Thursday, June 30, 2011
Advertising Age reported Translation is seeking a divorce from Interpublic Group of Cos. If the split happens, will IPG have to readjust its diversity hiring figures? Look for the holding company to immediately begin searching for a replacement hip hop star.
Translation Planning to Split From Parent Interpublic
Growing Multicultural Firm, Which Counts Jay-Z as a Partner, Wants to Take on General-Market Agencies
By Rupal Parekh
Translation, the agency launched by marketing mogul Steve Stoute, is negotiating a buyback from parent Interpublic Group of Cos., Mr. Stoute told Advertising Age, as the shop moves away from its identity as a multicultural agency and seeks to rival bigger, general market firms.
The desire to recapture its independence comes as Translation is increasingly being tapped by blue-chip marketers for work outside of solely African-American marketing duties. Mr. Stoute said Translation is McDonald’s agency of record for sports and entertainment marketing; is engaged on product development and packaging for Wrigley; and handles national advertising campaigns for State Farm, Estee Lauder, DSW and Target. It’s also recently won assignments from Coca-Cola and Nokia as well, he said, though he declined to elaborate.
Still, Translation is currently is one of the smallest firms under Interpublic’s umbrella of agencies. It had 26 employees before being acquired almost four years ago and has 65 employees today; in 2010, it posted $9 million in revenue, up from $6 million in revenue in 2009, according to Ad Age’s DataCenter. Mr. Stoute partnered with rap mogul Jay-Z in 2008.
Interpublic, the fourth-largest advertising holding company, in October 2007 bought a majority stake in Translation for an estimated less than $15 million. As of April 2011, Interpublic owned 60% of the firm, an increased ownership stake compared to two years prior when it owned 44% of Translation.
Mr. Stoute says the deal hasn’t gone as he had initially hoped, largely because Interpublic agencies haven’t been willing to collaborate on campaigns.
“The experience, like any other relationship, has had its growing pains,” he said. “I’d say that my desire to work with their clients, and my initial thinking didn’t come to fruition. The agencies are clinging onto their relationships and don’t want to open up.” He added: “A lot of great talent is wary of holding companies and you don’t have to worry about conflicts, which becomes important when you begin getting AOR relationships.”
Interpublic, in contrast, was complimentary. “We continue to be supportive of and invest behind Translation,” the holding company said in a statement. “We understand Steve’s ambition to move in a new direction and look forward to continuing to work with him when possible, no matter what form an ownership structure may ultimately take.”
One person close to the discussions noted that negotiations are ongoing but no transaction has been agreed to yet.
For Interpublic, this won’t be the first time this year one of its shops will go down the buyback road. In January, PR agency MWW Group bought back its independence, saying it was driven by both emotional and business factors post-recession.
In Mr. Stoute’s case, the decision seems to be driven by those factors, as well as not wanting to be pigeonholed as a specialty firm. “I don’t believe in African-American shops anymore,” he said. “African Americans are Americans and drive popular culture. But I do believe that work should have the opportunity to cater to specific groups through nuance that appeals to that particular group.”
Tim Van Hoof, advertising director at State Farm, said Translation “seems to understand cross-culturalism as well as any group I’ve dealt with, and what I mean by that is how can culture bring audiences together rather than speaking with them separately.”
Asked whether it matters to him if Translation is independent or owned by a holding company, Mr. Van Hoof had this to say: “It only makes a difference to me if it impacts their ability to develop amazing creative. At the end of the day no, but if it impacts either positively or negatively, one way or the other, then the answer I want the best from the agency. If it helps from a financial or talent standpoint, great, but if it hinders, as it sometimes does, well … I just want the best work.”
Contributing: Brad Johnson
Marcus Graham Project presents Man Behind The Brand: Alejandro Claiborne, Vice President, Director Multicultural Communications Planning at Carat.
Claiborne takes an interesting position, contending that White advertising agencies “smell blood in the water”—that is, these places are recruiting minorities in order to steal the
But right now, there’s not a great deal of evidence to support Claiborne’s viewpoint. Yes, White agencies are raiding minority shops for minority talent, but mostly to staff colored departments. There have even been instances when entire minority shops were absorbed to complete a business
Adweek reported the United States Postal Service is up for review, and it’s not clear if incumbents Campbell-Ewald and Draftfcb will compete to keep their respective creative/direct marketing/media and promotions/retail assignments. It would be fitting for the agencies to receive rejection letters via snail mail—they would not realize they were fired for at least a few years.
Advertising Age reported KFC is introducing a “Chief Chicken Officer,” whose responsibilities include acting as a spokesman for the fast feeder’s new Cook Certification Program. This is all in keeping with the KFC tradition of fake titles, as founder Harland Sanders was originally given the honorary designation of “Colonel” in 1935. Additionally, the chain is relaunching grilled chicken, which flies in the face of the Kentucky Fried Chicken label. Somebody please verify that the shit they’re selling is actually chicken.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Campaign interviewed WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell, who confessed his company does a lousy job of recruiting. Based on Sorrell’s commentary, he clearly sees the mismanagement, mistakes and messiness. And to put it in perspective, he’s only talking about recruiting White people. Imagine what Sorrell might realize if he examined the process in regards to diversity. Sorrell declared, “We don’t recruit people very well.” But he would have to add, “We absolutely don’t recruit colored people very well—if at all,” as evidenced by the JWT ad below.
WPP’s Sorrell admits: ‘We don’t recruit people very well’
By Daniel Farey-Jones
WPP has to improve the way it recruits and develops people, Sir Martin Sorrell candidly admitted last night, as he hit out at the ad industry’s “basic approach” of “nicking staff”.
In an interview with Campaign editor Claire Beale, in front of 200 people for industry charity Nabs, the man who has built the world’s largest marketing services group in the past quarter century, drew attention to its recruitment shortcomings.
WPP spent $9bn on its 142,000 people each year, but did not invest it “in a good way”, he admitted.
“We go for the, forgive me for saying this, ‘Jesus Christ phenomenon’,” he said.
“How many times does somebody say: ‘I need to plug a hole, I need to get some talent, I want to hire this person, bring them in’, and three months later the person is dead … because they didn’t live up to the expectations.
“We don’t recruit people very well, we don’t assess them very well, we don’t give them feedback very well,” he said. ”We’re trying very hard, we’re trying harder than we did a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, but there is such a long way to go.” he said, expressing a desire to get back to a time when the group’s creative agency JWT was the “university of advertising”. Sorrell mixed the self-criticism with barbs aimed elsewhere. Talking about setting up the WPP Fellowship training programme 10 years ago, he remarked: “Our biggest worry was that it would get copied by the industry and it hasn’t.” If the industry carried on filling its talent needs by “stealing people” it would create a “nuclear arms race” in which the price of talent was bid up unnecessarily, he claimed.
He said he and Omnicom chief executive John Wren agreed the ad industry’s biggest problem was that it stole talent, when they were on a panel with a third holding company leader who he initially did not name.
Sorrell accused the HR director employed by this “other” holding company of being “a professional nicker — all he does is go around the world writing emails to people, trying to steal talent”.
He later said his fellow panelist “could have been Michael Roth [of Interpublic] or Maurice Levy [of Publicis]”.
From The New York Daily News…
Tracy Morgan under fire again for cracking offensive jokes about the mentally disabled in NYC show
By Shari Weiss, Daily News Staff Writer
Tracy Morgan has moved on from offensive homophobic remarks to similarly degrading comments about people with disabilities.
During a show at Carolines in Manhattan Saturday, the comedian warned the audience, “Don’t ever mess with women who have retarded kids.”
“Them young retarded males is strong,” he said, according to The New York Times. “They’re strong like chimps.”
The “30 Rock” star reportedly went on to admit he used to date “a cripple,” who had a mechanical larynx, a prosthetic arm and a portable dialysis machine.
Morgan suffers from diabetes, and received a kidney transplant in December.
The 42-year-old’s comments have already angered The Arc, an organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Tracy Morgan should apologize immediately,” CEO Peter Berns told E! News.
“This quote is far too offensive to be excused as comedy, and it is very hurtful to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families,” Berns said.
The activist added that Morgan “has an incredibly powerful platform from which to fix this, and if he’s learned anything in the last few weeks, he can’t bomb this apology.”
Morgan recently returned from a mea culpa tour earlier this month after he made homophobic comments — in which he said he’d kill his son if he were gay, among other outlandish statements – at a June 3 show in Nashville.
He apologized multiple times, including in person to Kevin Rogers, the attendee who had posted the comments on Facebook, and swore he would never make such vulgar remarks again.
The loudmouthed actor acknowledged the media firestorm at his Carolines gig, which was his first return to the stage since that ill-fated performance.
“You’re all sitting here waiting for me [to] say something about the controversy, right?” he said, according to The Times. “I’m 42, man, and now all of a sudden I’m homophobic?”
Morgan expressed gratitude to the audience for giving him another chance.
“I love you all so much. Did I tell you that tonight?” he reportedly said. “I’ve been in trouble lately, and this was big for me that you all came out.”
He also denied he was homophobic, as he had recently been labeled.
“I believe gay, straight, anybody, everybody’s supposed to be happy in this world, man,” he said.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Kidding around with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• A new report shows a sharp reduction in tobacco sales to minors in 2010 after an increase in 2009. The 2010 rate of 9.3 percent is an all-time low for the Synar Amendment program, which has been around for 14 years. Um, how can tobacco sales to minors be accurately measured, as it’s technically against the law to sell cigarettes to kids?
• Coca-Cola and Pepsi announced plans to raise the prices of its soft drinks. Which could lead to kids finding it’s cheaper to buy cigarettes than soda.
Aunt Jemima is back. A new campaign including social media and TV spots recently broke for the iconic
Closing Cannes Comments Collection:
• A White agency scored big with hip hop, as “Decode Jay-Z with Bing” secured Lions for Droga 5. The agency boasted phenomenal responses for Bing as a result of the campaign. Really? A few Facebook posts and Tweets by Jay-Z and his wife likely would have generated the same results. Regardless, it’s just another example of White agencies’ obsessive love for Black culture—which never seems to translate to hiring Black candidates.
• The most prominent Black Americans at Cannes were Pharrell Williams, Will.i.am and Jay-Z (represented by Droga 5). And CP+B probably held a special event in honor of Dr. Dre. Over the years, Will.i.am, Jay-Z and Sean Combs have been named creative directors for various brands. Even Steve Stoute’s career is rooted in urban recording arts. Guess the easiest way for Blacks to get promoted on Madison Avenue requires first becoming a premier hip-hop star.
• LatinWorks grabbed a couple of Lions, and other Latino shops reportedly shortlisted in categories. Did any Black shops come close?
Monday, June 27, 2011
From Advertising Age…
U.S. Hispanic Agency LatinWorks Wins Two Lions at Cannes Festival
Cine Las Americas Takes Gold for Radio Campaign Inspired By Crazy Speeches by Latin American Leaders
By Laurel Wentz
LatinWorks was the big winner among U.S. Hispanic agencies at last week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, picking up two Lions for new twists in long-running campaigns for Austin’s Latin film festival Cine Las Americas and anti-child obesity effort Active Life.
The Cine Las Americas campaign, winner of a Gold Lion in the radio competition, mines the seemingly endless supply of bizarre but genuine public statements made by megalomaniac Latin American heads of state (Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a favorite target). The tagline is always: “If this is our Latin American reality, imagine our films.”
The new twist this year is to pretend at first that the news report is about a European or U.S. leader. In the spot “Cameron,” a news reader reports that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said all European men are going bald because they eat chicken, which also leads to hormonal changes that could turn them into homosexuals. Then he rants against potatoes from the Netherlands. The news reader then explains that if Mr. Cameron had really said those things, he would have been shut up in a psychiatric ward. “But Bolivian President Evo Morales said it. He’s still the president of Bolivia.” The spot ends with a quick clip of Morales’ real rant in Spanish about baldness, chicken and homosexuality and the “If this is our Latin American reality, imagine our films” tagline.
In another spot called “Obama,” the U.S. president is greeted at an airport by 50,000 people “and jumped into the crowd screaming ‘I’m Batman.’” (That was Ecuador again.) “Merkle” features the German leader’s graphic description of a bout with diarrhea, which turns out to be from a public speech by Venezuela’s uninhibited Mr. Chavez.
Over the last few years, the annual version of the Cine Las Americas campaign has both boosted attendance at the film festival, held in Austin, Texas, and opened the door for the festival organizers to get good films for the program because the ad campaign has become so well-known among Latin American filmmakers. In the U.S. Hispanic market, radio is a bigger and more creative category than in the general market. Last year, Leo Burnett’s Hispanic shop Lapiz won two Gold Lions in the radio category, both for a Procter & Gamble spot for Bounty paper towels called “Battle.”
This year LatinWorks also picked up a Bronze Lion in the press competition for a print campaign for Active Life encouraging kids to enjoy the active outdoor activities they often abandon to spend hours online, contributing to child obesity. Each ad shows two children as paper cutouts from a Facebook profile, with each child’s photo, name and a few words like “4 mutual friends. Add as friend.” In each ad, the two kids meet outdoors to fly a kite or play on a slide or swing. The copy line is “Meet online, play outside.”
Several other U.S. Hispanic entries were shortlisted but didn’t win Lions, including a Conill spot in the film category called “Lineup” for the New Cinema Film Festival, which last year won a Gold Lion in film for the shop, and another Conill effort for T-Mobile, shortlisted in the media category.
The U.S. Hispanic market also sends two teams to compete in onsite Young Lions contests for film and cyber, open to creatives aged 28 and under. The U.S. Hispanic team for film won the Gold Lion in that category after competing with 40 other Young Lions teams from around the world to create the best 60-second mobile spot in 48 hours. The film Gold, which was judged by the festival’s film jury, was awarded to Omar Sotomayor and Gaston Soto, a creative duo from Lapiz.
Adweek Editorial Director Michael Wolff published a wordy and rambling perspective on the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, ultimately showing once again that the man really needs to find another line of work.
As previously mentioned, one major problem with Wolff is his seeming disinterest with the advertising industry. And it appears the disinterest is actually evolving into disdain. Oh, and let’s not forget it’s all rooted in industry ignorance.
Wolff opens his column by announcing, “This has been my first year at the Cannes Lions festival”—and he even admits to feeling embarrassed about being there (the soiree isn’t as prestigious as the Festival de Cannes, doggone it). He then proceeds to blather on like a tourist who accidentally booked a vacation during the event, and only realized the mistake upon arriving at the scene. It’s easy to imagine Wolff in Bermuda shorts, lathered with sunscreen, clutching a crumpled map and wandering aimlessly along the beach.
The accidental tourist wrote, “A discordant note here for any outsider is the constant use of the word ‘creative’ in a world where no one else thinks of advertising as a creative act. Movies are creative, advertising… well, hardly.” Ouch. Wonder if there was an awkward moment where Wolff bumped into ex-Adweek columnist Barbara Lippert, who spent most of her career writing about advertising creativity.
Oddly enough, Wolff closes by declaring, “For sure, I am coming back next year.” Hopefully, it won’t be as the Adweek Editorial Director.
This KFC commercial is careful to avoid showing people driving with a bucket of chicken between their legs, but you know that’s what inevitably happens. Then greasy fingers make it impossible to control the steering wheel, which leads to a potential face-to-face meeting with the Colonel.
The Network Journal named its annual 40 Under Forty—saluting executives for their outstanding careers, entrepreneurial leadership and community service. The list included a handful of advertising and marketing executives, but only two work for White agencies. Congratulations to all of the 2011 honorees.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Memo to Industry:
If you’re going to call yourself an “Agency for the Future,” avoid running an announcement ad that looks like it was created in the distant past.
P.S., Places claiming titles like “Agency of the Future” tend to become history—or just plain suck.
Advertising Age published a report titled, “Consumer Divide Grows Between Haves and Have-nots,” detailing how the growing economic disparity will likely affect marketing and branding. The piece examined U.S. consumers’ “Willingness to Spend” index, income levels and other factors.
So how will things play out on Madison Avenue? Expect the “Haves and Have-nots” notion to directly apply to White and minority advertising agencies. That is, the White shops will work even harder to snatch all the billings, while the minority shops will scratch for any leftover crumbs. And look for advertisers’ “Willingness to Spend” with minority shops to dwindle too.
The Moscow Times reported on the inaugural opening of a Wendy’s restaurant in Russia, which featured risqué Wendy characters sporting miniskirts and stilettos. U.S. Wendy’s official Andrew Skehan witnessed the hotties at the event and expressed concern that his American associates might take offense. Hey, no one complained when Wendy’s portrayed negative Russian female stereotypes in a 1980s commercial. Ironically, the negative Russian female stereotypes actually bear a closer resemblance to the current U.S. Wendy than the sexy models.
Sexy Russian Wendy Surprises Wendy’s
By Khristina Narizhnaya
The Wendy’s models in trademark pigtails who greeted reporters outside the U.S. hamburger chain’s first standalone Russian restaurant on Thursday didn’t resemble your traditional Wendy girls.
Instead of the wholesome freckle-faced redhead in old-fashioned pantaloons, these long-legged women wore short dresses, bright red-striped stockings and stilettos.
Meet the Russian Wendy.
Photographers clustered around the women to take photos, but a visiting U.S. executive, Andrew Skehan, was decidedly less impressed.
Skehan, the chain’s chief operating officer, said by phone that he had not been aware of franchisee Wenrus Restaurant Group’s decision to sex up the chain’s icon. He said he would probably have to deal with a flood of phone calls from Wendy’s/Arby’s headquarters in Atlanta once his associates saw the photos.
Wendy was, after all, the daughter of the chain’s late founder and chief executive, Dave Thomas.
But speaking to reporters at the opening, Skehan allowed that the Russians were the most beautiful Wendy’s girls he had ever seen.
The girls are a far cry from the Soviet stereotypes that Wendy’s lampooned in an award-winning commercial in the 1980s. The commercial poked fun at the lack of choice in the Soviet Union and the stereotypically large Soviet woman, showing a heavyset woman catwalking in a shapeless dress and swinging a flashlight for nightwear and a ball for beachwear.
“Wendy’s produced this parody, but today we have the Russian Wendy,” Skehan said in the phone interview, adding that he still laughs every time he sees the commercial.
The franchisee’s chief executive, Alexander Kovaler, explained that he had changed the outfit to appeal to a younger demographic. “It’s our upgrade,” he said by phone.
The opening of Wendy’s on the Arbat marks the second step in corporate plans to launch at least 180 restaurants, franchises and sub-franchises in Moscow and the Russian regions over the next 10 years. Russia’s first Wendy’s opened June 14 in the food court of the Kapitoly shopping center on Prospekt Vernadskogo in southwestern Moscow.
The quick-service restaurant chain hopes to take on main competitor McDonald’s and others with individually handmade burgers and better-quality meat, which, according to restaurateur Mikhail Zelman of Food Service Capital Group, does not contain tendons and other flaws.
The restaurant will offer an American menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, salads and roast beef sandwiches. The average bill will run 250 rubles ($9), or $3 to $4 more than in the United States. Wenrus projects annual revenue of $1.5 million to $1.6 million per store, roughly 40 percent higher than at a store in the United States.
The reason for the higher price is the high price of food and overall high cost of living, Kovaler said.
The opening is the latest in Russia’s fast-food boom. Burger King opened its first restaurant in January 2010.
Wendy’s is the world’s third-largest burger chain, after McDonald’s and Burger King.
McDonald’s, which opened on Pushkin Square in the twilight of the Soviet Union in 1990, continues to grow rapidly in Russia. Local restaurants, numbering 275 at the end of 2010, serve about 700,000 customers a year each, one of the highest numbers for McDonald’s in the world. It opened 31 restaurants last year and 40 more this year.
Russian chains have also been riding the wave. Teremok, which sells blini with traditional fillings like caviar and herring, now has 190 restaurants and stands in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The chain plans to open three new restaurants in Moscow before the end of the year.
The Russian dining market holds great growth potential because salaries are growing and there are relatively few restaurants per capita, Finam Holding analyst Maxim Klyagin said.
Fast food holds a share of 30 percent to 40 percent of the dining market. The industry saw growth during and after the recession because people were looking to downgrade to save money, Klyagin said.
The dining market value rose from $3 billion in 2000 to $26 billion in 2010, according to the State Statistics Service.
But there is still much room to grow. Americans spend 17 times more than Russians on dining out, Klyagin said.
Skehan said his American associates might have been misinformed about the Russian market in the 1990s but now are very interested in Russia and eager to visit.
“Russia is a vibrant country with a strong economy,” he said. “Fortunately it’s a country for people who like to eat meat. We are very excited about the future.”
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Every year, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity ultimately exposes the irrelevance of advertising awards and the ignorance of advertising people.
For example, Pepsi caught serious heat in 2008 for ads produced by BBDO Dusseldorf depicting images of suicide. In 2011, Ogilvy & Mather in Mumbai, India essentially ripped off the concept for Mentos and reeled in a Cannes Lion. If an obscure hack from Timbuktu recreated the Apple 1984 commercial but altered the ending so the hammer-throwing woman hanged herself, the spot would probably nab the Film Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Kia Motors America is actually condemning the Lion-winning campaign produced for the carmaker in Brazil. The ads hype the Kia Sportage’s dual-zone climate control feature with cartoons that critics believe glorify lust, sexism and pedophilia. “We can guarantee this advertisement has never and will never be used in any form in the United States, and our global headquarters in Seoul, South Korea is addressing the issue with the independent Brazilian distributor,” read the initial KMA statement. “We’re doing everything we can to inform consumers and the media that this was not a Kia Motors America-sanctioned ad, and like the American consumers, we find it totally offensive and inappropriate,” added Michael Sprague, KMA’s vice president of marketing and communications. “Through our social media sites, through our dealers, members of the media and our employees, we are communicating as much as we can to get the word out that this did not come from us.”
What does it say about the credibility and integrity of Cannes when advertisers are declaring their own work is disgusting shit? More importantly, what does it say about Cannes judges? Are the self-absorbed assholes so disconnected from their clients and consumers that they can’t recognize when an ad is completely wrong for a brand—and wrong from every other angle imaginable?
To make matters more grotesque, consider how this year’s Cannes festival included a special panel on building greater gender balance in the industry. Can’t help but wonder what the women think of the Kia campaign. The tone and content are a complete throwback to 1960s-era Mad Men, as well as an evil twin of 21st century T&A like Go Daddy, AXE, American Apparel, etc. Does Kia underscore the need to deconstruct the male dominance within advertising agencies?
Sure, there will be delusional amateurs defending the Kia campaign with the old “breakthrough-work-should-be-edgy-and-make-clients-nervous” bullshit. Too bad the contrived position is outdated and out of touch. Need proof? Where’s the cutting-edge rudeness in Nike’s World Cup Write The Future campaign? Puma’s After Hours Athlete is a poor man’s Nike concept, devoid of any nastiness-for-the-sake-of-grabbing-attention tactics. Jay-Z’s music routinely earns a Parental Advisory label for Explicit Content, yet the Cannes-honored Decode Jay-Z campaign is almost G-rated. Sorry, being insensitive and obscene when inventing big ideas isn’t necessary. It never has been.
Events like Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity are becoming increasingly unnecessary too.
Sorry characters in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Chris Brown apologized via Twitter for his anti-gay sentiments directed at photographers earlier in the week. The serial homophobic woman beater snapped at photographers whom he believed had tipped off police over his illegally parked ride. “Y’all niggas is weak,” growled Brown. “Did you call them to try and film me? Y’all niggas is gay!” Brown’s apologetic Tweet read, “I have total respect for Gay community and my intention was not to insult anyone in it.” Look for Brown to now go on tour with Tracy Morgan.
• Chelsea Handler is catching heat for insulting Serbians, with protestors calling for a boycott of Handler and her show until the comedienne apologizes. On Monday’s episode of her E! program, Handler and her guests were discussing Amy Winehouse’s recent concert problems in Serbia. Handler’s comments implied that “Serbia and its people are a shame and disappointment,” and she laughed that she didn’t know Serbians were allowed to attend concerts. And this woman called Sarah Palin really stupid?
Friday, June 24, 2011
Campaign spotlighted Will.i.am speaking at Cannes. Um, the performer is cool, but he shouldn’t be criticizing the industry when his “advertising” to date has been awful bullshit. Just saying.
Black Eyed Peas Will.i.am: ‘Ad agencies are yesterday’
By Arif Durrani
CANNES 2011: Black Eyed Peas front man Will.i.am spelt out to adland today how the changing media climate and shifting consumer habits are having a profound and absolute impact on global marketers looking to reach consumers.
Speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, one of music’s most successful brand ambassadors did not soft-pedal his message for a rapt audience of advertising and media delegates.
Will.i.am said: “Ad agencies are yesterday. But ad agencies that can turn consumers into agents that add value to community and life, that’s what it’s about right now.”
The multi-platinum artist was in the South of France in his new guise as director of Creative Innovation at Intel.
He drew on his experience of making music on computers over the last decade to illustrate how fast the media and technology landscape is changing.
He said: “Right now it’s a unique time, because TV’s not what it used to be. It’s old technology. When you compare it to that guy’s tablet — he took a picture with it. Big old tablet two seconds ago. It changed.
“That smart tablet he has, the smart phone, it’s more powerful than the TV. It’s more powerful than any magazine, all the magazines at once.
“So what we are all experiencing is a big major shift: what ad agencies used to do, what marketers used to do, that brands want to continue to have. That interaction and engagement with a bunch of people. To put the brand in front of it.”
His message to the room was to harness creative talent and find new, innovative solutions to cut through and maintain connections.
“Ad agencies are still important but they are trying to figure out how to add, and be, agents for brands in this new culture that we are experiencing,” he said.
“How do you take the consumer, and turn them into agents that add value to your brand, that add value to your communities, that’s the puzzle.”
Talking to Campaign, Will.i.am, real name William James Adams Jr, expanded his theme. He said: “We’re experiencing the birth of something. There’s a big void that people are trying to fill.”
He admitted that in the early days of the Black Eyed Peas he’d form partnerships through agencies or other third parties but said increasingly he is now working directly with brands as well.
Explaining his thinking behind getting into bed with corporate marketers, he said: “Brands, where do they go when people have the ability to TiVo things? When your tablet is more important than a magazine. What does a full page ad mean that is still, it doesn’t move.”
The singer’s comments come just a few months after he managed to takeover the most prestigious and lucrative advertising showcase in the world: the Super Bowl.
Not only did he perform with the Black Eyed Peas during half-time at the sports event itself, but he directed two ads for Chatter.com that aired around the band’s performance.
Said to be a natural evolution after working on music video concepts, it marked just the latest in a line of commercial tie-ups, that have included deals with Apple for its iPhones and iTunes ads.
He said: “Yesterday’s ways of informing people don’t work today. So people are open-minded to anything creative. Those creative folks that have a different perspective.”
The new “viral video” and accompanying website quietly sponsored by Summer’s Eve constitute one of the most blatant examples in recent history of a client being conned by the worst hucksters in our industry.
For years, Summer’s Eve has aired thoroughly lame spots that demonstrated the advertiser was pretty outdated and out of touch with its audience—and the stuff provided inspiration for endless spoofs too.
In 2010, Summer’s Eve actually produced messaging that essentially told women they could get ahead in the workplace by cleaning their private parts regularly. The negative public response prompted Summer’s Eve brand manager Angela Bryant to write, “I would like to first of all apologize if this ad in anyway has offended anyone. We are taking immediate next steps to remove the ad from circulation. We want you to know that Fleet Laboratories and the Summer’s Eve brand have the utmost respect for women. While we understand how some may come to an alternative conclusion regarding our recent ad, that was never our intention. Thank you.” It seemed as if the folks at Fleet were admitting to being, well, douchebags.
Now comes Carlton the Cat, marveling over vaginas with inane dialogue that can only have been conceived and crafted by a masturbation-addicted frat boy. Quick—somebody ask Angela Bryant how the campaign shows that “Fleet Laboratories and the Summer’s Eve brand have the utmost respect for women.” Sorry, this shit disrespects all of humanity. And house cats too.
The culprits responsible for the campaign remain anonymous for the time being. It’s safe to bet the work was created by a traditional advertising agency that is clueless about digital, a digital agency that is clueless about traditional advertising or a bunch of comedians clueless about digital, traditional advertising and comedy. Regardless, someone took advantage of a clueless client desperately seeking to gain credibility and hipness—yet ultimately buying a steaming pile of excrement that belongs in a litter box.
No amount of douching can remove the stink generated by this mess.
The IPG/WLN-sponsored Cannes panel covered more than the original focus of women in creative roles, mostly because the majority of participants weren’t even from creative departments. Nice job, IPG.
Regardless, the event did highlight—intentionally and unintentionally—the challenges women face in mounting the charge for greater representation in leadership positions.
First, no one can decide on the real issue. That is, are women poorly represented in the industry overall? Or is it just in leadership roles? Or is it just in leadership roles within the creative functions? Hey. It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, but come on.
Others have pointed to figures that show women are well represented in certain areas—like account services and media—and actually outnumber their male counterparts. Does this mean we must protest the imbalances that favor females?
The Advertising Age story stated, “The panel also revealed stark differences in how women are valued around the world.” Hence, it will be tough to build international unity.
Additionally, executives on the advertiser side admitted dealing with a dearth of qualified candidates in their own ranks. So don’t expect the clients to demand that agencies work harder to reach gender equality.
Finally, consider the press examples illustrating this post, which were collected over the past few weeks. Women are regularly being hired, promoted and lauded for their leadership achievements. It will be hard to expose a problem when the PR wonks are painting a rosy picture.
BTW, did anyone tally the number of females that picked up Cannes Lions?
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Advertising Age posted a story on the Cannes panel that examined the roles of women in the advertising industry—surrounded by sexist banner ads featuring hotties in bathing suits.
From Rolling Out…
Carol H. Williams, Ad Agency Maven, Puts Visa, Nike, Clorox and Burger King on Blast
By Zondra Hughes
“Visa, Nike, Clorox and Burger King have systematically ignored African American consumers,” a charged up Carol H. Williams told a captive audience during the 40th Annual Rainbow Push Coalition convention held in Chicago.
Carol H. Williams is an institution in the advertising and marketing industry. Not the African American advertising and marketing industry, mind you, but the industry as a whole, as she is responsible for some of the most memorable ad campaigns including Secret deodorant’s timeless pitch, “strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.”
Williams and a panel of advertising and media experts discussed the challenges that face African American advertising agencies and media companies, as some major corporations have greatly reduced — or eliminated — their spending budgets for the urban market.
Carol H. Williams encouraged the audience to get behind the joint effort to make companies that rely heavily on African American consumers accountable, and reinvest those profits into black and urban media buys, and in their respective communities.
Following is an excerpt from her remarks.
“Our pain is that you don’t understand your power.
“I understand that the Clorox company excels because you exist. Who do you think buys bleach, that is the multibillion dollar product, hypothetically, that Clorox sells? It’s bleach. It’s the pillar of their whole industry. But you go inside a Clorox bleach company and everyone in there looks just like their bleach.
“But they’re moving billions of dollars through yet, 42 percent of bleach is bought by African Americans and another 27 percent is bought by Hispanics. The rest of it is bought by ethnics. When you actually look at the Caucasian consumption of bleach, it’s less than 18 percent.
“Every single one of you have a bottle of Pine Sol, I don’t have to look in your cabinets, I can look at your numbers. African Americans buys 82 percent of Pine Sol. Who sells Pine Sol? Clorox.
“The brand manager is white, the assistant brand manager is white and [so are] the brand manager over the brand manager, the media manager, and you people demand nothing of this company. The only black person I ever saw at Clorox was me, and the receptionist. We have to create a situation that supports Rev. Jackson, and we have to figure out how to do that strategically, because our community will never be uplifted if we don’t demand more of these companies.”
Adding insult to injury, Williams explained, is the throng of African Americans who identify themselves as “other” on the U.S. Census. “A lot of these companies have the conspiracies going on, where we can’t even check the numbers to know how many are truly buying these automobiles. We just got a hint. To track these numbers, we need a budget. To track what you’re doing I need a budget. When I go and say, I need a budget, they say, ‘well, the Census says these people are checking other.’
“When did you figure out that ‘other’ was a race? I’d like to know. Other means give this money to somebody other than black. I understand the need to have self-identity, but when it comes to the Census, and the government, they’re talking about money, what dollar goes where. And you’re checking ‘other.’
“We have to get smarter than this. … Obama, do you know what he checked? He checked African American. Don’t you think that man knows who his mother was? He understands what that means.”
Carol H. Williams advised the audience that “we have to stop participating in this environment as if we’re not cognizant of what this environment is all about.”