Tuesday, April 24, 2018

14122: Aged Whine.

Veteran adman Bob Hoffman has joined the divertsity assembly against ageism in advertising with a recent blog post at The Ad Contrarian titled, “The Age Of Creativity.”

Hoffman makes an argument for creativity coming from people over 50 by highlighting how elder members of society “dominate in Nobels, Pulitzers, Oscars, and Emmys.” The recognition leads Hoffman to wonder, “Is there another industry on earth that is as steeped in intolerance and as thoroughly isolated from reality as the ad industry?”

Before answering that question, it might be helpful to consider a few points.

First, Hoffman’s argument is not original, as evidenced by AgencySpy spotlighting a 51-year-old creative director who hatched a campaign celebrating senior successes to protest ageism in advertising. Not surprisingly, the campaign generated the same types of pep-rally comments that Hoffman received from his post.

Second, Hoffman seems oblivious to the diversity of the ultra-award-winning creators he saluted. Such racial and ethnic variety is not reflective of the U.S. advertising industry (or the U.K. advertising industry). The 51-year-old creative director, on the other hand, chose to feature a predominately White group of creators, whose works are not as highly regarded as the breakthroughs from Hoffman’s honorees.

Third, Hoffman and the 51-year-old creative director are using a platform typically employed by advocates for racial and ethnic diversity. For example, it’s often noted how cutting-edge concepts in music, fashion, art and language originate from Black culture. FYI, this platform has not succeeded in improving Black representation on Madison Avenue—or even increasing the crumbs tossed to Black advertising agencies. Nonetheless, embracing the “old-people-are-innovators” angle could be considered a form of cultural appropriation.

Answering Hoffman’s question—“Is there another industry on earth that is as steeped in intolerance and as thoroughly isolated from reality as the ad industry?”—might not play well with Hoffman and the 51-year-old creative director, but it demands being addressed anyway.

The intolerance and aversion to reality so prevalent in the ad industry are products successfully perfected, promoted and perpetuated by guys like Hoffman and the 51-year-old creative director—i.e., Old White Guys. The denial of this fact could be a sign of early dementia, but probably (and hopefully) not. It must be painful to suddenly find oneself on the opposite side of the equation. Yet will the uncomfortable experience inspire the primary perpetrators to become fully inclusive change agents? Now that would be a revolutionary achievement for the ages.

Monday, April 23, 2018

14121: Cannes CMO BS.

Adweek published a promotional perspective from Cannes Lions Managing Director Jose Papa, presenting the assembly of the CMO Growth Council. Gee, the Cannes Lions Festival deserves an award for its ability to invent profit-generating content and events. In partnership with the ANA, the CMO Growth Council will feature “20 of the busiest, most important marketers in the world” who will break from their busy, important schedules on the French Riviera to ponder the imperatives of the day. According to Papa, “the group is being chosen to be representative of all parts of our sector, all shades of the industry and all colors of opinion.” Additionally, the CMO Growth Council will be “reflecting the diversity of the world it serves.” Oddly enough, when Papa listed potential topics of discussion, diversity did not come up. Perhaps the first question should be: If the CMO Growth Council members are “being chosen to be representative of all parts of our sector, all shades of the industry and all colors of opinion … reflecting the diversity of the world it serves,” why the hell are they routinely hiring and partnering with White advertising agencies where diversity is a dream deferred, delegated, diverted and denied?

Cannes Lions’ CMO Growth Council Will Confront the Industry’s Pressing Issues

Asking questions that might not have answers yet

By Jose Papa

To get 20 of the busiest, most important marketers in the world to gather and put their minds together to predict and guide the future of marketing, you know something must be up.

This year’s Cannes Lions will see a unique event: the formation of a CMO Growth Council at which a score of the biggest names in the global industry will unite to thrash out an agenda of the most pressing issues confronting us. Based on an initiative of the ANA and chaired by Marc Pritchard of P&G, the group is being chosen to be representative of all parts of our sector, all shades of the industry and all colors of opinion.

At present, the intention is that most of the agenda set at this unprecedented meeting will be made public. Indeed, part of the value of convening the council at Cannes Lions is that the collective brains of the industry will be onsite to contribute to its deliberations. But there may be some sensitive areas where the agenda will remain confidential, allowing the greatest possible candor and imagination to be applied to the challenges of this fast-changing age.

In many ways, the timing could not be better. The scrutiny of business models in every part of the marketing value chain has been intense in recent months and will inform everything we discuss at Cannes Lions as a whole. The council’s agenda will be shaped by those same trends. The questions we have all been asking in the wake of issues arising from fake impacts, data/privacy issues and the new normals of media buying will surely be central to the purpose of this new body.

What is the purpose of media buying in a programmatic era? Can brands trust intermediaries, be they platforms or agencies, to treat their marketing priorities with the necessary attention and care? Is there an art left in marketing, or is it just a science now? What direction will the art have to take to revive brand growth, which everyone agrees has stalled?

What direction will the science have to take to restore trust, which is in short supply both from the brand perspective and that of the consumer? Will the commoditization of advertising continue at the same pace or will the end of the current era of technology present us with opportunities as yet unknown to change the very nature of our industry?

Even the single issue of programmatic is enough to occupy the minds of the council for the duration of an entire Cannes Lions Festival. We recognize increasingly the ups and downs of a new way of bringing messages to audiences, but not all markets have drawn the same lessons from this family of technologies and not all sectors have the same approach to solving its problems. A global approach and a local approach are both clearly needed.

Many people would say that the greatest threat to the future of marketing is the question of trust. Social media platforms have offered a truly novel way of reaching people with marketing messages, but each level of novelty in responding to that opportunity seems to bring its own downside. The lack of transparency from these platforms and the recent revelations of how cavalier some companies have been with personal data have given us all pause about our own relationship with the digital world. And so we have to grapple with the realization that our customers and their customers are having precisely the same thoughts.

Have marketers and platform owners put novelty and clever tricks ahead of the principles of good marketing: a strong message delivered in the right place in an appropriate way to the right audience? Can we even answer this question now?

Of course, the need for and the existence of a council of the strongest minds in marketing, reflecting the diversity of the world it serves, goes far beyond Cannes Lions. The work of this body will continue into the future, and we hope and expect it to be just the first time you hear about it. In the future, nobody expects the pace of change to decelerate, but perhaps the solidity of a new institution such as the CMO Growth Council is just what we need at this momentous time to set our bearings for what comes next.

Jose Papa is managing director of Cannes Lions.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

14120: Beale’s Biggest BS.

Campaign Global Editor-in-Chief Claire Beale pooped out a perspective on former WPP Overlord Martin Sorrell that demonstrated the woman’s cultlural cluelessness might be second to her corporate cluelessness. This contention can be corroborated with two sentences from Beale’s babbling:

To anyone rubbing their hands at the downfall of our industry’s biggest titan, I say “be careful what you wish for”. The sorry Sorrell saga certainly won’t do anything for the standing of our industry among clients already questioning the value we add.

To call Sorrell the “industry’s biggest titan” is puffery and personal opinion, which seems odd coming from a person purporting to be a professional journalist. It’s also unintentionally inaccurate, given Sorrell is reportedly 5’6.5” tall. Sorrell has certainly collected the biggest bag of money in the history of advertising. And he built the biggest holding company in the industry—a concept he didn’t invent, incidentally. But to crown Sorrell the “industry’s biggest titan” is debatable, even if Beale is only counting living advertising leaders. History will show if Sorrell gains greater recognition and respect than icons like Claude Hopkins, James Webb Young, Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy. Plus, if the details surrounding the halted investigation involving “personal misconduct” become public knowledge, Sorrell could earn the “industry’s biggest crook” title.

The second disturbing aspect of Beale’s two sentences is her use of the “our” and “we” qualifiers. Since when did Beale join the ranks of adland? Beale referring to “our industry” and “the value we add” is as inappropriate as ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt claiming a Super Bowl victory or FOX News Talk Show Host Sean Hannity identifying as a White House staffer. Then again, perhaps Sorrell’s transformation of the industry included quietly acquiring trade rags along with agencies. (BTW, the photographs serving to illustrate Campaign columnists—e.g., the portrait above that accompanied Beale’s viewpoint on Sorrell—give waaaaay too much prominence to the editors. Perhaps this is another indicator of the staff’s narcissistic self-importance…?)

Actually, Beale made one correct comment with implications that she probably didn’t realize:

But whatever your view of Sorrell—and he’s become such a public figure that plenty of people who’ve never worked for or against him have a view—over the last three decades he’s proved himself a phenomenal businessman.

Yes, Sorrell is a proven phenomenal businessman. It’s tough to say, however, if he has ever been fully embraced as an adman.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

14119: Seeing Exclusivity.

AMV BBDO produced this Guinness video featuring a blind footballer from Ghana. The video ends as the hero proclaims, “I am made of Black.” Wonder how he’d respond upon seeing that—based on the credits—the responsible creative team was made of Whites.

Friday, April 20, 2018

14118: COO Is KOOKOO.

Adweek published the following memo to the troops from new WPP Co-COO Mark Read:

To everyone at WPP

Over the last four days I’ve spent as much time as possible speaking to our people and clients. There’s universal admiration for Martin’s achievements, and sadness about his departure. At the same time, there’s a huge amount of support and goodwill for the company, and no shortage of confidence about the future.

That confidence is well founded. The companies and client teams that make up WPP are exceptionally good at what they do. They are major organisations in their own right, with their own strong leaders. The clients I’ve spoken to have all been clear: they value their partner agencies and teams, they expect them to continue to deliver, and they have no doubt that they will.

Andrew and I have been given a very clear brief by the Board. First, to run the business on a day-to-day basis. I’m looking after people, clients and companies and Andrew is focused on operational and financial performance and managing the WPP portfolio. And second, to move forward decisively on the Group’s strategy. We have tremendous strengths within WPP, and we plan to build on those while bringing our own perspective and ideas.

WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you). We’re working closely with the leaders of our companies, and listening carefully to their views, as we develop our plans.

Some things we know already: we’ll get even closer to our clients to better understand and meet their needs and to help them grow in a world of disruption; we’ll get closer to technology partners like Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others; we’ll make sure our structure and offer make it as simple as possible for clients to access our services across the Group; and we’ll put data, technology AND creativity at the heart of what we do.

There’s been speculation about breaking up the Group. We don’t believe this makes sense. In a world where clients need faster, more agile, integrated solutions, we need to get closer together, not further apart.

We’ll share more as soon as we can but, in the meantime, if you have questions let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them: mark.read@wpp.com andrew.scott@wpp.com

WPP is a great business with outstanding people, world-class agencies and most of the world’s leading companies as its clients and partners.

Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.

Mark Read

Chief Operating Officer, WPP

Gotta believe the overwhelming majority of memo recipients perused the above and wondered, “Who the fuck is Mark Read?”

To assure everyone that the two new COOs “have been given a very clear brief by the Board” is hardly an inspiring thought. Does the average WPP worker bee really want to know the Board is calling the shots?

Read’s most outrageous line declared, “WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you).” Now, despite the crazy contention that the White holding company represents “perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation,” even former WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell admitted White women are underrepresented in leadership roles and the representation of Blacks, Latinos and the LGBT community is “unacceptably low.” So saying WPP’s greatest strength is its diversity is the equivalent of proclaiming the KKK’s greatest strength is its open-minded tolerance.

Oh, and the leadership at Wunderman—where Read has served as Global CEO—lacks diversity too. To recycle Read’s words, “Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

14117: Noticing The Gaps.

McCann London created this campaign for MysteryVibe, producer of a technologically advanced vibrator. Oddly enough, despite the divertsity trend snowballing in adland, the credits show the responsible McCann teammates are predominately male. Did anybody consider that the best way to “help close the orgasm gap” might have involved closing the gender gap?

14116: Starbucks Store Bias.

The New York Times reported Starbucks will shut 8,000 stores as employees undergo racial-bias training after an incident involving the arrest of two Black men in Philadelphia that sparked nationwide outrage. Look for Brad Jakeman to whine that it’s another case of the “vocal minority” injuring a brand that has done so much for racial harmony over the years. Regardless, the scenario does demonstrate the power of the public to ignite change by threatening to boycott, adversely affecting a brand’s image and bottom line. Unfortunately, rallying the public to demand the end of exclusivity on Madison Avenue has never succeeded. For starters, people tend to be unaware of White advertising agencies’ existence at all. And even attempting to target the advertisers who employ and partner with such shops would likely fail to persuade the brands to mandate equality. Besides, the White advertising agencies would defend themselves by presenting the patronizing smokescreens and heat shields—inner-city internships, minority mentoring, tax-deductible donations to ADCOLOR® and The 3% Movement, etc.—designed to create the illusion of inclusion. Hell, the culturally clueless hucksters would probably advise Starbucks to launch a limited edition Coffy coffee to quiet the protests.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

14115: Lessons In Exclusivity.

Campaign published a viewpoint from >we Founder Carl Martin, who shared his thoughts and experiences on creating a video to promote what he envisions as “the world’s most inclusive company.” Give Martin credit for his openness and honesty relating the standard challenges involved with bringing diversity and inclusion to the creative process. Yet the scenario underscores how exclusivity in the advertising industry extends to the commercial production industry. Martin admittedly fumbled in a few basic areas, and found himself inadvertently swept up in the collateral cultural cluelessness. Specifically, he made the mistake of taking the recommendation of a hip hop artist when selecting a director, not realizing that being a hip hop artist does not translate to having expertise executing advertising campaigns. Martin compounded his mistake by failing to seek competitive bids (hey, it would have been a perfect PR opportunity for Free The Bid). And the director—when asked by Martin to secure a diverse production crew—exacerbated the scenario by delivering the lazy excuse of having insufficient time or budget to risk hiring unfamiliar workers. Because, by golly, you can’t just bring in anyone to handle craft services and key grip roles. (Tip to Martin: you’d be surprised at how many hair and makeup stylists aren’t qualified to deal with talent of color.) Again, give Martin credit for being open and honest in his essay. At the same time, don’t wonder why diversity continues to be denied in adland.

Lessons from trying to build the world’s most inclusive brand from scratch

A view from Carl Martin

The founder of >we, a new app designed to help people build meaningful connections, shares his lessons from trying to build the world’s most inclusive company.

Disruption and innovation are no longer the advertising world’s favourite words beginning with D&I. It’s now all about diversity and inclusion. It’s suddenly ‘become cool’ to make a modern day United Colours of Bennetton ad again. But that’s the problem right there. Without diverse teams behind the creative and production, diversity has been weaponised by the world of advertising for commercial gain. And it’s backfiring.

We’ve seen slip ups by Tesco, Dove, BooHoo.com and Pepsi to name but a few — where they’ve been distracted by the aesthetic of diversity for a short term campaign, instead of focussing on building a truly inclusive, long lasting brand. Brand is no longer about your celebrity endorsements and witty straplines. Brand is about having clear and strong values, and operating with authenticity and integrity in alignment with those values. People have a low tolerance and high sensitivity to brand bullshit. If what you’re doing isn’t genuine, and is all just lip service, people won’t just know it, but they’ll be vocal as hell about it too.

For our young company, >we (pronounced More Than We), not only do we hope to help young professionals build more meaningful relationships in their lives and careers, but most important of all, we want this company to be a representation of what it means to be inclusive from day dot. We want to ensure everyone feels valued, respected, considered and equal — whether in our communications, our products or even the fundamentals of our company.

This week we launched a film for our rebrand, and it is a shining example of how regardless of all the awareness and passion in the world, our working mentality, rhythm and biases can lead us to be anything but inclusive. I’m so immensely proud of what we’ve created. I’m proud of the team that worked crazy hours and gave it their all to make something that shares our vision with the world. That said, I know it could have been better.

I wanted to share my reflections and a couple of key lessons learned with the industry — not just because I believe it is valuable knowledge to disseminate, but to also hold myself and my company accountable for improvement and growth from here on in.

Lesson One: Focus on outcomes and feelings, over tactics and aesthetics

I’ve come to learn of the importance of representation in the media for marginalised people over the past few years. I recognise that this film is not fully representative of the broader community I want to build for and serve, and their absence doesn’t sit well with our vision and mission.

I ended up having a drawn out dialogue with Hanna Naima McCloskey (founder of Fearless Futures) in the days after the shoot, as I wrestled with the complex tension between ‘a diverse cast’ and ‘an inclusive piece of communication’. One thing that didn’t sit well with either of us, is what felt like my pushing for tokenism, rather than a meaningful inclusion of these people into the film.

This is the classic ‘tick-box’ mentality that most people experience when they focus on the tactic of diversity, and not the outcome or impact of inclusion. Failing to consider them at an earlier stage meant that they weren’t getting the same treatment and consideration as say women of colour, who I made a conscious choice many weeks before to ensure they were not only represented, but shown as strong, respected and talented, as they are.

I spent significant time mulling over what we could cut or kill from the budget to afford another half day shoot. I’d decided to invest our entire marketing budget into this film, in the knowledge it would create much of our content for the coming months and would be utilised across every possible platform. But I came to the realisation that I was trying to buy away my guilt, and hide the reality of what had actually occurred. That didn’t sit well with me, and it certainly didn’t feel authentic.

Lesson Two: Education of team is paramount in the absence of understanding

I was lucky enough to meet the director for the film, a chap called Michael Garsin, via a mutual friend of ours — hip hop artist Clement Marfo. Michael was the only director I met with, and I do not regret for a moment deciding to work with him. But I didn’t give anyone else a shot at forming that same relationship with me. The inherent trust that was created as a result of a recommendation was enough for me in that moment to move onto the next objective.

I had a chat with Michael in the few weeks leading up to the shoot, and asked him to be considerate of the production team that he built and potentially giving some new folks an opportunity to be part of the shoot. But understandably, he reinforced the need of compiling a team of people he trusts to get the job done and within my budget.

In the end, over the course of a three-day shoot, this nine-person team was composed of seven men and two women, all of whom were white. I made huge assumptions about Michael’s flexibility and network, and that my polite request would be but a formality. Maybe I could have been firmer with Michael. Maybe I could have found a collaborator who wasn’t a white middle class man just like me. What I do know is education of others takes time and investment that I just didn’t factor into the process. Just because I’m on a journey to become an inclusive founder doesn’t mean everyone else is in the same headspace too.

“Nothing about us, without us”

This film is a representation of the company’s reality right now. It was my mentality and network that was brought to life by this film, and it showed the holes and inadequacies. Although this does not undermine my passion or vision for the company, it illustrates where we and many other companies are today.

Instead of attempting to spin the film, or maybe shoe horn in some folks in a mini-shoot, I made the commitment to be open and honest about the process, share the key lessons, and to be clear about my desire to radically improve and grow as the company moves forward. We want, can and will do more to ensure we build a company, brand and products that place everyone’s needs and dreams front and centre.

If you have feedback in whatever form, you can email me directly at carl@morethanwe.co. I’d welcome it and learning opportunity.

14114: Accelerating Bullshit.

Advertising Age reported on the latest 4A’s soiree—titled “Accelerate”—which ultimately showed the industry is really just accelerating in circles, as evidenced by the following excerpt:

Diversity and equality

Issues of diversity were pervasive at this year’s conference. In her opening remarks, 4A’s CEO and president, Marla Kaplowitz, talked about some of the work the group is doing in this area.

“Although the 4A’s has discussed and created programs focused on diversity issues in the industry, we have not done enough for our members to address inclusion in the workplace,” she said. “It’s time for action, so we are creating a series of playbooks and tools—guides to really help our members.” One new initiative, she said, is an “enlightened workplace certification.”

In a panel Tuesday afternoon on the topic of diverse leadership, Karen Costello, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency, talked about how the agency has navigated the waters since creative veteran Joe Alexander departed following an internal investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment.

“Creative departments are such a unique microcosm at agencies,” she said. “They’re ground zero for the worst behavior in our industry very often, but they’re also sort of ground zero for some of the most empathetic people, because that’s kind of where creativity comes from. So my personal experience at The Martin Agency has been unique because that agency was a bit of ground zero for this Me Too movement in advertising.”

Costello said many of the men at the agency were horrified at what had happened, and asked colleagues how they’d be able to help.

“That’s one of the biggest things: All you need to do is ask “How I can help?” That shows that you’re listening and being empathetic,” she said.

Costello added that the agency has started saying “ouch” as a safe word of sorts—connoting that a comment might be inappropriate or could make someone uncomfortable. “We just create a little bit of an environment that allows people to say, “What you just said isn’t cool, but let’s all just kind of work through this as opposed to making it a big, ‘Oh, you hurt my feelings.’” She added that it’s a balance of employees knowing they can speak up in a lighter way, or be taken seriously if a more in-depth conversation is desired.

First, for Kaplowitz to admit, “Although the 4A’s has discussed and created programs focused on diversity issues in the industry, we have not done enough for our members to address inclusion in the workplace,” is nothing short of pathetic. Why are industry “leaders” so open to share they have not done enough regarding diversity? How long before these “leaders” are held accountable for not doing enough? Hell, shouldn’t someone minimally establish a standard for doing enough? Otherwise, the admissions sound like negligence. Additionally, to announce the creation of playbooks and an “enlightened workplace certification” is even more pathetic, as such lame ideas have already been pooped out and promoted by patronizing White advertising agencies and patronizing White women’s clubs. Does Kaplowitz realize the 4As already published a diversity playbook by Adonis Hoffman—an individual with legitimate cultural competence—that states exactly what White advertising agencies must do for progress? Like too many in the industry, Kaplowitz is regurgitating efforts that have been around—albeit ignored—for decades. It all indicates that the new 4A’s leader has probably not done enough on diversity throughout her career. Ouchy.

Second, Costello’s comments are equally disturbing. To declare creative departments are ground zero for the worst behavior and ground zero for some of the most empathetic people, as well as The Martin Agency being ground zero for the me too movement in adland, deserves a triple ouch. For one thing, it underscores how slow the industry has been to acknowledge me too—hell, the Erin Johnson lawsuit preceded the Joe Alexander affair by at least a year. For another thing, The Martin Agency has been slower to address true diversity, although Costello recently promised, “We’re on it.” Between gender-based discrimination and race-and-ethnicity-based discrimination, Costello is dealing with a diversity double whammy. Ouchy-ouch. Oh, and it appears the “ouch” gimmick means the Richmond-based White advertising agency is finally undergoing diversity training—or watching instructional videos on the topic. But the viewings are likely a mandate from IPG versus a brainstorm hatched by Costello. Ouch to the nth degree.

In the end, Kaplowitz and Costello might be victims of circumstance. That is, former 4As President-CEO Nancy Hill tried to make diversity a priority and arguably delivered contributions to the cause. However, the trade organization has no authority to dictate anything, leaving White advertising agencies to do the bare minimum or less in achieving positive change. So Kaplowitz is fighting an uphill battle. Meanwhile, Costello inherited the reins of a premier shop that has not done enough in the area of diversity and is reeling from the biggest scandal in its history. So she’s fighting an uphill battle too. On the flipside, Ad Age noted, “Issues of diversity were pervasive at this year’s conference.” Um, issues of diversity were pervasive at the 4As Transformation Conference in 2010 too. At some point, the hand-wringing and navel-gazing—as well as the recycling of Band-aid tactics—must be replaced with innovative actions that actually ignite progress. The truth is, the only group in adland to experience progress in the past ten years is White women—as clearly demonstrated by figures like Kaplowitz and Costello. Yet they both admit to not having done enough in the area of diversity. Time will tell if they turn out to be part of the solution or the problem.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

14113: Making Mindful Mentors.

Campaign reported on an organization—Creative Mentor Network—that connects diverse youth mentees with creative industry mentors. But in one critical way, the organization appears to be extremely different than most of the patronizing mentor programs that White advertising agencies use to feign commitment to change. Specifically, Creative Mentor Network requires that mentors undergo extensive training to qualify. It’s hard to determine exactly what is involved in the training, but the very idea sounds progressive. To recognize that mentors—especially those coming from exclusive environments like ad agencies—need education and coaching to successfully engage with minority youth is remarkable. Kudos to the CMN Team for such forward-thinking awareness.

How the Creative Mentor Network is helping advertising’s diversity problem

By James Page

The organisation visits Havas and other agencies to train creatives to become mentors for college students from diverse backgrounds.

The not-for-profit organisation, founded by former teacher Isabel Farchy, aims to connect creative talent with young-people from diverse backgrounds. Through this, Creative Mentor Network hopes to make the advertising industry more accessible as a career for rising talent.

Farchy said: “In the creative industry there is a habit of recruiting through networks, so it can just be a lot more opaque from the outside and a lot harder to infiltrate. I really wanted my students when I was a teacher, but also now the students we work with, to understand that there were real opportunities in the creative industries”.

The London-based network has worked with numerous agencies such as Havas to train employees to become mentors.

Elliot Harris, creative director at Havas who is mentoring a teen, said: “I would love to think that by the end of this course… that there is a much broader set of experience he has had that will allow him to make some choices before he moves into the next stage of his education”.

The mentors at Havas have introduced their mentees to different departments at the agency, allowing them to get a wider understanding of the advertising world.

Creative Mentor Network believes that the course is just as beneficial for agencies as it is for the college students. Farchy said: “Agencies obviously gain the opportunity to do something practical about the diversity issue and also to offer training and development for their employees”.

She added: “When our partner agencies are looking to recruit, particularly for junior roles and for internship roles and for apprenticeship roles, we’re able to put them out to our alumni and its a really amazing opportunity to recruit much more diverse talent”.

The organisation has an alumni of over 200 students.

14112: Predicting Divertsity.

Adweek published a story titled, “4A’s Attendees Predict How the Ad Industry Will Evolve Over the Next 5 Years—Marketers offered thoughts on everything from diversity to tech to the agency model.” Not surprisingly, the report only included three thoughts on diversity—and two quotes came from executives at minority advertising agencies. Don’t mean to pick on the White thought leader, but Anomaly Group Strategy Director Laura Rowan opined, “I really hope that we’re still not talking about diversity being underrepresented. There’s actual pockets [of the industry] where there’s behavior that just isn’t equal or fair to certain groups of people.” Yes, and the “pockets” are White advertising agencies—although it’s a safe bet that Rowan’s “behavior that just isn’t equal or fair” comment is referring to discrimination targeting White women. After all, racial and ethnic minorities won’t experience equality in the advertising industry for 60 years at least.

Monday, April 16, 2018

14111: Schooling Minorities.

Advertising Age reported on the new divertsity stunt from Grey, another White advertising agency introducing a special program to recruit minorities and ignite patronizing PR opportunities. Grey launched the Famous Academy for Modern Effectiveness, a free portfolio school for minority creatives outside of the industry. In other words, effectively identifying colored candidates requires scouring the inner cities, followed by providing assimilation basic training. According to Grey Worldwide Chief Creative Officer John Patroulis, “If we’re honest about one of the barriers to diversity in creative departments, it’s socioeconomic.” Hey, Patroulis is absolutely correct. However, he seems clueless that the socioeconomic barrier is upscale Caucasian men and women taking full advantage of White privilege to dominate the field. Patroulis deserves to graduate summa cum laude from the Famous Academy for Mad Men Exclusivity.

Grey’s latest diversity move: Free portfolio school

By I-Hsien Sherwood

Grey New York has been going full-force in its diversity efforts. Earlier this week at the 4A’s Transformation Conference in Miami, it said it will devote 75 percent of its spending on talent and resources toward creative departments. Late last month, it partnered with the 3% Movement to try to ensure that all work the agency produces reflects diversity. Now Grey is debuting an initiative that aims to tackle both objectives: free ad school.

Last week, 20 creatives recruited from outside the industry began classes at the Famous Academy for Modern Effectiveness, an eight-week, tuition-free portfolio school co-founded by Grey and FindSpark, an inclusion-focused networking site for young professionals. Its goal is to train talented people who might otherwise have been overlooked, or who would have eschewed advertising due to cost or lack of opportunity.

“If we’re honest about one of the barriers to diversity in creative departments, it’s socioeconomic,” says John Patroulis, worldwide chief creative officer at Grey. “College is expensive. Portfolio school is expensive. And then you get your first job, and it’s not high-paying.” Patroulis didn’t go to ad school himself, but the industry is harder to break into now than it was when he began, he says.

Students at Fame, as the program is nicknamed, meet one day a week for a class at Grey’s Manhattan office. The inaugural program is being taught by Deputy Chief Creative Officer Rob Lenois, accompanied by guest speakers from the agency. Students get assignments to work on throughout the week on topics like agency structure, campaign analysis, client collaboration skills and storytelling fundamentals. By the end of the program, they’ll have a portfolio they can use in their job search. Grey is also pairing the students with agency mentors, with the aim of creating long-term bonds that will last beyond the two-month program.

Unlike an internship, classes are scheduled for the evenings to account for students with full-time employment. “These are people with their own lives, many of them with jobs in different fields,” Patroulis says. “They’ve got other stuff to do, too.”

Once the program is over, students will be invited to apply for—but won’t be guaranteed—positions at Grey. And if they opt to pursue a job at a different agency? “There’s no obligation for them to join us,” says Patroulis. “Obviously, I’m hoping some of them do, but it’s something that the industry needs, and if we can help be part of it, that’s a great thing.”

Grey worked with FindSpark to select Fame’s first students by targeting the network’s users “who have produced some sort of creative work, mostly through side hustles and independent projects, but have not gone through a formal portfolio program,” says Emily Miethner, FindSpark’s CEO and founder. “The students chosen to make it to the next round shared personal and professional stories that demonstrated hard-work, perseverance, a passion to create.” They also offered thoughtful answers to the primary question: “In your opinion, what needs to change in the advertising industry?” From that initial pool of candidates, Grey narrowed it down to the final 20.

Fame students won’t end up interacting with Grey interns, since the latter don’t show up in force until the summer. But the agency is planning to retool its internship program with an eye towards diversity. While the portfolio school is focused on broadening recruitment in the creative department, the internships cross all disciplines.

“I think if the industry is going to survive, it needs to find ways to reach out,” Patroulis says of the agency’s varied diversity efforts. “Portfolio school is great, but it’s not the only way. Part of it is having a commitment to diversity in general and diversity of all kinds. You have to try a lot of different things.”

Sunday, April 15, 2018

14110: To Sir, With Love Of Money.

Campaign published a statement to the global staff from WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell—who has historically earned 780 times more than the average worker—on the day of his resignation.

The lengthy letter opened by declaring, “For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP.” Okay, but he probably spent too little time each day considering the present—and the people—of WPP.

Sorrell then stated, “We welcomed J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, Grey…” Um, JWT was the first hostile takeover in the industry, so it’s a little bizarre to say the agency was welcomed to the fold. In roughly 30 years, JWT went from hostile takeover to hostile workplace.

Next, Sorrell proceeded to recite the breakthrough accomplishments experienced over the years. The self-congratulatory list did not include any kudos for being “the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation.” Also absent were salutes for gender equality and talent recruitment in the holding company.

Sorrell promised, “In the coming period, I will be available to the Board and any of you, should you want help with anything, anywhere.” Oh, please. Then again, it would be interesting to learn what Gustavo Martinez might request.

In closing, Sorrell proclaimed that WPP will always be more important than life or death, which likely inspired over 200,000 eye rolls. Sorrell ended by saying, “Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you… now Back to the Future.” Somebody tell Doc Brown to leave Marty wherever he lands.

Sorrell’s full resignation message to WPP: ‘Godspeed to all of you’

By Staff

Sir Martin Sorrell sent this statement to the staff at WPP, following his resignation as chief executive.

“To everyone at WPP

For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP. Over those decades, our family has grown and prospered.

We welcomed J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, Grey, 24/7 Real Media, Taylor Nelson Sofres, among so many others.

We created Group M, including Xaxis and Essence.

We put the focus on Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe, the home of the next billion consumers. We embarked on the early development of digital capabilities; and the evolution of a firm-wide integrated client and country-centered approach.

Our holding company was recognised as the world’s best and most effective through the Cannes Lions and Effie Awards year after year after year.

We pioneered Atticus Awards for original written thinking…. the WPP Fellowship Awards to recognise promising talent…. the Partnership and Practice Awards for client endorsed integrated market and case studies.

Our Stream digital conferences have attracted the best in the digital business for more than a decade.

Our Annual Sustainability and Pro Bono Reports highlight the unique social, environmental and public policy work that we do day in, day out across the globe.

As I look ahead, I see that the current disruption we are experiencing is simply putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business, our over 200,000 people and their 500,000 or so dependents, and the clients we serve in 112 countries.

That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside.

We have had a succession plan in place for some time. A new generation of management, led by Mark Read and Andrew Scott (who have each been at WPP for approximately 20 years), are well qualified and experienced in the Board’s opinion, to deal with the geographic and technological opportunities and challenges our industry faces.

We have weathered difficult storms in the past. And our highly talented people have always won through, always.

Nobody, either direct competitors or newly-minted ones can beat the WPP team, as long as you work closely together, whether by client and/or country or digitally.

In the coming period, I will be available to the Board and any of you, should you want help with anything, anywhere. I shall miss all of you greatly. You have given me such excitement and energy and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done and will do for WPP and me.

As some of you know, my family has expanded recently, WPP will always be my baby too.

As a Founder, I can say that WPP is not just a matter of life or death, it was, is and will be more important than that. Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you… now Back to the Future.

Thank you.”

14109: Roth’s Letter Of Lies.

AgencySpy posted on a letter to shareholders written by IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth, where the man expressed pride in taking “swift disciplinary action” in the scenario involving sexual harassment allegations against former The Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander. Once again, Roth has a questionable sense of reality with time. For example, when responding to racist behavior at Campbell Ewald, Roth claimed to take “immediate action” by firing the agency CEO—roughly three months after the bigoted incident occurred. In Alexander’s case, rumors and reports indicate a history of issues including quiet settlements stemming from bad-boy behavior at The Martin Agency over many years. The only swift and immediate thing coming from Roth is patronizing propaganda poop.

Roth also bragged, “We hosted the U.S. ad industry’s first summit on Black women in advertising. … In 2017, our annual women’s breakfast at Cannes attracted several hundred attendees and was a historic first focus on women of color, involving new research and gaining significant press coverage.” Of course, Roth failed to mention the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recorded less than 100 Black female executives in the U.S. advertising industry. Plus, a Cannes study revealed divertsity efforts have not benefited women of color. If Roth were required to run his missives through the legal department, he’d be instructed to add numerous disclaimers.

Another disturbing statement in Roth’s letter read, “In early 2018, IPG encouraged its leading women executives to become signatories to ‘Time’s Up Advertising,’ an industry movement aimed at addressing sexual harassment and gender inequality.” Gee, the IPG women needed to be “encouraged” by corporate headquarters to participate in the initiative? Wasn’t Joe Alexander encouragement enough?

IPG CEO Michael Roth Cites ‘Swift Disciplinary Action’ on #MeToo in New Letter to Shareholders

By Patrick Coffee

Michael Roth is proud of the progress IPG made last year on sexual harassment and gender equality—and he wants company shareholders to know about it.

Last October, the IPG chairman and CEO made some headlines for writing an all-staff memo declaring that his company would have a “zero-tolerance policy for all types of harassment” and “behavior that runs counter to an inclusive, respectful workplace.”

The memo, titled “A Workplace Free from Harassment,” also directly addressed the very real concerns of retaliation against whistle-blowers. It came in response to reports about the chronic harassment of women by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which soon sparked the nationwide resurgence of the #MeToo movement.

It also came just one week before that movement hit very close to home.

Sources tell us that, when the October memo went out, Roth and the larger IPG organization were unaware of an investigation into harassment claims made against The Martin Agency chief creative officer Joe Alexander, who was fired on June 7.

Roth appeared to address his company’s response to that case in its most recent letter to shareholders, which went out yesterday.

The letter opens by playing up IPG’s successes in “a challenging year for our industry” and referencing 1.8% organic growth for 2017. The relevant section comes two pages later and acknowledges that the company is “not immune” to bad behavior by unnamed individuals.

IPG VALUES

Our work to foster a culture of inclusion is a personal as well as a corporate priority, because an environment that encourages respect and trust is key to a creative business like ours. Helping our clients effectively connect with the marketplace can only take place when we have a variety of perspectives and beliefs solving communications and business challenges.

There are many ways we have brought this commitment to life. Most significantly, and uniquely for our industry, we ensure accountability by tying executive compensation directly to the ability of our leaders to achieve diversity objectives. For seven years, we’ve made a focus on women’s leadership the mainstay of our presence at the industry’s most important global awards competition. We hosted the U.S. ad industry’s first summit on Black women in advertising.

This year, we hosted three conference calls for all employees on the topics of race, DACA and overall inclusion concerns.

In 2017, our annual women’s breakfast at Cannes attracted several hundred attendees and was a historic first focus on women of color, involving new research and gaining significant press coverage. While we are pleased with our progress to date, we know there remains a great deal to be done on this vital issue, especially with people of color.

As we worked to reinforce our core values, two key areas of discussion and focus in 2017 included:

1. #METOO

In 2017, sexual harassment became impossible to ignore. We have worked hard to create a culture where all our employees — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and other dimensions of diversity — can feel safe and that they can be their authentic selves at the office. However, with 50,000 employees, we are not immune to behavior by some individuals that runs counter to our values.

The key for IPG is that when behavior that runs counter to our values does happen, we acknowledge it honestly with our employees, and we take action. Ours is a company where women and men can come forward to report issues that concern them, and not fear retaliation. When employees bring forward credible allegations about sexual misconduct or unethical behavior, we investigate. And as we showed in 2017, we take swift disciplinary action when required.

In early 2018, IPG encouraged its leading women executives to become signatories to “Time’s Up Advertising,” an industry movement aimed at addressing sexual harassment and gender inequality. IPG women made up the largest portion of women leaders who signed up in support of the group, and IPG could not be more proud.

IPG releases its earnings for Q1 on April 27.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

14108: Black Shogun, Afro Ninja.

In 2014, Atlanta Black Star published a report titled, “The World of Sakanouye No Tamuramaro: Black Shogun of Early Japan.” It’s a lengthy piece, but well worth reading. Wonder if modern-day descendants include the infamous Afro Ninja.

Friday, April 13, 2018

14107: Clean Up Woman.

Harvard Business Review published a report titled, “Women of Color Get Asked to Do More ‘Office Housework.’ Here’s How They Can Say No.” It’s more confirmation that the alleged drama White women face in the advertising industry is not nearly as bad as the indignities experienced by women—and men—of color.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

14106: Dearth Of Talent Diversity…?

Adweek published a pinheaded perspective from System1 Agency President Paul Spriggs, who stresses the imperative to “rebuild an industry that reflects the diversity that it serves.” But Spriggs is not advocating for racial and ethnic diversity—or even for gender equality. Rather, he’s promoting “talent diversity” that embraces a harmonious blend of digitally savvy drones and big-idea brand builders, covering a range of veterans and newbies. Spriggs spouts about recruiting candidates via multi-generational and multi-faceted lenses, with no mention of multi-cultural factors that might, you know, actually “rebuild an industry that reflects the diversity that it serves.” For clarity on Spriggs’ definition of diversity, simply view the leaders at System1 Agency, which perfectly reflects the existing broken system in adland.

How a Fixation on Digital Led to a Lack of Talent Diversity in Agencies

Which also spurred a lull in creativity

By Paul Spriggs

The past decade brought us a digital revolution, and with it came a wide range of distinct concerns for the marketing and advertising industry: the question of transparency in the media supply chain, skepticism around accurate metrics, fake news, data privacy breaches, manipulated audiences and more.

Today, we’re at a turning point where the limitations of digital are being acknowledged and the pendulum may swing back and return to an equilibrium across the board, redistributing attention across digital, holistic strategy and creativity. The recent reduction in digital spending by P&G and Unilever is a sure sign that this type of market correction is taking place.

While this redistribution of the marketing matrix is healthy, there is one side effect of the digital takeover that still needs to be addressed: the unbalanced talent mix.

How did it become so unbalanced?

Over the last 10 years, the marketing industry built up an unhealthy reliance on data to lead strategy, creative ideas and media placement, thereby cultivating a false sense of security. This holy grail of the digital disruption led to the idolization of a particular talent mix made up of the young, tech-savvy, digital natives. It resulted in the usurping of human capital in the more interpretive, less data-driven areas like brand building strategy and creativity.

The desire for efficiency, reduced risk and immediate sales resulted in an over-reliance on technology and a complete focus on data-driven expertise. In return, agencies began overlooking those candidates with more experience in brand building, big creative ideas and brand strategy.

Over time, without a talent mix that included broader experience, big thinking and the gravitas to help proactively lead clients with solutions to complex problems, many marketing initiatives became shorter term, failing to build equity in enduring, emotionally resonating ideas. With agency talent increasingly skewing toward facilitators and execution specialists, marketers began to take more control over strategy and process, resulting in a kind of catch-22 situation.

More and more, they started to bring strategy and creative talent in-house, and simultaneously, those with broader and deeper advertising experience in strategy, creative and client management skills began to leave the industry voluntarily or through attrition.

All the while, many agencies, hit with slimmer margins, started placing greater workloads on less staff. Naturally, this took the shape of favoring young employees willing to put in extra hours to climb the ladder (many of whom were also more likely to be exploited), which became another pervasive talent problem within the industry.

In sum, the lack of balance in the talent mix is a contributing factor to the lack of balance that evolved between the agency and the brand client, with the brand client taking on more control

So where does this leave us?

Today the advertising industry is dominated by a digitally savvy workforce, yet there’s a lack of depth in the kind of creativity and strategy that leads to enduring, brand-building ideas, which is the reason brands sought agencies in the first place.

The marketing climate has evolved to favor smaller “activation” ideas, which may create a brief spark of awareness but later fizzle out, leaving the brand back at base level. Perceived as less costly, the myopic lure of digitally-induced eyeballs actually hides the missed opportunity of an enduring campaign idea, which builds cumulative synergistic equity for the brand, leading to better ROI over time. In continuously trying to automate and remove risk, the marketing environment has failed to attract and grow the right mix of talent in order to cultivate long-lasting value for brands.

Looking forward, the current market correction presents an opportunity for the industry to seek out a new, more balanced mix of agency talent to serve brands. Highly skilled digital natives will continue to be integral, but we must compliment this talent with deep expertise in holistic strategy across advertising, marketing and business and seek out those who are skilled in developing enduring and equity-building creative ideas. By approaching talent in a more holistic, multi-generational and multi-faceted way, we can rebuild an industry that reflects the diversity that it serves.

Paul Spriggs is president, Americas of System1 Agency.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

14105: Peace Of Shit.

Campaign spotlighted the new Tommy John Women’s campaign from Preacher, including the advert depicted above, whose headline reflects cultural appropriation at its finest. The responsible creative director should have thrown the layout into the trashcan too.

14104: Diet Problems.

Full disclosure: Despite commenting twice about Diet Madison Avenue, as well as making references to it in recent posts, the MultiCultClassics staff had not bothered to actually peruse the anonymous Instagram account. Upon finally scanning the DMA content, it’s safe to say the first visit was the last.

Sorry, but Diet Madison Avenue doesn’t live up to the hype. Indeed, DMA exposes key problems with the divertsity movement, and it also suffers from key problems in general.

Key Problem 1: White women aren’t unified on the issue. Just as White females in adland have disagreed over things including the prevalence of a glass ceiling, reasons for not advancing and whether or not the business is tough for women, the ladies are unable to reach a consensus over the value, tactics and tone of Diet Madison Avenue.

Key Problem 2: White women are not very supportive of each other. This is common knowledge, and the dilemma is intensified in a field where agencies compete against each other and/or exist in silos within holding companies. Plus, in the advertising industry, White women have conspired with White men to perpetuate the exclusivity—so they are not very supportive of minorities too.

Key Problem 3: Tied to the previous problem, White women are not strong champions of true diversity. In regards to Diet Madison Avenue, the attempts to broaden the message to embrace racial and ethnic equality and other semi-related topics come off as uninformed, unconvincing and untrustworthy bullshit.

Key Problem 4: Vigilante justice is bad enough. Anonymous vigilante justice is pathetic—and potentially as illegal as the alleged misdeeds being exposed by Diet Madison Avenue. The DMA posse insists they have collaborated with lawyers, PhD students and professors. Um, PhD students and professors are useless—especially when they are unidentified. And any lawyer approving DMA’s tactics is a world-class idiot and professional hack.

Key Problem 5: Diet Madison Avenue is becoming increasingly unnecessary. Agencies are installing more measures to protect and support sexual harassment victims. And the TIME’S UP Advertising initiative replaces anonymity with accountability.

Key Problem 6: The DMA posse is as hateful as the alleged perpetrators. In scenarios where the term misogyny is often used, the anonymous Instagram account introduces misandry. And the misandry is delivered with meanness and immaturity, which heightens the ignorance. This becomes a key problem on two fronts. First, like it or not, sexual harassment in the advertising industry won’t be eliminated without the deliberate backing and participation of White men. So injecting misandry makes it difficult to woo White male advocates. Second, the mean and immature tone—which is also directed towards any critics of DMA efforts—runs counter to the methods of successful protestors throughout history. Love, poise and intelligence have proven to be the best weapons for progress against hateful actions. Snarky obscenities ultimately hurt the cause.

Key Problem 7: DMA is a branding fail. Its core message is too unfocused, partly due to the aforementioned broadening of its content, but mostly due to a sloppy strategy and mindless execution. The DMA posse clearly doesn’t have the cultural competency needed to tackle the subject matter. Hell, they don’t even appear to have a basic understanding of HR-related practices and legal perspectives. DMA is a poor (wo)man’s TIME’S UP. It’s ironic that many of the recently fired offenders were Chief Creative Officers, because DMA desperately needs a skilled creative director. Then again, The 3% Movement could probably recommend female creative directors.

Key Problem 8: Diet Madison Avenue is unoriginal, unenlightened and uninspired. This key problem dovetails with the previous key problem. The DMA self-description says it all: “Exposing sexual harassment & discrimination in ad agencies since Oct 2017, cuz HR won’t.” First, why did the DMA posse only launch the revolution six months ago? Sexual harassment and discrimination have plagued Madison Avenue for over 60 years, and discrimination has festered for longer than sexual harassment. Could it be that the DMA posse is actually comprised of opportunistic narcissists jumping on the #MeToo bandwagon? Wonder if they realize #MeToo was founded by a Black woman initially seeking “to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly young women of color from low wealth communities, find pathways to healing.” Sorry, but DMA appears to be most concerned with themselves, followed by White women—and everyone else is relegated to a distant third place. Second, to declare DMA actions are necessary “cuz HR won’t” meet their responsibilities displays more ignorance. Sadly, the majority of HR directors don’t have the political power to expel the perpetrators. DMA ought to target the advertising agency leaders who have shielded sexual harassers—including calling out the women who signed the TIME’S UP Advertising manifesto, as these female leaders should have wielded their power to address matters versus turning blind eyes and deaf ears for decades.

Diet Madison Avenue deserves additional criticism, but this post has already gone too long. Net conclusion: Diet Madison Avenue needs to gain weight in the areas of cultural competence, character and credibility.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

14103: Divertsity At Holding Companies.

Adweek published a perspective from Brian Sheehan, former adman and current professor of advertising at Syracuse University, who presented common-knowledge views on the state of affairs at holding companies. Sheehan predicted that the transformations happening in recent years could lead to “less diverse portfolios” for the global corporations. Duh. Actually, it can be declared without hesitation or reservation that the changes will lead to less diverse workforces at the already-too-White holding companies—especially as shrinking budgets and assignments compel the existing exclusive staffers to hang on tightly to their privileged positions.

Holding Companies Are in Flux, Which May Lead to Less Diverse Portfolios

They are developing into core agencies as the ad industry transforms

By Brian Sheehan

What is a holding company, and where did they come from in the advertising space? I saw the development of holding companies firsthand as a young advertising executive working for Dancer Fitzgerald Sample (DFS) in New York in the mid-1980s.

At that time, DFS was New York’s largest agency and one of the most prestigious agencies in America, fresh off its Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” triumph and “Agency of the Year” honors. In 1986, DFS was bought by Saatchi & Saatchi. Saatchi had emerged as a new type of advertising agency, one bent on global domination like none before. Interestingly, their initial acquisition spree was undertaken by their dynamic group finance director, Martin Sorrell, who left the company just prior to the DFS purchase.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s strategy for global growth and dominance was underpinned by buying big, powerful agencies around the world (sometimes at inflated prices—think Ted Bates). Saatchi & Saatchi was, in essence, the proto-holding company.

The first modern advertising holding company was WPP, which was founded by Mr. Sorrell soon after he left Saatchi. He refined the idea of being a giant master branded agency. He morphed it into being a portfolio of brands and companies under one financial roof. This was investment and business school thinking, and it was being applied, for the first time, to the advertising world on a mass scale.

Holding companies were essentially “shell” companies. WPP, for example, stood for Wire and Plastic Products plc. It was a U.K. manufacturer of wire baskets. Its future purpose in life would be to hold within it a group of communications companies. It was a financial tool, pure and simple.

At this stage, the holding company had one main job: to serve as a repository for a diversified investment portfolio. Later, it would develop a second function: to look for efficiencies that would help cut costs in the back room while in no way undermining the integrity of the brands in the portfolio.

This was a classic investment approach of pulling together a diversified investment portfolio to avoid having all your eggs in one basket. This helps balance risk and reward. When some brands are up, others are down. The portfolio grows steadily with the market and the economy over time. You have good years and bad years, but you avoid disastrous years.

These portfolios, held by the big holding companies (e.g., WPP, Interpublic, Publicis, Omnicom, Dentsu), have been increasingly diversified since the late ‘80s with the inclusion of media agencies, digital agencies, research companies, PR agencies, data agencies, etc. In fact, the emergence of media agencies in the 1990s was in itself a holding company-driven strategy—and a good one at that (financially, anyway).

But the worm has turned. As exemplified by Arthur Sadoun’s emerging vision for Publicis, the portfolio approach is being diminished. The differences between brands like Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett, for example, or even between these brands and SapientRazorfish, are disappearing as those brands are subsumed into the Publicis master brand.

In other words, the holding company is emerging as the core agency itself. It is a big, powerful, integrated agency to be sure, but it is destroying the diversity of their portfolio. And it is not just a Publicis issue. All of the major holding companies are winning their biggest pieces of business by merging their brands together to create holding company-level teams (e.g., Nissan United and the McDonald’s-focused We Are Unlimited).

Now to be fair, the industry is changing rapidly; it is now up against powerful consultancies like Accenture. Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard recently said, “What’s impressive is how quickly Publicis and its management team came together to change.” That’s a fine endorsement.

I just want to sound a note of caution. Holding companies should not forget what a holding company is and why it exists in the first place. Should holding companies continue wholesale merging of their brands and offerings, they may find in the next three to five years that all of their eggs are no longer in a diversified holding company basket but instead in a single branded-agency basket. And they may, as a result, have some very bad financial years, which may be impossible for some of them to withstand.

14102: Chinatown Colonization…?

Advertising Age spotlighted a startup agency—Chinatown Bureau—headquartered in New York’s Chinatown. Chief Strategy Officer Marie Berry said, “In New York’s Chinatown, there is this common belief that tomorrow is better than today. ... It’s more so a mindset than a location. We believe it’s really the combination of heritage and [a] forward-looking spirit.” Okay, but what’s with the agency founders’ portrait featuring an oh-so-urban background? It doesn’t seem to appropriately represent Chinatown or an agency offering forward-thinking digital products and consulting. Rather, it looks like another example of appropriating Black culture—as if the founders want to holler, “Hey, look! We’re cool!” Better hope the graffiti isn’t communicating something nasty or inappropriate too.

Chinatown Bureau offers new ‘operating system’ for agencies

By Megan Graham

A pair of WPP expats have their way, agencies and marketers of the future will use an “operating system” that’s as integral to the creative process as Snow Leopard is to a MacBook Pro.

Paul Miser and Marie Berry, who worked together at WPP’s Hudson Rouge on Lincoln Motor Co.’s connected consumer relationships business, are opening Chinatown Bureau, a combination digital product studio and consultancy based—you guessed it—in New York’s Chinatown.

Chief Strategy Officer Berry says Chinatown Bureau is eyeing a five-year timeline to build products that tackle inefficiencies she and CEO Miser struggled with while working in the ad business. “We have a ton of problems that we’ve experienced,” Berry says, in areas including resourcing and talent management, “uninspired” briefings and overall workflow management.

The first tool they’re building is a martech product they say will help companies ensure consistent branding. Companies would be able to run assets through the automated system to ensure that brand imagery follows guidelines for logo, font, colors and style of photograph. Chinatown Bureau says it’s working with audio brand Beats by Dr. Dre on the product and plans a pilot with the marketer in the fourth quarter. The marketer wouldn’t comment on the relationship.

Miser says he expects to have enterprise-type solutions for larger clients, as well as a way to open up application programming interfaces so other agencies or other developers can build on top of the products. The company also wants to have a self-service model for companies that need a more affordable option.

“Having worked in the largest networks of communication agencies, we see the barriers for small and midsized companies,” Berry says.

In the meantime, Miser is leading the consultancy side of the business, which offers everything from user experience and design to revenue modeling. Clients on that side include OpenFin, a fintech startup.

“In New York’s Chinatown,” says Berry, “there is this common belief that tomorrow is better than today. ... It’s more so a mindset than a location. We believe it’s really the combination of heritage and [a] forward-looking spirit.”

Monday, April 09, 2018

14101: Ad Council Clutter.

Does the Ad Council even give a damn about media placement? Sharing column space with an advertisement for a phone line to meet hot, urban singles are two Ad Council messages—one proclaiming, “love has no gender,” and the other depicting a threesome with Smokey Bear. Love has no gender and bestiality involving cartoon characters is cool too.

14100: ANA CMO BS.

Adweek reported on the latest common-knowledge findings of an ANA survey that showed a lack of diversity (gasp!) among Chief Marketing Officers. However, White women are making progress (gasp!) in the category. Racial and ethnic minorities, on the other hand, continue to be grossly underrepresented (gasp!). The ANA has been conducting surveys for over a decade, consistently uncovering the obvious. Which then leads to patronizing programs and initiatives that rarely spark change. If the ANA took a survey of its surveys, the results would expose the true uselessness of the polling exercises—although no one would be surprised. Or give a shit.

Brands Fail to Meet the ANA’s Diversity Goals, Too

The group’s inaugural ‘CMO Scorecard’ shows a lack of minorities among chief marketers

By Erik Oster

Agencies aren’t the only one struggling with diversity issues.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) announced the finding of its inaugural “Scorecard” evaluating diversity among chief marketing officers of its client-side members at its Brand Masters Conference in Dana Point, Calif. today and while the findings suggest some progress with gender diversity, ethnic diversity lags behind.

The ANA survey tallied chief marketing officer roles and equivalent positions among the group’s 747 client-side marketer company members. 45 percent of the chief marketers surveyed were female, 55 percent male, a figure that seems to show signs of recent progress.

Still, certain categories fared better than others. While 47 of 88 banking and financial services CMOs in the survey were female, only 25 of 77 CMOs in the food and beverage category were.

The ethnic diversity numbers were more disheartening. Of those chief marketers surveyed, 87 percent were white and only 3 percent identified as Black/African American. Around 5 percent of the chief marketers identified as Asian and Hispanic/Latin, respectively.

Only three of the 45 sports and entertainment chief marketers surveyed were people of color, while the ANA doesn’t count a single Black/African American tech chief marketer or a Hispanic/Latin chief marketer in the banking/financial sector among its member organizations.

The consumer packaged goods categories fared relatively well in both gender and ethnic diversity, with an even split among male and female chief marketers and 9 of 42 chief marketers, or around 21 percent, people of color.

“Industry progress begins with understanding the facts about our marketplace,” ANA CEO Bob Liodice said in a statement. “For too long, we’ve relied on inference and innuendo rather than hard facts and data. We’ve now planted a ‘stake in the ground’ against which we can begin to track our progress annually. But knowing these results is just the first step. We need complete commitment throughout our industry to create lasting change.”

In addition to launching the CMO “Scorecard” as a way of measuring progress, the ANA is promoting a pair of initiatives to foster change.

The ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) is teaming up with almost 70 companies across the industry to promote diversity and multicultural marketing and bring together industry thought leaders from different minority communities.

“We want to engage senior marketing executives throughout the country in this conversation,” Liodice added about AIMM. “That is why it is so important to have diverse leadership at the top of marketer companies.”

The ANA’s Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE), meanwhile, is championing a “#SeeHer” campaign to promote more accurate portrayals of women and girls in advertising, which still has room for improvement. One goal of #SeeHer movement, which counts over 60 companies among its members, is to “achieve a 20 percent improvement in women’s portrayal by 2020.”

Sunday, April 08, 2018

14099: Admen In Uniform.

Adweek reported on the continuing soap-opera-like events involving the U.S. Army account review, with a marketing executive retiring from the military service—probably resulting from his romantic conspiring with a former account person from McCann, the White advertising agency currently serving the account and pitching to retain it. The stock photograph illustrating the story—along with the caption—makes it look like the retired marketing director is returning to his family after a tour of duty.

U.S. Army Marketing Executive Involved in McCann Conflict of Interest Controversy Retires

The investigation into the case continues

By Patrick Coffee

James Ortiz, a marketing director at the U.S. Army’s Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG), has retired less than four months after Adweek broke news of an allegedly improper relationship between himself and an account executive at McCann Worldgroup, the Army’s agency of record.

The relationship occurred while McCann pitched to retain the Army’s marketing contract, which could be worth up to $4 billion over 10 years, according to the organization’s own estimates. The review is ongoing.

In October 2017, Department of Defense sources provided photographs and video of Ortiz, a 20-year veteran of the Army’s marketing department, and the aforementioned executive together at a club in Virginia following a strategy meeting between McCann and Army representatives.

The McCann executive reportedly resigned soon after the footage was taken in October. At the time the story first broke, the Army confirmed it had launched an internal investigation and that Ortiz had been “removed from all duties associated with the contract and temporarily reassigned within the organization.”

He officially retired last Friday.

“James Ortiz retired as of March 31, 2018,” said an Army spokesperson today. “The investigation is ongoing.”

The representative declined to elaborate on the nature of his resignation, the ongoing investigation or the status of the Army’s marketing review. A McCann spokesperson referred to the Army.

Adweek has been unable to reach Ortiz for comment.

At the same time the controversy made news, the Army was undergoing a formal review of its advertising and marketing budget. This review, launched in mid-2016 by the Army Auditing Agency, questioned the efficiency of several multi-million dollar programs and claimed that they “didn’t demonstrate a positive return.”

The AMRG subsequently defended its practices, writing that the AAA’s conclusions demonstrated a “lack of marketing understanding or criteria for performance assessment.”

Staffers at the U.S. Senate and House Armed Services Committees later called upon Elizabeth Wilson—who assumed the roles of deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing and director of the Army Marketing and Research Group last November—to brief them on both the audit and “approaches the Army is considering to improve Army marketing.”

“The meetings were consistent with our relationship with Congress in their oversight role and the Army’s long-standing practice of engaging with congressional stakeholders to provide program updates and exchange ideas for pathways forward,” said an Army spokesperson.

At this time, it is unclear whether Wilson will be called for additional briefings.