Friday, August 31, 2018

14277: Land O’ Fakes.

Adweek spotlighted patronizing propaganda from Land O’ Lakes and The Martin Agency, who celebrated female farmers with a parody version of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” set to country rock music. This divertsity dreck is offensive on a host of levels. First, the featured farmers are mostly White women. It’s a safe bet that Land O’ Lakes and The Martin Agency are oblivious to the plight—and even the existence—of Black farmers or other minority groups. Second, for a brand to show reverence to female farmers while sporting a stereotypical and controversial Indian Maiden mascot demonstrates pale-faced hypocrisy. Third, for a chronically White advertising agency to salute feminism so soon after being exposed for allegedly engaging in long-term sexual harassment displays ignorant insensitivity. That said, don’t be surprised if the campaign gets submitted for an ADCOLOR® Award, Glass Lion, Athena Award, etc. Award show judges eat this shit up like butter.

Land O’Lakes Spotlights Female Farmers in Its Feminist Reimagining of ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’

Maggie Rose and Liz Rose create ‘She-I-O’ for Women’s Equality Day

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

Old MacDonald may have had a farm with a dog, cows and some chickens, but he also had something far more important to keeping said farm running—a daughter. At least according to Land O’Lakes’ “She-I-O,” a reimagined (albeit slightly hokey) version of the classic children’s nursery rhyme sung by country artist Maggie Rose.

The aim of it is to honor the oftentimes invisible female farmers who help feed America. This comes ahead of Women’s Equality Day (Aug. 26) and sends out a critical message: the successful, old, fictionalized farmer MacDonald doesn’t have to be a man.

“She-I-O” debuts with a full music video featuring Maggie Rose and several real female farmers, kicking off a larger campaign, “All Together Better,” from Land O’Lakes, which leaned on a predominantly female team at The Martin Agency to create. The campaign also intends to position Land O’Lakes as the member-owned agricultural cooperative it is, not just the consumer-facing brand of cheeses and butter.

The stars of the music video are members of Land O’Lakes’ cooperative of 1,791 farmers, many of whom the company said are women. In fact, the company said 30 percent of all U.S. farmers are female (like the ones shown in the video waking up at the ass crack of dawn to start work).

Grammy Award-winning songwriter Liz Rose—whose credits appear on various country hits including Taylor Swift’s “Fearless,” Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” Carrie Underwood’s “Cry Pretty” and Kenny Chesney’s “Better Boat”—collaborated on “She-I-O.” The video (below) was directed by female powerhouse duo Charlotte Fassler and Dani Girdwood of Similar But Different.

“I’m passionate about the message at the forefront of ‘She-I-O,’ which celebrates the power of inclusivity and the role women play in modern farming,” Maggie Rose said in a statement. “My husband’s family owns a cattle ranch in Missouri, so I’ve had a glimpse into what goes into putting food on our tables. Like so many of us, I grew up singing ‘Old MacDonald.’ Where you hear lines ‘on his farm’ and ‘he had a cow,’ it’s nice to finally add in the other half of the population.”

Anne Marie Hite, senior vice president and creative director at The Martin Agency, noted to Adweek that during briefing sessions with the songwriters, one of the first things to come out of Liz Rose’s mouth was, “Oh my god, MacDonald had a daughter.”

“It became the basis for the whole song,” Hite said, adding that both Liz Rose and Maggie Rose (no relation) were immediately identified as the “perfect” songwriting duo for the project.

“A lot of people picture farmers as men,” Hite said. When The Martin Agency got the call from Land O’Lakes to work on this campaign, she said this “brilliant idea” was sparked to rewrite “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” as “a modern-day, badass female anthem.”

The campaign breaks just one month after Land O’Lakes appointed Beth Ford as its new CEO, where she makes history as the first openly gay woman to sit at the helm of a Fortune 500 company.

Anna Squibb, senior manager of integrated marketing at Land O’Lakes’ Dairy Food Retail division, said it was inspiring to see everyone involved in the campaign “pour their hearts and soul into it”—even the female farmers in the company’s co-op.

“Our farmer members are the most cooperative and easy-to-work-with people,” Squibb added. “They were a little apprehensive at first but when we proposed the idea to have them in the video, they were open to it. … We’re so passionate about sharing their stories.”

According to Hite, the farmers were quite taken aback when the agency showed up with a film crew of 60 members, as they thought there would be five people at most. “They were like, ‘What did we sign up for?’” she said with a laugh.

“She-I-O” debuted on SoundCloud on Tuesday and will be made available on iTunes beginning Friday. The “All Together Better” campaign includes 30- and 60-second TV spots, print executions and “custom digital content,” according to a statement from Land O’Lakes and The Martin Agency.

Land O’Lakes partnered with hunger relief organization Feeding America on the campaign. For every like, share or comment the “She-I-O” video or music track garners on social media, SoundCloud and iTunes, the Land O’Lakes Foundation will donate $1 to Feeding America, capping it at $100,000. Hashtag #AllTogetherBetter is being distributed to help spread the word.

The last component to the campaign is a three-part digital documentary series called “In Their Words,” produced by the Female Farmer Project, that chronicles the personal stories of some of Land O’Lakes’ farmers. [Adweek also posted] the spotlights of Lori, Candice and Amanda (the farmers featured in the music video).

Thursday, August 30, 2018

14276: Family Secrets & Lies.

Adweek reported on patronizing propaganda from HP, featuring a video designed to shatter the “All-American Family” myths and stereotypes. Of course, HP had no problem assigning the project to White pseudo-advertising agency Edelman, where the exclusive leadership hardly reflects society in general. The video is part of the “Reinvent Mindsets” campaign. Considering how HP continues to partner with White advertising agencies where diversity is a dream deferred, diverted and denied, calling it the “Reinvent Hypocrisy” campaign would be more appropriate.

What Does an ‘All-American Family’ Look Like? HP Created a Challenge to Show the New Reality

Lessons learned in new film celebrating inclusion

By Doug Zanger

To most people, the image of an “all-American family” consists of a heterosexual white man, woman and children. 74 percent of 2,000 people surveyed in an HP-commissioned study believed that the typical household in this country fits the generational and societal “white picket fence” stereotype. However, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, only one in four American families matches that description.

In a compelling social experiment and film, HP brought together 13 Chicago families of different races, ethnicities, ages, genders and sexual orientations. Each person was purposely separated not to reveal which families they were connected to. From there, a smaller group was brought in and asked to choose individuals to put together what they believed constituted an “all-American family.” The ‘families’ that were created followed a predictable script: same race, different gender, heterosexual.

Unsurprisingly, none of the people choosing the families got it right. An African-American lesbian mom, for example, was paired with a man of the same race who is actually married to a white woman. Additionally, a gay white father was placed with a heterosexual white woman and two children.

The reveal of the actual families was a stunning, emotional revelation and lesson learned about bias. One participant said that it changed “my perspective on a traditional American family. What surprised me was the man who I picked—it’s a two-father family—and when I picked him I [thought] this guy looks most like how the stereotypical father might look.”

After the real families came together, they were photographed, and the pictures were printed on HP printers and placed on a wall to commemorate the exercise.

“The social experiment helped spotlight the beauty and range of American families and what makes a family portrait,” said Carlos Ricardo, head of print marketing, Americas for HP. “This made us think about the family photo and how the family itself has evolved.”

“When marketing and communications are most powerful, it holds up a mirror to our lives and reflects who we are and what is most important,” added Karen Kahn, HP’s chief communications officer. “And as marketers for a purpose-driven brand, we tackle the subjects that are meaningful to our most important audiences—employees, customers and partners.”

The spot, Family Portraits, is the latest in the brand’s ‘Reinvent Mindsets’ campaign that celebrates inclusion and highlights unconscious bias that affects both the corporate world and society at large. For several years, HP has publicly stated its position around diversity, championed by recently-departed CMO Antonio Lucio, and challenged their agencies and partners to improve their own workforces.

In addition to the film created by Edelman Digital, HP will release its extensive research project that revealed a bevy of surprising statistics.

Eighty percent of respondents, for example, agree that defining an “all-American family” is difficult due to the country’s diversity. Additionally, 68 percent of LGBTQ people categorize their families as all-American versus 58 percent who believe others would describe them in the same way.

One of the more telling stats indicated that one in three Americans would be nervous bringing home a partner of a different race and a full 50 percent say their family prefers that they date or marry someone of the same race or religion. Another revealed that one in three people have cut ties with a family member due to intolerance.

“The Reinvent Mindsets study findings reinforce that to connect with everyone, everywhere, we must strip away bias and stereotypes and celebrate our differences,” said Lesley Slaton-Brown, chief diversity officer at HP. “These findings show that regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin, perceptions of ‘family’ are not in line with today’s reality.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

14275: Galloping Garbage.

Campaign reported on the recent ravings of Divertsity Diva Cindy Gallop, who demanded that holding companies immediately eradicate non-disclosure agreements connected to sexual harassment cases. “I want to see the leaders of every holding company and agency network announce their eradication immediately,” snapped Gallop. “We cannot have progress without full transparency on who the harassers and bullies in our industry are and whether or not they face repercussions. Why on earth would anyone silence a victim instead of firing a harasser? If you’re trying to gag victims, you know you’re rotten at the core.”

Gee, wonder if Gallop’s growling has the leaders of every holding company shaking in their boots or just shaking their heads and rolling their eyes. Actually, it’s hard to point out the leaders of every holding company these days. John Wren, Michael Roth, Arthur Sadoun and whoever’s occupying the CEO suite at WPP and the other holding companies operate like spokesmen, presenting promotional propaganda at shareholder meetings. Indeed, shareholders appear to be the true “leaders” at holding companies. All of which makes Gallop more pathetic, as the typical shareholder probably couldn’t identify her in a lineup and couldn’t care less.

Gallop’s gripes aren’t even original. The topic is already being addressed—and in much more intelligent and informed ways. Of course, if change does occur, Gallop will take full credit, along with Kat Gordon and Diet Madison Avenue.

Finally, Gallop’s soapbox monologue also demonstrates the differences between fighting for divertsity versus diversity. Divertsity defenders demand total overhauls of policies, processes and laws. For diversity, on the other hand, the simplest suggestions are shot down—and any attempts at legal action are ultimately ignored. Gallop gasped, “Why on earth would anyone silence a victim instead of firing a harasser?” Um, people of color who protest for diversity in the advertising industry are routinely blacklisted, blackballed and blacked out—while the perpetrators who perpetuate discriminatory exclusivity retain their privileged positions and win ADCOLOR® Awards.

Cindy Gallop calls #timesup on NDAs

By Nicola Kemp

Non-disclosure agreements have the advertising industry in a stranglehold and it is time to eradicate them, according to industry stalwart Cindy Gallop.

Gallop, the founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, said the advertising industry must call #timesup on non-disclosure agreements and address their “appalling prevalence” across the industry.

She said: “I want to see the leaders of every holding company and agency network announce their eradication immediately. We cannot have progress without full transparency on who the harassers and bullies in our industry are and whether or not they face repercussions. Why on earth would anyone silence a victim instead of firing a harasser? If you’re trying to gag victims, you know you’re rotten at the core.”

A female creative in her twenties, who signed such an agreement without fully understanding the implications, explained that the widespread practice was not only damaging for the victim but put other employees at risk. She said: “The NDA provides a clean slate for the abuser, enabling, and even emboldening them, which almost ensures further abuse there, and elsewhere, placing other women in real danger. Cruelly, agencies silencing the victim elevate their suffering from abuse at the hands of a single perpetrator to having an industry aligned against them.”

She continued: “The reality is, agencies are absolutely terrified of women who will speak truth to power and upset the status quo. Silence ensures that each woman is isolated and powerless in their own suffering.”

Breaking the cycle

The call to end NDAs comes as the advertising industry continues to grapple with the issue of sexual harassment in the industry. Earlier this year research published by the Advertising Association, NABS and WACL, as part of the #timeTo initiative, revealed that sexual harassment in advertising is not a legacy issue. Twenty per cent of female respondents aged 18 to 24 reported they had already been sexually harassed in the few years they have spent working in the industry.

The great majority (72%) of those who had been sexually harassed had experienced it more than once, and of those a quarter had been harassed six times or more. This suggests that a culture of silence around sexual harassment, combined with the prevalence of NDAs, allows perpetrators to continue a cycle of harassment.

Gallop said: “I have literally hundreds of emails in my inbox from women who’ve been forced to sign them [NDAs]. This, combined with agencies’ and holding companies’ refusal to fire sexual harassers (and bullies and abusers) and, when they finally do, to state publicly the reason why, is keeping our industry in the dark ages by destroying women’s careers instead of the careers of the men who harassed them.”

Diana Tickell, CEO of NABS, said that using NDAs or confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements after an allegation of harassment has been made was likely to prevent people from speaking out about their experience and systemic problems being tackled within companies.

She said: “Our message to employers, which is reflected in our code of conduct, is that they need to think very carefully before using such agreements or clauses in response to sexual harassment complaints, and misusing them following an allegation of sexual harassment could make them void.”

Tickell believes that agencies need to create cultures in which people can speak up without fear of reprisals. “We want safe, trusting and open environments where anyone can approach their company with faith and confidence that the company will investigate all allegations fairly and promptly. We want to create work cultures where people are never made to feel that their jobs – at their current company or a future one – will be negatively affected because they have come forward to report an incident,” she added.

She said some respondents to the timeTo initiative did share more positive experiences of companies that had acted on allegations promptly and without using NDAs or confidentiality clauses, proving that it can be done.

A business imperative

Breaking the silence surrounding sexual harassment in advertising is also viewed as an important step in tackling gender inequality both on the screen and behind the lens. Gallop said sexual harassment was a significant business issue: “The resulting loss of female-lens creativity, strategy, business management and leadership hurts our clients’ business as well as our own. Our industry will never be gender-equal, diverse and inclusive, and therefore as exceptionally creative, revenue-generating and profitable as it could be, while protection of harassers keeps out of power the female leaders who would make equality, diversity and inclusion happen.”

For the female creative who signed an NDA following a traumatising experience of sexual harassment, the experience has been one that has left her feeling utterly powerless. Like other women who have left agencies following sexual harassment complaints she must also grapple with practical challenges, such as how she will explain the gap in her employment to future employees, or how she will explain why she left her previous agency.

She explained: “The NDA ensures the victim disappears because, it they don’t, the agency will be held to account for fostering an environment that allowed such inconceivable, criminal acts to occur within their walls.”

No one should be forced to sign a NDA or settlement agreement and no one should sign one without taking independent legal advice first. If you want impartial, free and confidential help and guidance, call the NABS Advice Line on 0800 707 6607.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

14274: McCann The Puppet Master…?

Adweek reported on the latest lunacy involving McCann and the U.S. Army, with a lawsuit being filed against the White advertising agency by a Black media company that accuses McCann of “misleading and defrauding the plaintiff through ad buys made on behalf of the U.S. Army as part of a minority recruitment push.” The plaintiff—Urban One—charges McCann used a struggling Black advertising agency as a “puppet” to make ad buys and qualify for governmental financial incentives tied to utilizing minority vendors. As a result, Urban One insists it is owed over $930k in ad placement costs—along with interest, added costs and legal fees for a grand total of $1.8 million. A McCann spokesperson said the Urban One “claims are baseless” and believes the case will be dismissed. Regardless, this is hardly the first time folks have questioned the professional pranks practices tied to White advertising agencies “partnering” with minority firms on big accounts featuring political and governmental components. See Draftfcb and the U.S. Census as another example. Is it a coincidence that the former Draftfcb and McCann were/are part of the IPG network? And McCann has certainly created controversial kookiness with the U.S. Army, despite obscenely profiting from the account. Hell, don’t be surprised if the White advertising agency leverages this lawsuit to further extend its governmental contact.

Lawsuit Says UM Used ‘Puppet’ Agency for Army’s Minority Recruitment, Then Left Media Unpaid

Urban One claims it is owed $1.8 million in damages

By Patrick Coffee

Urban One, a media company focused on African-American audiences, is suing IPG-owned media agency UM, which is accused of misleading and defrauding the plaintiff through ad buys made on behalf of the U.S. Army as part of a minority recruitment push.

The suit, filed late last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, states that UM (named in the filing as Universal McCann Worldwide) “conspired to defraud and mislead” Urban One by way of what the plaintiff calls a “sham buying agent”: Penn, Good & Associates or PGA (now known as Penngood).

Urban One claims UM used Penngood, an African American-owned agency, as a “puppet” to qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in government incentives aimed at encouraging contractors to work with minority-owned companies, as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

When Penngood was used to buy U.S. Army ads on Urban One’s TV and radio networks, a credit check reportedly showed that the shop had a “poor credit rating and history,” according to the lawsuit. Urban One also says it felt pressured “at the direction of McCann” to accept the ad buys on credit with assurances that payments would eventually come. The lawsuit cites a 2009 email from a UM svp pledging that Penngood had the “financial capacity and integrity to manage the account.”

Penngood then allegedly failed to pay Urban One $930,268.11 in ad placement costs. All told, Urban One says it is owed $1.8 million in damages, plus interest, assorted costs and attorney’s fees.

UM says claims are ‘baseless’

Urban One describes itself as “the largest distributor of urban content in the country,” and plaintiffs in this suit include its cable network, TV One, and Reach Media, which produces national radio shows by celebrities like D.L. Hughley and Al Sharpton.

This is not the first time the company has pursued legal action over its relationship with the Army’s agency partners, a fact UM points to as a sign that this lawsuit will not go in the plaintiff’s favor.

“A related case brought in 2015 by TV One was summarily dismissed in court earlier this year, and we fully believe this case will be dismissed as well, as the claims are baseless,” a UM spokesperson told Adweek.

A separate suit was indeed filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in August 2015 and dismissed, in part, six months ago.

That filing focused on Penngood and Carol H. Williams Advertising, which partnered with the UM organization for more than 10 years to help plan and execute Army recruiting campaigns targeting African-American consumers. The earlier lawsuit accused those two agencies and their principals of breach of contract while naming UM as a third-party defendant.

The first phase of that case ended on Feb. 9, 2018, when Associate Judge John Campbell of the D.C. court granted a summary judgment in favor of the Williams agency and Carol H. Williams herself, stating that “the Williams defendants are not the party to have recourse against.”

But the judge allowed the claims against Penngood and its co-presidents, Clyde Penn and Garrick Good, to proceed. According to court documents, a separate non-jury trial in that matter is scheduled to begin in December.

“Carol has reviewed the allegations in the complaint TV One has filed in federal court in Maryland,” wrote John J. McNutt, counsel for Carol H. Williams Advertising. “In the complaint, TV One included several allegations against Carol related to her role as a subcontractor to McCann on the U.S. Army advertising contract from 2006 to 2017. Many of these unsupported allegations were previously included in a lawsuit TV One filed against Carol in 2015 in D.C. Superior Court. Carol denies the allegations and is proud of her agency’s many years of work on the U.S. Army contract. In February 2018, the judge in the D.C. case rejected TV One’s allegations against Carol and dismissed all of TV One’s claims against Carol. TV One’s allegations against Carol have been refuted in a court of law.”

After that judgment, Urban One went on to hire the law firm of Morris, Manning and Martin and take action against UM last week. The latest suit mentions Carol H. Williams Advertising several times but does not name the agency as a defendant.

Mounting pressure, overdue bills

At the heart of the new lawsuit is Urban One’s claim that it felt pressured by UM to work with its minority-owned agency partner, Penngood, despite UM allegedly knowing that Penngood had “cash flow problems” that would eventually leave it unable to pay its bills, the suit states.

In January 2009, UM tapped Penngood, according to the lawsuit, despite the small agency emerging from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing only five months before taking on the business. The lawsuit also states that “Garrick Good, one of the principals of PGA, had been involved in approximately a dozen lawsuits prior to McCann engaging PGA as its ‘buying agent.’”

Urban One continued to run Army ads on its cable and radio platforms while extending credit to Penngood thanks to what it calls “the assurances of and a longstanding business relationship with” UM, which allegedly agreed to be “jointly and severally liable for the advertising buys” while “fraudulently misrepresent[ing] the financial status and capabilities” of its buying partner, the lawsuit states.

Penngood’s financial struggles only grew more pronounced with time. Garrick Good filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in late 2012, but Urban One claims that it did not learn until 2017 that UM had “only performed a cursory check” of the agency’s finances and qualifications.

In addition to the nearly $1 million owed to TV One, the lawsuit also states that radio brand Reach and its local division, Radio One, went through similar experiences after expressing concern over Penngood’s finances several years ago. The agency now allegedly owes these two divisions $375,218.60 and $545,000.00, respectively, for uncompensated ads purchased on credit.

A spokesperson for Urban One’s law firm had not provided additional comment at the time of publication. The listed press contact for Penngood has not responded to a request for comment.

The suit comes less than two weeks after the larger McCann organization filed a bid with the U.S. Government Accountability Office to protest its second elimination from the U.S. Army review in just over a year. That review has now been extended until at least mid-November, and the protest also required the government to extend McCann’s contract beyond its expiration date of Sept. 30 this year.

You can view the lawsuit filing in its entirety [at Adweek].

Monday, August 27, 2018

14273: Live And Let Liver.

This advert from Egypt—which is a disaster of Hindenburg proportions—shows pharma advertising sucks worldwide.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

14272: Consultancy Cloning.

Adweek reported Accenture’s new Chief Creative Officer—who formerly served at places like McCann and JWT—boasted the consultancy will act “as creative as other agencies” in the Nordic region. Well, sure, if you hire the same White people who worked at White advertising agencies, it’s safe to say a consultancy will churn out work on par with the status quo. Consultancies will be as creative as other agencies—and as culturally clueless as other agencies too.

Accenture’s Newest CCO Says the Consultancy Will Be ‘as Creative as Other Agencies’

Adam Kerj looks to expand Nordic operations

By Patrick Coffee

Accenture Interactive, the digital wing of the larger international consulting group, looks to expand its presence in the Nordic region by hiring a new chief creative officer.

According to the attendant statement, Accenture aims to more actively seek out new business in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Adam Kerj joins the company after serving as CCO at McCann Stockholm and WPP’s J. Walter Thompson in New York, and he was also the first creative lead at Dentsu digital shop 360i. Throughout his career he has led campaigns for such brands as Oreo, HBO, Coca-Cola, Tide and Ben & Jerry’s, and his work has been awarded by the Cannes Lions, One Show and other trade organizations.

Kerj told Adweek that Accenture Interactive can “have a faster impact on a client’s business” due to its lack of a “traditional legacy structure.” He claimed that the sort of experimental work that will often end up in a “lab or center of excellence” in other agencies is “what we do” at Accenture.

Specifically, Kerj cited the creative department’s collaborations with the company’s “robust ecommerce back-end” operations, stating that Accenture, unlike other agencies, can often skip the process of “looking hard to find the people who can actually bring the idea to life” because it has “most of those capabilities internally.”

“Creatively, we can figure out everything more or less by ourselves,” he added.

For that reason, Kerj thinks the consultancy will continue to attract more agency veterans and “non-traditional creatives.”

“What is an idea? How does it look? [We’re] hiring talent that doesn’t have any preconceptions as to how it has to look and behave as an advertising idea,” he said.

At the same time, he noted that he had pitched against Accenture in his past job at McCann and that other area shops, like Adweek’s 2017 International Agency of the Year Åkestam Holst, will also be competing directly against his new employer.

“We will bring something slightly different to the table, but that is absolutely the ambition: to be as creative as other agencies,” he said.

Kerj also noted that Accenture and its work remains somewhat unknown despite all the “buzz around these companies now,” especially in the Nordic region. But the consultancy plans to more actively promote both its presence in these countries and the work it does for clients, starting with his hire.

“We have to be more proactive than most agencies,” he said. “I don’t know that clients understand what an agency can help them with today.”

Thursday, August 23, 2018

14271: Artificial BS.

Adweek reported on the growing interest among brands to employ “Artificial Influencers” like South African Instagram model Shudu Gram and Blawko. Hey, the average CMO is probably thinking, “I can make my brand feel relevant and diverse without hiring actual people of color? Sign me up!” Look for White advertising agencies to take the notion further, creating artificial receptionists, mailroom attendants, janitors and Chief Diversity Officers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

14270: HR WTF.

Adweek published another perspective from 4As SVP Talent Engagement and Inclusion Keesha Jean-Baptiste, who thinks Human Resources needs a human rejiggering. Really? Does anyone think HR wonks are actually affecting hiring decisions or overall culture? These days, it seems like effective HR leaders ensure decent healthcare and dental benefits. Plus, they’ve got enough on their plates related to sexual harassment charges. Even Chief Diversity Officers admit having roles and responsibilities that are distinct from HR personnel. In lots of cases, talent recruiters within advertising agencies are not necessarily HR members either. In short, HR does not manage talent. So reinventing the HR department seems like a diversionary move. Rather, the directive for change must be placed squarely on the idiots with hiring authority and making hiring decisions—namely, creative directors, account directors, etc.

It’s Time for HR to Undergo a Revival or Agencies Risk Stifling Creative Talent

The department and industry both need to step up

By Keesha Jean-Baptiste

HR is in the ER, and there’s a screaming sense of urgency to lead the discipline toward a real top-to-bottom transformation. But will change really happen this time?

HR gurus have been predicting the disruption of this field for the past two decades. In the meantime, trust in HR practitioners has diminished to an all-time low and key skill sets have remained underdeveloped or underutilized for many of our HR professionals. Businesses are also outsourcing functional areas of HR, and movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have sparked conversation about third parties, rather than internal HR teams, leading investigations, which is a necessary move.

So then, why am I pushing for a rebuild of HR rather than for the sounding of its death knell? Because ad agencies that tout culture without an insightful talent strategy will get nowhere. Because we’re losing talent. Because our industry cannot run if the talent group isn’t thriving in the creative environments we’ve fostered. Because what we’re seeing more and more is that too many times HR is not showing up in the way that talent and organizations need it to show up.

But when HR functions at the highest order, a business reaps proven benefits, including higher retention, increased profits, transparency, more trust in leadership and improved work.

Here’s how we get there.

What HR leaders can do

Effective and profitable agencies have holistic talent strategies, which means they know how to organize their staff, align their talent operations and cultivate a unique work culture that delivers on a company’s business strategy.

When HR functions at the highest order, a business reaps proven benefits, including higher retention, increased profits, transparency, more trust in leadership and improved work.

And, of course, on the other side of every program and policy, there are humans. HR has the opportunity to bring a human voice and touch to an agency in real, practical ways, including by targeting solutions to workforce segments such as parents, women, people of color, multiple generations, independent contractors and remote workers. This calls for HR to move away from one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, we need to take a one-to-one approach that’s based on understanding people and team dynamics and that integrates life stage and career-stage insights. This may include tiering traditional benefits, wellness programs and performance engagement across segments.

In a workplace where all workforce segments can see and understand that their identity, skill set and experience are valued, employees will show up knowing that their organization is willing to deploy all of those things to benefit the business.

HR must also embrace a needs-based approach to talent management. Sometimes to a fault it has relied heavily on yesterday’s best practices to help with onboarding and performance reviews, for instance, and yet we still hear feedback that people don’t know what they’re doing or what is expected in their roles.

How management and agency leaders can step up

We have to be brave enough to break the systems and reinvent. That starts with reskilling or recasting those who are clinging to an outdated HR model, where policy—rather than people—rule. With the right model and the right skill sets in HR, HR becomes a strategic partner helping to guide the business.

Management and employees should also set a higher bar for what they expect from their HR departments, starting with getting smart about what high-functioning HR departments look like and investing in developing our key HR leaders whose development is usually forgotten.

To set that bar, do your own competitive analysis. To start, look at your clients’ businesses and look at what the top Fortune 500 companies are doing and try to remake and remodel the successes that make sense for your agency. You can tune into HR transformation experts like Adam Grant, Cy Wakeman, Josh Bersin and Natasha Bowman, who are all actively provoking critical thought and pushing toward more evolved workplaces and HR practices.

And when it’s time to hire the HR practitioners that can help you raise the bar, management should be looking for elastic thinkers rather than linear, transactional processors. In an evolved HR model, you want HR to bring these proficiencies to the table: business planning, insights generation, predictive analytics, leadership and entrepreneurialism.

We’re at a fork in the road, one where trust can be rebuilt along with an entirely new model for what HR does and what’s expected of it. If we don’t reinvent HR now, we risk significant damage to our agencies and our most valuable asset: our people.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

14269: Brandweek Blacker Than Ever.

Oh, look! The next Brandweek soiree now features Kevin Hart as Opening Night Keynote and Lauryn Hill as Opening Night Performer.

14268: Females Fundamentally Flawed…?

Advertising Age published a perspective from Zambezi CEO Jean Freeman, who opined that women can better advance professionally by learning business fundamentals. Um, if a man had made such a statement, he’d likely be branded as a mansplaining misogynist. Why haven’t Kat Gordon and Cindy Gallop complained that women are being held back in adland because no one will teach them the basics? Maybe the 4As should build an all-girls high school to educate female students about P&L, balance sheets and legal documents. But seriously, is there really a problem with women in advertising displaying corporate cluelessness? Cultural cluelessness is forever in abundance. Women, however, appear to be doing fine managing clients, adhering to budgets and handling all the responsibilities of running advertising agencies. Hey, only racial and ethnic minorities require remedial training to qualify for positions in the advertising industry.

Beyond empowerment: The case for teaching business fundamentals to women

By Jean Freeman

There’s no shortage of women’s events these days. I’ve attended them all — 3% Conference, Makers, Girlboss Rally, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen, She Runs It. These platforms have had a meaningful impact on the ascension of the next generation of women leaders. They inspire creativity, confidence, community, and also encourage mentoring. More women (and men) are stepping up to mentor the next generation of women.

But in addition to mentoring, I’m seeing an even more pressing need for teaching. Specifically, teaching business fundamentals. Much of the discussion at women’s conferences focuses on personal actions, emotional intelligence, building self-confidence and creating a personal brand. This is all valid, but gender equity platforms need more rigor around the mechanics of business. Fundamental business smarts are what will truly move women forward, and women are recognizing this.

Frustrated with the slow progress in corporate environments, more women are going into business for themselves, founding companies at a historic rate. According to a recent study, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of all businesses worldwide.

One of my favorite Ted talks is “The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get,” by Susan Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women. She pointed out that the most important skill set that determines whether women in business move up the ladder and out of the bog of middle management, where 50 percent of the workforce historically is women, “has to do with understanding where the organization is going, what its strategy is, what financial targets it has in place, and understanding your role in moving the organization forward. This is that missing 33 percent of the career success equation for women, not because it’s missing in our capabilities or abilities, but because it’s missing in the advice that we’re given.”

Teaching women how a company runs is key. We need to develop learning around business and financial skills—the kind of expertise that contributes directly to a company’s success and profitability. We need to expand the offerings at conferences to also include business overview and training. Understanding the mechanics of P&L, why the balance sheet is probably the most important financial document, and how to interpret legal documents are examples of the fundamentals to which women at the mid level should be exposed.

Of course, not all staffers are interested in such details (regardless of gender). In our industry, we have creatives, brand planners and designers who laser-focus on the content we produce. Nevertheless, as agency leaders it’s incumbent upon us to identify and nurture the businessperson within our employees, especially women. At our agency, we’ve started a program to teach our creatives how to understand and consider business objectives when creating campaigns. We not only teach our agency’s business model, we teach our client’s business model. The same program can be applied to teaching women as well.

As Susan points out in her Ted talk, companies achieve their financial goals when “everyone is pulling in the same direction.” It’s in our own self-interest as business leaders to teach women more than just self-esteem and assertiveness in business. We want people who will help companies move our business. We need to lean into the hard skills, not the soft skills. Understanding business fundamentals will propel women into the higher ranks. Once they have the tools, they really will become empowered.

Jean Freeman

Named one of the 4As’ 100 People Who Make Advertising Great in 2017 and to Working Mothers of the Year by She Runs It, Zambezi CEO Jean Freeman works closely with organizations that advance women in advertising, including SheSays, The 3% Conference, Pledge Parental Leave and Free the Bid.

Monday, August 20, 2018

14267: ComedyWire Is A Joke.

ComedyWire is the Victors & Spoils of comedic crowdsourcing. The comics behind the company are being funny with the truth too. For example, the website presents the impression that projects are being handled by late-night TV show staffers. But it’s more likely the “writers” are late-night TV show viewers. After all, the job listing below seeks part-time help from any clown with computer access.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

14265: Wimbledon Wonkiness.

McCann London created this Wimbledon campaign rendered in a period style, presumably nodding to the tournament’s storied history. So why is Serena Williams depicted without spectators in the background, contrasting the images of Roger Federer and Garbiñe Muguruza? Is it because in the olden days, a Black woman would never have drawn an audience—or even been allowed to compete?

Oh, and it didn’t help that all three players depicted suffered earlier-than-expected exits in the tournament.

Friday, August 17, 2018

14264: McCann—U.S. Army Protester.

Adweek reported on the war games between the U.S. Army and White advertising agency McCann Worldgroup over the right to serve on the $4 billion military account. McCann appears to be a formidable adversary, making stealth maneuvers to retain the business via filing protests and paperwork. The latest filed complaint helps to buy an extra 90 days for the White advertising agency, as well as extend its contract. It wouldn’t be surprising if McCann uses the added time to plant a fresh female employee as sex bait. Hey, such ploys might even persuade President Donald Trump to relax his measures to seriously cut the U.S. Army marketing budget. All is fair in love and war.

McCann Files Protest After Being Eliminated From U.S. Army Review

Move forces government to extend agency’s contract again

By Patrick Coffee

The U.S. Army delayed its already contentious agency review yet again this month after incumbent McCann Worldgroup filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

According to multiple parties close to the matter, this protest concerned McCann’s recent elimination from the review.

The protest, which was officially filed on Aug. 8, means the Army’s decision will be delayed for another 90 days to account for the “grace period” granted to contractors lodging complaints with the GAO. It also means the U.S. government will be forced to extend its current contract with McCann beyond the expiration date of Sept. 30, which was reported by Adweek last month.

Sources told Adweek that Army representatives informed WPP and Omnicom about the delay this week. The world’s two largest holding groups are currently competing against McCann for an account that could manage approximately $4 billion in spending over a decade, by the Army’s own estimates.

This is the second time in just over a year that McCann has filed a bid protest with the GAO. Last May, the agency was eliminated from the same review on a technicality and quickly registered its objections with the U.S. government.

McCann claimed that this decision stemmed from paperwork errors made by the Army’s contracting officer at the time it initially won the business in 2005. As a result of those mistakes, the Army could not confirm the agency’s status as a certified contractor, despite the fact that it had been working on the account for more than a decade. In September, the GAO designated the protest “sustained” and McCann officially re-entered the review.

One source said the current dispute concerns documentation filed as part of the McCann network’s final proposals for the contract. According to this party, the agency was bumped from the review after some of the forms submitted to the Army were deemed noncompliant or incomplete.

Every time such a complaint is filed, the government must allow 90 days to accept or deny the appeal in question. This period ends on November 16, 2018—several weeks after the winner of the review was supposed to have been announced.

Spokespeople for McCann, Omnicom and WPP declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG), which manages the U.S. military’s relationship with McCann and oversees its advertising efforts, had not provided a statement at press time.

The review initially launched in 2015, and it has now been extended several times. Additional controversies surrounded a recently completed audit conducted by the Army Audit Agency that found millions in ineffective spending during fiscal year 2016; its conclusions led to “more stringent oversight” of the military’s marketing efforts, according to an AMRG representative.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

14262: Investment Gender Gap…?

According to the website, “Ellevest Impact Portfolios help you reach your goals by investing up to half of your portfolio in companies that power positive social change by advancing women.” Wonder if the investments earn only 80% of what male-dominated investments earn.

14261: Mo Momentum Mumbo-Jumbo.

Adweek published divertsity daydreaming from Momentum North America President Donnalyn Smith, who declared it will require “a sincere commitment” to ignite change in the advertising industry. Sorry, but Smith’s lack of familiarity with the global dilemma puts her sincerity in question.

Smith shared her alleged commitment for diversity by stating, “In recent years, the advertising community has started to come to grips with the bold-faced truth that we haven’t really talked the ‘real’ talk, much less walked the walk. If you take a hard, honest look at the range of companies in our industry at the present time, they all too often reflect the workforce of 1978, not 2018.”

First of all, people who claim diversity has become a hot topic for adland “in recent years” have clearly been ignorant ignoring the problem, as heated conversations have been happening for scores of decades. The last serious protest took place in 2006 when the New York City Commission on Human Rights spanked Madison Avenue shops, and other diversity discussions date back to the early 1970s at least. Anyone holding even half a clue recognizes the current White-dominated workforce reflects 1958 versus 1978.

Smith is obviously a proponent for divertsity, not diversity. For her, enlightenment struck “in recent years” as the White women’s bandwagon leapfrogged racial and ethnic minorities in the battle for equality. Hell, Smith was actually named a 2017 Working Mother of the Year by She Runs It. Her divertsity dream involves creating a mentoring scheme styled after graduate school programs. Gee, Smith’s brainstorm sounds like a White women’s version of MAIP—which, incidentally, has been running for over 40 years. It’s always amazing how the pseudo-revolutionaries believe they’ve invented a breakthrough concept, when they’re ultimately exposing their corporate and cultural cluelessness by mimicking a long-standing tactic.

If Smith has truly turned Momentum into a multicultural Mecca, MultiCultClassics extends sincere apologies and requests that everyone please disregard this post. But progressiveness is unlikely, based on the patronizing pap penned by her boss, as well as the company website store selling MoMo Hammer Pants and dates with the MoMo IT guy—the latter sales item seeming quite inappropriate in these days of heightened sensitivity around sexual harassment.

Diversifying in Advertising Requires Creativity and a Drive to Instill Fairness

Company output won’t be inclusive if your workplace isn’t

By Donnalyn Smith

The fundamental idea is very simple, like all powerful notions. A marketer’s best work is only made possible through a diversity of talent applied to that company’s business. In recent years, the advertising community has started to come to grips with the bold-faced truth that we haven’t really talked the “real” talk, much less walked the walk. If you take a hard, honest look at the range of companies in our industry at the present time, they all too often reflect the workforce of 1978, not 2018.

It is unassailably clear that there is still much work to be done for our industry to mirror the demographic diversity emerging in the early 21st century in the U.S. and abroad. And with the tumultuous events of the past few years highlighted by the emergence of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements for women’s empowerment and anti-sexual harassment, the broader culture is intensely focused on the fight for respect and equality for diverse, often marginalized groups, particularly women and people of color.

While diversity as a centerpiece of social justice efforts is reaching a fever pitch, what can our industry leaders do to spark increased hiring and retention of talent from a mix of backgrounds and identities? While there have been nascent attempts in several quarters to infuse a broader range of cultural and social perspectives into both client and agency marketing teams, we as an industry are still a long way from critical mass. Clearly, there are still many organizations that haven’t prioritized diversity, or perhaps they have but are struggling for guidance for the most effective way to implement best practices.

A sincere commitment

If a marketer or an agency is truly devoted to staff diversity, they must apply sizable resources toward achieving it. This could take the form of investing in a fully integrated program offering entry-level immersion experiences that includes job rotations through a broad range of marketing disciplines over an extended period of time, up to a year if it makes sense.

Similar to a graduate school program, aspirants should be schooled across the wide palette of marketing and advertising disciplines including creative, media, client-side brand marketing and PR. If this sounds like a souped-up, deluxe version of your traditional agency internship program, that’s not where I’m leading. Rather, I envision something much deeper and impactful. The experience and mentoring with senior company executives—including the C-suite—could be much more focused and regimented and then lead into a more sophisticated and beneficial experience. As most of us know or have experienced, traditional company internship programs are often more rudimentary, and the curriculum or training is much more cursory and often administered by middle managers with limited senior-level or C-suite active participation.

What I am advocating can only be accomplished through extensive training and 360-degree feedback modules that bring together the gamut of stakeholders in an ongoing, committed basis including the C-suite and evp/svp level, chief talent officers, recruiters and, of course, the diverse talent.

A program of this caliber, if executed properly, would rise to the level of postgraduate, master class work. Imagine, if every company in our ecosystem—large, medium and small—took this approach en masse. In this way, we would all be the catalysts for broader industry-wide transformation. For inspiration, one need turn no further than to Verizon, whose chief marketing officer, Diego Scotti, has been one of the pioneers on this front with his Ad Fellows program.

By launching something similar at your company, you will reap strategic benefits; this would not simply be an altruistic endeavor. You would in effect be creating a mechanism that would actively create and identify a healthy pool of diverse talent on an ongoing basis, which you can ultimately draw from to contribute to the greater success of your company and your partners. The goal could be to place all participants post-program within the industry.

Hopefully, these thoughts and ideas will work to inspire a wave of similar efforts from brands and agencies across the entire industry. There is a lot of work ahead to increase diversity in advertising and marketing, but companies should look at diversity as an opportunity not an obligation. Those corporate cultures that value innovation and progress have the opportunity to foster a competitive advantage that could transform the company in more ways that you could imagine. Cheap PR, like cotton candy, tastes nice but is ultimately unsatisfying. Elbow grease and creativity to support an unshakeable will to fairness and personal growth will actually be beneficial to the bottom line. It really is about progress and prosperity.

Donnalyn Smith is president, North America of Momentum Worldwide, based in New York.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

14260: Triple Entendres?

Given all the sensitivity surrounding sexism in advertising—and in advertising agencies—why did Mekanism think it would be cool to present three-way double entendres for HotelTonight? Does any woman find this this this even slightly amusing? Hell, does anybody?

Oh, and the spot titled “Mixing It Up” features two White chicks and a Black dude. How racy!

14259: Pharma Bullet Points.

In India, TriVogo for type 2 diabetes shows pharma advertising sucks worldwide. Wonder if the TriVogo side effects are as lethal as a bullet.

Monday, August 13, 2018

14258: Victors & Spoils & Losers.

Adweek published a way-too-long report on the closing of Victors & Spoils, an inevitable event that, ironically, failed to draw a crowd. Honestly, the only entity that bought into the enterprise (literally and figuratively) was Havas—and the lame holding company ultimately shut it all down.

Adweek had the stupidity write a headline that read, “End of an Era as Havas ‘Crowdsourcing Agency’ Victors & Spoils Closes Shop.” End of an era? End of a really bad idea would have been more accurate.

The official Havas statement announced, “We are reducing the V&S footprint and reallocating any continuing clients to our Havas Chicago office.” Giving remaining work to Havas Chicago is like crowdsourcing to Lloyd Christmas, Harry Dunne, Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp and Eric Trump.

“All in all, the experience of working with Havas as the global chief innovation officer was a good one,” said V&S Co-Founder John Winsor. “I had the honor to work with David Jones, who is one of the true visionaries of the industry, and had a chance to learn the complexities of working on a global basis.” Yeah, now Winsor is officially a world-class sycophant and huckster.

“I’m surprised V&S ended up closing their doors,” said former Havas CEO David Jones, who green-lighted the V&S acquisition in 2012. “I imagine losing their brilliant founder, John Winsor, was a fairly terminal blow, but I do think the huge success of other people-powered marketing businesses like Mofilm, Tongal, Vidmob and Vidsy that are built on the same people-powered principles as Uber and Airbnb would suggest their demise wasn’t due to the model.” Gee, guess the “true visionary” didn’t realize the ad game isn’t the same as chauffeuring with your own wheels or renting out a spare room. Then again, holding companies and crowdsourcing have helped ignite the commoditization of creativity—leading to generic mediocrity across the industry.

Idiots like Winsor and Jones don’t even realize their current situations prove how the advertising industry has degraded. That is, a “brilliant founder” and “true visionary” can get booted, and life churns on without them. Everyone is disposable and replaceable—especially Winsor and Jones.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

14257: Dentsu Dividing…?

Adweek reported Dentsu Inc. is considering a restructuring scheme that would divide the enterprise into a holding company and an operating company. So instead of being one shitty company, Dentsu would become two shitty companies. Seems like even the holding companies are starting to see the business model is flawed and increasingly outdated. It might be fitting that Dentsu is taking an initiative for change, as Japan has often been a leader—at least versus White-led companies—in the business world. Then again, Dentsu has the distinction of officially valuing an employee’s life at 500,000 yen, which is roughly $4,400.

Dentsu Inc. Considers Restructuring Operational Model to ‘Maintain and Enhance Growth’

President and CEO made the announcement at board meeting today

By Erik Oster

Dentsu Inc., parent company of Dentsu Aegis Network and agencies like mcgarrybowen, Carat, 360i, Merkle and Isobar, is considering a restructuring plan which would see it split into an operating company and a holding company.

Dentsu Inc. president and CEO Toshihiro Yamamoto announced the proposition today during a meeting of the company’s board of directors. Implementation of the changes would be dependent on approval of shareholders at a meeting scheduled for March 2019.

“Analyses of specific schemes will be based on a concept where the currently-existing Dentsu Inc. will be split into an operating company and a pure holding company,” according to a release. “The pure holding company will hold the shares of the post-split operating company and the existing operating companies in Japan, and the shares of Dentsu Aegis Network.”

More details will be provided following further analysis.

According to the release, the decision to analyze the potential restructuring was prompted by a desire to “maintain and enhance” growth, as a response to “radical changes in the business environment resulting from the evolution and enlargement of business areas” and to “Establish governance that enables expeditious decision-making from medium and long-term viewpoints.”

Dentsu Inc. maintains that due to global development and rapid growth, “it has become increasingly important for the Group to make more unified and cross-sectional decisions within a set of shared values,” leading to a need to “establish a governance structure that is not restricted by the current framework of each operating company and enables expeditious decision-making from a medium and long-term perspective.”

Beyond the Dentsu Aegis Network, the larger company also operates a number of Japanese subsidiaries; this move would combine all Dentsu businesses under one umbrella, hence the “pure holding company” designation.

The announcement accompanies Dentsu Inc.’s earnings report for the second quarter and first half of 2018.

Dentsu Inc. reported organic growth of 4 percent for the first half of the year and 5.9 percent for the second quarter, its fourth consecutive quarter of increased organic growth. Dentsu Aegis Network reported organic growth of 3.4 percent, due in part to new business wins in the second half of 2017. In Japan, organic growth was reported at 4.7 percent for the first half of the year, also attributed in part to new business wins.

Dentsu Inc. reported that underlying operating profit on constant currency basis declined 1.8 percent for the first half of 2018. For Dentsu Aegis Network, profit decline was explained as a reflection of planned investments in global platforms and systems. In Japan, profits grew but were partially offset by planned investments in working environment reforms.

Dentsu Inc. was fined 500,000 yen (approximately $4,400) for violating labor laws last October. The “suicide due to overwork” death of 24-year-old digital account manager Matsuri Takahashi in 2015 led to the resignation of CEO Tadashi Ishii in December, 2016.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

14256: Going Nowhere Fast.

Need another reason to hate project briefings and internal reviews? Now useless account planners and moronic account directors can ride stationary bikes while failing to offer strategic insights or constructive feedback. Thanks, FlexiSpot!

Friday, August 10, 2018

14255: TIME’S UP Pays Up…?

Advertising Age reported Diet Madison Avenue announced TIME’S UP is providing legal assistance to help the DMA crew deal with the lawsuit filed by former CP+B CCO Ralph Watson. However, when Ad Age probed for confirmation, a TIME’S UP spokeswoman would only say, “The [TIME’S UP] Legal Defense Fund is supportive of individuals coming forward and speaking out about sex harassment at work and in their careers; we aren’t prepared to talk about funding at this time.” Does this mean the 180 adwomen who launched TIME’S UP Advertising openly support Diet Madison Avenue? They certainly weren’t offering much of their own money for the DMA GoFundMe donation drive. And given the fact that IPG and its Chairman and CEO Michael Roth encouraged leading women executives to sign up for TIME’S UP Advertising, is it logical to conclude the White holding company would also support Diet Madison Avenue? Hey, Roth just coughed up $2.3 billion for Acxiom’s marketing services unit. Surely IPG—as a recognized leader in divertsity and inclusion—could afford to cover the DMA crew’s legal bills. Think of it as partial restitution for the Joe Alexander fiasco.

Diet Madison Avenue says it’s working with Time’s Up for legal representation

By Megan Graham

Days after a judge signed an order allowing subpoenas to unmask anonymous Instagram account Diet Madison Avenue, the account said it has closed down its GoFundMe page. The reason: DMA says it has representation from Time’s Up, the organization dedicated to addressing inequality and injustice in the workplace.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner signed an order last week allowing the legal team for former Crispin Porter & Bogusky Boulder Chief Creative Officer Ralph Watson to serve business record subpoenas to Instagram, its parent Facebook and Gmail (part of Alphabet-owned Google) to provide identifying information about the anonymous individuals behind Diet Madison Avenue. Watson has sued his former agency and its holding company MDC Partners in a separate lawsuit.

The judge’s action was the latest development in a suit filed by Watson in May, claiming defamatory statements posted to the account led to his wrongful termination from the agency. DMA has taken aim at some of the biggest names in advertising with a goal of exposing sexual harassment and discrimination at ad agencies.

Diet Madison Avenue began a GoFundMe page on May 25 to seek $100,000 to “defend our team members and volunteers against false accusations,” according to the site. The page said all funds would be used for legal assistance, with any left over being donated to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. As of Monday, the account had collected $1,970. The page indicates the last donation was made around two months ago.

On its Instagram page Saturday, Diet Madison Avenue displayed a message from someone who said they had attempted to donate to the group’s legal fund unsuccessfully and it explained that the fundraising account was no longer active.

In a temporary Instagram Story, the account said “Hi fam, we actually closed it down a while ago because we have awesome representation via Times Up Now. We are all well doing great. All funds donated will actually be refunded by GoFundMe and whatever you choose not to get back will be donated to the Times Up Legal Defense Fund. For the time being we do not funds (sic) because we have a great team in place. But thanks for the love.”

In a later post, it corrected that to say “for the time being we do NOT need any funds.”

DMA did not return a direct message asking for comment at press time.

The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund — which is housed within and administered by the National Women’s Law Center Fund — connects those who have experienced sexual misconduct to attorneys who agree to take on their cases, according to its website. The organization helps defray legal and public relations costs in certain cases based on criteria and availability of funds. Only attorneys can apply for those funds, though some attorneys will also accept reduced fees or take on cases pro bono.

Asked whether the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund would confirm whether it is working with Diet Madison Avenue on this particular lawsuit, a spokeswoman for the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund said: “The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is supportive of individuals coming forward and speaking out about sex harassment at work and in their careers; we aren’t prepared to talk about funding at this time.”

Brooklyn Law School professor Jonathan Askin, a founder and director at the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic, said in an email that Watson’s attorneys could attempt to subpoena the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund and the organizations funding and supporting it if they couldn’t otherwise ascertain the names of those behind Diet Madison Avenue.

“I imagine the judge would be reluctant to allow subpoenas to issue to third-party legal defense funds, opening up a hornets’ nest of potentially profound Constitutional and judicial process issues, without a compelling chance of success on the merits of the underlying claims,” wrote Askin. “Instagram would still seem the more likely source to obtain the names of those behind Diet Madison Avenue.”

The Los Angeles Superior Court order last week said the court had determined the plaintiff had demonstrated a “prima facie case of defamation necessary at this stage in the proceedings to compel disclosure of the identities of the anonymous individuals behind Diet Madison Avenue.” Last year, a California state appeals court handed down its decision that Yelp needed to turn over documents that could identify an anonymous user who was accused of defaming an accountant in a review on its website. The appellate court in that case said plaintiffs seeking to unveil anonymous posters needed to make a “prima facie” case that shows anonymous statements are libelous and that the plaintiff can’t pursue claims without establishing a poster’s identity.

Paul Alan Levy, a lawyer at Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, D.C., said generally speaking if a client has retained counsel for the purpose of protecting their identity, the identity of the client would be subject to attorney-client privilege. But he said Watson’s camp could argue that identity isn’t covered by attorney-client privilege. Levy said he wasn’t sure whether the California state courts had decided that issue yet, in which case it could be a decision made by a trial judge.

Levy added that when it comes to subpoenas, much will depend on how the accounts were set up and maintained, and whether the users created throwaway or fake accounts to set up its accounts.

In the long run, the individuals behind Diet Madison Avenue could well be identified, Levy said. He said the individuals will need to make judgments with advice from their lawyers about how likely they are to be identified using these means and whether they have an interest in opposing these subpoenas.

“Or do they want to play hard to get?” he said.

14254: Bootcamp Blues.

Adweek reported on the Multicultural Alliance Bootcamp held by She Runs It, presenting four “key takeaways” that are mostly standard clichéd con jobs concepts for diversity and inclusion. On the one hand, any effort designed to eliminate exclusivity deserves appreciation. Then again, the Multicultural Alliance Bootcamp warrants a few comments too. First of all, She Runs It is still more focused on promoting White women than racial and ethnic minorities. Secondly, the lead “key takeaway” regarding the Inclusion Diversity Accountability Consortium gives off an aroma of bullshit. Now there’s yet another optional measuring tool whereby White advertising agencies may sign up to possibly be deemed winners for executing what should be common practices. Finally, photos taken at the event (see below) display at least three issues: 1) attendance was low; 2) attendees were predominately female and; 3) attendees included lots of women of color. Why would women of color need to participate in a multicultural bootcamp? Talk about preaching to the choir. It feels like a clear example of delegating diversity versus engaging the culturally clueless people with hiring authority who desperately require enlightenment. It’s time to send the folks suffering from unconscious bias, conscious ignorance and blatant racism to bootcamp.

4 Key Takeaways on Bringing Diversity to the Field From the Multicultural Alliance Bootcamp

Industry panelists discussed multiculturalism at She Runs It event

By Alissa Fleck

She Runs It, formerly known as Advertising Women of New York (AWNY), held a Multicultural Alliance Bootcamp yesterday to discuss the state of diversity in the marketing and media world. According to the organization, its Multicultural Alliance “works to foster a sense of community among members with multicultural expertise and interests and to infuse multiculturalism into She Runs It’s existing programs and initiatives.”

Among the reasons diversity is so important in the advertising world is that advertising reflects our culture and society, and without inclusion, advertising will continue to perpetuate stereotypes about people of color and other under-represented groups, explained God-Is Rivera, director of inclusion and cultural resonance at VML. “We cringe at ads from the past,” she said. “We have a chance to change that now.”

And, while there should be more of an opportunity to tell these varied stories with all the digital venues and platforms available today, “diversity is probably what it always was, proportionate to the number of channels we have,” said actor, producer and activist Malik Yoba.

These are some of our takeaways from the bootcamp:

There is now a quantifiable way to measure a company’s diversity inclusiveness.

Companies need to incorporate diversity “because it’s right and not just because it’s trendy,” said Rivera. She Runs It has developed a way to benchmark improvements in diversity inclusiveness.

The organization just announced the winners of a new initiative it launched in coordination with Diversity Best Practices called the Inclusion Diversity Accountability Consortium (IDAC), which “seeks to ignite quantitative action that will make the marketing and media industry more diverse in its make-up and sensibility,” according to its website.

Along with Working Mother Media and Diversity Best Practices, She Runs It posted the first round of measurements and winning companies on social media with the hashtag #DBPInclusionIndex. IDAC measures companies’ success at recruiting, training and retaining a diverse workforce based on three main criteria.

These criteria are: Best practices in recruitment, retention and advancement of people from under-represented groups; creating an inclusive culture through leadership, accountability, communications and employee engagement; and transparency in willingness to share workforce demographic data.

While the organization has released stats on select companies, it will present this information more comprehensively during Advertising Week in October.

In promoting diversity, you need to think about your own circle first.

On a panel called “Champions on the Front Line,” Patty Kim, director of talent acquisition at Conductor, talked about the importance of starting with yourself and your own innate biases before trying to advocate for diversity. You need to think about your own circle, the group of people you go to for ideas, support and growth.

When Kim first did this exercise, she realized her circle was fairly homogenous in thought—it did not represent a diverse community. “You need people who really challenge your ideas,” she said. “Inclusiveness starts with yourself—then you bring it to the workplace.”

“Diversity looks different to different people,” added Ed Frankel, svp and director of talent acquisition at Omnicom Health Group.

You don’t have to be at the top to make a difference.

While it certainly helps to have an ally in a leadership position, “if you have a seat at the table, you can have influence,” said Frankel, adding that you should never give up, even if that means slowly chipping away at established ideas.

One of the best ways to do this is to tell your own story, said Francine Tamakloe, associate in the AMP development program at Spotify. “Being in the room and telling your own story inspires others and saves others,” Tamakloe said in a panel called “Women on Fire.” And while it can be easy to be inspired by others around you, it can sometimes be hard to “see the warrior in yourself,” she added.

“Define what a champion looks like to you, and be it for someone else,” Frankel said.

But don’t just be a champion for people underneath you—people above you need support as well. “It can be so lonely at the top,” said Judy Jackson, global chief talent officer at Wunderman. “You can champion people at every level.”

Small interactions can go a long way toward effecting change in the workplace.

Sometimes change comes from micro-actions, said Jackson, recounting an incident in her office when someone who wasn’t from the U.S. asked her African-American assistant about the semantics of the N-word. While initially an awkward situation, it became a positive learning experience, Jackson said, as her assistant explained the word’s history and why it was not okay for the coworker to use the term.

“She was curious, but that was a sign of change. I was proud of that moment,” Jackson said. “Change comes from being able to ask people of color about their lives.”

Hiring managers are not the ones currently out there pushing diversity, explained Frankel, highlighting that we need to think about aspects like where we post jobs. Inclusiveness might mean creating new positions in the workplace, added Rivera. “Organizations should invest in their women,” said Yai Vargas, founder of The Latinista. “They should pay to send them to conferences like this one.”

And to usher in a new generation of diverse storytellers and marketers, educators should show young people of color that there are options for kids in advertising, Jackson added, saying, “Agencies should go talk to kids.”

Thursday, August 09, 2018

14253: Little Gender Exclusive…?

Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly was originally called Little Brothers of the Poor when founded in France in 1946. Maybe it’s time to update the name again, especially if advertising and promotions feature so many little sisters.

14252: Back-To-School Ravings.

Campaign reported on the Brixton Finishing School, another diversity and inclusion initiative designed to train young people of color on the intricacies of working in adland. According to Campaign, the project allows students “who do not have the privilege of a university education” to experience “a free, 12-week course in digital, advertising and marketing skills” under the guidance of seasoned experts.

Okay, the folks behind such endeavors are undoubtedly caring and progressive, deserving respect and appreciation. At the same time, this common diversity and inclusion tactic inspires key questions.

First, why qualify students “who do not have the privilege of a university education” for this program? For starters, the word “privilege” leads to acknowledging White privilege, which is the primary advantage—waaaaay more important than a university education—that the majority of candidates utilize to get into the field. Besides, landing a creative position in an advertising agency doesn’t require a degree. And if agencies do mandate degrees, why not target minorities in universities?

Second, why presume people of color need extra schooling to succeed in advertising? There are plenty of examples of untrained and unqualified White youth entering the field via nepotism and next-generational cronyism. Why not create a 12-week course for all the Caucasian daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, neighbors and mistresses currently receiving free passes into adland?

Third, why not simply hire people of color and, if necessary, provide on-the-job mentoring and training? Isn’t that what healthy, ethical and professional companies do? These particular questions, incidentally, go to the heart of the true problem. That is, most minorities don’t need special training; rather, most leaders with hiring authority must undergo reprogramming. Specifically, hiring managers must be schooled to actually evaluate candidates on potential versus pigmentation. Skills versus skin tones. Talent versus tint.

Fourth, how will this program address the dearth of mid- and senior-level minorities? It will be difficult to retain Brixton Finishing School graduates if they find themselves alone in the field. The existing exclusive majority could use training in fostering inclusive workplaces too.

If minorities have to enroll for special training, similar prerequisites should be placed on hiring managers to ensure they have the cultural competence to do their jobs.

Industry-funded school challenges adland’s diversity problem

Digital guru Ally Owen has founded Brixton Finishing School, a free, 12-week course in digital, advertising and marketing skills for young people from BAME/unrepresented backgrounds.

By Georgina Brazier

Owen has recruited 21 students, aged 18 to 25, who do not have the privilege of a university education and given them the opportunity to learn from the employees of companies such as Google, WPP and McCann London.

The Institute of Practitioners of Advertising revealed a significant lack of diversity in the industry in its latest annual survey on the subject. This inspired Owen tackle the issue by setting up the school with industry backing.

Owen said: “We believe that while talent is distributed equally among the youth of London, opportunities are not.

“The SCA 2.0 [School of Communication Arts] and Brixton Finishing School partnership will create and widen runways into our industry to support our ambition for all talent, whatever their background, to have the seat they’ve earned at the table.

“For our GDP to thrive post-Brexit, we need to focus on building a meritocracy that ensures the best people are in the right jobs.”

The students come a variety of backgrounds and range from school leavers to those who have already experienced the world of work.

Brixton Finishing School student Tremayne Bailey said he was not aware of the creative industries until he undertook an apprenticeship at a charity.

He said: “We target adults but what we need to be doing is actually starting young — teaching young people who still aren’t being taught about the opportunities in the creative industries.”

The students will graduate on 5 October and many will then take up entry-level, digitally focused roles created for the school by Clear Channel, Kinetic, PrettyGreen, Brand Advance and McCann London.