Friday, December 02, 2016

13452: Covering Brian Tyree Henry.

Looks like Adweek continues to struggle finding noteworthy Black people actually working in the advertising industry, opting to spotlight Black celebrities instead. The latest inclusive installment features Brian Tyree Henry of FX’s Atlanta series. The trade publication must really be nervous realizing that Black History Month is only two months away.

Why Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry Is Really Into Instagram Lately

And a fan of HBO, A Tribe Called Quest and James Baldwin

By Emma Bazilian


Age 34

Claim to fame Stars as Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles on FX’s Atlanta

Base New York

Instagram @briantyreehenry

Adweek: What’s the first information you consume in the morning?

Brian Tyree Henry: I read BuzzFeed—it’s great for following what’s going on amongst us millennials and what we’re talking about, and I take those silly quizzes every now and again—and the Huffington Post, for sure.

Are you very active on social media?

You know, I’m growing on social. [Laughs] Facebook is one thing, but now I’m totally into Instagram. It is so fun because I’m a pin collector, and there are a lot of artists on Instagram that post their pin artwork or the pins that they’ve created, so I follow them, and as soon as I see a pin that I like, I can tag it. I really love Instagram for the artwork. The fans of Atlanta are doing such dope artwork! I’m like, tag me in your artwork and I will make sure that I post it.

Do you paint or draw?

I used to draw and do a lot of calligraphy and typography. I’m a big sketcher, too. It kind of fell away for a bit because I really submerged myself into acting, but I’m trying to pick it up again, because being in L.A., there are so many things that can be so overwhelmingly beautiful that you’re like, I have to draw it.

What TV shows do you watch?

I have been the hugest HBO fan since I was 3, watching programming that I had no business watching as a child [laughs]. They have a show called Insecure starring Issa Rae that is so absolutely brilliant. There’s another show called High Maintenance that is amazing. And I am still, to this day, a huge Grey’s Anatomy fan. [Laughs] I watch it religiously. My friend Kelly McCreary plays Maggie Pierce, and Chandra Wilson is my acting guru, and James Pickens Jr. as well. Shonda Rhimes is a G! How to Get Away With Murder is amazing, too. And I’m really into This Is Us right now. What that whole entire cast is doing is unbelievable.

What’s on your reading list?

I have been clinging to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time like a child with his blanket. I’ve read this book so many times in my life. The great thing about James Baldwin and his writing is that it’s still fresh every time you pick it up. That’s also the sad thing about his writing sometimes, too.

Do you listen to any podcasts?

There’s a podcast that I listen to that always gets me going called The Read. There are two great hosts named Kid Fury and Crissle and they take things that happen in the world and they just go in. They’re incredibly funny and incredibly smart and speak from a place that I can totally relate to. I end every podcast in tears from laughing so hard.

I know you have a background in musical theater with Book of Mormon, but before Atlanta, had you ever done hip-hop?

No! [Laughs] I feel like I should because everyone’s asking me when my mixtape is dropping. I’ve been in some plays where I had to rap before, and I’ve been a huge fan of hip-hop my whole life—I’m one of the biggest A Tribe Called Quest fans in the world. I’m also a huge Childish Gambino fan, so to work with Donald [Glover] is mind-blowing. But I’ve never thought about crossing over into rapping unless, you know, Pharrell Williams or Gambino wants to produce it. [Laughs] Then I’d absolutely go for it.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

13451: Controlling Diverted Diversity.

Advertising Age published diverted diversity declarations from Kinetic Worldwide Managing Director Maureen McCloskey, who cried, “As a first step toward creating the change we want to see, we need to band together and forge our own paths, taking advantage of the positions we currently hold.” This underscores the key difference between diverted diversity and true diversity. White women already hold prominent positions throughout White advertising agencies; plus, they have the numbers to band together. In contrast, minorities are slotted into powerless roles—like reception, security, mailroom attendant, janitorial maintenance and Chief Diversity Officer—and they do not have enough bodies to band together beyond creating a small jazz band. White women can easily take more control. Minorities are lucky to take more crumbs.

Women in the Workplace: We Need to Take More Control

By Maureen McCloskey

According to the recently published Women in the Workplace Study conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, 78% of corporations say that commitment to gender diversity is a top priority for CEOs, an increase from 2012, when only 56% of companies put this initiative at the forefront. However, fewer than half of employees think their company is doing what it takes to improve gender diversity.

With all of the attention, and with such a high percentage of companies committed to the topic, why the gap? More important, what can we do to promote change that employees can believe in?

While it’s easy to say you are committed to gender diversity, it’s a completely different animal putting words into actions. Like myself, many women in middle-to-senior management hold much of the control in shaping company culture. We spend time balancing internal and external client needs, driving the direction of the day-to-day work, mentoring young talent, solving complex problems, facing the music when we need to deliver bad news, hiring, firing, making sure we meet KPIs and winning new business. How can we use our current positions to push forward, to implement these imperative, gender diversity commitments now?

As a first step toward creating the change we want to see, we need to band together and forge our own paths, taking advantage of the positions we currently hold. This may seem difficult to do if CEOs just want to check a box, but in solidarity, we can help shape what the companies of tomorrow will look like.

So, how can we accomplish this together in 2017?

Communicate value and self-worth

Let’s cultivate environments where everyone feels that their voice matters. By listening and opening the lines of communication, we will not only understand every employee’s strengths and passions, but build up their confidence—allowing them to be perceived just as they are.

Let your team know they matter to you and the company, and that their contribution matters. By communicating value and self-worth, we can build more vibrant corporate cultures.

Mentor/mentee relationships go both ways

Create mentoring programs where the senior staff advises the younger staff (and vice versa) on a variety of topics that can impact people professionally and personally. Senior staff can learn just as much from younger staff—whether it’s about the next big pop culture trend or how to navigate a tough client situation. If we spend more time with our coworkers than with our families (we do), we have to help each other navigate things both inside and outside of the office.

Flexibility is key

Don’t confine people to time or their desks. Our teams have passions outside of work, and if those aren’t being fulfilled, they are no good to us inside of work. Managers and directors need to understand their team’s personal needs outside of work. We should help guide them in time management; and, a few days a week, we should help them get out of the office at 5:30 p.m.

Creating flexibility is key for working parents too. Family dynamics have changed, and so should business. One’s career path should not end because one now has children. The valuable experience of parenthood brings a plethora of new lessons that directly apply to the workplace: patience, understanding, delegation, prioritization and much more. To those who worry the work won’t get done or that people will abuse flexibility when it is offered—believe me, they won’t. If you have mutual trust and an understanding that we all take our responsibilities seriously, there is nothing to fear.

Finally, to the women who have made it to the C-Suite, remember that we are all watching. Your actions, your words and your platforms matter. Remember that you have been given an opportunity, and with that opportunity comes a responsibility to mentor the next generation. Approach us. Connect with us. Guide us. We are eager, ready, and—you already know this, but it is worth underscoring—we are more than able to take a seat at the table.

Maureen McCloskey is managing director of Kinetic Worldwide.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

13450: Documenting Doddering Diverted Diversity.

Campaign declared photographer Dylan Collard “champions diversity” via a recent project—titled “Ages of Us”—featuring portraits documenting how people change with age. Doddering diverted diversity is gaining momentum and will surely leapfrog over racial and ethnic diversity soon—thanks to diversity champions like Collard.

Photographer Dylan Collard champions diversity in Ages of Us exhibition

Dylan Collard created Ages of Us, an exhibition in which he documents how we change as we age.

By Kate Magee

The photographer took the same bench to 23 locations in California and asked people to sit on one of the three seats representing youth, middle and old age.

Following the exhibition, Teamspirit, a financial comms agency, invited Collard to bring the chairs to its offices to raise awareness of age diversity.

What was your inspiration for Ages of Us?

In 2015, I shot a series of portraits of mostly elderly volunteers. I was fascinated by what experiences had shaped these faces. Around that time, I worked in SE1 and walked my dog every evening.

Our route took us past a takeaway. There was a bench and I’d often see someone sitting waiting for their food with that “lost in thought” expression and it fascinated me.

What was it like filming Ages of Us?

Incredible. I flew the seats to the US and had the frame made as I couldn’t find anything like it in the US. Shoots were quick as in public settings people get more self-conscious the longer they sit.

Who was the most interesting person you shot?

I loved the surfers who talked to us on Asilomar Beach and Weike Betten, a biophysicist who chatted about her hopes for a better future for everyone and her desire to have “a happy dog”.

I was also blown away by a couple of teenagers who had deep ideas about how they didn’t want to waste their youth.

How did the tie-up with Teamspirit come about?

My agent suggested taking the bench on a “bench visit” into agencies. Teamspirit champions age diversity both within the agency and in its work with financial-service brands to understand and embrace the unique talents and experiences of people of all ages, so it was a great fit.

What is the best age?

Every stage of life has its joys, stresses and pressures, and we negotiate through them in different ways, with increasing experience and awareness. But I miss the naïvety of youth and the freedom of imagination that goes with that.

How can we best come to terms with the ageing process?

Age does not matter so follow the advice of Olivia Roberts (18), who warned that if you spend your life worrying about the future, “all of a sudden you’re gonna wake up and realise there’s nothing next and you wasted all your time worrying”.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

13449: Dodging Diversity.

Campaign presented a bait-and-switch with content titled, ‘You need diversity of thought and diversity of experience’ Phil Hall—featuring an interview with Mediacom Chief Commercial Strategy Officer Phil Hall, who blathered on about his career in the field. The story’s headline might have led readers to think Hall would offer the standard diversity dodges, opting to embrace diverted diversity and avoiding true diversity. But Hall didn’t even do that. In fact, besides mentioning that the Mediacom business is diversifying and growing, the interview failed to directly touch on any form of diversity. The Campaign content inadvertently reflected diversity in the advertising industry perfectly; that is, the notion is occasionally mentioned, but never legitimately discussed and acted upon.

‘You need diversity of thought and diversity of experience’ Phil Hall

Mediacom’s Phil Hall tells John De Napoli why collaboration is crucial, why it’s hard to switch off, and why “t-shaped” people are the industry’s rising stars...

Who are the industry’s biggest boundary pushers, the ones who have really made a difference? And who do they most admire? In association with The Trade Desk, we invite the biggest industry names to interview their boundary-pushing peers – and pass on the baton, in an interview relay.

In the previous instalment, Mean Broadcast’s managing director, John De Napoli, chose Mediacom’s chief commercial strategy officer, Phil Hall, as his boundary pusher. Now he speaks to him…

What made you get into the media industry?

I needed to get a job! I had no plans to enter the industry at all. I didn’t even know what it was before I started working in it. I’d just come back from university and saw an ad in the Guardian to work for TSMS. I did a bit of research, turned up and started from there, in the airtime management unit. It was a really good starting place.

You’ve been at Mediacom for 16 years – what makes it the place for you?

It has changed beyond belief in terms of size and client base, which has made it really interesting. It was a relatively small agency and it’s growing really fast. Since the early days, we’ve had a culture which is if you can find a way to add value, if you spot an opportunity, you can do it. People rally around you to support you, and there’s no politics — which makes it refreshing, and makes it a place where you can actually get something done.

What qualities make a successful director and which of these do you have?

The obvious things you need to be successful in any role are self motivation, problem solving, curiosity, and refusal to accept the norms. The nuts and bolts of this business haven’t actually changed — it’s everything around the edges. I think the people that can challenge the norms, and say there’s a different way of doing things — executing a campaign or selling a product — are really succeeding at the moment. Collaboration has never been more important. If you’re an expert in a disconnected silo then you’re less than half as effective as someone who is perhaps less talented but is really connected into the business.

What keeps you motivated and interested?

Two things keep me motivated. Our business is diversifying and growing, and at Mediacom we’re always looking at ways we can get involved in different things outside of the day to day planning and buying of media. If we can look to add value for clients in other ways and take advantage of all the change, that’s really interesting work.

The second thing is working with really talented people. It’s an amazing thing to help someone build their career and fulfill their potential. I’ve had people work for me who’ve left — such as Simon Broderick who’s at MediaCom APAC, and Naomi Harston who’s now at Google — who’ve gone on to have brilliant careers. There are people in my current team who will go on to run big businesses in media and it’s fantastic to be a part of that.

Who do you admire on the sales side of the industry?

I really like people that can adapt their sell to suit our clients and our business. People who work in a more collaborative way will get a lot more out of media. Sales companies can be relatively small in their sector but really punch above their weight by working more innovatively. I admire the way that Nick Bampton ran that team at Channel 5, the way that Tim Bleakley at Ocean sets up his business, and Chris Forrester — to whom I’m passing on my baton. These are people that haven’t always worked at the biggest places but have really engaged with customers and clients, and thought about how they can adapt their sell.

What’s going to happen for TV trading, radio and online in the next few years?

Programmatic and automation is the obvious answer. It’s happening now, and at a fast pace which is only going to accelerate. I think you’re going to see a two-tier system of trading where the bulk of the inventory is traded in a programmatic way, and then the icing on the cake is traded in a more traditional way, which is less data driven and more about brand equity. I think it’s an incredible opportunity.

The mistake a lot of people make in the industry is thinking that with automation will come a de-skilling of people and less need for talent. I think the opposite is true. Since the industrial revolution people have been saying that more automation and mechanisation means the need for people will become less and less, and it has never been true. If anything, agencies will grow, taking on different sorts of people.

It’s clear that some of the old skills are less valuable now. We need new ones to succeed, including the ability to be collaborative, and take complexity out of buying, translating the processes back into client-friendly language. There’s too much technical jargon in our business, which is disguising what people are trying to achieve. People who immediately default into jargon, and can’t properly vocalise what they are trying to do, probably don’t understand it. You need, for want of a better word, ‘interpreters’ within the business.

Media agencies have traditionally pushed through and promoted people that are technically excellent at what they do. That’s fine, but increasingly we’re valuing the skills of more t-shaped people — generalists who can bring together different parts of a team and can hold it all together to deliver a result back to a client. That’s a valuable and vital skill which you didn’t particularly need in media agencies five or six years ago. In the past, it’s always been that the trading people could sit in their silo and deliver great results. That’s not enough now. You need diversity of thought and diversity of experience. Those people harnessed together, working collaboratively, will be the key to success.

How would you go about attracting that new talent?

You’ve got to be very clear in your direction. For people to really succeed in my team they have to have a curiosity and a desire to help the rest of the business. Go out and see what the planners are talking about, what the content specialists are talking about, talk to data people, and think about your specialisms and how they can enhance the whole. If you sit there in a silo, you’re not adding value.

What’s your advice to an up-and-coming Phil Hall?

Do something you enjoy. We spend lot of time and put a lot of energy into the job, so you’ve got to enjoy it. Find somewhere where there’s a culture of identifying and fast-tracking talent and ideally a supportive boss. Work out how to add the most value to what you do, and just hurl yourself into it. That’s got to be your ambition, to find something where your success is in your own hands.

What’s the next big thing in media?

It’s the thing it’s always been: people. It’s about talent and people and harnessing them in the right way. Our industry has always been and will always be about people. Digital, programmatic, and content are inherently important, but if you haven’t got a well-managed and motivated team which is creating something different to service a client’s business, you will never truly succeed.

What’s next for you?

I’ve just started a new role here which is really exciting, and I’ve been working towards that for last 18 months. It’s a more strategic role, looking at the commerciality in our business and looking at how we can create new products to help clients and media owners, and work in more interesting ways. Beyond that, I’d like to run a media business one day. I think that’s where my career is leading and what I enjoy doing. Whether that’s agency or sales I don’t know.

The progress I’ve made over last few years has been a result of really enjoying what I do. Karen Blackett gave me a great bit of advice four or five years ago — she told me if I ever have three months in a row where I’m not enjoying my role I should go and talk to her before getting downhearted or starting to look elsewhere. I now give that advice to other people. Everyone has bad months and stress from things out of our control. But three in a row and there’s more likely to be a problem. I’ve never had three bad months in a row.

I want to keep enjoying my job and keep making a real difference at Mediacom and in the industry, getting more experience working in senior management, and working with talented people out there to create new, different ideas for clients.

Monday, November 28, 2016

13448: Campaign For Generation Geriatric.

Campaign published a lengthy report that sought to explain “Why ageism is adland’s next frontier”—supporting the position with data from the recently conducted Campaign-MEC survey. The content is too long to copy, so check it out directly. Actually, the Campaign and MEC perspectives on the matter are total bullshit. Ageism is not adland’s next frontier; rather, it’s the next generation of diverted diversity. A senior smokescreen. A hoary heat shield. The White-dominated advertising industry continues failing to embrace racial and ethnic diversity. As a result, everyone eludes responsibility and accountability by advocating for other groups under the guise of showing commitment to inclusion. The current diverted diversity dodge involves promoting White women. In fact, Campaign peppered maternity bias into the ageism article. Now elder White men and women are crying discriminatory victimhood, despite having spent entire careers ignoring and opposing true diversity initiatives. The sad reality is, these White folks will have no problem—and exhibit zero reservations—pushing themselves ahead of racial and ethnic minorities in the battle for advertising jobs. The Campaign piece, appropriately enough, even features an interview with an old White man whose last name is Wight, who shared research that allegedly makes a case for keeping seniors on staff. Thanks to Campaign and MEC, doddering diverted diversity is gaining strength with age.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

13447: Weekend Chicken Shit.

What do Gene Hackman and Deidrie Henry have in common? Both thespians are indirectly noted in the Popeyes timeline at the fast feeder’s website. In 1972, the chicken chain’s flagship restaurant was rebranded and renamed after Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, the character portrayed by Hackman in The French Connection. Interestingly, Doyle was an alcoholic racist. In 2009, Annie the Chicken Queen—a “feisty spokesperson” who likes to “tell it like it is”—was birthed by a White advertising agency. Hackman won an Academy Award for his performance, while Henry will likely nab an ADCOLOR® Award someday.