Monday, April 30, 2018

14128: Phase Out Exclusivity…?

Campaign published divertsity psychobabble from Grey Executive Strategy Director Howard Roberts, who proclaimed that diversity can be achieved by understanding the neurology, psychology and sociology behind it, followed by executing five phases of action. Leave it to a strategy wonk to deliver a brief with complicated reasoning and convoluted instructions. Oh, and the man hails from the U.K., where advertising industry diversity is a royal mess. Add Roberts’ silly strategery to more Grey divertsity dumbness, including socioeconomic schooling, The Progress Brief, deceptive data declarations and comedienne casting calls. To truly succeed, try reducing five phases of action to one: Use a phaser to eliminate idiots like Roberts.

The psychology of diversity and why it boosts creativity

By Howard Roberts

Creative companies should embrace five phases of action, says Roberts.

You’ve had (or at least heard) the repeated, cyclical conversation around diversity in business: On one hand, diversity of backgrounds and demographics among your talent only means something once it yields a diversity of ideas.

On the other hand, you can’t generate the right diversity of ideas until you get the right diverse composition of talent.

As important progress is being made with demographics, slowly but surely, more focus is needed on the question of what’s supposed to happen when you finally get the right people together in one company, or in one room.

Diversity in business is a hot topic, but while we continually focus on the social good – good that is relevant and necessary – we may not fully realize just why it’s so especially vital for the marketing world: Diversity is one of the top psychological and sociological drivers of creative thinking. Period.

Quite simply, without an understanding of these psychological dynamics, all your demographic diversity will be impeded. Your enemy is an ongoing desire for sameness, which curses our industry to a point where we are under massive pressure to reinvent. If we’re not harnessing the psychology of diversity, we’re not leading innovation and we’re losing ground.

Your ability to survive as a creative company is thus dependent on your ability to understand the neurology of diversity, and create the environment that actively fights comfort. Your cultural evolution should encompass five phases of action:

IDENTIFY SAMENESS. Be honest with yourself, and recognize the “resting state” of your organization and how closely it adheres to basic social needs of the human brain: status, certainty, autonomy, fairness, and—most importantly – relatedness. Admit your tendencies to pick people who think like you to join your meetings; admit that you like these people, understandably, because they think like you. Know that in your human compulsion to recognize an element of yourself in the people around you, you’ve assembled a room full of “you.”

REMOVE COMFORT. Remove one comfort. In this case, remove relatedness – our need to feel safe and part of a group. It’s an inbuilt reflex to feel comfortable with people we relate to – similar backgrounds, political leanings, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, cultural upbringing, etc. When we relate, we’re at our least challenged, and our least creative. It’s smarter to embrace the cognitive power of diversity. Intentionally remove relatedness; when we’re in a room full of people we don’t relate to, it automatically triggers a fight/flight response in the brain. That automatically places us in a state where all our senses are fired, we’re open-minded, processing everything we hear and see, fully engaged and in the moment. Sounds like the best state to generate ideas.

Contrast that with one where we assemble the usual suspects. Worst case scenario is to pick the same people you regularly love working with. Everyone’s comfortable and the ideas you generate are… well, comfortable. Embrace the agitators and stimulators.

REWARD BRAVERY. Now the science of psychology truly kicks in. With relatedness removed we’re hyper-aware, fully engaged and firing on all cylinders and senses… and we’re braver too. With new perspectives in the room, there’s new pressure to make sure you’re contributing, and that your positions are fortified and sharp. There’s a positive competitive element to this dynamic, but also a collaborative strength. And the craziest, most playful ideas from your Agitators and Stimulators can become real, if they’re complemented by Builders and Codifiers.

MAINTAIN ADRENALINE. Continually light these sparks. Maintaining and building momentum is the hardest part. The continual anticipation that we will be challenged sparks richer thinking; the challenge needs to feel exhilarating versus threatening. And while smart companies allow their people room to fail, you also need to create an unrelenting, exciting tension. Some sort of “healthy threat level” combats the false sense of security that generates sameness. The need to remove relatedness, and perhaps other comforts, becomes continual.

REDEFINE SUCCESS. Give yourself time to make success happen, but know what success is meant to look like. Very often we resolve a meeting because everyone feels good about a solution — but the problem is, they often feel good because it’s a solution they’re all used to. It feels like past successes, and that provides reassurance rather than innovation. This is sometimes a result of strict adherence to process; the same process will get you the same conclusions every time. Be open, fluid, provocative and directed — rather than process obsessed — to find success that feels like nothing you’ve experienced prior.

The science is there: year-long studies by Stanford and the University of Illinois, plus research published in Scientific American, all show that quality of thinking in heterogeneous groups is greater due to the possibility of a constant counter argument. Fully engaged and in a constant state of anticipation, those groups all performed better at ranges of perspectives and the alternatives they generated.

Don’t end your meetings with, “Well, everyone, do we all feel good about this?” End them with, “Well, I think we can all agree that we’re a little terrified. But this feels new. Let’s do it.”

That’s creativity.

Howard Roberts is an executive strategy director at Grey Group.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

14127: Colonialism By Canoe.

Anyone else think this campaign for The Canadian Canoe Museum by BrandHealth feels culturally clueless? The tagline proclaims, “We Got Here By Canoe.” Sorry, but Canada was not colonized and conquered by canoe.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

14126: Scream At Ice Cream.

The new Baskin-Robbins campaign by 22squared is offensive for so many reasons—the obese dancer, the booty-shaking ice cream cone, the pseudo-cool soundtrack, the cultural appropriation, etc. Is the awfulness connected to 22squared’s leadership, which appears to be predominately, well, vanilla?

Friday, April 27, 2018

14125: Billionaire Bolloré Bribed Blacks…?

Adweek reported former Havas Chairman Vincent Bolloré had been detained and later charged by French authorities over allegations that he bribed African governmental officials in 2009-2010. Great. A White advertising agency finally partners with Blacks and it turns out to be an allegedly illegal scenario. Maybe Bolloré realized he couldn’t use his go-to move—that is, nepotism—and had to compensate with a rich guy’s back-up tactic. A peek at the current Havas leadership shows the crew would likely lack cultural competence and credibility in Africa. Then again, Marian Salzman—the self-proclaimed discoverer of wiggers—is on staff to offer assistance. Of course, the Bolloré Group is vehemently denying the accusations. But is it really inconceivable for a billionaire who controls a media empire and holding company—and is probably inclined to solve matters by buying things and throwing money at problems—to resort to bribing foreign officials?

French Authorities Detain Former Havas Chairman Vincent Bolloré for Alleged Corruption

Billionaire denies claims that Havas bribed African officials

By Patrick Coffee

Less than a week after announcing that his son Yannick will soon lead both his media empire Vivendi and his marketing network Havas, French billionaire Vincent Bolloré has reportedly been detained by police over allegations that he used the agency network to bribe African government officials nearly a decade ago.

According to a story first reported by France’s Le Monde this morning, Bolloré is currently in the custody of French authorities for questioning over claims that his company, Bolloré Group, actively facilitated corruption in Togo and Guinea in 2009 and 2010.

The report holds that Bolloré Group—which was, until last summer, the single largest shareholder in Havas—allegedly helped officials in these countries in exchange for contracts that directly benefited Bolloré SA, the single largest operator of shipping ports in Africa.

In a response, the Bolloré Group confirmed that it is under investigation, stating that the allegation was made by an unnamed former employee who was recently sentenced to nearly four years in prison “for misappropriation of assets.”

“Its former subsidiary, SDV Africa, did not engage in any illegal actions and the Bolloré Group reaffirms that these communication services were conducted in full transparency,” the statement continued in reference to the services in question. According to a later report by Bloomberg, Havas allegedly provided free or heavily discounted “communications advice” to politicians running for reelection nearly a decade ago.

The Group’s statement denies each of these claims.

“For more than 50 years, Havas has brought its expertise in communications to political campaigns around the world in full compliance with the law and regulation and transparency standards,” said Bolloré Group’s statement. “The hearing of its executives should provide the judicial authorities with useful clarification regarding these issues that have been assessed by an independent expert. This expertise led to the conclusion that these transactions fully complied with all laws and regulations.”

Regarding the specific claims made in this report, the statement continued, “Bolloré Group won the concession in Togo in 2001 long before it started to invest in Havas. In Guinea, Bolloré Group won the concession in 2011 following the failure of the winner of the tender (Bolloré Group came in second in the bidding process) which was recognized before the presidential election.”

“Attempting to link the attribution of a port concession with communication services translates a great misunderstanding of this economic sector and economic activity in general,” it read.

Spokespeople for Havas declined to comment on the news. Representatives for Vivendi also referred to the Bolloré Group statement, telling Adweek that this matter does not concern their business.

No charges have been filed against Bolloré at this time.

In last week’s earnings call, the elder Bolloré announced that his son would soon take over as chairman of Vivendi, which owns such brands as Universal Music, Canal and Daily Motion. Yannick officially became global CEO of Havas Creative Group in summer 2017 with the departure of Andrew Bennett, who later went to Bloomberg.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

14123: Whites At Work.

2018 Chicago Addy Awards handed a trophy to Havas for its Black History Month stunt titled, “#BLACKATWORK.” A few weeks later, the 18th Annual Diversity Employment Day Career Fair and Roundtables took place—less than a block away from the White advertising agency—and Havas was nowhere to be seen. Regarding diversity, Havas displayed its trophy commitment with #BLACKATWORK, and its true commitment with Blacks seeking work.

(On a side note, Leo Burnett didn’t participate at the 2018 Chicago Addy Awards per the Publicis Groupe ban on award shows. However, the White advertising agency was present at the 18th Annual Diversity Employment Day Career Fair and Roundtables. But it’s unlikely Leo Burnett shared the NO.2.66 notion with minority job seekers.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

14122: Aged Whine.

Veteran adman Bob Hoffman has joined the divertsity assembly against ageism in advertising with a recent blog post at The Ad Contrarian titled, “The Age Of Creativity.”

Hoffman makes an argument for creativity coming from people over 50 by highlighting how elder members of society “dominate in Nobels, Pulitzers, Oscars, and Emmys.” The recognition leads Hoffman to wonder, “Is there another industry on earth that is as steeped in intolerance and as thoroughly isolated from reality as the ad industry?”

Before answering that question, it might be helpful to consider a few points.

First, Hoffman’s argument is not original, as evidenced by AgencySpy spotlighting a 51-year-old creative director who hatched a campaign celebrating senior successes to protest ageism in advertising. Not surprisingly, the campaign generated the same types of pep-rally comments that Hoffman received from his post.

Second, Hoffman seems oblivious to the diversity of the ultra-award-winning creators he saluted. Such racial and ethnic variety is not reflective of the U.S. advertising industry (or the U.K. advertising industry). The 51-year-old creative director, on the other hand, chose to feature a predominately White group of creators, whose works are not as highly regarded as the breakthroughs from Hoffman’s honorees.

Third, Hoffman and the 51-year-old creative director are using a platform typically employed by advocates for racial and ethnic diversity. For example, it’s often noted how cutting-edge concepts in music, fashion, art and language originate from Black culture. FYI, this platform has not succeeded in improving Black representation on Madison Avenue—or even increasing the crumbs tossed to Black advertising agencies. Nonetheless, embracing the “old-people-are-innovators” angle could be considered a form of cultural appropriation.

Answering Hoffman’s question—“Is there another industry on earth that is as steeped in intolerance and as thoroughly isolated from reality as the ad industry?”—might not play well with Hoffman and the 51-year-old creative director, but it demands being addressed anyway.

The intolerance and aversion to reality so prevalent in the ad industry are products successfully perfected, promoted and perpetuated by guys like Hoffman and the 51-year-old creative director—i.e., Old White Guys. The denial of this fact could be a sign of early dementia, but probably (and hopefully) not. It must be painful to suddenly find oneself on the opposite side of the equation. Yet will the uncomfortable experience inspire the primary perpetrators to become fully inclusive change agents? Now that would be a revolutionary achievement for the ages.

Monday, April 23, 2018

14121: Cannes CMO BS.

Adweek published a promotional perspective from Cannes Lions Managing Director Jose Papa, presenting the assembly of the CMO Growth Council. Gee, the Cannes Lions Festival deserves an award for its ability to invent profit-generating content and events. In partnership with the ANA, the CMO Growth Council will feature “20 of the busiest, most important marketers in the world” who will break from their busy, important schedules on the French Riviera to ponder the imperatives of the day. According to Papa, “the group is being chosen to be representative of all parts of our sector, all shades of the industry and all colors of opinion.” Additionally, the CMO Growth Council will be “reflecting the diversity of the world it serves.” Oddly enough, when Papa listed potential topics of discussion, diversity did not come up. Perhaps the first question should be: If the CMO Growth Council members are “being chosen to be representative of all parts of our sector, all shades of the industry and all colors of opinion … reflecting the diversity of the world it serves,” why the hell are they routinely hiring and partnering with White advertising agencies where diversity is a dream deferred, delegated, diverted and denied?

Cannes Lions’ CMO Growth Council Will Confront the Industry’s Pressing Issues

Asking questions that might not have answers yet

By Jose Papa

To get 20 of the busiest, most important marketers in the world to gather and put their minds together to predict and guide the future of marketing, you know something must be up.

This year’s Cannes Lions will see a unique event: the formation of a CMO Growth Council at which a score of the biggest names in the global industry will unite to thrash out an agenda of the most pressing issues confronting us. Based on an initiative of the ANA and chaired by Marc Pritchard of P&G, the group is being chosen to be representative of all parts of our sector, all shades of the industry and all colors of opinion.

At present, the intention is that most of the agenda set at this unprecedented meeting will be made public. Indeed, part of the value of convening the council at Cannes Lions is that the collective brains of the industry will be onsite to contribute to its deliberations. But there may be some sensitive areas where the agenda will remain confidential, allowing the greatest possible candor and imagination to be applied to the challenges of this fast-changing age.

In many ways, the timing could not be better. The scrutiny of business models in every part of the marketing value chain has been intense in recent months and will inform everything we discuss at Cannes Lions as a whole. The council’s agenda will be shaped by those same trends. The questions we have all been asking in the wake of issues arising from fake impacts, data/privacy issues and the new normals of media buying will surely be central to the purpose of this new body.

What is the purpose of media buying in a programmatic era? Can brands trust intermediaries, be they platforms or agencies, to treat their marketing priorities with the necessary attention and care? Is there an art left in marketing, or is it just a science now? What direction will the art have to take to revive brand growth, which everyone agrees has stalled?

What direction will the science have to take to restore trust, which is in short supply both from the brand perspective and that of the consumer? Will the commoditization of advertising continue at the same pace or will the end of the current era of technology present us with opportunities as yet unknown to change the very nature of our industry?

Even the single issue of programmatic is enough to occupy the minds of the council for the duration of an entire Cannes Lions Festival. We recognize increasingly the ups and downs of a new way of bringing messages to audiences, but not all markets have drawn the same lessons from this family of technologies and not all sectors have the same approach to solving its problems. A global approach and a local approach are both clearly needed.

Many people would say that the greatest threat to the future of marketing is the question of trust. Social media platforms have offered a truly novel way of reaching people with marketing messages, but each level of novelty in responding to that opportunity seems to bring its own downside. The lack of transparency from these platforms and the recent revelations of how cavalier some companies have been with personal data have given us all pause about our own relationship with the digital world. And so we have to grapple with the realization that our customers and their customers are having precisely the same thoughts.

Have marketers and platform owners put novelty and clever tricks ahead of the principles of good marketing: a strong message delivered in the right place in an appropriate way to the right audience? Can we even answer this question now?

Of course, the need for and the existence of a council of the strongest minds in marketing, reflecting the diversity of the world it serves, goes far beyond Cannes Lions. The work of this body will continue into the future, and we hope and expect it to be just the first time you hear about it. In the future, nobody expects the pace of change to decelerate, but perhaps the solidity of a new institution such as the CMO Growth Council is just what we need at this momentous time to set our bearings for what comes next.

Jose Papa is managing director of Cannes Lions.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

14120: Beale’s Biggest BS.

Campaign Global Editor-in-Chief Claire Beale pooped out a perspective on former WPP Overlord Martin Sorrell that demonstrated the woman’s cultlural cluelessness might be second to her corporate cluelessness. This contention can be corroborated with two sentences from Beale’s babbling:

To anyone rubbing their hands at the downfall of our industry’s biggest titan, I say “be careful what you wish for”. The sorry Sorrell saga certainly won’t do anything for the standing of our industry among clients already questioning the value we add.

To call Sorrell the “industry’s biggest titan” is puffery and personal opinion, which seems odd coming from a person purporting to be a professional journalist. It’s also unintentionally inaccurate, given Sorrell is reportedly 5’6.5” tall. Sorrell has certainly collected the biggest bag of money in the history of advertising. And he built the biggest holding company in the industry—a concept he didn’t invent, incidentally. But to crown Sorrell the “industry’s biggest titan” is debatable, even if Beale is only counting living advertising leaders. History will show if Sorrell gains greater recognition and respect than icons like Claude Hopkins, James Webb Young, Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy. Plus, if the details surrounding the halted investigation involving “personal misconduct” become public knowledge, Sorrell could earn the “industry’s biggest crook” title.

The second disturbing aspect of Beale’s two sentences is her use of the “our” and “we” qualifiers. Since when did Beale join the ranks of adland? Beale referring to “our industry” and “the value we add” is as inappropriate as ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt claiming a Super Bowl victory or FOX News Talk Show Host Sean Hannity identifying as a White House staffer. Then again, perhaps Sorrell’s transformation of the industry included quietly acquiring trade rags along with agencies. (BTW, the photographs serving to illustrate Campaign columnists—e.g., the portrait above that accompanied Beale’s viewpoint on Sorrell—give waaaaay too much prominence to the editors. Perhaps this is another indicator of the staff’s narcissistic self-importance…?)

Actually, Beale made one correct comment with implications that she probably didn’t realize:

But whatever your view of Sorrell—and he’s become such a public figure that plenty of people who’ve never worked for or against him have a view—over the last three decades he’s proved himself a phenomenal businessman.

Yes, Sorrell is a proven phenomenal businessman. It’s tough to say, however, if he has ever been fully embraced as an adman.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

14119: Seeing Exclusivity.

AMV BBDO produced this Guinness video featuring a blind footballer from Ghana. The video ends as the hero proclaims, “I am made of Black.” Wonder how he’d respond upon seeing that—based on the credits—the responsible creative team was made of Whites.

Friday, April 20, 2018

14118: COO Is KOOKOO.

Adweek published the following memo to the troops from new WPP Co-COO Mark Read:

To everyone at WPP

Over the last four days I’ve spent as much time as possible speaking to our people and clients. There’s universal admiration for Martin’s achievements, and sadness about his departure. At the same time, there’s a huge amount of support and goodwill for the company, and no shortage of confidence about the future.

That confidence is well founded. The companies and client teams that make up WPP are exceptionally good at what they do. They are major organisations in their own right, with their own strong leaders. The clients I’ve spoken to have all been clear: they value their partner agencies and teams, they expect them to continue to deliver, and they have no doubt that they will.

Andrew and I have been given a very clear brief by the Board. First, to run the business on a day-to-day basis. I’m looking after people, clients and companies and Andrew is focused on operational and financial performance and managing the WPP portfolio. And second, to move forward decisively on the Group’s strategy. We have tremendous strengths within WPP, and we plan to build on those while bringing our own perspective and ideas.

WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you). We’re working closely with the leaders of our companies, and listening carefully to their views, as we develop our plans.

Some things we know already: we’ll get even closer to our clients to better understand and meet their needs and to help them grow in a world of disruption; we’ll get closer to technology partners like Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others; we’ll make sure our structure and offer make it as simple as possible for clients to access our services across the Group; and we’ll put data, technology AND creativity at the heart of what we do.

There’s been speculation about breaking up the Group. We don’t believe this makes sense. In a world where clients need faster, more agile, integrated solutions, we need to get closer together, not further apart.

We’ll share more as soon as we can but, in the meantime, if you have questions let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them:

WPP is a great business with outstanding people, world-class agencies and most of the world’s leading companies as its clients and partners.

Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.

Mark Read

Chief Operating Officer, WPP

Gotta believe the overwhelming majority of memo recipients perused the above and wondered, “Who the fuck is Mark Read?”

To assure everyone that the two new COOs “have been given a very clear brief by the Board” is hardly an inspiring thought. Does the average WPP worker bee really want to know the Board is calling the shots?

Read’s most outrageous line declared, “WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you).” Now, despite the crazy contention that the White holding company represents “perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation,” even former WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell admitted White women are underrepresented in leadership roles and the representation of Blacks, Latinos and the LGBT community is “unacceptably low.” So saying WPP’s greatest strength is its diversity is the equivalent of proclaiming the KKK’s greatest strength is its open-minded tolerance.

Oh, and the leadership at Wunderman—where Read has served as Global CEO—lacks diversity too. To recycle Read’s words, “Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

14117: Noticing The Gaps.

McCann London created this campaign for MysteryVibe, producer of a technologically advanced vibrator. Oddly enough, despite the divertsity trend snowballing in adland, the credits show the responsible McCann teammates are predominately male. Did anybody consider that the best way to “help close the orgasm gap” might have involved closing the gender gap?

14116: Starbucks Store Bias.

The New York Times reported Starbucks will shut 8,000 stores as employees undergo racial-bias training after an incident involving the arrest of two Black men in Philadelphia that sparked nationwide outrage. Look for Brad Jakeman to whine that it’s another case of the “vocal minority” injuring a brand that has done so much for racial harmony over the years. Regardless, the scenario does demonstrate the power of the public to ignite change by threatening to boycott, adversely affecting a brand’s image and bottom line. Unfortunately, rallying the public to demand the end of exclusivity on Madison Avenue has never succeeded. For starters, people tend to be unaware of White advertising agencies’ existence at all. And even attempting to target the advertisers who employ and partner with such shops would likely fail to persuade the brands to mandate equality. Besides, the White advertising agencies would defend themselves by presenting the patronizing smokescreens and heat shields—inner-city internships, minority mentoring, tax-deductible donations to ADCOLOR® and The 3% Movement, etc.—designed to create the illusion of inclusion. Hell, the culturally clueless hucksters would probably advise Starbucks to launch a limited edition Coffy coffee to quiet the protests.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

14115: Lessons In Exclusivity.

Campaign published a viewpoint from >we Founder Carl Martin, who shared his thoughts and experiences on creating a video to promote what he envisions as “the world’s most inclusive company.” Give Martin credit for his openness and honesty relating the standard challenges involved with bringing diversity and inclusion to the creative process. Yet the scenario underscores how exclusivity in the advertising industry extends to the commercial production industry. Martin admittedly fumbled in a few basic areas, and found himself inadvertently swept up in the collateral cultural cluelessness. Specifically, he made the mistake of taking the recommendation of a hip hop artist when selecting a director, not realizing that being a hip hop artist does not translate to having expertise executing advertising campaigns. Martin compounded his mistake by failing to seek competitive bids (hey, it would have been a perfect PR opportunity for Free The Bid). And the director—when asked by Martin to secure a diverse production crew—exacerbated the scenario by delivering the lazy excuse of having insufficient time or budget to risk hiring unfamiliar workers. Because, by golly, you can’t just bring in anyone to handle craft services and key grip roles. (Tip to Martin: you’d be surprised at how many hair and makeup stylists aren’t qualified to deal with talent of color.) Again, give Martin credit for being open and honest in his essay. At the same time, don’t wonder why diversity continues to be denied in adland.

Lessons from trying to build the world’s most inclusive brand from scratch

A view from Carl Martin

The founder of >we, a new app designed to help people build meaningful connections, shares his lessons from trying to build the world’s most inclusive company.

Disruption and innovation are no longer the advertising world’s favourite words beginning with D&I. It’s now all about diversity and inclusion. It’s suddenly ‘become cool’ to make a modern day United Colours of Bennetton ad again. But that’s the problem right there. Without diverse teams behind the creative and production, diversity has been weaponised by the world of advertising for commercial gain. And it’s backfiring.

We’ve seen slip ups by Tesco, Dove, and Pepsi to name but a few — where they’ve been distracted by the aesthetic of diversity for a short term campaign, instead of focussing on building a truly inclusive, long lasting brand. Brand is no longer about your celebrity endorsements and witty straplines. Brand is about having clear and strong values, and operating with authenticity and integrity in alignment with those values. People have a low tolerance and high sensitivity to brand bullshit. If what you’re doing isn’t genuine, and is all just lip service, people won’t just know it, but they’ll be vocal as hell about it too.

For our young company, >we (pronounced More Than We), not only do we hope to help young professionals build more meaningful relationships in their lives and careers, but most important of all, we want this company to be a representation of what it means to be inclusive from day dot. We want to ensure everyone feels valued, respected, considered and equal — whether in our communications, our products or even the fundamentals of our company.

This week we launched a film for our rebrand, and it is a shining example of how regardless of all the awareness and passion in the world, our working mentality, rhythm and biases can lead us to be anything but inclusive. I’m so immensely proud of what we’ve created. I’m proud of the team that worked crazy hours and gave it their all to make something that shares our vision with the world. That said, I know it could have been better.

I wanted to share my reflections and a couple of key lessons learned with the industry — not just because I believe it is valuable knowledge to disseminate, but to also hold myself and my company accountable for improvement and growth from here on in.

Lesson One: Focus on outcomes and feelings, over tactics and aesthetics

I’ve come to learn of the importance of representation in the media for marginalised people over the past few years. I recognise that this film is not fully representative of the broader community I want to build for and serve, and their absence doesn’t sit well with our vision and mission.

I ended up having a drawn out dialogue with Hanna Naima McCloskey (founder of Fearless Futures) in the days after the shoot, as I wrestled with the complex tension between ‘a diverse cast’ and ‘an inclusive piece of communication’. One thing that didn’t sit well with either of us, is what felt like my pushing for tokenism, rather than a meaningful inclusion of these people into the film.

This is the classic ‘tick-box’ mentality that most people experience when they focus on the tactic of diversity, and not the outcome or impact of inclusion. Failing to consider them at an earlier stage meant that they weren’t getting the same treatment and consideration as say women of colour, who I made a conscious choice many weeks before to ensure they were not only represented, but shown as strong, respected and talented, as they are.

I spent significant time mulling over what we could cut or kill from the budget to afford another half day shoot. I’d decided to invest our entire marketing budget into this film, in the knowledge it would create much of our content for the coming months and would be utilised across every possible platform. But I came to the realisation that I was trying to buy away my guilt, and hide the reality of what had actually occurred. That didn’t sit well with me, and it certainly didn’t feel authentic.

Lesson Two: Education of team is paramount in the absence of understanding

I was lucky enough to meet the director for the film, a chap called Michael Garsin, via a mutual friend of ours — hip hop artist Clement Marfo. Michael was the only director I met with, and I do not regret for a moment deciding to work with him. But I didn’t give anyone else a shot at forming that same relationship with me. The inherent trust that was created as a result of a recommendation was enough for me in that moment to move onto the next objective.

I had a chat with Michael in the few weeks leading up to the shoot, and asked him to be considerate of the production team that he built and potentially giving some new folks an opportunity to be part of the shoot. But understandably, he reinforced the need of compiling a team of people he trusts to get the job done and within my budget.

In the end, over the course of a three-day shoot, this nine-person team was composed of seven men and two women, all of whom were white. I made huge assumptions about Michael’s flexibility and network, and that my polite request would be but a formality. Maybe I could have been firmer with Michael. Maybe I could have found a collaborator who wasn’t a white middle class man just like me. What I do know is education of others takes time and investment that I just didn’t factor into the process. Just because I’m on a journey to become an inclusive founder doesn’t mean everyone else is in the same headspace too.

“Nothing about us, without us”

This film is a representation of the company’s reality right now. It was my mentality and network that was brought to life by this film, and it showed the holes and inadequacies. Although this does not undermine my passion or vision for the company, it illustrates where we and many other companies are today.

Instead of attempting to spin the film, or maybe shoe horn in some folks in a mini-shoot, I made the commitment to be open and honest about the process, share the key lessons, and to be clear about my desire to radically improve and grow as the company moves forward. We want, can and will do more to ensure we build a company, brand and products that place everyone’s needs and dreams front and centre.

If you have feedback in whatever form, you can email me directly at I’d welcome it and learning opportunity.

14114: Accelerating Bullshit.

Advertising Age reported on the latest 4A’s soiree—titled “Accelerate”—which ultimately showed the industry is really just accelerating in circles, as evidenced by the following excerpt:

Diversity and equality

Issues of diversity were pervasive at this year’s conference. In her opening remarks, 4A’s CEO and president, Marla Kaplowitz, talked about some of the work the group is doing in this area.

“Although the 4A’s has discussed and created programs focused on diversity issues in the industry, we have not done enough for our members to address inclusion in the workplace,” she said. “It’s time for action, so we are creating a series of playbooks and tools—guides to really help our members.” One new initiative, she said, is an “enlightened workplace certification.”

In a panel Tuesday afternoon on the topic of diverse leadership, Karen Costello, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency, talked about how the agency has navigated the waters since creative veteran Joe Alexander departed following an internal investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment.

“Creative departments are such a unique microcosm at agencies,” she said. “They’re ground zero for the worst behavior in our industry very often, but they’re also sort of ground zero for some of the most empathetic people, because that’s kind of where creativity comes from. So my personal experience at The Martin Agency has been unique because that agency was a bit of ground zero for this Me Too movement in advertising.”

Costello said many of the men at the agency were horrified at what had happened, and asked colleagues how they’d be able to help.

“That’s one of the biggest things: All you need to do is ask “How I can help?” That shows that you’re listening and being empathetic,” she said.

Costello added that the agency has started saying “ouch” as a safe word of sorts—connoting that a comment might be inappropriate or could make someone uncomfortable. “We just create a little bit of an environment that allows people to say, “What you just said isn’t cool, but let’s all just kind of work through this as opposed to making it a big, ‘Oh, you hurt my feelings.’” She added that it’s a balance of employees knowing they can speak up in a lighter way, or be taken seriously if a more in-depth conversation is desired.

First, for Kaplowitz to admit, “Although the 4A’s has discussed and created programs focused on diversity issues in the industry, we have not done enough for our members to address inclusion in the workplace,” is nothing short of pathetic. Why are industry “leaders” so open to share they have not done enough regarding diversity? How long before these “leaders” are held accountable for not doing enough? Hell, shouldn’t someone minimally establish a standard for doing enough? Otherwise, the admissions sound like negligence. Additionally, to announce the creation of playbooks and an “enlightened workplace certification” is even more pathetic, as such lame ideas have already been pooped out and promoted by patronizing White advertising agencies and patronizing White women’s clubs. Does Kaplowitz realize the 4As already published a diversity playbook by Adonis Hoffman—an individual with legitimate cultural competence—that states exactly what White advertising agencies must do for progress? Like too many in the industry, Kaplowitz is regurgitating efforts that have been around—albeit ignored—for decades. It all indicates that the new 4A’s leader has probably not done enough on diversity throughout her career. Ouchy.

Second, Costello’s comments are equally disturbing. To declare creative departments are ground zero for the worst behavior and ground zero for some of the most empathetic people, as well as The Martin Agency being ground zero for the me too movement in adland, deserves a triple ouch. For one thing, it underscores how slow the industry has been to acknowledge me too—hell, the Erin Johnson lawsuit preceded the Joe Alexander affair by at least a year. For another thing, The Martin Agency has been slower to address true diversity. Between gender-based discrimination and race-and-ethnicity-based discrimination, Costello is dealing with a diversity double whammy. Ouchy-ouch. Oh, and it appears the “ouch” gimmick means the Richmond-based White advertising agency is finally undergoing diversity training—or watching instructional videos on the topic. But the viewings are likely a mandate from IPG versus a brainstorm hatched by Costello. Ouch to the nth degree.

In the end, Kaplowitz and Costello might be victims of circumstance. That is, former 4As President-CEO Nancy Hill tried to make diversity a priority and arguably delivered contributions to the cause. However, the trade organization has no authority to dictate anything, leaving White advertising agencies to do the bare minimum or less in achieving positive change. So Kaplowitz is fighting an uphill battle. Meanwhile, Costello inherited the creative reins of a premier shop that has not done enough in the area of diversity and is reeling from the biggest scandal in its history. So she’s fighting an uphill battle too. On the flipside, Ad Age noted, “Issues of diversity were pervasive at this year’s conference.” Um, issues of diversity were pervasive at the 4As Transformation Conference in 2010 too. At some point, the hand-wringing and navel-gazing—as well as the recycling of Band-aid tactics—must be replaced with innovative actions that actually ignite progress. The truth is, the only group in adland to experience progress in the past ten years is White women—as clearly demonstrated by figures like Kaplowitz and Costello. Yet they both admit to not having done enough in the area of diversity. Time will tell if they turn out to be part of the solution or the problem.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

14113: Making Mindful Mentors.

Campaign reported on an organization—Creative Mentor Network—that connects diverse youth mentees with creative industry mentors. But in one critical way, the organization appears to be extremely different than most of the patronizing mentor programs that White advertising agencies use to feign commitment to change. Specifically, Creative Mentor Network requires that mentors undergo extensive training to qualify. It’s hard to determine exactly what is involved in the training, but the very idea sounds progressive. To recognize that mentors—especially those coming from exclusive environments like ad agencies—need education and coaching to successfully engage with minority youth is remarkable. Kudos to the CMN Team for such forward-thinking awareness.

How the Creative Mentor Network is helping advertising’s diversity problem

By James Page

The organisation visits Havas and other agencies to train creatives to become mentors for college students from diverse backgrounds.

The not-for-profit organisation, founded by former teacher Isabel Farchy, aims to connect creative talent with young-people from diverse backgrounds. Through this, Creative Mentor Network hopes to make the advertising industry more accessible as a career for rising talent.

Farchy said: “In the creative industry there is a habit of recruiting through networks, so it can just be a lot more opaque from the outside and a lot harder to infiltrate. I really wanted my students when I was a teacher, but also now the students we work with, to understand that there were real opportunities in the creative industries”.

The London-based network has worked with numerous agencies such as Havas to train employees to become mentors.

Elliot Harris, creative director at Havas who is mentoring a teen, said: “I would love to think that by the end of this course… that there is a much broader set of experience he has had that will allow him to make some choices before he moves into the next stage of his education”.

The mentors at Havas have introduced their mentees to different departments at the agency, allowing them to get a wider understanding of the advertising world.

Creative Mentor Network believes that the course is just as beneficial for agencies as it is for the college students. Farchy said: “Agencies obviously gain the opportunity to do something practical about the diversity issue and also to offer training and development for their employees”.

She added: “When our partner agencies are looking to recruit, particularly for junior roles and for internship roles and for apprenticeship roles, we’re able to put them out to our alumni and its a really amazing opportunity to recruit much more diverse talent”.

The organisation has an alumni of over 200 students.

14112: Predicting Divertsity.

Adweek published a story titled, “4A’s Attendees Predict How the Ad Industry Will Evolve Over the Next 5 Years—Marketers offered thoughts on everything from diversity to tech to the agency model.” Not surprisingly, the report only included three thoughts on diversity—and two quotes came from executives at minority advertising agencies. Don’t mean to pick on the White thought leader, but Anomaly Group Strategy Director Laura Rowan opined, “I really hope that we’re still not talking about diversity being underrepresented. There’s actual pockets [of the industry] where there’s behavior that just isn’t equal or fair to certain groups of people.” Yes, and the “pockets” are White advertising agencies—although it’s a safe bet that Rowan’s “behavior that just isn’t equal or fair” comment is referring to discrimination targeting White women. After all, racial and ethnic minorities won’t experience equality in the advertising industry for 60 years at least.

Monday, April 16, 2018

14111: Schooling Minorities.

Advertising Age reported on the new divertsity stunt from Grey, another White advertising agency introducing a special program to recruit minorities and ignite patronizing PR opportunities. Grey launched the Famous Academy for Modern Effectiveness, a free portfolio school for minority creatives outside of the industry. In other words, effectively identifying colored candidates requires scouring the inner cities, followed by providing assimilation basic training. According to Grey Worldwide Chief Creative Officer John Patroulis, “If we’re honest about one of the barriers to diversity in creative departments, it’s socioeconomic.” Hey, Patroulis is absolutely correct. However, he seems clueless that the socioeconomic barrier is upscale Caucasian men and women taking full advantage of White privilege to dominate the field. Patroulis deserves to graduate summa cum laude from the Famous Academy for Mad Men Exclusivity.

Grey’s latest diversity move: Free portfolio school

By I-Hsien Sherwood

Grey New York has been going full-force in its diversity efforts. Earlier this week at the 4A’s Transformation Conference in Miami, it said it will devote 75 percent of its spending on talent and resources toward creative departments. Late last month, it partnered with the 3% Movement to try to ensure that all work the agency produces reflects diversity. Now Grey is debuting an initiative that aims to tackle both objectives: free ad school.

Last week, 20 creatives recruited from outside the industry began classes at the Famous Academy for Modern Effectiveness, an eight-week, tuition-free portfolio school co-founded by Grey and FindSpark, an inclusion-focused networking site for young professionals. Its goal is to train talented people who might otherwise have been overlooked, or who would have eschewed advertising due to cost or lack of opportunity.

“If we’re honest about one of the barriers to diversity in creative departments, it’s socioeconomic,” says John Patroulis, worldwide chief creative officer at Grey. “College is expensive. Portfolio school is expensive. And then you get your first job, and it’s not high-paying.” Patroulis didn’t go to ad school himself, but the industry is harder to break into now than it was when he began, he says.

Students at Fame, as the program is nicknamed, meet one day a week for a class at Grey’s Manhattan office. The inaugural program is being taught by Deputy Chief Creative Officer Rob Lenois, accompanied by guest speakers from the agency. Students get assignments to work on throughout the week on topics like agency structure, campaign analysis, client collaboration skills and storytelling fundamentals. By the end of the program, they’ll have a portfolio they can use in their job search. Grey is also pairing the students with agency mentors, with the aim of creating long-term bonds that will last beyond the two-month program.

Unlike an internship, classes are scheduled for the evenings to account for students with full-time employment. “These are people with their own lives, many of them with jobs in different fields,” Patroulis says. “They’ve got other stuff to do, too.”

Once the program is over, students will be invited to apply for—but won’t be guaranteed—positions at Grey. And if they opt to pursue a job at a different agency? “There’s no obligation for them to join us,” says Patroulis. “Obviously, I’m hoping some of them do, but it’s something that the industry needs, and if we can help be part of it, that’s a great thing.”

Grey worked with FindSpark to select Fame’s first students by targeting the network’s users “who have produced some sort of creative work, mostly through side hustles and independent projects, but have not gone through a formal portfolio program,” says Emily Miethner, FindSpark’s CEO and founder. “The students chosen to make it to the next round shared personal and professional stories that demonstrated hard-work, perseverance, a passion to create.” They also offered thoughtful answers to the primary question: “In your opinion, what needs to change in the advertising industry?” From that initial pool of candidates, Grey narrowed it down to the final 20.

Fame students won’t end up interacting with Grey interns, since the latter don’t show up in force until the summer. But the agency is planning to retool its internship program with an eye towards diversity. While the portfolio school is focused on broadening recruitment in the creative department, the internships cross all disciplines.

“I think if the industry is going to survive, it needs to find ways to reach out,” Patroulis says of the agency’s varied diversity efforts. “Portfolio school is great, but it’s not the only way. Part of it is having a commitment to diversity in general and diversity of all kinds. You have to try a lot of different things.”

Sunday, April 15, 2018

14110: To Sir, With Love Of Money.

Campaign published a statement to the global staff from WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell—who has historically earned 780 times more than the average worker—on the day of his resignation.

The lengthy letter opened by declaring, “For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP.” Okay, but he probably spent too little time each day considering the present—and the people—of WPP.

Sorrell then stated, “We welcomed J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, Grey…” Um, JWT was the first hostile takeover in the industry, so it’s a little bizarre to say the agency was welcomed to the fold. In roughly 30 years, JWT went from hostile takeover to hostile workplace.

Next, Sorrell proceeded to recite the breakthrough accomplishments experienced over the years. The self-congratulatory list did not include any kudos for being “the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation.” Also absent were salutes for gender equality and talent recruitment in the holding company.

Sorrell promised, “In the coming period, I will be available to the Board and any of you, should you want help with anything, anywhere.” Oh, please. Then again, it would be interesting to learn what Gustavo Martinez might request.

In closing, Sorrell proclaimed that WPP will always be more important than life or death, which likely inspired over 200,000 eye rolls. Sorrell ended by saying, “Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you… now Back to the Future.” Somebody tell Doc Brown to leave Marty wherever he lands.

Sorrell’s full resignation message to WPP: ‘Godspeed to all of you’

By Staff

Sir Martin Sorrell sent this statement to the staff at WPP, following his resignation as chief executive.

“To everyone at WPP

For the past 33 years, I have spent every single day thinking about the future of WPP. Over those decades, our family has grown and prospered.

We welcomed J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, Grey, 24/7 Real Media, Taylor Nelson Sofres, among so many others.

We created Group M, including Xaxis and Essence.

We put the focus on Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe, the home of the next billion consumers. We embarked on the early development of digital capabilities; and the evolution of a firm-wide integrated client and country-centered approach.

Our holding company was recognised as the world’s best and most effective through the Cannes Lions and Effie Awards year after year after year.

We pioneered Atticus Awards for original written thinking…. the WPP Fellowship Awards to recognise promising talent…. the Partnership and Practice Awards for client endorsed integrated market and case studies.

Our Stream digital conferences have attracted the best in the digital business for more than a decade.

Our Annual Sustainability and Pro Bono Reports highlight the unique social, environmental and public policy work that we do day in, day out across the globe.

As I look ahead, I see that the current disruption we are experiencing is simply putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business, our over 200,000 people and their 500,000 or so dependents, and the clients we serve in 112 countries.

That is why I have decided that in your interest, in the interest of our clients, in the interest of all shareowners, both big and small, and in the interest of all our other stakeholders, it is best for me to step aside.

We have had a succession plan in place for some time. A new generation of management, led by Mark Read and Andrew Scott (who have each been at WPP for approximately 20 years), are well qualified and experienced in the Board’s opinion, to deal with the geographic and technological opportunities and challenges our industry faces.

We have weathered difficult storms in the past. And our highly talented people have always won through, always.

Nobody, either direct competitors or newly-minted ones can beat the WPP team, as long as you work closely together, whether by client and/or country or digitally.

In the coming period, I will be available to the Board and any of you, should you want help with anything, anywhere. I shall miss all of you greatly. You have given me such excitement and energy and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done and will do for WPP and me.

As some of you know, my family has expanded recently, WPP will always be my baby too.

As a Founder, I can say that WPP is not just a matter of life or death, it was, is and will be more important than that. Good fortune and Godspeed to all of you… now Back to the Future.

Thank you.”

14109: Roth’s Letter Of Lies.

AgencySpy posted on a letter to shareholders written by IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth, where the man expressed pride in taking “swift disciplinary action” in the scenario involving sexual harassment allegations against former The Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander. Once again, Roth has a questionable sense of reality with time. For example, when responding to racist behavior at Campbell Ewald, Roth claimed to take “immediate action” by firing the agency CEO—roughly three months after the bigoted incident occurred. In Alexander’s case, rumors and reports indicate a history of issues including quiet settlements stemming from bad-boy behavior at The Martin Agency over many years. The only swift and immediate thing coming from Roth is patronizing propaganda poop.

Roth also bragged, “We hosted the U.S. ad industry’s first summit on Black women in advertising. … In 2017, our annual women’s breakfast at Cannes attracted several hundred attendees and was a historic first focus on women of color, involving new research and gaining significant press coverage.” Of course, Roth failed to mention the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recorded less than 100 Black female executives in the U.S. advertising industry. Plus, a Cannes study revealed divertsity efforts have not benefited women of color. If Roth were required to run his missives through the legal department, he’d be instructed to add numerous disclaimers.

Another disturbing statement in Roth’s letter read, “In early 2018, IPG encouraged its leading women executives to become signatories to ‘Time’s Up Advertising,’ an industry movement aimed at addressing sexual harassment and gender inequality.” Gee, the IPG women needed to be “encouraged” by corporate headquarters to participate in the initiative? Wasn’t Joe Alexander encouragement enough?

IPG CEO Michael Roth Cites ‘Swift Disciplinary Action’ on #MeToo in New Letter to Shareholders

By Patrick Coffee

Michael Roth is proud of the progress IPG made last year on sexual harassment and gender equality—and he wants company shareholders to know about it.

Last October, the IPG chairman and CEO made some headlines for writing an all-staff memo declaring that his company would have a “zero-tolerance policy for all types of harassment” and “behavior that runs counter to an inclusive, respectful workplace.”

The memo, titled “A Workplace Free from Harassment,” also directly addressed the very real concerns of retaliation against whistle-blowers. It came in response to reports about the chronic harassment of women by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which soon sparked the nationwide resurgence of the #MeToo movement.

It also came just one week before that movement hit very close to home.

Sources tell us that, when the October memo went out, Roth and the larger IPG organization were unaware of an investigation into harassment claims made against The Martin Agency chief creative officer Joe Alexander, who was fired on June 7.

Roth appeared to address his company’s response to that case in its most recent letter to shareholders, which went out yesterday.

The letter opens by playing up IPG’s successes in “a challenging year for our industry” and referencing 1.8% organic growth for 2017. The relevant section comes two pages later and acknowledges that the company is “not immune” to bad behavior by unnamed individuals.


Our work to foster a culture of inclusion is a personal as well as a corporate priority, because an environment that encourages respect and trust is key to a creative business like ours. Helping our clients effectively connect with the marketplace can only take place when we have a variety of perspectives and beliefs solving communications and business challenges.

There are many ways we have brought this commitment to life. Most significantly, and uniquely for our industry, we ensure accountability by tying executive compensation directly to the ability of our leaders to achieve diversity objectives. For seven years, we’ve made a focus on women’s leadership the mainstay of our presence at the industry’s most important global awards competition. We hosted the U.S. ad industry’s first summit on Black women in advertising.

This year, we hosted three conference calls for all employees on the topics of race, DACA and overall inclusion concerns.

In 2017, our annual women’s breakfast at Cannes attracted several hundred attendees and was a historic first focus on women of color, involving new research and gaining significant press coverage. While we are pleased with our progress to date, we know there remains a great deal to be done on this vital issue, especially with people of color.

As we worked to reinforce our core values, two key areas of discussion and focus in 2017 included:


In 2017, sexual harassment became impossible to ignore. We have worked hard to create a culture where all our employees — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and other dimensions of diversity — can feel safe and that they can be their authentic selves at the office. However, with 50,000 employees, we are not immune to behavior by some individuals that runs counter to our values.

The key for IPG is that when behavior that runs counter to our values does happen, we acknowledge it honestly with our employees, and we take action. Ours is a company where women and men can come forward to report issues that concern them, and not fear retaliation. When employees bring forward credible allegations about sexual misconduct or unethical behavior, we investigate. And as we showed in 2017, we take swift disciplinary action when required.

In early 2018, IPG encouraged its leading women executives to become signatories to “Time’s Up Advertising,” an industry movement aimed at addressing sexual harassment and gender inequality. IPG women made up the largest portion of women leaders who signed up in support of the group, and IPG could not be more proud.

IPG releases its earnings for Q1 on April 27.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

14108: Black Shogun, Afro Ninja.

In 2014, Atlanta Black Star published a report titled, “The World of Sakanouye No Tamuramaro: Black Shogun of Early Japan.” It’s a lengthy piece, but well worth reading. Wonder if modern-day descendants include the infamous Afro Ninja.

Friday, April 13, 2018

14107: Clean Up Woman.

Harvard Business Review published a report titled, “Women of Color Get Asked to Do More ‘Office Housework.’ Here’s How They Can Say No.” It’s more confirmation that the alleged drama White women face in the advertising industry is not nearly as bad as the indignities experienced by women—and men—of color.