Thursday, December 31, 2020

15258: The Year In Review—The Industry In Racist Reverse.


For Adland, 2020 will probably be labeled The Year of COVID-19, as evidenced by a constant cavalcade of crappy, contrived and clich├ęd coronavirus campaigns. Yet cultural cluelessness continued to infect the advertising industry like a nettlesome virus, ultimately creating casualties, crises and comedy.


The most prominent deaths included Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben (sort of), Rastus, the Land O’Lakes Native American maiden, the Eskimo Pie Eskimo, Annie the Chicken Queen and the Washington Redskins. The jury is still out on Mrs. Butterworth. Meanwhile, the Pine-Sol Lady appears to be smelling sweet as ever, baby.


The racist erasures raced alongside racist executions—specifically, former Deutsch CCO Brett Craig and former The Richards Group Overlord Stan Richards. Craig was caught criticizing the Blackness of casting, while Richards criticized the Blackness of a campaign concept (and the supreme Whiteness of client customers). To show that offensive ignorance extends beyond racism, former Mindshare CEO Nick Emery displayed cultural cluelessness—and maybe his ass and dick—to earn a pink slip.


The global field feigned deep concern when White advertising agencies publicized EEO-1 data confirming they were White advertising agencies. The admissions ignited a flurry of memorandum, heat shields and Chief Diversity Officer appointments. The latter, ironically, was offset by the hightailing of high-profile DE&I delegates including Tiffany R. Warren, Carl Desir and Doug Melville. Why, even ADCOLOR® Change Agent John Seifert is calling it quits.


To further deflect the discriminatory deficiencies and systemic racism, Chief Divertsity Officers were announced ad nauseam. Boards Blackened and broadened big time. Resident minority elevations escalated. Job titles were fancifully fabricated and job listings were eloquently embellished. Clients applied divertsity demands to staff figures and storyboard frames.


But wait, there’s more. Advertising executives of Asian descent experienced anti-Asian hate. WPP CEO Mark Read—at age 54—made ageist remarks. Rosa Park leaders claimed they’d never heard of Rosa Parks. An ANA study predicted the pandemic would prompt marketers to decrease spending with minority vendors—compounding the regular ANA studies revealing that marketers underspend with minority vendors. And, as always, Wendy Clark did nothing meaningful or measurable to advance the cause, opting to advance her career.


The arguably most noteworthy event involved 600 & Rising dropping to 599 when co-founder Nathan Young resigned after taking heat for a critical tweet positioning ADCOLOR® as a delusional and deceptive heat shield. Watch for 599 & Rising to emerge from its strategic restructuring as an ADCOLOR® wannabe.


Expect Adland 2021 to resemble Adland 1921.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

15257: AT&T Wants To Reach Out And Infect Someone…

Is AT&T projecting ahead to visions of post-COVID-19 freedom? This video depicting everyone—from a pizza delivery guy to Lily the AT&T salesgirl—ignoring social distancing and masking practices seems like a disconnect from reality. Sorry, but this is not the way to show a little love, especially during a deadly pandemic.



Tuesday, December 29, 2020

15256: IKEA Walks Like An Egyptian…Sphinx.


This IKEA campaign from Egypt begs the question, “Were the original Egyptian works of art more easily assembled than typical IKEA merchandise?”

15255: Black, Er, Back To The Future.

The Campaign interview below—originally published in 2016—has semi-relevance to the current spike in promoting and/or hiring Chief Diversity Officers at White advertising agencies and holding companies.


For starters, Doug Melville ultimately spent over 8.5 years as Chief Diversity Officer at TBWA\Chiat\Day—and like other prominent CDOs in the advertising industry, Melville recently abandoned the post to take a similar role outside of the field. Not sure if there’s a message behind the defections. That is, are Adland CDOs simply taking advantage of new opportunities or are they jumping off the proverbial sinking ship?


It’s interesting to note that Melville pointed to enhanced diversity vendor and supplier programs as his proudest accomplishment. And he made no claims about affecting the hiring of non-Whites by White advertising agencies. Not sure if there’s a message behind the lack of discussion in this area. That is, does Sanford Moore’s CDO perspective continue to hold true?


The more things don’t change, the more they stay the same.


Meet Madison Avenue’s only male chief diversity officer


By Douglas Quenqua


TBWA\Chiat\Day’s Doug Melville, former male cheerleader and Britney Spears tour manager, on how it feels to be the only man in the room


Doug Melville has held many unusual jobs in his career: Weinermobile driver; assistant tour manager for Britney Spears; founder of; and president of Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s short-lived ad agency, ZMagic.


But on May 1, 2012, he became something truly remarkable: a male chief diversity officer at an advertising agency (TBWA\Chiat\Day NewYork, to be exact). Though the industry began hiring diversity officers around 2006, Melville is the only man currently — and possibly ever — to hold the position. How does that happen? We took a moment to get to know Melville, and his situation, a little better.


Why aren’t there more men in your position?


On the client side there are male chief diversity officers — Twitter, Johnson & Johnson, AirBNB. On the agency side, No. 1, I think the role is a newer one, so in time that will even itself out. No. 2, many times the role was born from HR, and if you look at HR and talent professionals in the Madison Avenue community, I think more of them are women than men, so inherently, if that’s where you’re feeding and sourcing the role, then you’re just going to get more women.


I think it’s something no one really notices. Sometimes I’ll be in a meeting and notice there are no men, but until you emailed me that question I don’t know if I’d ever even realized it.


I did do a Ted talk about being a male cheerleader. When there’s 97% women in your industry, I think there’s a certain point where you don’t even look at it as male or woman, you just keep on going forward and doing what you’re supposed to do.


Do you think lack of gender diversity among CDOs at ad agencies negatively affects diversity recruitment efforts?


Now that CDOs are getting the spotlight, there’s a lot of conversation about who’s best for the role. The Harvard Business Review wrote an article about whether it’s better for a white male to be chief diversity officer because they have a better chance to influence the other board members.


But each role of chief diversity officer is different. If you put 10 chief diversity officers in a room, they have 10 different job descriptions, 10 different KPIs, and I think that’s rare among roles that parallel each other at different companies. I think it’s a challenge with how the person was selected and how the gender of that person best fits in the structure of the organization. But I don’t know if it’s happenstance or the pool that’s being drafted off of.


What’s your greatest accomplishment in your role so far?


My proudest accomplishment is what we’ve done in the supplier diversity ecosystem. In the last three years, we’ve spent $125 million with 86 businesses that are owned, operated and controlled by women and diverse entrepreneurs. To me that’s a huge number, because giving opportunities on a B-to-B level to these business owners you used to work in advertising, who maybe used to be freelancers, who used to work within these walls, I think is really, really important.


What is the biggest factor holding the ad industry back from diversifying?


There is an overall movement of change that is happening so fast, and it’s hard for people to change every single part of their day — how the offices are laid out, how the agencies are structured, how clients want to do compensation — there are so many levels of change that people have to deal with on a day-to-day level. I think whose people’s tribes are, who they are most comfortable and familiar with, actually becomes more calcified because of the change that is surrounding them. People are comforted by commonality, but they need to be more challenged, because that’s where they grow.

Monday, December 28, 2020

15254: Pepsi Served At—And Serving—Black Restaurants.

PepsiCo published a press release announcing a partnership with the National Urban League designed to help Black restaurants succeed. Is this some sort of amends for disrespecting Black Lives Matter with the infamous Pepsi-Kendall Jenner Commercial? Perhaps the program should include Jenner serving as a waitress at Black restaurants—along with Brad Jakeman handling dishwasher duties.


National Urban League Launches Black Restaurant Accelerator Program Powered by $10 Million Grant from PepsiCo Foundation


PURCHASE, N.Y., Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Urban League and PepsiCo joined forces to create the Black Restaurant Accelerator, which will boost approximately 500 Black-owned businesses over the next five years. The PepsiCo Foundation is providing a $10 million grant to fund the program, which will provide current and aspiring Black restaurateurs with access to capital, training, mentorship and other support services that are necessary for business success.


Black entrepreneurs have long faced systemic barriers to growth, including access to loans and capital, biased community perceptions and gentrification challenges. These hurdles have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, as demonstrated by the 41% of Black-owned businesses that have shuttered since February 2020 compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses.* Through National Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers in 12 cities across the U.S., the Black Restaurant Accelerator will not only help address these barriers, but also take a long-term view by pairing participants with entrepreneurship advisors and PepsiCo employee volunteers to build an actionable plan for growth.


“This is a game changing program that will provide Black restaurateurs with access to business-building resources tailored to meet their specific needs,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League. “Our understanding of the local business environment and community paired with subject matter expertise from PepsiCo team members will give business owners a leg up as they look to grow.”


National Urban League will begin accepting applications for the program in the first quarter of 2021. Restaurateurs interested in receiving updates can go here. Learn more about Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers and other workforce development programs by visiting


“This is a key component of the broader investments we’re making to bolster Black-owned restaurants and small businesses, which has never been more critical,” said Jon Banner, executive vice president, PepsiCo Global Communications and president, PepsiCo Foundation. “We’re honored to build on the important work the National Urban League is doing to diminish the barriers that limit possibilities for Black-owned foodservice businesses and create economic mobility that propels individuals and communities.”


The Black Restaurant Accelerator program comes on the heels of recent PepsiCo efforts to advance Black-owned restaurants — enabled by strategic partnerships with industry, non-profit and grassroots organizations and advocates who share a passion for creating a more equitable industry — including:


·      Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership: PepsiCo is a founding sponsor of this long-term initiative to increase the number of Black-owned restaurant franchises in the U.S. in partnership with the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance (MFHA). Through curated training and mentoring administered through 4thMVMT, the program aims to create 100 Black-owned businesses by 2022.


·      Black Restaurant Week: Pepsi recently signed on as the first-ever national title sponsor of the Black culinary celebration. Together, Black Restaurant Week and Pepsi are celebrating Black culinary tastemakers through events in cities across the country designed to promote Black-owned restaurants to the broader community while stimulating the local economy.


·      Advisory Council: PepsiCo assembled a body of industry visionaries to provide perspective, serve as a sounding board and advise on solutions for the Black foodservice community. Council members include:


o   Restaurant owner and entrepreneur Marcus Davis


o   Award-winning writer and author Osayi Endolyn


o   Founder & Curator, The Iconoclast Dinner Experience (IDE) Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell


o   Celebrity chef, author, CEO & President of DWT Culinary Associates LLC Daniel Thomas


o   CEO of The Black upstart Kezia Williams


These efforts are part of the $400 million commitment PepsiCo made over the next five years to advance racial equality within the company, industry and the communities it serves. More information is available at


*University of California, Santa Cruz, 2020

15253: Applying Relevance And Reality To Adweek Jobs.

The Adweek Jobs banner depicted above has a strange image—are Blacks being encouraged to seek advertising agency roles as IT specialists? The banners below would be more appropriate…


15252: Anti-Social Media From Cindy Gallop.

Oh, look! Cindy Gallop is still promoting herself as a divertsity diva, spanking the advertising industry for erecting heat shields in lieu of actually hiring, championing, promoting and paying non-Whites. Yet back in the day, when Gallop had the authority, who did she ever HIRE? CHAMPION? PROMOTE? PAY…? Cue the chirping crickets. It’s also not surprising that Gallop’s recent LinkedIn gobbledygook features more posts highlighting her dining and drinks versus diversity.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

15251: All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt…

Ads of the World explained the campaign depicted above as follows:


A creative person traveled abroad and had some unpleasant racist experiences. Rather than respond in kind, he chose a more dignified way as to educate and challenge people about the wrongness of stereotypes. He brands a T-shirt that juxtaposes generalized perception of Africans with a “harmless” generalized perception of his host country, while still in the country. The shirt bears the hashtag: #IAmNotYourStereotype, which he wears around the country for the remainder of his stay.


If the creative person had visited Adland, the shirt could read as depicted below.


Saturday, December 26, 2020

15250: On The First Day Of Kwanzaa…

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa for 2020. Despite all the recently renewed commitment to cultural competency, don’t expect any advertisers to produce commemorative campaigns. It’s also unlikely that Chief Diversity Officers at White advertising agencies will present special seminars on the annual celebration—unless there’s an opportunity for self-promotional press releases. Such a missed opportunity.

Friday, December 25, 2020

15249: Santa Claus Is Coming To Another Part Of Town…

Since the 1920s, Coca-Cola has depicted Santa Claus in its advertising. In 1931, the soft drink company presented an image (depicted below) that has been almost universally embraced as the prototypical Santa. Now in 2020, McCann in Brazil spotlighted a Black Santa (depicted above) for the brand. In short, it took roughly 100 years for Coke to recognize Black people. Merry Fucking Christmas. 


Thursday, December 24, 2020


Adweek reported Omnicom Media Group won AOR status with pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. The illustration for the story (depicted above) underscores the need for the media company to reconsider its logo, especially given the prevalence of Internet abbreviations. WTF.