Friday, January 21, 2022

15689: ADCOLOR® Study Doesn’t Warrant Studying…

Advertising Age reported on an ADCOLOR® study showing that White advertising agencies are failing to retain employees of color—although the survey ignored the root issue of White advertising agencies failing to recruit and hire employees of color. Whatever.


Was it really necessary to conduct a study to expose common knowledge and common sense? Then again, a nonprofit enterprise like ADCOLOR® must justify its existence somehow.


ADCOLOR® Queen Bee Tiffany R. Warren declared, “We have seen a strong shift in recent years towards increasing diversity in creative industries, but there is still much work to be done as we navigate our way towards a more stable, satisfied and inclusive workforce.” The “strong shift” is actually “strong shit”—that is, bullshit. Plus, for someone who has held Chief Diversity Officer titles since at least 2005 to admit “there is still much work to be done” says it all. The truth is, not much work has been done.


Warren also stated, “The only way we can continue on the path towards inclusivity is by understanding the root causes that have left out diverse professionals for so long.” Um, simply reread the opening sentence of this post to discern the root. Better yet, just watch Roots.


Behind The Ad Industry’s Diverse Employee Retention Problem—And What Might Encourage Them To Stay


The findings were revealed as part of a new AdColor study that examines retention trends of diverse employees


By Ethan Jakob Craft


As the ad world continues to work to diversify its employee base, it’s struggling to retain employees due to pervasive issues ranging from ill-defined career advancement to tokenism, according to a new study from AdColor.


The new findings were revealed in AdColor’s “State of the Workforce Study: Retention Outlook Through a DE&I Lens,” the first installment in a three-part report series conducted by the nonprofit organization that explores why multicultural employees in the ad industry are leaving their jobs—and what might encourage them to stay.


Reasons include: “psychologically unsafe work environments;” an apparent lack of dedication to improving diversity issues; and the industry’s emphasis on subjective “culture fits” that often award promotions to people who feel like the right fit, rather than to those who might be more deserving on merit.


“We have seen a strong shift in recent years towards increasing diversity in creative industries, but there is still much work to be done as we navigate our way towards a more stable, satisfied and inclusive workforce,” said AdColor founder Tiffany R. Warren.


Particularly since the death of George Floyd in 2020, which was followed by hundreds of brand and agency pledges to uphold diversity goals, many marketers have acted to establish both in-house and on-screen representation, erecting new internship programs and developing other resources to encourage more diverse candidates to join the ad world.


However, as revealed in the report, recent strides in improving equable hiring practices haven’t necessarily translated into fostering a more inviting workplace for employees of marginalized races, genders and sexual orientations.


A whopping 57% of U.S. women say they’ve experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, while more than seven-in-10 Asian Americans say they’ve encountered anti-Asian hatred since the COVID-19 pandemic began almost two years ago.


Overall, some 38% creatives of color also report that they’ve “experienced job loss due to ethnicity,” according to Harris Poll data from 2021 cited in the report—perhaps not a surprise to some in what has historically been a fairly segregated, white-dominated industry where just three-in-10 employees identify as any sort of minority.


“The only way we can continue on the path towards inclusivity is by understanding the root causes that have left out diverse professionals for so long,” said Warren, an ad industry veteran who’s currently an executive VP and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Sony Music Group.


To remedy some of these issues, DE&I experts recommend things like providing employees access to a mentor; establishing and funding employee resource groups, or ERGs, for marginalized communities; publicly publishing your agency’s diversity data; and encouraging what the report calls a “speak-up culture.”


It also recommends against some practices, such as client-pleasing accountability. Some ad employees whose insights were used for this study, believe that social change movements like #MeToo or Black Lives Matter are only addressed “when there is a commercial benefit or they can be exploited” or monetized for “commercial gain,” the report said.


One agency employee who initially revealed their experiences as part of Digiday’s “Confessions” series is quoted in the report as recalling a senior executive who prioritized diversity-related meetings only “when a client would ask for our D&I stats,” the employee said. Key elements of workforce testimony used by AdColor, including the aforementioned quote, originated from that series.


The AdColor study, which surveyed over 500 ad industry professionals associated with the organization, will be followed by two additional DE&I-related reports due to be published later in 2022.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

15688: Arnold Worldwide’s ‘Strategery’ Is Comedic, Crafty Crap.


Adweek reported on the wondrous transformation happening at Arnold Worldwide, spotlighting how the White advertising agency hired “an empathy expert to help make the company’s work more inclusive while also encouraging the creative team to employ respect, diversity and empathetic leadership.” Delegating diversity to an empathetic consultant sounds, um, pathetic. Oh, and a peek at Arnold leadership shows the pseudo progressive stunt—like other mad experiments conducted to bring DE&I to the Boston-based firm—failed.


Free consultation to Arnold executives: If you really want to make the work more inclusive and the staff more diverse, hire more people of color. It’s that simple, you culturally clueless cretins.


How Arnold Worldwide Is Remaking Its Reputation Through Strategy


CEO George Sargent talks about big idea thinking, integration and empathy


By Kyle O’Brien


For Arnold Worldwide, the big idea is not dead. It just needs to be translated for the current era. After 75 years in business, Arnold is reimagining itself as a creative agency, but one now driven by strategy.


At the helm of that transformation is CEO George Sargent, who has been navigating Arnold’s path forward since December 2019. In those two years, Sargent has seen Arnold grow by 44%, winning eight pieces of business, including ADP, DuckDuckGo, Bob’s Discount Furniture, and signing Cox Communications last May. Arnold has also increased client satisfaction (NPS) by 10%, launched over 50 TV spots for Progressive insurance—one of the agency’s top clients—and is in the running to win KFC’s coveted creative account.


When Sargent took over, however, Boston-based Arnold was trending downward. The agency had lost key clients, including Hershey, Carnival and Angie’s List and had gone through a round of layoffs. Sargent chalks that up to too much executive turnover.


“There were five CEOs in the 2010s. There were five CCOs in the 2010s. There were five CSOs in the 2010s. The 2010s were unfriendly to the agency…we had experienced some client loss…There was just no stability at the agency,” Sargent told Adweek.


Sargent, who was with Havas Media before becoming CEO at Arnold, brought a media sales background to the creative agency, and his ability to implement strategy to the creative process has helped bring stability. He assembled a new leadership team and saw the need to integrate the separate teams and processes.


“The biggest thing that Arnold needed from a strategic standpoint was to take big human insights into big idea thinking and address the challenge of media fragmentation and address the complexity of the consumer journey,” Sargent said, adding that an additional challenge was to integrate the strategy team so that big ideas showed up in lots of different areas.


Adding empathy and comedy to the equation


Arnold took its communications strategy and made it an important part in how the agency approached creativity, bringing media fluency and a downstream approach to the creative process. Another key piece to changing the culture at the agency was to add a level of empathy. Arnold brought on an “entrepreneur in residence,” Michael Tennant, an empathy expert to help make the company’s work more inclusive while also encouraging the creative team to employ respect, diversity and empathetic leadership.


“We embedded him within the agency for nine months and made empathy, and all the things that are required in order to have an empathic culture, very central to how we work,” said Sargent. “We expect everyone to treat each other both as human beings and also as experts.”


Sargent said that the training has paid off, especially over the last nine months, and the agency is again winning new business with the right attitude.


“It’s just been incredibly rewarding to watch an agency embrace itself and embrace its people and use that in order to grow,” he said.


Another tactic Arnold has used to bolster the team is adding some laughs to the creative.


“On our creative team, we’re thinking really differently about how we attract people with totally different backgrounds. And one example we launched a few months ago was the Arnold Institute for the Comedically Gifted, which is about us finding comedic talent,” said Sargent.


He stated that comedy is central to the agency’s relationship with longtime client Progressive (with ads featuring the character Flo and sessions on not becoming your parents) and Sargent thinks that comedy is underserved as a tactic that brands can use to create engagement. The Comedically Gifted effort provides real working comedians with a steady paycheck to help solve brand problems.


That, combined with smart comms planning, gives the team clarity, breaks down silos and opens up new ways of reaching people through tactics like social media, influencer campaigns and the creator economy.


Utilizing Havas to get ahead


Arnold’s role is to play lead creative agency on its accounts for the most part, said Sargent, and that hasn’t changed as it has turned the ship around, but it is working with partner marketers and agencies to help fill in where it can’t. That involves utilizing the tools that parent company Havas has to offer, including embracing the network’s tech stack to identify fact-based consumer behavior and using the small data to drive the agency’s big ideas. That also means leaning on other Havas network agencies for customer experience, social, gaming and multicultural campaigns.


Sargent said that Arnold’s role for the next 20 years will be figuring out how to create big ideas without the same linear programming schedule that has been relied upon in the past.


“We’re taking an agency that for the last 75 years, has put creativity at the center of the table and used creativity to drive business results. We are modernizing that agency and we have a lot of momentum, and we have an incredible talent base,” Sargent said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

15687: Another New Year’s Resolution That Is Not A New Solution.

Advertising Age published a pathetic—although the author would likely claim empathetic—perspective by Deutsch L.A. Chief Creative Officer Karen Costello, who presented a New Year’s resolution: Make White advertising agencies more humane.


What makes the perspective pathetic—in this blog’s opinion—is that the essay doesn’t feature a single original idea which couldn’t be culled from a cursory scan of LinkedIn “thought leadership” posts on 21st century business management. Sorry, but regurgitating Harvard Business Review factoids does not qualify as thought leadership—indeed, it’s thoughtless copycat content unbefitting of a C-suite executive purporting to be creative.


Another pathetic element involves the Ad Age editors’ decision to illustrate the piece with a stock photo (depicted above) of a diverse team. Indeed, the +850-word essay contains no references to DE&I, which isn’t surprising given that Deutsch allegedly stopped investing in such matters in 2016. Hell, it could be argued that the place has never invested in non-White initiatives.


It all begs the question: How can you make an enterprise more humane if it doesn’t reflect actual humanity—a direct result of inhumane hiring practices—and doesn’t employ authentic leaders with progressive vision?


As always, expect this New Year’s resolution to be abandoned shortly.


Making Advertising Agencies More Humane—A New Year’s Resolution


10 ways to give creatives the support and appreciation they deserve


By Karen Costello


I propose a New Year’s resolution for our industry: Let’s make advertising agencies more humane.


Advertising can be hard on humans—hard on their personal lives, mental health, families and creativity. It doesn’t need to be this way.


Talk with anyone in your creative department or agency. If you ask how they’re really doing, the majority are struggling somehow. It’s not just the pandemic, though it has accelerated things. It’s the constant pressure to perform at all times regardless of the circumstances. Then add back-to-back Zoom meetings, presenting to a screen of black boxes, relentless schedules and deadlines and little space for creative inspiration, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout.


According to a recent Working Not Working survey, the majority of agency creatives are considering a job change even if they believe they are paid well. They are looking to have a better quality of life, and say a good paycheck is not worth the burnout.


A burned-out creative cannot be a good creative. A burned-out industry cannot be a good industry. We need to help our people be healthy humans. Creative people want to think and make and put their work out into the world. And healthy humans are better creatives, which makes the work better and ultimately our industry more sustainable in the long run.


I believe much of it comes down to leadership, which sets the tone for agency culture. Employee programs and initiatives are valuable but cannot solve this alone. We are responsible for helping the next generation change what’s broken and shape a new way of working that factors well-being into the equation.


So, what do creatives need and what can we as creative leaders do to help them? Here are 10 ways:


Spend more time coaching and mentoring

Like athletes, creatives are asked to perform on the spot. How can we better prepare them for these moments so they are less anxiety-inducing?


Enforce positive work habits

People need more breaks and time away from screens to stay refreshed. If they don’t know how, that’s not necessarily their fault. Give them training, show them the way. Self-care is literally a practice; changing old habits doesn’t happen overnight. And when someone demonstrates “bad” work etiquette (scheduling a meeting over lunch or during what used to be commuting time)—nip it in the bud. As a leader, you are a powerful model for what is OK—when you leave to pick your kids up from soccer, it shows other people that they can do the same.


Determine what is really important?

We need to help creatives prioritize and not get bogged down in non-priorities or arbitrary deadlines. A culture of urgency is only adding to the performance anxiety, robbing people of time and space to be creative.


Make mental health a regular part of conversations

Have you noticed that after one person shares their mental health struggles, other people are more willing to share their experience too? I can’t overstate how important this is. Learn about mental health conditions. Change your assumptions about what mental health struggles look like.


Create safe environments

Whether it’s pushing back on client expectations or avoiding constant late night or weekend work, we have to create safe environments that protect people from burnout. Simple things like asking your clients not to have meetings on Mondays or after holiday weekends can make a huge impact.


Say thank you more often

All people want is to feel valued and appreciated and this should be an easy thing for all of us to do for each other.


Treat everyone with respect regardless of title or position

No explanation needed.


Ask clients to help

Most clients also want to avoid long hours, weekend work and pressure-cooker environments. They have personal lives and families too. Work in partnership with them to make the work environments more humane and inspiring. The work will be better and business results stronger.


Check in on people and find out how they are doing/feeling on a more frequent basis

Alongside your team meetings or even one-on-ones, try touching base with people a few times a week to be sure they are doing OK and managing challenges in a healthy and productive way.


Learn about mental health in all its forms and look out for each other

I can’t overstate the importance of this enough. Creative industries are full of people struggling with mental health because these very same people are often wildly creative and visionary. But don’t let that come at a cost. I have learned a tremendous amount this past year and a half with people in my life who I care about deeply. It is one of the most important things we can do as leaders and as humans.


My hope for this industry is that legacies like David Kennedy’s—one of kindness, generosity and humanity—become the norm, not the anomaly. And that it can be one that allows everyone to thrive as whole, healthy humans inspired by and supporting each other.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

15686: The Richards Group Is Trying TRG TBD—And TTFN To Founder.


Advertising Age reported that The Richards Group is rebranding itself as TRG, mostly to semi-erase Founder Stan Richards. Um, this is the equivalent of Kentucky Fried Chicken downplaying its fried elements by calling itself KFC. Or the Ku Klux Klan going with KKK. Why not try something like Stan’s Original? To truly cut ties, the White advertising agency should have opted for Pearl Milling Agency or Dallas Advertising Agency.


Most outrageous are the remarks from an unnamed agency spokeswoman, including:


“We think of this less of a change and more of a transition. Our goal is to celebrate what has made us successful—creativity, collaboration, inclusivity and innovation. Shortening our name allows us to celebrate our past, our present and our fearless future. … Stan Richards hasn’t been a part of our agency since October of 2020—and as of last week, is no longer our landlord—but we did let him know about the evolution of our agency’s brand identity. He wants us to succeed and understands our desire to transition to a new look and a far more progressive outlook.”


Wow, it’s amazing to witness the ways that TRG executives continue to throw Stan Richards under the bus. The Peaceable Kingdom is becoming the Pissy Palace and Resentment Resort.


The Richards Group Is Changing Its Name To TRG, Distancing Itself From Founder Stan Richards


Shop has started rebranding on social media more than a year after racist remarks by Richards


By Brian Bonilla


The Stan Richards School of Advertising might be sticking with its name, but The Richards Group isn’t.


The Dallas agency is in the process of changing its name and logo to TRG, Ad Age has learned. The move will further distance The Richards Group, which has been known by that moniker since 1976, from its founder Stan Richards. Richards stepped down in 2020 following racist remarks he made during a client meeting.


A spokeswoman confirmed the name change, saying, “We think of this less of a change and more of a transition. Our goal is to celebrate what has made us successful—creativity, collaboration, inclusivity and innovation. Shortening our name allows us to celebrate our past, our present and our fearless future.”


‘No longer our landlord’


The change was announced internally and comes a week after it was reported that Stan Richards’ holding company, SBR Real Estate Holdings LP, sold the Dallas headquarters that was built to house the agency in 2013. The agency is still “undecided” as to whether it will remain at the Dallas Parkway address and is currently in talks with the building’s new owners, a spokeswoman said.


“Stan Richards hasn’t been a part of our agency since October of 2020—and as of last week, is no longer our landlord—but we did let him know about the evolution of our agency’s brand identity,” said the spokeswoman. “He wants us to succeed and understands our desire to transition to a new look and a far more progressive outlook.”


While The Richards Group name remains on the agency website, there are hints of the change already. The homepage and careers page includes a reference to TRG as well as the agency’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


When asked when the shift would be complete, the spokeswoman said, “There’s a huge amount of work left to be done when it comes to our new visual identity and no final timetable on when we officially adopt TRG. But it is official that we are different—we are a people-run, nonprofit-owned creativity collective.”


‘Lingering relationship to racism’


The news comes only a few months after The University of Texas announced that its advertising school will keep the name of its benefactor, Stan Richards, a decision that was met with some criticism.


“The folks running the show at Texas’s Moody College of Communication and the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations chose money over integrity,” an associate dean who formerly taught at UT’s advertising department said after the news. “It’s not surprising … funding is important and many programs would probably do the same. But the price becomes a lingering relationship to racism, to white privilege, and to business as usual in Texas. The industry needs a reset. If ever there was a time to stake a stand against racism, it’s now. And they chose not to.”


Richards’ remarks during an internal meeting that a Motel 6 ad campaign was “too Black” for the chain’s “white supremacist constituents” triggered an exit of clients including Motel 6, Home Depot, and Keurig Dr Pepper. Since then, the agency has been trying to rebuild, and this name change is only further proof of that.


Last year, the Dallas agency, which has 325 employees, won agency of record duties for fiber-optic provider MetroNet and named Richards vet Sue Batterton as its first chief creative officer. Currently, the agency also has 14 job openings posted on its site including one post for a new chief financial officer.

Monday, January 17, 2022

15685: Just Another Day In White Adland…

To underscore the point being made in the previous post, MLK Day presented no commemorative mentions in Adweek and Advertising Age; plus, the “Collections” at Clio’s Ads of the World—despite featuring categories for Chinese New Year, International Women’s Day, Halloween, Girl Power, Donald Trump ads, and more—include no MLK campaigns.



In Adland, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives all the reverence, recognition, regard and respect of a Chief Diversity Officer. Nuff said.

15683: Google Says, “I Have A Dream—But Not A Head…”


The Google doodle commemorating MLK Day presents a decapitated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …? Perhaps it symbolizes Google’s reluctance to offer an honest headcount to expose the company’s true diversity.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

15682: Brigadier General Charles McGee (1919-2022).


From CNN


Tuskegee Airman Brig. Gen. Charles McGee dies at 102


By Sarah Fortinsky and Barbara Starr, CNN


(CNN) Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, died Sunday morning in his sleep, according to a family spokesman. He was 102.


“McGee was a living legend known for his kind-hearted, and humble nature, who saw positivity at every turn,” the family said in the statement. “He spent the last half century inspiring future generations to pursue careers in aviation, but equally important, he encouraged others to be the best they could be, to follow their dreams, and to persevere through all challenges.”


Over the course of his historic career, McGee successfully completed 409 air combat missions across three wars, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, serving a total of 30 years of active service. McGee has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 and the National Business Aviation Association's Meritorious Service to Aviation Award in 2012. He was enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011.


“Today, we lost an American hero. Charles McGee, Brigadier General and one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airman, passed at the age of 102. While I am saddened by his loss, I’m also incredibly grateful for his sacrifice, his legacy, and his character. Rest in peace, General,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a tweet remembering McGee.


McGee is survived by three children, 10 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.


“As the nation mourns, the family asks that we remember the importance and significance of the legacy he left, all of his fellow Tuskegee Airmen, and everyone who played a role in the support and protection of American democracy,” the family’s statement read.


The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the US service corps.