Monday, November 30, 2020

15221: Delayed WTF 48—Stan Richards & The Peaceable Kingdom.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.


The Stan Richards video apology to the University of Texas at Austin inspired additional pondering.


During the monologue, Richards mentioned authoring a book—The Peaceable Kingdom: Building a Company without Factionalism, Fiefdoms, Fear and Other Staples of Modern Business—which presents the vision and mission behind The Richards Group. Regarding his culturally clueless campaign critique, Richards declared, “I failed to live up to my own philosophy.”


The Peaceable Kingdom was published in 2001, which is technically at least two generational gyrations of industry diversity debating ago. That is, the last 19 years have seen: 1) the exclusivity examinations that sparked around 2006 when the New York City Commission on Human Rights and The Madison Avenue Project put heat on White advertising agencies, and; 2) the current cultural consternations fueled by the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements.


The Peaceable Kingdom publishing even predates The Richards Group’s foray into multicultural marketing.


On a semi-related note, considering that The Richards Group launched in 1976, the Dallas-based shop was around to witness Blacks being hired after the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the New York State Commission on Human Rights applied pressure on Madison Avenue to diversify in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


So, what’s the point?


For starters, The Peaceable Kingdom makes zero references to diversity, except when discussing cross-functional collaboration or segregated partnerships with agencies abroad. The tome features no commitments to an inclusive workplace from a racial or ethnic perspective.


Technically, Stan Richards did not fail to live up to his philosophy. The problem is, his philosophy as articulated in The Peaceable Kingdom never took a proactive position—or any position, for that matter—on diversity.


“I can unequivocally say that I have never used racist slurs about any ethnic group, nor tolerated it from anyone around me,” insisted Richards. “And I certainly do not support White supremacy in any form or fashion.”


There is no need to doubt Richards’ claims. Yet while he may not support White supremacy in any form or fashion, he has benefited from White privilege in all its forms and fashions. What’s more, he has likely “unconsciously” perpetuated it.


Richards is not a card-carrying member of the KKK. Rather, he’s a lifetime representative of the CCC—Culturally Clueless Caucasians—in a professional field that has been publicly recognized for unfair and discriminatory hiring practices since at least the 1960s. Indeed, the advertising industry has practiced systemic racism from the beginning.


Was the Home Depot quip “the biggest mistake of [Richards’] life,” per the old man’s contention? Nope. It was merely symptomatic of a deeper defect from an alleged industry leader who should have known better—and done better over the course of his career.


The true issue is not what Stan Richards said or did, but what he has failed to say or do throughout his reign in an exclusive kingdom.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

15220: Heard Any Creepy Critter Stories Lately?

BugMD should get swatted and exterminated for this advertisement that plays off people’s pest paranoia.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

15219: Adlands Of The World Do Not Represent The World.

Once again, Ads of the World unintentionally—yet perfectly—reflects the world of advertising. That is, topics like COVID-19 receive extreme attention for award-nabbing opportunities. Even President Donald Trump spikes when awards opportunities emerge. Of course, White women demand attention. As for diversity—or whatever ADCOLOR® represents—well, it’s a limited-time event where White folks pay lip service in the form of tax-deductible donations.

Friday, November 27, 2020

15218: Black Fridays Matter…?

A number of advertising agencies turned Black Friday into a Black promotional event. Sorry, not buying the ad shops’ sincerity… or originality. Hey, Black History Month is celebrated on the shortest month of the year, so supporting Black businesses for only a day sounds about right.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

15217: Thanksgiving Snacks And Snubs.

Advertising Age reported on a Thanksgiving gimmick from Popeyes and Uber Eats—a “Churkey” meal featuring chicken and fixings in a turkey-shaped container. Oddly enough, the deal is not available on Thanksgiving, as Popeyes is closed on the holiday. Further confusing is how the “Churkey” conflicts with the annual Popeyes promotion for pre-ordered Cajun turkey. Of course, neither offering is being cooked by Annie the Chicken Queen—who is likely spending Thanksgiving with Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and other “retired” advertising icons.

A ‘Churkey’ is Uber Eats And Popeyes’ Answer To Those Who Prefer Chicken For Thanksgiving.


Brands team up to create a special meal for those with a hankering for a different kind of bird (and a lot less work)


By Ann-Christine Diaz


Why spend hours roasting a turkey when in a matter of minutes you can have—Churkey? Uber Eats has teamed up with Popeyes to offer diners an alternative to your typical time-consuming bird. In a digital and in-app promotion, the brands are promoting the new “Churkey” meal, which consists of an eight-peace family meal, one large side and four biscuits, for about $19.99.


To drive home the point that the offering is the perfect seasonal stand-in for Thanksgiving fowl, Uber Eats and Popeyes’ digital ads depict the meal in a turkey-shaped container, which opens to reveal the various pieces of fried chicken goodness. That said, the Churkey meal doesn’t actually come in a turkey and isn’t even available on Thanksgiving (Popeyes restaurants will be closed that day). But the brands suggest it will make a suitable “Friendsgiving” meal.


The effort was conceived with Special Group, the agency behind Uber Eats’ recent “Tonight I’ll Be Eating” campaign depicting unexpected duos like Mark Hamill and Sir Patrick Stewart as well as Simone Biles and Jonathan Van Ness. The agency conceived the ads, which feature witty lines like Turkey is great when it's’ chicken” and “Turkey never tasted so chicken.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

15216: Not A-OK With AKQA BS…

Adweek spotlighted a Nike film from AKQA that allegedly celebrates Black women, featuring Brazilian singer Ludmilla and dance troupe The Turmalinas Negras. Celebrating Black women by showing a song and dance routine? Wow. How stereotypical original. The piece demonstrates that AKQA is just as capable as its new sister, Grey, of producing patronizing pap. Oh, and AKQA is hardly qualified to trumpet itself as a gender defender. Perhaps someone should inquire about how AKQA celebrates Black women in its own hallways—keeping in mind that the subsegment is woefully underrepresented in the field.


Nike Celebrates the Power of Dance and Enduring Strength of Black Women


Film by AKQA uses choreography to tell a story of ‘birth, connection, roots, protection, recognition and awakening’


By Sara Spary


Nike has launched a beautifully choreographed film titled “The Awakening in Dance: An Experience in Motion” to celebrate Black women and encourage new generations to explore different forms of sport and movement.


The spot, which features Brazilian singer Ludmilla and dance troupe The Turmalinas Negras, was created by AKQA and Think Eva, with direction from Juh Almeida.


It aims to show the “empowerment and manifestation of Black culture” through dance, according to AKQA said, with the choreography designed to show six important moments: birth, connection, roots, protection, recognition and awakening.


Members of the Nike Training Club will also have access to exclusive content that explains the steps of the choreography via short videos so they can reproduce the movements and “connect with the transforming power of dance” as part of the campaign.


The ad is Nike’s latest work centered around the theme of black empowerment.


In May, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests, the brand released a 60-second ad titled “For Once, Don’t Do It” from Wieden+Kennedy Portland that took direct aim at racism.


“Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism,” the earlier ad said. “Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t sit back and be silent.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

15215: White Advertising Agencies Desperately—Yet Deceptively—Seeking Minority Talent.

Is anybody wondering why White advertising agencies that are dramatically downsizing and mightily struggling to stay afloat continue posting job listings for senior-level positions like Creative Directors? Is it because these shops have major clients demanding diverse staffers to service their accounts—and the White advertising agencies must desperately woo minorities to keep the business? Hey, hiring Chief Diversity Officers and other human heat shields can only create a limited fa├žade…



Monday, November 23, 2020

15214: Shifty Shades Of Grey.

Advertising Age published a lengthy report on reactions to the AKQA-Grey shit pile, with WPP backpedaling on a name change after apparent outrage from Grey staffers and longtime client Procter & Gamble. One key executive to express displeasure over the proposed renaming was P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, who called WPP CEO Mark Read to complain. “P&G is looking forward to continuing to work with Grey and their talented people, who we deeply value,” stated Pritchard. Okay, proposing to change the masthead to AKQA Group—big problem. That Grey is White—no problem. Pritchard continues to expose his true priorities while hiding behind patronizing propaganda. There’s a name for that: hypocrite.


AKQA, Grey Merger Naming Sparks Employee Uproar And ‘Upsets’ P&G


By Lindsay Rittenhouse


When WPP announced it was merging Grey and AKQA, its press release said that “The AKQA Group will launch with the AKQA and Grey brands, which will be integrated over time into a single company.” The combined 6,000-employee agency would be dubbed AKQA Group, leading to media reports, including in Ad Age, that the Grey brand would be killed off in favor of the digital agency's moniker. Campaign, which broke the story, initially wrote that the formation of AKQA Group “means the end of the Grey brand” which would eventually “be dropped.”


“Grey has evolved many times over its 103 years and this is the next step in its evolution,” Grey Worldwide CEO Michael Houston told Ad Age on the day of the announcement, Nov. 11. “As someone who works in the business of brands, while names are obviously important, brands are much more than their names as well.”


Enter Procter & Gamble. According to three people close to the business, though the client was briefed ahead of time on the merger itself, its executives were distressed to read in trade papers that the Grey name would be abandoned in favor of AKQA. This prompted P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard to call WPP CEO Mark Read, demanding to know why he wasn’t informed that the Grey brand would be retired. And P&G is a client WPP can’t afford to anger: According to Ad Age Datacenter estimates, P&G spent $4.3 billion on measured media in the U.S. in 2019.


Grey has worked with the consumer goods giant for seven decades. In the past few years, Grey has been behind some of its most defining work, tackling toxic masculinity in “The Best a Man Can Be” for Gillette; and recently working with Grey-backed Cartwright to urge the silent majority to be anti-racist in “The Choice” for P&G.


Though Pritchard declined to comment on the call to Read, he did confirm through a spokesperson that he “was upset” by news reports saying the Grey name would be “going away. He was told that this is not the case and that Grey ‘will remain intact’ and the Grey name is not going away,” the spokesperson said.


WPP, in fact, maintains that the AKQA Group integration is going to take time “based on client and market needs.” The timetable, the company says, “will vary by market and client,” and the Grey name will remain “for some time—for as long as it makes sense to do so in each case.”


So was this a case of WPP walking back a decision to accommodate an unhappy client, or a was it a vague communication that confused the press, clients and many of Grey’s rank-and-file employees?


That’s, well, a gray area.


One executive with knowledge of the situation insists there was a plan to ditch Grey entirely that was “changed to separate brands because of P&G displeasure.” Another said that WPP leaders added “Group” to the AKQA name for the merged agency as a concession to include a part of the Grey name, as in Grey Group.


A WPP spokesman responded in a statement: “Major clients were of course consulted on the plans in advance. As always, we listened to those clients, who helped to shape our approach as we bring together the capabilities of two great agencies.”


Whatever the case, P&G seems to be appeased. “P&G is looking forward to continuing to work with Grey and their talented people, who we deeply value,” Pritchard added in his statement. “We’re expecting enhanced capabilities brought to Grey, and for the merger to be largely seamless to our brands and company.”


Employee ‘chaos’


Internally, there was “chaos,” as one exec describes it, over the disposition of the Grey name, according to five executives interviewed by Ad Age, who say it wasn’t the merger that surprised employees and clients, but the positioning of AKQA as the dominant shop.


Those seeking clarity were thwarted at a virtual “global town hall” with AKQA Founder Ajaz Ahmed and Grey Worldwide CEO Michael Houston, according to a Grey exec who attended. The exec says that employees expecting a town hall were surprised to instead encounter a pre-recorded broadcast between Ahmed and Houston as well as John Patroulis and Justine Armour, Grey’s worldwide and New York chief creative officers, respectively. No one was given a chance to ask questions of agency leaders, which galled many Grey employees, this person says, who were “blindsided.”


“They made a mess of this and clients got upset,” said another person familiar with the matter. “Grey people are furious and resisted completely.”


WPP declined to comment.


Board pressure?


According to two execs close to the matter, WPP’s directors have been twisting Read’s arm to get the ball rolling on further consolidation moves before the end of the year—pushing him to merge Grey and AKQA and, most recently, fold Geometry into VMLY&R. One exec says the board criticized Read for not doing enough in the two years since the 2018 mergers of VML and Y&R and Wunderman and J. Walter Thompson.


The company’s board of directors is run by Chairman Robert Quarta and this year appointed new directors WPP Chief Financial Officer John Rogers, former Apple Retail Senior VP Angela Ahrendts, UCB Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer Sandrine Dufour and Crossword Cybersecurity Founder-CEO Tom Ilube.


Business Insider reported in October that the WPP board hired global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to help return the holding company to growth, and that it would be rolling out a plan to do so in the coming weeks. It’s likely the mergers are part of that plan.


For the recent third quarter, WPP reported a 9.8% decline in revenue to $3.8 billion, or a 5.5% decrease in like-for-like sales. By region, the U.S. saw a 5.5% decline in revenue less pass-through costs in the third quarter while the U.K. fell 6.5%, Germany decreased 1.8%, Greater China slipped 16.7% and India declined 16.3%.


When asked to comment whether the board is pressuring Read to act swiftly, WPP said only that “bringing together AKQA and Grey is in line with our strategy outlined in 2018—and driven by the executive team—to create fewer, stronger agency brands that offer outstanding creativity allied with technology expertise. It follows other successful mergers including Wunderman Thompson, VMLY&R and BCW which are among WPP’s strongest-performing companies.”


Some people are betting on the mergers, and Read’s overall strategy to strengthen both its creative and digital agencies by integrating them together. “Given Mark Read’s background with Wunderman and the well-reported challenges of the holding companies, these moves, although appearing desperate to some, may be an effort to survive the competition of the more nimble indies,” says one former WPP exec.


As Ad Age earlier reported, independent agencies—boasting a more nimble and affordable model that can get work out the door faster—are becoming more of a threat to holding companies as they increasingly take their business.


“I wasn’t surprised to see Grey and AKQA combined together,” says Forrester Principal Analyst Jay Pattisall, adding that the merger of Geometry and VMLYR will bring critical commerce capabilities that clients are demanding in the pandemic to a digital player.


“This is just the continuation of a trend that started a few years ago with marketers really looking for streamlined solutions,” Pattisall says. “We see that campaigns perform much higher when [all disciplines] are integrated and leveraging each other.”


On AKQA and Grey, “the only thing that surprised me was how long it took,” he says.


Speed bumps


The merger had, in fact, been suspected by most people in the ad world since the formation of VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson. Many people thought the debut of GreyKQA or AKQGrey would be next. In some countries like Denmark, Grey and AKQA have already been sharing office space.


Though Read argued in an earlier interview with Ad Age that he didn’t want to create “a linguistic tongue twister” by combining the agency names, two people close to the matter say it was AKQA’s Ahmed, who was appointed CEO of the combined company, who refused to work under the name Grey.


“The original thinking was that Grey, being the bigger name, would absorb AKQA but Ajaz said ‘no way,’” says one exec. Since the WPP board was giving Read “an extremely hard time” to move ahead with the merger, says the exec, the Grey team led by Houston, now global president of AKQA, ended up caving.


WPP declined to comment on that report.


Still, while the decision may be the right one, it could cost Grey talent, like the ones P&G made clear it so "deeply values." 


“These mergers, which are actually takeovers, make people extremely anxious and unhappy,” says one former WPP executive who worked across several of the holding company’s agencies including Grey New York. A Grey employee adds, “I don’t know any high-level creatives who aren’t considering going independent right now.”


Contributing: Jack Neff

Sunday, November 22, 2020

15213: Don’t Be Understanding This Campaign Concept…

Completely misinterpreted this campaign from Brazil described as follows:


The feeling of invulnerability is one of the main reasons for recklessness in traffic. Under the concept “Don’t Be the Next Victim”, the campaign created for Detran/RN (Traffic Department of Rio Grande do Norte – Brazil) bring young people in mourning for their own death, causing a reflection on the need to avoid tragedies.


Um, thought it was warning about the hazards of DWB



Saturday, November 21, 2020

15212: WPPVMLY&RG—An Acronym For Shit.

MediaPost reported WPP continues to dump more turds onto the VMLY&R shit pile, adding the fecal matter known as Geometry. No plans to extend the masthead with a G. Although it’s a wonder that the White holding company doesn’t simplify everything in the overflowing toilet to WPP—and let it be an acronym for Worldwide Poo Poo. Or White People Preferred.


WPP Folds Commerce Shop Geometry Into VMLY&R


By Steve McClellan


In its latest agency consolidation move, WPP has folded commerce shop Geometry into global agency network VMLY&R. Geometry and VMLY&R’s existing commerce team are being merged into a new entity called VMLY&R Commerce.


The agency said that VMLY&R Commerce will operate as a distinct company within the VMLY&R global network. It will be led by Global CEO Beth Ann Kaminkow, currently Global CEO of Geometry.


The move comes amid sharp growth in ecommerce activity by consumers as a result of the pandemic. With commerce becoming a cornerstone for many brands—particularly linking ecommerce and off-line commerce activities—the new operation is designed to help clients built out commerce capabilities to drive brand equity and conversion.


Kaminkow stated, “Consumer experiences today are centered on commerce, making it increasingly important to our clients’ marketing and media decisions. As the pandemic accelerates new consumer behaviors and expectations, commerce is fast becoming the next channel for the most creative engagements and experiences.”


She added that the new offering provides clients “creative commerce at scale, harnessing data and technology to build brands and sell products across channels.”


Geometry’s existing offering includes its proprietary “Living Commerce” platform that offers strategic commerce consultation, development and activation across retail, design, experiential and innovation disciplines.


Jon Cook, VMLY&R Global CEO, noted that, “We have been partnering closely across many clients and it is clear we share a vision and belief in the role commerce plays in a consumer’s journey and creating connected brands. Importantly, we both have a deep passion for leading our businesses with a focus on culture—both internally and with our client partners which is essential in creating a new company built for the future.”


VMLY&R Commerce will be up and running by January although the full integration of teams and assets will continue through 2021.


The move follows similar combinations within WPP’s agency portfolio over the past couple of years, including VMLY&R which is the product of the merger of VML and Young & Rubicam. Just last week, the holding company folded Grey with AKQA to form AKQA Group. The moves are part of a broader strategy by the holding company to make company operations more effective and efficient and easier to understand and navigate by clients.

Friday, November 20, 2020

15211: A Diversity Of Chief Diversity Officer Drivel…

AgencySpy posted on the latest Chief Diversity Officer appointments at White advertising agencies. Kansas City-based Barkley and New York/San Francisco/Detroit-based Organic gushed over their hires. Of course they did. Why, the shops aim to redefine diversity, inclusion, equity, belonging and whatever kumbaya qualifier they can imagine. Of course they will. Based on the leadership depicted at the company website, Barkley has a long way to go. Organic doesn’t show its personnel—or anything of value, for that matter—at its website. Adland is displaying a diversity of diversion. Of course it is.


Revolving Door Roundup: Barkley … and Organic


By Erik Oster


Last week was a busy one in the ad industry, including hires we didn’t around to covering at Barkley and Organic…


Kansas City-based independent agency Barkley hired Adam Miller as director, diversity and inclusion.


Miller will be responsible for recruitment and overseeing diversity, equity and belonging across the agency.


“Recruitment is more than just offering a referral program. Attracting a diverse population of talent starts with creating a space for people to bring their authentic selves to work every day,” Miller said in a statement. “At Barkley, we will be reverse engineering the model of recruitment, retention, and culture.”


A Kansas State University grad and Fulbright Scholar, Miller arrives at Barkley from the world of education. He was previously a postsecondary coach at Kauffman Scholars and director of the Green Fellowship program at Teach for America, a position he instrumental in elevating to the national level. Also active in the Kansas City community, Kansas City community, Miller promotes diversity through The BrandLab and as a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters. He’s also co-owner of The AV Collection, a virtual winery which utilizes winemaking to give back to the community through various charities and drives inclusion in the winemaking industry.


“By embracing everything that makes our partners who they are and what makes them unique to the world around them, we create the conditions and capacity to help creative, original thinking thrive,” Barkley CEO Jeff King said in a statement. “As an agency, we believe that equity and belonging are essential to the changes we want to make and the agency culture that we want to foster, and we believe that Adam is the person to help us make those changes.”


Organic, part of the Omnicom Precision Marketing Group, also invested in supporting its DEI efforts with a new hire.


The agency hired Danielle Sherman as director of people and culture. Sherman will focus on the agency’s employee experience, acting as an employee advocate to ensure Organic employees feel represented and empowered, while bolstering the agency’s existing emotional intelligence-based training. She will serve as part of Organic’’ female-led leadership team, reporting directly to CEO Cathy Butler.


“Danielle brings a wealth of experience where it matters most — the intersection of our employee experience, DE&I and agency culture,” Butler said in a statement. “She embodies all of our core values — relentless, curious, optimistic and kind — and I can’t wait to see how she continues to shape Organic into an agency we are all proud to call ours.”


Sherman joins Organic with over a decade of experience, most recently climbing the ranks at Barbarian from manager of HR and talent to director of people and culture. While at Barbarian, she helped lead the agency to 3%-certification and increase representation to include nearly 50% of employees from diverse backgrounds.


“Being a part of a company that truly leads from the lens of the employee experience and leans into culture, is devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion and the wellness space is like striking gold for any People leader. In my new role, I am excited to build upon the incredible foundation that Cathy and the leadership team at Organic have cultivated over the last 18 months,” Sherman said in a statement. “Looking into the future, as COVID follows us into the new year, organizations that focus on supporting their employees during these challenging times is a clear differentiator in the industry. Our goal is to make sure that Organic is the gold standard.”