Wanted to add commentary on the previous post detailing the firing of Campbell Ewald CEO Jim Palmer, which coincided with the news of a racist email sent last October by an employee from the C-E office in San Antonio. The news has spread beyond advertising trade publications and ad blogs to local Detroit newspapers and business journals, as well as national media properties like The Wall Street Journal. Not all of the sources are reporting the racist email influenced the decision to dismiss Palmer, citing Campbell Ewald has recently lost a bunch of high-profile accounts. Additionally, it’s not clear that USAA terminated its contract with the shop because of the racist email, despite the client announcing, “We will be searching for a new agency that aligns with USAA’s culture and core values." The insurance and financial client features the standard diversity and inclusion commitments on its website. Then again, so does Interpublic Group, the White holding company that owns Campbell Ewald—and it’s unlikely IPG will expel the advertising agency from the network.
If USAA cut ties with Campbell Ewald over the racist email, it marks a monumental moment in the history of the industry. After all, when has a client ever reprimanded a White advertising agency for biased behavior? So far, no other clients have joined USAA to protest the prejudiced professionals. Hell, clients won’t even demand that holding companies reveal EEO-1 data.
Yet the true hypocrite in the scenario is IPG. The White holding company declares it “is increasing diversity and forging a culture of inclusion.” Plus, IPG insists, “We take this commitment seriously.” The company boasts a list of “IPG Firsts” including being the first in the industry to hire a Diversity Officer. Sorry, but firing the original email author and CEO is not enough. Ditto coughing up charitable contributions to ADCOLOR®. It’s time to hold holding companies accountable for too many decades of displaying deliberate discrimination.