Tuesday, July 31, 2018

14240: Work & Woke.

Advertising Age published another pathetic perspective from Global Recruiters Network Sarasota President Tony Stanol, who actually opened with the headline, “Agencies: Take your hiring from broke to woke.” Stanol continued to use woke throughout his self-promotional and instructional essay on improving hiring practices at White advertising agencies. Of course, Stanol made no references to diversity—or even divertsity. This is not surprising, as recruiters are among the main culprits for perpetuating exclusivity in the industry. Sorry, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, it will take decades before idiots like Stanol evolve from joke to woke.

Agencies: Take your hiring from broke to woke

By Tony Stanol

People are the primary assets in our industry. “The scarcest resources in any organization are performing people,” business guru Peter Drucker said.

FCB founder Fairfax Cone famously put it this way: “The inventory goes down the elevator every night.”

With an estimated 30 percent turnover, the ad industry does a ton of hiring every year. But when you talk to agency talent chiefs and hiring managers, this much becomes clear: If your recruiting process isn’t woke, it’s broke. Chances are, at your agency it’s the latter.

The recruiting process dates back decades. It’s surprisingly inefficient and antiquated for an industry that prides itself on groundbreaking work and creativity. Here’s the red pill prescription to get your process woke.

Do the heavy lifting up front

Every hire should be approached like a mini business plan: objectives, strategies and tactics. Designate the key players and who owns the process. Thinking this through before talking to candidates saves the firm a lot of time down the road and avoids frustrating potential talent.

Craft a meaningful job brief

Does your job description accurately describe what it will take to succeed or is it written by committee and chock-full of industry jargon? What are the problems we need to solve? Do your job description and postings sell the sizzle of working at your agency? Or does it sound flat and generic, like this: “The ideal candidate must be highly motivated, energetic, passionate, analytical, creative, be comfortable with ambiguity, have strong organizational and interpersonal skills and not be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.”

Align all decision-makers

Are all interviewers on the same page about the job? Are they singing the same tune about the values of the company when talking to candidates? What is the interview sequence? Clear calendars and make sure everyone’s in town: If you get a veto over the hire, you absolutely need to buy into the process and should be on the interviewing schedule.

Establish a timeline and hold people to it

In answer to the question, “When would you like someone in place?” I often hear, “Yesterday.” But hiring takes time: weeks to source candidates and interview them by phone or in person, time to prepare and approve an offer, time between offer acceptance and start date.

How many candidates do you need to see or can you pull the trigger when the right person appears?

Don’t forget the need to respond and give feedback quickly. There is a war for talent, especially in this “candidate-driven” marketplace with more jobs available than able bodies.

Know that candidate handling directly reflects on your agency

Don’t leave them hanging. Good candidates are often lost during radio silence from agencies. Feedback, good or bad, is better than nothing. As a recruiter, this follow-up lets me do my job and helps the agency’s professional image.

If you engage an outside recruiter, make it an exclusive

Clients often do their own recruiting, either through internal staff, referrals or both. I don’t blame them—I did too when I was on the agency side. But there are times when it’s worth paying an external source. And when you do, you’ll get the best bang from a single-source recruiter because you focus your time and resources.

After the hire, track performance precisely

Back to Drucker: “Since World War II, the U.S. military—and so far no one else—has learned to test its placement decisions. In business, by contrast, placement with specific expectations as to what the appointee should achieve and systematic appraisal of the outcome are virtually unknown.”

Yes, this is extra work and it’s rarely done. But it’s the best way to construct a scientific gauge and validate your hiring decision. It also provides feedback for future hires, creating a virtual circle of woke-ness.

Tony Stanol is president of Global Recruiters.

Monday, July 30, 2018

14239: Motion Sickness.

Adweek reported on the latest moves in the legal foursome between former CP+B CCO Ralph Watson, MDC Partners, CP+B and Diet Madison Avenue. MDC Partners and CP+B filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against them, claiming that the original employment contract Watson signed in 2014 included a provision that protects the White holding company and White advertising agency from such legal actions. According to the MDC Partners/CP+B lawyers, the contract states disputes must be handled via arbitration versus jury trial. Additionally, the White holding company and White advertising agency denied the White man’s charges of age discrimination, reverse sex discrimination and other stuff. Watson and his lawyer must respond to the motion by August 28—which gives Diet Madison Avenue another month to collect GoFundMe donations for its legal defense.

MDC Partners and CP+B File Motion to Dismiss Diet Madison Avenue Defamation Lawsuit

Ex-CCO Ralph Watson demanded $10 million

By Patrick Coffee

The legal entanglements involving anonymous whistle-blower group Diet Madison Avenue, MDC Partners, CP+B and that agency’s former chief creative officer Ralph Watson moved into a new phase this week as the network and agency filed a motion to have his lawsuit against them dismissed.

In short, the lawyers argue that Watson must resolve any and all disputes with CP+B and/or MDC outside of court in keeping with the original terms of his employment. They also state that CP+B has no responsibility to reveal the evidence that led to Watson’s termination, which reportedly consists of emails he sent to unnamed female employees.

Watson was fired in February soon after the Diet Madison Avenue Instagram account released a series of posts that described him as a sexual “predator.”

In May, his lawyer filed a defamation suit against DMA in Los Angeles County Superior Court and stated that Instagram would be subpoenaed to release the names of two Jane Does who allegedly helped run the account, which then shut down before reopening under a different handle. He subsequently filed a separate suit against the agency, its parent company and their CFO and general counsel, respectively, alleging wrongful termination and reverse sex discrimination.

The new motion, filed in the U.S. District Court in Colorado on July 25 by the law firms Davis & Gilbert and Davis Graham & Stubbs (representing MDC and CP+B, respectively), cites an arbitration clause in the contract Watson signed when CP+B hired him in 2014.

That contract “contained a broad arbitration provision mandating that all disputes arising between [Watson] and his employer be resolved in final and binding arbitration,” the document reads. “Accordingly, the case should be dismissed and arbitration should be compelled.”

The document goes on to cite Section 18 of the contract itself, which states that “this arbitration provision constitutes a waiver of the Executive’s right to a jury trial” in cases of disputes regarding “wrongful discharge of employment” as well as breach of contract issues and allegations of defamation or violations of federal, state or municipal statutes including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Later in the document, the motion also specifically states that all of Watson’s complaints fall under the arbitration agreement.

MDC and CP+B also deny claims that Watson’s age had anything to do with his firing and that he suffered from “reverse sex discrimination” after Watson’s legal team argued that he “would not have been terminated and/or had other adverse employment actions taken against him if he were a woman.” The fact that Watson also argued he was fired in order to “quell the Diet Madison Avenue attacks against CP+B” undercuts these claims, according to the document.

The earlier suit claimed that CP+B used “emails that were sent by Mr. Watson to female employees” to justify the firing but has so far declined to provide those documents.

In the new filing, CP+B effectively argues that it should not be required to “compromise the confidentiality of its investigation process” by revealing the identities of those employees to the plaintiff and his legal team.

The defendants then “flatly dispute” the allegation that the decision to fire Watson constitutes defamation, noting that he has not identified the individuals who made the allegations against him nor has Watson released the “actual content of such statements.”

Finally, the document holds that the arbitration agreement also applies to MDC Partners even though the contract in question concerned only CP+B, because “a signatory-plaintiff cannot escape his own commitment to arbitrate merely by naming his signatory-employer’s nonsignatory parent as a defendant.”

If the court does not decide to dismiss the suit “in whole or in part,” the argument concludes, then it should issue a stay pending the outcome of the aforementioned arbitration.

Spokespeople for MDC and CP+B declined to comment.

“They are attempting to compel arbitration, because they want the case out of the public eye,” said Michael Ayotte, the lawyer representing Watson, when contacted by Adweek. “They, and DMA, have continued to fail to provide any actual allegations against my client, much less any evidence in support, because none exists. Our response to their motion is due on Aug. 28.”

Sunday, July 29, 2018

14238: DDB Healthy Bullshit.

DDB Health|Paris boasts being nice and talented. However, based on the promotional advertisement and agency website, the place actually lacks both qualities. Going out on a limb here, but we’ll bet the self-proclaimed nice and talented bunch lacks diversity too.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

14237: White Man’s Best Friend.

In recent years, much has been said about the imperative for inclusiveness; that is, to successfully recruit and retain diverse candidates, White advertising agencies must evolve into minority-friendly environments. Yet as these job listings show, most shops are more interested in dog-friendliness than POC-friendliness.

Friday, July 27, 2018

14236: MDCuts.

Adweek revealed MDC Partners fired executive leaders for “unacceptable” behavior that didn’t involve sexual harassment. Rather, the cuts resulted from an unacceptable Q1 report that led to a 35% decline in the White holding company’s stock value. Further drops could happen if former CP+B CCO Ralph Watson succeeds in his $10 million lawsuit for wrongful termination. While it’s refreshing to see top executives being held accountable for a company’s failings, the move can’t help employee morale. After all, the average worker at MDC Partners has no power or influence to improve earnings and stock value. So although the firings were not tied to sexual harassment, the ex-executives did screw a lot of employees.

MDC Partners Parts With CMO and Other Corporate Executives Before Q2 Earnings Report

Stock dropped after ‘unacceptable’ first quarter

By Patrick Coffee

Agency network MDC Partners parted with several members of its corporate leadership team earlier this week, a spokesperson confirmed today.

“Our MDC colleagues are truly family, and they represent some of the best in the business,” read a statement. “As we look to the future and refine the structure of our organization to best support our clients and agency partners, we made the difficult decision to part ways with a small handful of individuals within our corporate team.”

According to a party directly familiar with the matter, CMO Bob Kantor—formerly CEO of Publicis New York—was among those let go, in addition to individuals on the company’s finance and operations teams.

The spokesperson declined to comment on any of the affected individuals or elaborate beyond the quote above. Kantor has not responded to a request for comment.

The news arrives two and a half months after a Q1 report, described by CEO Scott Kauffman as “unacceptable,” that led to a 35 percent drop in the company’s stock value. In explaining the results to investors, Kauffman cited “some client cutbacks” and a slowdown in new business wins for the agency network, which includes CP+B, 72andSunny, KBS, Doner, Anomaly and Assembly, among others. He also mentioned ASC 606, a new set of accounting standards that went into effect last December and applies to revenue from contracts with customers.

Kauffman implied on the call that MDC Partners might consider selling some of its assets, but no such moves have been announced.

In late 2016, the company saw its stock drop by nearly 60 percent in a single day three months before announcing a $95 million investment by Goldman Sachs. Following the news, shares rose approximately 30 percent, though the price of the company’s stock is currently less than half what it was one year ago.

Kauffman took over for Miles Nadal in 2015 after the former CEO stepped down amid an SEC investigation into MDC Partners’ finances and later agreed to repay $21 million.

The network acquired a majority stake in Portland agency Instrument in an April acquisition positioned as one of “several” likely 2018 M&A moves.

MDC Partners’ next earnings call is scheduled for Thursday, August 2. The company representative did not elaborate on its future plans today.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

14235: Fake Facts & Non-Truths.

Advertising Age spotlighted a new Allstate campaign starring Dennis Haysbert talking about facts and truth. First of all, does anyone really believe an insurance company—co-conspiring with a White advertising agency—is even capable of delivering facts and truth? Secondly, given the hoopla surrounding gender pay gaps, it’s time to also address compensation inequities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities. Specifically, is Haysbert receiving the same amount of money as the hackneyed White actor playing Mayhem for Allstate? Haysbert is actually doing the heavy lifting, being called upon to clearly communicate the insurance company’s messages. It would be nice to get the facts and know the truth.

Ahead of new CMO, Allstate refreshes tagline and puts Dennis Haysbert back into spotlight

By Adrianne Pasquarelli

Last week, Allstate announced it has a new CMO; Kohler marketing exec Elizabeth Brady, who joins the company in August. But before she starts, the insurer will have a refreshed campaign and tagline that puts Dennis Haysbert back into the spotlight.

On Monday, the Northbrook, Illinois-based brand begins a new series of TV spots. In the commercials, Haysbert appears and gives a fact, e.g., there are 9,600 roads named “Park” in the U.S. He then notes that they are, however, in different regions with vastly different conditions. Some, for instance, could be where excessive winds ruin the siding on houses, others where ice dams could cause water damage. And who knows all about the different potential conditions you need to protect against? Allstate, of course. Haysbert, who has appeared in Allstate marketing since 2003, then asks, “Now that you know the truth, are you in good hands?”

It’s another lengthier variation on Allstate’s six-decade-old slogan “You’re in good hands,” originally developed by a brand employee in 1950, and which evolved to “It’s good to be in good hands” in a push two years ago. At that time, Haysbert had taken a backseat, doing only voice work for the brand, which had tapped trendy celebrities such as Adam DeVine, Tim Gunn and Leslie Jones in an effort to better connect with younger customers. Allstate faces increased competition from startup insurers, such as home insurance provider Lemonade, for that consumer segment.

“Having an asset like Dennis who’s so immediately and universally associated with our brand is a huge advantage,” says Gannon Jones, senior VP, marketing at Allstate. “Our focus has been around the best ways to leverage him that present Allstate in a contemporary way that ... reflects how we’re transforming.”

The brand will still use Mayhem, the mischief-making character played by actor Dean Winters, in marketing and has increased the character’s use in 2018, Jones notes.

Leo Burnett, which has worked with Allstate for 61 years, created the new push. Allstate has recently broadened its roster to include other specialty shops such as 72andSunny. The company declined to provide budget specifics for the new push, which will include TV, radio, outdoor and digital, but Jones says Allstate is increasing its overall marketing investment this year. In 2017, Allstate spent $296 million on measured media, a 14 percent decline over 2016, according to Ad Age’s Datacenter.

Of course, more changes are surely on the horizon for Allstate, given Brady’s arrival next month. She replaces Sanjay Gupta, who left the brand last fall after five years.

14234: P&G&B&S.

Adweek reported Publicis Groupe executed major layoffs and departmental restructurings, apparently in response to production cuts and reductions from Procter & Gamble. If the White advertising agencies serving P&G are being forced to eliminate staff, what’s going to happen when the minority shops have crumbs taken away? Oh, wait—what’s going to happen is totally clear and already under way. The White advertising agencies will recoup their losses by snatching assignments from the minority shops. Of course, P&G and the White firms will bring on consultants of color and minority vendors to satisfy the minimum diversity supplier goals. Hey, promoting White women and Free The Bid will do the trick.

P&G Cuts Agency Budgets as Publicis Restructures Its Production Department

Group lays off executives, names new cross-agency lead

By Patrick Coffee

Publicis Groupe has restructured the production departments at three of its New York-based creative agencies in an effort to adjust to the needs of unspecified clients, the holding company confirmed today.

According to two people with direct knowledge of the matter, the move also involved a round of layoffs.

“Publicis continues to position our agency for the future and unlock smart, agile and strategic solutions,” read a statement from a holding group spokesperson. “We’re being mindful about our moves in New York, which include restructuring resources to better serve clients and better deploy talent.”

One person who was among those let go told Adweek that a primary reason for the change was a decision by Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser and one of Publicis Groupe’s most important global clients, to cut or reduce production work on its ad campaigns.

As part of the move, the two sources said several executives, including the head of production at Publicis New York and at least one executive producer, were also laid off.

Jenny Read, who joined Saatchi & Saatchi New York in 2017 as director of integrated production, will now reportedly oversee the teams at that agency as well as Publicis New York and PG One, the holding company’s dedicated P&G unit.

It is unclear at this time how many employees were affected overall. Publicis declined to elaborate beyond the statement above, and a Saatchi & Saatchi representative declined to comment.

P&G deferred to Publicis for comment on agency operations but clarified that it had “embraced more efficient ways of production” rather than taking more production work in-house.

P&G’s chief marketing officer Marc Pritchard has made several major changes to the CPG giant’s agency lineup and larger marketing strategy in recent years. At the 4A’s Accelerate conference in Miami this April, the company announced that it will pioneer new agency models including one group that will handle its fabric care brands by drawing talent from Saatchi, WPP’s Grey and Omnicom’s Hearts & Science and Marina Maher Communications.

Pritchard described it to Adweek as “an interactive agency that focuses first on people.” He also said that P&G will still rely on its agency partners to handle creative work, thereby avoiding missteps like Pepsi’s infamous Kendall Jenner campaign.

According to sources who spoke to Adweek, however, the company’s plans to cut production budgets have been in the works for some time. P&G’s ultimate goal is to streamline its global marketing spend.

This latest move is in keeping with Pritchard’s much-discussed strategy for reducing waste and increasing efficiency by demanding greater transparency from its media partners, cutting its digital spend and reducing production costs.

In March, P&G’s top competitor Unilever also told investors in its 2017 annual report that it had saved approximately 30 percent on agency fees by bringing more of that work—including production—in-house.

P&G spent nearly $2.7 billion on paid media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media.

This story has been updated to include the client’s clarifications.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

14233: 30 Under 30 Underrepresentation.

Campaign presented the 2018 Media Week 30 Under 30 winners. And the ultimate winner is…exclusivity! (With divertsity as the runner-up.)

14232: True Talk.

The Talk inspired this parody—which is actually based on The Truth.

MOM 1: Who said you could get a job in advertising?

KID: The lady at the ADCOLOR® party.

MOM 1: That is not a good idea.

MOM 2: Listen, it’s an ugly, nasty word. And you’re going to hear it at Papa John’s, Campbell Ewald and other White advertising agencies.

MOM 3: Work hard on hitting—because you’ve got a better chance of landing in Major League Baseball than Madison Avenue.

MOM 4: Remember, you can do anything they can. Difference is, you’ve got to do it on multicultural projects only. And for crumbs.

MOM 5: You got your agency ID? Otherwise, they’ll think you’re the janitor.

MOM 6: Now, when you get pulled over in the hallway, keep your hands on the mail cart and don’t argue with them.

MOM 1: You’ll make a beautiful receptionist. Or Chief Diversity Officer.

14231: C’MON WHITE MAN! Episode 53.

(MultiCultClassics credits ESPN’s C’MON MAN! for sparking this semi-regular blog series.)

Campaign interviewed Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, who predicted age will be the “next frontier” for inspiring faux commitment and patronizing propaganda from the industry. Pritchard acknowledged his company has influenced tremendous progress with gender diversity, citing firm goals and hard figures. Regarding racial and ethnic equality, Pritchard admitted, “We’ve done some good work … but we need to do more.” The “we need to do more” statement, incidentally, is a culturally clueless cliché regularly used to excuse one’s failure to embrace true diversity.

There are plenty of problems with Pritchard’s perspectives.

First, Pritchard is shifting from gender equality to age equality, knowing full well “we need to do more” with racial and ethnic equality. He’s essentially jumping from the White women’s bandwagon to the boomers’ bandwagon, and he’ll likely also ride the LGBTQ bandwagon, millennials’ bandwagon, physical disabilities bandwagon, IDDs bandwagon and conservatives’ bandwagon before legitimately addressing the colored car.

Second, Pritchard proudly presents measurable objectives, numbers and quotas to accelerate the White women’s bandwagon. For racial and ethnic minorities, Pritchard switches to chirping crickets. What makes this obscene is the fact that P&G regularly requires its minority advertising agencies to submit specific data for minority staffing and utilizing minority suppliers—and the mega-company presumably requests the same information from its White advertising agencies. In short, Pritchard knows exactly how underrepresented minorities are in adland. Yet he’s going to pick the low-hanging fruit—that is, White women and boomers—versus the Strange Fruit.

Third, Pritchard promotes initiatives like Free The Bid to fuel the White women’s bandwagon, and he’ll undoubtedly support age-friendly initiatives for the boomers’ bandwagon. Meanwhile, he’s abandoning the colored car by driving minority assignments (and revenue) to White advertising agencies. Pritchard literally talks “The Talk” and walks away. Guess he’s choosing age before beauty.


P&G’s Marc Pritchard: age is the ‘next frontier’ for advertising

Age will be next on the agenda for advertisers to address as the industry moves to unpick the stereotypes it has helped perpetuate, Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Mark Pritchard predicts.

By Rachel Barnes

As the company announced its initiative to drive 100% gender equality throughout advertising, Pritchard said there was far more in the pipeline around diversity and inclusion, with age needing to be better represented.

Speaking to Campaign in Cannes, he explained: “We’re furthest along on gender equality in terms of building it into our business and our marketing. But diversity and inclusion is another major pillar and we are focusing on racial equality, LGBTQ and people with disabilities. We’ve done some good work on racial equality but we need to do more.

“As a company, we’re now focusing not just on millennials but boomers as well. That’s the next area — the age portion is probably the next frontier. But we’ve got efforts in each of those areas. Watch this space.”

Perpetuating stereotypes

Acknowledging that the ad industry has been part of the problem in enabling stereotypes over the years, Pritchard said advertisers have a responsibility to challenge that approach.

“We reach five billion people on the planet every day and we’re the world’s biggest advertiser. We have both an opportunity and a responsibility for changing perception. Images and how people are portrayed in advertising affects memory, which affects bias. There is an unconscious bias that comes from such images and [it influences] how you see the world.”

Reflecting on the industry’s role, Pritchard added: “There was a perception or belief that you could do those kind of ads — and that was what sold. But the exact opposite is true.

“The more gender-equal an ad is, it has been shown that you get a 10% increase in trust and a 26% increase in sales growth.”

We see equal

As part of the move towards gender equal advertising, Pritchard revealed P&G is 15 women creative directors away from gender parity among the agencies it works with, while at brand director level within P&G it is 10 directors away from a 50/50 split.

“With account directors and strategic planners [at our agencies] we’re well over 50/50 already. They’re committed to making this happen. These numbers are important as it can be about one person at a time.”

Commercial director level remains uneven but Pritchard is backing the #FreeTheBid movement advocating for women within advertising, and expanding it to more countries.

He does not agree, however, with the move by Mastercard to have 80% of women make up its marketing team to reflect the 80% of women who make the purchasing decisions. “We see equal,” Pritchard said.


Pritchard added that he was more than happy for P&G to pay for Saatchi & Saatchi’s entries to the Cannes Lions, in the absence of Publicis Groupe, because “P&G still believes in creativity — we’re willing to go ahead and make that investment to pay for their awards”.

Underlining P&G’s role — as well as his own — in helping the industry to navigate what’s ahead, Prichard concluded: “We’re reinventing media, reinventing advertising, reinventing agency partnerships and reinventing marketing.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

14230: Do. No Hammer.

Command Brand went from MC Hammer to Tim Gunn…? That’s like going from Snoop Dogg to Snoopy.

14229: Virtuous Versus Vicious.

Campaign published a divertsity drive-thru delivery from McDonald’s Vice-President Marketing and Food Development Emily Somers, who applied unconscious bias to the White women’s bandwagon. Somers closed by declaring:

Importantly, I don’t think there’s any contradiction between treating people with respect and being open and honest with feedback. Even when it’s hard. You have to call out both good and bad behaviour. If you see it, call it.

Hey, maybe someday Somers and her Mickey D’s teammates will “call it” and call out White advertising agencies for the bad behaviour of perpetuating exclusivity. Of course, Somers will consider it after she helps “create a virtuous circle of [White] women’s leadership.” It’s disturbing that people who prioritize divertsity over diversity view themselves as virtuous.

McDonald’s marketing boss: tackle unconscious bias to create a virtuous circle of women’s leadership

By Emily Somers

McDonald’s vice-president marketing and food development explains why technology is allowing the brand to be more human than ever.

It’s never been a more exciting time to be a populist brand

I’m excited by the emergence of new ways to deliver the populist campaigns which are crucial for an inclusive brand like McDonald’s, meaning that we can now create ideas that not only appeal to everyone, but also appeal to each one of us as individuals.

The broadcast reach and power of TV (or more broadly AV) is still unmatched to deliver emotional engagement en-masse. But there are also some fantastic opportunities offered by all traditional media as they digitise — meaning there are new and innovative ways to engage audiences with more timely, targeted, relevant messaging.

As we evolve our offering and enable customers to transact digitally with our brand, our broadcast media partners are also evolving, to unlock the power of addressable advertising at scale.

This is opening up new forms of creativity allowing brands to enjoy the best of both worlds — where populism meets personalisation.

Make sure you don’t make your brand so frictionless that it disappears

Technology is transforming our business, like so many others. Offering us valuable ways to make customer experiences simpler, slicker and more seamless — but it’s also important to create real and human experiences, which connect and engage with our audiences.

Some retailers may be tempted to strip out the human-element of their business as they chase cost savings.

For us, it is different — people are at the very heart of what we do. Yes, we are rolling out kiosk ordering points and remote ordering via an app to make life ever more convenient. But at the same time we are investing in enhancing the customer experience, and with that comes investing in our people and transforming roles — with restaurant teams that are focused on hospitality, and with table service.

It may surprise some people to learn that with our digitisation in restaurants we are now employing more people than ever, creating another 1,000 manager positions this year.

Let’s tackle unconscious bias to create a virtuous circle of women’s leadership

There’s a growing sense that gender equality in the workplace is the right thing. I’m keen businesses also recognise that it’s the smart thing.

Research shows that companies with 30% of women on their board fare better in periods of economic volatility than companies with only 10%. McKinsey reports that women outperform men on measures of motivating others, fostering communication and producing high-quality work. All important in the boardroom and beyond.

But unconscious bias can hold companies back. All too often businesses show insufficient belief in the potential of women. Even if they are unaware of what they are doing. They show unconscious bias in hiring, in promotions, in opportunities.

These working cultures then undermine women’s self-belief, creating a vicious circle. Now is the time for us to break this cycle and create a virtuous circle.

How? By disturbing complacency. By making the unconscious conscious. By challenging received wisdom. Let’s get the evidence out there. Let’s train men and women alike about unconscious bias. And let’s create a virtuous circle that could be a much-needed engine of dynamism in our creative industries.

Be yourself, but with skill

Happily enough, given what I’ve just written, one of the most encouraging voices in my career has been a man’s. When he hired me Paul (Pomroy, McDonald’s UK CEO) was keen to tell me that I must make sure I keep being me. It was liberating and empowering.

I’ve realised since that there’s an important addition to this imperative to be yourself. You need to do so with real thoughtfulness.

Recognise your limitations as well as your strengths. And recognise how you, or those around you, can mitigate those limitations (surrounding yourself with talented people is definitely key to success). Pause and reflect on which part of your personality you’ll play to in any given situation.

Yes you need to be yourself. But you need to be yourself with skill.

If you see it, call it

Culture matters. How people work matters. McDonald’s has a working culture of decency, respect and fun, which suits me down to the ground.

Importantly, I don’t think there’s any contradiction between treating people with respect and being open and honest with feedback. Even when it’s hard. You have to call out both good and bad behaviour. If you see it, call it.

Emily Somers is vice president marketing & food development at McDonald’s UK and a member of Campaign’s Power 100.

Monday, July 23, 2018

14228: Fishy Business.

Regarding the previous post spotlighting charges of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation leveled at Innocean USA and its former Chief Creative Officer Eric Springer, it’s interesting to note a 2016 Campaign feature, where Springer presented “My career in 5 executions.” The first execution (depicted above) for Fred Arbogast Fishing Lures was designed to “make fishing lures sexy,” according to Springer. Um, wonder if the attorneys would have submitted the advertisement as an exhibit item to argue Springer displayed sexist tendencies. Springer also shared receiving personal praise for the work from TBWA Creative Director Uli Wiesendanger, which prompted Springer to remark, “Giving praise for creative work where praise is due is one of the most important traits you can carry as a creative leader. What we do is hard.” This flies in the face of accusations against Springer, including hostility and intimidation directed towards Innocean USA employees. It’s difficult to even guess at the truth in these scenarios, especially when the situation is privately settled and the main characters have essentially gone fishing.

14227: Out At Innocean.

Adweek reported Innocean USA Chief Creative Officer Eric Springer got a slap on the ass and a kick out the door, becoming the latest male executive to leave a position under the cloud of sexual harassment. The drama actually surfaced in March, when news broke that a former female employee filed a lawsuit against Innocean USA and Springer, alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Springer initially took his case to Facebook to defend himself. However, a statement last week read, “Innocean USA and Eric Springer jointly announce that Eric has decided to resign as its chief creative officer to pursue other opportunities.” Stating that an alleged sexual harasser is leaving “to pursue other opportunities” sounds weird—as if the women at Springer’s next venture could find themselves being “pursued” in unwelcome ways. Whatever. Adweek also revealed The 3% Movement was hired to “develop additional solutions as warranted” for Innocean USA. Guess Kat Gordon has transformed her PR stunt into a pretty profit center—now White advertising agencies can go from sexist cesspool to certified safe zone fast and easy! Maybe Innocean USA will pledge money to the Diet Madison Avenue GoFundMe donation drive too.

Hyundai Agency Innocean Resolves Sexual Harassment Suit and Parts With CCO Eric Springer

The lawsuit also alleged wrongful termination

By Patrick Coffee

Hyundai’s ad agency, Innocean, and chief creative officer Eric Springer have parted ways, several months after former content director Victoria Guenier sued the company and the CCO, alleging sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

A spokesperson confirmed that Springer is no longer with the agency as of today.

“Innocean USA and Eric Springer jointly announce that Eric has decided to resign as its chief creative officer to pursue other opportunities,” read a statement from the representative. “Innocean USA wishes Mr. Springer well on future projects.”

CEO Steve Jun sent an email to all staff announcing the news, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. Chief operating officer Tim Blett then reportedly read the note to employees and stated that all related legal matters had been resolved.

Two sources also told Adweek that the parties involved in the case agreed to a monetary settlement several weeks ago. The agency spokesperson stated that Innocean would have no further comment on the matter.

When Adweek initially contacted Innocean representatives regarding the settlement earlier this month, they wrote that the agency “does not comment on active litigation.”

Springer has not responded to a request for comment via social media.

Clingo Law Group and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, which represented Guenier and Innocean in the case, respectively, have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

The suit, officially filed in January in Orange County, Calif., claimed that Guenier had suffered from Springer’s “bullying and harassing style” of management since joining the agency in April 2016. The two had previously worked together at Deutsch, where she was a director of production and he was a creative director.

The suit claimed Springer “made plaintiff and other female employees feel physically threatened,” created “a hostile work environment” by using sexually suggestive or misogynistic language and initiated unwanted physical contact with Guenier. It also alleged that she filed multiple complaints with the agency’s COO and head of HR before being pushed out of her job in April 2017.

Innocean’s law firm, in turn, countered the filing by stating that Guenier had “unclean hands with respect to the events upon which the complaint … [is] based.” It did not cite specific evidence to back up these claims. The counterargument also stated that Guenier had failed to exhaust all options available to her under company policy, California state law and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The agency placed Springer on leave less than one week after news of the suit broke, announcing that it had launched an internal investigation and both hired an external HR advisor and brought on advocacy group The 3 Percent Conference to “develop additional solutions as warranted.”

The 3 Percent Conference founder and CEO Kat Gordon declined to comment.

In April, Springer defended himself in a public Facebook post, writing, “These accusations are false.” He went on to state that he and Guenier had “nothing but a positive, productive, professional relationship” and shared screenshots of notes and text messages exchanged between the two.

Springer presented one specific email in which Guenier appeared to discuss her departure from Innocean as evidence that she had not been forced out of her job, writing, “This obviously negates the possibility of a ‘wrongful termination,’ since she resigned.”

While he did not address all claims made in the suit, he did dispute the assertion that he had “slapped Victoria on her butt.”

“We cannot tolerate a culture of abuse,” Springer wrote. “But we also cannot tolerate a culture in which someone’s career and reputation can be ruined through the mere act of being wrongfully accused.”

The post has since been deleted or made private.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

14226: Crumbs & Table Scraps.

Adweek published a perspective from Translation Social Strategy Director John Petty, III, who presented the standard argument for diversity in adland—that is, avoid culturally clueless mishaps by integrating culturally competent teammates. JP3 wrote:

The way to fix [the problem of culturally clueless mishaps] is to bring the right people to the table. If you need copy, you get a copywriter. If you need art, then get an art director. If you need to speak to us and there’s no one around who can truly help, then get a translator who knows how to communicate with a diverse audience or can at minimum keep you and your brand honest before an idea goes from presentation to production.

The problem with this line of thinking lies in White advertising agencies—co-conspiring with clients—already acting on such advice.

For example, BBDO and Procter & Gamble created “The Talk” after hiring consultants of color to deliver the cultural insight.

So what were the end results?

The White advertising agency won a Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for a My Black Is Beautiful project—a project that typically goes to minority advertising agencies. Plus, the White client produced propaganda that made them look progressive to the public.

Meanwhile, minorities were shut out from receiving substantial work (i.e., revenue). Additionally, minorities were relegated to, well, minority vendors. And actual diversity was stymied again, as it appears minorities are only necessary on a per-project consultancy basis.

To be clear, “The Talk” was not an isolated incident. Rather, it demonstrated a disturbing and discriminatory trend in the field. JP3 opened by stating, “In 2018, black culture seems to be simultaneously progressing and regressing.” In the advertising industry, Black culture continues to get hijacked—and Blacks get jacked up. The only thing progressing is the regressing.

It’s Time to Put an End to Advertising’s Too Frequent Cultural Slipups

Every step forward doesn’t need to be followed by a step backward

By John Petty, III

In 2018, black culture seems to be simultaneously progressing and regressing.

As a Lincoln University alum, I couldn’t be more appreciative of Beyoncé’s Coachella performance, which has been justly recognized as an overdue, loud acknowledgment of the influence our nation’s historically black colleges and universities maintain. Then, while listening to his Black Panther soundtrack, a score for a film that completely obliterated previously-held records by surpassing $1.3 billion at the box office, I found out Kendrick Lamar went and won a DAMN. Pulitzer Prize.

At moments like these, it feels good to be black and have our heroes openly and proudly wearing their capes. For us, for the culture. Then I’m reminded, much to my chagrin, how for every step forward the culture takes, an unequivocal step back is taken by those “speaking on our behalf.”

This step back is filled with embarrassment and disappointment, like the Heineken “Sometimes, Lighter Is Better” campaign that was pulled from circulation and the inescapable H&M “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” gaffe. Even most recently at the vortex of this cultural tug-of-war is Kanye West who mused that slavery was a “choice.” This is the same Kanye who has received 21 Grammys and 68 nominations and helped breathe new life into the adidas Originals brand. He is both a notable African American advancing the culture and a holder of seemingly retrograde views about his own race.

We push forward and get pulled back every day.

This is a complex topic. But at the risk of oversimplifying things, here’s how it stands: Just as African Americans continue to break new artistic and commercial ground, there is an undertow of hate and ignorance that is pushing the other way. The solution for this is both universal and personal.

Diversity needs to be prioritized in the spheres of highest influence

Campaigns like those from Heineken et al. occur when there is no diversity among people who are creating work for a diverse audience. Who are the decision-makers, the people in the driving seats of these campaigns? Do they look like me? Do they sound like me? Do they spend time in my barbershop, participate in my group chats? Do they shoot with me in the gym? Do they understand that reference I just made? They fundamentally don’t understand the nuances that I and those like me are likely to call out a mile away when we see an ad that so obviously misses the mark.

The way to fix that is to bring the right people to the table. If you need copy, you get a copywriter. If you need art, then get an art director. If you need to speak to us and there’s no one around who can truly help, then get a translator who knows how to communicate with a diverse audience or can at minimum keep you and your brand honest before an idea goes from presentation to production.

We need to be the loudest, best versions of ourselves

We should do everything in our power to make even the small steps feel huge and the already huge steps feel like moments of epic proportion. See Black Panther. We tweeted. We rallied. We pre-ordered. We put on our uniforms. And then we shamed those who didn’t see it within seven days. The support was genuine; the will to help win was unrivaled.

Let’s always do that on every scale imaginable. Beychella and Kendrick’s DAMN. accomplishments are impressive and absolutely necessary, but we can incite meaningful, culturally charged moments on a smaller scale. Let’s get as passionate, as vocal and as enthusiastic about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye” Atlantic piece, D’Ussé directly endorsing The TNTH’s D’usséPalooza and Diddy dropping over $21 million on Kerry James Marshall’s “Past Times” painting. Those are moments that deserve Black Panther-level ratification.

Your voice, no matter the size, is still a voice. One that has the power to influence and move the masses in the right direction. Let’s all accept that responsibility, leverage the collective and overshadow the mishaps of the H&Ms, Heinekens and Doves so they learn to know better than to even try it. Let’s work together to make a big deal out of greatness, no matter how big or small, so it becomes the standard and so those cases become not just dashing instances but real cultural barometers.

John “JP” Petty, III, is the social strategy director at Translation.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

14245: Culturally Clueless Confessional.

Digiday recently published a confessions series installment featuring “confessions of an agency exec on the real state of diversity” in adland. The whistleblower exposed nothing new or scandalous—and the interviewer’s questions were pretty stupid too. Plus, Digiday displayed its cultural cluelessness and/or laziness with the image accompanying the confession (depicted above), which appears to be a White man. Was it too difficult to secure a Black silhouette?

‘The industry isn’t as far along as it thinks’: Confessions of an agency exec on the real state of diversity

By Jessica Davies

Employers say they want to improve diversity and inclusivity. But there can be a big gap between the rhetoric and the reality. In the latest in our Confessions series, in which we exchange anonymity for candor, we spoke to a senior strategy director at a holding company agency who says racial prejudice is alive and well at work.

Excerpts have been edited for clarity.

What frustrates you about the state of diversity?

The lack of diversity in senior agency leadership. Growing up in South London, I dealt with racism in the ’90s, but this is something different. I first really noticed it when I joined my current agency where I’m one of two people of color out of 600 people. We have internal groups where people can celebrate their sexual orientation, we have women-empowerment groups, but nothing to celebrate diversity and different cultures. It seems like unless you assimilate into the drinking and party lifestyle of agency culture and work your way up that way, you won’t ever be part of that boys’ club.

How has this affected you personally?

I’m not the best Muslim in the world, but Ramadan is a very holy month, and I take part. One morning my former boss said, “You look like crap. You’ve been up late praying to your god again, haven’t you?” You laugh it off, but at the same time, you’re in disbelief.

Were there witnesses?

Plenty, but everyone was too afraid to back me up. I didn’t feel comfortable going to HR.

How did that impact you?

I fell into depression. I had to get signed off work [by a doctor] at times. That makes it even worse as it gives them something else to complain about. But you feel like if you raise the issue of race, they will try and get rid of you. Media and ad agencies are at the forefront of singing and dancing about gender and sexual orientation — things that identify us and the storytelling — but when it comes to your beliefs, you’re made to feel awkward.

Does this impact your work?

Of course. If you don’t want to be in that surrounding, your negativity will come into your work. I was so passionate about working for this company, but as time went on I realized I was very much alone.

Has the workplace improved for people of color?

It’s getting better, but the industry isn’t as far along as it thinks. If you walk into any agency in London and look at senior management, you could count the number of [minorities] on two hands. We have had a lot more ethnicity in our grad intake, but it’s only reflected at the bottom. I have male and female grads ask me why their white colleagues don’t want anything to do with them. Some of these young black kids are from parts of London you don’t want to walk at night. They’re trying to better their lives, and when they’re being looked at in a particular way, it doesn’t help them.

What do you tell young people?

I was told once, if you want to get anywhere, you have to shut up and work five times harder than the white man next to you. I start at 9 a.m. and don’t leave until 11 p.m. Everyone else shuts their laptops down at 5:30 to 6 p.m. But I’m scrutinized. The upper echelons of media and advertising is all very glamorous. But grads that want to move up will have to change something about their personality.

Some people have said to me that those who talk the loudest about diversity don’t truly understand what it means. Do you agree?

Yes, 100 percent. We talk about diversity, but how do you come to be a diverse people? By taking a moment to understand each other’s cultures. At the risk of sounding crass, just because a white person went to India once does not make them cultured. But that’s the kind of attitude people have.

Friday, July 20, 2018

14244: Partners In Grime.

Papa John’s is getting cooked, as the N-word scandal suddenly appears to be just a small slice of a pathetic, profane and politically-incorrect pizza party. Forbes published a lengthy report titled, “The Inside Story of Papa John’s Toxic Culture,” alleging sexual harassment and bad-boy behavior are basic ingredients of the company.

Meanwhile, Advertising Age reported White advertising and media agencies—specifically, Publicis Groupe’s Fallon and IPG’s Initiative—are cutting ties with the client. The stories imply the shops are taking the high road and rejecting the apparently nasty former CEO John Schnatter and controversial company. If so, the scenario demonstrates the new hypocrisy in adland.

It’s unclear why Fallon was even working for Papa John’s, as the White advertising agency is already servicing Arby’s. How many fast feeders can one agency handle? Plus, reports of merger talks between Papa John’s and Wendy’s means Fallon would have faced more potential conflicts. And Publicis Groupe is not without controversy itself, plagued by publicized and private problems. Given the financial challenges facing the White holding company, it’s not exactly in a position to decline revenue, regardless of the source.

The decision to split by Initiative is really hypocritical, especially considering the news that another IPG firm—Powell Tate—is covering PR duties for Papa John’s. IPG owns some of the worst examples of sexual harassment and racism in recent years. So any company on the IPG roster is actually uniquely qualified to partner with Papa John’s. Hell, IPG is globally recognized for leadership in gender, racial and ethnic discrimination—the company’s conscious bias experience is unmatched.

In short, the shared cultural cluelessness between all parties creates a perfect union.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

14243: Equivocal Equity.

Adweek published a perspective from 4As SVP Talent Engagement and Inclusion Keesha Jean-Baptiste, who sought to introduce a semi-fresh term into the dismal diversity discussion: Equity. Sorry, but Jean-Baptiste probably won’t succeed in her attempt to reboot the global conversation. For the average advertising executive, the net impression of equity will not be significantly different than equality, inclusion, fairness, etc. Additionally, equity entails more work than the familiar terms. If there’s one thing White people in adland have demonstrated quite clearly, it’s their unwillingness to exert extra effort to end exclusivity. In short, when it comes to tackling true diversity, White adpeople are lazy. This laziness is particularly disturbing when considering the field has traditionally embraced late nights and weekends, nose-to-grindstone hustle and workaholic obsessiveness as the status quo. And it underscores the obscenity of being all in and going all out for divertsity. That is, the ruling majority is committed 110% to promoting White women, yet apathetic and indifferent to people of color.

Jean-Baptiste does call out how the popular emphasis on gender equality has not benefited true diversity. And she even injected intersectionality better than other pseudo-revolutionaries. However, there’s a contradictory angle to Jean-Baptiste’s words—the talk doesn’t match the walk. Specifically, the 4As spends greater time, money and resources on the White women’s bandwagon versus the colored car. And where the hell is 4As President and CEO Marla Kaplowitz on any of this?

Equity can’t happen while inequality, underrepresentation and cultural cluelessness run rampant. Plus, equity requires EQ—aka Emotional Intelligence—which would demand further effort and action. And don’t ignore the fact that equity needs financial backing beyond the typical diversity budget. It’s a bit unrealistic to hope everybody will elevate their games and extend their wallets, especially when the majority of folks show they don’t really want to play and definitely don’t want to pay.

In the end, White adpeople put the “quit” in equity—they give up before legitimately and honestly trying. Oh, and it doesn’t help that a trade association has less than zero authority to mandate or even influence industry-wide change.

To Further Embrace Diversity, Agencies Need to Focus on Equity

It offers an equal share of voice, power, status and influence

By Keesha Jean-Baptiste

The ad industry has been talking about diversity and inclusion for years. But after decades of critical thought, we’re still not there yet. So, what are we missing? What haven’t we tried? What can bridge the gap between the world we see now and the world we want to see?


Not to be confused with equality, equity is not only about treating everyone the same. And while the spotlight in advertising has evolved from diversity to inclusion, it’s also important to recognize that equity is not diversity, nor is it inclusion.

Equity is the impact of both; it’s equal access and fairness. And equity is the thing we haven’t pushed or measured.

Equity is focused, intentional correction of imbalances. It’s when efforts to drive more people of different backgrounds into the industry—diversity—and cultures that embrace, involve and engage those people of difference—inclusion—offer diverse groups an equitable share of voice, share of power, share of influence, share of decision-making and share of status. Equity breaks up the dominance of one culture and allows space and room for those who have been unrepresented to have a seat at the table.

So how do we know equity is the big missing element? How can we tell we haven’t achieved equitable share for all?

Take a look at agency award photos. Take a look at who is pictured crowding around a Lion onstage in Cannes. Take a look at your executive leadership team. Take a look at your summer intern group. Take a look at your board.

What you will see is a reflection of the inequity that’s still stubbornly in place. While we are seeing more gender balance, other areas of difference are underrepresented throughout the workplace, especially in management and executive roles.

So how do we create more equitable cultures of difference at work? Here are three areas where you can start moving the needle today.

Talk about race

People like to believe we are in a post-racial world where race no longer matters and racial prejudice and discrimination no longer exist. We’re not there. And until we deal with the fact that we’re not, it will be difficult to see, appreciate and have empathy for other areas of racial difference and the impact that people’s racial identity can have on their lived experience.

As an industry, we’ve been laser-focused on gender diversity but without the critical awareness that gender identity does not live in a silo. You cannot separate my gender from my race because they are intermingled in how I experience life and how people interact with me.

By acknowledging the importance of gender diversity over racial diversity, we’ve actually widened the inequity between white women and women of color and between white men and all people of color. While we’ve seen white men in power passing the baton to white women, who are breaking through to senior management and executive-level positions, we are seeing a decline in such advancement among men of color and men and women of color are still hitting the glass ceiling. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who identify as African-American/black, Asian and Hispanic or Latino make up only about 22 percent of advertising, public relations and related fields.

So add race to the conversation, because if your agency gender balance is improving but you still have racial homogeneity, are you really creating a culture of difference and equitable representation?

If you want to talk about race but are not sure how to start, there are programs like the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP), AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Students Program and ADCOLOR FUTURES that are actively filling the talent pipeline with candidates and busting the myth that ample racially/ethnically diverse talent can’t be found or that the talent is not ready.

Add cultural competence to your job descriptions

To be culturally competent means to have the ability to understand and communicate effectively with people from cultures and backgrounds that are different from yours.

We need to start thinking of cross-cultural competence as a critical ability, something as teachable and necessary as presentation skills. In order to sustain cultures where people of difference feel like they belong, we need to create a workforce of people who know how to navigate workspaces and relationships with all types of people.

It’s important to recognize that cultural competence is a skill everyone should have because equity means we all shoulder the responsibility of being more culturally literate and socially conscious about what’s happening in the world. We shouldn’t rely solely on people of difference to notice when something is inappropriate, offensive or tone deaf.

Correct the ‘only one’ syndrome

Representation matters at all levels. When you look closely at your agency makeup, you may find that there are departments, teams and roles that have either no person of difference or sometimes only one. We have to change that—it leads to isolation and tokenism. Tracking numbers on a macro (office) and micro (team) level makes a difference to spotting the places where diversity is lacking.

Not only does it impact whether people of difference feel a sense of belonging, but it’s also a clear sign that they don’t have the same share of voice, representation and influence in the room and on your teams. Whether it’s one woman, one person of color or one Muslim, how can one person carry that weight for all?

This is where measurement can be incredibly helpful. You need a tangible way of seeing that your efforts are actually being sustained and not falling back. I encourage agencies to participate in Diversity Best Practices (DBP) and the Working Mother Research Institute’s Inclusion Index, an annual benchmarking study that helps companies understand the gaps in their efforts and provides specific strategies and resources to elevate inclusion strategies.

Culture assessments can also be impactful in understanding the experiences, burdens and hidden pressures of those who are the only member of a group. This can create a meaningful dialogue that should not only equip your recruiting teams to improve their practices but should also foster a level of understanding that can help you get real about retaining talent who bring a wealth of different perspectives and, often, untapped insight to your agency.

When every agency adds equity—correcting imbalances—as part of its inclusion agenda, the industry will begin to see lasting change.

Keesha Jean-Baptiste is the svp, talent engagement and inclusion at the 4A’s.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

14242: Maestro & Mandela.

On the centenary of the late Nelson Mandela’s birthday, the ever-patronizing and diversity-dedicated Google celebrates with a Doodle tribute to Maestro Kurt Masur, German conductor and humanitarian.

14241: Papa John’s Cont’d.

Adweek reported the Papa John’s N-Word Scandal is escalating, as Casey Wasserman—CEO of the company that owns Laundry Service—declared Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter’s charges of extortion are “completely false.” Plus, Adweek stated Forbes claimed that Laundry Service resigned the account after Schnatter allegedly used the N-word and “made other racially insensitive statements” during the infamous conference call. This story has more messed up ingredients than a Papa John’s pizza with the works. On the one hand, Schnatter isn’t getting much respect from his company (where he’s still the majority shareholder), as the man has even been kicked out of his office. However, he’s receiving support from sources including The Patriot Post. On the flipside, Wasserman issued a company memo saying, “All matters pertaining to Laundry Service, Cycle, Wasserman and their clients are strictly confidential…”—which begs the question of how the conference call details were made public. While Wasserman revealed his company now has “a centralized PR strategy to go on the record and refute [Schnatter’s charges],” it seems like he’s not moving fast enough to set the record straight. This is ironic, given that Laundry Service was allegedly offering Papa John’s guidance for dealing with the media. Mark Twain observed, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Laundry Service, Wasserman, Papa John’s and Schnatter could all benefit from heeding Twain’s words.

On a side note, MultiCultClassics might have jumped the gun by initially branding Laundry Service as a typical White advertising-media agency. The place boasts being committed to diversity and appears to have an inclusive staff—at least what’s left of the staff after recent layoffs. Papa John’s looks pretty diverse as well. The leadership at the Wasserman-led parent company, not so much.

Wasserman CEO Calls Founder of Papa John’s Extortion Claims ‘Completely False’ in Memo

Company plans ‘to go on the record and refute them’

By Patrick Coffee

The CEO of the company that owns Papa John’s now former ad agency Laundry Service today sent a memo to all employees calling recent claims by the brand’s founder John Schnatter “completely false.”

In the memo, which Adweek acquired, Wasserman CEO Casey Wasserman also advises employees to avoid talking to the press or discussing client business with anyone outside the parent company, Laundry Service or its production division Cycle.

Last Monday, Adweek broke the news that Laundry Service had parted with CEO Jason Stein and approximately 60 employees due to “client attrition.” The following morning, Forbes reported that the agency had resigned the account following a May strategy call in which Schnatter used the N-word and made other racially insensitive statements.

Schnatter subsequently resigned as chairman of the pizza chain.

On Friday, Schnatter claimed in interviews with local TV and radio stations near the company’s headquarters in Louisville, Ky., that unnamed Laundry Service employees had “pressured” him into the conversation and attempted to “extort” his company for $6 million before leaking news of the call to Forbes.

Wasserman strongly denies those statements in the note. He also writes that the company will soon come forward specifically refuting Schnatter’s claims.

“As you all know, there’s been a lot of coverage about Laundry Service and Wasserman related to the Papa John’s situation in the past several days,” the note begins. “The disparaging and outrageous comments about Wasserman and Laundry Service that have been covered are completely false and we have a centralized PR strategy to go on the record and refute them. Until that time we cannot expect the media to know the truth.”

The note tells employees to defer to third-party PR firm Principal Communications Group if a journalist should reach them by phone or in writing, advising them to avoid even providing a “no comment” response.

“To this end there are a lot of journalists making inquiries about Papa John’s and Laundry Service, and those inquiries should continue be referred to our corporate public relations representative, Melissa Zukerman,” the note reads.

It concludes: “All matters pertaining to Laundry Service, Cycle, Wasserman and their clients are strictly confidential and should not be disclosed to anyone outside the company.”

A spokesperson for Laundry Service and Wasserman declined to comment for this story. A Papa John’s representative did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

This morning, The Wall Street Journal reported that Schnatter and his lawyer sent a letter to the company’s board of directors calling his decision to resign “a mistake.”