Monday, September 30, 2019

14772: At Advertising Week, PitBull Inspired Bullshit From Buttholes.

Advertising Age reported on the hypocritical outrage from White advertising agency executives feigning disdain over Pitbull performing at Advertising Week. Seems the headline act featured imagery like the photograph above, which countered all the divertsity and divertisements pushed throughout the week-long exclusivity. Of course, Cindy Gallop couldn’t let the self-absorbed opportunity pass without sputtering, “In an industry that sells first and foremost to female consumers, but continues to be male-dominated and massively power-imbalanced when it comes to women … and to talk gender equality, diversity and inclusion but spectacularly fail to deliver on it, it is wholly inappropriate to feature a closing Advertising Week musical act that objectifies women.” Okay, but Gallop is often presenting herself with imagery like the photograph below. Gallop pontificating against objectification is the equivalent of a Grand Wizard promoting Black Lives Matter. Finally, it must be noted that soirees such as Advertising Week are always falsely advocating for diversity—and compensating by hiring hip-hop artists of color to provide entertainment.

Advertising Week’s Pitbull Concert Undermines A Week Of Equality Talk, Say Critics

Industry professionals say Pitbull’s performance did not mix with all the talk of gender parity

By Ilyse Liffreing

In an industry that has long battled sexism, Advertising Week made a concerted effort in its programming this week to address issues of equality and parity. There was an entire track Thursday called “Future is Female,” with seminars titled “Fighting Bias” and “The Business Case for Female Inclusion.” Another track on Monday was devoted to “Diversity and Inclusion.”

So many industry execs were surprised and even disappointed with Advertising Week’s choice of selecting Pitbull as the headline act on the closing night of the event.

The audience at the packed concert venue at Webster Hall on Thursday night might have enjoyed the flashy spectacle (and open bar), but stepping back from the glitz and confetti, advertising industry professionals are saying Advertising Week was a bit tone deaf, and lacked introspection. Pitbull, flanked by backup dancers wearing sparkly red thong one-pieces, performed choreography full of booty-spanking and objectifying gestures. Many say it was a performance at odds with the many of the conference’s panels in the days leading up.

“Advertising industry closes week of diversity and equality panels with an empowering display of twerking and booty-slapping,” wrote Matt MacDonald, group executive creative director at BBDO, in response to a video Ad Age shared on Twitter of his performance of “I Like It.”

The conference, in its 16th year, is meant to be a celebration of the industry and its successes. One panel was called “Corporations & Compassion: A Discussion on Masculinity." The “Gender Parity–It’s Complicated” panel which revealed new research from She Runs It that shows a decline in women leaders. After all that, Pitbull’s performance seemed to undermine the entire week.

“In an industry that sells first and foremost to female consumers, but continues to be male-dominated and massively power-imbalanced when it comes to women … and to talk gender equality, diversity and inclusion but spectacularly fail to deliver on it, it is wholly inappropriate to feature a closing Advertising Week musical act that objectifies women,” says diversity advocate Cindy Gallop, former exec at BBH, founder at MakeLoveNotPorn and board advisor at We Are Rosie, in a statement.

Some wondered how difficult it would have been to hire a female performer who embodied some of equality themes of the week. Pitbull himself, however, was at the conference for a panel called “Reinventing Storytelling for Multicultural Audiences.” He had been on hand to announce the news that his new multicultural agency, 305 Worldwide, created with Horizon Media, had taken on its first client: Boost Mobile (Ad Age spoke with the rapper ahead of his concert on Thursday). The idea of hiring him as a headliner may have been an afterthought on the part of Advertising Week.

Advertising Week has not responded to a request for comment.

Others commented with some snark that the choice of Pitbull was outdated. Pitbull, whose songs include “I Know You Want Me” and “3 to Tango,” got his start in the 2000s, and his debut album “M.I.A.M.I” came out in 2004. Nearly 20 years later and the superstar is still performing, and announced a new album at the performance. But, for many, his heyday has passed. From the stage, he appeared self-aware, saying: “I’m in the 11th hour of my career.”

For observers who feel pushback against Pitbull is much ado about nothing, Gallop says, hold on.

“For anybody leaping to Advertising Week’s defense on this front, for the women in our industry, it’s not just ‘this one thing’, it’s the cumulative effect of so many things like this,” she says.

Pitbull himself managed to work a message of inclusion into his act. “Music brings everybody together," he said from the stage. “It has no barriers. It has no boundaries. It definitely has no borders. And it has no limits.”

Sunday, September 29, 2019

14771: Overreaction Of The Week.

This Liebherr appliances campaign from Israel encourages people to “Celebrate Your Color.” There are no Black or Brown refrigerators available…? Oh, and the responsible advertising agency is Cracker TLV.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

14770: Kellogg’s Loves Farmers Down Under; Underrepresented Farmers Are Another Story.

This Kellogg’s campaign stresses the cereal maker’s appreciation and commitment for Aussie farmers. Wonder how much support Kellogg’s has shown to Black farmers. It’s safe to say the dedication is not Gr-r-reat!

Friday, September 27, 2019

14769: Ignoring The Standard Chief Diversity Officer Talk.

Advertising Age reported on an Advertising Week workshop hosted by Droga5 Engagement and Inclusion Director Tiffany Edwards. The event was titled, “Beyond Diversity Talk,” yet Edwards appeared to deliver the stereotypically contrived and clichéd diversity drivel. Forget the facts that Droga5 is Diversity0; and the White advertising agency staged a notorious sexual harassment scandal too. Sorry, but Chief Diversity Officers rarely go beyond diversity talk. Indeed, all they seem to do is talk—while the exclusive majority fails to listen.

Employees aren’t off the hook either, says Tiffany Edwards

By I-Hsien Sherwood

To tackle diversity issues, agency leaders and employees must work toward the same goals, but often at very different tasks. This was the central lesson of “Beyond Diversity Talk,” a workshop at Advertising Week New York hosted on Tuesday by Tiffany Edwards, engagement and inclusion director at Droga5.

As with most diversity panels, she began with the business case for multiculturalism. But she sped through the data—no one ever attends a diversity panel to become convinced, and “at this point, if we don’t know the business case for diversity, we’ve probably made the choice to shut it out,” she noted.

Edwards then split her advice into two channels of actions that should be taken simultaneously—one for business leaders and one for “the people on the ground doing the work.” For example, leaders need to stop leaving all the diversity and inclusion work to the people with diversity and inclusion in their titles.

“Writing a check or attending awards shows are not the only actions you can take,” she said. At the same time, people of color and members of underrepresented groups need to take initiative and stop relying on leadership or even D&I staff to make change.

First, leaders need to identify an area of diversity their organization needs to focus on initially. Edwards insisted that issue should almost always be race, an opinion she acknowledged some people might disagree with. “If race isn’t the baseline, people of color tend to get left out of the conversation,” she said, citing the women’s rights and LGBTQ rights movements, both of which have struggled with extending the full benefits they’ve gained to people of color.

And while most agencies are increasing diversity hires, they’re having trouble keeping them. “Put real systems in place for their advancement,” Edwards said, and give people of diverse populations decision-making power.

In addition, leaders need to mentor and sponsor diverse talent, and not just “people you like or connect with,” she said. One of the benefits of a multicultural workplace is learning from people we might not naturally gravitate toward.

As for entry- and mid-level employees, they need to hold leaders accountable, Edwards added. Ask what issue the organization has decided to focus on first. And act as allies to people who may be struggling with bias at work.

That might mean that white employees discuss diversity and white privilege and hold each other accountable even when people of color aren’t present. Or it could mean becoming an active and official participant in the work. “A lot of people assume you have to be a person of color to be part of a diversity committee, or you have to be a woman to be part of a women’s committee,” Edwards said, “but everyone should come into the room and join the conversation.”

Thursday, September 26, 2019

14768: How To Kill Your Chances At New Business Prospects.

This Egyptian campaign was created by an advertising agency that can expect to not land any new business from Pepsi, KFC or Mickey D’s.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

14767: Adweek Takes On Tokenism In Tokenistic Style.

Adweek published a perspective on tokenism by McKinney Account Supervisor Kenya Madyun that feels like, well, tokenism. Why? The Adweek editor titled the piece, “3 Ways Creatives of Color Can Battle the Self-Doubt That Tokenism Breeds”—yet Madyun is an account person and her viewpoint does not appear to be targeting creative people. Seems like Adweek sought to fulfill its editorial quota for diversity content. Oh, and the photograph illustrating the perspective (depicted above) is pretty heavy-handed with its clichéd cultural cues.

3 Ways Creatives of Color Can Battle the Self-Doubt That Tokenism Breeds

It makes employees wonder if they were qualified or if it’s good optics for the organization

By Kenya Madyun

I have been in advertising for about a decade now, and I have yet to work at an agency with a black account director. In the early stages of my career, I found that odd, but as things progressed and I moved from agency to agency, I soon realized it was an unfortunate norm.

So, when the opportunity to attend a conference aimed at building a supportive community for people of color in the ad world presented itself, I jumped at the chance. The topics there ranged from the challenges of being a creative POC in the industry to the impact of workplace trauma on an individual’s mental health. The speakers and panelists were outstanding, each one sharing a wealth of knowledge, experience and perspective.

After returning from the conference, I felt a renewed sense of confidence that, frankly, had been chipped away at with each year in the industry. While there can be any number of reasons for self-doubt to grab hold in any job or profession, there is one reason for me that hits hard: my personal struggle with the effects of tokenism.

According to Merriam-Webster, tokenism is “the practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly.”

As clients continue to add diversity to the criteria by which an agency partner is measured, the authenticity of diversity initiatives becomes harder to decipher. From being asked to be front and center in a group picture for an agency’s website to being tapped for a new business pitch with prospective clients that are keen on representation, I often find myself asking, “Did I receive this opportunity because of merit, or am I being used as a symbol of the agency’s forward progress?” Said another way, “Am I the best candidate, or do the optics look good?

These types of questions have been ever-present at each momentous turn in my career, changing what should be a celebratory occasion into an insidious game of mental tug-of-war. And when I start to think about how my colleagues may perceive my successes, the rabbit hole gets even deeper. It is exhausting.

So, my ears definitely perked up when an HR professional at the conference posed a question to the panel about one of his ongoing challenges with tokenism. As a recruiter, he was faulted for the lack of diversity at the office, and at the same time, criticized for hiring diverse applicants for show. He asked, “How can I seek out diverse applicants without it being misread for tokenism?”

This question alone helped me understand my challenge from a different perspective. HR professionals must be faced with this conundrum quite often. The response from the panel, which was equally important in helping me work through my own personal issues, was to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives outside of hiring diverse talent. When these initiatives are embedded in the culture of an agency, the authenticity becomes harder to question.

Tokenism was revisited many more times over the course of the day. In the end, I left with the following three key takeaways.

Impact matters more than intention

It really doesn’t matter why an opportunity presented itself. Intentions matter way less than we think—especially other people’s intentions—because we have absolutely no control over them. Intentions cannot be measured, only the resulting action or outcome can. So, if the action or outcome is positive, there is little need to fret so much over the why.

Take full advantage of opportunities

What matters more is how an opportunity is leveraged. What did you make of the opportunity given to you? Knock it out the park, and there will surely be many more chances at-bat to come.

Take matters into your own hands

If you still find yourself questioning the authenticity or motives of certain actions, consider leading the creation of initiatives that help ensure the agency culture is one you can be proud of.

I am in no way discounting tokenism because it is real. I have experienced it firsthand, and it doesn’t feel good. What I am suggesting, however, particularly to people of color, is to step boldly into each opportunity as if you deserve it—because you do.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

14766: Erin Johnson Discusses Post-Harassment Stress Disorder.

Advertising Age appears to be providing harassment gender equality, balancing the Joe Alexander report with a seemingly unabridged and unfiltered Erin Johnson interview. The piece is titled, “Erin Johnson on Sexual Harassment, J. Walter Thompson and Finding Out Who Her Friends Are.” Okay, the illustrator responsible for the interview image (depicted above) is definitely not a friend, as the rendering ain’t very flattering. One surprising revelation is that TIME’S UP/Advertising has never contacted Johnson. Perfect. What’s next for Ad Age—an insert spotlighting Gustavo Martinez?

Erin Johnson on Sexual Harassment, J. Walter Thompson and Finding Out Who Her Friends Are

In the aftermath of her suit against WPP, exec speaks out

By I-Hsien Sherwood

Eight months before the #MeToo movement began to play out in Hollywood, the global chief communications officer at J. Walter Thompson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the agency and its global CEO. Erin Johnson alleged inappropriate physical contact and racist, sexist and anti-Semitic comments—including jokes about raping female staffers—from Gustavo Martinez.

For the next two years, the suit dragged through the courts. WPP and its then-CEO Martin Sorrell were accused of digging in their heels when most agencies at the time opted to handle such matters quietly. As subsequent harassment scandals erupted at shops including The Martin Agency and Droga5, Johnson was put in a position uncharacteristic of a PR professional—constantly named in headlines, but unable to speak publicly during pending litigation.

Three-and-a-half years after filing her suit and nearly 18 months after reaching an undisclosed settlement with WPP, Johnson is dealing with a very different industry landscape. Sorrell has been ousted from the holding company he founded and now runs S4 Capital. WPP finally parted ways with Martinez two months following the settlement, after some reshuffling to quietly put him in charge of operations in Spain.

As for JWT, once the oldest advertising agency in the world, it’s gone, folded into Wunderman Thompson late in 2018.

Johnson left the industry, too, for a time, spending less than a year as chief communications officer at tech start-up Gifnote, for whom she remains an advisor. She spoke with Ad Age about the personal costs of bringing a harassment lawsuit, the #MeToo movement and what’s next for her. Our conversation has been edited and condensed.

J. Walter Thompson is gone, merging with Wunderman last year. How does that make you feel?

Very sad. Depressed. A little angry. It was such a great brand. I remember we had worked so hard to celebrate the future at the 150th anniversary [in 2014], and I was part of that. I loved the brand. I still love the brand. I’m sad that it’s not there anymore; it’s devastating to me.

For people who haven’t experienced harassment at work, what is it like to be in that kind of environment?

Sadly, I think a lot of people know how it feels because they deal with it every day. I think every woman has stories like mine. It’s like a death of a thousand cuts. And over the course of my career, I’ve experienced all sorts of things—inappropriate comments, inappropriate touching. Women especially have been taught or been told that it’s just the way it is.

How did you come to the decision that your only recourse was to file a lawsuit?

Everybody has a line. And when that line is crossed, it’s kind of like you can’t live with yourself unless you do something about it. This situation in particular with Gustavo began to cross the line of my ability to look myself in the mirror and accept it.

It’s really scary. I know I believe in myself. I know that I’m standing up for myself, but I also know the power of a billion-dollar company. You question and question and question yourself. I remember sitting up at night with my husband, at like 3 in the morning, debating what to do, because at a certain point I knew I had to file or not do anything. I kept saying “This is going to uproot our lives. This is not going to be quick. We could lose the house, we could lose everything [because of legal fees].” And I was terrified about what could happen to me. You go to really dark places. How would I afford mortgage bills? How would I pay for the kids? How would I continue to live? Who would hire me again? Would I be blacklisted forever? And my husband just said, “Babe, nobody treats you like this. We’ll sell the house. It’s just a house. We’ll get an apartment. It’s just about us and the kids.” He said, “You work too hard, and this is not O.K. I got you.” And he took away all my fear that night, because I was so afraid.

In hindsight, there’s a consensus that the holding company handled your case poorly. How should a company respond to allegations like yours?

Handle it immediately. Believe them. Believe them and support them.

The legal filings detail your work conditions during the lawsuit. But what were the effects on other parts of your life?

I have a way of making jokes about it to offset the reality of the fear and the stress about it. But it was exhausting and isolating and lonely. You wake up thinking about it, you go to bed thinking about it. You have nightmares about it. I mean, it was my life for two years, and trying to be a good mom and a good caregiver and a good partner, it’s really hard.

And I think the kids definitely picked up on a lot of my stress. They had a lot of questions because they overheard certain names, so they would ask about “Who’s this? Who’s that?” Or “Why is Mommy crying? Why is Mommy so sad?” I had to explain to them in ways that a young preschooler and kindergartner at the time could understand. How do you explain that to a child?

With all this, did you ever have second thoughts? Did you ever wish you had kept quiet or gotten a different job?

No, never. Never. I would do it all over again if I had to. It was the right thing to do.

You were deep in litigation when the #MeToo movement emerged. What did it feel like watching it unfold but not being able to say anything?

I think that The New Yorker and The New York Times did amazing work, and any woman or any person that comes forward is very brave. I applaud anyone standing up for themselves, but it was a very lonely eight months before then. I was out there alone for a long time.

How do you think your case affected the way #MeToo played out in the advertising industry?

I would like to think that my case did have a multiplier effect. I’ve gotten emails and phone calls from many people in the business who have subsequently stood up for themselves. So I know that it has had a positive impact.

How much support did you receive from people in the industry?

That’s a complicated question, because part of the problem is change happens when the people who are holding the purse strings can implement it. There was a company that in the early days of my suit wrote a wonderful tweet about me and how they supported me. I have a screen grab of it, and it was really nice. And then three days later, the tweet was deleted. That was devastating, but also eye-opening—so that’s how it’s going to be. Someone got their hand slapped for publicly endorsing me. The bottom line is still the bottom line.

Was there more support in private?

There was a lot of private support from people who couldn’t go public because they were too afraid of backlash, which was really sad. To me it was like, “That’s great, but that and $2.75 will get me on the subway.” I’m all about transparency. If you can’t support me publicly, don’t bother calling me privately.

Did that change after the suit was settled?

A lot of people who were not reaching out to me, reached out to me about how much they believed in me and blah, blah, blah. But I don’t talk to anyone who suddenly found their voice after they knew which way the wind was blowing. I really learned who my friends were, and I learned a lot about the character of others.

Have you worked with any groups on #MeToo issues, like Time’s Up Advertising?

I’ve never been contacted by Times Up Advertising. I didn’t even know it was launching.

How do you handle the notoriety?

I do worry that there’s always going to be an asterisk next to my name for companies that would want to hire me. People who are plugged into what happened in the industry recognize my name. In entertainment and tech, not as much. It was kind of a relief, actually, working in tech.

What’s next for you?

I kind of was adjacent to the industry for a year, and now I’m trying to figure out what’s next because I’m someone who loves to work. This summer, I’ve had more time to think about what I want. But I probably was pushing feelings away. I was able to lock up my feelings, like I just wasn’t ready to process them. It’s really been like a death for me, and I’m mourning my life. For so long, your career is part of your identity.

But I’ve had enough time to wait at the beach with my kids and try some new things. I don’t rest well. I’m better busy. So I want to do something that makes me happy. Something that I can believe in.

Monday, September 23, 2019

14765: Joe Alexander Wants His Name Back—Retail Value $25 Million.

Advertising Age reported ex-Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander filed a lawsuit against Diet Madison Avenue, with plans to also sue his former White advertising agency and White holding company IPG. Gee, for an award-winning creative type, the move is not very original—it’s a copycat of the Ralph Watson campaign for justice. Alexander added a twist by also targeting Adweek and writer Patrick Coffee.

In a statement, Alexander wrote:

“My parents named me Joe Alexander. But that name no longer exists. It’s gone. My full identity was stolen. The thieves gave me a new name. Predator. They also like Creep. Misogynist. Or plain old Pig. Just look it up. They used every weapon imaginable to take my good name, reputation and career away.

Deception. Lies. Intimidation. Coercion. Smears. The amazing thing? It all happened in broad daylight, in front of millions. There was nothing I could do. No chance to defend myself. They hit me hard and left me for dead. Or at least they thought they did. Today, I start the due process to get my name back. Joe Alexander. The name my father and mother gave me. It’s mine. I own it. No one can take it away.”

Wow, that’s funnier than a GEICO commercial. Alexander is seeking over $25 million as compensation for the identity theft. If successful, he could rename himself Steve AustinX4.

Oh, and the DMA crew better restart its GoFundMe donation drive.

Former Martin Agency Exec Joe Alexander Sues Diet Madison Avenue And Adweek

Suit seeks $25 million; attorney says plaintiff plans to also take legal action against his former employer and parent Interpublic Group

By Ann-Christine Diaz

Nearly two years after he departed from The Martin Agency following allegations of sexual misconduct, former Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander is suing anonymous social media account Diet Madison Avenue, along with industry publication Adweek and its former editor-at-large, Patrick Coffee.

Alexander and his attorney Steven Biss, who works out of his own firm based out of Charlottesville, Virginia, filed a complaint yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The complaint alleges that the defendants participated in defamatory and conspiratorial actions that “tortiously” interfered with Alexander’s business activities—that is, they intentionally aimed to harm his employment.

The suit claims that “false and defamatory accusations of sexual harassment and other misconduct” published by DMA on its social accounts and what it calls DMA Doe Defendants 1-17 “destroyed” everything Alexander had worked for throughout his career. The suit lists his various career accomplishments, including his work on the long-running Geico “Gecko” ads, as well as accolades at adfests such as the Cannes Lions, One Show and Clios.

The complaint also claims that Adweek and Coffee acted “in concert with or on behalf of DMA and the DMA Doe Defendants, published a damning indictment of Joe, citing unnamed ‘sources,’ anonymous ‘women,’ an unidentified ‘former executive,’ and unidentified ‘former employees’ and ‘former co-workers,’” referring to a December 2017 article repeatedly referred to in the suit as the “Adweek Hit Piece.”

Alexander is seeking compensatory and punitive damages to the tune of $25,350,000, along with additional fees, including those related to court costs and expenses. He’s seeking damages “for the extreme insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering” and destruction of his career and reputation, as well as financial loss due to contract interference, “common law conspiracy,” defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the suit says.

“My parents named me Joe Alexander. But that name no longer exists,” Alexander said in a statement. “It’s gone. My full identity was stolen. The thieves gave me a new name. Predator. They also like Creep. Misogynist. Or plain old Pig. Just look it up. They used every weapon imaginable to take my good name, reputation and career away.

Deception. Lies. Intimidation. Coercion. Smears. The amazing thing? It all happened in broad daylight, in front of millions. There was nothing I could do. No chance to defend myself. They hit me hard and left me for dead. Or at least they thought they did. Today, I start the due process to get my name back. Joe Alexander. The name my father and mother gave me. It’s mine. I own it. No one can take it away.”

Ad Age reached out to DMA's attorney A. Louis Dorny of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, as well as Adweek and Coffee, who is now employed by Business Insider. Dorny said that as of now he has no comment and said he has yet to see the complaint. Adweek and Coffee have not yet responded to multiple requests for comment.

Elaborating on the suit, Alexander’s attorney Biss said that “acting in concert with DMA and the DMA Does, Adweek and Coffee promoted the preconceived storyline and served as a megaphone to broadly publish the false narrative about Joe Alexander.”

The suit also mentions Interpublic Group of Cos., the holding company that owns The Martin Agency, which is part of the McCann Worldgroup network. It alleges that IPG ordered The Martin Agency to terminate Alexander following false statements made by DMA and DMA defendants in November 2017, “in the hopes that DMA would not look further into the cover-up of sexual harassment by the ‘C-suite’ and/or the handling of sexual harassment claims by IPG/Martin.”

When Ad Age asked Biss if there are any plans with regards to Alexander’s former employer, he said “IPG, The Martin Agency and others are not innocent bystanders,” and that Alexander “expects to take legal action within the next 30 days to fully address the harm caused by IPG, The Martin Agency and certain of their agents and employees.”

In response, IPG said in a statement, “We stand by our actions and processes in this case and would defend our position vigorously against a potential suit.”

Alexander left The Martin Agency in December 2017 following the shop’s internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations, prompted by posts that had surfaced on the anonymous social media account Diet Madison Avenue.

Alexander’s complaint summarizes what he alleges to be the defamatory portions of the Adweek story and links to the story. For the article, Adweek interviewed 10 women and one man, two of whom were named in the story—Sissy Estes, who worked at The Martin Agency from 2007 to 2012, and Senior Art Director Daniela Montañez, who worked there from 2007 to 2013. The story also said that the interviewees had reported concerns about Alexander’s behavior to the agency, with incidents dating back to the 1990s.

The complaint refers to the Adweek story at length and challenges multiple statements in the story. The Adweek story had reported that one woman said Alexander’s nickname in the 2000s was “HR Joe.” The trade pub also reported that one woman who worked in the creative department at The Martin Agency was fired by Alexander after she repeatedly rejected his advances. One employee’s complaint was settled in 2013 for an undisclosed sum, the Adweek story said. In the story, Adweek did report that Alexander denied the claims and said, “The allegations you are reporting on are false. All of them.”

The suit states that “virtually every article” published by Coffee for Adweek between December 2017 and July 2019 “contains provably false and defamatory statements about Joe.”

Adweek is owned by Canadian private-equity firm Beringer Capital.

At the time of his departure, Alexander told Ad Age in a statement that the decision to leave was his. “Rather than a drawn-out, hurtful investigation, resigning was the proper thing to do to protect my family and all the people I’ve worked so closely together with in my 26 wonderful years,” he said.

Days later, The Martin Agency then followed with a note to staff saying “The decision was ours” when it came to Alexander’s departure.

The suit filed yesterday, however, centers on the activities Alexander says led to his “termination” at the agency: “DMA and its agents and co-conspirators caused The Martin Agency to summarily terminate Joe’s employment without any due process or opportunity to be heard.”

When asked about the contradiction between what he previously told Ad Age and what’s stated in the complaint, Biss said, “Joe resigned to avoid the ignominy and to spare the agency, but he was given no real choice. IPG had its mind made up. It was a sham. Rather than face a kangaroo inquisition, Mr. Alexander left with his dignity and self-respect.”

“What happened to Joe Alexander was an egregious violation of fundamental principles of due process,” Biss added.

See a copy of the full complaint [at Advertising Age]

Sunday, September 22, 2019

14764: Reports Claim We Are Unlimited Are Soon To Be DDB.

AgencySpy posted that Business Insider reported We Are Unlimited—or whatever is left of the White advertising agency—will be absorbed by DDB. If any minorities come with We Are Unlimited, Wendy Clark will probably count it as a diversity boost for the DDB franchise. Look for We Are Unlimited to soon pick up AOR duties on Propel.

Report: We Are Unlimited Will Be Folded Into DDB Chicago After McDonald’s Taps W+K

By Erik Oster

Less than a week after McDonald’s announced its new U.S. lead creative agency would be Wieden + Kennedy New York, it appears the once-dedicated agency Omnicom had created to service the chain will no longer stand on its own.

Citing anonymous sources, Business Insider today reported that We Are Unlimited will be folded into DDB Chicago at the beginning of next year. Sources told the publication that We Are Unlimited will retain its name but operate as part of DDB Chicago, while continuing to work on marketing for aspects of the McDonald’s business, including promoting the Happy Meal.

For now, DDB isn’t commenting, but the move certainly wouldn’t be the year’s most surprising. McDonald’s spent months undergoing a review of its U.S. agency model, with W+K New York eventually coming out as the big winner.

We Are Unlimited already had a round of layoffs earlier this month, attributed to changes to the McDonald’s account.

The move comes a week after McDonald’s selected W+K New York as its new U.S. lead creative agency, following a review of its U.S. agency model. It also follows a round of layoffs earlier this month attributed to changes to the account.

We Are Unlimited was created in 2016 after McDonald’s consolidated its creative account with Omnicom, ending its relationship with Publicis Groupe. The agency’s exclusive relationship with McDonald’s ended at the start of 2019 and the brand turned to TBWA/Chiat/Day to promote its McCafé house coffee line around a year ago, following a review limited to Omnicom agencies, which reportedly included We Are Unlimited.

Minda Smiley contributed reporting to this story.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

14763: #SayNoToXenophobia And Zip It Up…?

This Nigerian advertisement seems to have mixed up its metaphors, as zippers and bridges make a clumsy intersection.

Friday, September 20, 2019

14762: ANA Cultural Relevance Survey Reveals Organization Is Culturally Clueless Confederacy Of Crap.

Adweek reported on an ANA study (actually conducted by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, which appears to be an ANA minority subcommittee) revealing that culturally relevant advertising drives brand growth. Okay, but the ANA also has decades of data indicating non-White marketing is poorly supported by advertisers. Plus, the trade organization was quick to jump on the White women’s bandwagon, abandoning true diversity again. Sorry, but the ANA continues to completely lack cultural relevance—and the assholes display a total deficit of honesty and integrity too.

Culturally Relevant Ads Drive Brand Growth, ANA Study Finds

Survey kicks off the trade body’s #SeeAll movement

By Minda Smiley

It’s kind of a no-brainer, but now we have the data to back it up: When someone feels as though an ad they’ve seen accurately reflects culture, they’re more likely to buy products from the featured brand.

A new study by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, an arm of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), recently surveyed 10,000 individuals from various racial backgrounds, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ and disabled communities.

Turns out, consumers who perceive ads as “culturally relevant” are 2.6 times more likely to find the brand relevant to them, and are 2.7 times more likely to purchase a brand for the first time. Additionally, they are 50% more likely to repurchase a brand they have bought in the past.

According to the ANA, the study was conducted using the Cultural Insights Impact Measure (CIMM), a tool developed by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing in partnership with member companies and NBCUniversal.

While it’s not exactly clear how CIIM works, the ANA said it “evaluates advertising creative in various categories and identifies the impact and effectiveness of cultural insights in ads and programming on increased brand relevance, ad relevance, purchase intent lift and loyalty.”

The ANA said that insights from CIIM will fuel the launch of #SeeAll, a movement to expand representation within advertising and illuminate growth opportunities for brands within multicultural segments.

“One of the cornerstones of ANA’s growth mission is measurement,” Bob Liodice, chief executive of the ANA, said in a statement. “The utilization of CIIM provides marketers and the industry with a powerful measurement tool that will enhance culturally relevant creative to engineer incremental brand and business growth.”

Thursday, September 19, 2019

14761: In The Divertsity Era, All White Advertising Agencies Look Alike.

AgencySpy posted an internal email from Wieden + Kennedy leaders (depicted below) boasting about the White advertising agency’s Mickey D’s win while slamming ex-AOR We Are Unlimited. This is the equivalent of a professional athlete executing an end zone dance after posterizing a Special Olympian. The barbs included, “But in the end, WAU forgot the power of creativity (or arguably didn’t have much to offer).” Stay classy, W+K.

The truth is, W+K and WAU actually are very equal rivals in one key area. Both White advertising agencies are divertsity and divertisement deceivers. Indeed, the shitholes are run by White women—Colleen Decourcy and Wendy Clark—who talk the talk and walk away. These fools are only interested in promoting White women—especially themselves.

Decourcy and Clark are soul sisters in the Divertsity Era, perfectly representing the new racism exclusivity of the field.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

14760: We Are Unlimited Rendered Limited By Mickey D’s—And Limited Talent.

Advertising Age reported Mickey D’s selected Wieden + Kennedy New York as its new White advertising agency, essentially deep-frying We Are Unlimited—its “dedicated” White advertising agency—in the process. The news—especially the demise of We Are Unlimited—is hardly news and clearly displays McDesperation and McBullshit on numerous levels.

First, Wieden + Kennedy presumably besting We Are Unlimited is a no-brainer—and it was probably no contest. In contrast to the recent self-promotion, We Are Unlimited churned out some of the worst campaigns in the fast feeder’s history. Even Omnicom likely questioned We Are Unlimited’s capabilities, as the White holding company reportedly added two sister shops—TBWA and Adam & Eve/DDB—to the shootout. Wouldn’t be surprised if Wendy Clark freelanced Ted Royer for the McContest.

Second, Mickey D’s ignoring Wieden + Kennedy’s relationship with KFC shows conflicts of interest might be a relic of the past. After all, Mickey D’s arguably competes directly with KFC, particularly when considering the many McChicken menu items. Wieden + Kennedy using its New York office to service the Golden Arches while its Portland office covers KFC is a pretty slick move too. Hey, the independent Wieden + Kennedy doesn’t have the ability offer a portfolio of White advertising agencies.

Third, another slick move involves Mickey D’s decision to shift business to an East Coast shop. The fast feeder is headquartered in Chicago and probably receives financial perks from the city and Illinois. To effectively put hundreds of Chicagoans out of work—from We Are Unlimited staffers to local vendors—is not nice from professional and political perspectives. Maybe this is why We Are Unlimited will stay on the roster to handle “operational excellence” for Mickey D’s. Right, let the creators of the worst McCrap ever handle the excellent operations.

Fourth, We Are Unlimited joins the junk heap of dead-dicated White advertising agencies including Team One, Team Detroit, Cavalry, Enfatico, et al. That’s quite a posse of poop piles.

McDonald’s picks Wieden & Kennedy New York as lead U.S. creative agency

Golden Arches turns to independent agency for a fresh approach three years after Omnicom Group won the business

By Jessica Wohl

McDonald’s has chosen Wieden & Kennedy, New York as its lead creative agency in the U.S., delivering a blow to Omnicom Group’s DDB three years after it emerged the victor in the chain’s creative shootout.

The move toward an independent creative agency is a major shift for the country’s largest restaurant chain, which has for decades worked with shops that are part of large holding companies. It also suggests that a bespoke agency model, hailed as the wave of the future when DDB created one for McDonald’s three years ago, may not be the definitive answer for major marketers when it comes to creative partners.

In August 2016, the Golden Arches named Omnicom Group the winner in a U.S. creative contest in which it fought against Publicis Groupe. Now We Are Unlimited, the Chicago-based agency that Omnicom’s DDB created to support McDonald’s, is taking a back seat to Wieden & Kennedy, New York.

We Are Unlimited will continue to work on the brand with a focus on what McDonald’s is calling “operational excellence.” We Are Unlimited’s scope includes Happy Meals and other assignments where there’s a steady volume of work to churn out, such as digital marketing, customer relationship management and work on the mobile app.

The move is a huge win for W&K. The U.S. is the Golden Arches’ biggest market with nearly 14,000 restaurants that bring in annual system-wide sales of more than $38 billion. Notably, McDonald’s does not see a conflict with KFC, for which Wieden & Kennedy, Portland has done award-winning work including creating a rotating cast of Colonel Sanders characters.

‘Getting the best work’

In an interview, McDonald’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley said the Chicago-based restaurant chain spent time getting comfortable with the idea of working with an agency that works with another company in the fast-food industry. “At this point, it doesn’t concern us,” she said of W&K’s relationship with KFC. “We wanted to make the decision around getting the best work that this business deserves.”

McDonald’s also noted that the brands will be worked on from different offices, with different teams and IT safeguards will be put in place.

McDonald’s says it selected Wieden & Kennedy, New York for its blend of strategic and creative work. “Creative excellence is a huge passion point of mine,” says Flatley, noting that the W&K team understood “the heart and the soul of this brand.” The fast-feeder conducted the review internally and was seeking a more creative approach to help it build stronger connections with current customers and get those who don’t visit the restaurants to come in for the first time or return.

The review began about nine months ago with three agencies under consideration: Wieden & Kennedy, New York along with two Omnicom shops: TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles and Adam & Eve/DDB, Flatley said.

McDonald’s narrowed the field in May to W&K and TBWA, and those agencies began working on “business-critical briefs for 2020,” as Flatley described the process. The decision was made this week after both agencies delivered their final presentations on Tuesday. TBWA has worked globally with McDonald’s for more than three decades and had recently expanded its relationship with the company in the U.S., including for work on its McCafé coffee.

W&K will begin work on the brand in the next month to plan for 2020.

McDonald’s will now have a tag-team approach. “The challenge is balancing both world-class creative and also how you put data, insights, and speed in the center of everything you do,” says Flatley. McDonald’s pointed to W&K’s work for brands including Nike, Bud Light, Coca-Cola’s Sprite and Vitaminwater, and Delta.

Winning streak

This appointment marks another major brand win for W&K’s New York office. Once operating in the shadow of the agency’s Portland office, New York has added multiple blue-chip clients in recent years, including Bud Light and Ford, the latter of which came aboard late last year after the automaker demoted WPP’s GTB, a bespoke agency model that was relegated to lower-profile work.

“We’re incredibly excited and honored to be part of the McDonald’s team at this critical juncture in their business transformation,” Neal Arthur, managing director of Wieden & Kennedy, New York, said in a statement provided by the client. “McDonald’s has created some of the most iconic branding, advertising and marketing initiatives the world has ever known, and we look forward to working across the company and agency network to continue this rich tradition.”

We Are Unlimited, meanwhile, pointed to its continued relationship with the brand. “We remain a proud partner with McDonalds’s and are working closely across both the McDonald’s and We Are Unlimited teams to ensure we remain focused on our shared goals and priorities,” the agency said in a statement.

“It’s been a privilege to work with McDonald’s in the U.S., and we’re proud to continue working with them in many markets around the world,” TBWA CEO Troy Ruhanen said in a statement. “We love the brand and wish them every success.”

McDonald’s has been on a roll under the leadership of CEO Steve Easterbrook, posting 10 consecutive quarters of U.S. same-store sales growth and 16 consecutive quarters of global same-store sales growth. In the recent second quarter, U.S. same-store sales shot up 5.7 percent, growing at a faster clip than rivals Burger King and Wendy’s. McDonald’s has been improving its menu with the addition of fresh beef Quarter Pounder burgers and updated McCafé coffee, is renovating thousands of restaurants and has gotten a sales boost from the addition of delivery. Still, its franchisees began organizing in a bigger way, in a group called the National Owners Association, pushing for more of a say in how the company operates.

Flatley, who worked on brands including Gatorade before joining McDonald’s in May 2017, runs McDonald’s marketing in the U.S. Colin Mitchell, who was promoted to senior VP of global marketing in July, was also deeply involved in the domestic agency review.

“Globally, we are trying to evolve our creative, like the rest of the customer experience,” Mitchell said in a statement. “This move allows us to push our vision for modern marketing in this very important market.”

Still lovin’ it

Wieden & Kennedy, New York is expected to help McDonald’s U.S. communicate more consistently the optimistic tone of togetherness and community that the company tries to project globally, Flatley said. The “I’m lovin’ it” slogan, cooked up in 2003 by DDB’s Heye & Partner, of Germany, is sticking around. “You’ll see it and my expectation is it will start to have more meaning,” Flatley said.

Other U.S. agency relationships remain intact, including a mix of multicultural agencies, co-op relationships with various creative agencies for work at the local level, and media agency OMD.

We Are Unlimited was created in 2016 following an agency review and selection process led by Deborah Wahl, who was McDonald’s U.S. CMO at the time and then left the company in 2017. Omnicom won the McDonald’s account back then in a pitch led by Wendy Clark, who at that time was CEO of DDB North America and is now CEO of DDB Worldwide. We Are Unlimited officially began working on the account at the start of 2017.

We Are Unlimited debuted years after the demise of Element 79, a Chicago-based Omnicom agency created in 2001 to focus on PepsiCo that later lost clients including PepsiCo’s Tropicana, Gatorade and Quaker, and was absorbed by DDB Chicago in 2012.

McDonald’s is also beefing up its technology investments. On Sept. 10, it announced the plan to buy Apprente, a voice-based conversational technology company. Earlier this year, it invested in mobile app company Plexure and acquired Dynamic Yield, which is helping the chain make its digital billboards more personalized and more adaptable to changes such as the weather.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

14759: The Vagina Monochromatic Monologues In India.

This gynecological health awareness advertisement from India is disturbing not just for its conceptual awfulness—which seemingly took inspiration from Summer’s Eve—but also for the decision to depict the Whitest skin possible. Hey, racism shouldn’t be taboo either.

Monday, September 16, 2019

14758: IPG Leadership Is Sinking—And Stinking.

Advertising Age reported IPG engineered a “leadership shakeup”—with Philippe Krakowsky assuming the newly-created role of Chief Operating Officer. Hey, it’s always nice to invent a new role for a White man. It’s inappropriate, however, to use the term “leadership” when discussing anything associated with IPG. Oh, and the new “leadership” doesn’t exactly reflect an organization boasting to be recognized for leadership in diversity and inclusion—it looks like the standard White people in charge.

In IPG leadership shakeup, Philippe Krakowsky becomes new COO

Daryl Lee is named CEO of IPG Mediabrands and Eileen Kiernan, global CEO of UM

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

Interpublic Group of Cos. announced a round of leadership changes on Monday. Philippe Krakowsky has been named the chief operating officer of the holding company, a newly-created position. Daryl Lee will succeed him as chief executive of IPG Mediabrands and Eileen Kiernan will take over as global CEO of UM.

Krakowsky has been CEO and chairman of IPG Mediabrands for the past three years. He is also IPG’s chief strategy and talent officer, titles he will retain. Krakowsky will also maintain his role as chairman of IPG Mediabrands, with oversight of Acxiom, Carmichael Lynch, Deutsch, Hill Holliday, Huge and R/GA.

Interpublic Group of Cos. is the world's fourth-largest agency company based on 2018 total revenue of $9.7 billion, according to Ad Age's Datacenter. As chief operating officer, Krakowsky will work with IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth to oversee business operations across the holding company. “For more than a decade, Philippe has played a key part in major strategic strategic actions at Interpublic that have been integral to our long-term success, and more recently he was the driving force behind our acquisition of Acxiom,” Roth said in a statement.

Roth also credited Krakowsky with designing and executing the holding company’s “open architecture” model and “helping create IPG's distinctive culture.”

Lee has been the global CEO of UM since 2013. Kiernan was the global president of J3, the dedicated media unit for Johnson & Johnson under UM.

In an email to IPG Mediabrands staff, Krakowsky called Lee “the absolute right person to lead Mediabrands into the future.”

“He is relentlessly client-focused, and he’s brought together the great team that has shaped an offering at UM that successfully combines science and art in the service of driving improved business results,” he said. “He is also someone who inspires others and has been a true champion for diversity and inclusion.”

On Kiernan, Krakowsky wrote in the email, “Since joining Mediabrands three and a half years ago, one of the things I’ve most enjoyed is that the work we do takes us to so many places within our clients’ businesses, and that our people are so smart, and so comfortable with technology and change. Very few people embody that more than Eileen, which is why she will be a great leader for UM.”

Krakowsky pointed to a “recent string of wins and key defenses” from Initiative and UM including of Amazon, American Express, BMW, Converse, Hulu, Lego, Liberty Mutual, Quicken Loans, Revlon, Spotify, Nestle, CVS/Aetna and Levi’s.

He said one area in which IPG Mediabrands needs strengthening, being “still at the start of our journey,” is in its capabilities in data and technology.

“That’s why I’m excited to stay connected to Mediabrands as its chairman,” Krakowsky said. “Working closely with Acxiom, I believe we can create new products and services that will position us to help clients build their business in many new ways.”

Sunday, September 15, 2019

14757: An Ode To Creative Awfulness And Contrived Bullshit.

Not sure what Creative Ode in Dubai is trying to say with this campaign. Pretty sure the place is a shitty agency.

Friday, September 13, 2019

14755: The New York Times Publishes Hypocritical Bullshit Via Droga5.

Oh, look! Another divertisement saluting female athletes. This patronizing pap comes from Droga5, the White advertising agency also responsible for a sexual harassment scandal rivaling the worst in the industry. A line judge should holler, “Out!”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

14754: USTA And mcgarrybowen Serve Major Bullshit.

This USTA video—an ace divertisement—was produced by mcgarrybowen and described as follows:

The US Open has a long history supporting Women’s Equality. So, when we uncovered the shocking fact that of all sports covered in America, only 4% features female athletes—we knew the USTA would be all in on bringing awareness to this issue. We decided to launch the campaign on the opening day of the US Open, which serendipitously falls on Women’s Equality Day! The USTA also expanded their partnership with SheIS, a not-for-profit group whose goal is to “leverage the power of women in sports to create a future of, by and for strong women.” Having worked with SheIs since 2018, they were a natural partner to amplify and extend the reach of the campaign.

The campaign goal is simply to get the world to see that women are worth watching and to encourage equal media coverage of men’s and women’s sports. While USTA’s platform is tennis, the campaign challenge extends to all women’s sports. The creative is centered around a call to arms, using the hashtag: #WomenWorthWatching—which serves as an invitation to spread the word. And who better to deliver that message than Billie Jean King herself, a fearless crusader in the fight for women’s visibility and pay equity in sports. She was the perfect voice for our spots.

Um, a White advertising agency with a history of exclusivity and nepotism suddenly promoting gender equality is a tad hypocritical—and a ton hyper-White-mansplaining.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

14753: A Shitty Carlsberg Ad You Can Overlook? Probably.

Drinking and driving is okay—when your vehicle is a bike and your beer is the alcohol-free variety. However, most states have bicycle DUI laws.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

14752: Marc Pritchard & Antonio Lucio Setting New Standards For Status Quo.

Adweek presented a podcast featuring Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard and Facebook CMO Antonio Lucio, which could have been titled, “Divertsity and Divertisement Dumb and Dumber Duo.” Adweek declared the dimwits are “setting new industry standards.” Yes, new standards for hypocrisy and bullshit. The trade journal should have added Verizon CMO Diego Scotti to complete The Three Stooges of the status quo. Don’t bother listening to the gibberish and jabber. Appropriately, these guys are all talk.

P&G CBO Marc Pritchard and Facebook CMO Antonio Lucio Setting New Industry Standards

By Nadine Dietz

What happens when you bring two of the most influential marketing leaders in the world together on one podcast? I just had to find out, which is why I invited Marc Pritchard, CBO of Procter & Gamble and Antonio Lucio, CMO of Facebook to come together to interview each other in this very special CMO Moves Duos episode.

I had a front-row seat as Marc and Antonio dove deep into the topics driving the industry today, starting with an intriguing update on the challenges they face today in their respective organizations. One would think that a 182-year-old company and a 15-year-old company would be worlds apart. Also, the role of Chief Brand Officer and the Chief Marketing Officer would have fundamentally different objectives. And being “B2C” vs “B2B(&C)” would certainly be a dividing factor. Alas, the camaraderie, mutual respect, and alignment on what is most important for brands and marketing today was incredible and how both are championing their customers and consumers in new ways, as well as working well together for industry advancement.

We’ve all heard from or read about Marc and Antonio individually on the importance of transparency, trust, diversity, inclusion, credibility, reinvention and responsibility. Hearing them discuss the topics together and the rationale behind their shared perspectives only further underscores their impact in our marketing community and provides all of us a blueprint for becoming the best leaders we can be.

Monday, September 09, 2019

14751: Out Of Africa, Into Cultural Clichés and Cluelessness.

Would this Nigerian beer campaign concept fly in White countries? Um, sadly yes.

14750: We Are Unlimited Unraveling, Undone And Going Under—Call The Undertaker.

AgencySpy posted on layoffs at We Are Unlimited resulting from reassignments via Mickey D’s—coupled with corporate cultural collusion involving work being shifted to TBWA, an Omnicom sister White advertising agency. We Are Unlimited employees were also shuffled to DDB, another Omnicom sister White advertising agency. We Are Unlimited may soon change its name to We Are Unemployed.

We Are Unlimited Goes Through Round of Layoffs Amid McDonald’s Review

By Erik Oster

Omnicom’s We Are Unlimited has gone through a round of layoffs while the client it was created for decides how to handle its creative account going forward.

Sources close to the matter claim that around 10 employees were laid off and 8 transferred to DDB as a result of changes to the McDonald’s business. Another source claims the number impacted could be significantly higher, with some employees leaving at the end of the month and others at the end of the year.

McDonald’s launched a review of its U.S. agency model back in July, while also sending an unspecified project to W+K New York. Omnicom set up We Are Unlimited as a unit dedicated to the McDonald’s account after winning creative AOR duties three years ago.

We Are Unlimited’s exclusive contract with McDonald’s ended back in January, leaving We Are Unlimited free to pursue new business opportunities. Last fall, McDonald’s sent lead creative duties on its McCafe brand to TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A following a closed “jump ball” pitch which reportedly involved We Are Unlimited competing against TBWA.

A source close to the matter claimed it’s possible that more We Are Unlimited employees could be impacted as the client’s creative account continues to evolve, including possible transfers to TBWA.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

14749: Rave—As In Stark Raving Mad—Reviews For Mickey D’s.

In Germany, the debut of “The Signature Collection” at Mickey D’s is receiving more fanfare than it deserves. This performance warrants a critical panning.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Friday, September 06, 2019

14747: Why Do CMOs Talk Like Philanthropists But Act Like White Supremacists?

Adweek asked, “Why Do CMOs Care About Diversity and Inclusion?

Um. They don’t. The typical CMO only cares about divertsity and producing divertisements.

If CMOs gave a shit about fairness and equality, they would never partner with White advertising agencies where diversity is a dream deferred, diverted and denied.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

14746: Sour Grapes Via Apple Creative Honcho From TBWA.

Adweek published a lengthy story detailing—in painful detail—the age-discrimination lawsuit filed against TBWA by former Global Chief Creative President Duncan Milner. The 30-year veteran worked on lots of iconic campaigns for Apple before allegedly getting sacked like a rotten apple. Not sure why Adweek is serving as a soapbox for White people claiming to have been wronged by White advertising agencies. Somebody should tell Milner it’s time to “Think Different”—or at least find a different job. If he’s hoping to score big bucks, well, “Here’s to the crazy ones…”

Longtime Exec on TBWA’s Apple Account Is Suing the Agency for Cutting His Job

Duncan Milner claims he was a victim of age discrimination

By Doug Zanger

Duncan Milner, the TBWA creative executive who was handpicked by Lee Clow to lead some of Apple’s most iconic ad campaigns, has been terminated from the agency after more than 30 years. And Milner has responded by filing a wrongful-termination suit against his longtime agency.

When TBWA\Media Arts Lab was founded as a bespoke agency for the Apple account in 2000, Milner was the creative lead, rising to CCO in 2009. But in 2016, Milner was replaced by current CCO Brent Anderson and moved into a vaguely defined position as global chief creative president focused on MAL\For Good, the purpose-driven arm of the agency.

This year, after Clow announced his retirement in February, Milner was informed the agency “couldn’t carry his salary anymore,” according to his lawsuit, and in June, he was terminated.

“I felt I was let go unfairly, and we couldn’t come to an agreement over what I felt was fair compensation, so I have filed a suit,” Milner told Adweek, saying he was told the agency “didn’t have a job for me” and “couldn’t cover my salary.”

TBWA Worldwide is aware of Milner’s lawsuit but declined to comment to Adweek, citing a policy against discussing pending litigation. However, the agency did acknowledge in a statement to Adweek that Milner’s position was cut when MAL\For Good was folded into another arm of the agency network.

MAL\For Good “struggled to be profitable as a stand-alone business entity,” TBWA Worldwide said in a statement. “Earlier this year, the decision was made to evolve MFG into a strategic, consultative offer within TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. As a result, Duncan Milner’s position as the creative leader of MAL\For Good was eliminated.”

According to Milner’s complaint (which you can read in its entirety below), which he filed with the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, he is suing TBWA for alleged age discrimination and breach of oral and implied contracts. The suit also points to the alleged erosion of Milner’s compensation and influence in recent years, culminating in his replacement by Anderson as CCO of TBWA\Media Arts Lab, which the lawsuit describes as a “demotion” and an “unceremonious shift.”

Milner’s lawsuit says he was presented with two options: take a 50% pay cut and take on three additional accounts or accept a severance package and leave the company. In June, the suit alleges, Milner was called into a meeting with chief talent officer Kristen Clark and TBWA\Chiat Day L.A. managing director Michael Claypool and informed that “they had looked around” and “didn’t have anything for him, even at a reduced salary.”

At one point, according to the suit, Milner told Clark, “It’s starting to look and smell like age discrimination.”

In addition to Clark and Claypool, TBWA\Worldwide CEO Troy Ruhanen, TBWA\Worldwide CCO Chris Garbutt, TBWA\Worldwide general counsel Elaine Stein, and TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. president Erin Riley, and executive human resources director Sheri Thorburn are named in the suit.

Milner’s time atop Apple’s advertising

In his 31 years at TBWA, Milner was part of building Apple’s prodigious and wildly successful marketing campaigns, including the lauded “Mac vs. PC,” the iconic “Silhouette” work that made the iPod one of the most popular electronic devices of its day and the ongoing “Shot on iPhone” campaign.

The lawsuit describes Milner as working closely with Apple founder Steve Jobs and often being praised for his work.

“Following the launch of the iPod in 2001, Jobs commended Milner and his team, exclaiming, ‘You guys gave me a billion-dollar idea!’” the lawsuit states. “For years thereafter, Milner received high praise from Jobs for his iconic ‘Mac vs. PC’ campaign, which was named ‘Campaign of the Decade’ by Adweek. Jobs would say to Milner, ‘You guys are the best in the business, and that’s why you’re here.’”

The suit states that Jobs continued to include Milner in his inner circle of marketing even as his health deteriorated.

“After Jobs’s health declined, Milner continued to meet with him until a week or two prior to his death,” the lawsuit states. “As his health worsened, Jobs became more selective about those he would allow to bring work to him at home, but Milner was always included in the select few who went to Jobs’s home to meet with him.”

In addition to his time in Los Angeles, Milner worked across the agency network’s offices in St. Louis, Toronto and San Francisco, where he worked on Levi’s in the late 1990s.

But his fortunes at the agency changed after the arrival of Ruhanen in 2014, according to the lawsuit. A year later, Milner emailed Ruhanen to complain about his annual bonus being surprisingly small.

“I received my yearly performance bonus a few days ago…suffice it to say, I’m beyond disappointed,” Milner wrote in the email, as quoted in the suit. “It’s hard not to look at this as at worst as an insult and at best a criticism of my performance. I had hoped that after 14+ years of working on and building Apple, and 7+ years of building MAL offices doing the majority of Apple’s 2 billion dollars of marketing … To see my base salary stay stagnant for 3 years, my bonus shrink year after year, and no new stock grants since 2012 leads me to believe that TBWA and [parent company] Omnicom don’t hold my contribution or value in very high regard.”

About a year after that conversation, while waiting to board a 2016 flight to Prague for an Apple commercial shoot, Milner said he was told he was being moved out of the CCO position at TBWA\Media Arts Lab and taken off the Apple account, with no clear plan for his next role, according to the lawsuit.

In 2017, his annual compensation at MAL\For Good “was reduced drastically, by half, the result of having his bonuses removed and Omnicom’s issuance of stock grants discontinued,” the lawsuit states. He was then informed this year that the position would be eliminated.

“I’m shocked [by the dismissal],” Milner said. “I’m proud of the work we were doing and the work I did while I was there.”

(Adweek included a full copy of Milner’s complaint.)