Saturday, November 30, 2019

14839: Unsmoke Smoke-Free Campaign Is Smoke And Mirrors.

Shouldn’t propaganda campaigns like this be required to include warnings from the Surgeon General? Or at least indicate the messages are part of court-issued mandates, essentially reprimanding manufacturers like Philip Morris for covertly targeting youth with its advertisements and promotions?

Friday, November 29, 2019

14838: MDC CEO WTF & LOL.

Advertising Age published a lengthy report on MDC Chairman and CEO Mark Penn, spotlighting his alleged ties to President Donald Trump and the whiny reactions from anonymous executives employed by the White holding company.

The handwringing and gnashing of teeth includes declaring Penn’s political leanings are “bad for business.” Um, being a hackneyed firm in arguably the worst holding company is bad for business. Don’t blame any professional problems on Penn, as he’s a choirboy compared to former MDC honcho Miles Nadal.

Not sure why anyone’s expressing shock or surprise, as it’s public knowledge that Penn’s resume lists stints as a pollster, political strategist, lobbyist and CNN commentator. Hell, he likely landed his current gig by activating his inherent politician skills. Penn isn’t the first adland leader to dabble in politics. DDB Global President and CEO Wendy Clark—while she was working for the Coca-Cola Company—served as a consultant for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Besides, if White ad agencies may openly slam Trump—in produced advertisements, no less—why can’t ad executives support the president? Maybe Carl Warner was right—no wordplay intended—to feel discriminated against for being a conservative in adland.

One anonymous MDC drone hollered Penn advising Trump is “immoral and an offense to everyone who works for an MDC company and has been a victim of Trump’s xenophobia, racism, sexism and misogyny.” As opposed to victims of xenophobia, racism, sexism and misogyny in the advertising field…? The moron also said to see Penn “so out of line with my own beliefs, makes me feel like, wow, maybe these aren’t my people.” My people? Heaven forbid an outsider might disrupt the exclusivity in the industry.

In the end, the complaints are hypocritical, biased and just plain pathetic. After all, the losers failed in bids to buy their way out of the struggling holding company. These idiots clearly do not have the ability or political power to impeach Penn.

As MDC CEO Mark Penn Denies Counseling Trump, Agency Execs Call New Reports ‘Embarrassing’

Penn’s alleged links to the president have certain MDC agency executives saying he is ‘bad for business’

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

MDC Chairman and CEO Mark Penn’s apparently close ties to President Donald Trump have executives at the holding company’s agencies—which include Anomaly, 72andSunny, Forsman & Bodenfors and Crispin Porter Bogusky—increasingly irritated. One executive, who requested anonymity, called Penn’s reported activities “an embarrassment,” another telling Ad Age they are “bad for business.”

The Washington Post, citing sources, reported on Tuesday that Penn has been providing counsel to the president on the impeachment process. The Post reported that Penn visited the Oval Office last Monday to provide polling data and impeachment advice to the president while encouraging him to travel the country as President Bill Clinton did when he fought impeachment. Penn was one of Clinton’s top strategists.

According to the Post, Penn reassured Trump that he would not be impeached and advised him to “stay focused on the substance” and to “not respond to anything” (advice the president seems to have passed on, given his tweets on the ongoing investigation into his dealings to press the Ukraine to probe political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter).

An MDC spokesperson referred Ad Age to a statement Penn gave CNN—which also reported that Penn visited the White House—denying his assisting the president. “I am not in any way working for Donald Trump and not counseling him,” Penn said via email to CNN. Through the MDC spokesperson, Penn declined to comment further, but did say he has not been paid by the president for any consulting work.

Another person close to Penn claimed “he was not in any way paid and no further visits are planned or expected.”

This is not the first time Penn has been linked to Trump. He has previously made frequent TV appearances denouncing efforts to open an impeachment inquiry against the president. Trump himself even praised Penn in a tweet in August after Penn appeared on Fox News to condemn The New York Times’ decision to change a controversial headline, “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism,” on the president’s remarks on the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left at least 31 people dead.

On a recent Ad Age Ad Lib podcast episode, Penn denied he is providing counsel to the president or any candidate declared for the 2020 election. He also noted that he would be dialing down his TV appearances. “I did a little commentary because I spent some time—a year of my life—defending president Clinton on impeachment,” Penn said in September. “I’m pretty busy now. My commentary is trending down.”

Michael Bassik, newly-appointed CEO of MDC’s Assembly (and a Penn hire), had defended Penn in an earlier statement to Ad Age following The New York Times headline controversy.

“I’ve worked with Mark for over a decade and I’ve known him to be someone who is vocal about politics on both sides,” Bassik told Ad Age. “He is a political student. I simply believe he calls it like he sees it. I think it’s more academic and fun for him than it is him expressing partisan opinions.”

Still, some MDC agency employees are growing increasingly frustrated by Penn’s ties to Trump.

One executive at an MDC agency told Ad Age on Wednesday that Penn visiting the White House to counsel the president on impeachment is “immoral and an offense to everyone who works for an MDC company and has been a victim of Trump’s xenophobia, racism, sexism and misogyny.”

“It’s an embarrassment to all of us that the senior leader of our organization is conspiring with such an endeavor,” the person said.

The executive said in an earlier interview with Ad Age that “It has nothing to do with politics; this is about morality.” The person said to see his CEO “so out of line with my own beliefs, makes me feel like, wow, maybe these aren’t my people.”

To be sure, Penn has not always been aligned with Trump, having condemned the president’s tweet in which he told four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

“It’s bad for business,” one person familiar with MDC’s business but spoke on the condition of anonymity said. “Advocacy for Trump is repellent of at least 50 percent of our client and employee population, probably a lot higher.”

The person questioned where Penn’s priorities lie—in advancing his agenda as a political consultant or in advancing a publicly-traded company, one that is still in need of a significant turnaround as it faces $1 billion in debt. (Earlier this month MDC’s stock fell 12 percent after the company reported a decline of 8.8 percent in revenue for the third quarter and revised its organic revenue expectations for the full year to now anticipate a decline of 3 percent to 5 percent.)

“Fuck this guy,” said another executive at an MDC agency, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, and noted that he started searching for a new job as soon as the news came through that Stagwell Group—the advertising, PR and data analytics holding company Penn founded in 2015—took a $100 million equity investment in MDC in March.

“I was taken aback,” he said, adding that Penn “didn’t do himself any favors” by touring the various MDC agencies to introduce himself when he was first installed. He described how during the visit to his shop, Penn was “interviewed” in front of the agency’s staff and asked questions like “Coke or Pepsi?” When he was asked if he preferred Fox News or CNN and Penn allegedly pledged his allegiance to Fox, “there was an audible gasp in the room,” the executive said.

“Most people weren’t keeping up with who he is” prior to the investment, he noted, but that first visit “set the tone for the whole thing.” Now, he said Penn’s political associations are “common water cooler talk” among his peer group at the agency.

The executive is concerned with how Penn might influence the agency’s work and clients, as he mentioned the new CEO is much more hands-on than his predecessors. “A million times more involved than I remember Kauffman being,” he said, referencing former MDC Chairman and CEO Scott Kauffman, who stepped down in September 2018.

Most MDC agencies seem to lean left on political issues, supporting more liberal perspectives through their work. For example, 72andSunny last year created a two-story milk carton that displayed words like “love” and “freedom” to show what immigrant children detained at the border are “missing” (the name of the campaign), playing off old milk cartons that used to feature the photos of missing children.

Meanwhile Stagwell’s properties include Targeted Victory, a digital strategy and marketing firm that describes itself as “the market leader in Republican fund-raising.” Its website reads: “We’re trusted by the biggest names in GOP fundraising like the NRCC, NRSC and Team Ryan because our platform deserves a better bottom line.”

“I can’t think of any holding company head that was political,” said one holding company CEO not affiliated with MDC. “Maybe in the 1950s. To be an open Trump supporter and to be overseeing people who engage in branding is baffling.”

Several people familiar with holding company dealings have said MDC is one of the only ones that does not have a written rule against its executives and employees taking public political stances. An MDC spokesperson confirmed earlier that the company does not have any restrictions against executives making their political affiliations known.

“I’m a First Amendment absolutist, but for the head of a collection of creative agencies, some of the best in the world, who represent some of the biggest brands in the world, this is tone-deaf on every level,” said a second leader at another holding company not affiliated with MDC who also wished to remain anonymous. “It’s bad for business, bad for culture, bad for the country. To quote Trump, [Penn] should ‘be quiet’ and focus on his day job.”

Thursday, November 28, 2019

14837: Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese Gives Thanks—And Thoughtlessness.

Adweek spotlighted a Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese campaign uncovering a Thanksgiving conspiracy theory. Really? What culturally clueless cretin concocted this crap? Making light of an event that featured plenty of actual conspiracies and inhuman atrocities is pathetic, pilgrim.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese Is Boosting a Thanksgiving Conspiracy Theory

Agency Gut digs into a cheesecake cover-up

By David Griner

Ask most Americans to picture the first Thanksgiving, and you’re bound to get a heaping helping of anachronisms, driven by four centuries of imaginative depictions of the Pilgrims’ harvest celebration with the Wampanoag tribe.

There certainly wasn’t any bread stuffing or cranberry sauce, and while it’s likely they ate wild turkey, ducks and geese were likely just as central to the menu.

But did they eat cheesecake? That’s the question posed by Philadelphia Cream Cheese and agency Gut in a tongue-in-cheek video about conspiracy theorists called the Cheesecakers Society.

Short answer: No, of course the Pilgrims and Native Americans didn’t eat cheesecake. They didn’t have access to any of the basic ingredients (sugar, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.) except for eggs and butter. Oh, and one other small problem: They didn’t have ovens, either.

But the Cheesecakers Society won’t let those minor setbacks—or conveniently rewritten “facts”—stand in the way of a good conspiracy, and they’re out to prove that cheesecake has always been on the Thanksgiving menu.

The goal of this dairy-driven movement is to put cheesecake (which happens to require buying cream cheese) at the center of dessert planning alongside more traditional options like pumpkin pie.

“At first, we were hesitant about the theory,” says Megan Magnuson, associate director of marketing for Philadelphia. “But once we saw the evidence and the original paintings, it was clear to us. Cheesecake is 100% the original Thanksgiving dessert. We think. We fully support the honorable Cheesecakers Society in their quest to restore cheesecake to its rightful place at the Thanksgiving table.”

This isn’t the first oddball partnership between Gut and Kraft Heinz-owned Philadelphia. Earlier this year, they created a Bagel That machine that claims to turn anything into a bagel—therefore making it worth slathering in cream cheese—by punching a hole in it.

As one of the few people who owns an actual Bagel That machine, I can verify that it lives up to its intent. But I can also vouch for the importance of cleaning out that metal punching tube before you end up with a core sample of every vaguely edible item your kids feel like carving a hole into.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

14836: Publicis Sapient CEO Hearts Harriet Tubman—Yet Might Want To Go Underground.

AgencySpy posted that Publicis Sapient CEO Nigel Vaz sparked controversy by integrating Harriet Tubman into a companywide conference call. Hey, Vaz is no John Schnatter—and the man insists he spoke of Tubman as a source of inspiration. Perhaps Publicis Sapient staffers will feel compelled to start an Underground Railroad to escape the poopy Publicis plantation posthaste. Hopefully, ignorant coworkers won’t compound the cultural cluelessness by mispronouncing Vaz’s first name.

Publicis Sapient CEO’s Reference to Harriet Tubman on Companywide Call Causes Friction

By Erik Oster

A reference to abolitionist Harriet Tubman by Publicis Sapient CEO Nigel Vaz during a company-wide call was perceived by some employees as culturally insensitive.

Vaz made the statements during a global, all-hands call across the company’s offices on Oct. 28. AgencySpy spoke with three sources who took issue with Vaz’s comments about Tubman, who was born into slavery before the Civil War and led others to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

“I shared a personal story about someone that inspired me as a child, and used a quote from her that I found inspirational,” Vaz told AgencySpy.

The quotation he shared with the staff was, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars and to change the world.”

“In no way was Harriet Tubman referenced in any other context,” he added.

However, three sources present on the call expressed the view that it was exactly the context of the conversation they found troubling. In the call, which was described as a regular town hall-style agency update, he included a brief explanation of Tubman’s historical significance for those on the global call who may not have been familiar with her as a lead-in to the quote.

After sharing the quote, Vaz expressed his hopes that it would inspire employees as they look to what the agency can accomplish, sources told AgencySpy.

The three sources who spoke with AgencySpy interpreted this as implicitly connecting Tubman as a source of inspiration to the agency’s goals, recontextualizing her words (and, by extension, accomplishments) for the business world, something they felt was culturally insensitive.

“I can completely understand how equating Harriet Tubman’s story to business would be [insensitive]. However, in the context of the conversation I was having, I was referencing her as a personal inspiration from childhood who shaped how I think about the world around me,” Vaz explained in a statement to Adweek. “If my words were misinterpreted, that was not the intention. I believe the experience of Harriet Tubman and of slavery deserves space, respect and care.”

Ironically, the quote that Vaz shared with his staff can’t be conclusively attributed to Tubman. According to author Kate Clifford Larson, who wrote the 2003 biography Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, “This quote was entirely made up in 2007. There is no documentation, nor historical basis for this quote.”

Vaz was named CEO of Publicis Sapientin February as the agency completed a reorganization and officially retired the interactive agency Razorfish. He formerly served as CEO of Publicis Sapient International in the EMEA and APAC regions, and replaced Alan Wexler, who moved into a chairman role.

Publicis Sapient went through a staffing realignment in July, which sources said impacted around 100 employees and was related to financial performance. This year the agency has faced the challenge of a reorganization accompanying Vaz’s arrival, as it retired the Razorfish brand in the wake of its absorption into Publicis Sapient.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

14835: We Are Unlimited Continues We Are Unassembled Operation.

AgencySpy posted that the former We Are Unlimited CEO has been reassigned to head the Unilever business at DDB. Hey, it’s just slightly better than having to say, “We Are Unemployed.” After all, it seems like only two years ago that the White man was named We Are Unlimited CEO, charged with transforming the enterprise into a more sustainable shop versus an exclusive service center for Mickey D’s. Um, it was only two years ago. McMission accomplished…? This scenario truly demonstrates failing upwards—a privilege generously extended to White people in adland. Or, more likely, the reassignment represents a reparations of sorts for having been initially placed into an impossible situation doomed for failure…

We Are Unlimited CEO Is Now Running The Unilever Business at DDB

By Erik Oster

Back in September, we learned that We Are Unlimited would be folded into DDB Chicago by the end of the year in the wake of McDonald’s naming W+K as its lead creative agency, continuing to operate under its own name but as a part of the larger DDB agency.

Sources with direct knowledge of the agency explained that as a result of the structural change, We Are Unlimited will now work under DDB Chicago’s leadership team. It’s not exactly surprising then that the chief executive for We Are Unlimited has been given a new assignment within the DDB network.

Mark Mulhern, who has served as We Are Unlimited since the beginning of 2018, is now global business director for Unilever at DDB. Mulhern lists the new role on his LinkedIn page.

Before joining We Are Unlimited in 2018, Mulhern served as eastern region president for iCrossing for around two and a half years. Prior to that, he held roles as business director, Microsoft Office for JWT and senior director, Petcare North America for BBDO.

The move follows a significant setback for DDB Chicago. Last week, State Farm named The Marketing Arm as its lead creative agency, following a review, retaining DDB Chicago on its agency roster to focus on “lower funnel and cross-sell marketing programs.”

Monday, November 25, 2019

14834: Predicting WeWork Will Lose Work—And Profits—With Maurice Lévy.

Adweek reported WeWork named former Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Lévy as interim CMO. Such a perfect match of financial fuck-ups.

WeWork Names Former Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy as Interim CMO

In a reported leak, the real estate company also revealed a plan to turn a profit by 2023

By Kathryn Lundstrom

In an all-staff meeting today, WeWork announced that former Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy will be joining the beleaguered real-estate company as interim chief marketing and communications officer, according to reports from Bloomberg and Business Insider.

According to reports, company executives also announced that SoftBank’s Ralf Wenzel and Mike Bucy will be joining WeWork as chief product officer and chief transformation officer, respectively. Matt Jahansouz was promoted internally from his previous role as global head of talent, according to LinkedIn, to chief people officer.

With the four new executives, men fill WeWork’s executive team and board. WeWork executive chairman Marcelo Claure reportedly said the company was committed to adding women executives and female board members in the future. The latest additions were disclosed alongside a new five-year turnaround plan, which aims to have the company cash flow positive by 2023. Claure reportedly laid out six pillars of focus for the company as it moves forward, centered on client experience, profitability and expansion.

This comes a day after WeWork announced 2,400 layoffs–19% of its staff–and weeks after the company postponed its IPO. CEO Adam Neumann stepped down in late September.

Though the company was valued at $47 billion earlier this year, WeWork has yet to turn a profit. It posted a $1.25 billion loss this past quarter.

WeWork did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

14832: Operation Black Vote Underscores Lack Of Black Voices In Adland.

This Operation Black Vote campaign—created by Saatchi & Saatchi UK—was described as follows:

The forthcoming election is broadly seen as one of the most important political events in generations. The campaign’s central message is that if BAME communities, and young people in general do not register to vote, others with often controversial views, will speak for them. OBV is a not for profit, non-party political organisation focussed on voter registration and getting the vote out, political mentoring and nurturing leadership. Its foundations are based on the four pillars of education, participation, representation and equality promotion.

The quotes contain controversial views and statements from politicians which insensitively address issues of race, religion, women, sexuality and climate change. These quotes are brought to life by actors in real life environments such as bars and restaurants, with the film capturing the stunned reactions of their friends.

Okay, but it should be noted that even when featuring real politicians, the White advertising agency opted to use stock photography.

It should also be noted that Black women don’t have a voice or get a vote in White advertising agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

14830: Annie The Chicken Queen—Now Reigning Queen Of Louisiana.

Advertising Age published PR puffery and propaganda claiming Annie the Chicken Queen helped Popeyes establish its Louisiana heritage. An actress playing a stereotypical Southern sistah—invented by a White advertising agency—brought authenticity to a fast food joint? Honey, that’s bullshit!

How Annie helped Popeyes find its brand identity—Louisiana

There was a time not long ago that many consumers wouldn’t have associated Popeyes with Louisiana.

By Maureen Morrison

There was a time not long ago that many consumers wouldn’t have associated Popeyes with Louisiana.

“We were missing the opportunity the brand had, which is Louisiana,” said Popeyes Chief Brand Experience Officer Dick Lynch, noting there was “spotty awareness” for the chain throughout the U.S. just five years ago.

As it turned out, that heritage was the point of differentiation the chain needed to help fight stagnating sales and declining traffic. To communicate those roots, Omnicom’s GSD&M created the chain’s spokeswoman, Annie, played by actress Deidrie Henry. She allowed Popeyes to simultaneously advertise new products and highlight the brand’s heritage, Mr. Lynch said. “When Annie is talking, she is characterizing [Popeyes] as being from Louisiana, so we don’t have to spend time convincing people we’re different, because Louisiana is differentiation enough [in the chicken category].”

Until 2008, the chicken chain, founded in 1972 in New Orleans by Al Copeland, was known as Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits. Its name change to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen was part of a larger brand-identity overhaul that began when CEO Cheryl Bachelder joined and added U.S. President Ralph Bower and Mr. Lynch, who signed on as CMO in 2008.

That overhaul also included a store-remodeling effort and the addition of limited-time product offerings like chicken-waffle tenders. Popeyes also moved from a localized-spot-TV media plan to one in which franchisees contributed to a national budget for more cohesive advertising.

The results were immediate. Popeyes has had five consecutive years of positive same-store sales growth since then and is in the midst of notching a sixth. Last year, the chain reported $2.2 billion in U.S. sales, up 8.6% from 2012. Mr. Lynch said the company estimates sales will be up 3% to 4% for 2014. At the close of 2013, the chain had 1,769 U.S. locations. Mr. Lynch said he believes Popeyes could double its footprint in the U.S., though he did not provide a timeframe.

“We’re walking that fine line between ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ and ‘don’t get complacent,’” Mr. Lynch said of the brand’s 6-year-old strategy. “We are keenly aware that innovation drives traffic. But we also have a lot of runway for the brand.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

14829: Digiday Takes A Pregnant Pause For White Women With Children.

The latest installment of the Digiday confessions series spotlighted an anonymous female creative director who declared, “I haven’t seen anyone be pregnant and a creative before.” Gee, did the digital publication interview Neil French in drag? The secret squealer whined about the alleged offenses pregnant women face in the advertising industry, especially at agencies within White holding companies; however, she did admit things like maternity leave suck in any industry. But hey, she’ll qualify for the White privilege of a returnship—which is significantly more than the average minority will ever receive from adland.

‘I haven’t seen anyone be pregnant and a creative before’: Confessions of an agency creative director

By Kristina Monllos

A lot’s changing inside agencies. On the business side, they’re grappling with managing a shift to an era with more project-based work, which comes with its business model changes and has also changed the culture within the companies. In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we offer anonymity in exchange for candor, we speak to a creative director at a holding company agency about what has her worried about how things will change — and what it’s like to be pregnant in an industry that has its share of issues when it comes to handling maternity leave and other policies.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You’re currently pregnant. What’s it like to be pregnant and a creative director at a large holding company agency?

I haven’t seen anybody be pregnant and be a creative before, let alone a creative director. It sucks not to know what that’s like because I haven’t seen anyone do it before. There hasn’t been much in the way of female leadership at our agency.

Are you preparing for parental leave? How’s the policy?

It used to be that you would qualify to go on disability, but that’s the same thing as if you break your arm. I found that to be kind of insulting. It’s not like I’m disabled. I’m having a child. They recently changed the policy after some employees made the case for it to be changed, and it’s much better now. But I hear from friends of mine about how bad the policies are at their agencies, like one of my friends just has the PTO she has saved up to use and that’s it. It’s not just advertising, though. Parental leave is bad in any industry.

It’s getting close to the holidays and crunch time for Super Bowl ads. That can be a busy time. Do you feel overworked?

Everyone has been very cognizant that I’m pregnant, but we have been super, super busy. There was one instance where I was asked to work the weekend on a Friday afternoon for a pitch. It doesn’t normally bother me to be asked to work a lot, but I was clearly very pregnant and I feel like it’s weird to ask someone who’s very pregnant to work on a pitch over the weekend.

Has there been any change post-Me Too in the culture of the agency?

A lot of women are trying to rally together to be supportive of each other. We’ve tried to initiate some mentorship programs. But there’s still a lot of bro culture around. It’s surprising that it still exists.

How so?

There are still some ECDs who have their bros. It’s very present sometimes in the assignments that are given and a bit of the culture. I’ve had younger creatives come up and say that they feel it. Others have asked for advice on how to handle it. They say they aren’t really connecting with their co-workers because they’re not bro-y. There isn’t much you can do to fix it other than to learn to not get emotionally affected by it.

What about on the business side? Is your agency feeling the shift to project-based work? If so, has it changed the culture?

It’s definitely an interesting time. It’s scary yet exciting and totally different. Our company has clients who have been there for 40 years, but we’re also now seeing that a lot of the clients are going project-based across the industry, which is totally new. So how do we change our entire business model to go with that flow? We are pivoting.

How do you pivot? Are you staffing up and down as needed?

I think so. Personally, it’s like how do you become more nimble in your work, how do you do things faster and leaner and more efficiently?

Is it nerve-wracking to see all of that change?

For me, not really. If it doesn’t work out with this large agency I know I can go somewhere else. Maybe advertising in this sense won’t be a thing anymore in the next couple of years, and you’ll have to evolve and make something completely new, but that doesn’t scare me.

But do people in the office talk about the shift to project work a lot?

All the time. Other people are freaking out. It’s very apparent that you need to evolve. It might be OK, or it might totally crumble. In general, people are worried that clients want more project-based work rather than long-term. That’s the immediate change we’re seeing, the money that’s coming in. Instead of us pitching multimillion-dollar accounts over a few years, now it’s less than a million for one project. There’s just less stability.

If more clients want to go project-based, does that mean your pitching more often?

We’re pitching kind of the same amount, but it’s smaller pitches — that’s all. We’ve been putting smaller teams on them because it is smaller business, but we’re still going at them the same way. It’s just fewer people. If anything, I think it’s better because I get more responsibility. When there are fewer people, you’re more involved. When there was a giant client, they would put like 20 [creative] teams on it, but now they put just one or two. It’s a lot more fun now because you’re more involved.

With fewer people on staff, does that change the mood?

It does make you nervous. You wonder how it’s affecting the place that you work. Will it make the agency smaller and better, or is it getting smaller and not going to be open for much longer? That’s what runs through people’s minds. But then again, on the creative side, you get more opportunities because there are fewer people so you get more access to more briefs. I’m still there, so I look at it as a positive opportunity rather than being scared of what’s going to happen. There’s nothing you can do anyway, so you might as well make the most of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

14828: Slow Play Cautionary Commentary From Fast-Talking Hucksters.

This National Lottery advertisement from Ireland cautions the public to play responsibly and slow down when gaming gets compulsive and out of control. Hey, why not slow down the advertising and promotion too?

Monday, November 18, 2019

14827: Sir Martin Sorrell Reportedly Stages Bitch-Slapping Slapstick Skit.

Campaign reported on an alleged comical confrontation between Sir Martin Sorrell and ex-colleague Jim Prior after Sorrell took offense to comments Prior made about S4 Capital in an interview. The Financial Times claimed Sorrell slapped Prior’s face during a heated exchange, but Sorrell denies the faceoff turned physical. Hey, Sorrell is not prone to violence, opting to terminate chauffeurs and yell at administrative assistants—although he’s probably slapped the ass of a prostitute or party hostess on occasion.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

14826: U.S. Army Campaign Goes For War Games.

After all the childish gamesmanship over the U.S. Army account, the campaign from DDB ironically takes a gamification approach to recruitment. Sorry, but it feels like something concocted by White advertising agency veterans trying to be cool and culturally relevant to youth.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

14825: One Goal Is One Bad Idea For A Losing Hockey Team.

Gotta believe the Chicago Blackhawks are regretting continuing this advertising campaign theme, as the team is barely averaging one goal per game.

Friday, November 15, 2019

14824: Thank God It’s Fitness Friday With Jordan Zimmerman. Not.

The ever-narcissistic Jordan Zimmerman inflates his over-pumped ego with Fitness Friday—coming off like a bizarro cross between Richard Simmons and Hans & Franz. Clearly, Zimmerman hasn’t found a camera angle he doesn’t love. Gotta wonder what the staff at his White advertising agency looks like. There must be a ton of body shaming directed at anyone not meeting Zimmerman’s standard of flexcellence.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

14823: Polluting Adland And The Media Environment With Hefty Bags Of Bad Ideas.

Having sucked dry the plastic-straws-kill-wildlife angle, hackneyed creative teams are filling up on the plastic-bags-kill-wildlife notion—with advertisements that should have been stuffed into plastic garbage sacks at the concept stage.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

14822: Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Is There—Still In The Omnicom Hood.

Adweek reported State Farm did not act like a good neighbor, abandoning DDB for The Marketing Arm, which is still in the Omnicom neighborhood. So it appears to be another example of Corporate Cultural Collusion by the White holding company, as the “extensive review” likely featured sister White agencies including Fathom Communications. In short, The Marketing Arm is simply one of the many appendages Omnicom extends and/or erects for clients. Between John Wren, Wendy Clark and God-Only-Knows-Who-Else, there are lots of White folks conspiring in that hot tub.

The Marketing Arm Takes the Lead on State Farm’s $615 Million Creative Account

DDB Chicago will remain with the insurance company

By Erik Oster

State Farm has chosen The Marketing Arm to lead its creative account, while also retaining DDB Chicago, the agency that created its “Like a Good Neighbor” tagline.

The insurance giant is sending lead creative duties to Omnicom’s The Marketing Arm as it heads into 2020, following an extensive review focused on finding a refreshed campaign strategy, a State Farm spokesperson confirmed to Adweek.

The move marks an expansion of State Farm’s relationship with the agency.

“State Farm has a longstanding history working with TMA on the experiential front,” including music, sports, auto and financial services sponsorships, the State Farm representative said in a statement. “They’re deeply involved in our artist relationships and music content, and also help us with our television and film integrations. Executing our brand work will be a new dimension to our relationship, and we’re confident their talented team is up to this new challenge.”

The Marketing Arm’s first creative campaign for State Farm is expected to launch early next year.

The State Farm representative said the company will continue to work with fellow Omnicom agency DDB Chicago as “an important partner in our agency roster,” with DDB Chicago now focusing on “lower funnel and cross-sell marketing programs.”

“At the end of the day, this was a very data-driven decision for us, and it was consumer feedback and testing that validated the relevance and strength of TMA’s campaign with our target audience,” the representative said. “We also believe in the depth of their idea and its elasticity to carry the breadth of messages we want to communicate.”

DDB has long served as State Farm creative agency partner and defended the account in a review nearly four years ago.

DDB chairman emeritus Keith Reinhard wrote the company’s “Like a Good Neighbor” tagline and DDB scored a viral hit with 2011’s “State of Unrest” spot, better known as “Jake From State Farm.” The agency, then known as Tribal DDB, did briefly lose the account to FCB Chicago (then DraftFCB) in 2010, but won it back after State Farm asked both agencies to present fresh ideas. DDB’s relationship with State Farm dates back to 1939.

State Farm spent nearly $615 million on marketing in the U.S. last year, and just around $343 million in the first six months of 2019, down slightly from over $346 million over that period in 2018, according to Kantar Media.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

14821: Clio Recognizes Hypocrisy, Lies And Cultural Cluelessness With Shiny Trophies.

Clio has concocted a new award to salute divertisements—and undoubtedly drive up dollars. The hype reads: “Clio & Brand Storytelling have partnered to celebrate the most creative branded entertainment and content work that promotes or creates awareness for a cause, foundation, organization and/or political or social issue.” Okay, but people with integrity and sincere concern do good for others without expecting anything in return. The exclusionary denizens of adland, in contrast, are hypocritical scoundrels who sell their souls for statues.

Monday, November 11, 2019

14820: Saluting A Variety Of Valiant And Victorious Veterans.

Happy Veterans Day.

14819: Now Publicis Sapient Has Less Talent Than Ever.

AgencySpy posted Publicis Sapient Chief Talent Officer Kristi Erickson bailed out after less than 3 months on the job. Imagine that—more management shifts at a man-made shithole. Not sure why anyone ever thought a chief talent officer was necessary for talentless offices. Oh, wait a minute.

Publicis Sapient Chief Talent Officer Out After Less Than 3 Months

By Erik Oster

Publicis Sapient’s chief talent officer has ended a very brief tenure in the role.

Sources with knowledge of the agency cited an internal memo announcing today as Kristi Erickson’s last at Publicis Sapient and appointing Kameshwari Rao as interim chief talent officer. It’s unclear if the agency is searching for a permanent replacement in the role or if Rao may take on the position permanently. Publicis Sapient declined to comment.

25-year Accenture veteran Kristi Erickson joined Publicis Sapient in September from Mosiac Talent, which she founded and for which she served as managing director. At the time, Nigel Vaz, who was named Publicis Sapient CEO in February, cited her “extensive background and expertise,” as well as her “commitment to inclusion and talent development.”

Publicis Sapient began the year with a fresh identity, after a SapientRazorfish reorganization last year led to over 100 layoffs. A subsequent reorganization this July reportedly related to financial performance impacted around 100 more, including layoffs and reassignments. In May, Publicis Sapient was awarded a $112 million assignment to maintain the Department of Health and Human Services’ IT platform.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

14818: Bug-Eyed And Wide-Mouthed Mongolian Mediocrity.

Not sure what this campaign from Mongolia is communicating—but fairly certain it’s clichéd and contrived crap.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

14817: Uncivilized Design Perception That Women Don’t Belong…?

This campaign—Civilizations Design Perception—is described as follows: “It expresses the identity of the design and the power of the different civilizations like Arabic, Persian, Roman, Greek, Samurai & World War II. Creating the contrast of identity and character through design structure, lines, and color, to express a period were identity needed to be expressed freely and without restriction.” Whatever. Gotta believe White women will take offense to the lack of females in the work.

Friday, November 08, 2019

14816: The RAPP Shuffle—White Woman Sashays Past Black Man In Divertsity Dance.

AgencySpy posted on RAPP New York hiring a White woman to serve as its Managing Director, replacing the Black man who landed the job about two years ago. So Shari Reichenberg shifts into the lead position, while Justin Thomas-Copeland moves into a new role—undefined by AgencySpy—within the Omnicom Precision Marketing Group network. Precision is probably a fancy mispronunciation of prison. Why won’t an enterprise run by a CEO allegedly obsessed with integrity simply announce where Thomas-Copeland is specifically being shipped? Um, maybe because the White agency was previously run by a man accused of being a sexist and racist bully. Of course, Omnicom is celebrating since the White holding company retains a Black executive and adds a White woman—it’s a divertsity doubleheader.

RAPP Hires New York Managing Director From Consultancy Prophet

By Erik Oster

RAPP has hired a new managing director for its New York headquarters.

Shari Reichenberg replaces Justin Thomas-Copeland, who is moving into a new role within the Omnicom Precision Marketing Group network, effective immediately. She will report directly to RAPP global CEO Marco Scognamiglio.

“Shari, a proven, visionary digital marketing leader, understands that the current breadth and pace of industry change requires an agency that can guide and spearhead a customer-centric transformational discussion with its brand partners,” Scognamiglio said in a statement. “Her strengths lie in her abilities as both a strategic thinker and an operational lead – and having her at the helm of our New York team is a tremendous way to move into 2020, and beyond.”

Reichenberg joins RAPP from Prophet, the digital consultancy with a client roster including Chick-Fil-A, MetLife, T-Mobile and Regal Cinemas, where she served as president for the past year. Prior to joining Prophet, she spent over seven years at Ogilvy, most recently as executive strategy director, head of U.S. customer engagement following years directing engagement strategy.

“At a time when brands’ abilities to build relationships with their own customers is more critical to their success than ever, RAPP’s heritage of understanding and celebrating individuals makes it an essential partner to any modern CMO,” Reichenberg said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to join this outstanding team of creative, strategic and analytically- and tech-savvy thinkers and makers.”

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

14814: Confessional Color Commentary Calls Out Cultural Cluelessness Of Clients And Coworkers.

The latest Digiday confessions series installment features an anonymous woman of color—and the publication even repurposed the same silhouette image used for the another anonymous woman of color. Maybe Digiday thinks all secretive sistahs look alike. Anyway, the confessor claimed clients need cultural sensitivity training; plus, her statements indicate her coworkers are culturally clueless too. Gee, adland must be a lonely place for her. But she shouldn’t be surprised, as Black women are the ultimate minority in the field.

‘Clients need a cultural sensitivity workshop’: Confessions of a black woman in advertising

By Kristina Monllos

Despite many high-profile diversity pushes, advertising has a long way to go.

Clients and agency execs are often too uncomfortable talking openly about race and have chastised people who do, making it less likely that agency employees will say something, according to one black agency producer at a holding company creative agency. In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor, the staffer shares how giving feedback taught her not to speak up about racism.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

In recent years, there’s been a push for more diversity in advertising not only in the ads that we see but also in the people making the ads. What’s it like to talk to clients about that, and how does it impact casting?

It can get a little weird sometimes. The client I’m working on now wants us to have a variety of African American, Asian, White and Latino people within the ads. [But in casting], they’ll say things to us like, “That person doesn’t look Latino.” We’ll be like, “OK, what does Latino look like?” You can’t say someone doesn’t look like a specific race when they identify as that race. Then, we’ll ask them what they’re looking for, but they quiet down. At that point, they know that whatever they say will be perceived as racist because they’re trying to get at stereotypes. I’ve heard about a [big CPG client] who said, “We want black people but not black, black.”

What do you think agencies should do to help mitigate potential problems like this?

Clients need communication classes or a cultural sensitivity workshop. Some people don’t know how to properly express their business objectives without saying things that are offensive. They end up saying these things and then say they didn’t mean it that way, but they did. It’s a systemic issue in society. Honestly, it would be really helpful if these agencies — especially since you’re working in a creative environment where you’re putting content out to the masses — if everyone was mandated to take a cultural sensitivity course. It would be really helpful not only in communications with each other but in how we put out our ads.

What has brought you to that realization? Did something happen at your agency?

I was with a client, and we were preparing for a photoshoot. Essentially, what happened was that this client said two black models looked alike, but the two women positively did not look alike. I felt like it was a very white thing to say. I told my internal team it made me uncomfortable. Instead of taking me seriously, the team made a joke about it. But it’s not funny, and we shouldn’t allow this. That’s the problem with advertising and media in general: We do inappropriate things, and we want to apologize for it later. I spoke to the client about it. They got very upset and thought I was calling them racist when I was just trying to educate them.

It seems really difficult to bring up an issue like that with a client.

It is really hard. Another issue is that I felt like I was alone and that the rest of my team didn’t really care. They were making jokes about it, which, to me, makes the situation even worse. I just think white people, in general, don’t like talking about race. It makes some white people uncomfortable. The client was uncomfortable. Also, the agency was not supportive. After I spoke to the client about it, the agency gave me a warning letter and said I had gone outside of the duties of my job duties.

After this incident are you less likely to speak up?

I’m definitely more conscious of how I speak up and when I speak up. If I want to speak up about anything race-related, I have to filter that through a white person. If I say it directly, it comes off as aggressive or that I’m making it a black thing, but if I tell one of my white peers, “Hey, I think you should bring this up in the meeting,” it’s received differently. As a black woman, I can’t stick up for black women. I have to go through a white woman. It’s really weird.

That sounds like it would make your job harder.

Yeah. If tomorrow I was in a meeting with a client and they made an insensitive comment about black people, I would not feel like I could say something. I would have to keep my mouth shut and go to another person to ask them to do something about it. I don’t feel like I could be an active voice in the conversation without someone feeling some type of way. But I don’t think it’s unique to advertising. It’s being black in the workforce in general.

Aside from this one incident, have you felt that speaking up is frowned upon?

This was the first time I really felt this way. I’ve had other clients who are more culturally sensitive.

With the blowback companies like H&M and Dolce & Gabbana have gotten you’d think companies would welcome the feedback and that agencies would encourage it.

With what’s happened with H&M and Dolce & Gabbana and so on, I’ve told the creative team that we want to be conscious and we don’t want to do anything that could be offensive so if I’ve seen something that could be offensive or perceived the wrong way, I’ve said something about it.

Sometimes there’s one person on the creative team who will say that something isn’t offensive and I’m like, “How do you know? You’re a white man. You can’t say it’s not offensive if you’re not living in this community.” It’s about having to explain that someone doesn’t have the credentials to comment on the issue. The internal team has been OK, but [I’ve worked with people] who are part of a scared culture that thinks, “Well, if this goes out and the client gets in trouble for this, that’s on them.”

Every time a company does something racist everyone wonders how it happens, but it sounds like what happened to you is exactly how that happens.

I used to be one of those people. When I would see those ads, I would be like, “I would never let my team do that.” I would immediately say something and stop them. But after that incident, I’m like, “OK I see why these ads make it to air now.” They make us so uncomfortable for speaking up that you kind of weigh your options and think, is this worth losing my job?