Thursday, June 30, 2022

15875: White Lies On Black Recruitment…?

Advertising Age spotlighted a status report from Three’s A Crowd, an LA-based creative collective that challenged a group of White advertising agencies in 2020 to boost Black leadership within their offices. The report showed that among 23 shops engaging in the performative exercise, an increase in Black executives was countered by a decrease in total Black leadership. Read the article below for the fuzzy math.


The numbers and percentages sugarcoat reality. In 2021, Three’s A Crowd revealed that the number of participating White advertising agencies had dropped from 71 to 22. So perhaps that there are now 23 shops involved demonstrates progress. Yet only 30% of the agencies claimed to be “satisfied or somewhat satisfied” with their diversity-related achievements, down from 50% in the previous year.


In summation, the latest divershitty dispatch underscores the hard truth: White people cannot sustain interest in anti-racist objectives—and they cannot work with continuous intention for diversity, equity and inclusion. But they do a brilliant job of twisting data to perpetuate the illusion of committed concern.


Oh, and there’s a sharp increase in royalty-free stock photography usage to illustrate content—as evidenced by the image above from the Ad Age article.


Ad Agency Group’s Effort To Boost Black Leadership Shows Progress—And Regression


Report for 23 shops in the In for 13 Initiative shows an increase in Black executives since 2020, but total Black leadership slipped last year


By Tony Hao


A Los Angeles creative collective named Three’s a Crowd has released a two-year report examining its participating agencies’ progress toward increasing the number of Black leaders in the industry—and the findings show both progress and regression.


The In for 13 Initiative, launched in 2020, is composed of 23 agencies and has a goal to boost Black leadership within its membership to 13% by 2023. In that, there has been significant progress. Among agencies within the group are Stagwell’s 72andSunny, WPP’s AKQA, Interpublic Group of Cos. Deutsch LA and Huge and independent Zambezi.


According to the report, Black executives consist of 6.1% of total leadership across the agencies—a 96% increase from 3.1% in 2020. In addition, 8.9% of total agency employees in 2022 are Black, a 34% increase from the 6.7% in 2020, the report found.


Now for the bad news: The volume of Black leadership has shrunk compared to 2021. Last year, total Black leadership within the group sat at 6.5%, slightly higher than the number in 2022. Only one-third of all surveyed agencies are “satisfied or somewhat satisfied” with their progress in promoting diversity. In 2021, the number of satisfied agencies was 50%.


The report attributes the setback to agencies’ trouble with retention. In 2022, 40% of all participating agencies reported that retaining talent is their biggest challenge. This number jumped from 23% in 2021, before what the report calls the “Great Resignation.”


As the effort to build Black leadership, in the language of the report, moves beyond being “transactional,” agencies are starting to see success in the impact of Black talent beyond the professional world. Half of the agencies have reported a “change in culture” in their workspace, a 9% increase from 2021. More significantly, 25% of the agencies have reported they have contributed to an “impact in [the] Black community,” a 100% increase from the previous year.


Addressing the future of Black talent development, the report observes that “agencies are moving to more sponsorship programs and continued focus on finding talent outside the industry.” In addition, the priority for agencies has shifted from providing direct guidance to being “part of something bigger.” In 2022, 27% of the agencies value being “part of larger industry change,” an increase from last year’s number of 22%.

15874: Closing Out June With More Juneteenth Hijinks…?


Hopefully, this is not a Juneteenth cake—although Walmart would’ve insisted that it perfectly complements their limited edition ice cream.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Another quick scan of the IBM scheme spotlighted in the previous post revealed the Advertising Playbook for AI Fairness 360. The 55-page document—which reads like something crafted by IT wonks and pseudo-strategists—stated the following in its introduction:


In the summer of 2021, IBM Watson Advertising initiated a research effort using tools developed by IBM Research to explore bias in advertising – to identify and mitigate bias within campaign data, algorithms, and outcomes. That research uncovered that discrimination could exist in the tools we employ.


Gee, what prompted IBM to consider the subject matter in 2021? After all, it’s hardly a new area of investigation.


Dr. Timnit Gebru, a recognized leader in AI ethics research, co-authored a paper critiquing facial recognition technology that reportedly got her ousted by Google in 2020.


Deborah Raji has been studying AI since at least 2018.


Were any experts like Gebru and Raji integrated into IBM’s endeavor? And what does IBM DEI really look like? In a 2021 Forbes interview, IBM CHRO Nickle LaMoreaux mouthed the common dodge, “We are extremely proud of our diversity, equity, and inclusion history. That being said, we're not nearly where we want to be.” From a discrimination perspective, the tech giant has a checkered past and present—and only recently bailed out of the facial recognition business.


This is a familiar game plan too, replete with diversionary stunts that block the truth and ultimately defeat diversity. It all makes the Advertising Playbook for AI Fairness 360—and IBM—appear fishy, fuzzy and fucked up.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

15872: IBM Has A BS Problem.

This IBM scheme is beyond bizarre, presenting the Advertising Fairness Pledge to address bias in advertising technology and data collection.


Sorry, but advertising does not have a bias problem—rather, advertising agencies have a bias problem. Technology and data collection may represent collateral damages. The root problem involves Adland’s talent exclusivity and the associated cultural cluelessness, built on a firm foundation of systemic racism.


With this divershitty initiative, IBM is declaring, “Let’s Create”—a heat shield.


Monday, June 27, 2022

15871: Miller Lite ‘Ale Wives’ Ails From Revisionist History.


Advertising Age reported on a patronizing promotion from Miller Lite—Ale Wives—saluting White women in brewing. The stunt spotlights Mary Lisle, noted as the first female brewer in America.


Okay, but what about all the Black women who helped the American beer industry grow and thrive through slavery? Who the hell does Miller Lite think was harvesting hops?


(It should also be noted that one of the first Black brewers is identified as Peter Hemings—who was a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson, along with his sister, Sally Hemings [no comment]—and that he crafted beer around 1820. Given that Lisle is credited with running her Philadelphia brewery in 1734, it shows how White women achieved a beer milestone roughly 100 years before Blacks.)


Regardless, it’s also highly hypocritical for a women’s tribute to come from the brand that brought you bikini catfights and breast-and-body painting.


See How Miller Lite Redesigned Cans To Honor Women In Brewing


Limited-time cans honor pioneering female brewer Mary Lisle via 'There’s no beer without women' campaign


By Yadira Gonzalez


This Fourth of July, rather than praise America’s founding fathers, Miller Lite will honor the “Ale Wives,” releasing limited-edition cans in homage to the forgotten women who brought beer to America.


The Molson Coors-owned brand will produce a limited supply of its classic white cans that carry the name Mary Lisle instead of Miller Lite, as a way to honor the woman whom the brand describes as the “country’s first recorded female brewer and her revolutionary contributions to the American brewing industry.”


In 1734, Lisle ran a Philadelphia brewery, but “through time, women were excluded from the industry as others saw an opportunity to cash in on the nation’s love of beer, forcing most women out of the business altogether,” according to Miller Lite.


‘Ale Wives’


Cans include Lisle’s name and face, the tagline “There’s no beer without women,” as well as a brief history of Lisle’s contributions to the beer industry.


“When people think of beer, they think of men; there are very few people who realize that we actually have women to thank for beer in America,” Elizabeth Hitch, senior director of marketing for Miller Lite, said in a statement. The phrase “Ale Wives” is a historical term referring to women who made beer—Miler Lite calls them “the unsung heroes who brought beer to America in the first place.” According to the brand, a recent poll found that only 3% of Americans know that fact.


Agencies on the project include DDB and Alma and Molson Coors PR agency ICF Next.


The cans come during peak beer drinking season: Fourth of July weekend has been known to prompt more beer purchases than any other holiday, given that many families and friends gather for cookouts, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Americans spend more than $1 billion on Fourth of July beer and wine, according to the WalletHub. Miller Lite sees the holiday as the perfect time to school drinkers en masse on women in beer history.


“There’s no better time to celebrate and put women back into the history books of beer than on the single largest beer selling weekend in America,” Hitch said.


Miller Lite will donate $5 for each case purchased on the online retail sites Drizly and Instacart from June 27 to July 4 to the nonprofit organization Pink Boots Society, which inspires and supports women in the brewing profession. Miller Lite is pledging up to $250,000 to the nonprofit.


Men dominate the industry, making up 76% of craft brewery owners according to findings from the Brewers Association, a craft beer trade group.


“Women played a pivotal role in bringing beer to America as the first brewers here and are often underrepresented in the industry,” Erin Wallace, Pink Boot Society Board Member, said in a statement, adding that the group's mission “is to assist, inspire and encourage women and non-binary individuals in the fermented beverage industry through education.”


Fans can get their hands on Mary Lisle cans by attending an event hosted by Miller Lite in Lisle’s hometown of Philadelphia at the Devil’s Den bar on June 30, where it will be unveiling the limited-time cans. Like many other Miller Lite campaigns, the brand will run a sweepstakes, giving drinkers a chance to win a limited edition Mary Lisle two-pack. Those who are 21 years or older can enter by visiting through July 4.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

15870: Not Liking LinkedIn B2Bullshit.

This LinkedIn B2B campaign is apparently deliberate in its typo-ridden execution. It’s a wonder they correctly spelled B2B…


Saturday, June 25, 2022

15869: Acrobat Helps You Bend Over Backwards For Clients.


Start your next client-creative relationship in winning style—by emailing a PDF. Perfect.

Friday, June 24, 2022

15868: Pepsi On Hold Fest—Hold On, It’s Bullshit.


This Pepsi scampaign was allegedly ‘published’ by students from a portfolio school in Ecuador. It was explained as follows:


Every month, people spend an average 92 minutes on hold calls, and even with all the great music we can hear around the world, call centers keep playing the same boring old ones.


All the time we spend waiting to be attended, should have something different.


And Pepsi wanted to change that.


So, we partnered with the brands that receive most of those calls every day and turned them into a stage for emerging artists to be heard like never before.


People spend an average 92 minutes per month on hold—WTF is happening in Ecuador? Hey, the kids didn’t wait too long to submit the lame concept for awards recognition. Somebody should call to complain that they’re being overcharged for a portfolio diploma.


Thursday, June 23, 2022

15867: Pride, Parade & Postage.


Royal Mail will issue stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Pride rally in the UK. Amazingly, the responsible creatives didn’t make references to ‘lick’ and ‘package’ in the work.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

15866: ERG EKG Shows XXXL BS.


Digiday published a fluff piece on ERGs, inadvertently revealing the publisher’s own ignorance while spotlighting the latest human heat shield gaining popularity at White advertising agencies.


Now White shops can expand DEI diversions and deceptions, concealing cultural cluelessness by committee. What once served as legitimate support networking systems for marginalized associates within corporations is being recast for a wider—and Whiter—audience.


Black Lives Matter is trumped by any subject matter. Today’s ERGs include clans congregating for wellness, sustainability and cooking. Book clubs are suddenly literary research collectives. Netflix binge-watching qualifies staffers to become media streaming mavens. Fold it all under a DEI deflector dish and Diversity Directors act more like cruise directors.


WTF is an ERG? In Adland, it’s code for Equality Resistance Gang.


WTF is an ERG?


By Sara Guaglione


“Employee resource groups” (or ERGs) were historically thought of primarily as social groups for employees at a company. But since the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, ERGs have been getting more attention. With more support from their companies – as well as companies’ efforts to achieve DE&I commitments and goals set in 2020 – the role of ERGs has shifted.


Since 2020, more ERGs have been formed, too. Vice Media Group now has six ERGs, including a new one around wellness. At Gannett, there are now 12 ERGs, up from four in 2017, according to LaToya Johnson, director of global inclusion, diversity & equity at Gannett. Forbes launched a new ERG for its LGBTQ+ employees at the beginning of the year, said Ali Jackson-Jolley, assistant managing editor overseeing the newsroom’s DEI initiatives.


WTF is an ERG?


ERGs are employee-led, company-sponsored groups usually formed around shared identities or life experiences, such as gender, race/ethnicity or interests. There are often ERGs at companies for Black, Asian and Hispanic/Latinx employees; for LGBTQ+ employees; and for military veterans and parents, for example.


“It’s not just a place for safety, but a place to help folks thrive and bring their whole selves to work,” said Eve Chen, USA Today travel reporter and founder of the Asian American Forward ERG at Gannett, which was created in May 2020. “When I first started at Gannett more than a dozen years ago, I was the only Asian American in my newsroom in Atlanta. Atlanta is a big city with a lot of Asian Americans,” Chen said. “I wanted to create connections for other folks who I knew would be in the same situation.”


What’s the role of an ERG?


The role of an ERG at a company is to create a safe space for people who may share a similar background or life experience. These groups often celebrate those differences and similarities, as well as highlight issues going on within these specific communities.


ERGs can also foster company culture, too – an issue that many companies are grappling with since the pandemic struck and employees are working remotely. ERGs can help build connections and grow communities within companies, with networking and mentorship resources.


ERGs also act as a resource to others in the company. Members can help ensure language and meaning are authentic to the community they represent. ERGs often help organize training, guest speakers and workshops for the company around their communities, too.


Lastly, ERGs can help companies achieve DE&I goals around hiring, retention, mentorship and professional growth.


“It was intended to be a place to share and celebrate our cultures, but it also was a place where we could be there for each other and also help guide discussion areas and coverage areas for our newsrooms as a company. We really were shining a light on a lot of the attacks [on the AAPI community] around the country,” Chen said.


What do ERGs do?


ERG members are advocates within a company for their points of view, said Valerie Di Maria, principal at The 10 Company, a marketing, communications and executive coaching firm. A member of an ERG for families, for example, may push for better parental benefits at a company. An LGBTQ+ group might suggest company training on the trans community.


ERGs “will be the ones to catalyze change in some areas and say, ‘No one’s paying attention to this. We need people to be looking at this…’ They bring up areas of concern, attention, or something they would like to do,” said Daisy Auger-Domínguez, chief people officer at Vice Media Group.


ERGs often host events around significant times of the year for their community, such as for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May and Juneteenth on June 19.


“They’re ideating on what could be possible for the organization and helping generate interest and enthusiasm and then leaning into our brands team, our editorial team, our marketing team and trying to figure out who can help put together the programming and the initiatives,” said Auger-Domínguez.


Di Maria believes ERGs should be thought of as “a strategic business unit… where they have strategic insights that they share with a company about their company’s culture, about product and service development and about how they interact with customers.”


What’s the typical structure of an ERG? Who runs them?


ERGs are open to all employees at a company – including those who are part of the community the group represents, and its allies. “Leads” or “chairs” are often chosen for each ERG. At Gannett, there are two co-leads per ERG, for example.


ERGs are also a direct communication channel to top executives at a company. ERGs usually have an “executive sponsor,” or a member of a company’s executive leadership team to work directly with the ERG to support their work and advocate for their interests. They also serve as a point of contact for ERG members to address any questions or issues.


“It really is a way, especially for junior members of the staff, to see what it looks like to be an executive within Forbes – that typically they won’t get to see up close – and really be able to work from an operations side with HR and with folks like the chief product officer to bring initiatives to pass so they’re getting that exposure,” said Sadé Mohammad, vp of Forbes’ representation & inclusion practice.


At VMG, ERGs also work with the communications team to reach out and invite employees to ERG-hosted events, for example. There is also often a member of the HR team that works directly with ERGs. VMG has a designated HR person dedicated to its ERGs (called “community groups” at the company). They meet with ERGs bimonthly.


“I know that I can send a DM to our CEO and president and that I will get a response. That’s what’s huge,” said Chen at Gannett. “If you have your company support behind you, it makes it so much easier to help create that environment for employees. When your company is valuing your identity, it makes it so much easier for you to help share it.”


Gannett’s ERGs meet monthly. They meet quarterly with a broader group, including their executive sponsor, an HR liaison, the CEO, Chief People Officer and marketing team, among others, said Gannett’s Johnson.


Are people who take part in ERGs paid?


Most of them are not. Participation is voluntary. However, ERG leads sometimes get small bonuses. This is the case at Vice Media Group, for example. Vice’s HR team also reminds managers every year of the leadership role an ERG lead took that year, to be considered as part of their annual review, said Auger-Domínguez.


This year, Gannett launched an ERG bonus program for leaders, Johnson said.


ERGs also get budgets from the company to use for outreach, events or even swag. At VMG, a budget gets distributed by each community group on a per capita basis, managed by Auger-Domínguez’s team.


How has the role of ERGs evolved at companies since 2020?


As companies increasingly work on their DE&I initiatives, ERGs can be a valuable resource. They can help with networking and retention of employees from different backgrounds – a real issue for many companies. It’s one thing to hire more diverse people – it’s a whole other thing to ensure they feel supported at the workplace and want to remain at the company.


“It’s easier to attract talent and keep talent, if they feel there are people who look like me or who have the same issues that I have at the company and they’re succeeding and doing well,” said Di Maria.


“Not only are [ERGs] now a resource to employees, but they’re a resource to the overall business as well, said Johnson at Gannett. “We have developed an overarching ERG operating strategy that is aligned with Gannett’s overall inclusion strategy, to assist and achieve business goals, [understand] the transformation of the global marketplace and the needs of our employees, customers and the communities that we serve.”


She added, “Our businesses tap into ERGs for storytelling for our news division, as we think about creating new products to ensure they are inclusive and accessible to all, and for our recruiting and retention efforts.”


This article has been updated to clarify Ali Jackson-Jolley’s role at Forbes and to correct the description of The 10 Company.