Wednesday, November 29, 2023

16455: Being Black In Brazil.

November 20 is Black Awareness Day in Brazil, where Banco do Brasil delivered a campaign that was reportedly produced by a 100% Black team, Black casting, and led by Black employees. The bank is working to stay in the Black.

Additionally, November is viewed like Black History Month in Salvador—a locale considered the Blackest city outside Africa—where celebrations included a campaign inviting people to pound the drums.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

16454: Read All About It.


More About Advertising opined on the struggling WPP, remarking that the White holding company has lost talented leaders through mindless mashups, and ultimately wondering if CEO Mark Read might soon be gone.


Read has recently sought to pin the WPProblems on his former boss, Sir Martin Sorrell. Yet both White men share the blame.


Whether the issues are rooted in reckless acquisitions or moronic mergers, Read and Sorrell—in their efforts to evolve the holding company model—fueled a commoditization of talent. All White advertising agencies are generic service centers, interchangeable and comprised of replaceable drones. Plus, if a client doesn’t like anything in the corporate collection, a completely new shop can be erected.


Talented leaders have been lost? No, White executives were deemed redundant—they were modular units to be shuffled, shifted, and shat out of the system.


Just as the current CEO proved Sorrell could be swapped for another White man, Read now finds himself unnecessary, unoriginal, and unwanted. Hey, it’s just business in Adland—Frankenstein’s monster is turning on the meh scientist who created it.


WPP’s leadership issues go deeper than the holding company


By Stephen Foster


WPP CEO Mark Read is copping quite a bit of flak in adland, although not, so far, in the City it seems, for WPP’s recent disappointing Q3 results. And his rather lame statement to Campaign seeming to blame it on former boss (and now auld enemy) Sir Martin Sorrell for not doing enough to integrate the hundreds of companies he bought.


Read, as digital director on the board, and COO Andrew Scott were there most of the time too so was this all Sorrell’s fault?


When any company stumbles, and WPP has now issued two profit warnings this year, questions are asked of the leadership. But the CEO and his allies aren’t the only leaders in a big, diverse holding company.


The various brands within the business also have leaders, or should have. One of WPP’s issues is that, as it keeps busily merging agencies (supposedly to make life easier for clients) it loses leaders. They either hang about, grumbling in the wings, or depart.


Agency leaders, media as much as creative, have always been noted for their seemingly blind faith in the brand. Whatever misfortunes occur, publicly they emerge bright-eyed and bushy-tailer to vow that things can only get better – indeed are getting better. Above all they’re loyal to their brand.


Under the exacting Sorrell regime WPP had some strong leaders – as well as some who were too strong (as at JWT) but that’s another story. Shelly Lazarus at Ogilvy steered Ogilvy through WPP’s high period although her replacements were less obviously distinguished. Grey emerged as the jewel in WPP’s creative crown (not the strongest field maybe) under veteran CEO Jim Meekin and creative supremo Tor Myhren in the US and David Patton, Chris Hirst and creative Nils Leonard in EMEA and the UK.


They all left for various reasons (Myrhen to Apple, Leonard to Uncommon) with Patton, fairly newly ensconced as global CEO of Y&R, finding himself merged into VML. Which now, under founder Jon Cook, stands above the lot of course. That’s a lot of talented leaders to lose.


Mediacom’s Stephen Alan (he’s now chair of Brainlabs) built the agency into the biggest in the world but now it finds itself merged with Essence into EssenceMediacom, with Essence seemingly on top. Essence’s Christian Juhl is now CEO of all of GroupM. That’s another big call.


What’s the answer? Read says all will be revealed at an investor day in January. Does he have that long?

Monday, November 27, 2023

16453: Continuous Incontinence From Culturally Clueless Character.

Sir John Hegarty posted commentary at LinkedIn, comparing the business and branding of Reebok versus Nike. His conclusion: Continuity beats reinvention.


The statement also applies to the perspectives held by Hegarty—and the White advertising agency he founded—regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

16452: Super Flexible, Super So-So.

White branding agency WMH&I in London is responsible for this EDS awareness campaign for a client identified as TEM-PLE. Turns out the work is a pro bono effort that arguably bends the boundaries of scam advertising.


Can’t help but think that the stretched-out explanation for the concept displays a lot of selfishness and award-seeking motives.


Forget that the acronym for Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes—EDS—will probably be mistaken for some twisted form of erectile dysfunction.


The end result demonstrates once more that even self-proclaimed premier design studios ultimately create healthcare advertising that sucks. Sorry, but WMH&I is not qualified to pull off rare disease communications. After all, the average designer is barely capable of spelling EDS, let alone translating the scientific data into comprehensible copy and content.


People with EDS surely deserve compassion. They also deserve a better campaign than this.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

16451: That’s Poppin’ At Popeyes—Pffft.


Popeyes PH—ie, in the Philippinesdoesn’t make sense either, presenting lame music video-style commercials rapping about all the wondrous stuff “That’s Poppin’ at Popeyes.” Looks like Filipino advertising agencies love hip hop too.



Friday, November 24, 2023

16450: How Adland Celebrates Black Friday.


Today is Black Friday.


For Adland, there will be no acknowledgment of Black culture or Black Lives Matter. There will be zero recognition of the Blackfeet Nation, despite a Presidential Proclamation urging all citizens to celebrate November 24, 2023, as Native American Heritage Day.


Over 24 hours, Adland will ignore all things Black—as well as historical references for Black Friday—opting to embrace the popular belief that the day’s name derives from businesses staying in the black.


For sales and profit, Adland is operating at full tilt today—and extends the event well before and after the actual date. For diversity, equity, and inclusion, Adland is taking the day off—and the next 365 too.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

16449: Delayed WTF 56—Thanksgiving Cartoon Classic Cultural Cluelessness…?


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.


Completely missed the controversy sparked in 2018, reported by many sources including the New York Post, over perceived disrespect for Franklin in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”—where critics noted the sole Black character was relegated to a lesser seat at the dinner table. Given the menu items served at the cartoon celebration, it’s a wonder no one made references to the infamous Texaco “Black Jelly Bean” scandal. Hey, it’s all reflective of performative DEI initiatives in Adland. Expect Franklin to be named the Peanuts Chief Diversity Officer.


Critics blast ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ as racist


By Natalie O'Neill


You’re a racist man, Charlie Brown!


Critics are slamming ABC’s “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” for seating its only black character, Franklin, alone on one side of the holiday table — in a rickety old lawn chair.


Meanwhile, white friends — including Peppermint Patty, Charlie Brown, Sally and even Snoopy — were all seated across from him in real chairs as they feasted, Twitter users pointed out.


The special, which debuted Nov. 20, 1973, aired again on Wednesday — prompting social media outrage over the gang’s highly unwoke picnic table arrangement.


“Why is Franklin in Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sitting all by himself at the table. Man. Things that I did not notice as a child,” @Asharp52 blasted on Twitter.


Others said good grief over a seating chart that would have thrilled George Wallace.


“Not watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving anymore, until they sit some people on the same side of the table as Franklin,” another critic tweeted, along with two black power-style fist emojis.


The scene in question centers on an impromptu holiday feast — of toast, jelly beans and ice cream — in Charlie Brown’s backyard.


At one point, poor lonesome Franklin topples over in his half-broken chair.


“They give our friend the busted chair and won’t even sit on the same side of the table, more proof that Charlie Brown and his cohorts are RACIST,” slammed Twitter user @mwizzy128.


But others defended the classic special, pointing out its creator Charles Schulz fought to add Franklin to the cast to stand up against racism in 1968.


“Seriously please get some historical context. Charles M. Schultz was a trailblazer and bucked racism in those days by adding Franklin to reflect the issue… and challenging what was then going on in society,” tweeted California radio show host Mark Larson.

16448: Thanksgiving In Adland—Thanks, But No Thanks.


Adweek published content titled, “What Agency Leaders Are Grateful For This Thanksgiving.”


A handful of the “leaders”—featuring at least one Human Heat Shield—gave thanks for DEI-related possibilities in Adland. Appropriately enough, such comments comprised the minority of gratitude expressions in the Adweek fluff piece.


The majority of respondents are likely thankful to delegate diversity to resident employees of color. Or count the promotion of White women as satisfying DEI goals.


Fairly certain there were no Native American leaders represented. Maybe tomorrow.


On a side note, the story was illustrated with a stock image (depicted above) showing multilingual thank you phrases. The languages include Russian—ie, a statement from the country that White advertising agencies and holding companies thanklessly dumped in recent years.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

16447: Only You Can Prevent Brand Safety…?

Digiday published a report on brand safety—which was illustrated with an image that appears to violate the brand trademarks of Smokey Bear. Brilliant.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

16446: Overreaction Of The Week.


Here's the explanation for the advertisements by Arcana Academy depicted above:

This campaign seeks to draw attention to this issue and gain support for Balloon Brigade's direct-action efforts to remove every floating balloon they find.

Okay, but is the concept playing off anti-Asian, racist, WWII propaganda? Really?

Sunday, November 19, 2023

16445: EZ Or LAZY?


In these days where the pandemic dramatically altered the restaurant industry—and even Mickey D's offers delivery—is a middleman service necessary? Or perhaps it helps to distract the client with catered food when agency teams work up until the last minute on pitch concepts that are nauseatingly bad.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

16444: The Cure For Common Contrived & Clichéd Campaigns…?

The Institute for Healthcare Advancement offers a Health Literacy Specialist Certificate. So, graduates can produce inane pharmaceutical advertising that sucks worldwide.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

16443: Social Media Puts Honesty On The Back Burner.


The latest Digiday confessions series installment presented an actual confession, as a social media supervisor admitted to being pressured by their boss to create burner accounts to respond to negative press and criticism aimed at a client’s product.


While celebrities, entertainment CEOs, and stalkers utilize burner accounts for a variety of sneaky motivations, how can the maneuver possibly be okay in the service of brands?


Advertisements and sponsored content must clearly be indicated as such; plus, regulated messages like pharmaceutical marketing are required to carry disclaimers regarding results and patient depictions. Even basic campaigns undergo scrutiny by legal departments—as well as entities such as the FDA and FCC.


Knowingly fabricating defensive statements in an anonymous and underhanded style constitutes deliberately deceptive communications, no?


If burner accounts are a common practice for brand management, why did the revelation happen in Digiday’s confessional?


Honestly, Adland and its practitioners regularly rank high on lists for least trusted professions. Is it really necessary to maintain dominance in distrust?


Perhaps social media firms will create executive titles like Burner Account Director.


‘I felt like I had committed a crime’: Confessions of a social media lead on negative press and burner accounts


By Julian Cannon


Social media management requires navigating the constantly vigilant eyes of the digital world. The task often involves monitoring brand mentions, comments and discussions across various social media platforms, as well as handling crises if bad press surfaces. Due to social media’s fast and widespread impact, social media managers are crucial to determining a brand’s response to adverse situations, protecting its reputation and maintaining transparent communication with its audience.


However, rather than crafting authentic statements to address its audience, some organizations take an alternative approach to deal with critics, with some going as far as creating fake or “burner” accounts to respond to criticism.


In this latest installment of Digiday’s Confessions series, in which we exchange anonymity for candor, a social media supervisor details what using burner accounts for a brand is like and why he wouldn’t do it again.


This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Responding to critics through burner accounts made headlines this week. As a social media lead for an entertainment company, have you ever dealt with a request like that? If so, what was that like?


Yes I did. And I hope it is the last time I ever get that request. It was for a recent video game that came out not too long ago. I first thought it was odd because my CEO does not usually give into the social media storm. But because this game was highly anticipated and got negative reviews, they asked me how good I was at cleaning up a mess. I thought at the time it was a joke but he was serious.


After getting the request, what happened next?


I was flying back from TwitchCon when I was alerted that I needed to do this. I kept getting Slack messages while I was on the airplane to go on the Microsoft Teams video call and my CEO told me that I needed to fire back at the critics. I thought it was not worth it. But the company went through a round of layoffs [this year] and [I thought] if I don’t do this, I would be let go.


How did you create the burner accounts? Were the accounts already in existence, and were there any guidelines you followed as you created the accounts and started posting?


The accounts did not exist prior. I had to use the time for the rest of my flight to come up with names and bios that could not trace back to names of real life people. I was told to create three burner accounts for each platform like Reddit, X, Instagram and also a few gaming forums. For accounts with pictures, I used icons from scrapped freelance projects. After I created the template profiles of each account, I shared them with the CEO for approval and within a few minutes, the CEO said it was good to go. Once I landed and went home, the chaos began.


What happened?


Managing the accounts is like managing a fast food restaurant with difficult employees. No matter what you do, you have to act quick. I asked the CEO if I can go to the office to take a few desktop screens home so I would not have to lose my anxiety or focus on looking at everything on one screen. For X, I had to make sure that none of those three accounts were responding to each other. I had one account responding to tweets on big-name outlets that panned the game, one account responding to streamers and the final one doing this to general fans.


The CEO also paid for verification checkmarks on all of the X accounts to increase visibility of them. I will say that it was much easier to manage X until they removed TweetDeck so I had to use multiple tabs. As for Reddit and Instagram, the process was similar, but I had to wait for at least a day or two to engage on the platforms or else the accounts would be flagged for spamming. I also had to purchase a VPN before attempting to engage, so that no trace of my activity would be traced back to me.


Every response I had to do for every account on each platform needed to be different and the CEO told me that [nothing] is off limits as long as I do not use any slurs, racist language or excessive swearing. I had to come up with responses in real time with no approval processes. I also could not create or generate any social posts with artificial intelligence. Everything had to be organic just to respond to people without coming off as the accounts promoted the game. Of all the platforms, I found Reddit to be [the most] challenging since I got messages from users asking me why I liked the game. Instagram was the easiest because comments on any post cannot be filtered.


Why do you think the company wanted to respond to critics with burner accounts?


I think because of the layoffs and the state of transparency in the gaming industry as a whole, the company did not want to hire a crisis communications person [to manage the negative press] after they just fired one not too long ago. I believe that it was a cost effective move to put someone like me in a position that I was not qualified to handle. It is one thing where you have to make a social media statement and move on like other companies would do. But this, to me, did nothing but put more stress on me. I initially thought that I would do this for one day and move on. Nope, the CEO wanted me to do this until the heat died down at a time when all he cared about was filling a quota of gaming sales. It was a massive distraction because I was also making graphics and social copies that are scheduled for this month to get approved at the same time.


Did you have any reservations about creating burner accounts to respond to criticism? Did you worry people might figure out what was going on?


Immediately after being asked to do this, I felt like I had committed a crime. I figured that there would be some overtime for it, but I did not expect to go past 10 p.m. at night to keep up with the pace. If I was caught, I would have wondered what it would do to my career if I would want to work for a bigger company. I was worried if I would be caught by someone I am connected with. And I was worried if I would get blacklisted from the industry. I think social media managers should not accept requests like this because you will be pressured to act on behalf of the company, to accept all the negative attention.


Is there anything that you wish your managers or supervisors understood about this practice?


I wish they understood that social media leads, managers and anyone else in that role are constantly working under pressure to deliver and maintain a company’s image. The whole time I was doing this for them, I could not help but feel that if this company were to get caught, the backlash would exceed the actual game.


Would you do it again?


It’s not something I’ll do again. And to add to your last question, I also wish they understood that not every video game is going to be a smash hit. Although the public perception is going to criticize it anyway it can, the CEO’s decision to do this should not have been made or conceptualized. All of this time and energy should have been towards how we could have fixed this [game] over fighting with random strangers, public figures and outlets online.