Friday, April 19, 2024

16614: WPP = Whistleblower Puffing Practice…?

More About Advertising reported WPP recorded a 64% increase from 2022 vs 2023 in complaints to the corporate whistleblower hotline—a sharp contrast to the White holding company seeing less than 1% growth in organic revenue.


The leading grievances involved “respect in the workplace” and “protection of WPP’s assets.”


Well, it’s hard to generate workplace dignity when White advertising agencies are being merged into revenue-reducing redundancy, making it impossible to protect one’s ass.


WPP sees rise in whistleblower complaints


By Stephen Foster


WPP received 64% more complaints to its whistleblower helpline in 2023 against 2022 (up to 612 from 372.) Most complaints were concerning “respect in the workplace” and “protection of WPP’s assets” (which might mean anything.)


Worth bearing in mind that WPP currently employs 114,000 people across the world so 612 isn’t that many and more publicity for the helpline has probably attracted more complaints. As the ad holding company navigates a rather uncertain future, with a number of big internal mergers already in place and very likely more to follow, it would be surprising in the number doesn’t keep rising. People will be worried about their jobs (and the impact of the dreaded AI.)


The company says “every report is tracked through to a conclusion” and “WPP is committed to providing a safe and confidential way for people with genuine concerns to raise them, and to do so without fear of reprisals.


“WPP does not tolerate any retaliatory behaviour against individuals reporting concerns and is equally committed to preserving the anonymity of an individual who makes a report and does not wish to have their identity revealed.”


WPP does seem to be taking such matters more seriously than some of its rivals. There have been a number of reports suggesting that DEI is in fairly full retreat with some high profile DEI leader hires quietly shuffling off to pastures new.


Agency land is always going to finds such issues a problem because of its inherent insecurity. As the great Sir Nigel Bogle observed, any agency is only three client phone calls from disaster.


WPP might be wishing it had made rather less – publicly at least – of its DEI initiatives.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

16613: IPG CEO Prunes Plum Pay Prize.

Mediapsssst at MediaPost revealed IPG CEO Phillipe Krakowsky received a 9% pay increase in 2023, boosting his annual compensation to $14.4 million. That translates to a raise of nearly $1.296 million—or, to put it in perspective, roughly $1.296 million more than the average IPG drone’s gross salary.


What’s most outrageous is that IPG did not do well in terms of revenue last year—and the White holding company continues to prune and pummel White advertising agencies within its network. Krakowsky also managed to personally profit before IPG lost gazillions after getting dumped by Pfizer.


Wait, there’s more. The second highest paid IPG executive was CFO Ellen Johnson, who took a pay decrease for a total draw of $5.2 million—which might point to a gender pay gap.


The company’s annual meeting, scheduled for May 23, is bound to expel poop loads of gobbledygook.


IPG CEO Krakowsky Received 9% Pay Bump In 2023


By Richard Whitman, Columnist


Interpublic CEO Phillippe Krakowsky received a 9% bump in total compensation in 2023 to a little more than $14.4 million, according to the firm’s proxy statement issued earlier this week.


That’s more growth than the company delivered last year. Full-year organic net revenue climbed just 0.1%. Which was in the neighborhood of the growth delivered by WPP although CEO Mark Read didn’t fare so well in the pay department.


Read in fact took a 33% reduction in total compensation to 4,498,000 GBP.


Omnicom CEO John Wren leads the pack with total comp last year of $20-plus million, slightly less than he made in 2022.


IPG’s proxy statement announced the company’s annual meeting will be held May 23 in virtual format only.


The second highest paid executive at IPG last year was CFO Ellen Johnson who received total compensation of about $5.2 million, a little less than she earned in 2022.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

16612: Questioning Questionable Hiring Practices.


Adweek published a perspective on a “questionable hiring practice” whereby job seekers are tasked with “a comprehensive test assignment” sans cash compensation.


Technically, isn’t this the standard way that most White advertising agencies pitch for new business?


And Adland is hardly devoid of questionable hiring practices. Hey, you don’t create an exclusively White industry by accident.


After all, the industry has a history of requiring non-White candidates to endure the test of comprehensive systemic racism.


The Questionable Hiring Practice Catching Marketers Unaware


Avoid falling victim to creativity theft


By Sandro Okropiridze


You’ve aced the interview process and made the final shortlist. But there’s one more step: Write a comprehensive test assignment (entirely for free) and hope you get the role.


It requires days of work with no guarantee—and often, the job isn’t even available. Employment scams vary, and there are times when companies seek your ideas without paying the cost.


Donating some time to showcase your skills is a customary part of the recruitment process, but these tips can help job seekers set their limits and avoid falling victim to creativity theft.


Clarify the company’s intentions


Before investing too much time and effort into developing, for example, a marketing strategy, clarify what the company intends to do with your work. Question the hiring manager on how they will use your ideas, the specific aspects they intend to evaluate, and whether this is a real project they plan to implement.


If it is, this isn’t a trial brief to judge your abilities; it’s unpaid work with no guarantee of a job offer.


Negotiate payment for test assignments


An hour or two spent on a mock task designed to test you is one thing, but if the company insists on a detailed strategy that would require multiple calls and days of productivity, they should be willing to negotiate fair compensation for your time and effort.


Often, hiring managers with unreasonable requests hope to catch you off guard. Come prepared, know your worth, and don’t be afraid to walk away.


Confirm the position exists


Before diving into the assignment, inquire about the current team structure and scour LinkedIn to determine whether the role you’re applying for is open.


You can also search for the job title and company name on Google to check whether the company has a history of opening and closing the same position, which may indicate a pattern of exploiting candidates rather than hiring them. Likewise, check the position’s list date: If it’s been up for an eternity without attracting a suitable candidate, chances are the company has no desire to fill the role.


Seek feedback from industry peers


Reach out to your professional network, particularly those with similar experience who might have recently applied for a role with the company, to get their thoughts. An early warning about unreasonable requests will stop you from wasting more time than you already have on a hiring process that will ultimately lead nowhere. If it’s bad news, cut your losses and spend that time applying elsewhere.


Consider the company’s reputation


Evaluate the company’s reputation by checking employee reviews on platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Don’t let one person’s bad experience put you off if there are plenty of positives, but a pattern of exploitative and unethical practices is a major red flag.


A job might await you at the end of the process after all. But is it really a company you want to work for?

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

16611: AI Proves Dove’s Real Beauty Is Real Bullshit…?

Advertising Age spotlighted a new performative promotion from the Dove Real Beauty campaign—a video titled, “The Code.”


Now the Unilever brand is pledging to never use AI in its advertising. Given the surging interest in AI, the stunt seems like an opportunistic declaration—and unnecessarily redundant, as the self-absorbed campaign is supposedly rooted in portraying “real” women.


BTW, the video—created by Sao Paulo-based Soko—features a woman in the opening that appears to be model-quality talent. The video is also most focused on romancing the AI image of a White woman.


Dove boasts that adding “Dove Real Beauty” to AI prompts for beautiful women leads to images from its campaign. Duh. Such extraordinary bullshit.


If Dove’s long-standing grandstanding had even minimal effect on global culture, why would AI’s perception of beauty automatically maintain the Eurocentric standards that Dove has allegedly sought to counteract for decades?


“The Code” ultimately proves that the 20-year-old Dove Real Beauty campaign has utterly failed to achieve its propagandistic goal.


For Dove, AI stands for Absolute Insincerity.


Dove pledges not to use AI to portray real people in its ads


Anti-AI stance comes as the Dove Real Beauty campaign marks 20 years


By Phoebe Bain


For Dove, real beauty means no artificial intelligence. In the newest campaign for its long-running Real Beauty platform, the Unilever brand pledges to never use AI in its advertising to portray real people, while introducing a prompt that will yield more realistic body representations for people who do use AI to search for beauty images.


The skin care and hair care brand’s new “Real Beauty Prompt Guidelines” provide instructions for creating images using generative AI programs that are representative of “real beauty.” The effort comes as Dove celebrates the 20th year of the iconic campaign.


“Pledging to never use AI in our communications is just one step. We will not stop until beauty is a source of happiness, not anxiety, for every woman and girl,” Dove Chief Marketing Officer Alessandro Manfredi said in a recent email to Ad Age.


A new ad called “The Code” intends to shed light on AI’s impact on beauty standards. The video begins by showing what AI comes up with when prompted to create images of “the most beautiful woman in the world” (she’s blonde, thin and white), and it ends with what AI creates when prompted with “the most beautiful woman in the world, according to Dove Real Beauty Ad.” The latter AI-generated images show diverse women who look far more realistic. The ad includes a brief flashback to one of the original Real Beauty ads from 2004.


Other than for “The Code,” Dove has not used AI to represent real people in its ads, a brand spokesperson told Ad Age.


The ad was created by Sao Paulo-based Soko.


New study, other industry efforts


Dove conducted a global study for its Real Beauty campaign anniversary to better understand how people’s perception of beauty has changed in the two decades since the campaign launched. It found that AI has impacted the level of pressure women feel to be a certain type of beautiful, with 39% of women surveyed saying they feel “pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even when they know it’s fake or AI-generated.”


The study also found that 73% of women feel more pressure to be beautiful than they did eight years ago, while 85% said they’ve been exposed to harmful beauty content online. Conducted by Edelman’s data consultancy Edelman DXI between November and December 2023, researchers spoke with 33,000 respondents in 20 countries for the survey.


Dove isn’t the only brand that has highlighted how AI images can negatively impact women. Direct-to-consumer period underwear brand Thinx’s new “GetBodyWise” campaign, created with BBDO Los Angeles, called attention to how AI has a tendency to characterize women’s health issues as inherently shameful, due to the ways in which AI is trained by biased human input.


Other companies, including CVS, have also made commitments around emphasizing beauty standard authenticity in their marketing materials. In 2021, CVS announced it had reached full transparency in marking beauty imagery either with its CVS Beauty Mark, for imagery that wasn’t materially altered, or with labeling signifying “digitally altered” images.


“At Dove, we seek a future in which women get to decide and declare what real beauty looks like—not algorithms. As we navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with new and emerging technology, we remain committed to protect, celebrate, and champion Real Beauty,” Manfredi said.

Monday, April 15, 2024

16610: Quaker Rises To The Opportunity In Performative Style.


Quaker launched a promotional photo series—100 Reasons to Rise—featuring portraits of people aged 1 to 100 years experiencing emotional breakfast moments.


The images were captured by prominent photographers Misan Harriman and Domizia Salusest, allowing Quaker to conveniently check off two diversity vendor boxes.


Not present in any of the scenes: Aunt Jemima. Such a missed opportunity to add a ~135-year-old to the collection.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

16609: Women At Work.


JobLeads declares to White women, “Headhunters Are Looking For You.” Must be recruiting for exclusive opportunities in Adland.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

16608: AI = Aging Inversion.

The Best Skin Care Product for Aging Skin? Um, AI…?