Wednesday, October 31, 2018

14356: Voluntary Redundancy Of Dunces.

Campaign reported Ogilvy UK is offering everyone on staff voluntary redundancy. This is a polite way to tell employees, “We’ll pay you to quit.” If there are no volunteers, does the deal switch to severance agreements?

Founder David Ogilvy is famous for saying, “If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” Well, is the place now offering giant payouts? And what happens if all the BAME staffers volunteer to leave? Hell, it’s unlikely anyone would notice a major difference.

Ogilvy UK offers all staff voluntary redundancy

The company stresses that this is not a cost-savings move.

By Gurjit Degun

Ogilvy has offered all staff in its UK business voluntary redundancy.

The agency sent an email to staff today explaining the move. The business has had a significant restructure since the departure of previous chief executive Annette King. It is understood that Ogilvy wants to give employees, who may have joined before the changes, a chance to step away.

Ogilvy has made it clear to Campaign that this is not a cost-savings strategy but for the company to “reinvest for the future”.

King was replaced by Michael Frolich, who is overseeing the company’s move to an integrated model, dropping agency brands including Ogilvy & Mather and OgilvyOne.

However, this led to several senior staff leaving the business over recent months, including chief strategy officer Kevin Chesters, chief creative officers Mick Mahoney and Emma de la Fosse, chief client officer Charlie Rudd and chief production officer Clare Donald.

Earlier this month, Ogilvy promoted Andre Laurentino to chief creative officer, working alongside executive creative directors Charlie Wilson and Jules Chalkley.

John Cornwell, chief operations officer at Ogilvy UK, said: “This offer of voluntary redundancy is the final stage in Ogilvy UK’s transformation journey. Our intent is to be as transparent as possible and provide our people with choices as we continue to reshape our business for the future. The intent of these actions is to enable us to reinvest for the future.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

14355: Creativity Top 5 + Popeyes 12-Hour = 1 Joke.

Advertising Age presented the Creativity Top 5 and declared, “These are the most innovative brand ideas you need to know about right now.” The #2 slot was awarded to Popeyes 12-Hour Torture from GSD&M. Either it’s an extraordinarily slow week or a Creativity staffer is sleeping with Annie the Chicken Queen. Unbelievable.

14354: Forgiving Ted Royer…?

At More About Advertising, Editor Stephen Foster posed interesting questions regarding the Wendy Clark-Ted Royer fiasco that few folks are openly asking. While the questions were inspired by Clark and Royer, the inquiries really apply to the broader dilemma—or “the biggest issue facing every industry and society today,” according to Cindy Gallop.

In one report, Foster wondered the following:

It also raises the important question of when, if ever, is someone who’s been banished from an agency allowed back into the industry. Does management have to make it, in effect, a democratic decision?

In a subsequent post, Foster went further by remarking as follows:

But you have to feel for the highly talented Royer too. He’s lost one of the best jobs in agencies although hasn’t been convicted of anything. Is he now unable to work in advertising, even in a freelance capacity? Clark might have done better to defend him, not on the grounds that DDB needed him and but that everybody deserves a second chance.

To answer Foster’s first question, someone “banished” from an agency is allowed back into the industry in roughly six months, as demonstrated by the Gustavo Martinez and Royer scenarios. And it’s closer to five months if you count Kevin Roberts and his gender equality gaffe. Additionally, the returns by Martinez and Royer do not appear to have happened via democratic decisions. On a side note, can somebody please identify Clark’s co-conspirators in Royer’s comeback? Surely DDB CCO Ari Weiss played a role, as it would be outrageous to learn Clark is choosing creative consultants on her own. Man up, already.

To address Foster’s second point, no, you don’t “have to feel for the highly talented Royer too.” It could be easily argued the man is a dinosaur. Especially in this era of TIME’S UP, #MeToo and divertsity movements, shouldn’t leaders take greater care to foster safe, fair and dignified workplaces? Granted, the advertising industry has a long history of ignoring and defying any attempts at diversity. But failing to adapt to societal trends is certainly grounds for ejection from a field that boasts being on the cutting edge of culture. Royer might have mad skills for commercial campaigns, but he’s got Mad Men skills in key areas that are now basic job requirements.

It’s probably true that Royer has not been convicted of anything. Hey, sexual harassment isn’t typically labeled a crime unless it features sexual assault. Inferring from Droga5’s PR statement, Royer’s alleged behavior created a hostile work environment, which put the agency at risk on a host of ethical and legal levels—and also potentially endangered the well-being of employees. The confidential nature of HR procedures prohibits public disclosure of details surrounding most terminations, making it almost impossible to learn the truth. Trade publications, however, reported Droga5 hired outside investigators to build the case to fire Royer. And Diet Madison Avenue targeted Royer too. So if everyone did their due diligence, there were legitimate reasons for the dismissal. Royer is certainly free to pull a Ralph Watson move and dispute the accusations if he’s been wronged.

Oh, and Royer ultimately wasn’t talented enough, as DDB experienced elimination from the Volkswagen pitch—beaten out by WPP and Publicis, which is downright embarrassing and emblematic of the industry’s sorry state. The agency that made Volkswagen an iconic brand lost to one company founded as a wire shopping basket manufacturer and another jilted by Omnicom after a grand engagement announcement.

As for Clark defending Royer, well, that would have been tricky, given the woman’s actions are indefensible. After all, she’s supposed to be representing TIME’S UP/Advertising and advocating for gender equality. Hell, it could be easily argued Clark is a dinosaur too—and a desperate dinosaur to boot—because in the end, DDB didn’t need Royer.

Finally, Foster’s contention “that everybody deserves a second chance” is actually valid, albeit not without restrictions. Unfortunately, in this era of TIME’S UP, #MeToo and divertsity movements, forgiveness has not yet entered the conversation—except for idiots like Clark. Refusing to kiss and make up is understandable, as sexual harassment has been conducted, concealed and condoned for too long. On the flipside, absolution comes easier when the perpetrator has made amends. An amends, incidentally, is not an apology, but rather, a commitment to live differently. Additionally, the amends would be unique for each perpetrator, depending on lots of factors including the extent of damages. Who will serve as a worthy judge in such acquittals? Definitely not Clark, Diet Madison Avenue or Gallop. And no, Kat Gordon, please don’t integrate the notion into your lame certification program.

Monday, October 29, 2018

14353: Bad Times At TIME’S UP/Advertising.

A MultiCultClassics visitor left a comment at the Wendy Clark-Ted Royer fiasco post, labeling TIME’S UP/Advertising as a smokescreen and PR stunt whose true purpose is to stall discrimination lawsuits and insincerely position adland as genuinely concerned about ending sexual harassment, gender inequality and other female problems.

It seems like TIME’S UP/Advertising has experienced more fumbles than receptions. Or maybe a better metaphor would be more bad hair days than not—and perhaps the organization needs an Oprah makeover, as things are looking pretty ugly at times. Here are the hairy highlights:

IPG encouraged its female leaders to become TU/A signatories. Weren’t women in the White holding company inspired enough to sign up on their own? Plus, was the request made to deflect attention from IPG staging one of the industry’s biggest sexual harassment scandals to date?

• TU/A’s first events were tainted by accusations of exclusivity, as consultants, freelancers and currently unemployed women were not invited and/or rejected from participating. The MultiCultClassics visitor felt the opening moves especially dissed women of color too.

• TU/A chose to provide legal assistance to Diet Madison Avenue, the controversial Instagram account that few women in the field openly support. To be clear, a lot of women in the field might covertly support the effort, but nobody’s publicly backing anonymous morons whose vigilante wannabe tactics arguably deserve punishment in a courtroom.

• DDB Global President and CEO Wendy Clark—a vocal hypocrite who served on the TU/A steering committee—steered the organization into a tailspin by hiring alleged sexual harasser and former Droga5 CCO Ted Royer for a pitch. Clark’s stupidity prompted TU/A to release a statement declaring, “Today is a good day to reiterate what it means to uphold and prioritize the Time’s Up Advertising mission. Our mission is to create workplaces that are safe, fair, and dignified for all. Our signatories are accountable to the values of the mission. We hold the women who signed, and their agencies, accountable for a process of change.” Not sure how TU/A held Clark and DDB accountable, as Clark’s spanking involved giving her steering committee seat to another DDB employee—which is essentially replacing Curly with Shemp. Or maybe a better comparison would be swapping Chrissy with Cindy or Terri.

In March, The 3% Movement Founder Kat Gordon presented, “5 Stages in Addressing #TimesUp Advertising.” So far, each stage has been botched, with the exception of the final stage—Accept that this is the beginning of a long road—which is proving painfully prophetic. Sorry, but it’s a clear sign that the Apocalypse is upon us when Gordon may be deemed a prophet.

Keep in mind, TU/A has been around for barely seven months. Yet the organization’s mistakes, miscues and misfires make the Trump administration look like Amazon. Or maybe a better example would be contrasting Lucy and Ethel with the Women of Wakanda.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

14352: Nabs’ Fast Forward To Exclusivity.

Campaign spotlighted participants of the Nabs’ Fast Forward programme to declare, “What adland can learn from the next generation.” Um, based on the accompanying photograph, we’ll learn the next generation of adland looks exclusively similar to all previous generations.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

14351: Clio Contrived, Clichéd & Caucasian.

Clio continues the grand tradition of award shows creating promotional advertising that is anything but award-winning work. Plus, Clio continues the tradition of catering to Caucasians—and entertaining them with celebrities of color.

Friday, October 26, 2018

14350: Kelly Red-Faced Over Blackface.

Advertising Age published a report titled, “Madison Ave doesn’t blink over Megyn Kelly drama,” detailing backlash to the TV host’s ignorant comments about blackface. Well, sure, the average Mad Men and Mad Women saw Kelly’s cultural cluelessness and thought, “What an amateur!”

14349: Popeyes 12-Hour Torture.

The geniuses at GSD&M are responsible for this Popeyes video featuring idiots driving 12 hours—from Texas to Louisiana—for an order of fried chicken. And Annie the Chicken Queen wasn’t even there to greet them.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

14348: Time’s Up For DDB & VW…?

AgencySpy posted on rumors that Omnicom and DDB were eliminated from the North American portion of the global Volkswagen pitch. Hey, somebody tell DDB Global President and CEO Wendy Clark that Joe Alexander and Tham Khai Meng are available to freelance on any remaining regional shootouts.

14347: Gallop, Gordon & Guy Are Scary.

Advertising Age published a list titled, “What Scares Me Right Now…” featuring a variety of industry figures who shared their fears. Three comments worth noting:

Cindy Gallop, founder,

I’m scared that the Harvey Weinsteins of our industry think they’ve gotten away with it and will carry on doing it.

Okay, but Gallop declined to offer her bold opinions when probed on the Wendy Clark-Ted Royer fiasco, a scenario that completely connects to what scares Gallop right now. Keep in mind, she certainly didn’t hesitate to blast WPP for continuing to employ Gustavo Martinez while he was in the middle of a discrimination lawsuit against JWT and the White holding company. Isn’t it scarier to see a Harvey Weinstein-type invited back by a major White advertising agency whose leaders include a Pioneer of Diversity and a woman with a restless ambition for inclusive justice? This sort of stuff should have Gallop shitting her knickers, no?

Kat Gordon, founder, The 3% Movement

What scares me right now is a backlash against women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, people of color and other populations that have fought so hard for protections of their rights. The atmosphere of disinformation and otherizing in this administration is unprecedented and deeply destructive. Some days, this scares me. Most days, it whips me into a rage that propels me to keep fighting.

What’s most scary is when Gordon’s rage propels her to keep writing angry Op-Eds that don’t make sense. When that happens—and it happens much too frequently—be afraid, be very afraid.

Jason Harris, CEO, Mekanism

The scariest thing in the world today is our crisis of leadership. Sure, there are always ups and downs, peaks and valleys, mad men, wars, corruption, money grabs, income inequality, the strangling of Mother Earth and on and on—but we always have a few leaders in power who the world can look up to. Currently, we lack a moral compass to guide us. We don't know right from wrong and decency and politeness have all but disappeared. We can throw up the Bat-Signal, but there is nobody there to answer the call.

While Harris was presumably referencing political officials in the U.S. and abroad, his comments apply directly to the crisis of leadership in adland, where moral compasses are spinning aimlessly, right and wrong are highly subjective terms and decency and politeness are delegated to and fabricated by PR crisis managers. Even Harris’ Bat-Signal reference underscores the true issue—that is, “leaders” hope that a masked hero will appear to save the day. Um, true leaders strive to solve problems without rescuing interventions from outside vigilantes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

14346: Forbes Agency Council Or Con-cil?

A MultiCultClassics visitor pointed to “Essential Lessons About Targeting Multicultural Audiences With Your Advertising Dollars”—the latest wonky wisdom from the Forbes Agency Council.

Uno, the content is actually focused on reaching Latino-American audiences. Dos, it’s hard to tell if any of the Forbes Agency Council members delivering advice are Latinos/Latinas. Tres, the article appears to be a not-too-thinly-veiled promotion for the ANA. Cuatro, the lessons are common-knowledge clichés—and ironically, the final lesson cautions to avoid clichés.

The biggest indicator that the Forbes Agency Council is a sham can be ascertained via the opening paragraph:

With Hispanics comprising nearly 18% of the U.S. population and growing, according to an Ad Age report, targeting this market segment can be beneficial to your business. Not only is your business reaching an increasing audience that makes up nearly half the country’s annual population growth according to Ad Age, but you may be setting your business up to increase its revenue with a population that until recently has been unserved.

Latino Americans have until recently been unserved? Really? Latino advertising agencies in the U.S. have been around for well over 40 years. Granted, the multicultural firms are treated like second-class citizens in adland, forced to work for crumbs. Plus, as the Latino-American audience has grown, White advertising agencies have seized the assignments without bothering to diversify staffs to properly and professionally service the targeted needs. Thank goodness the Forbes Agency Council—along with the ANA—can play the heroic roles of the Cisco Kid and Pancho to save the day.

Essential Lessons About Targeting Multicultural Audiences With Your Advertising Dollars

By Forbes Agency Council

With Hispanics comprising nearly 18% of the U.S. population and growing, according to an Ad Age report, targeting this market segment can be beneficial to your business. Not only is your business reaching an increasing audience that makes up nearly half the country’s annual population growth according to Ad Age, but you may be setting your business up to increase its revenue with a population that until recently has been unserved.

Many companies, such as Procter & Gamble and AT&T, are directing their advertising dollars toward Hispanics and are coming together under the Association of National Advertisers to determine the best way to target these multicultural customers.

Seven members of Forbes Agency Council detail the lessons that can be learned from the success of agencies under the Association of National Advertisers to effectively target multicultural populations with their products and services.

1. Give And Take

The first thing you have to do is figure out who you want to reach. Narrow it down to the demographic that you want to target and win them with interesting content. Giving them the content they want will get them in the door, and you can market to them later. — Anthony Katz, INexxus

2. Embrace Diversity And Inclusion

Marketers are finding powerful opportunity in embracing diversity and inclusion in the marketing mix. Consumers, particularly younger citizens, are looking for brands and organizations that are in touch with the changing face of America and its place in a diverse world. The sooner brands embrace this movement, the better off they will be for attracting and retaining employees and consumers. — Daryl McCullough, Citizen Relations

3. Offer Quality Mobile Experiences

According to Facebook, this audience is highly active on mobile. Roughly 95% of Hispanic users are on mobile and 47% are exclusively on mobile. The most effective way for brands to reach this audience is by creating high-quality mobile experiences from the initial advertising touchpoint, to the point of purchase. — Steve Dinelli, Blackbird Garage

4. Remember Family Comes First

The Hispanic consumer in the U.S. is first and foremost a family member. They are a part of a tightly knit nuclear family. They proudly belong to a large extended family. They are family first. Advertisers need to learn that family first is what brings this growing population to their brands and when that Hispanic consumer is treated like family by your brand, you’ve hit marketing gold. — Katina Kenyon, Applaudo Studios

5. Embrace Culture Correctly

With being a 30% Hispanic-owned agency, we take this market seriously in most facets of our digital marketing. Imagery and inclusion are very important, along with life event details such as addressing the Quinceañera as a major event with our fashion and styles clients, or even making sure we do not misuse symbols, such as sacred Dia de Muertos images not being used for irrelevant creative assets. — Loren Baker, Foundation Digital

6. Focus Research On Driving Key Insights

As marketers and creatives, we tend to default to what we know when it comes to developing campaigns for our brands. It can be difficult to embody and target a different culture unless you have the appropriate information that drives your key insights. Being a part of the Association of National Advertisers can help provide resources and information that would take countless hours to achieve on your own. — Chris Carter, Rep Interactive

7. Make Sure You Avoid Clichés

The spirit of different cultural legacies and voices amongst those cultures can be respected and given a platform without resorting to clichés. Integrating the voices themselves is the No. 1 most effective way to do this, as with any attempt to tell the story of another culture, it can come off hollow and stale if not done right. — Tim Brown, Tim B Design

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

14345: Pity Shitty Quitty.

Adweek reported CP+B announced it will quit submitting work for award shows.


While the reasons behind the move are slightly different than those given by Publicis Groupe when it executed a one-year awards ban, the net sentiment is basically the same. Indeed, it’s a sentiment shared by WPP as it strong-armed the downsizing of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In short, award shows aren’t worth the price of submission. Especially when holding companies are squeezing agencies, demanding greater fiscal responsibility and accountability—which is how the bean counters describe the imperative to be cheaper.

Although CP+B denies the action is tied to MDC Partners’ financial woes, Chief Creative Engineer Alex Bogusky has stressed the need for leanness and agility. Plus, he shuttered a redundant office and dumped ping-pong tables. No word if there are plans to melt down the trophies and baubles collected over the years and sell the remains to a scrap metal yard.

Besides, as the Publicis Groupe maneuver showed, banning entries doesn’t necessarily eliminate victories. At this point, the clients have grown addicted to awards too, and they’re willing to foot the bill—especially in scenarios that involve traveling to plush resorts and partying in fancy clubs.

The other reality to consider is that CP+B is no longer an award-winning shop. So giving up awards is not exactly a hardship or amazing feat. It’s interesting that Zimmerman Advertising was quick to declare that they have rejected award shows forever. Of course, Zimmerman has never produced award-caliber campaigns. Founder Jordan Zimmerman seems content to display his ripped abs and multi-million-dollar yacht.

But it all demonstrates how holding companies have orchestrated a commoditization of creativity. That is, just as Goodby Silverstein + Partners is equal to Fathom Communications, there’s not much contrast between places like CP+B and Zimmerman Advertising. In fact, Zimmerman has better abs than Bogusky. No contest.

Additionally, CP+B criticized “employing focus groups of middle-aged creative directors” to define what’s good and bad. Nice to know the agency hasn’t lost its cultural cluelessness in this time when ageism has emerged as a sore subject. And kudos to Bogusky for fabricating a PR stunt that allows him to avoid discussing sexual harassment while his agency is embroiled in a scandalous lawsuit.

If the entire industry completely eradicated awards, we might actually realize benefits. For starters, White women could stop protesting over being excluded from juries. Employment decisions wouldn’t be tied to a candidate’s trophy case, ultimately improving hiring practices. And egos would diminish, perhaps making Chief Creative Officers less offensive. Zimmerman, however, would still be an obnoxious narcissist.

Monday, October 22, 2018

14344: Gallop Garbles.

Advertising Age published commentary on the Wendy Clark-Ted Royer fiasco from Divertsity Diva Cindy Gallop as follows:

“I don’t want to see our industry focusing on stories about which white man who was terminated for #MeToo is hired now,” [Gallop] says. “I want to see our industry focusing on stories about agencies hiring women into creative leadership.”

She adds that it would help if ad agencies and holding companies were more transparent about reasons behind their termination. Droga5 never explained Royer’s departure.

“That habit is entirely at odds with the other statements agencies and holding companies are prone to making about having ‘zero tolerance,’” she says. “We are hearing about zero tolerance from everyone, then tell us precisely what you have zero tolerance for.”

Clearly, Gallop doesn’t have zero tolerance for delivering confused and contradictory commentary. After all, Gallop has declared sexual harassment is the biggest business issue in our industry, as well as the biggest issue facing every industry and society today. Plus, she demanded holding companies eradicate non-disclosure agreements connected to sexual harassment cases. So why would Gallop suddenly want to avoid focusing on stories addressing the issue? Curious indeed.

Gallop also repeated another soapbox cause, calling on White advertising agencies to provide greater transparency around the reasons for firing people. Sorry, but it’s sometimes difficult to believe Gallop actually held senior-level positions in the industry. Personnel matters—especially those tied to terminations—are almost always private and confidential affairs, except in cases where crimes have occurred. To date, it doesn’t appear that any of the alleged sexual harassers in adland have faced criminal charges and arrest. While Gallop is correct to note Droga5 declined to explain the rationale for dumping Royer, Advertising Age reported Royer was among the executives targeted by Diet Madison Avenue; hence, like it or not, connecting the dots to reach certain conclusions is to be expected. BTW, has Gallop ever provided a personal stance on Diet Madison Avenue? Curiouser and curiouser.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

14343: Climate Control Not Cool.

Reports indicate WPP lost the Ford account because the creative sucked. This Ford campaign from JWT in Chile—part of the WPP network—confirms matters. Is the porno shop image a salute to Sir Martin Sorrell?

Friday, October 19, 2018

14341: DDB Paradigm & Pretense.

Adweek reported DDB hired fired Droga5 CCO Ted Royer to serve on the Omnicom pitch team for the global Volkswagen account.

This is not surprising.

Advertising agencies partnering with shady individuals is hardly unprecedented. After all, WPP continued to employ Gustavo Martinez while he was embroiled in an infamous discrimination lawsuit against JWT and the White holding company. Besides, Royer’s alleged transgressions didn’t transpire in the Omnicom network. Let’s hope his freelance contract included stipulations to keep his pants on during working hours, as well as maintain zero contact with DDB females unless closely monitored by multiple senior-level executives.

Adweek also revealed that DDB Global President and CEO Wendy Clark initially denied Royer had been freelancing for her, but later confessed she had recruited and retained him. The admission apparently prompted navel-gazing, hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing angst at TIME’S UP Advertising, and Clark subsequently resigned from her position on the group’s steering committee—although she’ll keep her membership status. Clark’s mea culpa stated, “Regrettably, I fell into a traditional paradigm of business first and given the choice again I would do things differently. … I want to thank Time’s Up for being a moral compass, and supporting both our teams and me, personally, as we work through this defining moment, to ensure that in every way and everything we do our agency is a safe, fair and dignified place to work.” Oh, and Clark’s steering committee replacement is a DDB employee.

All of this is not surprising.

For starters, Clark has demonstrated time and again that she is a global bullshit artist and world-class liar. She hollers about her restless ambition for diversity, yet hires for divertsity, bringing on more White women and White men. And now, she’s proven that she’ll hire an alleged sexual harasser over other qualified candidates and minorities.

Sadly, Clark feigns complete ignorance regarding the wide impacts of her dishonesty. As a public service and professional courtesy, MultiCultClassics will humbly offer food for thought.

First, Clark’s false apology—“Regrettably, I fell into a traditional paradigm of business first…”—shows her inexperience and insanity. There was no “traditional paradigm” involved. Rather, Clark engaged in traditional denial and deception. She used the default alibi for people afraid to do the right thing. Management expert Peter Drucker stressed that “business ethics” do not exist. Ethics are ethics, with no special qualifiers or subcategories. Believing otherwise leads to the slippery slopes that Clark is sliding straight down. The woman lacks character and integrity. Period.

Second, Clark disregarded her Omnicom compatriots on a host of levels. Simon Sinek said, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” Hiring Royer made lots of DDB and Omnicom staffers feel uncomfortable, unhappy and unsafe. Sorry, but hiding behind “a traditional paradigm” is inexcusable—especially for a “leader” espousing the imperative for diversity/divertsity. Clark also disrespected teammates like Tiffany R. Warren, who has been a loyal soldier and stalwart company representative, boldly preaching inclusion and gender equality. Keep in mind that ADCOLOR® is owned and operated by Omnicom too. Sister White advertising agency BBDO recently instituted a quota for hiring White women. Pioneer of Diversity and Omnicom Chairman and CEO John Wren is tainted as well. And the list goes on. In short, Clark wasn’t taking care of those in her charge—rather, she was taking care of herself.

Third, the issues mentioned in the preceding paragraph can be extended to a vast range of industry figures—from Cindy Gallop to The 3% Movement to Diet Madison Avenue to beyond. Clark’s asinine action adversely affected advertising people far outside of the Omnicom universe. Not to mention the modern-day Mad Women and Mad Men who’ve experienced sexual harassment firsthand and fear speaking out after seeing perpetrators get off scot-free—and freelancing to boot.

Fourth, Clark’s fibbing and finagling call into question the concept of forgiveness. It’s bad enough that Clark will likely be forgiven for her hypocritical blunder—while any man committing the same screw-up would have been absolutely fired upon and undoubtedly fired. But if Royer could be absolved of his misconduct, why not Joe Alexander, Tham Khai Meng, Ralph Watson and the rest? Hey, let’s stretch the pardons to Neil French and Kevin Roberts—and don’t exclude Jim Palmer.

Fifth, Clark put her potential client in possible dire straits from a PR perspective. Should Omnicom win the Volkswagen pitch, what happens when the public—with its growing support for #MeToo—learns that the automaker unwittingly collaborated with an alleged perpetrator? Heaven forbid the inquiry might escalate to examine the dearth of diversity displayed by DDB and Omnicom.

Finally, it’s offensive and obscene for Clark to gush, “I want to thank Time’s Up for being a moral compass…” Um, Adweek’s exposé served to ignite the measurement of morals in this mess. Clark should know that a real leader serves as the moral compass for her company. And regarding Royer, diversity and divertsity, she should know better.

If there’s any sign of progress to spot here, it’s that Wendy Clark ultimately acted with the unequivocal equality of a White man.

14340: F-Bombing Havas.

AgencySpy posted follow-up factoids featuring the fuck-ups at Havas Chicago. Fortunately, few folks bother to visit AgencySpy anymore, which will perhaps lessen the demoralizing embarrassment experienced by the drones working at the agency—especially the few of them who fucking love it.

Regardless, the sloppy post highlighted fucking hilarious points worth noting:

• Fucking Hilarious Point 1 The White advertising agency hosts something called “Havas Faces, a series of regular discussions primarily concerning matters related to diversity and inclusion.” Of course, attendance and participation is not mandatory. And discussion topics probably involve brainstorming for the next award-winning-yet-hypocritical publicity stunt.

• Fucking Hilarious Point 2 Havas CEO and Chairman Yannick Bolloré allegedly spanked Havas Creative North America CEO and Chairman Paul Marobella and Chief Creative Officer and Chairman Jason Peterson for producing the shitty video wherein they said other shops were shitty agencies. From now on, Marobella and Peterson must let Bolloré review videos before release. Given that Bolloré landed his position via nepotism—making his credibility and credentials questionable at best—the edict is like if Jeff Sessions and Kellyanne Conway were told that everything they planned to do must first be approved by Eric Trump.

• Fucking Hilarious Point 3 Chief Creative Officer and Chairman Jason Peterson appears to be an ignorant boss. This is not uncommon in adland, where people are elevated based on ego and execution versus leadership skills. So maybe Peterson warrants some compassion for lacking the basic qualities of a legitimate leader. For example, Peterson posted an Instagram message stating the need to “fight fire with fire.” As a professional courtesy, MultiCultClassics offers this simple wisdom: “When tempted to fight fire with fire, always remember the fire department fights it with water.” People like Peterson typically require a few decades to figure this out.

• Fucking Hilarious Point 4 Chief Creative Officer and Chairman Jason Peterson appears to be an arrogant douchebag. It’s bad enough that he green-lighted the insipid installation that generated more bad press for his agency—and escalated internal chaos and morale problems for his staff. But AgencySpy claimed, “He apologized if it had offended anyone before adding, ‘I’d do it again in a minute.’” Sorry, but an apology without amends demonstrates maximum insincerity and minimal integrity.

According to AgencySpy, the offending installation has been removed and will be replaced by a breast cancer campaign. In light of all the gender-related controversies in the advertising industry and society at large, let’s hope Peterson doesn’t fuck up this self-promotional exercise too.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

14339: Gallop Gall.

Campaign published international idiocy from Divertsity Diva Cindy Gallop, who sought to globally extend her pseudo-influencer status by hammering the men of India over sexual harassment. Gallop altered her message for Indian men, transitioning from declaring sexual harassment is the biggest business issue in our industry to branding it as the “biggest issue facing every industry and society today.” Yes, sexual harassment deserves more attention than poverty, famine, war, crime, addiction, terrorism, racism, crumbling economies, natural disasters, global warming and any other trifling world crises outside of Gallop’s self-absorbed bubble. Somebody designate the woman as a candidate to replace Nikki Haley as United States Ambassador to the United Nations pronto.

But seriously, sexual harassment is clearly a huge problem that must be addressed. Victims and potential victims must be supported, protected and defended, while guilty parties must face the consequences. At the same time, exaggerating matters doesn’t help the cause, and might actually adversely affect how people respond and react.

What’s more, it’s pretty likely that the average Indian male—and even the average Indian male in advertising—doesn’t know Gallop from Gallagher. As a public service, here’s all anyone needs to know: Gallop boasts, “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business,” and Gallagher likes to smash watermelons. It’s a safe bet Indian men would unanimously prefer Gallagher.

Oh, and Michael Bay is a world-class artist at blowing things up. Gallop just blows shit.

Cindy Gallop: India’s men must call out harassment too

A view from Cindy Gallop

As women in the Indian advertising industry continue to share allegations, the British advertising consultant and vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement calls for more women—and men—in India to keep speaking up.

I am delighted to see that the women of India are finally breaking silence and naming names of #metoo perpetrators. Sexual harassment and assault is as all-pervasive in every Indian industry as it is in every industry around the world.

To those women who are speaking up: Thank you, thank you, thank you. To those women who have not yet spoken up: Please take strength from your sisters and consider raising your voice, because there is no better time to finally speak out than now. But equally, that choice is yours to make.

I do want to call out to the men of India—men who stood by, watched, stayed silent, participated, laughed, shielded other men—now is your chance to put that right. Please come forward and support Indian women, by calling out the men you know have been giving masculinity a bad name for years.

And to every man, in leadership or below: You need to do just two things. Listen to women. And believe women. If nobody speaks up, nothing changes. And #MeToo must lead to change, because sexual harassment is destroying the Indian economy and India’s chance of a successful future through forward-thinking, innovative business and enlightened, progressive society.

The biggest issue facing every industry and society today is sexual harassment—because it forces women out of companies and industries, destroys women’s ambitions and derails their careers, by destroying their confidence, their security and their sense of self.

In doing that, this abuse is keeping out of power and leadership the female leaders who would innovate and transform every area of business and society. India cannot afford to hold itself back on every front by allowing perpetrators to continue unpunished and uneradicated.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

14338: Nailed It. Not.

The Canadian creative team responsible for this nail fungus campaign deserves a foot in the ass.

14337: Is Ageism Getting Old?

Adweek reported Landor is facing an age discrimination lawsuit charging the White branding agency with “systematically eliminating older employees … over the past year” in favor of millennials. The accusations come from former Landor Executive Director of Insights and Analytics Suzanne Hernandez, a 60-year-old officer terminated in June, whose allegations include being excluded from pitches as the firm sought to present a youthful appearance to potential and existing clients. The woman has an uphill—or over-the-hill—battle ahead of her, as Landor exhibits a few things that could be used to refute the charges. First, the place is part of WPP, which until April was run by a 73-year-old jackass. Second, Landor leadership is comprised of White people who look pretty old. Third, the company website shows a job listing for the Executive Director of Insights and Analytics position, meaning Hernandez’s case could suffer if the company hires a replacement older than a millennial. Oh, and the holding companies are always seeking to reduce costs by employing cheap labor versus seasoned and expensive veterans. As previously noted, it’s offensive how the industry prefers younger workers, but is led by Old White Guys and Gals. The hypocritical hierarchy almost presents a built-in defense against ageism lawsuits.

Landor Associates Sued by Former Executive Alleging Age Discrimination

Suit contends dismissal was part of a pattern of ‘systematically eliminating older employees’

By Erik Oster

Suzanne Hernandez, who spent more than four years as executive director of insights and analytics at WPP-owned brand consultancy Landor Associates, has filed a lawsuit accusing her former employer of age discrimination.

The lawsuit, which Hernandez filed in New York County Supreme Court on Oct. 4, contends that despite being a digitally savvy Microsoft alum, Hernandez at age 60 was perceived as “incompatible with the youthful image that Landor wanted to convey to the clients they were pitching,” leading to her exclusion from pitches and subsequent termination on June 15, 2018. According to the lawsuit, Chris Lehmann, managing director of Landor’s San Francisco office, said the agency’s senior management wanted to “stack the pitch team with millennials” for an Amazon pitch, for example.

Hernandez’s lawyer claims Landor exhibited “the same ageism that is standard in the industry,” citing several publications’ reports on the allegedly widespread nature of ageism in advertising, including [a 2016 AgencySpy story], [a Digiday story] from the same year, a Forbes story asking if “ageism” is the ugliest “ism” in the industry and a recent Wall Street Journal story about AARP enlisting former advertising executive Cindy Gallop to take on ageism.

“If you wanted to create a petri dish for age discrimination, it would be in an advertising agency,” Lou Pechman, head of Pechman Law Group, which filed the case, said in a statement to Adweek. “The industry is notorious for age discrimination issues.”

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) declined to comment on Pechman’s contentions.

The lawsuit asserts that Landor Associates’ termination of Hernandez is part of a pattern of “systematically eliminating older employees … over the past year” in favor of younger, less experience hires and points out that during the last year of Hernandez’s employment, Landor eliminated “at least six” employees 50 or older. The lawsuit claims 80 percent of the employees at Landor’s New York office qualify as millennials or digital natives.

A Landor representative told Adweek the company “is not able to comment on pending litigation.”

The lawsuit attempts to demonstrate that any perceived lack of digital savviness is at odds with Hernandez’s education, experience and accomplishments. According to the lawsuit, Hernandez received Coursera certification in gamification from the Wharton School in 2012 and has four years experience with Silicon Valley market data and research companies, three as director of global market research for Microsoft’s interactive entertainment division and a year as vice president, research and insights for digital ad agency Undertone. According to the lawsuit, Hernandez built up the agency’s insights and analytics practice, created new market research projects, developed the agency’s M&A Brand Study and led the development of new offers which the suit claims were worth around $800,000 to $1,000,000 in additional revenue.

While Hernandez was told at the time of her June 15 termination that she was being fired due to “lack of performance,” the lawsuit states that chief strategy officer Thomas Ordahl did not bring up any performance issues during a one-on-one meeting on May 8, and, according to the suit, Hernandez “met or exceeded” all the objectives outlined in her last performance review in May 2017.

Following her dismissal on June 15, Landor North America President Stuart Sproule said in announcing Hernandez’s dismissal that “the marketing industry is changing” and that Landor would be hiring “different types of talent” to keep up with these changes.

Hernandez is seeking back pay, front pay, damages for “mental anguish,” compensatory and punitive damages, “reasonable attorney fees and costs” and “such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper,” according to the lawsuit, which you can read in its entirety [at Adweek].

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

14336: TTFN VMLY&R.

Adweek reported PepsiCo is dumping WPP’s VMLY&R ASAP. The former VML served as digital agency for Gatorade and Tropicana for over 8 and 4 years, respectively. Soon-to-be-fired staffers will need Gatorade’s electrolyte-replacing benefits when required to quickly pack their belongings and hurriedly vacate their cubicles. The geniuses behind the recent merger likely aren’t sweating, so they’ll just sip Tropicana juices in their safe offices. No word yet on where the businesses might shift. Omnicom is probably checking to see if Fathom Communications is available.

PepsiCo to End Its Relationship With WPP’s VMLY&R After More Than 8 Years

Agency ran digital and social for Gatorade and Tropicana

By Patrick Coffee

PepsiCo has moved to end its relationship with VMLY&R after eight and a half years, a client spokesperson confirmed today.

The WPP-owned agency has counted Gatorade and Tropicana digital as two of the larger accounts run out of its Kansas City, Kan. headquarters.

“Gatorade and digital agency of record VML have enjoyed a successful relationship over the past eight and a half years (Tropicana for four and a half years),” the Pepsi representative wrote.

She also said the company is “proud of our work together and the business results it has achieved” but has “agreed to part ways,” adding: “As we look ahead to 2019, we will be evaluating a differentiated model within the digital space. The companies will begin to transition work but continue to work together throughout the remainder of 2018. We wish VML continued future success.”

An agency spokesperson declined to comment and referred to the client. According to multiple parties close to the business, VML executives alerted employees to the change on Tuesday morning.

The news comes approximately two weeks after WPP announced that VML would merge with the more traditional creative network Y&R to form VMLY&R in the first major move made by incoming holding company CEO Mark Read.

It is unclear at this time what the “differentiated model” will entail and where the work in question will go. Sources did confirm, however, that it will not be handled by the two primary brands’ agencies of record, TBWA\Chiat\Day and BBDO.

Representatives for both Omnicom shops declined to comment.

TBWA\Chiat\Day handled the digital work on Gatorade from 2008 until 2010, when PepsiCo went outside its Omnicom stable to award the business to VML. The agency reportedly beat out Tribal DDB, Organic, Huge and Publicis Groupe’s recently-shuttered Odopod in a competitive review.

As noted in the quote above, the shop then added digital creative duties for Tropicana to its client roster in 2014, later picking up secondary beverage brands Brisk Tea and Propel.

Pepsi has been moving much of its social media work in-house over the past two years. In late October 2016, Adweek reported that the company would be handling social for its namesake brand internally, and Pepsi confirmed the news two weeks later.

14335: CEO = Caucasian Exclusivity Officer.

Black Enterprise spotlighted an Advertising Week event titled, “CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion,” where the panel was exclusively comprised of White people. Plus, one of the White men—Scott Kauffman of MDC Partners—recently lost his CEO job. Ironically, at the same event last year, Kauffman declared, “I’m intolerant of intolerance. We are on a journey that is not going to end, at least as long as I’m on this planet. We are swimming against a tide of hundreds of years of history, and I think we have to keep pressing on.” Okay, but we’ll have to keep pressing on without you. Meanwhile, the other advertising-related White panelist was IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth, who reportedly is plotting his exit from the company proclaiming to be recognized for leadership in diversity and inclusion, despite staging the most notorious racist- and sexual harassment-based scandals in recent years. Oh, and the White holding company Chairman and CEO crowned a Pioneer of Diversity—John Wren of Omnicom—didn’t bother showing up. Somebody needs to change the event name to “CEO Inaction for Diversity & Inclusion.”

All-White Panel at #AWNewYork Addresses the Lack of Diversity in Corporate America

By Selena Hill

Day one of New York Advertising Week kicked off Monday with a plethora of sessions, workshops, industry leaders, and networking events centered on marketing, advertising, technology, and creative spaces. One panel discussion, titled CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, focused on fostering D&I solutions within corporate culture. During the discussion, the panelists addressed a wide range of issues, including gender inequality, Charlottesville, LGBTQ rights, and implicit bias. The only problem, however, was the blatant lack of ethnic diversity among the all-white panel.

Facilitated by PwC, the panel was named after PwC’s CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. The speakers included Shannon Schuyler, the Chief Purpose Officer at PwC; Deirdre Mahlan, the president of Diageo North America; Scott Kauffman, the Chairman & CEO of MCD Partners; and Michael Roth, the Chairman & CEO of Interpublic Group. Shortly before wrapping up the conversation, the elephant in the room was finally addressed when Kauffman acknowledged the irony of “two white Jewish men and three white women” talking about the need for more diverse work environments.

When asked about the lack of diversity on the panel, Schuyler told BLACK ENTERPRISE afterward that both she and her partner, who happens to be a black man, were aware of the glaring oversight. “Certainly, it was not lost on me. In fact, my husband said he was watching [via livestream] and he was like ‘do you know you guys are all white?,’” she said. “It’s something we need to work on.”

Schuyler admitted that working in a corporate D&I role and being married to an African American has helped make her more aware of situations where minority voices are missing. “We’re all white and we’re talking about diversity,” she said very matter-of-factly. “That’s why I think this is a journey and we’re not there. We’re not even close to being there. But it’s about recognizing it and saying what can we do differently next time.”

She went on to talk about how she sees her role in overseeing PwC’s CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion program as part of a much-needed solution. Since its inception in 2014, the initiative has recruited over 500 CEO and university president signatories who are actively working to recruit and retain diverse employees and ultimately change the face of their organizations, industries, and corporate America. “One of the things we hope for is that we get more CEO’s who sign up for CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, then the number of women and minorities will increase,” she said. “Generally, you don’t have many African Americans or Hispanics that are CEO’s. So that’s the problem we have to solve.”

Another main part of Schuyler’s role at PwC is to help employees find their individual purpose at the multinational professional services firm. “If we can’t create a sense of belonging and fulfillment [making] people believe that they can succeed, then we won’t be successful,” she said. “We have really focused the last couple of years on being this focus-driven organization and what our values are.” Schuyler added that data “shows that a more diverse workplace is more successful financially, but more importantly, it’s more successful for your people to be able to grow, develop, and be their best.”

Monday, October 15, 2018

14334: Intangibles & Inactions.

Adweek reported the 4A’s canceled its Spring conference and is restructuring to concentrate on events focusing on “tangible actions.” Expect a sharp increase of divertsity soirees and steep decline of diversity initiatives. After all, White women are tangible, while racial and ethnic minorities—especially Black women in executive roles—are intangible and invisible. The annual conference had been renamed Accelerate, a highly appropriate title in light of the enthusiasm to fuel the White women’s bandwagon.

4A’s Restructures Events to Focus on ‘Tangible Actions,’ Cancels 2019 Spring Conference

The annual event had been rebranded as Accelerate

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

The 4A’s, the organization founded in 1917 that serves more than 700 member agencies across 1,300 offices, announced today a restructuring of sorts, pivoting to events that focus on “tangible actions.” In doing so, the organization is canceling this year’s annual spring conference slated to be held in Los Angeles (which was rebranded in 2018 as Accelerate from Transformation).

Instead, in 2019, the 4A’s will host shorter forums, including an inaugural Decisions 20/20 event from March 25-26 in Washington D.C. Decisions 20/20 will aim to tackle industry concerns around data, media technology and privacy—issues that have come to the forefront over the past few years thanks to the ANA’s 2016 transparency report and various data breaches that have plagued the likes of Facebook and Google.

That forum will focus on “pressing” keynote speeches, debate-oriented panels and smaller breakout sessions that foster live learning across two days, compared to the Accelerate conference that was primarily an extended weekend of panel discussions, according to the 4A’s.

Still, president and CEO Marla Kaplowitz told Adweek that, for now, Accelerate is only on pause.

“We took a step back and really looked at this year’s program and our overall event strategy,” Kaplowitz explained. “The event was doing well and resonating with our members, but there was a time commitment factor.”

She said “everyone is so busy” and “there’s a flood” of existing advertising conferences already, so the 4A’s wanted to ensure that its own events are “worth the time.”

Part of that strategy will include the 4A’s building out its popular annual Management Practitioners’ Forum (MPF) as a standalone event to take place from April 29-30 in downtown Chicago. The MPF was previously an off-shoot of larger 4A’s conferences, but due to attendees’ increasing amount of positive feedback, the 4A’s decided to expand on it.

Kaplowitz said the MPF has been the 4A’s “number one” event at its annual spring conferences. It brings together clients and dozens of otherwise-competitive agency leaders to discuss collaborative efforts to drive change in the industry, she explained.

The MPF is also always closed to the press, so “agency entrepreneurs” (as the 4A’s described them) can openly share guidance, solutions and suggestions on challenges that are hindering daily agency operations. Content at the Chicago forum will relate to topics around the future of marketing, talent, clients’ wants and need, the increasing competitive landscape, agency value creation, “punching above your weight” and getting paid what you’re worth.

Kaplowitz added that every MPF speaker “must end their conversation with three to five takeaways, so it’s very action-oriented.” She noted agency compensation is always the most popular topic there.

The 4A’s said it will invite speakers from across the business community to both Decisions 20/20 and the MPF, with lineups slated to be unveiled early next month.

This pivot in event strategy is something the 4A’s has been prepping for over a year. In 2018, the organization had already rebranded its annual Transformation conference that was launched in 2010 as Accelerate to focus on creating more impactful experiences for attendees via hosting more workshops and Q&A discussions. Transformation focused on keynote speeches and panels.

As an example of what to expect, look to the 4A’s announcement of the formation of the Advertiser Protection Bureau at the 2018 conference. The bureau is a group of designated leaders from each agency holding company that works to identify and alert agencies and their clients of ads in potentially unsafe environments, which the 4A’s described at the time of the announcement as brand safety incidences.

Kaplowitz said members should anticipate seeing momentum around more of these initiatives that “drive the industry forward” at its future events.

“At the end of the day, you need people to come and experience [the event] and commit the time,” Kaplowitz said. The new strategy “keeps in line” with the 4A’s aim to position itself as the organization that allows “the industry to thrive well past 2020.”

14333: Truth Or Con Sequences.

Adweek covered an ADCOLOR® event featuring Wieden + Kennedy Co-President Colleen DeCourcy, who presented a “Moment of Truth” that underscored how advertising executives exhibit untruthfulness when addressing the topic of diversity. DeCourcy apparently drew inspiration from Naomi Wadler’s speech at the March For Our Lives rally, which led to writing impassioned thoughts that she shared with W+K leaders, whereby “she challenged everyone to take a hard look at systemic and unconscious bias that was affecting the hiring and promotion of talent.”

Okay, but why did it take so damned long for DeCourcy to gain inclusivity enlightenment?

After all, it’s been nearly a decade since W+K Co-Founder Dan Wieden acknowledged the dearth of diversity in the advertising industry by declaring, “Now that’s fucked up!” Of course, Wieden went on to nab an ADCOLOR® Award for his alleged dedication to change. Yet critics were still quick to call out the hypocrisy of the White advertising agency’s salute to Black Lives Matter. And less than a year ago, an art director claimed to be among only two Black females in the W+K creative department. Oh, and W+K experienced a sexual harassment scandal too. DeCourcy should listen more closely to Colin Kaepernick’s full message.

In short, while DeCourcy’s perspectives might be undergoing an evolution, it’s happening at the Darwinian pace that adland has maintained forever. About every ten years, White advertising leaders feign interest in embracing people of color and reboot revolutionary initiatives—acting as if the ideas are hatching for the very first time. The recurring phenomena feels like a mash-up of Groundhog Day, the undiscovered country and early-stage dementia.

Final prediction: DeCourcy will win an ADCOLOR® trophy by essentially regurgitating her boss’ rhetoric and repeating the lack of legitimate progress. And that’s the sad truth.

How Wieden+Kennedy Approached a Moment of Truth in Recruiting Diverse Talent

Colleen DeCourcy motivates the team forward

By Doug Zanger

Moments of truth, as a general rule, connote tension or drama, and the person facing them either fails or comes out of it much stronger. That’s why “Moments of Truth” was the theme of this year’s Adcolor conference in Los Angeles, where speakers and attendees shared their stories of the crossroads and crucibles that defined their careers.

For screenwriter and producer Mara Brock Akil, that moment came between the second and third seasons of her early 2000s show, Girlfriends. Akil had never run a show, let alone one with a $25 million budget, and the learning curve had brought her to a tense moment with the Paramount Pictures. In grand Hollywood fashion, Akil turned it all around. The studio executive asked her who the better writers were on the show. She paused, closed her eyes and said, “I don’t know who the better writer is, but I know if you don’t have me on this show, it will fail.” Having made her point, she was able to retain creative control of the show that she created.

Such instances are certainly frequent and career-defining in the ad industry, as well.

Sharing her story on stage at Adcolor, Wieden+Kennedy president Colleen DeCourcy noted her own revelation that she was in her position because she “was one step to the left and one step behind [white men], and therefore something you could let in [to the industry] and not rock the boat too much.”

DeCourcy’s initial acceptance of this fact has, for many years, made way for her own evolution—that she is in a position to make decisions that will help positively impact women, people of color and the LGBTQ communities. As a top leader of one of the world’s most prominent agencies, where she was recently promoted from global CCO to co-president, she is acutely aware of the effect her views can have on shaping the industry.

A galvanizing moment for her was watching Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old student, speak at the March for Our Lives rally. DeCourcy found it a powerful moment and was inspired to put her thoughts about the advertising business down. It was an important stream of consciousness and became an impassioned screed that she shared with the creative leadership at W+K.

Reiterating her belief in them to lead the agency to a more equitable place, she challenged everyone to take a hard look at systemic and unconscious bias that was affecting the hiring and promotion of talent. Working from a place of empathy, she encouraged the agency’s leaders to look at their own career origin stories, reminding them that there were people who helped them improve early on, and to put themselves in the shoes of emerging, yet-to-be-discovered talent.

The agency recognized that not enough women and people of color held creative director positions.

“Somewhere, unconscious bias is happening,” noted DeCourcy. “I’m not blaming [people], but the numbers don’t lie. And [I told] our leaders, ‘We believe in you, but now is not the time for self-protection. It’s a time for magnanimity and to give over what you have … not to protect yourself’.”

The agency, still basking in the glow of it’s Colin Kaepernick work for Nike, has made some recent progress and increased its number of female creative directors. Yet it’s lagging in attracting senior people of color to Portland.

“It’s still not good enough,” said DeCourcy. “But I believe we will get better.”

Given the room to create and build a path forward

What’s troubling to DeCourcy is how people of color don’t really have the luxury of failing, mainly due to the industry’s structure and history of celebrating white male creatives. Ironically, W+K’s culture is built around the mantra of “Fail harder,” yet men and women of color have “one shot—and you have to soar so high. You have to be a Jimmy Smith,” noted DeCourcy, referring to the legendary creative who cut his teeth at Wieden in the 1990s.

A decidedly ongoing bright spot for the agency is the creation of On She Goes, a travel platform for women of color. Recording a podcast for the site at Adcolor, four of the five leaders of the project—Serita Wesley, Rebecca Russell, Farin Nikdel and Vivian Zhang (Becca Ramos was not in attendance)—said they feel they have ample support from the senior team at Wieden. It’s also a compelling microcosm of what’s possible when varied talent comes together.

“[Wieden’s leaders are] impressed with our creativity,” said Wesley, who is also a producer at W+K Studios. “All of the freelancers we brought in—artists, writers—were women of color, and we brought 150 of them into the project in seven months.”

“There was a lot of getting [leadership] up to speed on the condition of women of color, especially in the travel space,” added Russell. “They got out of our way, to an extent, and allowed us the space to do the project in our own way. We did have to be scrappier, smarter, more efficient and figure out how to do things with the resources that we were given. But we also have made that a priority to give an opportunity to as many women of color as we can.”

On She Goes has racked up some good growth in its first year, with visitors from over 100 countries and almost 500,000 video content views, all mainly accomplished organically with a little help from a minimal media budget.

As for the theory that the city and agency aren’t good for talent of color, Zhang also noted that it can be harmful to dismiss certain cities or regions for “lacking diversity,” a claim that’s sometimes made about Wieden + Kennedy hometown Portland, Oregon.

“There is diversity [in Portland] that might not be at the highest [rate],” she said. “But by saying there’s no diversity in Portland, you’re ignoring people who are actually there, who grew up there, who have families and generations there. The more negativity we pour onto it, the more it perpetuates itself.”