Friday, November 21, 2014

12243: Pooh-Poohing A Hermaphrodite.

From USA TODAY…

Polish town rejects Winnie the Pooh for being ‘hermaphrodite’

By Timothy McGrath, GlobalPost

BREAKING: Winnie the Pooh is a hermaphrodite, exposes himself in public and has no business being around children — at least according to a Polish town council.

Officials in the Polish town of Tuszyn (87 miles southwest of Warsaw) were deciding on a mascot for the town playground, when the classic children’s character was suggested as a candidate. They decided to rule Winnie out, because he’s an “inappropriately dressed” bear of “dubious sexuality.”

Sure, Winnie is a honey junkie who spends most of his time with a chronically depressed donkey and a suspiciously energetic tiger, and if you don’t want your kids hanging with that sort of crew, then fine. But if you don’t want Winnie at playgrounds because he doesn’t wear pants and has no external genitalia, you’re living in the past, my friend.

According to the Croatian Times, members of the Tuszyn town council were having this totally reasonable conversation about Winnie’s biological sex and choice of outerwear when one of them decided it was worth recording and leaking to media. We all owe this person a debt of gratitude. Because now we know the following things about the members of the Tuszyn town council.

Resident and councilor Ryszard Cichy apparently believes this about Winnie: “The problem with that bear is it doesn’t have a complete wardrobe. It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children.”

An unnamed official apparently knows why: “It doesn’t wear underpants because it doesn’t have a sex. It’s a hermaphrodite.”

And another resident, councilor, and human who lives on this Earth, Hanna Jachimska, apparently blames Winnie’s creator, Alan Alexander Milne: “This is very disturbing but can you imagine! The author was over 60 and cut his (Pooh’s) testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity.”

We also learned that some members of the Tuszyn town council are biased against intersex individuals. So there’s that.

Winnie’s out of the running for playground mascot, but as the councilors move forward with the decision-making process, they should consider that their no-pants rule excludes nearly every cartoon character ever invented, except for Goofy, who rocks an orange turtleneck sweater, charcoal vest, blue slacks and laceless brown shoes. Classy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

12242: Singing For Scents.

Glade hired singer Kevin Ross to serenade holiday scented candles via a new spot from Ogilvy. Wonder if OgilvyCulture was called in to consult on—or even co-create—this contrived, clichéd and concept-free commercial.

12241: Sprint CEO Is Star-Struck.

Advertising Age reported Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure is appearing in a Spanish-language commercial for his beleaguered brand. Per the Ad Age piece, it’s not the first time a Sprint CEO has had delusions of being photogenic, as former CEO Dan Hesse commandeered a campaign comprised of crappy commercials. Based on Claure’s stunningly inept performance speaking at an employee and press event, one would think he’d opt to hire Sofia Vergara to woo Latinos. Ad Age also stated Claure has “laid out the creation of a new sales division for Hispanic and multicultural business.” Let’s pray probable new White advertising agency Deutsch L.A. isn’t allowed anywhere near the non-White efforts.

In Sprint’s New Hispanic Marketing Drive, CEO Is the Star

Marcelo Claure Touts ‘Value’ In Ad During Latin Grammys

By Mark Bergen

Since taking the helm as CEO of Sprint, Marcelo Claure has shaken up the company’s marketing operation. Now, he’s starring in its ads.

On Thursday evening, the executive will appear in a Spanish-language commercial premiering during the Latin Grammys on Univision. The spot kicks off an ambitious Hispanic marketing push from Sprint, which is struggling to refashion its brand and retain subscribers in an increasingly competitive wireless industry.

In its latest ad, Mr. Claure, a native Bolivian, speaks directly into the camera, highlighting the value of Sprint’s new price offering. That offering has been the company’s focus since it scrapped the ‘Framily’ plan and campaign in September. Inspire, the carrier’s Hispanic agency, created the spot. It will run on other Spanish-language channels following its Univision premiere.

It’s not the first time Sprint has deployed the tactic. In 2008, Dan Hesse, Mr. Claure’s predecessor, introduced himself to consumers in a series of black-and-white TV ads. Sprint has moved to increase the profile of its new CMO, following the marketing success of his outspoken peer at T-Mobile, John Legere.

For the marketing to Latinos, that public profile will focus on Mr. Claure’s bi-cultural identity and immigrant story. “We thought it was very important to get his story out there,” said Kymber Umaña, Sprint’s Hispanic marketing manager.

Ms. Umaña stressed that Mr. Claure’s background will resonate with Latino consumers, a fast-growing demographic. “They will be able to look at the commercial and say, ‘Oh, that feels and sounds like me,’” she said.

Mr. Claure’s net worth is estimated to be just shy of $1 billion. He founded Brightstar, a handset vendor in 1997, shortly after emigrating to Miami. He sold most of the company to Softbank, Sprint’s majority owner, in 2013. He joined Sprint’s board shortly thereafter and was then hand-picked as its CEO in August.

The Sprint spot starts with a mock news reel announcing the new CEO, ranging from a newscaster saying he’s the first Latino to head a telecommunications company to an interview with his proud dad, who says Marcelo was always one to be looking ahead.(Not coincidentally, most of the Latinos pictured are hearing or reading the supposed news on their smartphones).

Speaking entirely in his native Spanish, Mr. Claure opens with, “Hola, soy Marcelo Claure.” He goes on to say “Communication is easy, but cellular companies make everything complicated. We’re changing that.”

A chatty Mr. Claure explains: “I have a family like most and we’re connected all the time. While I’m on the internet buying things on my cell phone, the kids are on it watching videos and my wife is Skyping with her amigas.” He closes with a hard sell: “For just $100 a month, your family can share 20 gigabytes of data. This is the best family plan in the industry!”

Mr. Claure’s televised debut comes during a massive makeover at Sprint. Last week, as Ad Age first reported, an internal memo from Mr. Claure announced CMO Jeff Hallock was leaving the company. The departure of two other top executives—Bill White, senior-VP of communications; and Matt Carter, president of enterprise solutions—was also announced. Additionally, Mr. Claure laid out the creation of a new sales division for Hispanic and multicultural business.

Douglas Michelman, the communications chief for Visa, is replacing Mr. White. Sprint is searching for a head of its Hispanic business unit.

Sprint currently has between 5 and 5.5 million Hispanic postpaid subscribers, Ms. Umaña said. (The carrier reported 55 million wireless connections in its most recent quarter.) Many rely exclusively on handheld devices—in July, the CDC estimated that 53% of Hispanic households do not have landlines—leaving them more receptive to offers on data usage, she added.

Ms. Umaña said the campaign will involve social and digital elements, in addition to TV, but the carrier is still setting its campaign strategy. In addition to its executive shifts, Sprint continues its review for a lead creative agency, a search it began in August.

In 2013, Sprint ranked as the eighteenth largest Hispanic marketer, spending $68.6 million in measured media, around 5% of its overall ad budget, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

AT&T, the nation’s second-largest Hispanic advertiser, spent $124.7 million; it recently tailored its millennial marketing in a bid to lure Latinos. Market-leader Verizon spent $71.3 million in 2013. T-Mobile, the fourth-placed carrier nipping at Sprint’s heels, signed a content deal with Univision in May.

12240: Pizza Hut Haters Unite!

Pizza Hut is launching its revitalized menu and brand with a painfully long video featuring allegedly real Italians pooh-poohing the new pies. The big idea was to let people with experience making authentic pizza judge the fresh offerings. Um, does anyone connect Pizza Hut’s fare with anything from Italy? This concept is the equivalent of asking Latinos weigh in on Taco Bell foodstuff. Additionally, the heavy stereotyping is questionable. Granted, Pizza Hut’s cartoonish characters may not be as bad as the mobster clichés once presented by Godfather’s Pizza, but is it really necessary to push such imagery? White advertising agency Deutsch L.A.—which landed the account sans a review—is no stranger to cultural cluelessness. The shop showed a Caucasian speaking like a Jamaican for Volkswagen and positioned Dr. Pepper Ten as a males-only soft drink. Plus, agency figurehead Donny Deutsch has made multiple appearances in this blog’s “C’mon White Man!” series. Pizza Hut should invite real advertising professionals to critique the Deutsch L.A. work. Or better yet, just hire real advertising professionals next time.

12239: CarMax Rolls Into Review.

Add CarMax to the list of advertisers seeking a new White advertising agency. The used car client is conducting a creative review with three shops, according to Adweek. Adpeople and car salespeople continue to rank high among the most dishonest professions, making this shootout amusingly unique. Let’s see which untrustworthy White agency lies best in order to service the deceptive client.

CarMax Eyes 3 Shops for Its Creative Business

Super Bowl advertiser spends $60 million on media annually

By Andrew McMains

On again, off again Super Bowl advertiser CarMax appears to be taking the next game off as it searches for a new lead creative agency.

Three agencies have reached the final round of a creative review, with pitches scheduled for later this week at CarMax’s headquarters in Richmond, Va. Sources identified the shops as BBDO in Atlanta, McKinney in Durham, N.C. and The Martin Agency in Richmond.

CarMax is a significant advertiser whose media spending exceeded $60 million last year and $44 million in the first half of 2014, according to Kantar Media. The used car retailer also advertised during this year’s Super Bowl with a spot called “Slow Clap,” which featured men, women, children, actor Sean Astin (“Rudy”) and even a bear applauding as a CarMax user’s sedan passed them by. The tagline was, “Start here.”

The agency behind “Slow Clap,” Silver + Partners in New York, is not participating in the review, though the shop, formerly known as Amalgamated, has worked on the brand for four years. In that time frame, CarMax has bought time during two Super Bowls. So, clearly the company is serious about building its profile.

CarMax has more than 120 dealerships in 33 states, with a large concentration of outlets in the Southeast, Midwest and West. The company generated $13.72 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year, which ended Feb. 28.

The national agency review follows a search for a digital shop earlier in the year, which resulted in the hiring of Publicis Groupe’s Razorfish for projects. Hasan + Co. in Raleigh, N.C. helped manage that search.

The latest search also coincides with the arrival of a new chief marketing officer. Jim Lyski, former CMO at Scotts Miracle-Gro, arrived in August, filling a vacancy left by the December 2012 exit of Joseph Kunkel, who was svp of marketing and strategy.

Media planning and buying remain in-house, according to sources. CarMax also creates some digital marketing itself.

The company had no comment. But sources expect a selection by next month.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

12238: C’MON WHITE MAN! Episode 39.

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

Advertising Age published a pathetic and patronizing pro-women perspective from SapientNitro VP Of Marketing and Brand Strategy Scott Karambis that warrants hollering, “¡Ay, Karambis!”

Freshly inspired and enlightened after attending the latest 3% Conference soirée, Karambis wondered “why the lack of women leaders is still seen as a women’s problem—not a business challenge—when the benefits of women’s leadership are so obvious and so uncontestable.” Karambis also declared, “Where women aren’t in charge yet, men in leadership positions should take responsibility and lead the way.” The fool even made reference to “unconscious bias,” the new term designed to deflect personal accountability for discrimination and related character defects.

Kumbaya Karambis threw down the gauntlet by typing, “We need to expose and eliminate the real biases that keep women from giving their all to our companies. We need to build succession plans that support and advance the talented women around us. And we need to model behavior for our peers, including admitting our own inevitable biases when they emerge, to build—as Ray Arata, founder of Gender Allies, put it in his breakout session at the 3% Conference—successful gender partnerships.”

Sorry, but White men like Karambis are annoying as hell. Ignorant as hell, too. Sadly, when Karambis refers to men, he doesn’t realize it’s really White men he should be addressing. Additionally, he is oblivious to the fact that he could swap “women” with “minorities” in his pontifications and the contrived arguments still ring accurately and true. The indisputable proof of institutionalized exclusivity is so obvious and so uncontestable, it can be viewed by simply walking the floors of any White advertising agency—including SapientNitro. Of course, dealing with minority discrimination—or the global non-White male discrimination—in our industry is something Karambis will continue to dodge in favor of the pleasant, polite and perfumed pro-women soapbox. For assholes-posing-as-leaders like Karambis to cherry-pick which biases they’ll battle displays behavior both culturally clueless and completely criminal.

Karambis offered an innovative solution for the dearth of dames: “The 11-minute commitment challenge—designed to empower individuals to commit to one simple action step they will take to champion diversity in our daily work.” Yep, let’s tackle a problem that’s been around for over 60 years with 11 minutes of effort. Heaven forbid it should interrupt the billable hours assigned to building banners. If everyone is indeed awarded 15 minutes of fame, Karambis should only get 11.

C’MON WHITE MAN!

Where Are the Men in the Women’s Leadership Gap Discussion?

Lack of Women in Leadership Roles Is a Business Challenge, Not a Women’s Problem

By Scott Karambis

I recently returned from the 3% Conference in San Francisco, a gathering dedicated to advocating for women in creative leadership positions. I was one of only two dozen or so men in attendance, and I couldn’t help wondering why the lack of women leaders is still seen as a women’s problem—not a business challenge—when the benefits of women’s leadership are so obvious and so uncontestable.

Women control roughly 85% of consumer purchases, yet 91% of women say advertisers don’t understand them. As advertisers, we attend many meetings where the clients are women, but we often scramble to put together a gender-balanced team ourselves.

Where women aren’t in charge yet, men in leadership positions should take responsibility and lead the way.

Ad agencies have long realized they need at least a few women around, and many have sponsored studies or women’s support networks. But as Joan Williams points out in the Harvard Business Review, too many of these efforts get stuck “admiring the problem,” rather than executing programs that change the game.

What’s in the way? Recent work on unconscious bias suggests that good intentions aren’t enough to correct tough problems like this one. Williams’ study of technology companies has convinced her that high-performing organizations are the hardest to change, because they perceive themselves as pure meritocracies, where talent can’t help but rise to the top. Men in leadership roles look at their talented (and almost exclusively male) peers and don’t see a problem.

I know what they mean. My male peers are hardworking, talented and deserving, too. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with many talented women throughout my career, and in every case I’ve heard gender-inflected critiques of their appearance, style, authority or commitment from male colleagues. With my own largely female staff, I’ve encouraged open conversations around examples of gender bias in the workplace. They tell me a new one every day, from client websites representing their audience as exclusively male to performance reviews in which managers express concerns over a woman’s ability to “command a room.”

To help reduce the impact of these subtle biases, we are piloting a new training program to uncover and address the hidden biases we all have. Inspired by the 3% Conference, we created an exercise called the 11-minute commitment challenge—designed to empower individuals to commit to one simple action step they will take to champion diversity in our daily work. Examples include actively developing women’s leadership skills across all career stages, from inviting junior women into leadership meetings to providing presentation training.

Decades of evidence make it clear that awareness of the gender bias is necessary, but not sufficient, for change.

An article in the McKinsey Quarterly from 1976, titled “Sex Bias: Still in Business,” described the lack of progress Canadian businesses had made in elevating women into “high-status” roles. In January of this year, a new McKinsey study reported that men are only half as likely as women to strongly agree with the statement that “women can lead just as effectively as men.”

We need to expose and eliminate the real biases that keep women from giving their all to our companies. We need to build succession plans that support and advance the talented women around us. And we need to model behavior for our peers, including admitting our own inevitable biases when they emerge, to build—as Ray Arata, founder of Gender Allies, put it in his breakout session at the 3% Conference—successful gender partnerships.

All of us in leadership are responsible for driving change in our clients’ businesses, even at the cost of established traditions. In order to succeed in a future where women will increasingly be the majority of our colleagues, our clients—and our source of talent—we leaders, male and female, should bring the same rigor and relentless determination to transforming any practices in our own organizations that are limiting our collective success.

Scott Karambis is VP of marketing and brand strategy at SapientNitro, a creative, brand and technology agency.

12237: Sephora Stereotyping Stinks.

From The New York Daily News…

Sephora deactivates thousands of Asian customers’ accounts due to racial stereotype: suit

Four women of Chinese descent claim that the cosmetics giant cut off Asian customers’ accounts during a 20% sale due to a racist belief that they would have resold the discounted beauty products for a profit.

By Stephen Rex Brown | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

It’s a case of racial e-profiling.

Cosmetics giant Sephora has deactivated the online accounts of Asian customers due to its racist belief they take advantage of discount sales to buy beauty products in bulk and resale them for a profit, a class-action suit charges.

“This is an egregious example of a retailer singling out individuals based on racial stereotypes,” said attorney Doug Wigdor.

The suit, brought by four women of Chinese descent, stems from Sephora’s decision to shut down numerous accounts during a 20% sale earlier this month due to reselling, which it called “a pervasive issue.” But that was only part of the story, the Manhattan Federal Court suit charges.

The deactivated accounts were almost exclusively associated with email addresses or names that appeared to signify Asian ethnicity, or tied to Web domains originating from Asia, documents charge.

Many users still have not been able to reactivate their accounts despite pleas they don’t hustle beauty products on the black market, documents claim.

Wigdor would not say how many people were affected by the decision, but said his firm believes “it is well into the thousands as Sephora is one of the largest cosmetic retailers in the world.”

The suit comes after Sephora’s Facebook page was flooded with complaints about the mass-deactivation — mostly from women with Asian surnames.

Two of the plaintiffs named in the suit are New Yorkers: Xiao Xiao of Manhattan and Tiantian Zou of Queens. Wigdor said it’s an example of the “shop and frisk” mentality infiltrating e-commerce.

Wigdor seeks damages to be determined at trial, but estimated he would seek a sum well into the millions.

Sephora did not respond to a request for comment.

12236: Ferguson Follies.

From DiversityInc…

#PantsUPDontLOOT

By Julissa Catalan

Don Alexander, a Tennessee-based IndieGoGo campaigner in support of Darren Wilson, has raised enough funds to post a ‘#PantsUPDontLOOT’ billboard in Florissant—the center of Ferguson, Mo.—where most of the protesting has been taking place.

“PantsUPDontLOOT” is intended to mock “Hands up, don’t shoot,” which is taken from witness claims that Michael Brown, the 18-year-old unarmed teen who was shot and killed by Wilson, had his hands in the air at the time of the shooting.

Alexander wrote: “This crowdfunding campaign is for the purchase of a billboard in the Ferguson, MO area. The billboard will display black text on a white background with the text ‘#PantsUPDontLOOT.’ After some initial confusion we are working with other, undisclosed companies in the area that are willing to create and display this image. The funds collected from this campaign will be used to purchase this billboard for as long as possible. Lamar originally quoted us ~$2500 for 1 month but others have come in under that amount. Whatever funds we will receive will go directly to keeping the billboard campaign up as long as possible. If we come to an agreement with a company and can fund it for 3 months, 5 months, 7 months… we will.”

Alexander’s goal amount was listed at $3,000, but that was surpassed once he started publicizing his mission on multiple social-media outlets as well as St. Louis CopTalk, a message board for police officers and their supporters.

According to Gawker, one commenter posted to CopTalk on Nov. 13: “There is an effort to crowdfund a billboard in the Ferguson area against the rioting and looting with the hashtag #PantsUpDontLoot on it. It is coming down to the wire of getting it up before the Wilson announcement.”

That very day, Alexander announced on his campaign page that the $3,000 had been exceeded, with a total of $3,081 from 29 contributors.

The campaign has 30 days remaining, and as of Nov. 18 has raised $3,345 from 152 different donors.

Oddly, the one other campaign Alexander seems to be following is the Ferguson Defense Fund, a campaign raising legal funds for protesters who get arrested demonstrating on Ferguson streets.

12235: Mad Invisible Men & Women.

Artist/Writer/Recovering Adman Lowell Thompson has launched a new blog: Mad Invisible Men & Women. Thompson has a related book in the works as well. Check it all out today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

12234: Are L.A. Agencies More Diverse?

Adweek published an interview with David&Goliath President Brian Dunbar, who made some interesting statements regarding diversity in Los Angeles and the advertising agencies in the area.

Adweek asked, “How does the city of Los Angeles inform agency culture?” Dunbar replied, “L.A. is a very culturally diverse city and I think the cultural makeup of the agencies reflects that. It certainly does at David&Goliath. I see a lot more diversity here than I have at other agencies in my career and I think that helps make the work more interesting. We also have Hollywood, the music industry and Silicon Beach that help strengthen our connection to pop culture and technology.”

The David&Goliath website does show the place may have more diversity than the average White advertising agency—although it is hard to tell if the minorities play roles equal to or greater than the typical D&G employee. Presuming they do, Dunbar might be accurate in his diversity declarations about his own shop. But it’s tough to agree L.A. agencies as a whole are more diverse than the rest of the industry. Surely organizations such as the 4As and AAF would have recognized the positive differences and suggested professional best practices to emulate the Californians. Technically, New York City, Chicago and Atlanta are diverse, yet each city’s advertising agencies do not reflect the area’s populace. Plus, L.A. agencies would be trumpeting their inclusiveness to the rest of the industry, especially when accusations of exclusivity are hurled at adland.

Dunbar seems like a decent bloke with good intentions. And if he does have the secret formula to help diversify the ad industry, he needs to share it with the rest of us.

12233: Surveying Silicon Valley.

From USA TODAY…

Survey: Few blacks, Hispanics among top tech executives

By Jessica Guynn, USATODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Missing on the management teams of major technology companies: Blacks and Hispanics.

That’s according to a new survey from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Of the 307 top executives at 22 companies, six are black and three are Hispanic, the survey found. That’s less than 3%.

Seven of the companies, including Amazon.com and Facebook, have no blacks or Hispanics among the top executives.

Rainbow PUSH Coalition defined top leadership by the executives that the companies list on their websites.

Of the major tech companies, Apple has two black executives: Lisa Jackson, vice president of environmental initiatives; and Denise Young Smith, vice president of worldwide human resources.

Google has one: David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer. And Hewlett-Packard has one Hispanic executive: Henry Gomez, executive vice president, and chief marketing and communications officer.

Rev. Jesse Jackson says the numbers reflect an entrenched pattern of exclusion in the high-tech industry, which mostly employs white and Asian men.

“Tech companies cannot afford to continue to lock out blacks, Latinos and women who comprise the consumer base companies depend upon to win,” Jackson said. “Their C-suites, boards of directors, supplier and vendor base, and workforce must look like America.”

Major tech companies have begun owning up to the fact that blacks and Hispanics are vastly underrepresented in their ranks.

In recent months, they have made public the racial and gender make up of their work forces.

The reports have confirmed what many had suspected: Staffers are mostly white, Asian and male, and blacks and Hispanics make up a tiny percentage of workers, whether they’re in technical or non-technical roles or in management.

For example, according to figures Facebook released in June, 74% of its senior-level employees in the U.S. are white and 19% are Asian. Hispanics account for 4% and African Americans for 2% of employees in management.

At Amazon.com, 71% of U.S. managers are white and 18% are Asian. Hispanics and blacks each account for 4% of managers.

Last month another Rainbow PUSH Coalition survey found that three blacks and one Hispanic sit on the boards of directors of 20 major technology companies.

In all, four out of 189 directors are black or Hispanic, the survey found.

Eleven of the 20 companies — including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, eBay and Google— have no one of color on their boards.

Just three companies — Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.com — have a black or Hispanic on their boards, according to the survey.

That means 1.6% of board members at major high-tech companies are black and .5% are Hispanic.

By way of comparison, blacks hold 7.4% and Hispanics hold 3.3% of board seats in the Fortune 500, according to the Alliance for Board Diversity.

12232: Best Places To Work…For Whom?

Advertising Age published Best Places to Work 2014. The list begs the question, “Best places to work for whom?” Sorry, but these types of honors are nothing more than political, self-promotional hype, as the “winners” have to respond to surveys for consideration. And in most cases, it all becomes a cheerleader exercise for the agency’s human resources department. In short, the overwhelming majority of advertising agencies probably didn’t even bother to make themselves eligible. Anyway, back to the question, “Best places to work for whom?” How many of the best places are minority-friendly environments? Plus, why are there no minority shops in the bunch? Based on the accompanying photographs, the best places appear to be typically and predominately White. The only semi-exception is Marina Maher Communications, a firm specializing in marketing to women. However, a peek at the agency website shows the leadership is almost exclusively comprised of White women. Unfortunately, Best Places to Work 2014 underscores the reality that the advertising industry is not the best place to work for non-Whites.

Ad Age’s Best Places to Work 2014

Top Companies Craft Culture That Attracts, Fosters, Rewards Best Minds in Our Industry

TALENT. It’s the single most important asset in any company. The ability to recruit, develop and retain talent can be the difference between success and failure, winning business and falling behind the competition. This year we set out to identify the best places to work in advertising, ad tech and media. We searched for companies that do an exemplary job of crafting cultures that attract, foster and reward the best minds in our industry.

We looked at compensation, benefits packages and hiring practices, as well as work-life balance. Special perks, such as subsidized meals, gym access and transportation reimbursement, were also considered. But we wanted to hear directly from employees, so we surveyed more than 20,000 people to find out, in essence, how they feel when they walk through the door and sit down at their desks day after day.

The 40 companies on our list stood out—read on to find out why they’re the best places to work in the industry.

By Ad Age Staff

METHODOLOGY

New York-based Buck Consultants, which has nearly a century of experience in human-resource consulting, crafted two surveys. Employee surveys, which had 50 questions, accounted for 60% of a company’s score, while the 100-question employer survey accounted for 40% of the score. Any agency, ad-tech or media company with more than 40 full-time employees in the U.S. was eligible.

Best Places To Work

1. Centro

2. Wpromote

3. TM Advertising

4. DigitasLBi

5. Dixon Schwabl

6. Droga5, LLC

7. The VIA Agency

8. CPXi

9. Eric Mower + Associates

10. inVNT

11. Unified Social

12. DXagency

13. Ervin & Smith

14. 3Q Digital

15. POSSIBLE

16. Carmichael Lynch

17. Victors and Spoils

18. UM

19. Saatchi & Saatchi X

20. KBS

21. Criteo

22. Tierney

23. Red Door Interactive

24. Weber Shandwick

25. SocialCode

26. true[X]

27. 72andSunny

28. 22squared

29. SapientNitro

30. Planit

31. Marina Maher Communications

32. Sq1

33. Archer>Malmo

34. Young & Laramore

35. Brownstein Group

36. ARGONAUT

37. Team One

38. Barkley

39. Firstborn

40. Engine Shop Agency

Monday, November 17, 2014

12231: Most Influential Karen Blackett.

ITV reported MediaCom UK CEO Karen Blackett was named “most influential Black person in Britain” on the Powerlist 2015. Um, with all due respect, Blackett clearly has lots of impressive contributions and accomplishments on her résumé—and past Powerlists placed her at Number 7 in 2013 and Number 5 in 2014. However, the honor actually sends a disturbing message about the state of diversity in Britain, especially in regards to the country’s advertising industry. After all, despite Blackett’s willingness and courage to speak out on adland’s exclusivity, it’s safe to say she has failed to influence her peers to change. Why? Because like in the USA, the most influential Black people won’t inspire significant progress until even the least influential White people decide to take action.

Karen Blackett ‘most influential black person in Britain’

London business woman Karen Blackett has been named as the most influential black person in Britain.

The 43 year old, who is CEO of MediaCom UK, is the first ever business woman to top the Powerlist.

She beat Oscar winning director Steve McQueen, a Google executive and several MPs.

The top ten on the Powerlist 2015 are:

• Karen Blackett, CEO, MediaCom UK

• Ken Olisa, Thomson Reuters, Powerlist Foundation charity

• Chuka Umunna, Shadow Business Secretary (Labour MP, Streatham) / and Helen Grant, Minister for Sport and Tourism

• Sandie Okoro, Global General Council, HSBC Global Asset Management

• Steve McQueen, Artist/Director

• Matthew Ryder QC

• Sharon White, Second Permanent Secretary of the Treasury

• Lenny Henry and Idris Elba

• Adrian Joseph, Search Advertising Northern

• Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 driver

12230: Hip Hop, Jig & Jive From BBH.

Creativity spotlighted a commercial for U.K. juice brand J20—produced by Bartle Bogle Hegarty London—featuring hip hop dancers Junior’s Crew and Irish musicians Old Irish Beats. It’s another example of how White advertising agencies love hip hop. The announcer voiceover says, “That’s what happens when you put two great things together… There’s joy in the blend.” Too bad an exclusive agency like BBH doesn’t apply such liberal thinking to its hiring practices.

12229: Patriots Beat Offensive Karma.

Well, it looks like the New England Patriots were not affected by Offensive Karma resulting from the Twitter incident that played out last week, as Tom Brady and crew handily beat the Indianapolis Colts. In the end, the Patriots trumped Offensive Karma with offensive prowess, scoring 42 points versus the Colts’ 20 points. Apologies to anyone who took MultiCultClassics’ advice and bet on a Colts victory.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

12228: Sprint CMO TBD.

Advertising Age reported current Sprint CMO Jeff Hallock is bailing out, slated to officially leave the company once his replacement is identified, hopefully by the end of the first quarter of 2015. In typical Sprint ass-backwards fashion, the company is poised to hire Deutsch L.A. before naming the new White advertising agency’s immediate boss. Sprint should clean up its own act prior to asking an ad shop to rescue the telecom from destruction. Handing Deutsch an organizational chart with “TBD” typed into key spots shows the ignorance of the client—as well as the desperation of the agency. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure declared his company will present consumers with value, clarity and simplicity. Too bad that offer doesn’t extend to the fresh advertising agency.

Amid Agency Review, Sprint’s CMO Plans to Depart

Jeff Hallock, CMO Since January, Will Leave by the First Quarter of 2015

By Mark Bergen, Malika Toure

Jeff Hallock, the CMO of wireless carrier Sprint, will depart by the end of the first quarter of 2015, the company confirmed on Friday. His planned exit comes amid a major agency review and corporate overhaul under CEO Marcelo Claure, who joined the struggling carrier in August.

Mr. Hallock, a fifteen-year Sprint marketing veteran, was promoted to CMO in January following the resignation of Bill Malloy. He will stay on in the role through March 31, 2015, unless the carrier finds a replacement sooner.

“His departure was voluntary and it was based on a personal decision,” said Dave Mellin, a Sprint spokesman. “He will remain in charge of day to day operations until his replacement is found, which we expect to happen by sometime next year.”

In March, Mr. Hallock initiated a sweeping marketing campaign around the carrier’s “Framily Plan” with Figliulo & Partners, its lead creative agency since November 2013. Shortly after his appointment as CEO, Mr. Claure ditched the “Framily” offering in lieu of a new data plan. On Sept. 2, Mr. Claure launched an agency review.

The “Framily” ad campaign, a serial format centered on oddball characters, received a lukewarm reception from industry creatives, and Mr. Hallock repeatedly defended the campaign as it ran. Mr. Mellin said his departure was not related to the campaign.

A memo late Monday evening and attributed to Mr. Claure described Mr. Hallock’s departure, according to one executive who received the note.

“I want to thank Jeff for all his contributions throughout his Sprint career,” the memo read, the executive said. “He has been a fixture in Sprint marketing and I appreciate all he’s done for the company. A global search is under way to find a replacement, but Jeff will be fully engaged and manage the marketing organization until someone else is hired.”

Sprint declined to comment.

Mr. Claure’s search for a chief marketer will now be added to his ongoing hunt for agencies.

Sprint sent creative agencies a request for proposals on Aug. 29 through Mercer Island Consulting, according to executives familiar with the matter. Finalists in the pitch were Interpublic’s Deutsch L.A. and Havas’ Arnold Worldwide. Arnold was eliminated this week but Deutsch has yet to be declared the winner. While people close to the review have noted Mr. Claure’s desire to work with a larger agency, they have also said Figliulo & Partners remains involved and is likely to continue working with Sprint after a new creative lead is chosen.

Mr. Mellin declined to comment on the agency review.

In 2013, Sprint spent $1.56 billion in U.S. advertising, according to the Ad Age DataCenter. Sprint currently commands 15% of the U.S. wireless market, trailing larger spenders such as Verizon, with 33%, and AT&T, with 28%, according to ComScore. Sprint is also confronting a credible challenge from T-Mobile, which added 2.3 million customers during the third quarter.

Sprint has shed customers recently amid a costly network upgrade—it lost 500,000 subscribers in its most recent quarter, when it reported a loss of $192 million. The carrier also announced it had moved to lay off 2,000 from its workforce.

On the earnings calls, Mr. Claure told investors to expect Sprint to be “very aggressive” in its advertising moving forward.

Contributing: Maureen Morrison

12227: Quilt Quality Time.

From The New York Times…

The Practical Art of Quilting

A Review of ‘From Heart to Hand: African-American Quilts’ at the Montclair Art Museum

By Martha Schwendener

Quilts made by African-African women in the rural South — historically one of the least represented groups in the institutional art world — have become widely popular in recent decades. The spike of interest coincides with a growing focus on craft and folk art, possibly because of major museum exhibitions, like one at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002 featuring the quilts of Gee’s Bend, a hamlet in southwest Alabama.

Some critics have suggested that the quilts are interesting to contemporary art followers because their geometric patterns recall modernist abstract painting. Others have argued that African-American quilts are really part of the African diaspora of textile production, while still others point out the connection with 18th- and 19th-century European quilting techniques.

“From Heart to Hand: African-American Quilts from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts,” at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, does not wade into these issues. Given the scope and history of African-American quilt making, the exhibition is a tiny sampling of 29 quilts. (The Whitney show included 60.) Nonetheless, the show offers examples of the major types and genres.

For instance, there are the geometric quilts from Gee’s Bend, originally the site of a slave plantation. Gee’s Bend quilts, like many in the show, were traditionally made from castoff clothing or cornmeal sacks to help those in unheated shacks keep warm. What has grown out of these humble, utilitarian origins are works like Mary Lee Bendolph’s “Strings” (2003-4), which uses strips of cloth to make a vibrant, animated pattern.

Other geometric patterns include the Pig Pen (or Housetop) and Log Cabin variations. “Pig Pen Quilt,” made by an unknown quilter from Tuscaloosa in the late 20th century, features bright red and white concentric squares with a solid red square at its center. Another Gee’s Bend artist, Plummer T. Pettway, is represented by “Housetop/Strip Quilt” from around 1960 to 1970, which uses a similar concentric-square construction.

Catherine Somerville’s amazing quilt from the 1950s is constructed from men’s denim breeches in the Log Cabin pattern: Half the bars in each “round” or section are light and half are dark. (In a Housetop design, all the bars in a round are the same color and the rounds alternate between light and dark.) Stars are another popular geometric motif. Nora Ezell’s “Star Puzzle” (2001) includes stars of different sizes and showcases her virtuosity at connecting different complex patterns. A cotton quilt attributed to Mary Duncan titled “Lone Star” from around 1950 is an example of the most difficult star pattern to execute: One slip in the construction can cause the star to pucker.

Among the most powerful quilts on view are those in the narrative tradition: illustrative or story quilts. Several quilts follow the precedent set by Harriet Powers, a slave born in 1837 in Georgia whose quilts told stories from the Bible. Yvonne Wells has adopted that tradition, telling the story of the African-American experience during the civil rights movement. Born in Tuscaloosa in 1940, Ms. Wells lived through or witnessed many of the events described in her work.

Ms. Wells’s “Yesterday: Civil Rights in the South III” (1989) is an epic quilt that shows the Mayflower arriving in North America, with a black man rowing a white man ashore. There are little figures at the bottom picking cotton and a lynched man hanging from a tree, as well as an image of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, where four girls were killed by a bomb in 1963. George Wallace, the Alabama governor and presidential candidate, is depicted in front of a door, attempting to prevent the integration of the University of Alabama, and a circle of civil rights marchers surrounds an image of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Rosa Parks I” (2005) takes a different tack, with the civil rights pioneer dominating the quilt’s composition.

Despite the history documented in Ms. Wells’s quilts and the Alabama quilt tradition’s plantation origins, “From Heart to Hand” positions itself as a celebratory rather than a controversial show. The museum points out that the exhibition coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There are many complicated aspects to the show, however, starting with the attempt to highlight “superstars” of quilting when the practice was originally a collective enterprise. (The wall text points out that quilters now tend to work more individually.)

Furthermore, there is the irony that much of the work here was brought together by a businessman from Birmingham, Mich.: Kempf Hogan, who donated his collection of quilts to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama. What, one wonders, would a show of quilts assembled or curated by someone closer to the tradition reveal?

Nonetheless, the show makes you rethink approaches to art, collecting, museums and curating, beyond the obvious issues of art versus craft and the fallacy of vernacular art being entirely “self-taught”: The improvisations within a shared aesthetic here are very much like other artistic movements the world over, and some scholars have argued that quilters might have studied West African woven fabrics and emulated their patterns to create a stronger link to their heritage.

What is most evident throughout “From Heart to Hand,” however, is that practical boundaries — three layers of fabric stitched together and sized to cover a bed — create the conditions for great art, much the way paintings were born from canvas stretched over a frame, and sculpture from blocks of wood and stone waiting to be hewed.

“From Heart to Hand: African-American Quilts From the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts” is on view through Jan. 4 at the Montclair Art Museum, 3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair. Information: montclairartmuseum.org or 973-746-5555.