Thursday, November 30, 2017

13914: RAPP Integrity—An Oxymoron.

Campaign published a perspective from RAPP Global CEO Marco Scognamiglio, who pontificated on the imperative for integrity in business. Um, was this grand vision inspired to calm clients and potential jurors who might wonder about the alleged lack of integrity displayed by former RAPP Global CEO Alexei Orlov? A career adman lecturing on honesty is like Harvey Weinstein advocating for gender equality. What’s next—a Scognamiglio sermon on the benefits of diversity?

Filling the integrity void

By Marco Scognamiglio

As time has shown, poor judgment from the C-Suite throughout the business world has become emblematic of the need to overhaul how our industry is managed, says RAPP’s global CEO.

An article earlier this year in the Financial Times that examined society’s waning trust of institutions in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Towers high-rise fire—and numerous incidents of banking chicanery—featured a quote that gave me pause. “The next time I receive an invitation to chair an event on ‘how business can win back trust,’ I will suggest we change the title to ‘how to run a trustworthy business.’”

My time in advertising has offered a front-row seat to observe the erosion of the notion of trust, just as it reinforced my belief that honesty must rise in its place.

Many corporations, from GM to Apple, are widely perceived as virtually omnipotent. Similarly, the advertising agency holding companies present their employees a codified, hierarchical structure from which they dispense directives, and expect very little in the way of pushback. The assumption has always been simple: “Trust us; we know better than you.” After all, the people calling the shots are there for a reason. Right? And yet, as time has shown in the pages of the trade press, poor judgment from the C-Suite throughout the business world is regularly on display. These moments have become emblematic of the need to overhaul how our industry is managed.

In doing so, much like the world that advertising serves, we find “control” resides in the audience—or in our case, our colleagues.

To get to honesty may require some moral finetuning. It may mean we must trust that the people we work alongside can handle both good and bad news. After all, we once hired these same people for their knowledge and character. Why have we now decided they can only handle what we tell them? Akin to consumers who reject pushed messages, our colleagues aren’t buying into the one-sided, staged rhetoric.

I am an adherent to the notion that you will have a competitive edge if your colleagues are reasonably happy with their job. Vineet Nayar, author of “Employees First, Customers Second” underscored that simple, but elusive premise by declaring “Your employees are the gateway to customer satisfaction, and if they aren’t happy, the customer isn’t going to be happy.”

Taking a page out of Richard Branson’s employee-centric management playbook, I embarked on a listening tour to gauge the level of engagement our own staff had with our brand. Being true to your word begins with listening and ends with integrity. Whether inside a global organization or a small business, leaders who sit down with constituents to listen and ask questions—then take the appropriate course of action post-meeting—can yield a world of benefit.

Suffice it to say, there was plenty we could be doing differently. But let’s not be Pollyannaish about this, should I really have been surprised?

These conversations starkly reveal the lack of shared vision and the depth of misalignment of message or mission. These are tough talks, as fundamental differences come to light and disheartening trends surface. But they are also the most fruitful in diagnosing next steps. No matter the topic, they almost always require a large dose of introspection that often leads to a wholly uncharted course. I decided that we needed to take our agency back to the core values that it was founded upon: curiosity, passion and accountability.

To embark on this transformation meant I needed to evolve our leadership team in our New York North American office without exception. These moves were difficult, but we needed to approach our client’s business differently. Above all, this level of transparency put us on the hot seat to remain accountable and begin actioning on next steps.

The path of integrity begins, and potentially ends here, as you’ve now personally become the mechanism to deliver upon what was discussed. Promise too much, and under-deliver, and you create a credibility gap. Recognizing this and steering a course to both avoid this pitfall and attend to the most pressing problems is mission-critical.

And then you do it again. And again.

The impact of honesty and consistency on morale is, not shockingly, massive. What is surprising is that while many leaders claim to understand and embrace these principles, many more don’t practice them to be effective.

Consistency is the handmaiden of integrity. It forges the bond that can survive and work the strains of crisis.

Having integrity may not win any awards, and it may not show up on a balance sheet. But righting the ship when something’s been off-kilter for any reason will yield dividends. Although it has taken some time, we are seeing an increase in employee happiness—and our clients have taken note, too.

It also helps an executive sleep better at night.

Marco Scognamiglio is Global CEO at RAPP.

13913: Cold Medicine Campaign Is Sick.

Ogilvy in Uruguay is responsible for this Web•C campaign, which appears to be wildly offensive and disrespectful to women. The top execution shows how sneezing from a cold can bust an entire crew of art thieves. The lower execution appears to show how sneezing from a cold can expose a wife who’s holding a multi-partner orgy while hubby was away on a business trip…? Will Ogilvy submit this garbage for a Glass Lion?

13912: Foote, Cannes & Belding…?

AgencySpy posted the following memo from FCB Worldwide CEO Carter Murray:

Earlier this week, the organization that owns Cannes Lions announced extensive changes in an effort to refocus the Festival on its creative roots. Over the last few months, CCOs across IPG — including our own Susan Credle — have worked hard to share with Cannes leadership our pain points and suggestions for Festival improvement. While the changes announced Monday don’t address all our concerns, it signals a strong step in the right direction.

FCB has always believed in this Festival and strongly feels that our presence this year should reflect our commitment to creativity. As such, we are mandating that 75% of our 2018 attendees will be talent who are directly responsible for our creative output (writers, art directors, designers, producers, etc.).

As Susan and I have said before, creativity is the heart of our industry. Each year, Cannes Lions reminds the world of this. We are proud to be long-standing partners with the Festival in this important mission, and we look forward to making 2018 our best Cannes yet.

Best as always,


Wow. There’s so much to consider after reading that memorandumb.

First, it seems like only yesterday that the White advertising agency showed its belief in Cannes Lions—in perhaps the most notoriously awful way imaginable.

Second, how does the 75% figure measure against percentages from past years? More importantly, what does 75% equal in actual numbers and expenditures? It would be interesting to compare FCB’s Cannes Lions budget to the agency’s diversity budget. It’s a safe bet that the comparison would be crepes to crumbs.

Third, directly related to the previous point, what percentage of the 75% will be creative people of color? From the United States of America?

Fourth, when Murray identifies the “talent who are directly responsible for our creative output,” who is represented by “etc.” in the parentheses? Is he openly admitting the uselessness of account people, planners, media, etc. in the creative process?

Finally, how convenient that the remaining 25% provides ample room for idiots like Murray to attend the exclusive gala.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

13911: Calling Out Ignorance.

CNN reported President Donald Trump advanced his Commander-in-Cultural-Cluelessness title by making racially-offensive cracks during an event saluting Navajo veterans. Trump probably apologized by offering to take them to a Washington Redskins game. Regardless, it all begs yet another question pertaining to the advertising industry. In recent weeks, as the alleged womanizing, sexual harassment and predatory actions of prominent men like Trump, Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. have been revealed, Madison Avenue critics have wondered why advertising agency executives haven’t been exposed for similar offenses. Yet when public figures are condemned and banned for displaying biased and bigoted ignorance, why doesn’t anyone ask when advertising agency executives will be called out for such behavior too?

At a Navajo veterans’ event, Trump makes ‘Pocahontas’ crack

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump, during an event at the White House honoring Navajo code talkers Monday, referenced his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, “Pocahontas,” a label he has long used about the Massachusetts Democrat.

“I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said. “Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time ... longer than you—they call her Pocahontas!”

He then turned to one of the code talkers behind him, put his left hand on the man’s shoulder and said: “But you know what, I like you. You are special people.”

Trump did not name Warren.

The comment, met with silence from event attendees, revives an insult the President has long thrust upon Warren but restated during a high-profile meeting with the Native American war heroes.

“It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur. Donald Trump does this over and over thinking somehow he is going to shut me up with it. It hasn’t worked out in the past, it isn’t going to work out in the future,” Warren told MSNBC shortly after Trump’s remark.

While Pocahontas was a historical character from the 17th Century, many have pointed out that using her name in a disparaging way insults native peoples and degrades their cultures.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday the use of “Pocahontas” was not a racial slur and that it “certainly was not the President’s intent” to use a racial slur.

“I don’t believe that it is appropriate” to use a racial slur, Sanders said during her daily briefing, but added that she didn’t think Trump’s comment was such a slur.

Sanders then targeted Warren, saying that “the most offensive thing” was Warren claiming to be Native American.

“I think Sen. Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career, and I don’t understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn’t constantly covered,” Sanders said.

The National Congress of American Indians—the largest and oldest group representing Native Americans—has condemned Trump’s use of “Pocahontas” to deride Warren, noting that the famed Native American was a real person whose historic significance is still important to her tribe, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe in Virginia.

“We cannot and will not stand silent when our Native ancestors, cultures and histories are used in a derogatory manner for political gain,” Jacqueline Pata, the group’s executive director, said earlier this year after Trump called Warren “Pocahontas” at a speech before the National Rifle Association.

Conservatives have previously criticized Warren for claiming that she is part Native American, and the senator’s heritage became an issue during her Senate campaigns.

Trump has seized on the attacks and has regularly called Warren “Pocahontas.” The attack dates back to his 2016 campaign.

“Pocahontas is at it again,” he tweeted in June 2016. “Goofy Elizabeth Warren, one of the least productive U.S. Senators, has a nasty mouth. Hope she is V.P. choice.”

He added, “Crooked Hillary is wheeling out one of the least productive senators in the U.S. Senate, goofy Elizabeth Warren, who lied on heritage.”

And earlier this month, he added, “Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.”

He has also used the nickname privately.

Sources told CNN earlier this year that during a meeting with senators at the White House, Trump taunted Democrats by saying “Pocahontas is now the face of your party.”

Trump has routinely given his political opponents nicknames, but the slight against Warren is one of his most culturally insensitive.

Warren says she is, in fact, part Native American, citing “family stories” passed down through generations of her family.

“I am very proud of my heritage,” Warren told NPR in 2012. “These are my family stories. This is what my brothers and I were told by my mom and my dad, my mammaw and my pappaw. This is our lives. And I’m very proud of it.”

The legitimacy of Warren’s heritage has been widely debated and Scott Brown, her 2012 Senate campaign opponent, has even suggested Warren take a DNA test to prove her heritage.

Harvard Law School in the 1990s touted Warren, then a professor in Cambridge, as being “Native American.” They singled her out, Warren later acknowledged, because she had listed herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory.

Critics seized on the listing, saying that she received preferential treatment for questionable Native American heritage. Warren contends that her career was never furthered because of her Native American genealogy.

13910: Blacks & Brown Rice.

The cultural stereotypes in this Bulgarian commercial for Rice Up deserve a thumbs down—especially the boombox-playing, sexualized Black characters.

13909: Call To Microaction.

Campaign published diverted diversity douchebag droppings from Epsilon SVP Executive Creative Director Brendan McKenna, who implored manbassadors to take microactions to promote White women. The official list of microactions, incidentally, was compiled by The 3% Conference. So if White men and White women are taking microactions to increase the number of White female leaders in the advertising industry, what term can be used for the efforts to address racial and ethnic equality in the field? Subatomicactions? Infinitesimalactions? Oh hell, be honest and call it what it is—inaction.

Manbassadors and microactions

An ECD at Epsilon reflects on his responsibilities as a white male to improve representation in the industry.

By Brendan McKenna

When The 3% Movement brought the issue of female underrepresentation in the advertising creative industry to the forefront, the initial response was to apply a new lens to fair-hiring practices. The good news is there has been some traction: The number of female creative directors has risen from 3 percent to 11 percent. But the issue shouldn’t start and stop with balancing gender on org charts—11 percent is still abysmal, and there are still rampant instances of implicit and explicit bias against women in the industry.

I am a white male, and my rise to executive creative director was facilitated by privileges I had not even considered until attending the 3% Conference earlier this month. My parents went to college. I’ve never worried about where my next meal would come from. English is my first language. I’ve never stressed over which bathroom I should use. And so on. This privilege has naturally led to implicit biases that I have brought into the workplace.

I’ve hired talent who looked just like me, assuming they would do things exactly the way I need them done. My team is now almost balanced at 26 who identify as males and 25 who identify as females. But how many times have one of those 25 been the lone woman in the pitch? How many times have they been interrupted during meetings? How many times have they felt passed over for prime assignments? Who is considering quitting because the demands of having a family are incompatible with long hours and travel schedules?

I don’t know the answers, because I haven’t been paying enough attention. I am evolving, and I will do better.

The evolution of the movement is to address these biases with microactions—everyday choices to give women equal opportunities for career growth once in the department. Here is a list of 100 microactions we can all start with today to drive the number to 50 percent: There is a trove of solutions waiting for all of us, from mentoring young female talent or giving flexible work schedules to parents, to amending all creative briefs to demand a respectful depiction of women.

The 3% Movement opened a window that exposes all disciplines at agencies and the clients we represent, and the theme of this year’s conference was “Beyond Gender.” Speakers laid bare the uphill battle we have to not only empower more women, but diversity in all shades: racial, cultural, sexual orientation, age and ableism. It is our responsibility to extend privilege to those who need it.

I work in San Francisco, where we have a rich and diverse talent pool, but it is also a market that culls that pool with the highest cost of living in the country. We need to look downstream to build talent pipelines in underserved communities. We need to take risks in hiring. We need to mentor talent. And we need to value and retain the diverse staff we have through promotions and benefits. If our diverse junior staff has no role models that look like them, will they see a future in our industry?

Diversity breeds creativity, not clones. As David Droga noted during his 3% Conference panel, we should instead aim to “hire someone who has a unique point of view that we don’t have.” We need to “hire people who interpret what’s going on in the world and bring it into our work.”

It is incumbent on all of us to recognize the implicit biases we carry and confront them head on. Only then can we start from zero. Only then can we aim for 50.

Brendan McKenna is Senior Vice President, Executive Creative Director at Epsilon.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

13908: Unilever In The Black.

Advertising Age reported Unilever is acquiring Sundial Brands. In branding terms, it means Dove and SheaMoisture will be sharing the same dressing room. To check the culturally clueless scorecards, Unilever and Dove have been offending for years, while SheaMoisture only recently offended the masses. Still, the move makes Unilever the home of bizarro diversity, where beauty standards will now range from Black to skin-whitening and everything between.

Risking New Backlash, Dove Acquires SheaMoisture

By Jack Neff

Two marketers that faced racially charged social-media smackdowns this year over their ads are joining forces: Unilever, marketer of Dove, announced Monday that it’s agreed to acquire Sundial Brands, marketer of SheaMoisture.

Dove faced a wave of social-media criticism last month over a Facebook video for its body wash that appeared to show a black woman turning into a white woman. Sundial faced a similar backlash over ads in April that showed SheaMoisture hair-care products being used by white women, which was seen by many on social media as moving the brand away from its core African-American consumers.

The companies didn’t address those controversies in announcing the deal, but did reveal steps that could help thwart more backlash. This includes a $50 million New Voices Fund to back women-of-color entrepreneurs, with a goal of attracting an additional $50 milliion from outside investors.

Sundial will continue as a standalone unit within the global packaged-goods behemoth, led by founder and CEO Richelieu Dennis.

The companies didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Bonin Bough, who became chief growth and marketing officer of Sundial last month, will remain in that role. Bough is a prominent African-American marketing executive, alum of Mondelez and PepsiCo, and host of the Cleveland Hustles show on CNBC. Reached by phone Monday, Bough declined to comment.

In announcing the deal, Unilever did say that Esi Eggleston Bracey, one of the most prominent African-American executives in the beauty business over the past decade, would join the company in January as executive VP and chief operating officer of Unilever’s North American personal care business. Bracey left Coty last year, where she was president of the consumer beauty business, and previously headed Procter & Gamble Co.’s global cosmetics business. She’ll succeed Tamara Rogers in that role. Unilever and Rogers didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on her next move.

In reporting the news on Monday, Essence said the deal raises “questions about how big general-market brands influence black-owned companies. Similar sentiments were felt when L’Oreal USA bought Lisa Price’s Carol’s Daughter in 2014.” But the site said Dennis remaining at the helm of Sundial brings “promise that the company will positively influence Unilever’s venture into the multicultural space.”

The deal so far hasn’t stoked any major social-media backlash.

The companies didn’t disclose terms or sales. Essence reported Sundial is expected to generate $240 million in sales this year. Besides SheaMoisture, Sundial also markets the Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker and Nyakio brands.

“The Sundial team has built differentiated and on-trend premium brands serving multicultural and millennial consumers,” said Unilever President, North America Kees Kruythoff in a statement, where he likened Sundial to a portfolio of “purpose-driven” companies that includes Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation.

It was general-market brands like Dove and P&G’s Pantene, which in recent years launched products that go after SheaMoisture’s base by better addressing hair-care needs of women of color, that appeared to prompt SheaMoisture to respond by reaching out to white women with its April campaign from VaynerMedia. Those ads were widely criticized on social media and pulled the same day.

“We should make sure our core African-American consumer always feels represented in everything we do,” Dennis said at the time, “because we are not moving away from her.”

Dove’s controversial Facebook ad was meant to show Dove body wash is for every type of skin. It was decried as racist due to a 3-second snippet showing a black woman taking off her top to reveal a white woman underneath. Unilever apologized and dropped the ad.

Dove found a defender in Brad Jakeman, the outgoing PepsiCo executive who faced his own social-media thrashing in April over an ad featuring Kendall Jenner. Speaking at the Ad Age Next conference earlier this month, Jakeman cited Dove’s years of doing things to promote positive self-images for women.

“Somebody extracts just a few seconds out of a much longer piece of content, and suddenly the world is prepared to believe, ‘Ah ha! Now we have a penetrating insight into the darker soul of Dove.’ That is terrible that we live in a society that does that,” he said.

13907: Delayed WTF 37—Certifiable BS.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Advertising Age reported 72andSunny and VML became the first White advertising agencies to receive certification from The 3% Conference. Each shop doled out $25,000 for the honor, which likely removed quite a chunk from the agencies’ diversity budgets—although the loot really went toward diverted diversity and probably qualifies as a tax-deductible donation. Yet why did 72andSunny and VML pay to be certified? Wouldn’t it have been cheaper—and more legitimate—to openly publicize hiring and retention figures? After all, 72andSunny allegedly hopes everyone will “steal” its oh-so-progressive playbook on diversity. Please spare others the need to engage in theft by simply being honest. Hey, it’s free.

72andSunny, VML Become the First Agencies Certified by 3% Movement

By Lindsay Stein

Talent has no gender, the expression goes. And now the 3% Movement is making agencies put their money where their, well, talent is. MDC Partners’ 72andSunny and WPP’s VML are the first agencies to become “certified” by the equality advocacy group for creating inclusive cultures in which both men and women can thrive.

The 3% Movement—not to be confused with 3 Percenters—announced the results of its inaugural certification program at its sixth annual conference in New York this week. Upon the for-profit organization’s founding, only 3 percent of U.S. creative directors were women. That figure is now up to 11 percent.

But the 3% certification goes beyond changing the ratio of female creative directors in the U.S. and stretches into all areas of gender equality and inclusion, say organizers. A “handful of agencies” went through the first process, says Lisen Stromberg, chief operating officer of 3%, declining to discuss any other than 72andSunny and VML.

Agencies pay $25,000 for the privilege of becoming 3% certified, but Stromberg makes the case that it’s good for business. Almost every RFP recently, she says, asks about an agency’s commitment to diversity and gender, so this provides an “automatic chance to stand out among peers.”

She says it also will help in attracting new talent and retaining current employees.

“It’s a pretty vulnerable experience opening up the company to a third party, but we believe that to achieve the progress that we want and to be leaders in the industry on this issue, it was a leap we had to make,” says 72andSunny Global CEO Matt Jarvis.

The process takes at least a month, but can take longer depending on access to information and what benchmarks need to be changed in order to achieve the certified status. For example, at the start of the program, VML’s maternity leave was not up to 3%’s standard of at least 12 weeks off. Following the assessment, the shop quickly changed its policy.

“We went into this process knowing we weren’t perfect and eager to learn how we could become better. The findings of 3% are inspiring us to drive continuous improvement of our culture and policies,” says VML Global CEO Jon Cook. “One example of how we were willing to evolve our culture and environment of inclusion was by improving our maternity benefits.”

He adds that the change was a direct result of the feedback and analysis the agency received from the study.

In order to achieve a certified status, agencies have to meet 3%’s proprietary “FORE” standards: Female leadership; opportunity for advancement; respectful depictions in work; and equality of work, wage and policies. The 3% benchmarks and best practices are based on the organization’s own research and industry surveys.

“This isn’t about getting a slapped sticker—this is about understanding your best practices, what your employees are saying you’re doing incredibly well and where you have room for improvement,” says Stromberg.

Gary Stolkin, global CEO of The Talent Business, says it’s fortunate that “an increasing number of agency leaders understand that diversity really does fuel creativity and innovation, driving competitive advantage and commercial success.”

“The 3% Conference, now The 3% Movement, can take much of the credit for providing the platform and making the arguments that have started to shift attitudes and affect cultural change. In many respects they’re well placed to advise agencies on tackling this change,” he adds. “However, there are potential perceptual issues around selling both consultancy and certification. It would be a huge shame if The 3% Movement’s campaigning position was weakened as a result of a commercial interest in a certification revenue stream.”

Kat Gordon, founder of The 3% Movement, says the program is “really rigorous” in that it goes beyond looking at statistics of female prevalence in leadership at the agencies. The 3% certification team goes into participating agencies’ offices and surveys all employees and looks at whether or not the creative itself and its awards entries are gender equal. It also examines the shops’ social media and public presence and checks if women are involved in new business pitches.

If an agency is close to being certified but hasn’t met all the requirements, Stromberg says 3% gives it a “pending pass” until they make improvements. For those agencies that are still very far off, 3% will consult with them and help them figure out what they need to do. Then, within a year, the program can reassess for a “nominal additional cost,” adds Stromberg.

The 3% certification program is inviting more agencies to participate in 2018.

“The more data we have access to, the more rich and informative or benchmarking becomes,” says Gordon, adding that she hopes hundreds of agencies participate.

Monday, November 27, 2017

13906: Culturally Clueless Coffee.

A MultiCultClassics visitor pointed to another example of cultural cluelessness from a White advertising agency that might inspire Colorado coffee drinkers to choose Starbucks for its 2015 progressive promotion on diversity. The trouble started brewing when ink! Coffee displayed the sign depicted above, which quickly ignited a viral protest on the Web, with plans for a live protest at the coffee place. Turns out the responsible advertising agency—Cultivator Advertising & Design—has mostly cream in its coffee, as shown by the self-promotional images below. How appropriate that the shop emulated Mad Men. And the elf scene now looks like the crew is wearing dunce caps.

Agency behind gentrification sign: Our ad was ‘callous, naive and uninformed’

By Oscar Contreras

DENVER – The advertisement agency responsible for creating a coffee shop board sign that roused the ire of Five Points residents after a joke about gentrification turned sour admits that in hindsight, they made a mistake.

“Our campaign was callous, naive and uninformed to the true character of the neighborhood and to those who have long called it home,” a social media manager for Cultivator Advertising & Design, Inc., wrote on Facebook during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The company apologized not only to Five Points residents for the now-viral ink! Coffee sandwich board sign which read it was “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014,” but also to neighbors living in RiNo and Curtis Park.

The ad agency added they wanted to “offer a cynical perspective on the rapid development” that neighborhoods like RiNo are currently undergoing.

“What we quickly and painfully realized, however, is that we uncovered an enormous blind spot on the true meaning of gentrification and its most legitimate and honest interpretation,” the online post stated.

The latest round of apologies still did nothing to quell the disbelief from people on social media, who mocked the company for hiring “precious white dudes in Warby Parker glasses” and who suggested the agency speak with people of color, who have been the most affected by gentrification in the area.

The outrage over the ad has been such that a day after photos of the sign spread through social media, residents in the area woke up to find the coffee shop had been vandalized with the words “WHITE COFEE” in all-black caps.

“When our advertising firm presented this campaign to us, I interpreted it as taking pride in being part of a dynamic, evolving community that is inclusive of people of all races, ethnicities, religions and gender identities,” said ink! Coffee founder Keith Herbert on the company’s Facebook page. “I recognize now that we had a blind spot to other legitimate interpretations.”

To add to ink! Coffee’s troubles, nearly 600 people have shown interest in participating in a protest to be held outside the location on 29th and Larimer on Saturday at 1 p.m.

13905: Hairy Truth Revealed…?

Campaign spotlighted a game—rooted in hair-related issues experienced by Black women—created by Wieden+Kennedy Art Director Momo Pixel. The article presented an amazing exposé worth noting. According to Campaign, Pixel and one production department worker make up the only Black women “amongst W+K’s 600-plus employees.” Hopefully, the reporter wasn’t thorough in checking the facts for the story. (Note: the reference was quietly updated by Campaign, revising the original sentence that appears below—bolded by MultiCultClassics—to now state that W+K’s creative department is 19% multicultural.) Because if it’s true that the White advertising agency has just two Black women on staff, that’s fucked up beyond belief. Where are Kat Gordon and Cindy Gallop when you need them? Dan Wieden should have his ADCOLOR® trophy revoked. Hell, W+K has a long way to go before receiving certification from The 3% Conference. It’s a truly hair-raising revelation.

Tired of being touched, a Wieden+Kennedy AD creates a game about black hair

By Zoë Beery

Momo Pixel’s latest project blew up online. If other agencies want the same, she said, they need real diversity.

Wieden+Kennedy art director Momo Pixel spends a lot of her time in Portland warding off white women who try to touch her hair. After a conversation with a coworker who was baffled by the phenomenon, she decided to make a game about it.

Nine months later, she had Hair Nah, an 8-bit-style video game where players try to help a black women travel to three different destinations while continuously swatting away pale hands reaching for her hair. Pixel tweeted out a link to her game last Wednesday. Within a day, it had gone viral.

“PR was trying to figure out how to launch it, and I told them, ‘Literally, I’m just gonna make a status and it’s gonna go viral,’” Pixel told Campaign US. “And the game went viral. I told you it was dope, is it not dope? It is the dopest.”

Dope to the tune of over 25,000 retweets and 105,000 game plays, with 16 percent of users (and counting) returning to play more than once. Dope to the tune of widespread earned media, from CNN to Buzzfeed to Fast Company, not to mention international publications in other languages. “Black Twitter is the reason a lot of things go viral, and I knew [the game] would go viral because I’m a black woman, this is an issue I face. And what I go through, others like me go through,” said Pixel.

The art director has been with Wieden since last year, arriving as a copywriter before transitioning to creative this March. She’s been a pixel artist since 2011, crafting physical objects that mimic the look of 1980s-era graphics. This was an opportunity to further develop her self-taught digital pixel art skills, while also trying out game design for the first time.

She took particular inspiration from Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage, a 2016 title riffing on Leonardo DiCaprio’s lack of an Oscar, which she said showed her the value of simplicity and humor in getting a message across. There was never a question of whether this was the right medium for communicating her experiences, she said. “Play is one of the first places you learn things as a child, and that doesn’t go away,” she said. “As adults, people still like the escapism of games, so it was a no-brainer for me.”

This is not the first time W+K has hosted a discussion about black hair. Since this spring the agency has run On She Goes, a travel site by and for women of color, whose most-shared post is also about the frequency with which black female travelers have to defend themselves from hair-grabbers. The platform is part of an ongoing effort at the agency, of which Hair Nah is a part, to experiment with audience development through employee passion projects. In the last year, they’ve also released a politically-tinged food truck, an empathy robot, and a book commenting on America’s gun violence crisis.

The small team that created Hair Nah included six other designers, animators and developers. But Pixel was the only black woman on the team, because the other black woman amongst W+K’s 600-plus employees is in the production department. This mismatch, between her company’s commitment to supporting diversity and its lack of diverse employees, is something Pixel hopes the game will help to change. “I just made a viral game, and I think more things like that would happen if more people of color were employed,” she said. “Advertising needs to get its shit together, because it’s missing out on money [by] going the traditional route of hiring from schools where people like me don’t be.” (Pixel is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design.)

She hopes the game will also attract more creatives of color to the industry. W+K talks frequently of its commitment to diversity, and by supporting this vision, said Pixel, the agency has proven itself a place that such talent can thrive.

“This is the blackest thing to happen to this place,” she said. “They just let a black girl put out a game about white women touching black girls’ hair. That’s a really black thing to do.”

Thursday, November 23, 2017

13901: Thanksgiving Memories.

Gee, why didn’t Getty Images use the image depicted above for its “Elevate Your Work With Powerful Images” campaign?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

13900: Holidays Are Hammer Time.

Looks like MC Hammer will be ringing in the residuals as Command Brand reruns its holiday campaign—presenting a stocking full of contrived references to Hammer lyrics!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

13898: Playing Games By Playbook.

MediaPost Agency Daily reported 72andSunny is making the most of “The 72andSunny Playbook”—which now looks a lot like the same playbook used by just about every White advertising agency feigning a commitment to diversity. First, the shop is upgrading 72U, the minority internship program that 72andSunny insists is not a minority internship program. Okay, but it’s based on the same old thinking that non-Whites require special education to succeed in the business—unless they’re seeking roles in reception, security, janitorial maintenance or the mailroom. Don’t expect 72andSunny to enlist Derek Walker as a 72U instructor. However, 72andSunny is delegating diversity by bringing in a minority to oversee the patronizing activities. Recruiting former diversity director of The One Club, Tracey Smith, allows 72andSunny to check off the minority and gender boxes of their inclusion quota, executing a diversity double whammy! Gee, it seems as if the only senior-level minorities being courted in adland these days are Chief Diversity Officers. Except at Deutsch. Whatever. In the end, White advertising agencies continue to play the same old games, filling their trophy cases with ADCOLOR® awards, Glass Lions and 3% Conference Certifications—yet never filling their offices with U.S. minorities.

72andSunny Upgrades Residency Program

By Larissa Faw

72andSunny is revamping its residency program 72U to better align with its global mission to expand and diversify its potential participants.

“We want 72U to be a platform that delivers on our company’s purpose, and benefits culture, knowing that it will also benefit our company and our industry at large,” says John Boiler, founder /creative co-chair, 72andSunny. “We pride ourselves on being builders of opportunities, and believe that a wider, more diverse creative industry starts with access.”

This change follows the appointment of Tracey Smith to head the unit as director. She joins 72U from The One Club, where she was director of diversity. In her new role, she will help the creative residency source and develop fresh new talent that might not otherwise have access to creative careers.

72U will host three 12-week sessions a year; two sessions will be in-house at 72andSunny Los Angeles, while the third session will take place off-site, in a city, either domestically or internationally.

The program also includes mentoring, real-world experience and a speaker series.

As a creative residency located inside 72andSunny’s offices, 72U will invite eight to 10 participants from a variety of backgrounds and introduce them to careers in the creative industry.

The deadline to apply is November 28. Applications are available at

Sunday, November 19, 2017

13897: Recruiter’s Big Goose Egg.

Advertising Age seems to be copying Digiday with a series titled, “Confessions of an Advertising Recruiter,” authored by Global Recruiters Sarasota President Tony Stanol. In the latest installment—“Sucking the Life out of the Golden Geese”—Stanol combined common knowledge with uncommonly dull writing to demonstrate the uselessness and cluelessness of recruiters. Hell, Stanol admitted he actively worked in the industry “in the olden days,” which helps invalidate his credibility. If Stanol is typical of most recruiters, he’s as responsible for the state of affairs in adland as the leaders he’s seeking to advise. That is, recruiters perpetuate the workplace dilemmas by recycling the same White people throughout the system. The article illustration (depicted above), appropriately enough, features White geese. And idiots like Stanol inspire readers to reach for Grey Goose.

Confessions of an Advertising Recruiter: Sucking the Life out of the Golden Geese

By Tony Stanol

I recently completed an audit of key issues facing several dozen senior agency leaders. These conversations inevitably turn to talent in the ad industry, you know—those valuable assets that go down in the elevator every night.

One CEO suggested I would do the ad biz a great service by shining the spotlight on a disturbing observation I’ve had for some time: namely, the industry is sucking the life out of its employees.

Top talent is, unfortunately, being squeezed out of advertising by the increasing pressures on the business. The three main symptoms are: an overloaded workforce; an exodus to other industries; and the cry for better work-life balance.

Overloaded workforce

A watershed event hit our industry in 2008. The Great Recession resulted in budgets being slashed, agency positions eliminated and severe belt-tightening. Advertising employment hit the lowest point in decades. This created a snowball effect.

Cost-cutting hit publicly traded holding companies particularly hard because they answer to financial analysts.

At the same time, procurement departments became more involved in agency service fee negotiations. One egregious example of a recent procurement exercise was a “reverse auction.” This involves agencies racing to the bottom of the cost structure competing against each other in real-time, online!

New digital tools suddenly enabled more precise and timely marketing communications feedback. This created more of an ROI world with clients asking, What have you done for me lately, agency? In the olden days, there were no precise measures of sales impact from advertising. When we created a new Oreo commercial, if it copy-tested well, we aired it.

Morale seems to be an all-time low. The big squeeze resulted in being asked to do more with less, having fewer people with an increasingly heavier workloads. When I worked on the Colgate account at Ted Bates (yes, that long ago), I was an AE with an AAE below, and I reported to a dedicated Management Supervisor and to a partially allocated SVP, all on an account billing less than $6 million! Not today, friends.

Exodus to other industries

Advertising has always been a semi-glamorous business that attracts many talented people. But today, advertising seems to be attracting fewer college grads, who are hired instead by Wall Street, high-flying tech firms or even the client side.

With the Dow at all-time highs, it’s understandable that Wall Street will attract more than its fair share. One agency exec said he recently spoke to a room full of new recruits, 90% of whom were women. When he asked his HR chief where all the men were, she said they were headed to Wall Street.

There is a certain allure to tech firms, as well—especially by those candidates who spend so much time with their noses in social media. However, many people are soon disillusioned when they’re hired by Facebook, only to find themselves in a room with 80 other engineers, each trying improve the utility of a single button. Others have said that, from the inside, Google is just a glorified Yellow Pages.

As for defections to the client side, where the grass is always greener, check out my first column in this series.

Work-life balance

Millennials and Gen Xers have taken up the cry for better work-life balance, a term not formerly in the lexicon of this Boomer.

One candidate some years ago quit her hectic job because she was simply fried. She said she was taking a “radical sabbatical” away from the rat race, and would get another job before she ran out of money. I ended up placing her in an agency with an enlightened CEO who afforded her the work-life balance she craved. She stayed several years.

Some agencies are coming around to more flexible hours, unlimited PTO, more functional training, as well as encouraging continued education and working from home. But not many.

Time to refocus on the people, people. Or else you’ll have empty elevators at night.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

13896: Rewriting Reality.

Advertising Age published diverted diversity droning from The Female Quotient CEO and Founder Shelley Zalis, who managed to type roughly 900 words on diversity without a single mention of race and ethnicity in the workforce (she only referenced race once, when discussing casting for ad campaigns). Zalis’ opening line underscores her primary focus on promoting White women: “When it comes to diversity in marketing, we’ve come a long way—but we still have a long way to go.” No, when it comes to diverted diversity, Madison Avenue has come a long way. But for true diversity, the advertising industry has gone a long way backwards. Racial and ethnic representation is downright Googlesque—after 60+ years of openly recognizing the issue—and Black representation has actually declined. Zalis’ second sentence explains the phenomenon: “Marketing has a unique role to play in rewriting the rules on diversity in business.” Yes, adland has managed to rewrite the rules on diversity in business—by rewriting diversity to mean gender equality first and foremost.

Diversity and Inclusion: Rewriting the Rules for Marketing

By Shelley Zalis, CEO and Founder, The Female Quotient

When it comes to diversity in marketing, we’ve come a long way—but we still have a long way to go. Marketing has a unique role to play in rewriting the rules on diversity in business.

Numerous studies show that diverse teams deliver superior results. For example, recent research found that inclusive teams make more effective business decisions up to 87% of the time. Even more compelling, Deloitte’s most recent Human Capital Trends report found that companies with inclusive talent practices can generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors.

Clearly, diverse teams operating in inclusive cultures can offer ideas and viewpoints that help drive innovation and effectiveness for the business. This is especially true in marketing, where a team that reflects the incredible diversity in the marketplace is much more likely to develop messaging and advertising that resonates. Yet, even with these clear ties to results, corporate America’s approach to diversity hasn’t resulted in dramatic advancements.

For marketing organizations—and businesses in general—diversity is important, but its benefits may not be realized without an inclusive culture.

Sadly, there’s no magic wand to wave. But every little step in the right direction gets us closer to where we want to be (and is 100% better than nothing). Here are some things marketing can do to promote diversity at every level:

Hire diversity of thinking.

Throughout the hiring process, it’s worth taking time to remind decision-makers about the business value of diversity and encourage them to embrace various backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, rather than gravitating to people who are similar to themselves, which is a natural human tendency. After all, a diverse team can be more innovative and effective. To reach diverse pools of talent, it may also be helpful to broaden your recruiting sources so that you are meeting the talent you need where they already are.

Tackle the “messy middle.”

When striving to improve an organization’s diversity, hiring is literally just the beginning. For many organizations, entry-level representation is often reflective of the available talent pool. Consider gender as an example. Research shows that, on average, entry-level representation is roughly 50% women compared to 19% women in the C-suite. This is especially true in marketing, where women are often a large proportion of the workforce at lower rungs of the ladder but a much smaller proportion at higher levels.

As with hiring, decision-makers should not only make a conscious effort to embrace diversity, but also model inclusive leadership behaviors. An organization’s culture is greatly shaped by the people at the top. We need to reimagine workplace culture to retain our best talent.

While education to build awareness can be helpful, it isn’t enough. Organizations now have the ability to make structural changes and implement transparent, data-driven solutions to make better decisions that lead to more diversity and, thus, better business outcomes, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends.

Vote with marketing dollars.

Marketing is uniquely positioned to shape how people think and should use that position to create positive change. It’s not just about making sure ad campaigns feature different races, genders and ages; it’s about making sure that different kinds of people are portrayed in a fair, accurate and realistic way—instead of cynically or lazily relying on age-old stereotypes that prey on and reinforce society’s existing biases.

In June 2016, my company, The Female Quotient, partnered with the Association of National Advertisers and its Alliance for Family Entertainment to launch #SeeHer, an initiative to help achieve a more accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and the media. So far, more than 1,000 brands, with $40 billion of U.S. ad spend, have joined and signed up to use the Gender Equality Measure to assess and eliminate bias in their advertising. And more companies are signing up every day.

A way to take this a step further is to include explicit diversity requirements in RFPs and agency partners. To win work, marketers can look for tangible evidence that their agency is committed to hiring and developing a diverse workforce and fostering an inclusive culture. Not only is that likely to land a better result, it begins to set a standard of expectation beyond your organization.

The ultimate goal: Driving empathy, not sympathy

At the end of the day, good feelings and supportive words are nice, but to really make a difference, decision-makers should bring the rational decision of supporting diversity back to the human level through an inclusive culture. Supporting a culture of empathy is what we’re really driving at—so that we can understand people and different ways of thinking and truly value those for the insight they bring. When that happens, it is likely that inequality will begin to shrink and strength will begin to build as those numbers change throughout the ranks. After all, one person at the top of an organization has power, but a group of committed leaders has impact.

This could be the start of a major positive trend, and marketing is at the heart of the action. To change how people behave, we need to change how they think. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what marketing is all about?

Shelley Zalis is CEO and founder of The Female Quotient. Launched in 2013, The Female Quotient emphasizes collaboration and mentorship to activate change in advancing gender equality in the workplace. It leads The Girls’ Lounge, a destination at conferences, companies and college campuses where women connect, collaborate and activate change together. The Girls’ Lounge has become the largest community of corporate women and female entrepreneurs transforming workplace culture. Deloitte Digital and The Female Quotient have joined forces to deliver joint programming that continues to promote equality and inclusion in the workplace, and the shared belief that they aren’t a social imperative—they’re a business imperative.

Friday, November 17, 2017

13895: Scared Straight Is Scary.

It’s easy to imagine how the idiots responsible for “Scared Straight Out of Advertising” thought they had a brilliant idea, as hacks rarely realize they are hacks. But this video is heinous on so many levels, from the global stereotyping to the clichéd script to the substandard production values. The exclusive millennials casting displays a true ignorance of the audience too. In the end, the video actually succeeds in positioning the advertising industry as a place to avoid.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

13894: Google Doodle Dawdle.

Today’s Google Doodle features renowned Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, celebrating the late artist on what would have been his 87th birthday. Wonder what Achebe might think about the colonialistic conditions at Google…

13893: Moronic Millennial Muttering.

The latest bellyache in the Digiday “Confession Series” comes from an “Agency Millennial” who declared, “Nobody wants to help each other.” Boo-hoo. Actually, the young executive instantly invalidated any potential credibility with his/her opening line: “I work at a digital agency.” Sorry, but toiling at a digital agency is a few rungs below serving as a Starbucks barista.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

13892: Remaking Exclusivity.

Adweek published a report titled, “Agencies Are Remaking Themselves to Satisfy Client Demands”—detailing how “up-and-coming shops” are creating fresh business models. The story makes no mention of diversity, despite the alleged client demands for inclusion at White advertising agencies. Plus, the accompanying illustration (depicted above) features no clear diversity. Brilliant.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

13891: Side Effects Of Racism.

NPR published a report titled, “Scientists Start To Tease Out The Subtler Ways Racism Hurts Health.” The researchers should consider using the advertising industry as a rich source for data.

Monday, November 13, 2017

13890: Comeuppance Not Coming.

Advertising Age published diverted diversity delirium from Texas Christian University Professor and Chair of Strategic Communication Jacqueline Lambiase, who wondered why the advertising industry is not experiencing a Sexual Harassers Exposure and Expulsion like what’s currently happening in Hollywood. Oddly enough, Lambiase inadvertently answered her own question. For starters, the alleged victims are reluctant to call out the perpetrators by name. Anyone who wants to see the potential rewards of harassment whistleblowing need only view the trials and tribulations of JWT Chief Communications Officer Erin Johnson for clarity. Indeed, when Lambiase shared her personal experiences, detailing a confrontation with an advertising agency that allegedly harassed student interns under Lambiase’s charge, the professor opted not to openly identify the culprits. While Lambiase is “asking that you raise your voice” to put an end to sexual harassment, she fails to do so herself—even though she’s technically an outsider with less to lose than women working in the field.

Madison Avenue will probably avoid publicly addressing sexual harassment in the same way that the industry avoids addressing its diversity problems. Hell, the discrimination directed at people of color far exceeds the harassment aimed at women—and the industry has managed to deny it for over 60 years. Before spotlighting adland’s sexual harassers, the exposé should begin by tagging the individuals consciously and unconsciously obstructing diversity. This group would be comprised of White men and White women, outnumbering the harassment offenders by a very wide margin. Lambiase should confront the diversity resistors and pose her “Where were you?” question, requesting an explanation for executing hiring practices that extend exclusivity, despite having full awareness of the need and obligation to diversify. She could see how the ruling majority has been silent and complicit in the prevention of progress. And it would ultimately reveal that the sexual harassment dilemma pales in comparison.

Where Is Advertising’s Comeuppance on Sexual Harassment?

By Jacqueline Lambiase


For the ad industry, near silence has followed weeks of sensational revelations about Hollywood’s long-standing sexual harassment and rape culture.

While those Hollywood allegations have filled this publication’s pages, a short roll call of of advertising industry giants has not occurred. This is despite Cindy Gallop’s call for action in mid-October for an industry reckoning.

But what exactly does this silence represent? Does it mean ad agencies and others in the business are quietly attending to these issues and purging their ranks of perpetrators?

That interpretation is too good to be true.

What if the ad business isn’t going to have visible actions and symbolic reactions to rid itself of sexual harassers still in its ranks? Then it must gain more visibility in questioning itself and its historical treatment of women to build a better future for all practitioners.

I know sexual harassment exists because this has been the testimony of some of my students. Sexism and harassment can be especially acute for female interns.

A few years ago, my campus refused to carry job postings from a local agency after women reported they had been sexually harassed and used as sex objects at agency events. With two other employees on my campus, I confronted the agency leadership.

When agency principals tried to sidestep their own responsibility, saying the main perpetrator was no longer an employee, I asked them this question: “Where were you?” The two men representing the agency had no good answers. They had attended the sexualized events and were aware of the harassment. But they had been silent, complicit.

One year ago, we asked them to write a report about how conditions at their agency had changed. We are still waiting on that report.

Other negative behaviors often accompany harassment at agencies like this one, according to our students. This includes alcohol consumption and underage drinking on the premises during business hours, and insane working hours for interns.

It is my job to speak up on behalf of young professionals, both women and men, and to ask these questions of the industry now: Where are the voices of those who have been sexually harassed in the ad business? Who should be driven from this industry? Why the silence?

In addition to coverage of Gallop’s call to action, at least a few voices have sounded off on the prevalence of sexual harassment in these pages.

In August 2016, Ad Age published results from a 4A’s study, showing that “half of women in advertising have experienced sexual harassment at least once.” The same study found that one-third of the women respondents believed they had not received promotions or the best projects at work because of discrimination.

Earlier that same year, 4A’s President Nancy Hill urged the industry both to acknowledge its problems and to create healthier working cultures within it.

Working from another vantage point, many academic scholars, including myself, have conducted research on sexist images produced by the ad industry. These images fit the narratives now coming from Hollywood women: women as sex objects and decorations; men as powerful and violent.

These images may also serve as mirrors for some in the ad industry itself.

As a professional woman who has encountered sexism and sexual harassment in my own working life, and who has observed it across nearly three decades of research, I will not be silent.

By standing up for my students, I’ve tackled this issue recently in my own community. That is where I have power to speak truth, to confront, to refuse to do business with those who are complicit in harassment, and to counsel young women who have experienced it.

Countless surveys of women, workplace policies, and gender-equality and gender-equity initiatives have not made enough difference. This national moment should not be dismissed as disconnected from our industry.

I’m asking that you raise your voice, in your own large or small professional spaces. That’s where you have power to identify and stop harassers and harassment. It’s the only way that this will ever end.

Jacqueline Lambiase, Ph.D., is professor and chair of strategic communication at Texas Christian University. With Tom Reichert, she has edited and authored two books on the use of sexuality in advertising.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

13889: Mumm Dumb.

Not sure why anyone thought this Mumm Champagne commercial featuring Usain Bolt would be a good idea. Maybe Bolt viewed it as an audition of sorts for Dancing With The Stars.