Tuesday, April 30, 2019

14613: “Revenge Time” At “Big Ad Agency” Is “Bullshit.”

AgencySpy posted on a Reddit post that, if true, underscores the utter lack of integrity, maturity and professionalism in adland.

According to the anonymous author, he works at a “big ad agency with large companies as our clients,” where they “fire clients that treat us poorly.” Right. Except the moron goes on to describe a client who allegedly acted like a sexist bully, harassing female staffers and abusing the agency overall. Did the big ad agency fire the client for treating them poorly? Nope. Rather, they recorded phone conversations without the client’s knowledge and compiled a collection of bad behavior, ultimately sending the mix tape to the client’s boss. What’s more, an agency drone also mailed a copy to the client’s wife. Hey, somebody’s qualified to join Diet Madison Avenue—or cover for Michael Cohen while he’s in jail. So the client was fired and the agency lived happily ever after—and even retained the business.

There’s a lot of suspicious activity in the story. First, why didn’t anyone in the big ad agency have the courage to set boundaries and directly confront the alleged perpetrator? How difficult is it to take initiative and protect employees? And why was the ex-client’s boss unaware of his awfulness? The asinine author bragged about how he and his co-morons declared “revenge time” against the ex-client. Sorry, but the covert action was immature and cowardly. The agency probably billed the client for the audio production work too.

Monday, April 29, 2019

14612: Do You Seem Disinterested About Racism?

This BBG Telecom campaign from Brazil commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination allegedly celebrated annually worldwide. The digital work posed a question—“Do you seem racist?”—to make people mindful of structural racism, as well as cultural cluelessness and ignorance-based insensitivity. Not sure banner ads and emails are sufficient to combat racism. Regardless, the campaign is another example of a cause receiving little attention from advertisers and advertising agencies versus the splashy divertsity dreck designed for events like International Women’s Day.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

14611: Junk Food Maker Nestle Lectures On The Perils Of Junk Food.

This Nestle campaign from India allegedly attempts to help parents teach their kids about healthy food and mindful eating. Sorry, but Nestle is hardly qualified to mount this soapbox.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

14610: Oh Snap! Snapchat Snaps Up Mickey D’s Executive For CMO Role.

Campaign reported Snapchat hired its first CMO—Kenny Mitchell—who hadn’t spent much longer than a year at Mickey D’s. That’s a fast move out of fast food.

Snapchat hires first CMO

Platform has recognised it needs to be more proactive at growing global audience.

By Omar Oakes

Snapchat has hired its first chief marketing officer, signalling a step change in the social media platform’s communications plan.

Kenny Mitchell, a former marketer at McDonald’s and Gatorade, will join Snap in June in the newly created position, reporting to founder and chief executive Evan Spiegel.

Mitchell will be in charge of all consumer and product marketing programmes amid a year of internal change for the company. In February, Snapchat reorganised its sales teams around client verticals.

The company has recognised that it needs to be more proactive at growing its global audience. This week, Snap posted virtually flat daily active user growth at 191 million.

Spiegel told investors in February that “explaining our core product value to customers everywhere” is a key area of focus for the business.

Mitchell most recently held the role of vice-president of brand content and engagement at McDonald’s in the US, where he led the fast-food company’s strategic brand and consumer marketing agenda. He was previously head of consumer engagement at Gatorade.

Spiegel said of Mitchell’s appointment: “Kenny’s consumer marketing expertise and his deep understanding of our products will be a great combination for Snap.

“Throughout his career, Kenny has demonstrated his ability to successfully execute innovative, global marketing campaigns, many of which have leveraged our own vertical video and augmented-reality products. He’s a natural fit to join our team and lead marketing as we continue driving the positive momentum we have in the business.”

Thursday, April 25, 2019

14609: Clio Cues Crap.

Listen up! Clio created another revenue-generating award competition saluting music in advertising. Wonder how many White advertising agencies will nab a trophy for hijacking hip hop.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

14608: Gender Equality Advertisement Is Just Plane Awful.

This gender equality advertisement from Georgia apparently seeks to inspire women to pursue a career in engineering. Based on the awfulness of the concept, copy and layout, women should pursue a career in advertising—the men in Georgia desperately need the help.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

14607: Top Ten Things To Say About Diversity In Advertising.

Came across the AdWeak concept above presenting the Top Ten Things David Ogilvy Would Say If He Ran An Agency Today—which inspired the notion below: Top Ten Things David Ogilvy Would Say About Diversity If He Ran An Agency Today.

Monday, April 22, 2019

14606: We Are Unlimited Bullshit Artists Worldwide.

AgencySpy posted on the hiring of new Executive Creative Director Derek Green, who will oversee the Mickey D’s business at We Are Unlimited. Two paragraphs warrant commentary:

According to the agency’s own writeup, Green will work to “expand the agency’s creative ambitions for the McDonald’s client” while also tending to all those other unnamed pieces of business. He reports to CCO Toygar Bazarkaya.

The Australian native arrives after spending nearly 4 years at Ogilvy in Sydney and a whopping 9 months on “paternity leave”—because unlike our United States, Australia treats its citizens like actual human beings.

First, it’s interesting to note that the agency’s “creative ambitions” continue to ignore DDB Global President and CEO Wendy Clark’s restless ambition to create a diverse workplace. Although maybe Clark thinks bringing in White men from other continents is diversity.

Second, not sure what the AgencySpy hack was thinking when typing, “…unlike our United States, Australia treats its citizens like actual human beings.” Tell it to the indigenous citizens and people of color from the land down under.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

14605: What On Earth Is Going On?

Adweek spotlighted all the splashy advertising that major brands will unleash to celebrate Earth Day. Yep, there are big-budget productions for Earth Day, but royalty-free stock photography for Black History Month.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

14604: Generating Ideas To Avoid Generation Degeneration.

From Adweek…

Making Sure the Next Generation of Black Creatives Has It Better Than the Ones Before Them

‘I’d show up to a city high-rise only to have reps at the front desk assume I was the messenger’

By Hans Dorsinville

My entrance into the ad industry was somewhat accidental, but even now, I’d call it fated. Having graduated from Parsons after spending time in both New York and Paris, I was looking for a creative gig. Then a fellow student called with me in mind, saying there was a position at Donna Karan for which I might be well-suited.

She was right.

I was eager, passionate, dedicated and dove headfirst into my new role. The brand was as multicultural as it was inclusive, celebrating gender, race and orientation. My skin and sexual preference weren’t factors, not inside those walls. Not at that moment, and not there, at least.

Over the next several years, I’d show up to a city high-rise only to have reps at the front desk assume I was the messenger. It never occurred to them that I was there to lead a meeting or share my creative vision. Almost daily, there were visible reminders of the fact that I didn’t look like the others in those decision rooms. At that time, it was very rare that you would see a black model on the runway. I was constantly grappling with the fact that I was in an industry that was inclusive in one way but actually completely exclusive in another way.

I didn’t see myself anywhere. When I looked outside and saw what was being produced, in terms of imagery and messaging and all of that, I wondered why I wasn’t included. Why didn’t I see myself in these messages? It became clear that there wasn’t anyone able to champion that inclusive message because the people who were holding the reigns and were making the decisions were not people like me.

To be frank, I had to adjust to this new normal. The black experience in Canada where I grew up is markedly different than the black experience in the U.S. I always felt included and always felt like I had a place at the table. I never questioned that I could go somewhere or that if I worked hard, I could get what I wanted. When I arrived at Parsons, I realized very quickly that there aren’t actually many people like me here, and yet I didn’t understand why.

It’s a question I’ve asked myself dozens of times over the last several decades. Is it because there aren’t enough role models? Is it because people are choosing not to see the value in those that look and behave differently than them? Is it because there aren’t enough people of diversity in leadership in regards to the men and women driving hiring decisions? Why is it that people of color, specifically, can’t make it to the table?

I don’t know the reason, but I suspect it’s all of the above.

What’s being done about it is another matter. There’s always that whole thing of companies “ticking the boxes of inclusivity,” which doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t believe in it, but they also don’t necessarily live it. And when you don’t live it from the inside and really look at the body of employees that you have, it’s hard to see if who you are hiring actually represents the world outside.

That’s why I feel it’s so important to groom the next generation of creatives, to make sure their origin experience is gentler—with less friction, even. It’s our responsibility to defend, nurture and raise up talent, to encourage them to participate.

So if you’re in a creative position of power, use it. Embrace talent that looks different than those sitting next to you or yourself. And if you’re a creative minority, use that to your advantage. Simply put, you have something different than the other people around you, and you’re used to seeing and analyzing those differences; you’re used to finding empathy and employing it.

Hans Dorsinville is chief creative officer at Select World.

Friday, April 19, 2019

14603: Revisionist History From Ancestry.com And Anomaly.

Adweek reported on a culturally clueless commercial for Ancestry.com from Anomaly that romanticizes why Blacks have White blood ties, ignoring the historical truths involving slavery and rape. Hey, it’s not the first time Ancestry.com has embraced revisionist history in its advertising. And Anomaly’s ignorance is, well, not an anomaly.

Ancestry.com Pulls Tone-Deaf Ad That Romanticizes Why Black Americans Have White Lineage

The spot doesn’t take enslavement and rape into account

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

It’s just another day in advertising and another example of a tone-deaf ad that likely would have never been approved had there been more people of color with significant sway on the matter.

Ancestry.com has pulled an ad that romanticized the reason why so many black Americans have white ancestry. (The biggest reason is rape.)

The ad, which is called “Inseparable” and is from Anomaly, is set in the 1800s and imagines a white gentleman trying to convince a black woman he is supposedly in love with to run away with him to Canada (as if white men in America at the time weren’t enslaving and raping black women and trying to dismantle the Underground Railroad that freed thousands of slaves).

The ad ran online this month and was broadcast on cable networks in Utah, where the online genealogy company is based, before The Salt Lake Tribune reported on it, prompting the brand to pull it from YouTube.

“Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history,” an Ancestry.com spokeswoman said in a statement. “This ad was intended to represent one of those stories. We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused. We are in the process of pulling the ad from television and have removed it from YouTube.”

The spokeswoman declined to say how many people of color were involved in making the ad, which was created by Anomaly’s Toronto office. The agency deferred comment to the client.

The ad garnered considerable backlash from viewers who pointed out how offensively unrealistic it is along with other insensitive aspects such as how the white male character interrupts the black woman when she tries to speak (arguably the only realistic part of the spot).

Others have noted how the ad parallels other white savior tales, from the recent controversial Academy Award-winning Green Book to To Kill a Mockingbird. Business Insider producer Manny Fidel explained the origin of white savior stories and detailed why they are so unrealistic and problematic in a video posted to his Twitter account in response to the Ancestry.com spot.

Here’s hoping change one day comes to the advertising industry.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

14602: Jeepers, Jeep!

Not sure what this Jeep campaign from Publicis Middle East, United Arab Emirates, is trying to communicate. But pretty sure it’s culturally clueless and offensive.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

14601: Entitled And Privileged Wendy Clark Hates Entitlement And Privilege.

During an episode of BBDO’s Love This podcast, DDB Global President and CEO Wendy Clark revealed she has an alter ego: Connie Client—a persona tied to her client-side background. Clark also declared, “I hate entitlement and I hate privilege.” She was referring, however, to work status and never being above doing anything for the job. That is, Clark’s hate was not directed at the social entitlement and White privilege that denies diversity in adland, despite her restless ambition to build an advertising agency that is “as diversely inclusive as the marketplace that we serve on behalf of our clients.” Connie is obviously tied to her con artist background too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

14600: 4As Diversity & Inclusion Panel Lacked Diversity Of Original Thought.

Adweek reported on “Diversity & Inclusion: Myth vs. Reality,” a navel-gazing 4As panel underscoring the reality that diversity and inclusion in adland is a myth.

The panel opened with 4As EVP Talent Engagement and Inclusion Simon Fenwick staging a stunt to highlight industry exclusivity. Fenwick asked all of the attendees to stand up, then instructed the White men and White women to sit down, which left few participants on their feet. Gee, what a brilliant demonstration. Of course, no one seemed to note the ridiculous reality of the exercise being conducted by a White man.

The subhead of the Adweek piece stated, “Executives agree that agencies need to do better.” Um, the 4As has been acknowledging such rhetoric for over a decade—and the organization has failed to inspire any progress on the subject since its founding in 1917. The panelists wound up regurgitating clichéd and contrived solutions, including treating the situation like a brief. Hey, the majority of advertising agencies aren’t even capable of drafting decent briefs for client projects.

The Adweek article closed by stating, “Too many have opinions on the topic without truly understanding it, Fenwick told the audience: ‘I think we need to sit in the room, we need to keep our mouths shut and we need to listen to the challenges and understand those challenges.’” By all means, Fenwick, shut the fuck up.

4A’s Panel: ‘Diversity of Thought Without Diverse Representation Is Not What We’re Trying to Achieve’

Executives agree that agencies need to do better

By Erik Oster

At the opening and close of the 4A’s “Diversity & Inclusion: Myth vs. Reality” panel yesterday, the audience provided evidence as to why such conversations are so important for the industry.

Moderator Simon Fenwick, 4A’s executive vice president, talent engagement and inclusion, opened with an exercise illustrating the lack of diversity in the industry. He asked the room to stand up, then asked the white men in the room, and then the white women in the room, to sit down. Few attendees were left standing.

The makeup of ad agencies “doesn’t really speak to what our clients look like or what our consumers look like,” he said, adding that the number of minorities at agencies “seem[s] to fall by about half when you start talking about leadership.”

“We do a great job bringing diverse talent into the industry, but once they try to advance through the organization, we lose them,” he added.

Diversity of thought

One idea the panel criticized was “diversity of thought.”

“We keep hearing that’s what’s really important at organizations today,” said Fenwick. But Lukeisha Paul, U.S. head of diversity, equity and inclusion at GroupM, called the phrase “a struggle” for her.

“Until we are of one accord, we don’t know what we’re trying to progress on and what measurements we can put into place,” she said, explaining that all of her conversations regarding diversity begin by asking others for their definitions of the term.

Diversity of representation, she also noted, increases diverse perspectives. She attributed recent missteps by unnamed companies that showcased insensitivities to race or gender but somehow survived client-side and focus-group review to the same lack of critical perspectives.

“Diversity of thought without diverse representation is not what we’re trying to achieve,” added Burson Cohn & Wolfe svp, senior director, diversity and inclusion Rosa Nunez, who views the phrase as “an excuse not to change the status quo.”

The panel also addressed the myth that the complexity of the issue makes it all but impossible to navigate.

“There’s definitely simple things that can be done to address and make an impact as it relates to diversity and inclusion,” said Microsoft senior sales director CP McBee. “Maybe the most difficult thing is sitting and listening without judgement,” he added, explaining that one can’t go into those conversations “expecting a fixed outcome.”

Treat it like a brief

Paul disputed the idea that diversity is an insurmountable challenge, encouraging attendees to step back and compare it to developing a strategy for a client whose target audience is primarily people of color.

“That’s what we’ve been trained to do in this industry,” she said to a round of applause. “The client is yourself [and] your business, that’s your target audience. How do you reach your goals?”

Paul, who created the diversity and inclusion board at IPG’s UM, also established a distinction between “equity” and “inclusion,” defining the former term as “ensuring success for all people from where they start,” while contrasting “equity” with the idea of “equal opportunity” since not everyone starts out with equal advantages.

Only when the industry has honest conversations about promotions, raises, “who’s getting groomed to be on panel discussions,” and “who’s being accountable” can it truly make progress, she added.

Fenwick then asked attendees to consider the issues of commitment, culture and communication, before responding to questions submitted by anonymous audience members.

One cringe-worthy query asked why such panels didn’t include more white males.

After pointing out that he is, in fact, a white man, Fenwick said that it’s the responsibility of “the people in the room to actually be sitting in the room with the diverse populations.”

Too many have opinions on the topic without truly understanding it, Fenwick told the audience: “I think we need to sit in the room, we need to keep our mouths shut and we need to listen to the challenges and understand those challenges.”

Monday, April 15, 2019

14599: Ogilvy Seeks To Conquer Cultural Cluelessness Worldwide.

Adweek reported Ogilvy hired a new Worldwide Executive Director for Diversity and Inclusion, which essentially sounds like the White advertising agency is delegating diversity across the planet. Has Ogilvy succeeded yet in achieving equality on a single continent—or even one city? How about in a department at a satellite office? It’s been nearly a decade since Ogilvy honcho John Seifert admitted the industry is “not exactly leading the way” with diversity and inclusion. Now he’s out to conquer cultural cluelessness globally. Gee, Seifert might complement his ADCOLOR® trophy with a Nobel Peace Prize.

Ogilvy Brings on Worldwide Executive Director for Diversity and Inclusion

Yashica Olden joins as agency rolls out D&I initiatives globally

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

Ogilvy has named Yashica Olden worldwide executive director for diversity and inclusion, starting April 15. She will be responsible for expanding the agency’s diversity and inclusion efforts globally.

Olden has worked and lived in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy and Sudan, and she’s implemented diversity and inclusion initiatives in more than 50 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America. The agency said this makes her the ideal candidate to globally expand the programs it has established around those issues in the U.S. The programs will be adapted to meet each individual region’s needs.

Most recently, Olden was the global inclusion lead for London-based insurance company Aviva. There, she persuaded senior executives to expand their global inclusion targets to include race and ethnicity. Prior to that, Olden was the first head of diversity and inclusion for the United Nations World Food Program, where she oversaw the establishment of the U.N.’s first women’s leadership development program. She’s also led diversity and inclusion efforts for Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse, among others.

Olden will report directly to Donna Pedro, Ogilvy worldwide chief diversity and inclusion officer and executive partner.

“We’ve been on an incredible journey to reach our goals,” Pedro told Adweek, noting that hiring Olden is the next phase of the plan. “I am excited to bring Yashica, who has such a wide range of extensive global experience, to the table.”

During Cannes 2018, Ogilvy committed to advancing and recruiting 20 senior women into creative leadership roles by 2020 while developing a pipeline for women of color. It also recently expanded a U.S. pilot program called “30 for 30” it established three years ago to support and elevate “high-potential female talent” to Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Pedro said Olden will focus her first 60 days on implementing similar diversity and inclusion initiatives in EMEA and then Latin America.

In focusing on EMEA initially, Olden told Adweek that she will focus on expanding Ogilvy’s gender wage gap report (which any U.K. company with more than 250 employees is now required to release annually) to include other metrics, such as race.

“Outside of the U.S., race is rarely discussed,” Olden noted. “People talk about nationality or culture, but particularly Europeans are shy to talk about race.”

As she starts to flesh out plans for other countries, Olden said she will concentrate on ensuring there are programs in place to support people with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ. That will include setting up “allies networks” for people in regions where they may not feel safe.

“In places like Singapore, it’s still against the law for people of the same sex to be in a relationship,” Olden said, adding that this will be taken into consideration when relocating employees, if need be. “You might not choose to move someone who is openly gay to a place that is openly hostile.”

Olden said her main goal in this role will be championing Ogilvy as an organization that welcomes and accepts everyone, no matter the country and its specific laws.

“The key to this is—and it’s what I’ve done in other organizations—to just be consistent in your messaging,” Olden said. “Often, as Americans working in diversity and inclusion, we really only have [one] lens. As an American who has worked in diversity and inclusion for 20 years [in various countries], I can much more easily translate what diversity means in other cultures and where there’s going to be major challenges.”

Sunday, April 14, 2019

14598: Random Ruminations On Racism In Advertising.

From Adweek…

A Brief Rundown of Racism Within Advertising and Why It’s Still Happening Today

Change needs to happen on both the agency and client side

By Trevor Robinson

Over 100 years since the creation of the Aunt Jemima mammy logo, you’d hope that brands would have moved on from using racist stereotypes. Yet in 2019, during Black History Month, we witnessed one of the world’s biggest luxury brands launch an $890 blackface sweater. After getting blasted on Twitter and being forced to remove its deeply offensive sweater from stores, Gucci then made the jaw-dropping statement that it didn’t know blackface images were racist.

Advertising has a long history of racism. In the rare cases that black people were portrayed in ads, they were invariably depicted as subservient, ignorant and unattractive. From the late 1800s when African Americans first started appearing in advertising and through the Mad Men era, they were negatively stereotyped or ridiculed. Products used cartoonish images of black people, and bleach and soap brands, like Pears, “jokingly” claimed their products could lighten dark skin.

The advance of the civil rights movement and the growing recognition that ethnic minorities were also consumers brought more diversity, with Lever Brothers announcing in 1963 that it would have more black people in its commercials. In 1972, J. Walter Thompson had a black Santa Claus fronting its campaign for its Instamatic Ebony camera, a move that was seen as progressive at the time. In the 1990s, the pioneering United Colors of Benetton ads championed diversity in fashion. This paved the way for advertising like Louis Vuitton’s latest menswear campaign, under its first African American designer, Virgil Abloh, which features a black toddler and black students at a Los Angeles school.

More brands are embracing diversity, and we’re seeing work that moves the conversation on. The hugely entertaining Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” starring Isaiah Amir Mustafa, is one example. Ikea’s “Hooray! To the Wonderful Everyday” campaign in the U.K., which centers on a positively represented black family, is another. Yet we’re still very far from an era of post-racial advertising.

Black people still appear more regularly in advertising for sports brands than any other category, which is a reductive and dangerous cliché. Both under-representing the black community and portraying them in a stereotypical way has a profound effect on the collective self-esteem. It creates feelings of isolation and impacts self-belief. If you can’t see anyone who looks like you in the media, your thinking will inevitably be limited in terms of what you can achieve.

In addition, as we saw with the Gucci sweater, brands continue to make disturbing missteps. Dove’s 2017 campaign showing a black woman transforming into a white woman was an eerie echo of those vintage soap ads depicting dark skin turning white.

Today, black culture holds such huge sway that it can no longer be ignored. We’ve seen brands like Tommy Hilfiger benefit from associating with black culture. Tommy Hilfiger first began its unlikely relationship with hip-hop in the 90s when musicians began wearing the label. The brand then gave away trunks of clothes to any rapper with a recording contract. This, in turn, triggered a backlash when rumors circulated that Hilfiger was racist, rumors that were subsequently investigated by the Anti-Defamation League and found to be without merit. Despite this, the brand has maintained ties with hip-hop, an association that gives it the status it enjoys today.

We won’t get to the point where diversity is the norm in advertising and racist stereotypes are abandoned until there are more black people and minorities working in and occupying senior positions in our industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who identify as African American or black account for only 5 percent of those working in advertising, public relations and related sectors.

Clients are also to blame. So many marketers choose white people to represent their brand over any other ethnicity, fearing their target audience won’t be able to identify with someone from another race. It’s a bizarre mindset that doesn’t manifest to the same extent in TV and film, and it is preventing us from moving forward.

On both the client and agency side, advertising needs to bring in all the diverse talent that is available, in front of and behind the camera. Then—and only then—can we begin to solve advertising’s race problem.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

14597: Overreaction Of The Week.

Why is Adweek promoting its recruitment service with simians? Hey, Adweek can help in your diversity efforts by identifying qualified monkeys…?

Friday, April 12, 2019

14596: Campbell Ewald Creative Chiefly Cornucopia Of Caucasians.

AgencySpy posted on the new creative leadership at Campbell Ewald, where the top White woman extended the overall Whiteness of the White advertising agency. White women did not fare well in the moves, which contradicts the divertsity dung excreted by Campbell Ewald CEO Kevin Wertz. When it comes to true diversity, this place is, well, ghetto.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

14595: FCB Stands For Fucking Clueless Buffoons.

This Black & Abroad commercial from FCB is offensive, opening with racist sentiments for shock schlock value before launching into a cheery travelogue message.

Maybe FCB should go back—to being Draftfcb.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

14594: Diet Madison Avenue Goes From Revealer To Revealed…?

Adweek reported former CP+B CCO Ralph Watson and his lawyer believe the anonymous trolls behind Diet Madison Avenue will be unmasked within a week. Gee, the event will have missed making Women’s History Month—as well as April Fools’ Day—by just a few days or so.

The Anonymous ‘Diet Madison Avenue’ Social Media Whistleblowers Could Be Unmasked Within a Week

Lawyer suing account’s creators expects Instagram to identify them

By Erik Oster

The identities of anonymous activists who’ve operated online under the name Diet Madison Avenue could soon be revealed by Facebook and Instagram as part of a defamation lawsuit filed against the account’s creators.

In a letter filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday, the lawyer representing former CPB chief creative officer Ralph Watson claimed Facebook and Instagram will provide identifying information “within the next week” regarding the people behind Diet Madison Avenue, the anonymous industry whistleblower social media account dedicated to “exposing sexual harassment and discrimination” in advertising.

In the letter to United States District Judge John G. Koeltl, attorney Michael Ayotte requested that an upcoming hearing, currently scheduled for April 22, be delayed 60 days, allowing him time to “receive the requested discovery that is expected to be produced this week”—meaning the identities of the anonymous account’s administrators.

The controversial account, which operated mostly through Instagram, shook the industry in 2018 with a series of sexual harassment and assault allegations against multiple prominent male executives. Diet Madison Avenue abruptly shut down and then reappeared in March 2018, shortly after a group of women in advertising circulated a letter criticizing its approach to making allegations of sexual harassment. The account later went dark following the initiation of Watson’s litigation before reappearing as a reset private Instagram account. The anonymous group described itself as “17 ad junkies exposing Madison Ave sexual harassment & discrimination since Oct. 2017, cuz HR won’t.”

Watson filed separate suits in Los Angeles and New York last year accusing unnamed “Jane Doe” individuals of defaming him in January 2018 by describing him in a series of Diet Madison Avenue Instagram Stories posts as a “predator” who “targeted and groomed” young women. Cases were filed in both California and New York, and Watson believes the defendants are based throughout the country, including in California, New York and Illinois.

Watson later sued his former employer and its parent company, MDC Partners, for wrongful termination and “reverse sex discrimination,” claiming he was fired as “a direct result of Diet Madison Avenue’s false statements, pressure and interference.”

In response to the latter filing, CPB and MDC Partners claimed the executive had been terminated for cause, referring to a series of “emails that were sent by Mr. Watson to female employees.”

Today, an MDC Partners spokesperson reaffirmed the company’s position.

“CPB still stands by its decision to terminate Mr. Watson’s employment for cause following an appropriate investigation,” she said. “MDC Partners and CPB will continue to vigorously defend themselves and their employees against the litigation commenced by Mr. Watson in June 2018. We remain highly confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.”

CPB declined to provide further comment.

A. Louis Dorny, a partner at Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, which is defending Diet Madison Avenue in the case, also declined to comment.

“We respond to valid legal requests but don’t comment on specific cases,” an Instagram spokesperson said in a statement.

Facebook and Google have not responded to requests for comment, and Ayotte has not responded to requests for comment.

The Diet Madison Avenue Instagram account, which has been inactive for approximately six months, did not respond to a direct message seeking comment.

The requests to identify those associated with Diet Madison Avenue stem from the original suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in May 2018.

Watson successfully obtained a court order to issue subpoenas to Facebook, Instagram and Google in order to identify those behind Diet Madison Avenue’s allegedly defamatory posts in July 2018. An anonymous defendant identified as Doe 3 unsuccessfully sought to quash the subpoenas.

On Feb. 1, 2019, the court granted Doe 3 a protective order while also narrowing the scope of the subpoenas to Jan. 19 and Jan. 25, 2018 (the dates of the allegedly defamatory statements) and issued a stay on any production of the information until Feb. 28. A further extension of that stay was granted until March 15. On March 13, the defendants’ attempt to appeal the decision was denied.

Because of the lifting of the stay in the Los Angeles Superior Court case, the plaintiff “expects to receive the requested identifying information within the next week.”

The full document submitted to the S.D.N.Y. is embedded [at Adweek].

Monday, April 08, 2019

14593: When It Comes To Diversity, Adland Is Disabled.

Adweek published a perspective by Designsensory Director of Strategy Josh Loebner, who argued that adland must integrate disability into diversity and inclusion propaganda. Loebner used the cookie-cutter comments echoed by every marginalized group in adland. For example, he griped that advertising agencies and clients shouldn’t only recognize people with disabilities during the Paralympics—just as Blacks complain advertising agencies and clients shouldn’t only recognize people of color during Black History Month. Unfortunately, Loebner doesn’t seem to realize a basic fact: When it comes to diversity and inclusion in adland, anyone who’s not an able-bodied White man or White woman is ultimately handicapped in their efforts to move forward.

Agencies Need to Better Connect Disability With Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Rather than only thinking about it during the Paralympics

By Josh Loebner

With the 2020 Paralympics just around the corner, brands will soon start to plan and develop disability-inclusive campaigns. But are conversations about employing people with disabilities also top of mind among those agencies and other advertisers?

For some campaigns and brand activations, the Paralympics are a regular commitment that powers up every four years, and for others, this will be a first foray into disability inclusion. While much of the focus will center on disability portrayals in the creative, now is the time to consider disability beyond the campaign and also as a component of ongoing diversity and inclusion within talent recruitment programs.

As a disabled person in the industry, I’ve seen some advancement, but many conversations are stilted with minimal insights and sputtering commitments. I applaud the ad community for taking a stronger stance on diversity in so many facets, but disability continues to be marginalized mostly to topics surrounding ad creative, with little industry education or agency employment dialogue.

Not considering outreach toward people with disabilities among employee candidates continues decades of second-class citizenry, misinformation and stereotyping toward a group that many still consider unemployable.

In an industry that celebrates creative iconoclasts, hiring managers should consider people with disabilities for out-of-the-box ideas and as daily problem solvers. Recognize that many break the rules and the mold regularly and repeatedly, things brands want to achieve every day. One in four people (or 61 million) Americans are disabled, and many could translate into employees in the advertising industry. Whether talking about a career move or consumer purchasing power, people with disabilities can make a big advertising impact.

Collectively, Americans with disabilities have an annual disposable income of $188 billion. Beyond the bottom line and dollars spent, advertising has the power to drive brand affinity and social justice.

Employing more people with disabilities means agencies and brands won’t simply be thinking about inclusion every few years surrounding the Paralympics or during a particular month celebrating a certain cause, but instead have daily advocates and ambassadors willing and able to share advice and creative ideas toward greater inclusion. Other minority groups aren’t put on pause to only be discussed and included among infrequent campaigns during sports spectacles, and neither should people with disabilities.

More people with disabilities will be in ads when more people with disabilities are hired in the advertising industry. This can be the year when more conversations, conviction and commitment takes place to elevate advertising and disability.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

14592: Boring Content Comes From Anywhere And Everywhere.

Madison BMB in India is responsible for this ContentFly campaign. Why does the talent look like they’ve never been to—or even considered visiting—India? Or is ContentFly outsourcing its advertising to India? Oh, and while ContentFly boasts that you’ll never get bored with its content, the campaign content is boring.

Friday, April 05, 2019

14590: Wunderman Thompson Dunderheads Reduce Redundancies.

AgencySpy posted about Wunderman Thompson in New York dumping 25 staffers who became redundant as the result of the merger. Maybe they should replace the graphic plus with a minus on the new logo.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

14589: Happy Birthday To Hugh.

Today’s Google Doodle saluted the late Hugh Masekela—the father of South African jazz—on his birthday.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

14588: Dove’s Latest Bullshit Is A Real Beauty.

Adweek reported on divertsity depicted by Dove and Getty, who teamed up to create a stock photography collection that “shows women as they are, not as others believe they should be, ” and featuring “no digital distortion, just an unapologetically inclusive vision of beauty.” Oh goody! More royalty-free images for Black History Month campaigns.

Dove and Getty Launch a More-Honest Stock Photo Collection—of Women, by Women

Project #ShowUs offers a much-needed diversity update

By T.L. Stanley

There’s a reason why so many unrealistic images (think thin, white and perpetually bikini clad) get picked up and used across social media, news stories and ad campaigns—it’s possible to find empowered, diverse women in stock photography, but it’s a real slog to get there.

Dove, Getty Images and female-led creative agency Girlgaze are tackling that problem head on with Project #ShowUs, a new collection of 5,000 photos that, they creators say, “shows women as they are, not as others believe they should be.” In other words, there’s “no digital distortion, just an unapologetically inclusive vision of beauty.”

Originating in 39 countries, the photos come from 116 female, non-binary and female-identifying photographers, and, in a first for Getty, the 179 subjects have created their own search descriptions and tags for their images, “so she is defining how she wants to be seen, on her own terms.” (Some of those terms include “blackgirlmagic,” “bosslady” and “enlightened.”)

Don’t expect cheesy representations like “women laughing alone with salad” to go away overnight. But with options like these available, it’s harder to make excuses for falling back on tropes and publishing stereotypical shots. And that’s the point — to make it easier and quicker to find culturally relevant images of a wide variety of confident, successful, kickass females.

Dove, with its long “Real Women” history, commissioned a study of 9,000 women and released its stats to bolster the launch of the photo collection. The numbers are sobering, exposing what Sophie Galvani, global vp of the Unilever brand, called “an appearance anxiety epidemic.”

Women have long reported a blow to their self-esteem because of unrealistic imagery in media, and that figure doubled in the past decade (rising from 14 percent to 36 percent), the research found. On a global scale, 70 percent of women don’t feel accurately represented by the images they see everyday, and 71 percent wish media and advertisers did a better job in portraying age, race, shape and size.

At the same time, searches for a broader swath of women have been increasing, Getty says. “Real people” searches climbed by 192 percent in the past year, “diverse women” by 168 percent, “strong women” by 187 percent” and “women leaders” by 202 percent.

Girlgaze founder Amanda de Cadenet called the project “a game-changing initiative,” and Getty Images’ Rebecca Swift predicted that it will “break visual cliches on an unprecedented scale.”

Getty execs say they hope to double the size of the collection by next year.

It’s another advance in a broader long-fought battle against a stock photo industry that’s often seen as less-than thoughtful. PETA’s years-long concerted effort to wipe out imagery of primates in “unnatural” settings and poses (chimps riding bikes and wearing makeup, for instance) paid off as services like Getty and Shutterstock vowed last year to take those photos out of circulation.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

14587: McCann Morons Mansplain With Mascara And Makeup.

This is a gender equality campaign from McCann in Germany, featuring headlines claiming, “This is an ad for men.” Of course, this is an ad campaign by men. And it’s meh.