Friday, December 31, 2021

15660: The Year In Review—The Rise Of Human Heat Shields.

 

Adland in 2021 could be headlined: The Rise of Human Heat Shields.

 

The Human Heat Shields phenomenon emerged through increased appointing and/or hiring of Chief Diversity Officers with a variety of lofty titles, which allowed for surreptitiously spiking minority representation at senior management levels.

 

McCann Worldgroup, Ogilvy and Wieden + Kennedy named Global DE&I Officers. Publicis Groupe and Wunderman Thompson boosted US and EMEA CDOs, respectively. Hill Holliday, Merkle, The Richards Group, VaynerX, Universal McCann and Ad Council were among the numerous White advertising enterprises that added regular CDOs. The Martin Agency invented a DE&I PR Officer. Of course they did.

 

Omnicom Pioneer of Diversity John Wren boasted that the White holding company had “doubled its DE&I leads since last summer”—emphasizing that all practice leaders now have a DE&I Human Heat Shield on staff. Of course they do.

 

The arguably most outrageous Human Heat Shield scheme starred Kat Gordon, who claimed a CDO role—cleverly titled Creative Entrepreneur In Residence—for a White advertising agency sponsoring and consulting with her 3% Movement. In short, Gordon leveraged divertsity, cronyism and privilege for personal gain, presenting the maneuver as pseudo inclusive innovation. Of course she did.

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic pushed on, everyone proceeded to exclusively delegate DE&I duties to Human Heat Shields—leading to a new form of contact-free diversity for White people in Adland. (As well as a seemingly endless stream of redundant how-to-reach-DE&I-Nirvana divertorials.)

 

So, can meaningful and measurable results be expected from Human Heat Shields today? For a prediction, it’s worth revisiting the 2009 Advertising Age interview with Sanford Moore that featured the exchange directly below.

 

Ad Age: You’ve called chief diversity officers “pimps.” Why?

 

Mr. Moore: Let’s call them diversity parasites. They do nothing to help. If they do any good, where are the Black executives in the organizations that they’re hired to? Besides themselves, who else is there?

 

The diversity officers, I mean they’re window dressing. They don’t have power, they can’t hire. But it’s not just diversity officers. It’s lawyers and diversity consultants and people that feed off of the exclusion to Black people. It’s like blood diamonds. These people profit off of the blood that Black people have spent trying to break into and achieve success on Madison Avenue. They do nothing to help. They just get paid to run interference, to create meaningless dialogue.

 

In closing, don’t envision the rise of Human Heat Shields to ignite a rise of humans of color in Adland.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

15659: Simon Says A Whole Lot Of Nothing…

Campaign published a perspective from 4As EVP Talent Equity and Inclusion Simon Fenwick, who managed to type roughly 600 words without a single original thought. Hilariously, Fenwick opened by referencing the trade organization’s second annual Equity & Inclusion Congress, an event that undoubtedly accomplished as much as the current US Congress. Pathetically, the piece was headlined, “More talk, more action”—the perfect summation for most Chief Diversity Officers, regardless of their title. That is, CDOs deliver lots of peppy talk riddled with clich├ęd jargon, as well as plenty of poseur action in the form of congressional affairs and award soirees—all of which results in no meaningful or measurable progress.

 

The divertorial included a Freudian typo worth noting: “But my larger reflections are about how we are more broady making headway on DE&I resources and investments, as well as the intentionality behind these initiatives.” Broady means that advocating for gender diversity—ie, promoting White women—continues to be the primary, secondary and tertiary objective.

 

More talk, more action

 

By Simon Fenwick

 

Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is a business imperative.

 

This fall, the 4A’s hosted our second annual Equity & Inclusion Congress, inviting agency and brand leaders to convene and reflect on the progress we’ve made against commitments to drive change.

 

As a new focus on systemic racism in the workplace surged in 2020, tangible traction on DE&I initiatives became a top priority in marketing and advertising. This year, the Congress set out to collect and share the latest diversity data and discuss how the industry is sustaining accountability.

 

As revealed in this year’s data, progress is happening – but slowly. The data showed minor improvements in terms of tenure, ethnicity, race and gender. We saw employees with one to two and two to four years of tenure increase, as well as employees with six to 10 years and 10-plus years of tenure grow by 1.2% and 1.4%, respectively. Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx populations grew slightly across the industry as well.

 

But my larger reflections are about how we are more broady making headway on DE&I resources and investments, as well as the intentionality behind these initiatives.

 

While conversations between diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) professionals and their HR peers were fruitful, it did feel at times like we were speaking in an echo chamber. Unfortunately, attendance was reduced this year, and the lack of executive leadership was notable. That, in my opinion, likely impeded the overall progress made over the past 12 months.

 

As we all know, DEIB leaders can’t do it alone. We need business leaders to remain focused on making changes and following through on commitments. If they don’t, the authenticity of our industry’s commitments are questionable. Leaders from all roles must join the conversation and understand the multi-layered need to treat DEIB advancement as a top business priority.

 

It is time to stop promoting the business case for improving DEIB and start prioritizing recruitment and retention among the people who make the work happen.

 

There remains a clear need for collaboration among our teams and across agencies to stop talking about increasing DE&I numbers in the context of ROI. Today’s talent continues to cite DE&I as a top factor when choosing and remaining with an employer. Therefore, disrupting current norms could shore up an agency’s future.

 

The Great Resignation will not last, but it will leave an indelible mark on the industry and society if we don’t change our retention efforts. We must push beyond superficial solutions like happy hours. An era of Great Retention could be near, with flexibility as the new currency. We need to rebuild solid structural workplaces by disrupting policies that need to change.

 

As I reflect on 2021 and look to 2022 with mild optimism, I encourage leaders to take these four actions:

 

1. Don’t ask or expect the person you hired into a DEIB role to do all the work.

 

2. Be bold in your actions. Feel uncomfortable in yourself and with those around you.

 

3. Invest, invest, invest. Increase whatever budget you allocated in 2021 to DEIB next year, and increase it again in 2023. DEIB budgets are as important as any investment.

 

4. Be authentic. Stop making commitments you can’t or have no intention of delivering on.

 

We must continue to support DE&I leaders in the collective effort to make our industry inclusive for everyone. This responsibility does not fall on their shoulders alone. Invite open discourse with colleagues on how to improve current practices. There is only traction to be gained by just starting.

 

Simon Fenwick is EVP, talent equity and inclusion at the 4As.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

15658: Antonio Lucio Talks The Talk…Blah, Blah, Blah.

 

The Business of Marketing podcast from Adweek and SAP spotlighted 5S Diversity Founder Antonio Lucio in an episode titled, “The Future of Leadership, DEI and Sustainability According to Former Facebook CMO.” Countering the headline, Lucio’s interview lacked a clear vision for moving forward.

 

For starters, Facebook experience does not necessarily translate to diversity expertise.

 

Lucio is seeking to impact “marketing transformation through the lens of DEI”—yet he didn’t define what that means or how he might achieve it. And much of his mumbo-jumbo mentioned “women and people of color”—literally and figuratively putting gender diversity ahead of racial and ethnic equality.

 

Even the first name of Lucio’s company—5S—is an acronym for five sisters, inspired by his five daughters. The preference to tackle gender diversity is not new for Lucio.

 

The droning discussion probed on mentorship, sponsorship and training, aimlessly regurgitating other non-new topics.

 

Herein lies the challenge for Lucio. Like it or not, he failed to ignite meaningful action when his CMO titles provided the influence and authority to dictate progress. Can he hope to affect reformation and revolution without the political clout?

 

Will Lucio become a bona fide change agent—or just a frequent guest on podcasts? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

15657: COVID-19 | NBA-0.

A COVID-19 home test endorsed by the NBA? Can’t wait to see Kyrie Irving serving as spokesperson…

15656: C’MON WHITE MAN! Episode 57—Dimwitted Diversity Duality Dilemma.

(MultiCultClassics credits ESPN’s C’MON MAN! for sparking this semi-regular blog series.)

 

Campaign reported on an interview with Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, who continues navel-gazing over his ethnic identity. Pritchard shared that he has a diverse background—his father was of Mexican descent and his mother was of German descent—which allowed him to pass as Caucasian throughout his career. The conversation also touched on Pritchard’s pseudo DE&I defender persona, emphasizing that he has pushed White advertising agencies to diversify their staffs and storyboards. He admittedly declines, however, to enforce his requests by demanding actual quotas and terminating relationships with firms that fail to make meaningful and measurable progress. Like so many in Adland’s exclusive majority, Pritchard presents himself as a bold advocate—and he even accepts trophies and accolades for his faux achievements—yet his efforts yield roughly zero meaningful or measurable results. In short, when it comes to diversity-related pontificating and posing, Pritchard leans on his White side.

 

C’MON HALF-WHITE MAN!


Talk reveals P&G brand chief’s struggle with ethnic identity

 

It took P&G vet Marc Pritchard 30 years to embrace his ethnic heritage. An Instagram live talk suggested that he's still coming to terms with that identity.

 

By Marc Iskowitz

 

A public conversation Monday evening served as a proof point for why embracing one’s ethnicity remains difficult, even for Procter & Gamble’s brand chief Marc Pritchard.

 

Pritchard has proved himself an able champion of DE&I and one of its most articulate spokespeople. He’s been hailed for bringing multicultural advertising into the mainstream and has opened up about his own Mexican-American heritage.

 

But during a very candid conversation that took place on Instagram live with host Walter Geer, executive creative director of experience design at VMLY&R and an industry activist, one of Pritchard’s responses showed that he is still struggling with that identity.

 

About halfway through their fireside chat, Geer asked Pritchard about the films P&G brands have produced that shine a light on racial bias, such as “The Talk” and “Widen the Screen.” Given that these films have been praised in advertising circles for their rawness and candor, Geer wanted to know the internal process for getting to that type of work.

 

Pritchard recounted how six years ago, a group of Black executives from its African Ancestry Leadership Network approached him and questioned the firm’s commitment to people of color. Their advocacy served as a catalyst for a comprehensive revamp, in which the CPG giant changed its talent pipeline, recruiting and employee development, and took other steps to ensure there are people of color at every stage of its advertising.

 

At the time, haircare brand My Black is Beautiful was marking its 10-year anniversary. P&G decided to produce “The Talk” to highlight the tragedy of young Black men and women being killed in the United States.

 

“I can remember it as clearly today as ever, when I sat around the room, and I was the only white person in that room,” Pritchard recalled of the film’s screenings. “I was hearing stories that I’d never heard before and getting insights.”

 

The comment may have been more a reflection of ingrained habit than Freudian slip. Still, for Pritchard to describe himself as white was stunning, considering he had just spent the last 30 minutes talking about embracing his ethnic background and how he had (ostensibly) moved beyond the period during which he had to mask his true identity to advance his career.

 

His dad, whose biological father was named Gonzalez, was adopted by a man named Pritcher. Despite his English surname, Pritcher was also of Mexican descent. His father married a German woman.

 

“I had both Mexican and German heritage, but I could pass as Caucasian. And many times I also looked very Mexican as well,” Pritchard explained. “So I learned what that was like. And I embraced that pretty heavily as I grew up, mostly because my dad was so into the Chicano world. But when I got into my job, I suppressed it because of fear of judgment, fear of how people might perceive me.”

 

Code-switching — shifting one’s mode of speech or dress or hiding one’s personal background or beliefs as a way to advance in a working world where there are relatively few executives of color — is all too common in marketing.

 

Asked by Geer for the moment when he felt like he needed to “come out and own who you are, own your ethnicity,” Pritchard replied that it was very late in his career: “It was more than 30 years in. It was just recently.”

 

Indeed, just three years ago, at the 2018 AdColor Conference, Pritchard shared his personal journey to an external audience for the first time. During that conversation, he related how he came to grips with his Mexican-American background.

 

“My parents actually considered naming me Nick,” he said, recalling a story from his AdColor speech. “And I used to joke that I could have been Nicky Gonzalez. And I thought, ‘I don’t think I would’ve made chief brand officer with the name Nicky Gonzalez.’ So that privilege was not lost on me.”

 

Pritchard may have reached a new level of personal candor during Monday’s talk. But Geer, who said Pritchard agreed to their chat after Geer tagged him in a LinkedIn post earlier this year as an individual with the power to change the entire ad space, had an activist agenda as well.

 

He wanted to use his personal audience with Pritchard to get him to push for more change among brands that are perhaps fearful of taking the same steps as P&G — and, in turn, to encourage their agency partners to embrace multiculturalism to a greater extent.

 

“Would you be open to essentially tell vendors even right now that, ‘If you don’t hit these numbers by this certain date, we will have to reconsider your business with us?’” Geer asked.

 

Pritchard demurred. Nevertheless, he stressed that P&G’s brands are already holding their agencies accountable.

 

“When I ask [agencies] for their [diversity] numbers, that in and of itself is a powerful step forward because that means I’m watching and I listen and check every time we get together,” he responded. “I wanted to know, within our agencies, what’s their diversity profile? Where are they on women, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native, Indigenous? At every level in the planning, the account and the creative ranks?

 

“The reality is with agencies, what we’ve looked at is, ‘Here’s what we expect. And if we don’t see it, we start hiring additional agencies and new agencies,’” he continued.

 

P&G, Pritchard said, has made the same commitment internally. After realizing it only had 11% female representation behind the camera, “We said, ‘We want to be at 50/50 worldwide.’” P&G discloses on its website that 26% of its U.S. employee base is multicultural, versus its goal of 40%.

 

Pritchard also said he’s been frustrated by the slow pace of change. “The reason why is because there’s deeply embedded systemic issues that need to be broken down. And that’s where I really want to encourage the industry to keep going.”

 

While Pritchard stopped short of holding agencies to specific diversity levels, Geer nonetheless characterized the conversation as a success.

 

“All in all, it was a great conversation,” he said on Tuesday. “He was authentic and real. It showed a broader community of people of all colors that code-switching and passing is a very real thing.”

 

The fact that one of the most powerful individuals in advertising essentially kept his ethnicity to himself for 30 years and finally came out only three years ago “is a big deal,” Geer added. “Being able to get to where he is meant him not fully disclosing his identity to many people who, quite frankly, he said wouldn’t have allowed him to move further with his organization. That speaks to the greater problems many of us have in this industry.”

Monday, December 27, 2021

15655: Belated Kwanzaa Campaigns.

 

Despite the increased proclamations of advocacy for Black equality, few advertisers produced patronizing messages to commemorate Kwanzaa. MultiCultClassics managed to secure concepts for campaigns that were ultimately shelved by the creators, which are presented here for visitors’ viewing pleasure.

 


Sunday, December 26, 2021

15654: Pharmaceutical Advertising Side Effects Include Vomiting.

 

UDENYCA®—A high-value pegfilgrastim…? Wow, the copywriter must be proud of that breakthrough headline.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

15653: More Evidence That Digital Advertising Sucks.

 

Connect with a Merrill advisor today…on Christmas Day? And without social distancing and masks?

15652: Celebrating Another White Christmas In Adland.*

 

*Brought to you by systemic racism.

Friday, December 24, 2021

15651: McZwarte Piet Comes To Adland For The Holidays.

 

Advertising Age and Adweek reported that Mickey D’s is poised to dump or has dumped 20-year incumbent media agency OMD in favor of Starcom, essentially moving multi-million-dollar media buying and planning duties from Omnicom to Publicis Groupe. That’s the equivalent of Zwarte Piet sticking a lump of coal—or pink slip—into many OMD staffers’ stockings. Happy Holidays!

15650: Dicking Around At Adweek.

 

Here’s a questionable editorial choice at Adweek: a story spotlighting an ad for penile health is directly above an article for Dick’s.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

15649: No Peanuts, Just Nuts.

 

News sources reported that a British court ordered the ruler of Dubai to cough up roughly $730 million to his ex-wife and kids—rendering one of the biggest divorce settlements in UK history. It’s a safe bet that the ever-competitive Sir Martin Sorrell is seething over being beaten in another category—although he’ll contend his divorce settlement is peanuts compared to the Dubai dude.