Thursday, November 30, 2023

16456: DE&I Has Dire Need For Responsibility.


The ADCOLOR® State Of The Workplace Study made reference to yet another DEI acronym—DIRE, which stands for Diversity, Inclusion, Respect, and Equity.


In real-life context, companies draft DIRE policy statements to communicate faux commitment to progress. At most White advertising agencies, the letters could mean Deceptively Insincere Rhetorical Excrement.


The semi-clever term injects a performative sense of urgency, as well as a disingenuous challenge to counter the disrespect inherent with inequality and systemic racism.


For Adland, however, a better R-word might be Responsibility. That is, authentic dedication demands accountability. Firms barely view DEI as a business imperative—and steadfastly refuse to consider the moral and ethical implications. Yet resisting responsibility is a denial of reality.


As Spider-Man recognized, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The ruling majority in Adland has enjoyed its position of power forever. Regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, respect, belonging, or any other phrase in the lexicon, there has been an abject lack of responsibility.


With White power comes great irresponsibility.


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.