Monday, January 21, 2019
As people in the advertising industry take the day off and feign interest in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., please reflect on an MLK quote:
“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
Sadly, the advertising industry continues to refuse creative dedicated minorities the opportunity to make good on MLK’s words. Instead, a field allegedly filled with creativity delivers a shipload of solutions—from scholarships to internships to mentorships to sponsorships—that are contrived, clichéd and crappy. The creative majority is seemingly dedicated to delegation, diversion and discrimination—almost always denying the dream to make the world better.
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Advertising Age reported McCann finally surrendered in its legal battle to retain the U.S. Army account—which is good, as the client already awarded the business to DDB last November. No word if the IPG-owned White advertising agency will continue its covert Mata Hari tactics to win back the billings. Meanwhile, WPP-owned White digital agency POSSIBLE is pursuing legal action against DDB, charging the Omnicom-owned White advertising agency won via a lowball bid that can’t meet the requirements of the contract. Hey, all is fair in love and war. The scenario sure underscores the sad-sack nature of holding companies. That is, decades of senseless takeovers and mergers have led to the commoditization of creativity, where agencies are essentially generic. Additionally, CFOs have gained more power than CCOs, turning the ad game into a money game. So it’s totally possible that DDB financially engineered a victory. DDB Global President and CEO Wendy Clark has certainly displayed desperation and dumbness when dealing with high-stakes affairs. It’s also likely every competitor—especially Clark—delivered deception in regards to diversity, blatantly lying about the underrepresentation of minorities in their respective offices. And if the cost estimates are wonky, DDB will literally and figuratively pay the price. Hell, the U.S. Army has already indicated increased scrutiny around its budgetary spending. Did the military branch ever think pulling away from pitch participants would be more controversial and complicated than pulling out of Syria?
McCann retreats from Army review
Shop files for dismissal of its protest in long-running saga’s latest twist
By Megan Graham
McCann is finally waving a white flag after a long battle for the U.S. Army account.
In an unexpected twist to a long-running saga, McCann filed January 18 to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims requesting “the voluntary dismissal of its protest” that was initially filed in November.
The lucrative account went up for review in 2014 but has been extended multiple times along with its contract with McCann. After the business was awarded to Omnicom Group’s DDB in November of last year, Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office which was ultimately unsuccessful. The GAO denied McCann’s protest bid on the grounds that its submission was incomplete because of a missing disk. McCann then took the matter to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, where it remained until today’s filing by the agency to dismiss.
The agency, which has been fighting to stay on with the Army for years, did not offer a reason for its decision. In an interview, McCann Worldgroup CEO Harris Diamond didn’t discuss specifics, but said the agency was proud of the long, Effies-winning relationship with the Army.
“We helped the United States Army explain its mission: Recruit the folks that wanted to serve in the country’s interest,” he says. “We’re really proud of it. We’re disappointed we won’t be going ahead, but really proud of what we accomplished.”
People close to the matter say McCann’s pulling out had to do with pricing. Some details of the bid process became public once the third rival in the pitch, WPP agency Possible, filed another complaint in December of last year about DDB’s pricing.
Possible alleged in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that at the price DDB promised the Army, the Omnicom shop would “likely be unable to perform the basic requirements of the contract.” It further charges that DDB “could not have offered the levels of innovation that Possible did” at the price it promised. Although the complaint was filed in late December 2018 it was unsealed this month. DDB also filed to intervene as a party defendant on the action.
DDB’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment on McCann’s withdrawal and a DDB spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Darwin Hindman, head of the government contracts practice at law firm Baker Donelson and an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School, says a truly lowball bid could do the Army more harm than good.
“Even though one of the reasons for competition is to drive down lower prices, at some point the argument is that the benefit to the government may be lost if the contractor bids a price that is so low that [the contractor] is losing money,” he says. “Experience has shown that contractors who are not getting paid a fair price will try to cut corners or not put their best people on the contract,” he says, adding that some could default if the account is unprofitable.
Adds Hindman: “Even though it saves the government money in the short-term, it’s actually not in the government’s best interest to make an award like that because they may find they’re getting an underperforming contractor or may have to reprocure that contract later, which of course is expensive and messy.”
As of press time, the court had tentatively set an oral argument to hear Possible’s suit March 1 in Washington, D.C. Possible and its attorney declined to comment.
In the meantime, McCann continues working with the Army; its contract will continue through March.
The Army contenders are jumping through all these legal hoops for a good reason.
Government accounts “are multi-year, they typically reflect an agency-of-record assignment, and in today’s project-based, cost-managed environment, these are highly prized because they are lucrative and they are typically relationships that are renewed at the end of the contractual period,” says Forrester analyst Jay Pattisall. He adds that because opportunities like the Army business are “few and far in between,” agencies can see them as worth the hassle of legal action.
The 2020 Census drew similar levels of agency contention. WPP’s Y&R won the account in 2016 after a review—sparking speculation that the agency had lowballed the bid. The Wall Street Journal subsequently reported that Y&R had submitted a proposal that would cost the government agency $14 million for a three-year deal, a far lower bid than other players, which ranged from $25 million to more than $30 million.
An agency review for the California State Lottery some 17 years ago involved its own share of intrigue. In January 2002, the client awarded its creative and media account to DDB in Los Angeles. But WPP’s Grey Worldwide Los Angeles protested the win, alleging DDB didn’t reveal it would buy media from sibling media shop OMD.
The lottery’s director wrote to agencies involved in the pitch to say that while she dismissed Grey’s allegation, she was calling for a new review because both shops didn’t comply with state regulations requiring agencies to disclose the names of officers and directors and other media partner information. It didn’t work out for either shop: IPG’s FCB was named the eventual winner.
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Jayanta Jenkins Joins HP as Global Executive Creative Director
Former Twitter marketing lead will work across all business units
By Doug Zanger
Long-tenured agency and brand creative leader Jayanta Jenkins has joined HP as its global executive creative director. The role will see him work across all of HP’s business units to develop continued continuity in the brand’s communications. Jenkins will report to Karen Kahn, HP’s chief communications officer.
Jenkins, who started his career on the agency side with The Martin Agency, Wieden+Kennedy and TBWA\Chiat\Day, most recently served as global group creative director at Twitter for just over two years and spent a year in a similar role at Beats by Dre. Additionally, Jenkins is a co-founder of the Saturday Morning collective that includes 72andSunny ecd Keith Cartwright, former R/GA Los Angeles ecd Geoff Edwards and Amusement Park founder Jimmy Smith.
According to Jenkins, the opportunity to join the brand came about organically and made sense as he “has been a big fan of HP for quite some time.” He noted some standout work including past campaigns featuring Jay-Z and more recent work such as “The Wolf” with Christian Slater, as well as the tech giant’s consistently impactful “Reinvent Mindsets” diversity and inclusion marketing.
“I love the emotional storytelling [HP] does, and it’s exactly where my heart is,” he said.
On the latter, Jenkins feels that inclusion is “built into the culture [at HP], and … there’s no box-checking. It’s an approach and behavior” as opposed to some other companies that are “saying the right things, or putting the right things on the walls as a veneer.”
“I think organizationally [in Silicon Valley], there are still a lot of challenges that are very well alive when it comes to embracing inclusion and diversity,” he noted. “But the good news is that it comes down to the output of the work and then being able to show up and demonstrate. I’ve been able to see some things, informed some discussion, raise bars and open doors in a wonderful way.”
Much like his time at Twitter—where he moved from sports and product marketing to technology—Jenkins says that this latest role is filled with the unknown, yet he believes it to be more of a strength and an enhancement to his long creative career.
“I think that’s where the spark of growth happens,” he said. “And my biggest asset in this experience in looking forward is, ultimately, being willing to embrace an uncomfortable feeling while being curious. I’ve found a really comfortable place for myself in tech by being uncomfortable. That’s what I’m thriving on, and I love these types of challenges.”
Jenkins will continue to work on Saturday Morning projects with Cartwright, Edwards, Smith and recent addition, Deja Cox, a brand agent at Observatory (formerly CAA Marketing). The group is planning to release a new campaign for P&G that has been in the works and continues to seek other partnerships to add to the roster that includes Twitter and Spotify.
Friday, January 18, 2019
Thursday, January 17, 2019
MediaPost reported on the latest legal volleying between IPG/McCann and former McCann Health Global CCO Jeremy Perrott, with a motion to dismiss Perrott’s $25 million wrongful termination lawsuit being denied by a judge in Virginia. Hey, Virginia is for T&A lovers. MediaPost reiterated Perrott’s contention that IPG and its Chairman and CEO Michael Roth have jumped on the White women’s bandwagon, creating a “toxic corporate policy” for White men. Yes, and side effects include vomiting vulgarities and speedy termination.
Judge Tosses IPG/McCann Motion To Dismiss $25 Million Suit By Former CCO Perrott
By Richard Whitman
A U.S. District Court in Virginia has denied a motion to dismiss a $25 million law suit against Interpublic Group and its agency McCann by former McCann Health global chief creative officer Jeremy Perrott. But the denial, by Judge Robert E. Payne was ordered without prejudice, meaning IPG and McCann can try again if they want to.
Perrott was terminated by McCann Health in June for alleged violation of the firm’s code of conduct, including alleged remarks to women such as “nice rack” and “nice ass.”
Perrott filed his lawsuit in October denying wrongdoing on his part and charging the defendants with wrongful termination, defamation, tortious interference with contract, common law conspiracy and gross negligence.
In its motion to dismiss IPG/McCann countered that Perrott failed to state an actionable claim, noting that Perrott was “advised of seven complaints by his colleagues in New York prior to his termination.” Defendants also stated that evidence at trial would “also show that McCann management acted appropriately to address the situation, and to protect its employees in the face of Plaintiff’s behavior.”
In his suit Perrott also accused various parties at the agency of acting “upon orders from [IPG CEO Michael] Roth…in furtherance of IPG’s toxic corporate policy of ritualistic sacrifice to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements—a corporate policy that spares no male at IPG, MWG or McCann Health and that promotes fear, distrust and loathing amongst executive talent.” He alleged that IPG had a “predetermined agenda to appease #MeToo and #TimesUp by unceremoniously getting rid of” Perrott.
In its dismissal motion IPG/McCann argued that Perrott was attempting to “cast himself as victim” by issuing a “full-throated indictment of the #MeToo movement in an effort to excuse his inappropriate behavior.” And he did so “despite providing no reason why he—one of Defendants’ key creatives—would be singled out and sacrificed to this movement.”
IPG/McCann also argued that the Virginia court lacked jurisdiction and venue because none of the parties involved in the contest live in the state and none of the alleged action or behavior occurred there. If not dismissed, at the very least the case should be transferred to New York where the activity in dispute occurred, the defendants argued.
Judge Payne said the defendants could separately refile dismissal motions of they choose to do so, but for now the case will proceed and in Virginia.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Adweek reported on how The&Partnership is allegedly making the Wall Street Journal a less “male, pale and Yale” publication. Hey, that sentiment should go over as well with the WSJ audience as the JWT London creative department. Plus, it’s a pretty hypocritical statement coming from a predominately White advertising agency connected to a White holding company. Sorry, but Wall Street and Madison Avenue hardly represent the roads to diversity.
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Advertising Age spotlighted the latest patronizing pap in the “Nothing Changes If You Don’t” campaign from OBERLAND in New York. Does this work really help the cause? The exaggerated scenarios are likely to make the culturally clueless and unconsciously biased think, “Hey, I’m not that bad.” OBERLAND ECD Bill Oberlander revealed the overall initiative will cost roughly $100,000, and he noted, “That’s a full-time employee.” Did anyone consider that actually hiring a minority would’ve been a far greater demonstration of the alleged commitment to progress? Oh, and OBERLAND seems to need more diversity in its own hallways. White people in glass houses…
Oberland agency confronts bias with new videos; conducts wage-gap audit
Shop will invite other indies to join its ‘Nothing Changes if You Don’t’ initiative
By I-Hsien Sherwood
In the first episode of “Mad Men,” ad agency exec Roger Sterling drags David Cohen, the only Jewish person at the company, out of the mailroom to pitch to Menken’s department store. He doesn’t get to speak. He’s just there to make the client “feel comfortable.”
That kind of tokenism is less naked these days, but it’s still a familiar situation for many minorities of all kinds, pulled into meetings or focus groups for the sake of optics or to meet the letter but not the spirit of diversity quotas. The scenario plays out in a new PSA from creative agency Oberland. Two self-congratulatory executives pull an Asian-American coworker into a pitch for Tokyo Steakhouse. One of the many problems with that approach—she’s Chinese, not Japanese.
“There’s this idea that the solution is to just get a minority in the room and everything will be fixed,” says Carol Watson, senior director, global advisory services at management consulting firm Diversity Best Practices. The video is part of Oberland’s “Nothing Changes If We Don’t” project, a yearlong effort to highlight problems in the industry and motivate agencies to fix them.
In another video, a female employee gets condescending “advice” about controlling her emotions from a male coworker. Meanwhile, a male creative director in the background throws a fit during a review. In a third, a female creative’s ideas are ignored by male creative directors. Ironically, they’re working on a tampon account. When she pushes back against their over-the-top idea, they shame her, saying, “I thought you were a feminist. I thought this was your thing.”
At the end of each video an industry insider lays out the issue for viewers. Watson covers tokenism, Co:Collective CEO Rosemarie Ryan handles double standards and Barton F. Graf CEO Caroline Winterton explains how women’s ideas get overlooked.
Two previous videos, one on ageism and one tackling racism, debuted in October, with explainers by Cindy Gallop, founder of IfWeRanTheWorld, and Keni Thacker, event technology specialist at J. Walter Thompson. “People are realizing they don’t have to tolerate bad behavior. There’s been a shift, and not just in our industry,” Ryan says. “A lot more diversity is happening on the client side, which makes for different expectations.”
For this phase of its campaign, Oberland solicitied real stories from its employees who have experienced bias. The scenarios rang true for Winterton. “As soon as you get asked, you know why they’re doing it,” she says of being put on brands traditionally viewed as “female-led,” like laundry detergent. “You go in, have a point of view, and [men] disagree because they have their own opinions. You know you’ve been put in a position because you’re female, and then your opinion gets shot down.” At the same time, she adds, when working on “masculine” brands, like automotive, “your opinion as female is seen as less valid.”
In addition to the videos, which the agency hopes help to call out negative practices at other companies, Oberland is also looking inward. The 25-person shop began an audit of its own practices last year. Since then, it’s brought on its first human resources officer. A legal team helped rewrite the employee handbook, which rolls out in April and includes changes to accommodate new labor laws, mandatory sexual harassment training and a new work-from-home policy, the most requested addition from staff.
Results from an employee census and wage gap analysis are expected in February. That will show any disparities in pay due to age, gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, which can then be remedied. The entire process is an expensive one for the five-year-old agency. The videos, the audits, the outside consultants and the expected remedies will cost about $100,000 for the year, says Executive Creative Director Bill Oberlander. “That’s a full-time employee,” he adds.
But transparency about the costs and any difficulties is part of the plan, adds President Drew Train. Oberland’s goal is for other agencies, particularly other independent shops unbeholden to large holding company policies, will be able to use their example to make changes, too. “We’d love to have a road map for others,” he says. “’Here’s how much it cost: X amount for the compensation study, X amount to close the wage gap.” The audits and other resulting documents will also be made public.
“The new handbook isn’t a secret,” Oberlander says. “[Other agencies] can copy and paste the family policy.”
Other agencies are also contributing to the effort now. In addition to the industry influencers in the videos, Project Worldwide offered shooting space for the first round of videos, and Huge hosted the second round. A third round of videos, expected in the spring, is open to other agencies looking to write or shoot their own videos or who want to collaborate. “This time,” Train says, “we’re going to invite other agencies into the kitchen.”