Saturday, January 30, 2016

13038: The Racist Hypocrisy Of IPG.

Wanted to add commentary on the previous post detailing the firing of Campbell Ewald CEO Jim Palmer, which coincided with the news of a racist email sent last October by an employee from the C-E office in San Antonio. The news has spread beyond advertising trade publications and ad blogs to local Detroit newspapers and business journals, as well as national media properties like The Wall Street Journal. Not all of the sources are reporting the racist email influenced the decision to dismiss Palmer, citing Campbell Ewald has recently lost a bunch of high-profile accounts. Additionally, it’s not clear that USAA terminated its contract with the shop because of the racist email, despite the client announcing, “We will be searching for a new agency that aligns with USAA’s culture and core values." The insurance and financial client features the standard diversity and inclusion commitments on its website. Then again, so does Interpublic Group, the White holding company that owns Campbell Ewald—and it’s unlikely IPG will expel the advertising agency from the network.

If USAA cut ties with Campbell Ewald over the racist email, it marks a monumental moment in the history of the industry. After all, when has a client ever reprimanded a White advertising agency for biased behavior? So far, no other clients have joined USAA to protest the prejudiced professionals. Hell, clients won’t even demand that holding companies reveal EEO-1 data.

Yet the true hypocrite in the scenario is IPG. The White holding company declares it “is increasing diversity and forging a culture of inclusion.” Plus, IPG insists, “We take this commitment seriously.” The company boasts a list of “IPG Firsts” including being the first in the industry to hire a Diversity Officer. Sorry, but firing the original email author and CEO is not enough. Ditto coughing up charitable contributions to ADCOLOR®. It’s time to hold holding companies accountable for too many decades of displaying deliberate discrimination.


lowDown said...

If ever there was a business reason for the holding companies to release their EEO1 data and start talking about the incredible shortage of ethnic employees in their ad agencies, it's this one.

Forget civil rights. Forget the NYC Commission on Human Rights. Forget the unfairness factor. Let's talk about money.

Any hope of Campbell Ewald being able to challenge the Navy account in court is gone. Poof, $450m up in smoke. Any hope of them being able to bid on future government contracts is on shaky ground. Let's say, conservatively, $300m in potential earnings over the next 5 years up in smoke. USAA dropped them today. Poof, more millions up in smoke.

If I had any money invested in IPG, I'd be pretty pissed they let things get to this point. Scott M. Stringer, the NYC Comptroller, is definitely within his rights to want to know how much danger the pension fund is in, because CE isn't the only ticking time bomb in the IPG portfolio, it's just the one that exploded first.

OneWish said...

Is IPG still talking about diversity without doing anything about it?

What does Floyd Conway DO, exactly? It's certainly not hiring people, accomplishing anything, or getting anything done.

He's been sitting there like a lump in his diversity position for as long as I've been in the industry, not speaking up, and apparently just collecting a paycheck.

Wouldn't it be something if all of the pseudo diversity officers at holding companies and individual ad agencies banded together this week and quit in solidarity? Or went on strike until they were given hiring powers? Or got their employers to start releasing employment data that mentioned ethnicity?