible for developing a more inclusive workplace.

“To say that [the chief diversity officer role] is not necessary doesn’t give justice to the importance and scale of the work,” he said. “People often ask me if there were one tip I could walk away with, and I say, ‘Give difference the benefit of the doubt.’ There is a perception that difference is inferior.”

BBDO associate creative director Nedal Ahmed told Adweek, “I think as an industry we are learning that to tell diverse stories, you need diverse perspectives. Diversity has the power to keep work fresh—and honest.”

Founder and president Tiffany R. Warren of Omnicom has shaped Adcolor into a well-oiled machine that vividly illustrates the products of that process. While watching the young marketers in the Futures program present their “hackathon” projects on empathy in the workplace, hearing DigitasLBi North America group director of talent engagement and inclusion Ronnie Dickerson Stewart explain how to make a real-world impact on agency culture, and listening to Carol H. Williams recount the many times when she was the only black face in the room at Leo Burnett in the 1970s, it was hard not to conclude that the industry has made significant progress.

Major goals remain unmet

The event itself was an unqualified success, yet many still voice deep skepticism of the business at large.

“Diversity and inclusion has become a hot topic in the recent years, but seemingly relating to gender more than race,” said BBDO New York senior content producer Whitney Collins, who has worked in advertising for years, though she did not attend this week’s conference. “Rarely, if ever, do you see black or brown faces in the ad industry. This is the real reality of advertising—the illusion of inclusivity.”

The tables at Adcolor’s awards show were filled with faces just like the ones Collins described, but they remain the exceptions to the rule. “When it comes to race and inclusion, I don’t know that I can truly say I’ve seen much actual progress,” she said. “It’s always a discussion but never an action.”

Loren Monroe-Trice, talent director at 72andSunny (which was one of Adcolor’s main agency sponsors along with GSD&M) agreed. “The industry has barely scratched the surface,” she said. “We like to congratulate ourselves for small wins, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, the flip side is that we have not made systemic lasting change.”

“There is tangible evidence of progress, like the fact that the conference sold out this year,” said Thas Naseemuddeen, partner and chief strategy officer at independent L.A. agency Omelet. “But when I think about the way I am perceived in the press and in the back of your mind as a female creative person of color, I always think—am I a quota? Maybe it’s a weirdly shielded form of affirmative action, but what can I do with this opportunity? How can I change perceptions of young brown women?”

“The biggest hope we all have is that it’s not just a fad,” Naseemuddeen said regarding the recent wave of C-level promotions for women in the agency world. “It’s super encouraging to see, but why is it just starting now?”

Tech moves in on promising talent

While advertising has devoted a greater share of its resources to finding and nurturing minority talent in recent years, the tech industry may ultimately prove better equipped to do so.

“Something that was very surprising to me as a newcomer was who was investing in us,” Anastasia Garcia told Adweek. “One is Omnicom … but it’s mainly Apple, it’s Google, it’s Facebook.”

Apple sponsored Adcolor Futures for the third year in a row while Google supported the University program, and the larger conference included events in which representatives from Facebook showcased “the emotional power of VR” and Twitter executives highlighted the difficulties of enacting real, lasting change in an organization.

“It’s definitely visible to me that tech companies are looking to help us grow,” Garcia said. “This freedom to explore is something that young talent is looking for, and I feel like ad agencies just aren’t investing in that at this point in time. Being here speaks volumes over any press release.”

Doug Melville also noted that tech companies, unlike agency holding groups, “have unlimited data and money,” with Naseemuddeen adding that they are able to attract young people “way further upstream” for that very reason. But tech’s own struggles to diversify have also led to a wave of criticism and negative headlines, with the issue growing especially pointed since Google began publicizing its staffing numbers two years ago. BBDO’s Collins countered that, while such companies have drawn many employees from the international community, “Our own urban minorities are notoriously underrepresented.”

“We often say the talent is not out there, but Adcolor dispels a lot of that,” said David Elfving, an associate creative director in Apple’s marketing department. “It’s easy to participate in efforts like this, and it’s one way to bring people together in a meaningful way.”

The fact that Elfving is a white man—as were a small number of the conference’s attendees—points to what several agency talents described as a next step in this ongoing conversation.

Where does the movement and the business need to go now?

“We need to take a hard look at ourselves, be uncomfortable, and get vulnerable,” said Monroe-Trice about the future. “Where have we done well? We talk a good game. We talk about business case. We believe it’s the right thing to do. That’s not enough. We have to take a stand, take risks and support our talent. Leadership must get in the game—not advise from the sidelines.”

For Naseemuddeen, this means bringing her almost exclusively older, white, male agency partners to Adcolor and similar events in the coming years while also mentoring younger minority talent. “The only criteria you need to go to this is having an open mind,” she said. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Melville noted that many shy away from such conferences—and the diversity and inclusion conversation in general—due to “fundamental unease” and a very human tendency to focus on controversy. “Negativity gets a lot of headlines,” he said in echoing a line spoken by Snoop Dogg during the duo’s conversation on Monday night. “I wish more people would highlight what we’re doing that’s good. TBWA spent $150 million in five years with female and minority-owned [vendors] and no one writes about it.”

For Wieden + Kennedy Portland executive creative director Eric Baldwin, “Working with Glenn Singleton at Courageous Conversation has taught us that it’s not about ‘talk versus action.’ It’s both. If we don’t talk about the challenges people of color face, then we won’t progress, we won’t see true change.”

Still, Collins emphasized that action is critical. “We need to see minorities in positions of power,” she said, noting that this process starts with education in the form of “more awareness and more scholarships for minorities and the underrepresented.”

Melville remains optimistic that the ad and tech industries will continue to move forward, if not as quickly or decisively as many would like. “Diversity is not easy; It’s not a simple fix because there are so many small, different pieces like pay, access and geography,” he said. “[But] 50 percent of everyone in America under 34 years old is multicultural. We’re making the media and the message, and we’re driving purchase decisions. This is the audience of the future.”

Monday, December 11, 2017

13932: The Savage Truth.

Campaign reported Cannes Lions CEO Terry Savage will leave his role after the closing of the 2018 festival. Wonder if Savage turned in his resignation to Martin Sorrell. The most shocking part of the Campaign story involved Savage’s financial success; specifically, the 2017 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity collected $82 million in revenue. Wow. The majority of minority advertising agencies don’t come close to matching the annual revenue of an awards show. It also begs the question of comparing the typical White advertising agency’s awards show budget to the diversity budget. Such a revelation would underscore the crumby and savage inequalities in the advertising industry.

Terry Savage to leave Cannes Lions after 33 years

By Robert Sawatzky

Terry Savage, Cannes Lions’ longtime leader, chief spokesman, and a figure many viewed as the heart and soul of the global creativity festival, will be moving on after the 2018 event ends.

As a gauge of Savage’s success leading the festival, Cannes Lions had 16,392 entries in 2003, the year he was appointed as CEO. In 2016, entries reached a peak of 43,101. The 2017 festival brought in about US$82 million in revenue for Ascential—7% higher than 2016 despite “slightly reduced” entry and delegate numbers, according to Ascential.

“I have given a large part of my life to Cannes Lions and enjoyed every minute,” Savage told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “I am embedded in creativity and want to use that passion to help others to also follow this path—which I will.”

The chairman’s departure comes at a time of reflection and change for Cannes following criticisms that the Festival has lost some of its creative focus and become too costly and excessive. In response, Cannes Lions consulted with industry players before announcing a wide array of changes for 2018, including a shortened five-day programme, a simplified award structure, plans to separate commercial and non-profit work and changes to pricing policies. Some, however, feel the moves don’t go far enough.

Savage, who noted his decision to leave was not taken lightly, downplayed the notion that his departure was part of a wider signal to the industry that the Festival is willing to change to return to creative roots. “Those that do know me well will know that I embrace change and new directions,” he said, reiterating his past insistence that Cannes has always been a reflection of the industry but has not strayed from creativity.

“All platforms need to be creatively engaged—agencies, marketers, media, PR,” he said. “Creativity is certainly changing, and maybe because of the changes and the complexity of the industry you have to look at it in different ways, but it is still at the very centre of Cannes Lions and our regional events Spikes Asia, Dubai Lynx and Eurobest.”

Ascential Events chief executive Philip Thomas praised Savage’s “big personality with a big passion for creativity and for the Festival he has worked on for so long,” noting they would continue to work closely in the lead up to the 2018 event.

Savage said his focus for the next six months will be on making the revised 2018 Festival a success. Beyond that, he would not divulge what will come next, but hinted that Cannes’ creative successes could be applied elsewhere.

“Post Cannes, through the business opportunities I have before me, I will continue to ensure that the profound commercial and social impact of creativity takes a preeminent place in organisations around the world, and look forward to helping others achieve a like-minded position,” he said.

Asked if he has any regrets about his decades-long leadership of the festival, Savage was unequivocal: “None that I will waste a second thinking about,” he said.

Savage was named Cannes Lions’ executive chairman in 2005 and became chairman in 2006, taking on a strategic business development role for the division’s other festivals, including Eurobest, Dubai Lynx and Spikes Asia. Prior to his becoming Cannes CEO in 2003, he was executive chairman of the cinema advertising company Val Morgan, in Australia. Under his leadership, the company expanded from Australia into New Zealand, the US, South America, the Middle East and Asia.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

13931: Human Rights In Adland.

Today is Human Rights Day, which presents an opportunity to consider human rights as applied to the advertising industry—specifically, pertaining to the concept of diversity. Despite the industry’s efforts to politely position diversity as a business imperative—i.e., diversity is good for business, embrace diversity of thought for better ideas, gain relevance by reflecting the diversity of the marketplace, blah, blah, blah—diversity is a human rights issue. After all, when Madison Avenue came under fire for its dismal dearth of diversity over a decade ago, the charge was led by the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

To commemorate the special day, Human Rights Watch coordinated with 24 landmarks around the world to shine bright blue in a show of solidarity. One participating building is the John Hancock Center, home of FCB Chicago, a member of the IPG empire. In regards to diversity, a peek at FCB Chicago leadership hardly displays a reflection of the marketplace (the 2010 United States Census—advertised by Draftfcb, incidentally—recorded city demographics at 32% Black and 28% Hispanic). Plus, the scenes of the White advertising agency’s office are typically exclusive, with the most prominent Black staffers appearing to be serving in the mount room. Meanwhile, IPG boasts to be recognized for leadership in diversity and inclusion, yet the White holding company also owns a list of offenses to counter the clichéd claims of commitment—including the latest sexual harassment scandal via The Martin Agency.

So take a moment to meditate on human rights and diversity in the advertising industry. It’s well beyond being time to do the right thing—and the human rights thing.

13930: Tired Message.

Canadian kids with disabilities are fighting for inclusion too. Add another group leapfrogging over racial and ethnic minorities for a proverbial place at the table.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Friday, December 08, 2017

13928: Say It Ain’t So, Joe.

Adweek reported on the departure of The Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander after facing numerous sexual harassment charges. While Adweek stated Alexander resigned, Advertising Age published a memo from The Martin Agency CEO Matt Williams and President Beth Riley-Kelley announcing the “decision was ours” to dump the 26-year veteran creative director. Wonder if IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth will issue a follow-up memo to condemn Alexander, given that The Martin Agency is part of IPG, the oh-so-committed to diversity and inclusion holding company. Does anyone honestly believe Alexander represents an isolated case even within the IPG network? If adland conducted a thorough search-and-sack of sexual harassers, it would literally and figuratively change the face of the industry. Hey, it could create an extraordinary opportunity to fill jobs with diverse candidates. Or more likely, Madison Avenue will simply continue to promote White women and declare itself progressive.

For now, it’s fitting to put a spin on The Martin Agency’s popular GEICO campaign: A high-level advertising executive sexually harassing women? Not surprising. What is surprising? How much White advertising agency leadership knows about such illegal shenanigans—yet fails to admit and address it at all.

The Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander Exited After Multiple Sexual Harassment Complaints, Sources Say

He denies the allegations

By Patrick Coffee

Joe Alexander, the former chief creative officer at The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., left the company last week after several sexual harassment claims about him were made with the agency, according to multiple agency veterans who spoke to Adweek.

Alexander spent more than 26 years with Martin, serving in the top creative role since 2012. During his tenure, the agency was best known for its award-winning work for such clients as Geico and Walmart. Alexander denies all allegations of impropriety, stating that they are “false.”

Eleven individuals, including 10 women and one man, talked with Adweek about their experiences working with Alexander, who is married with children. Several said they reported concerns about his behavior to the agency, citing incidents as far back as the late 1990s. According to one woman who worked there in the 2000s, his nickname among some staff at the time was “HR Joe.”

“There are instances when we’re unable to provide details in deference to the request of individuals who have come forward to report actions of others that are inconsistent with our values and guidelines,” said an agency spokesperson.

“We have demonstrated consistently that when we are made aware of behavior by individuals that run counter to IPG’s values and guidelines, we take swift action,” read a statement provided by the agency’s parent company. “In this case, as soon as IPG was made aware of these allegations, we made sure that the right action was taken. We continue to look into the manner in which this situation was handled.”

Alexander is denying the claims against him and said he chose to leave.

“The allegations you are reporting on are false. All of them,” he said. “The Martin Agency is my family. Rather than a drawn-out, hurtful investigation, resigning was the proper thing to do to protect my family and all the people I’ve worked so closely together with in my 26 wonderful years. I will always love that place and people who make it so special. Please respect my privacy during this very, very sad time.”

Most sources asked that their names not be included in this story, saying they feared retaliation that might damage their careers. The only exceptions are former vp, associate creative director Sissy Estes, who worked at The Martin Agency from 2007 to 2012, and senior art director Daniela Montañez, who worked there from 2007 to 2013.

Estes told Adweek that she approached late agency president Mike Hughes about what she believed was a brewing problem in 2012, the same year Alexander was promoted to chief creative officer. She told him the newly installed CCO could not continue hitting on women. “Mike said, ‘OK,’ and I got laid off three weeks later after logging a 100-hour week,” she said.

Three individuals said that when they complained about Alexander’s conduct several years ago, they were told to resolve their issues with him directly. Montañez approached human resources in 2012 to let them know that she was uncomfortable working with Alexander. “I was told to speak directly to Joe,” she said, adding that a manager then told her, “I’m sure you’ll be happy wherever you choose to go.”

Regarding these specific comments, the Martin Agency representative said, “Everyone’s recollection from four years ago will be different. We can say, however, that it’s never been our practice at the Martin Agency to tell an employee to address issues that made him/her feel unsafe or threatened directly with the person who made him/her feel that way. Our employees have always been our top priority.”

At least one employee’s complaint to the company was settled in 2013 for an undisclosed sum. Attorney Tara Hanley, partner at the Dallas law firm Markland Hanley LLP, confirmed that one of her former clients “did have a matter” involving The Martin Agency and Alexander that year.

According to nine sources with knowledge of the story—two of whom worked at the agency at the time—a woman in the creative department accused Alexander of sexually harassing her and then firing her after she repeatedly rejected his advances. The sources who spoke to Adweek also said the settlement forbid the woman from working for the larger Interpublic Group again in any capacity. According to her online resume, she has not held a full-time job since being dismissed in 2013.

The Virginia law firm that represented The Martin Agency in connection with the former employee’s claim did not respond to a request for comment, and the agency declined to comment about the matter.

Two additional women told Adweek that Alexander made improper sexual advances toward them. One, a former executive, said he passed her his hotel key and invited her to his room to have sex during a business trip. They were both married at the time. She told multiple coworkers about the incident, and three of them separately confirmed the story for Adweek. One said this was Alexander’s way of “testing the waters” with women he found attractive.

Another former worker said Alexander joked about threesomes and at one point propositioned her.

Three other former employees said Alexander regularly belittled coworkers, telling multiple women that they needed to lose weight and commenting on the size of their breasts in front of male colleagues. They allege that he once described a black female employee as “chocolate thunder” and frequently told Mormon staff members that no one wanted to spend time with them because they wouldn’t drink alcohol.

IPG’s Response to #MeToo

The Martin Agency’s parent company was quick to respond to national concerns about harassment in workplaces. After The New York Times and The New Yorker ran explosive stories about Harvey Weinstein in early October and inspired the #MeToo movement, IPG CEO Michael Roth issued an all-staff memo proclaiming that his company has “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment and encouraged employees to call a 1-800 “IPG AlertLine” to anonymously report misbehavior.

But the former employees who spoke to Adweek said they weren’t aware of this resource when they worked at The Martin Agency, despite the fact that it has existed for nearly 20 years.

One former employee told Adweek that she and several of her colleagues filed complaints about Alexander on Thursday. The next day, a spokesperson confirmed that he was no longer with the company but declined to discuss the reason.

“Had we known about the 800 number [when we worked there], none of this would have happened,” said Estes. “This has been happening for decades.”