Monday, July 18, 2011

9027: Getting Cross Over Cross-Cultural.

Random rants regarding the New York Times piece on OgilvyCulture:

• Don’t recall NY Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott ever giving much space to minority agencies. But when a White agency unveils its segregated silo, Elliott churns out over 850 words on the event. Okey-doke.

• Why do White agencies launch “cross-cultural” units? If these old school firms are indeed covering “mass market” or “general market” audiences—and everyone recognizes that the U.S. is multicultural—shouldn’t the work already be “cross-cultural” communications? Doesn’t the launching of a “cross-cultural” unit only underscore that “mass-market”/“general-market” shops are actually White agencies?

• Ogilvy & Mather reportedly held a daylong conference titled, “Preparing for the New General Market.” Um, adman Tom Burrell has been saying, “Mass marketing is dead,” for at least 15 years. Ditto Harry Webber. Guy Garcia published “The New Mainstream” in 2005. And White agencies are just now readying for the brave new world?

• O&M Chairman and CEO John Seifert said, “This starts from the kind of firm we want to be in the future. … Instead of thinking of discrete segments in a multicultural world, we’re saying the new reality is that it’s more of a cross-cultural world, a mash-up of cultures. …if there has been a weakness in the marketing communications industry generally, it’s that the makeup of agencies is not reflective [of the consumers to whom they advertise].” Let’s dissect these mumblings. Is the statement, “…the kind of firm we want to be in the future,” an admission that there’s no desire to be diverse in the present? “[W]e’re saying the new reality…” sounds like White men want to dictate reality. “If there has been a weakness in the marketing communications industry…” If? Yo, Johnny, who’s responsible for the fact that “the makeup of agencies is not reflective” of the consumer culture?

• Seifert also blubbered, “We’re feeling our way; I’ve said to everyone this is going to be messy for a while.” When White advertising agencies, for example, buy digital agencies and inevitably bungle the mergers, the top brass still introduce the new ventures with great fanfare. When White agencies recruit and promote and fire executives ultimately deemed to be “not a good fit,” the company honchos still introduce the new hires as The Second Coming. Yet when a White agency launches a non-White unit, the leaders lower expectations and predict messiness.

• In addition to OgilvyCulture, O&M will continue to run multicultural agencies like OgilvyRojo and OgilvyNoor. Only in America.

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