Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
The Digiday confessions series is amplifying, providing a pulpit and platform for Blacks in advertising and media. However, it seems odd to air grievances in a confessional format when the perpetrators being exposed are escaping penance. As the latest confessor remarked, “It’s almost as if racism can be forgiven.” If Digiday really wants to properly execute the confessions concept, shouldn’t the publication invite Whites in the industry to admit their sins of systemic exclusivity?
‘Almost as if racism can be forgiven’: Confessions of a Black creative calling out a willful legacy of oppression at agencies
By Kristina Monllos
In recent weeks, Black agency employees have called for change within advertising asking agencies via an open letter signed by 600 Black employees. The letter asked agencies and agency leadership to not only to push to be truly diverse and inclusive but to examine the missteps they have taken on that path. Doing so has spurred some agencies to release just how non-diverse their employee makeup is as well as to pledge to be better at fostering equality in their workplaces.
But the problems minority agency employees are calling out are not new and have been a constant and oppressive drag on their careers years before the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last month ignited widespread protests and calls for justice and racial equality, according to a Black creative who is the only Black person in his department at an independent creative agency.
In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we exchange anonymity for candor, we hear from the creative about what it’s like to be the sole Black person in his department, how this moment compares to the #MeToo movement and what agencies need to do now.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
What’s it like to be the only Black creative at your agency right now?
I’m a very vocal Black creative. I don’t hide how I feel. But I also don’t ask my agency to do anything, I just make my expectations very clear [and post other agencies statements on being anti-racist on Slack]. I’ve worked at a few agencies now and it’s the same way at a lot of places. At one agency, I was one of four Black people. At another, I was the only Black person period. [I’m not open to having agency execs] come ask me for help putting out a statement [saying they support Black Lives Matter].
There’s so much going on — like with mental health [it can be trying to do so] and I’m not just going to put myself out there and just work on Black Lives Matter initiatives [to help the agency]. You have two very clear roles to play as a Black person, or as the only Black creative at an agency: You can say you’re not going to be involved and be like, ‘I’m not going to tell you people how to talk to my people.’ Or you can be involved because there’s also the moral responsibility to your Blackness. You don’t want the people who come after you to be equally oppressed so you do feel that you need to want to show them how to respond.
That sounds like a difficult position to be in. How should agencies address that?
The major problem is inclusion. Black people do get hired but they leave. You do get hired, but you don’t fit in. Agencies are obviously not hiring [Black people] at a fast enough pace, but when your POV is unappreciated you feel less valued and you leave the agency. What Black people are addressing [right now] for the most part in Ad Age articles, in Forbes articles and with the [open] letter [signed by 600 Black employees], is that people are starting to speak to the ill treatment within agencies. As much as agencies are trying to talk about it, it isn’t as much about what they have to say [but what they do now].
What is it about?
Instead of looking for an angle to market [agencies need to] look at where they have been inadequate and try to fix that. One of the major places we’re screwing up as creative enterprises is in production and the people that are behind the camera who make content as well as what our content looks like. Agencies are aware of this. The producers all look the same. I’ve never had people in my office talk about a female director. I’m just like, ‘What is going on? Why don’t we mention female directors?’ It’s always like, ‘Let’s look at this French dude.’ Agencies have definitely been aware. Now, people feel motivated to speak to it.
We’re in a moment where agency employees are pushing for true change. Do you think that will actually happen?
Honestly, I feel like it’s in the hands of the press to hold agencies accountable. The press controls public opinion and how the stories are told. I’ve been thinking about that a lot: There are stories out there right now that easily could have been covered five years ago. What’s happening right now with people speaking about [the racism they’ve dealt with at agencies] that’s always been happening. I think about the #MeToo movement and how people were able to say how it is and then try to change it.
Do you see this moment as akin to #MeToo?
The comparison is not totally accurate so it’s hard to say. At the height of the #MeToo movement, if any agency or anyone was called out few people spoke out in their defense. Right now, as people are being called out, people are coming to the defense of those who have been [racist]. It’s almost as if racism can be forgiven, but if someone comes out with a sexual harassment accusation everyone will run away from them.
not the same with racism. People wait a minute. They want to analyze it. They
want a record that shows your racism. It cannot just be said that this person
was racist. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this person is a
racist. What we need now is to become anti-racist and for agencies to say they
are anti-racist. The minute we all accept that we’re anti-racist and
anti-establishment then we can start to hold ourselves accountable and change
for the better.
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Adweek reported a White advertising agency in France is rethinking its name—Rosapark—after getting trashed on Twitter. The founders claim they labeled the agency in 2012, completely oblivious to the similarity to civil rights icon Rosa Parks, which ultimately underscores their collective cultural cluelessness. To add comedic value, the company boasts having an “urban” personality. And while the place insists the name is spelled as one word, the website graphics display it as two words. Regardless, Rosaparks is now debating renaming itself. Hey, why not? If Land O’ Lakes dumped the Indian Maiden, PepsiCo is retiring Aunt Jemima and companies are reevaluating Rastus, Uncle Ben and Mrs. Butterworth, surely the French firm can do the right thing. Free and friendly advice: steer clear of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Ditto Josephine Baker, despite her ties to France. Sorry, guys, the most appropriate monickers—Cracker Barrel and Cracker Jack—are already copyrighted.
French Agency Rosapark: ‘We Will Be Rethinking the Name of Our Agency’
Exclusive: Founders "fully understand" why the name is being scrutinized
By Minda Smiley
The founders of Havas-owned Rosapark are “rethinking” the agency’s name after facing criticism on Twitter earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Nathan Young, president of 600 & Rising and group strategy director at Periscope, tweeted an image of Rosapark’s founders—all of whom are white men—with the following comment: “Advertising’s race problem in one image.”
Young’s tweet prompted a response from someone named Louis Duroulle, who—according to LinkedIn—is an account director at Havas Paris. While Duroulle’s tweets have since been deleted, he essentially accused of Young of “trash talking” Rosapark:
Later that day, Young tweeted that he’d “had a conversation with U.S. leadership” at Havas.
“I won’t disclose details, but I did speak to several issues of importance to our members and received assurance that U.S. diversity data would be forthcoming,” he tweeted. The members he’s referring to are those of 600 & Rising, a nonprofit Young founded alongside Bennett D. Bennett earlier this month that’s dedicated to advocating for Black people in the advertising industry.
In a statement sent to Adweek, the founders of Rosapark said they “fully understand” why the name is receiving criticism.
“We are aware of the various comments on social media related to the name Rosapark, and we would like to assure you we are taking them very seriously,” they wrote. “We are sincerely sorry if the name of our agency, which we chose 8 years ago, has caused any offense. In the current climate and in light of recent world events, we fully understand why.”
They also said they are “particularly sensitive to the issue of diversity in our industry.” According to the founders, Fichteberg—who earlier this year was named president of the Association of Communication Consulting Agencies’ advertising delegation—“has put diversity at the heart of his program, which aims to profoundly transform our industry in this area.”
“In light of the above, we will be rethinking the name of our agency,” the statement concluded. “Please rest assured that we are fully committed to this subject.”
Since its inception in 2012, the founders of Rosapark—which was named Adweek’s International Agency of the Year in 2018—have maintained that the agency was not named after Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist who famously refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Ala.
In 2015, French publication L’ADN interviewed Chiquiar and Fichteberg. In the article, they discuss how they landed on Rosapark, explaining they were inspired by parks, skateboarding culture and the desire to add a touch of “feminine softness,” hence “Rosa.” A translated version of their comments is below:
One of Rosapark’s prerogatives is to understand the times. What it brings, what technologies can be useful for brands, decipher trends … “We try to understand people better.” A philosophy that is embodied by the agency as a whole. “The agency’s name, Rosapark, translates what we are. Urban, city children … The city has a particular rhythm: How to create a parenthesis to the frenzy?” The idea of the park is becoming a “breathing lung.” The “K” translates the skateboarding culture of the founders. And to bring a touch of more feminine softness, Rosa goes to the park. For them, there was no question of having an acronym for their agency’s name. “It prevails over egos, personalities, willingness to put themselves forward. Here, we speak with one voice around Rosapark,” Chiquiar said.
The following year, former Rosapark creative director Mark Forgan said the agency wasn’t deliberately named after Parks in an interview with the Epica Awards.
“The guys wanted to name it after an urban location, and they liked the idea of ‘park.’ Then they felt that ‘rose park’ or ‘rosa park’ made it feel a little less masculine since they were three guys,” Forgan said. “The link to Rosa Parks was almost incidental.”
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
The latest Digiday confessions series installment presents the perspectives of a Black media agency director detailing microaggressions and macrotransgressions in predominately White companies. Expect more unforced confessions from Blacks in advertising and marketing in the days ahead.
‘I don’t want to rock the boat—even now’: Confessions of a Black media agency director
By Seb Joseph
Agencies, like many businesses following George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last month and the massive protests that have followed and continued with expanding intensity, have universally condemned racism with promises and platitudes from the C-suite.
But in doing so they have stirred up criticism among staffers concerned agencies won’t actually fight racism within their ranks and cultures with anything beyond empty lip service. In the latest edition of our Confessions series, where we exchange anonymity for honesty, we hear from a senior director at global media agency about the realities of working in businesses where racism and inequality issues facing people of color remain as entrenched as ever.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
How has the agency’s stand against racism affected you?
It’s cool the company has publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement and the email from the CEO hit the points you would expect. But these are tiny steps in the right direction. There are still thinly-veiled everyday instances of racism. It’s easy to say you’re a not a racist, but the reason so many companies have been so tone-deaf on this issue to date is that they’re not anti-racist. These micro-aggressions aren’t really being discussed. And when they are it’s half-baked or in private.
What do you mean by anti-racist?
Even with all the rhetoric in the last few days, I’ve lost track of the number of video calls and WhatsApp Groups I’ve been brought into where I’m the only person of color there. The rest are all white. I know for a fact that some of my colleagues in those meetings are underqualified to be there, while there are others who look like me that should. It’s this covert stuff that no one wants to discuss. It’s not racist per se, but there’s an extreme prejudice in agencies that will be hard to shake until this generation of leaders retire.
So the biggest block to anti-racism at agencies is leadership?
Take my team for example. There are four women, one is from Spain, another is from south-east Asia and the other two are from London, one is Nigerian and the other is from Essex, England. Then there are three men, one is white and from Essex, another is from Pakistan and I’m a Londoner. The team lead, however, is white. It’s like that across the agency and it’s been like that at other places I’ve worked. I’m not saying that white leaders are bad. But what this situation tells me is that leadership is reserved for a cohort of people who all come from the same place.
Have you tried to address this?
No. I don’t want to rock the boat — even now. I’m at a point in my career where I’m senior enough to have a few direct reports. The last thing I want to do is become known as the guy who plays the race card even if it is valid. It’s happened in the past at other agencies where I’ve raised certain things like why I’ve been passed over [for a] promotion for someone who hasn’t brought in half of the number of billings I have. People got defensive and wanted to silence me. Rather than let those responses get to me, I take those moments as a sign to move on. I can’t afford to have my career stall. Once I’m senior enough in this industry that’s when I’ll be able to bring more people like me through the agency.
So the only way you get promoted is to move to a different agency?
Yes. As a minority, you have to work harder by default. Being constantly on the move is stressful, but I’m aided by friends throughout the industry who help me with job prospects when they can. Career progression is a real worry for me. There was a pitch a year ago that the agency had a lot riding on. I did everything on that pitch, from leading the economic analysis of the client’s business to ordering the food when the team worked through the night on it. I was involved in the presentation to the client alongside some execs our agency usually bring in specifically for that part. When we won it I expected to be promoted. Instead, the promotion went to the white woman who presented my plan but hadn’t worked on it. What’s worse is there was no real explanation as to why I wasn’t promoted. I left shortly after.
Are there any senior people in the agency who can help or mentor you?
If you look hard enough there are black and Asian people who are making moves at the top end of this industry. I’ve got a lot of respect for them. But in my experience, they either can’t relate to me or are out of reach. A lot of those people went to private school and count ski trips as hobbies and come into work wearing Jimmy Choo trainers. I’d rather go to the beach and that’s too much cash to be wearing on my feet. There’s a small group of white people who all look and sound very similar at the top of the agency business. And the few people of color that do mix in those circles have to conform to behaving in the same way. As smart as they are, they can’t really help me.
Monday, June 22, 2020
Adweek spotlighted how Deutsch LA fired its CCO—Brett Craig—after an offensive email he wrote in 2015
resurfaced on Instagram. The email went public again partly in response to a
recent Black Lives Matter post by the White advertising agency. Perhaps the
place should rethink its reported decision to stop investing in diversity. Interestingly
enough, Instagram served as the social site of choice for Diet Madison Avenue
to expose sexual harassment offenders, leading to alleged perpetrators being expelled
from the industry. Will executives caught displaying cultural cluelessness,
unconscious bias and outright racism meet similar fates? And what about the
patronizing leaders espousing the virtues of diversity—and collecting ADCOLOR®
trophies—despite now showing via EEO-1 data that their progressive
initiatives rendered no meaningful results? CCOs are routinely dismissed for
failing to increase business. Executives with hiring authority who haven’t made
gains in ethnic and racial representation deserve to be canned too. To coin a familiar phrase, “We must do better.”
Deutsch LA Fires CCO After Offensive Email About Casting Black Talent Resurfaces
Brett Craig had been with the agency since 2012 and was promoted to creative chief in 2018
By Erik Oster
Agency Deutsch Los Angeles has fired chief creative officer Brett Craig after a former employee shared a screenshot of an offensive work email from 2015 on Instagram this week.
An agency spokesperson confirmed that Craig was let go Wednesday. Adweek reached out to Craig for comment via LinkedIn but has yet to receive a response.
The email, which sources with knowledge of the matter say was sent by Craig, discusses casting decisions, makes remarks such as “I think were [sic] now BET channel” and refers to a casting candidate as “Not so urban/AA” (the abbreviation stands for “African American”). Craig was fired as a result of the racist email resurfacing, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
The email resurfaced when an anonymized version was posted by former Deutsch employee Kady Kamakaté, who noted that the person who wrote the email had since been promoted “to a very high position.”
“The time I spent there was riddled with incidents like this,” Kamakaté wrote in the Instagram caption. “I never once felt protected or empowered enough to speak up … lest I be considered ‘too Urban/AA.’”
Craig was promoted to the CCO role in December 2018. He first joined Deutsch in 2012 and worked on accounts including Dr Pepper, H&R Block and Taco Bell. He is also the author of the book Collaborate or Die: How Being a Jerk Kills Ideas.
The resurfaced email followed a Black Lives Matter post by Deutsch last week. Some responded to the post with skepticism that the agency was sincerely committed to change, while others criticized the delayed response. Eventually, the email was brought up in the thread. One current New York employee defended Deutsch’s New York office for making progress during his five years with the agency.
Deutsch LA has been working with employees on commitments to address systemic racism, including representation, training and support of the Black community, according to sources with knowledge of the agency’s operations. The agency alluded to these commitments in its responses to comments regarding its Black Lives Matter post.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Looks like the crappy, contrived, clichéd COVID-19 Themed Ads collection is experiencing a flattened curve in terms of contributions. Although the numbers will likely spike along with the surging outbreaks. However, there’s still no sign of a Black Lives Matter collection.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
This Pepsi advertisement from Grey in Kazakhstan is explained as follows: “Even main competitor’s supporter has a little weakness he must confess on Christmas.” Um, must confess this concept is weak—and likely offensive bullshit too.
Friday, June 19, 2020
Advertising Age reported PepsiCo is retiring Aunt Jemima. Sources indicate Uncle Ben, Rastus and Mrs. Butterworth are being considered for retirements, revisions and revisionist histories too. Don’t expect celebratory send-offs like the Honey Bunches of Oats Lady enjoyed. Also guessing Annie the Chicken Queen and the Pine-Sol Lady are going underground like a railroad.
Aunt Jemima To Retire Brand’s Image and Name
The PepsiCo brand says it will gather perspectives from the Black community as it works on the overhaul, and also plans to donate $5 million
By Jessica Wohl
Aunt Jemima’s image and name are being retired in a major branding shift that comes weeks into the rising swell of racial justice announcements from companies following the killing of George Floyd.
The Aunt Jemima brand name dates back to 1889. The brand has been owned by PepsiCo Inc. since 2001, when the soft drink and snack giant acquired Quaker Oats Co. The face of a Black woman has been seen on the packaging since the early 1890s and has been updated over the years.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, VP and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a statement. “While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”
Packaging without the Aunt Jemima image will begin to appear in the last three months of 2020. The name change is set to be announced at a later date and to quickly follow the first phase of the packaging changes, the company said. Details on the new name were not disclosed.
Along with other racial equality initiatives, “we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” Kroepfl said in the statement.
The Aunt Jemima brand “has evolved over time with the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families,” PepsiCo said in its statement. Still, the image of a Black woman has remained.
“We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth and dignity that we would like it to stand for today,” said Kroepfl. “We are starting by removing the image and changing the name. We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.”
PepsiCo said the Aunt Jemima brand will donate a minimum of $5 million over five years “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.” The announcement comes after PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta said the company would put in place more than $400 million in initiatives over five years to elevate Black communities as well as to increase Black representation at the company.
Last week, The Onion ran a satirical story saying the company was replacing the Aunt Jemima character with a black female lawyer named Sheila “who enjoys pancakes from time to time.”
According to a company timeline, the Aunt Jemima brand was created in 1889 by the Pearl Milling company as the world’s first ready mix. In 1933, Anna Robinson portrayed Aunt Jemima at the Chicago World’s Fair and toured as the character. Quaker Oats Co. registered the Aunt Jemima trademark in 1937, 11 years after it bought the company.
In 1999, Ad Age listed Aunt Jemima as the No. 7 ad icon of the 20th century and said the image of a Black woman smiling first graced boxes of pancake mix in the early 1890s. According to the Afro-American Almanac, Chris Rutt came up with the idea of Aunt Jemima after he and his partner, Charles Underwood, developed a ready pancake mix. Rutt heard a tune called “Aunt Jemima” sung by a Black-faced performer wearing an apron and bandana headband at a vaudeville show, then thought to use the song title as the name for the mix. In 1890, Rutt and Underwood sold their business to R.T. Davis Milling, which hired Nancy Green, a woman in her 50s who was born a slave, to serve as the first Aunt Jemima.
The look of the character changed over the years. In 1994, Gladys Knight appeared in a commercial for Aunt Jemima’s light syrup. Knight appeared as a version of herself, a grandmother serving pancakes, not as the Aunt Jemima character.
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Advertising Age reported Johnson & Johnson is planning to launch multi-shade Band-Aids for racial diversity. Gee, where was the oh-so-progressive company when the guy who brought the brand to life was getting blackballed, blacklisted and blacked out?
Johnson & Johnson To Roll Out A Band-Aid In Several Shades For Racial Diversity
In Instagram post, Band-Aid hints at a multi-shade product coming next year, succeeding a similar line scrapped more than a decade ago
By Jack Neff
Johnson & Johnson will have a Band-Aid—several of varying shades, actually—for racial diversity, as it plans to launch a new multi-tone pack of bandages. But the new lines won’t arrive until next year, and it won’t be the first time it’s been tried.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Band-Aid said: “We hear you. We see you. We’re listening to you. We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, collaborators and community in the fight against racism, violence and injustice. We are committed to taking actions to create tangible change for the black community. We are committed to launching a range of bandages in light, medium and deep shades of Brown and Black skin tones that embrace the beauty of diverse skin.”
In an email, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos. said Band-Aid plans to launch a range of bandages in light, medium and deep shades of brown in its most popular style, Flexible Fabric, next year.
The Instagram post elicited numerous comments along the lines of “what took so long?” for a brand that’s celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. In 2005, actually, Band-Aid did launch a line with multiple skin tones called Perfect Blend, but it was discontinued “due to lack of interest,” the spokeswoman said, adding: “We are excited to bring back a similar product with improved comfort and flexibility.”
Band-Aid also sells Clear Strips, designed for use by people with a variety of skin tones, she said. And the brand sells a 120-count Family Pack that includes light and dark shades. Other brands, including Tru-Colour and Curad also market bandages for varying skin tones.
Another theme in Instagram comments for Band-Aid was: “Give money.” While the brand itself hasn’t made any philanthropic pledge in recent weeks, J&J Chairman-CEO Alex Gorsky did last week pledge $10 million over three years for “fighting racism and injustice in America.”