Wednesday, January 31, 2018

13998: Investigating Droga5.

Advertising Age and Adweek reported Droga5 Chief Creative Officer Ted Royer was placed on leave, and the White advertising agency even hired an outside firm to investigate the man. However, neither publication could provide any reasons behind the move—or what the independent firm is investigating. Surely an agency so committed to diversity and socially progressive couldn’t possibly have a villain in its executive ranks. The photograph accompanying the Ad Age story shows Royer at an ADCOLOR® event. Hey, Royer did praise the benefits of working abroad, which allegedly made him a better husband, father and friend. So maybe he’ll ultimately surface in Spain, collaborating with Gustavo Martinez.

Droga5 Puts Chief Creative Officer Ted Royer on Leave

By Lindsay Stein

Droga5 has placed Chief Creative Officer Ted Royer on leave and hired an outside firm to handle an internal investigation in the shop’s HR processes, a spokeswoman from the independent agency confirmed.

The spokeswoman declined to disclose further details about the nature of Royer’s leave or the investigation. Royer was not immediately available for comment about his leave of absence.

Last week, Droga held meetings with different departments of the agency to discuss HR matters.

Earlier today, Droga CEO Sarah Thompson sent an email to employees that said: “As a follow up to the departmental meetings I recently held and further Q&A sessions, we want to assure you all that we have been working with an outside independent firm that we have engaged to assist us with our investigation.”

“And again, if anyone has any concerns or complaints we encourage you to bring these to the attention of your manager or HR. We are also in the process of engaging an outside resource to whom you can also voice your concerns,” the note adds.

Royer, who has been an Ad Age’s Creativity 50 honoree multiple times, has been with Droga5 since the agency was founded in 2006. In 2013, he was promoted from executive creative director to chief creative officer.

13997: The Martin Agency Moves On.

Adweek reported The Martin Agency promoted a White woman to replace ex-CCO Joe Alexander, a White man who was dumped for allegedly sexually harassing women of all races and ethnicities. The promotion was executed by a White woman who was hired as CEO in December 2017 to replace the White man who had served as CEO for roughly five years. The newly promoted CCO is relatively new to The Martin Agency, having joined the shop about six months ago. Hence, the Richmond-based White advertising agency has fresh White leadership—and White female chiefs to boot.

Look for GEICO to soon introduce a female gecko and cavewoman.

The Martin Agency Promotes Karen Costello to CCO in the Wake of Joe Alexander’s Scandalous Departure

Agency veteran formerly led the Mondelēz business

By Patrick Coffee

The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., has promoted executive creative director Karen Costello to chief creative officer, a role left unfilled since her predecessor Joe Alexander departed last December amid an investigation into claims of sexual harassment.

Costello joined Martin less than six months ago as executive creative director leading creative on the entire Mondelēz portfolio, which includes such brands as Oreo, Ritz and Chips Ahoy. After Alexander’s purported firing, she and fellow ecd Jerry Hoak were promoted to interim lead creative roles. She will now lead the entire creative department while Hoak retains the elevated role of ecd and managing partner.

The news comes approximately six weeks after The Martin Agency hired former executive and MullenLowe veteran Kristen Cavallo to replace outgoing CEO Matt Williams.

“To have the opportunity to lead and work alongside some of the smartest, most talented and hugest-hearted humans in this industry is a privilege and an honor,” said Costello. “Creating positive impact and change has also always been a huge part of what drives me so the added opportunity to work alongside a change agent like Kristen Cavallo, who shares that drive, just makes me even more excited to get to work.”

Cavallo added, “What do Christiane Amanpour, Hoda Kotb, Robin Wright, Tina Smith, Bozoma Saint John and Karen Costello have in common? They are supremely talented women in their fields, who were there all along, ready to lead.”

Prior to joining the agency last September, Costello spent nearly 20 years with Deutsch L.A., where she served as executive creative director and worked on accounts including Target, Expedia and Zillow. She was named to the Adweek Creative 100 in 2016 and appeared on Business Insider’s 30 Most Creative Women in Advertising list the same year.

On Dec. 1, The Martin Agency confirmed that Joe Alexander had left the company abruptly after 26 years. A subsequent Adweek investigation found that multiple women had accused him of sexual harassment and other improper behavior during his tenure and that the agency reached a monetary settlement with one former staff member in 2013. A later report in The Wall Street Journal identified an additional employee who accused Alexander of assaulting her on a trip to France in the early 1990s. Alexander continues to deny these allegations as well as those reported by Adweek.

It was a case that rocked the advertising industry, and Cavallo referenced the fallout in her statement regarding Costello’s promotion. “This isn’t overcorrection or an optics play,” she said. “This is earned. This is preparation. This is opportunity, grabbed. I’m so excited for what’s ahead, I can’t stop grinning.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

13996: CSI: IPG.

The Wall Street Journal reported on another IPG sex scandal, this one involving a former associate director at Initiative who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a former Dr Pepper client. The ex-IPG employee claims she faced retaliation after reporting the incident. Maybe IPG officials believed the Dr Pepper client was simply playing doctor. Hey, the soft drink’s current tagline reads, “The One You Crave.” Whatever. Surely the former associate director can find comfort in realizing diversity and inclusion are in the IPG DNA—which will complement any ex-client DNA she might have gathered.

Monday, January 29, 2018

13995: Researching Common Knowledge.

Campaign published a divertsity dissertation dubbed, “Advertising’s empathy deficit knocks working mothers”—based on research conducted as part of a student’s MA in advertising at the UAL: London College of Communication. According to Campaign, the female student “said as a young woman going into the industry this culture of discrimination is not something she believes any woman should ever have to face. ‘I wanted to shine a light on the lack of working mothers in advertising.’” Um, that’s not exactly an area shrouded in secrecy and darkness. Heaven forbid the student might have probed to discover BAME representation has actually declined at the C-suite level. The “culture of discrimination” that women face in adland has never come close to the prejudice aimed at people of color—what’s more, White women in the field have participated in anti-BAME scheming. Oh, and the photo accompanying the Campaign story (depicted above) features a Black mom. How optimistic.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

13994: Invisible Men.

Adweek reported ColorComm launched Men of Color, a male companion to the organization for women of color in advertising. It’s a challenging venture, as senior-level Black and BAME representation is declining in the U.S. and U.K. advertising communities. Hell, Black women are scarce in the field too. The image accompanying the Adweek story, oddly enough, hypes Men of Color—yet shows a Black woman. Meanwhile, CaucasianComm continues to thrive and prosper.

ColorComm Launches Men of Color in Communications to Promote Diverse Leadership

MCC aims to provide resources and build a networking community

By Erik Oster

ColorComm, an organization for women of color in advertising, PR and communications industries that launched in 2011, is introducing a new group called Men of Color in Communications.

MCC aims to provide resources to men of color in advertising, PR and communications, promote the advancement of men of color in leadership roles in these industries and provide a formal setting for networking.

The group will launch on Jan. 26 at a luncheon event in Washington, D.C., where the Group CEO Art Collins will be the featured speaker.

MCC founder Lauren Wesley Wilson told Adweek that Collins was clearly a good choice—the event was nearly full within a few days of sending out invitations. Given the positive reception to MCC’s initial event, Wilson foresees similar rollouts in New York and Los Angeles in the near future.

“Men of color face very unique challenges in general, especially in this industry,” Wilson said. “The politics and the soft skills are often the part that sometimes keep men of color from leadership. There are men of color in leadership in agencies and the ad world, but it’s very few, so we want to tell the stories of the people who are working in this business, who are in leadership, who have reached the top and also inspire those who are on their way.”

ColorComm’s aspiration is for the group is to become a large community providing “a resource and access for talent and for growth in this industry.”

ColorComm itself has grown to a community of 40,000 women across PR, advertising and communications, from official members to those who have attended events or been involved with its content site.

“What’s frustrating is hearing that there’s not enough people in the industry or you don’t know where to find them,” Wilson said. “I push back and say here’s an organization of 40,000 people who you say you can’t find.”

Saturday, January 27, 2018

13993: Mindless Versus Mindful.

This Canadian campaign for a yoga studio lacks mindfulness and sensitivity—particularly in its negative stereotyping of veterans.

Friday, January 26, 2018

13992: Closing Remarks On CES.

Advertising Age drove the divertsity dirigible over CES 2018, delivering final dings and dents to the beleaguered event. Displaying disdain for the dearth of dames, Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher snapped, “I cannot believe we have to fucking do this, people.” Swisher appears to be a graduate of the Cindy Gallop school of public speaking.

Meanwhile, HP CMO Antonio Lucio pumped up the patronizing posturing by initially tweeting, “All men should boycott @CES if women are not invited to speak!” And if racial and ethnic minorities are not invited to speak, well, Lucio will worry about that some other time—preferably in the next century.

Ad Age reported how Lucio “challenged [HP’s White advertising agencies] by setting goals for the inclusion of women and minorities,” but he doesn’t think a similar approach is right for CES. “I don’t know whether quotas is the answer to this,” said Lucio. “Because I think that it should also start with what are the objectives of the conference?” Lucio suggested identifying the best people to actually deliver the conference message. “Add a filter that says, my god, if women are a key consumer, we at least have some level of representation.” Okay, to be clear, Lucio allowed his White ad agencies to dictate their own terms for achieving divertsity, which is like permitting convicted felons to decide their own sentences. And when the exclusive shops failed to hit the racial and ethnic targets, Lucio essentially shrugged and vomited the standard excuses. Oh, and somebody tell Lucio that Blacks and Latinos are key consumers of technology too.

Lucio also allegedly spoke with CES organizers and declared, “I was very encouraged by their commitment to making sure that yes, diversity becomes one, not the, but one of the filters for selecting speakers in the conference. I’m actually very encouraged by their reaction and I hope by next year we have a conference that has some representations from amazing women.” This is essentially what Lucio communicated after charging his White advertising agencies to get onboard the White women’s bandwagon. And if CES 2019 features more minority waitstaff and janitors, mission accomplished.

“If it’s about the future of technology, how can you envision the future in which half the population isn’t represented at the leadership level?” wondered Sonos CMO Joy Howard. “That’s not a future we want to be a part of.” Of course, Howard—along with Lucio, Swisher and the other divertsity defenders—is completely cool envisioning the future of technology being void of colored people.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

13991: Black Is The New Black.

Adweek reported on a new study from Bold Culture—a multicultural communications agency launched by Streamlined—that presented the buying power of Black Americans. Sadly, the data appears to be common knowledge that has been commonly ignored for decades—or addressed with common crumbs.

Neglecting Minorities in Marketing Efforts Is a Major Branding Blunder, Says New Study

‘The Black Paper’ is the first in Bold Culture’s series of white papers

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

Black Americans are collectively expected to spend $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to Nielsen’s latest estimates, yet advertisers are still not marketing to diverse audiences. Bold Culture, the data-driven, multicultural communications agency that creative shop StreamLined recently launched is setting out to change that.

The first in a series of white papers, Bold Culture’s “The Black Paper” addresses industry issues like tone-deaf ads, cultural appropriation and the lineup of white, male faces at the helm of most agencies. The paper argues that these issues aren’t only socially problematic—they’re just not business savvy.

“In conducting research for ‘The Black Paper,’ we found a lot of fantastic data that had been buried in publications,” Bold Culture chief operating officer Biana Bakman told Adweek. She said the agency set out to “extract all those key insights” in a way that would be “digestible” for everyone, from C-suite executives to entry-level employees.

According to the latest census, there are 11.5 million black millennials in the U.S., accounting for 14 percent of the country’s total population in that age group. Bold Culture found that those consumers could be the most important demographic to target on social media. As an example, they pointed to the power of “Black Twitter,” which has led to viral campaigns and movements like #BlackLivesMatter.

The paper also reveals that 55 percent of black American millennials spend an hour or more on social media a day, with 29 percent spending more than three hours. Additionally, black consumers are 96 percent more likely than white consumers to be influenced by celebrity endorsements when making purchases.

These findings suggest that brands should consider partnering with black influencers. During a 2017 Golden Globes acceptance speech for winning best television series with his FX hit Atlanta, Adweek Young Influential Donald Glover gave a shoutout to rap group Migos and their song, “Bad & Bougie.” The report notes that, in the following days, the song skyrocketed up the music charts and eventually reached No. 1. Bold Culture concluded that this case is an example of “the potential power of influence,” adding that “marketing execs should take note.”

Still, brands like Pepsi and Dove have struggled to reach young black audiences. The former infamously used white reality TV star Kendall Jenner last year in an ad that appeared to make light of a Black Lives Matter protest, while the latter released a Facebook clip in October depicting a black woman who shed her skin-colored T-shirt to reveal a white woman.

According to Bold Culture, one way for agencies and brands to avoid missteps is to hire more diverse talent and ensure they’re part of the decision-making process. Observers have repeatedly made the same suggestion in recent years.

Darren Martin, founder and CEO of Bold Culture, told Adweek that his group works with brands and agencies to help them target multicultural consumers and retain diverse talent. The agency contributes to creative efforts—it has worked with brands like Netflix—while also providing educational tools related to diversity and inclusion like “The Black Paper.”

“To reach, resonate and retain is our approach to everything,” said Martin.

According to Martin, “The Black Paper” is just one of many reports Bold Culture has planned. A white paper on Latinx culture is next on his distribution list. Bakman added that Bold Culture hopes such reports serve as “jumping-off points for conversations” on key disparity issues.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

13990: WPPervert.

AgencySpy posted about the WPP decision to end its annual sponsorship of the Presidents Club Charity Dinner after the Financial Times reported the event featured male power players groping and sexually harassing the hostesses. The White holding company released a statement reading, “WPP has traditionally sponsored a table at the Presidents Club dinner to support its fundraising for children’s charities. Neither the company nor our attendees were aware of the alleged incidents until informed of them by the Financial Times. WPP takes these reports very seriously and, while we will continue to support relevant charities, in light of the allegations we are ending our association with the event.” Hey, why not—it’s more convenient for WPP employees to engage in such behavior at places like JWT anyway. Given the revelation spotlighted in the previous post, it’s clear that WPP represents perhaps the most perverse example of perversity of any single organisation.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

13989: When Harvey Met Marty.

AgencySpy published a post titled, “WPP Reportedly Preparing to Wash Its Hands of the Weinstein Company.” According to the blog, “WPP has been one of the Weinstein Company’s largest single investors since 2005.” This is not surprising at all, as the White holding company is no stranger to bad boy behavior in the workplace. WPP might represent the most obscene example of obscenity of any single organisation. Hell, WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell has experience with mistresses and $54 million divorce settlements.

Monday, January 22, 2018

13988: Bullshitter Calls Out Bullshit.

Campaign published a disturbing perspective from Grey London CEO Leo Rayman, who essentially admitted the IPA diversity survey is bullshit. “The IPA relies on honesty from agencies for its Diversity Study, but too many still insist on guessing their numbers, and some even willfully make them up to make themselves look better,” stated Rayman. “You can’t help but question the robustness of the survey, so let’s call it out.” Rayman insisted on the need for “anonymous, independently gathered figures” to record reality. Anonymous? Will White advertising agencies install hotlines to let staffers secretly reveal the truth? Rayman wrapped up by saying, “We have the tools, skills, energy and creative swagger to shift the dial. Let’s never celebrate marginal gains again. Let’s not hide behind a promise of long-term change. We’re in the business of impact, not excuses. And we are certainly bigger, better, and more straight-talking than that as an industry.” Um, there’s a reason why advertising executives consistently rank high among the least-trusted professionals.

Diversity gains in ad industry are too marginal and based on guesswork

We need anonymous, independently gathered, figures that give us a true picture of diversity, writes Grey London’s chief executive.

By Leo Rayman

So the IPA Diversity numbers are in, and there are some positive metrics. But the gains are too marginal—we are talking improvements of a mere fraction of a percentage point.

And let’s not forget that these tiny victories come on the heels of last year’s report, when there was an actual drop in numbers of female leaders and those from ethnic minorities. The IPA survey is a brilliant initiative and keeps us focused on the challenges ahead, but it is also a painful reminder of just how far we still have to go.

To get there, we need to change things up, and the best place to start is to be accurate with the data. If we really want to know the state of the industry, we need anonymous, independently gathered, figures that give us a true picture of diversity, and provide a realistic baseline from which to measure progress.

The IPA relies on honesty from agencies for its Diversity Study, but too many still insist on guessing their numbers, and some even willfully make them up to make themselves look better. You can’t help but question the robustness of the survey, so let’s call it out.

That’s not to say that agencies don’t genuinely want to improve the situation: the best have hard-working initiatives in place, and the IPA is taking its own steps towards building diversity. Inevitably, though, some strategies will be more successful than others, and it’s important to take a critical look at the different schemes and to be candid about what is working.

Saatchi & Saatchi is delivering the London Living Wage and have bit the bullet by raising all internship and entry-level salaries by £3,000. Engine’s “Better with Balance” is an incredibly robust, five-part initiative sharply focused on maintaining diversity all the way up to the top of the organisation. At Grey we have partnered with 19 other agencies to find the best ways to deliver the necessary scale of cultural change through the Diversity Taskforce.

Perhaps most significantly of all, MediaCom has convinced 12 agencies to share the same independent, anonymised, research methodology to create the most in-depth diversity deep dive our industry has seen. Next year, these agencies will know that the data that they contribute to the IPA survey is true.

But not every initiative is going to accelerate change, so we also have to be transparent about what’s not working.

Some agencies have introduced blind CV screening that doesn’t consider background or education, which we know is a fabulous demonstration to existing talent that you are an agency at which it doesn’t matter where you come from. But Grey has been doing this for more than five years, and we know that on its own this doesn’t do enough to shift the dial, because insufficient numbers of awesome kids from diverse backgrounds know we even exist.

While the principle of blind CVs is a good one, the recruitment process is definitely broken and antiquated. However, the top of the funnel is possibly even more warped – we’ve got to attack that and not just tickle the problem. Why would a smart creative kid on a sink estate know there are opportunities for them in the ad industry? And if they did, how do we make ourselves attractive to them?

We have the tools, skills, energy and creative swagger to shift the dial. Let’s never celebrate marginal gains again. Let’s not hide behind a promise of long-term change. We’re in the business of impact, not excuses. And we are certainly bigger, better, and more straight-talking than that as an industry.

Leo Rayman is chief executive of Grey London

Sunday, January 21, 2018

13987: Mother Of All Divertsity.

The 4As is offering divertsity drills to help women juggle motherhood and careers. Hey, maybe the trade organization will create a spin-off targeting minorities. If a person of color wants to succeed in advertising, he has to be bad mutha—shut your mouth!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

13986: There Goes The Neighborhood.

Adweek reported State Farm is consolidating its business with Omnicom. Like a not-so-good neighbor, State Farm is there—in an exclusive neighborhood.

State Farm Follows McDonald’s in Consolidating Its Ad Business With Omnicom

Company spent $726 million in 2016

By Patrick Coffee

State Farm is in the process of consolidating the majority of its marketing business with Omnicom, according to several parties with direct knowledge of the matter.

“State Farm works with many vendors to provide solutions to meet our customers’ needs,” said a company spokesperson regarding its agency roster. “Those relationships continue to evolve and are proprietary.”

Multiple individuals who spoke to Adweek regarding the business, however, agreed that State Farm would be transitioning to a new, Omnicom-focused approach with some notable exceptions involving agencies outside that organization.

The company, which is the United States’ largest insurance provider and one of its biggest advertisers, will at least partially follow the model set by McDonald’s, which awarded the lion’s share of its account to Omnicom in 2016 after a review that sparked debate over performance-based compensation requirements. The holding company then launched a dedicated agency called We Are Unlimited, and the client later shifted most of its regional marketing work to Zimmerman, another Omnicom agency.

At the time, holding company leaders positioned this development as the “agency of the future,” noting that We Are Unlimited included employees from Facebook, Google and the New York Times’ in-house content studio. DDB North America CEO Wendy Clark, who helped lead the McDonald’s pitch, also compared it to the “Flex” approach that allowed teams to collaborate across offices in that network.

Moving forward, DDB and OMD will retain their positions as lead creative and media agencies for the client. The former shop, which beat out FCB in a late 2015 brand refresh pitch, has a longstanding relationship with State Farm; chairman emeritus Keith Reinhard wrote the “Like a Good Neighbor” tagline in 1971 with Barry Manilow penning the jingle.

“We look forward to continuing to work with State Farm in 2018,” said a DDB spokesperson. “We are committed to advancing how we work collaboratively and creatively.” The representative declined to elaborate, and Wendy Clark herself did not respond to a related query. OMD deferred to the client for comment.

It is unclear at this time exactly which agencies will lose business as a result of this move. In addition to its smaller regional partners, State Farm currently works with several non-Omnicom shops including Translation, which has produced campaigns targeted at multicultural audiences; FCB, which retained the below-the-line portion of the business following the earlier review; and Weber Shandwick, which continues to serve as its PR agency of record.

An FCB spokesperson confirmed that the IPG shop remains on State Farm’s roster but declined to elaborate. A Translation representative deferred to the client for comment, but an agency insider told Adweek that Steve Stoute’s operation “will continue to be working with State Farm in 2018, and we are currently working through the details.” Weber Shandwick has not responded to a request for comment.

Sources at multiple agencies expressed uncertainty regarding the status of their long-term relationships with the client.

State Farm spent approximately $726 million on domestic paid media in 2016 and just over $300 million during the first half of 2017, according to Kantar Media. Its most recent campaign was a multiplatform collaboration with NBC involving that network’s hit prime time drama “This Is Us.”

Friday, January 19, 2018

13985: This Is Badland 2018.

This is adland 2018”—Campaign’s lengthy examination of IPA’s annual diversity survey—looks a lot like adland 1918. For starters, BAME are MIA, especially at the C-suite level. IPA President and CHI & Partners CEO and Partner Sarah Golding remarked, “So, how are we looking? At first glance, the immediate reaction to these figures is that they aren’t where they should be. However, while the rise in diversity doesn’t appear extreme enough or fast enough, and we have yet to achieve parity at all levels, there is an inevitable time lag from implementing change to seeing results, and we mustn’t lose heart.” Actually, progress requires gaining heart—and brains, in the case of an excuse-making moron like Golding. An analysis by Alex Brownsell revealed “there was a fall in the percentage of C-suite roles held by ethnic minorities, from 5.2% in 2016 to 4.7% in 2017. Meanwhile, disappointingly, just 2% of chair/CEO/MD roles are currently held by people from a BAME background.” The accompanying charts are bullshit, comparing women in C-suite roles versus BAME overall—showing the senior-level women are trouncing the BAME in terms of success. Somebody tell Golding the IPA study results warrant losing heart. Plus, executives with hiring power who fail to create inclusion should be losing their jobs.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

13984: High-Tech Hypocrisy At CES.

Adweek reported more on CES 2018, continuing to critique the trade show for its lack of diversity. Honestly, given that the tech industry’s exclusivity is common knowledge and openly acknowledged, why bother hammering an event for appealing to and reflecting its core audience? Divertsity was on display, with advocates including HP CMO Antonio Lucio, who declared, “[Diversity in tech] may take a bit longer than all of us anticipated, but let’s get started.” Yes, things tend to take a bit longer than anticipated when half-wits like Lucio promote half-assed efforts.

Voice Reigned at CES 2018, but Diversity Was Still Elusive

Heads up, tech giants: Alexa and Siri don’t count as real women

By Lauren Johnson

Every year, the Consumer Electronic Show sets the agenda for the biggest trends and gadgets. Thousands of marketers descend into the desert to discuss the tech that consumers will soon get their hands on—and what it means for brands.

As technology weaves more intricately into our daily lives and consumer adoption continues to grow, CES’s packed show floor—clocking in at 2.5 million square feet across 11 venues, to be exact—has become a bit of a running joke for marketers in recent years. Advertisers know well that 90 percent of the products (think smart litter boxes or noise-canceling devices connected by Bluetooth) they see during the weeklong event won’t go mainstream. But this year, they’re particularly bullish on the other 10 percent, namely voice and artificial intelligence.

Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home were on the lips of every big brand and agency exec in Las Vegas, popping up in dozens of companies’ pitches and demonstrations about the Internet of Things.

“We’re really interested in voice assistants—we’ve seen a lot with Alexa and Siri,” said Meredith Verdone, Bank of America’s CMO. “For us to understand how people are interacting with chat is really helpful for us to see the consumer behavior of what’s working [and] what’s not working.”

Tech giants flexing their voice muscles

Among Las Vegas’ miles of casinos and conference halls, voice got its big IRL moment. Google Home’s activation included a giant gumball machine showing how artificial intelligence works by asking consumers to play a game where they ask the voice assistant a series of questions. Google also conducted a large out-of-home and media campaign in casinos and on the monorail system.

Meanwhile, Amazon was unavoidable even during a quick walk around the show floor, as both major brands (like Sleep Number and Whirlpool) and smaller startups pitched AI-infused products. The commerce giant also hosted at least nine panels talking about itself.

Right now, voice technology is nascent, and virtual assistants can only understand a relatively small number of words, but not for long. Expect the vocabulary of your virtual assistant to grow as the technology becomes more sophisticated.

“Hopefully, at a certain point, it will be more organic—there will be more natural language understanding, so you can speak more eloquently, [more] fluidly and faster,” said Michael Bassik, managing director of MDC.

One thing not prevalent at CES: Marketers’ one-on-one meetings with the platforms. Instead of spending time talking with platforms, it seems like advertisers this year were focused on seeing the future through techy gadgets.

Tech’s diversity problem

While flashy and glitzy tech was the main attraction at CES, one thing that wasn’t on full display was diversity.

Going into CES, much was made about the conference’s lack of female solo keynoters, with some marketers suggesting a boycott. While companies like Twitter, Sonos and Medialink hosted women-led panels and programming, the lack of diversity in both gender and ethnicity was prevalent at CES.

HP CMO Antonio Lucio, who has made a big push for more diverse teams for the past year, focused on attending non-official CES events—like Twitter’s #HereWeAre event with 150 attendees, which was live-streamed and racked up two million viewers. The two-hour event included Kara Swisher, cofounder and executive editor of Recode; Linda Boff, CMO of GE; and Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code.

Still, booth babes were in clear sight at several companies’ displays, and an event featuring sex robots at a nearby nightclub went viral after it was revealed that it was aimed at attracting women.

Diversity in tech “may take a bit longer than all of us anticipated, but let’s get started,” said Lucio.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

13983: Stars From Mars & Beyond.

Campaign presented “Power 100 Next Generation 2018”—marketing’s alleged rising stars—whose featured stars look like all the exclusive power players from previous generations. M&M’s Brand Director Alexa Saller added a dose of divertsity by gushing, “I am so proud of Maltesers’ mission to stand up for diversity, but what’s most important is that it comes from a really genuine place. It’s something our vice-president of marketing, Michele Oliver, is personally passionate about—and consumers recognise that. Using your brand to make a difference through your supply chain or with your advertising, backed up by concrete commitments, gives consumers a reason to pay attention to you.” Okay, but don’t be offended if MultiCultClassics pays no attention to your Pollyannaish and patronizing propaganda.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

13982: Fight For Funny Females.

Campaign presented divertsity drollery from Grey London Co-Chief Creative Officer Vicki Maguire, who advocated for more female comediennes in advertising. Of course, there was no acknowledgment of Annie the Chicken Queen, The Pine-Sol Lady or the Honey Bunches of Oats Lady.

Why funny women should take the lead in advertising this year

There’s a wealth of female comedy talent out there, so let’s tap into it and inject some humour back into our creative output, says Grey London’s creative chief.

By Vicki Maguire

It’s 2018 and advertising isn’t quite what it used to be. You can’t call your PA “sugar tits” or hire your talentless son. You can’t have a post-pitch grope in the edit suite or make the occasional racist joke “just for bantz”.

HR is preventing you from recruiting from your alma mater and one woman on the board isn’t good enough. There’s no more pinkwashing a scam ad in case they find out you pay women less than men, and no-one good will work with you because word’s got around that you’re a misogynist prick who can’t keep his hands to himself.

Oh, well, at least you can have a laugh. Funny ads are back in fashion, after all. But all your go-to guys for funny, like Kleinman and Linehan, are busy and Peter Kay is still trotting out “garlic bread”. What to do? You could go for something cute and furry instead. Kittens? Been done. Meerkats? Also done. Or just cute — women? Minefield. How about funny women? Now, that’s not been done for a while.

Time to dust off a few clichés. You wonder whether Maureen Lipman is still alive. Or how about a childless Bridget Jones-type, with big pants and shrivelling ovaries? Or a ditzy chick who needs to call a plumber to get her out of a fix? No, that’s a bit porno and, besides, you can’t shoot with Terry any more. A power-suited ballbreaker surrounded by spineless male lackeys, perhaps? Or fat and funny? But, oh no, Dawn French has gone and lost weight. And now you’re out of ideas.

When it comes to women, the ad industry is still clueless. Research from The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media last year showed that in advertising women are “humourless, mute and in the kitchen”. The Museum of Brands has charted women’s evolution in ads in six dismal stereotypes: Domestic Obsessive, Selfless Nurturer, Sex Object, Unattainable Goddess, Fraught Juggler and Bit Part. Not funny. Never funny. In 2017, men were 2.6 times more likely to be funny in ads than female characters. This industry is desperately lagging behind. Even the BBC banned all-male comedy panel shows back in 2014.

Advertising has become focused on values and higher purpose lately, which has ended up making everything look a bit, well, samey. There was a time when British advertising was the envy of the world because — wait for it — it was funny. Everyone talks about how brands need to show human qualities but humour is one of the most important human characteristics. For most people, funny is how you choose your partner. In ads, funny cuts through, builds brands, increases equity and gives you a distinct tone of voice.

The nature of female humour can be different from men’s. Often, women use humour to “create moments of connection”, according to Carol Vallone Mitchell, author of Breaking Through “Bitch” – How Women Can Shatter Stereotypes and Lead Fearlessly. In contrast, men are more likely to use humour to gain top status, she says. Either way, in these dark times, we could all do with a laugh.

This may come as rather disquieting news to some of the throwbacks that still haunt the advertising world, but a new generation of female comedians is entering the mainstream. Performers such as Sarah Millican, Katherine Ryan and Bridget Christie are household names, inspired by the likes of French and Saunders, Victoria Wood and Jo Brand.

Female comedians have never been more popular, with tickets sales trebling between 2011-2014, according to Ticketmaster. The rite of passage that is the Edinburgh Fringe last year saw more funny women showcase their comedy in more female-written, female-performed shows than ever.

Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag have made the transition from stage to TV and been widely acclaimed – both here and in the US. The BBC is now actively seeking fresh young female comedy-writing talent with initiatives such as its Caroline Aherne Bursary for Funny Northern Women. The Maltesers ads, such as “New boyfriend”, championed some of our brightest up-and-coming talent.

Meanwhile, Sharon Horgan has started her own production company, Merman, which also has a brand content division. She’s on a mission to champion female ad directors — a move that the #FreeTheBid initiative is also backing, as only 9% of ads and 14% of films globally are directed by women.

We’ve always been shameless borrowers of culture. It’s time to give something back. In 2018, let’s make sure we have strong, funny female leads that aren’t foils or wallpaper. Great comedy powered by empathy, passion and an eye for the bizarre and quirky. Comedy that can connect rather than divide us, or simply score points. All of us — consumers, creators, brand owners included, irrespective of gender, sexual or religious persuasion or nationality, age or race — surely deserve a bit of that.

Vicki Maguire is the co-chief creative officer of Grey London.

Monday, January 15, 2018

13981: I Have A Divertsity Dream.

The Google Doodle commemorating MLK Day shows a divertsity spirit with its female imagery. The diversionary doodle maneuver makes sense, given Google’s actual dearth of diversity in regards to race and ethnicity—and the tech company is failing with gender equality too. Google displays strong commitments and insights for diversity, but the workforce displays strong dedication for exclusivity.

13980: Franklin Fun Facts.

The New York Times reported Franklin—the Black kid in Charlie Brown’s clan—was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Peanuts character later inspired The Franklin Blog.

Guess Who’s Coming to ‘Peanuts’

By David Kamp

“Is this your beach ball?” These were the first words spoken by Franklin, addressing Charlie Brown as the latter stared glumly out to sea. And this is how Charles M. Schulz integrated his comic strip, “Peanuts,” on July 31, 1968. Franklin’s initial three-strip arc unfolded quietly and gently, with the boys building a sand castle together while chatting.

Franklin stayed quiet and gentle, taking his place in the “Peanuts” gang as a steady but low-key presence over the next three decades — sometimes to the chagrin of African-Americans who found him to be anodyne at best and a token at worst. In a 1992 “Saturday Night Live” routine, Chris Rock complained, comically but pointedly, that Mr. Schulz had deprived Franklin of the kind of signature traits he had assigned the other “Peanuts” kids.

“Linus got the blanket, Lucy’s a bitch, Schroeder plays the piano, Peppermint Patty’s a lesbian,” Mr. Rock said. “Everybody got their thing except Franklin! Give him something! Damn, give him a Jamaican accent!”

Yet Franklin’s careful rollout and nice-guy equanimity were very much by design, as “50 Years of Franklin,” a new exhibition at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, in Santa Rosa, Calif., reveals. The exhibition opens this weekend in conjunction with the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday on Monday.

Dr. King’s assassination, on April 4, 1968, played a direct role in Franklin’s creation. Eleven days later, a Southern Californian named Harriet Glickman wrote to Mr. Schulz, introducing herself as “the mother of three children and a deeply concerned and active citizen.” In her grief, Ms. Glickman explained, she had been pondering “the areas of the mass media which are of tremendous importance in shaping the unconscious attitudes of our kids.” She then proposed an idea: “the introduction of Negro children into the group of Schulz characters.”

“I was acting on the feeling that maybe there was one little thing I can do,“ Ms. Glickman, who is now 91, told me in a recent interview. A civil rights and antiwar activist, she was shrewd to petition Mr. Schulz. “Peanuts” was at the peak of its popularity at the time, running in a thousand newspapers, with a devoted daily readership approaching 100 million. Mr. Schulz, as unassuming a man as he was, was a veritable godhead, revered in those divided times by Americans of all stripes.

Mr. Schulz wrote back to Ms. Glickman within two weeks, but only to tell her he couldn’t fulfill her request. He and his fellow white cartoonists, he said, were “afraid that it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends.” Undaunted, Ms. Glickman sent another note, asking if she could share his letter with black acquaintances. Mr. Schulz assented, though he again expressed reluctance to introduce a black character into “Peanuts.”

Ms. Glickman wasted little time in enlisting her friend Kenneth C. Kelly, a black father of two, who told Mr. Schulz, essentially, to get over his anxiety.

“An accusation of being patronizing would be a small price to pay for the positive results that would accrue!” he wrote. Mr. Kelly suggested that Mr. Schulz begin with a “supernumerary” black character, a de facto extra, who “would quietly and unobtrusively set the stage for a principal character at a later date.” This cautious approach would serve the dual purpose of not burdening Mr. Schulz and “Peanuts” with the duty of making a Major Social Statement and presenting friendship between black and white children as utterly normal.

But in the context of the late ’60s, Franklin’s debut was indeed a Major Social Statement. Inevitably, a few newspaper editors in the South made noises of protest, but by and large, the reaction to Franklin was positive, particularly among black readers.

Morrie Turner, whose “Wee Pals,” introduced in 1965, was the first widely syndicated strip by an African-American cartoonist, told Mr. Schulz in a letter that he found the “handling and the treatment of the character excellent,” adding, “The day Little Orphan Annie has a black boyfriend, we’ll really have it made.” More earnestly, a young black Army sergeant in Vietnam, Franklin R. Freeman, wrote to Mr. Schulz to express how gratifying it was to find “a new character in the strip who shares my name.”

For Barbara Brandon-Croft, who in 1991 became the first African-American woman to have a nationally syndicated comic strip in the mainstream press, “Where I’m Coming From,” the simple fact of Franklin’s addition to the mix was downright exhilarating. Ms. Brandon-Croft was 10 years old in 1968, and she told me: “I remember feeling affirmed by seeing Franklin in ‘Peanuts.’ ‘There’s a little black kid! Thank goodness! We do matter.’”

In the long run, Franklin ended up existing in a space somewhere between supernumerary and principal, most reliably serving as the academically proficient straight man to Peppermint Patty’s perpetually D-minus-pulling goofball. Like a lot of “Peanuts” fans, I wish Franklin had been given greater depth and more to do. In that very first series of strips, he mentioned that his father, like Sergeant Freeman, was away in Vietnam. Franklin and Peppermint Patty (and Marcie) attended a school on the other side of town from the strip’s core characters.

I’ve always been fascinated by the faint intimation that this was the neighborhood where the less-privileged kids lived. Whereas Charlie, Sally, Lucy and Linus were the children of nuclear families, Peppermint Patty was being raised by a single father, and Franklin (at first, anyway) was being raised by a mother in a similar situation. Were the lives of these kids harder? Was there a higher ratio of students to womp-womping teachers in their school? It was a path that, alas, went unexplored.

But Mr. Schulz, who died in 2000, was generally wise to stay within his lane. He correctly intuited that he could go only so far in portraying a black child’s experience. More auspiciously, Franklin served as proof that there was room for more black characters in the comics, their stories to be told this time by black cartoonists.

“It was ‘Here comes Franklin,’ and then it was ‘Here comes Luther, here comes Quincy,’” Ms. Brandon-Croft said, referring to the title characters of the syndicated strips created in 1968 and 1970 by, respectively, her father, Brumsic Brandon Jr., and Ted Shearer.

Fifty years after Franklin recovered Charlie Brown’s beach ball, we’re still living through times when representational firsts are newsworthy and cherished by fans: the first kiss between Asian and black characters in a “Star Wars” film (Rose and Finn in “The Last Jedi”), the first Marvel Studios movie headlined by a black superhero (next month’s “Black Panther”). Franklin might not have been the most fascinating fellow ever to populate the comics universe, but as his story shows, a first like him is necessary to advance the march of representation.

When I asked Ms. Glickman if she was at all disappointed by Franklin’s relative blandness, she laughed at the very thought. “Never! Are you kidding me?” she said. “I was so pleased with Charles Schulz. He did what he could do at the time.”

13979: Dreams Aren’t Free.

Adweek published a pathetic piece reminding culturally clueless White advertising agencies and marketers that Martin Luther King Jr. content is not in the public domain—so don’t think it’s cool to produce patronizing pap on MLK Day without paying for the privilege. This presents yet another example of the sad state of affairs regarding divertsity in adland. For example, International Women’s Day—which most U.S. adpeople never knew existed—generates splashy, multichannel campaigns featuring pricy, original executions. Yet the same White ad shops and clients celebrate the iconic civil-rights leader with crumbs or less. Ironically, International Women’s Day represents a dream assignment, while MLK Day symbolizes a dream deferred.

Read This Before Posting Images or Quotes From Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day

Opinion: Sometimes saying nothing is better than an awkward or off-the-mark attempt

By Hope Bertram

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, social media and community managers for brands big and small are thinking about posting quotes and images of King in reverence to his amazing legacy. Here are a few things to think about before scheduling that post hitting the send button.

According to The Washington Post, “All of King’s papers and speeches are owned by family members, some of whom also operate the licensing operation through which those who want to use them must go.”

While the entire speech is copyrighted, is it possible to use a sentence or two under fair usage laws? Are images of King copyrighted, as well? Images of King can be purchased on royalty-free images sites like Getty Images with prices ranging from $150 and up for standard editorial rights.

Is a meme with a quote considered editorial?

Daliah Saper of Saper Law explains: “Those who try to bypass formal licensing of Dr. King’s speech or his images and rely on a fair-use defense must be prepared to justify each use on a case-by-case basis. There is no clear definition of what does and does not constitute fair use. Courts will consider the context, purpose and amount of use in making their determinations. For example, classroom or editorial use might qualify as a fair use, whereas use in an advertisement or promotional tweet will be tougher to justify.

Converting an image or excerpts from a speech into a meme does not automatically make the use editorial or ‘fair.’ Indeed, even news outlets can’t just use images as part of stories without permission. That’s why they have their own photographers or they license images to run with their stories.”

Of course, if the usage is commercial, and you plan to profit from using the image or quote—like an “I have a dream” T-shirt—you must obtain permission and will likely have to pay a licensing fee.

Here are few general tips:

• The post or tweet should be a tribute and not a promotion.

• If you decide to post something related to King, stay on brand.

• The bigger the brand, the more exposure.

• The hashtag #MLKday is safe to use since you are referencing the day

• Talk about the topic, rather than using a quote or King’s name, likeness or quote.

Honoring the legacy

Once you’ve obtained the proper permissions, make sure to craft any tweet or post with care, honoring King’s legacy and not using it to promote your brand.

The Society for Human Resource Management did a wonderful job of this a few years ago, honoring King’s life works and starting a conversation about how to keep it moving forward.

On the more awkward end of the spectrum, ZzzQuil’s MLK Day tweet was just odd—perhaps on brand, but still uncomfortably awkward.

The internet wasn’t kind with its response. ZzzQuil was slammed by Twitter users who either mocked it or told it outright that it was wrong.

As Kristina Nette so eloquently put it:

All in all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Using copyrighted images or works of King can get your brand into trouble legally, and if you post something off-brand or promotional leveraging the day to make money, the internet might respond unkindly.

Sometimes saying nothing is better than an awkward or off-the-mark attempt.

Hope Bertram is the founder and CEO of educational event company Digital Megaphone.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Saturday, January 13, 2018

13977: CESexy.

Adweek reported on the culturally clueless contradictions at CES, where there are protests over the dearth of divertsity alongside sexist practices like “booth babes” embellishing the event. Oh, the humanity!

Women Execs Are Speaking Out About Diversity at CES, Yet Booth Babes and Sex Robots Are Still Prevalent

Conference shows tech industry’s widespread sexism

By Lauren Johnson

“Do as I say, not as I do” might as well be the mantra for discussions about diversity this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Weeks after marketers and execs slammed the conference’s organizers for its lack of solo women keynoters, numerous panels and execs are using the conference as a platform to talk about lingering diversity issues and gender equality. But the scene inside the convention center still reflects tech’s misogynistic culture: Dozens of the thousands of companies exhibiting at CES pay scantily-clad models (aka booth babes) to pitch their companies, showing that the industry still has a long way to go in overcoming sexism.

“The booth babe thing is unfortunate and it would be ideal for CES to get rid of all of that—it’s totally unnecessary and people are here to do business,” said Lorraine Twohill, Google’s CMO. “I think there’s still a lot of work to be done to make CES feel inclusive of women. If CES genuinely wants to have an event that feels welcoming to women, then you can’t have [booth babes.]”

Nima—a company that makes portable Bluetooth speakers in the shape of sports helmets and balls—employed two of its own models to demonstrate its products to attendees at its booth. Over the course of a few minutes, several male attendees asked to take pictures with the models, who were wearing sports bras and workout clothes.

A company rep at the booth said that the models were there “to help attract more customers and help people have a good time and enjoy.” A number of other sports-related companies are also using models to show off their products.

In addition, strip club Sapphire Las Vegas held an event on Monday night featuring “sex robots.” While the event is not officially associated with CES, it quickly spread on Twitter and was meant to attract both men and women.

According to Liz Gumbinner, co-publisher of Cool Mom Tech, brands’ desire to go viral is part of the reason why booth babes remain a staple at CES. With thousands of companies vying for attention, it can be hard for companies to cut through the clutter and make a splash.

“Brands are looking for any opportunity to get attention and a visual spectacle is an understandable part of that,” she said. “Hire a young women and dress her up as a cheerleader or sexy nurse and people will take photos with her—it’s far less expensive than hiring a celebrity.”

She added, “I also think a lot of tech companies are trapped in this kind of regressive dude culture and they think, ‘OK, Las Vegas, so that’s all about strippers and showgirls, right? It’s really just laziness.”

In response to CES’ lack of women speakers, some executives have suggested that attendees boycott CES this year. But combined with the flurry of sexual harassment allegations across media, advertising and entertainment, Bank of America’s CMO Meredith Verdone, thinks this “is a moment” for women, so she decided to attend this year.

“The reality is that yes, I wish [CES] could have found female CEOs to speak—the bigger issue is that we need to get more female CEOs,” Verdone said. “I’m not giving them a pass on it but it’s something that’s more systemic and maybe they need to change their criteria and broaden it so that it’s more than CEOs.”

Specifically, Verdone cited equal pay and hiring practices within her brand. Fifty percent of Bank of America’s employees are female while another 40 percent of management and more than 35 percent of the brand’s board members are women.

“It’s creating this groundswell and now we need to focus on it and do the hard work, not admire the problem but say, ‘What are we doing about?”

That’s not to say that CES doesn’t have its work cut out for itself. Verdone added, “If a year from now there’s no change, then maybe I’ll boycott.”

Kasha Cacy, president of UM for the U.S., also isn’t boycotting this year. Instead, she created a two-hour event featuring women that will take place on Wednesday.

“I’d rather jump in and use all of the people here to prove a point than to boycott,” Cacy said. “I think we’ve gone with momentum and now momentum has to stop and we have to change.”

When asked about what booth babes signal to the advertising and tech industry, she said, “We’re tackling these things one by one—I would hope that through tackling these things one by one people start to become more aware … hopefully we’ll get there.”

Friday, January 12, 2018

13976: Selling Diversity.

Even a diversity of shoes receives more attention than racial and ethnic diversity.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

13975: WPProgress…?

Campaign reported MediaCom UK Chairwoman Karen Blackett was named WPP UK Country Manager—a new role at the White holding company. According to Campaign, Blackett is now “the most important agency leader in the British ad industry.” Then again, it would be interesting to learn how her current salary compares to others in the field—especially in contrast to WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell’s compensation package. While Blackett’s elevation is a well-deserved and groundbreaking move, it technically doesn’t improve diversity in adland, as she was already on the WPP payroll. But the appointment helps the cause overall, as Blackett has always been a vocal proponent for inclusion. “The ad industry is not diverse enough,” remarked Blackett. “It doesn’t reflect the consumer base that our clients are targeting.” The critique is actually more dramatic when considering that WPP is “perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation.” Can’t wait to see what happens if Blackett must engage with WPP Spain Country Manager Gustavo Martinez.

WPP names Karen Blackett as its first UK country manager

By Gideon Spanier

WPP has named Karen Blackett as its first UK country manager, making her the most important agency leader in the British ad industry.

Blackett, who will retain her current role as chairwoman of MediaCom UK for six months, has been appointed with immediate effect. She will work with 17,000 staff in dozens of agencies spanning media, creative, design, branding, data and public relations across WPP’s £2 billion-a-year UK operation.

She said her priorities include getting WPP’s agencies to work “in a more joined-up and collaborative way”, developing new products and “managing and diversifying the talent base”.

Her promotion was announced at the same time that Group M, WPP’s media-buying arm, named Tom George as its UK chief executive to replace Nick Theakstone, who becomes global chief investment officer.

Blackett maintained that WPP, the dominant agency group in UK advertising with close to 40% of the agency market, has “headroom” to grow further organically and she identified “high-growth” and e-commerce clients as sectors where “we don’t have a big enough market share”.

She said: “If you look at the top 100 global brands, then we’re doing pretty well. But if you look at another metric like ‘high-growth’ businesses, we could be doing a lot better.”

Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, described Blackett as “an exceptional and inspirational leader” and “a tireless champion of diversity in our business, in the wider sector and in public life in general”.

He said in a memo to staff: “Karen will focus on our core strategic priority of horizontality: ensuring our companies work together effectively and present a seamlessly integrated and simplified offer to clients.

“She will also support efforts to attract and retain the best and most diverse talent, generate cross-group business opportunities and identify potential acquisitions and investments.”

Blackett, whose parents grew up in Barbados before moving to Britain, was named the “most admired” business leader in the UK ad industry in a survey of agencies for Campaign’s 2017 School Reports.

She acknowledged that her promotion to WPP country manager has symbolic importance because she is black, female and “from a working-class background”.

She said: “The ad industry is not diverse enough. It doesn’t reflect the consumer base that our clients are targeting.”

Blackett hopes to apply some of the lessons that she learnt at MediaCom, Britain’s biggest media agency, and its predecessor The Media Business, where she started in 1995, after spells at CIA and Zenith.

“When you get diversity of thought, you get better answers,” she said. “It’s the route to creativity.”

Blackett, who was UK chief executive of MediaCom from 2011 to 2015, sees parallels between her new role as WPP country manager and her past job as MediaCom’s chief operating officer for EMEA when she worked with “a group of incredibly talented CEOs” from different countries to collaborate more effectively.

“I don’t think it’s about ‘command and control’ — that’s never been my style,” she said. “It’s really about championing and collaborating and influencing.”

The CEOs of the different UK agencies will keep what Blackett described as a “solid” reporting line to their respective global or regional agency CEO — rather than reporting to her.

She added that there are no plans for WPP to have a single P&L for the UK “at this moment of time”, explaining: “My role is to create a UK team across the UK operating companies and make them work better.”

She will have a small office and team but does not expect to recruit externally.

Blackett, who has only worked in media agencies, knows most of the leaders of WPP’s ad agencies but said “I need to know better” the UK agency CEOs in other areas such as branding, digital and PR.

Sorrell is under pressure to simplify WPP after it cut its global revenue forecast three times last year and its share price slumped 26% from £18 to just above £13 as FMCG clients reduced agency fees.

However, WPP’s UK operation, its biggest after north America, performed well as its net sales rose 3.2% in the first nine months of 2017 compared to a 0.7% drop globally.

WPP, which said in its 2016 annual report that it had more than 160 companies, has slashed the number of agency brands that it operates in the last 12 months.

MEC and Maxus have merged to form Wavemaker, Wunderman has absorbed Possible and Salmon, five branding and design agencies including Lambie-Nairn and The Partners are becoming one group, and today research group Kantar brought together four agencies in a single unit, Kantar Consulting.

WPP has also been appointing country managers in about 50 countries as part of the move to improve collaboration and Blackett said she has talked to several of her counterparts to pick up ideas.

She said there is “an opportunity to avoid duplication of effort” but insisted: “I don’t think it’s about cutting costs. Yes, there are synergies that can happen but let’s think about creativity and growth.”

Blackett added WPP has “talked about horizontality for three or four years” and it needs to become “a strategy” that is embedded in the way the company does business, rather than just because “a client demands it”.

Other agency groups have been appointing country managers. Publicis Groupe has poached Annette King, the UK chief executive of WPP’s Ogilvy, who will start as its first UK chief executive later this year.

According to WPP’s latest annual report, for 2016, it had £1.9bn in UK revenues and 14,000 staff.

At the current point in time, and with associates included, WPP says it has approximately $3bn (£2.25bn) in UK revenues and 17,000 staff.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

13974: Poundland Behaving Badly.

PRWeek reported on a controversial social media campaign from Poundland—featuring an Elf engaging in sexual and obscene acts—that will undergo an ASA investigation. The retailer is displaying a high degree of insensitivity and ignorance, dismissing disapproving consumers as not getting the joke. Actually, Poundland deserves a pounding—and worse—for its cultural cluelessness. Forget the Elf behaving badly. Poundland is displaying bad behavior, as well as bad judgment for having approved the shit.

Poundland’s controversial Elf ‘boosted Christmas sales’ but faces ASA investigation

By John Harrington

Poundland says its controversial Elf Behaving Badly campaign drove “significant numbers of shoppers” into stores in the week before Christmas.

The retailer has reiterated that it is standing by the campaign following news that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is to investigate the social media activity, saying the number of people who didn’t “get the joke” is “so small”.

The pre-Christmas social media campaign, focused on the Elf on the Shelf product, featured images of the Elf in a series of sexually themed poses.

One image involving Twinings tea (pictured above) — which had the caption “How do you take your tea? One lump or two?” — caused particular controversy. Some criticised its sexual nature, while others described it as harmless fun and fitting for the Poundland brand.

In a new trading update, Poundland said Elf Behaving Badly, as part of the retailer’s “low cost but highly effective marketing strategy”, drove “significant numbers of shoppers” into stores in the week before Christmas. More than 200,000 ‘bad elves’ were sold alongside more than one million elf accessories, the company stated.

Trading in the week to Christmas Eve was £59m, up 20 per cent on the previous year, although there was an extra day of trading in the 2017 pre-Christmas period.

The apparent success of Elf Behaving Badly, in terms of its impact on trading, poses the question of whether the campaign was justified.

80 complaints

Meanwhile, the ASA confirmed to PRWeek that it had received around 80 complaints about the Elf Behaving Badly Twitter posts.

“The general nature of the complaints is that the ads (tweets) are offensive for their depiction of toy characters and other items which have been displayed in a sexualised manner, and are unsuitable to be displayed in an untargeted medium where children could see them,” said a spokesman.

“I can confirm that we have launched an investigation.”

In a statement, Poundland described the controversy as a “storm in a tea cup” and said the complaints “contrasted with thousands of people who said they loved our naughty elf pictures — not least because it reminded them that Britain is famous for the saucy postcard and panto”, the statement said.

“We’re just pleased the number of people who didn’t get the joke is so small.”