Sunday, December 20, 2009

7369: Best Of The 2000s = More Of The Same.

Adweek presented its Best Of The 2000s Winners, and ultimately demonstrated its editorial staff is still living in the 20th century. Read the brief tribute below, followed by a MultiCultClassics perspective.

Multicultural Agency of the Decade

“GlobalHue has consistently offered creative solutions that embrace a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities,” says Olivier Francois, president, CEO and head of marketing at Chrysler. “Their work is a testament to a greater understanding of the changing needs of the audiences we’re trying to reach.” This sentiment reflects the agency’s successful investment in demographic research following the 2000 U.S. Census, which helped fuel the shop’s growth into the largest, smartest multicultural agency in the U.S. with revenue of $83 million in 2008. Memorable work includes the award-winning “Grandma’s Hands” spot for Walmart, TV and online efforts for the Navy, and spots for Subway and Chrysler. In 2009, the agency won a significant general assignment from Jeep that resulted in the striking tagline, “i live. i ride. i am. Jeep.” Chrysler is hardly alone in its praise. One Walmart rep says GlobalHue’s “intelligent understanding of customers” and ability to convert that knowledge to business-building initiatives “is an example to all of us.” Joe Saracino, vp of marketing communications at Verizon Wireless, adds: “GlobalHue has shown uncommon dedication to our business and to the quality of the work they do for us. We are very pleased to know that the industry views their work with similar high esteem.” —Mike Chapman

MultiCultClassics admits in advance that this perspective is a little sloppy—but the Adweek contest was too.

Where to begin? First and foremost, the overall salute is a total farce, and not just in regards to multicultural advertising. Simply view the comments for the White Agency of the Decade polling. The thread reflects the sentiments expressed for nearly every category. The finalist list in each division seemed nonsensical, and the reader voting was clearly bullshit, with agencies like Euro RSCG and Burrell allegedly stuffing the electronic ballot boxes in their own favor. Stay classy, adpeople.

On the one hand, awards always feature controversy and sour grapes (check out these comments too). However, the handling of Multicultural Agency of the Decade was particularly curious, and it’s probably rooted in Adweek’s continuing cultural cluelessness—as well as the ridiculous segregation that exists within the industry.

Why are the minorities dumped into a single receptacle? Do they all look the same to Adweek? The smaller Asian American shops surely suffered in the competition. Where do the GLBT agencies fit in the crock melting pot? And while the usual suspects such as Jeff Goodby appear in multiple categories (e.g., Executive and Creative Director), were any minorities spotted outside of Adweek’s multicultural ghetto?

Adweek doubtlessly struggled to concoct praise for Globalhue, as the publication does not regularly spotlight multicultural shops. Indeed, the most press Globalhue has received in the 2000s involved Jim Edwards’ probing of its Bermuda account dilemmas. No disrespect intended, but can anyone name, say, five great campaigns Globalhue has created in the past ten years? To call the Jeep tagline “striking” is being generous—or disingenuous. Yeah, Globalhue picked up lots of new assignments. But its relationship with IPG certainly impacted the wins. Plus, it was recently reported that 50 percent of Globalhue’s revenue comes from its Latino unit, yet Adweek made zero mention of work from the segment. How much time did Adweek spend examining the multicultural contenders?

If minorities comprise a sole category, the Latino agencies should have dominated. The last ten years—at least in the multicultural silo—have arguably been the decade of Latino marketing. The audience has exploded, along with interest and support from advertisers. For evidence, note the numerous White firms that launched Latino enterprises. If Adweek scrutinized by account wins, The Vidal Partnership and Lopez Negrete definitely deserved recognition. If Adweek judged by creative, wouldn’t Grupo Gallegos have warranted a mention? It’s one of the few minority shops to win at Cannes.

The Adweek awards also inadvertently pointed out the inequities lingering on Madison Avenue. For example, White Agency of the Decade Goodby, Silverstein & Partners once netted over $2 billion in earnings in a few months. Globalhue—the largest U.S. multicultural agency—boasted revenues of $83 million in 2008. The staff of Globalhue is roughly 200 385 people strong. White Small Agency of the Decade Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners employs 150 professionals covering $30 million in revenue. Somebody please ask accountants to explain the variations in revenue and FTPs here. In the end, the hugest multicultural shop is not much bigger than a small White shop—with minorities apparently shouldering a greater staffer-per-revenue figure.

Too bad Adweek didn’t include a category for Victim of Discrimination. Of course, industry minorities would have lost that honor to Steve Biegel.


Unknown said...

Dear HighJive:

Thank you for your interest in multicultural advertising. There are a few errors in your post that we would appreciate having you correct.

1. GlobalHue has not been partially owned by IPG since 2005. Please note that since that time GlobalHue has won several significant accounts as an independent agency, including Walmart, U.S. Census, Subway and MGM. (U.S. Navy signed a new contract with the agency this year as well.)

2. GlobalHue employees today number 385.

3. GlobalHue ad campaigns are indeed memorable and successful, especially if judged on how they accomplish a key goal: advancing our clients' business goals. Their success is one reason why GlobalHue managed to retain all its clients and grow its business in 2009 despite an economic landscape that has roiled the industry.

Thank you,
Kelly Mitchell
Manager, Business Development

HighJive said...


Thanks for clarifying.

1. Did not mean to imply that Globalhue is still part of IPG; only stated the agency has benefited from its relationship with IPG, past and present. Surely you don’t think Draftfcb would agree to partner with a multicultural agency from another network for the Census. While Globalhue is technically not in the IPG network, it could be argued the agency did have advantages from being independent of it and once being in it. The networks and the political connections associated with them have definitely restricted multicultural agencies from vying for business.

2. Sorry about the incorrect employee total. Could’ve swore the number came from your website. But we’re actually happy to hear the correction, as it clarifies the employee-to-billing ratio. Although employees in minority agencies still seem to shoulder greater burdens than their White agency counterparts.

3. The memorable issue is subjective. Would still challenge the average adperson to name five great Globalhue campaigns in the past ten years. Honestly, every agency on Earth claims to advance their client’s business goals.

FYI, Didn’t really mean to attack Globalhue, so much as the Adweek contest itself and the implications it communicated for minority agencies. Thanks again for the comments.