Monday, May 02, 2016

13179: Diverted Diversity Is Discrimination.

Campaign published diverted diversity dreck from Paul Burke, a lifetime adman who has suddenly gone from Cro-Magnon to pro-feminist. Regarding the alleged underrepresentation of White women in the creative department, Burke’s theories include the challenges rooted in how art directors and copywriters work in duos. Why, when a White male creative is paired with a White female creative, it’s only natural that they become romantically involved. Burke contends that the typical White male creative thinks, “If I have to work so closely with just one person, I’d rather it was a bloke”—and as a result, they lean towards teaming up with men versus women. Okay, so how does this explain the even more woeful underrepresentation of non-White men? Burke’s belief should probably read, “If I have to work so closely with just one person, I’d rather it was a White bloke.” And herein lies the true issue. It’s not that White men prefer White men versus White women. Rather, White men prefer White men versus any human being that is not a White man. Sorry, but that’s discrimination.

Jobs for the girls: paving the way for women in creative departments

By Paul Burke

Doing away with outdated creative department structures will both modernise agencies and further the cause of women in adland, Paul Burke writes.

Velcro, Teflon, Post-it notes and the microwave. All created accidentally by people who were trying to invent something else. And with his piece in Campaign two weeks ago, Jonathan Burley may well have done something very similar. Like 18 Feet & Rising, he has dissolved the rigid and outmoded structure of creative teams to improve his agency’s work. But, in so doing, he may also have solved a far knottier problem that has dogged our industry for years. And that is:

The woeful shortage of women in creative departments

Women are well-represented in all other departments, yet, in 2016, still about 80 per cent of creatives are men. The reason is very simple: they still work in pairs. We’re so accustomed to it, we have lost sight of how ridiculous it is. The team structure, introduced by Bill Bernbach, was a system designed for days gone by – for 50s America when there were far fewer women in the workplace. And it was a system designed for men. But the world was moved on, so don’t creative departments need to move on too?

The ‘arranged marriage’

In order to get a job, creatives are forced into very close relationships. As the old cliché goes, it’s like a marriage. They work together as one. They need to like each other, enjoy spending time together, think along similar lines and really “get” each other. Otherwise, the partnership won’t work. So quite often when that partnership comprises a man and woman who like each other, enjoy spending time together, think along similar lines and “get” each other, what do you think is going to happen?

Oh, shut up

Stop with the pretend outrage. You know perfectly well what happens. And, given how much they have in common, it’s no great surprise. The only surprise is that it doesn’t happen more often. I can think of several male/female teams who went from being a creative item to a romantic one, and four who ended up getting married. But living happily ever after is rare so, rather than risk careers collapsing if the relationship does, creatives may prefer to work with someone of the same sex. Fine. Except for one thing: the vast majority are men, so it’s a system that works against women. Of course, there are female teams too – but they’re often given the “girly” briefs and denied the opportunities afforded to “the boys”.

The cavalcade of caveats

Yes, I know that all this can be robustly denied. I’m not saying that either party sets out with this in mind. Neither am I suggesting that men and women can’t work together without fancying each other. But it is a real issue and it’s made worse by being a delicate subject that is seldom discussed. Because if male creatives were to say “If I have to work so closely with just one person, I’d rather it was a bloke”, they would be viewed as sexist. So they don’t say it. They just do it.

The solution?

Jonathan and 18 Feet & Rising seem to have accidentally come up with it. Phase out the old, outmoded team structure. If creatives worked independently, they could mix and match, working together on certain projects when their combined skills are required – like everyone else does in the 21st century. Creative departments would immediately benefit from a greater diversity of people and a greater proportion of women. The industry would improve, the work would improve and the age-old problems would disappear. For example:


If a woman is one-half of a creative team, it can be difficult to take time off to have a baby. And not just for her. While she’s away, her partner’s career can stagnate. They are a team and that team’s ability to work together will be affected by her having a child. If they worked solo, this wouldn’t be an issue. Technology has made creating ads the perfect job for working from home. No longer being part of a malfunctioning team will make women’s jobs more secure and easier to balance with childcare.

The howls of protest

I can hear them now from the patriarchy by the pool table. “But we work better as a pair,” they will say, because that’s all they know. But the good ones will raise no objection. They will welcome the chance to do work with different people, absorb different perspectives – particularly female ones – and watch their work improve. They will be more like digital creatives, who tend not to be shackled to one partner. Those departments are far more fluid, have far more women and they are doing brilliantly. What more do you need to know?

Implement the invention

If women are ever going to get equality of opportunity, the way creative departments are structured and the way their personnel are trained and hired need to change – forever. Dismantle the male-dominated team system and break down those barriers. The party’s over, boys. But look at it this way: if you’re any good, you’ll be going to a far better party. One where girls are invited.

Paul Burke is an award-winning copywriter and novelist who has worked at J Walter Thompson, BMP DDB and Y&R

Sunday, May 01, 2016

13178: ASA Defending White Women.

The Guardian reported the Advertising Standards Authority—UK’s advertising watchdog—launched an investigation over gender stereotyping in adverts. Given the admission that the “increasing political and public debate on equality issues” inspired the initiative, it’s safe to say this is another example of diverted diversity in adland. After all, the ASA is essentially segregating the “equality issues” to focus on protecting White women. “We’re serious about making sure we’re alive to changing attitudes and behaviours,” declared ASA CEO Guy Parker. So what about racial and ethnic stereotypes in adverts—as well as the underrepresentation of minorities in campaigns? Guess it’s easier for the ASA to show concern for objectifying White women versus discriminatory depictions for people of color.

ASA launches investigation into gender stereotyping of women in adverts

By Mark Sweney

Watchdog says research project follows increasing political and public debate on equality issues

The UK advertising watchdog is to launch an investigation to see whether rules about the objectification, sexualisation and stereotyping of women in ads need to be tightened.

The Advertising Standards Authority, which received more than 37,000 complaints and banned or forced changes to almost 3,500 ads last year, said that it was prompted to start the research project into gender stereotyping in ads following the “increasing political and public debate on equality issues”.

The ASA will also look at the depiction of men and boys in advertising, however it is the portrayal of women which is likely to garner the most scrutiny.

Campaigns such as Protein World’s “Beach Body Ready” ads have sparked a huge backlash about body-shaming and objectifying women.

The ASA cleared the campaign of breaking rules despite almost 4oo complaints and 70,000 signatories to an online petition about its portrayal of women.

The advertising watchdog banned the ad for misleading health and nutrition claims.

The ASA said it would explore a range of issues including how ads present women with an idealised or unrealistic body image, the mocking of women and men in ads where they take on roles against stereotype, and using gender-specific marketing tactics to target children. “We’re serious about making sure we’re alive to changing attitudes and behaviours,” said Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA.

The ASA said it intended to examine the evidence on gender stereotyping in ads, seek views from the ad industry and other stakeholders, and commission research into public opinion.

The ASA said it would be open-minded about the outcome of the research project, but that if the evidence suggested tougher regulation was needed it would look to implement new rules. “We’ve already been taking action to ban ads that we believe reinforce gender stereotypes and are likely to cause serious and widespread offence or harm,” said Parker. “We want to engage further with a wide range of stakeholders on the effect of gender stereotyping on society, including through our call for evidence.”

Earlier this month, the ASA banned a Gucci ad for irresponsibly featuring an “unhealthily thin” model.

In February, the watchdog banned a campaign featuring girls taking slimming pills to lose weight for a beach holiday after 200 complaints that it promoted an unhealthy body image among young women.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

13177: BBDO Mexico Stinks.

BBDO Mexico thinks smelly feet pose sexual dangers to women and children. The responsible creatives must have foot fetishes. Idiots.

Friday, April 29, 2016

13176: Deutsch Dodges Diversity.

Campaign published an interview with Deutsch North America CCO Pete Favat and Deutsch Chairman Linda Sawyer, probing the two on recent senior-level hires that were predominately White and male. Appropriately enough, the accompanying colorless photo of the two executives showed them not staring directly at the camera; that is, Favat and Sawyer can’t look you straight in the eye and deliver a legitimate response regarding their agency’s exclusivity. The answers provided by the diversity-diverting duo were dodgy, as well as culturally clueless clichés and contrived cover-ups. Net comment: Two industry leaders are making zero deliberate efforts to address discriminatory hiring practices. Worse yet, Deutsch is part of the IPG network, self-recognized for leadership in diversity and inclusion.

Why Deutsch hired two white, male CCOs

By Douglas Quenqua

“A different point of view doesn’t mean a different gender or a different race,” says NA CCO Pete Favat

The news yesterday that Deutsch had simultaneously hired two new chief creative officers — Jason Bagley in Los Angeles and Dan Kelleher in New York — didn’t come as much of a surprise. It had been eight months since NY CCO Kerry Keenan left the agency, and more than a year since former LA CCO Pete Favat was elevated to North American CCO, leaving the LA role empty. Someone needed to fill those jobs, and Bagley and Kelleher seem like a natural fit.

The surprising part was that Deutsch, an agency long associated with female leaders, had become the latest shop to present a photo of its senior leadership that featured nothing but white men. And it wasn’t just yesterday: Out of five senior hires the Interpublic Group agency has made in 2016, every one has been male and white. And three of those hires — chief technology officer Trevor O’Brien, chief strategy officer Andrew Dawson and Kelleher — will now form what Deutsch calls its “three-pronged leadership” team in New York, meaning the office’s go-to-market strategy will be dominated by white men.

Fifteen years ago, no one may have noticed. But in 2016, issues of diversity in advertising have taken on a new urgency. The JWT discrimination lawsuit, the Campbell Ewald “ghetto day” email, the Bloomingdale’s ad about “spiking her eggnog.” There’s a reason that Nancy Hill, CEO of the Association of American Advertising Agencies, opened the group’s annual gathering in March with an emotional speech admonishing agency leaders, “If you’re the CEO, you are the chief diversity officer.”

On Wednesday, Deutsch Chairman Linda Sawyer and Favat answered questions about the job search, Deutsch’s record of diversity and the struggle to find good talent.

You are fresh off the process of hiring two new CCOs, both of whom ended up being white men. Any thoughts on why this process so often ends up arriving at the same conclusion?

Pete Favat: It’s a long process, with a lot going on. A large portion of the work we do for clients is tech and digital, so if there is one major filter that we are looking for with candidates, it’s someone who has a balance between understanding the digital and being well-versed in more — I hate to say traditional — but storytelling type of work. We talked to a lot of people, and there are people who are very strong digitally but don’t have a very strong sense of TV or traditional mediums, or vice versa. We go into it looking for someone who is a bridge builder between technology and traditional mediums. That’s the first filter.

The second filter is simple: Are they nice people? Do they respect people? They’re not going to come in and be a complete jerk. It’s a simple process, but finding the right people was extremely difficult.

Linda Sawyer: We have always had a lot of women in management and in our organization. If you look at our senior leadership, we’re at like 58% women, and if you look at our organization overall, we’re over 50% women, as well as around 50% in our creative department.

When you talk about the notion of talent having no gender, that cuts both ways — this was about finding the right people, and it happened that the two people we landed on with the right skill set and chemistry happened to, in this case, be men.

How many candidates did you speak to overall?

Favat: We spoke to about 20 people. It is interesting, because we’re fully aware of the importance of all this, but never does it run through our mind that we need to hire a woman, or we need to hire an African American, or we need to hire a man. That’s never part of the process. We keep an eye on the overall picture of the company. But we never go into it saying we need to fill this position with a specific gender, nor would our clients ask us to do that. It’s more important to get the right talent and the right person in the job.

But diversity among senior creative leadership is such a specific issue. So doesn’t it sometimes make sense to say, ‘These are CCO positions. We really do need to look for someone with a different point of view”?

Favat: A different point of view doesn’t mean a different gender or a different race. A different point of view can be anybody. So yeah, we definitely look for different points of view and people who have skill sets that are more modern than anybody else. But I don’t know if I’d say if a woman would have a different point of view than a man would, so I don’t know if that’s ever a part of it.

Deutsch has made five senior hires this year, all of whom have been white men. That is something of a trend, no?

Favat: I don’t know if it’s a trend. We’ve hired new people but we’ve also promoted females into senior positions. We’ve promoted people like Kim Getty in LA to president [Jan 2015] and Pam Scheideler is now chief digital officer of LA [Feb 2016]. I’ll also say that In LA, from a CD standpoint, we have promoted six women up to senior level roles as creative directors.

I think what happens is, the photo dictates so much these days. We even wrestle with that — do we include a photo or not? It’s that one photograph in that one moment that makes it look that way. But when we promote someone to a CD, there’s no photo, there’s no story. So in some ways maybe we should start writing stories that these people are getting promoted.

So beyond the picture, there was no discussion about the need to find something other than two white men to fill these roles?

Favat: No, because, I don’t think any of us look at somebody as a white person or a black person or a woman or an African American. We look at people as, Do they have the talent and the skill set to take on this role? And also a person who clients just adore. We look at that and say, “Who would fit that role?”

Sawyer: I think your question is very apropos for an organization where you look across the board at senior leadership and it’s predominantly white men. That is a seriously missed opportunity. We’re very fortunate that because we do have such a well-balanced organization from top to bottom, we can just focus on bringing in the right talent. Yet we do believe in the whole notion of diversity of thought, and I think it’s paid off very well.

But in New York, the three prongs of your go-to-market strategy are all represented by white men. No concern that a client will see that and question how you will reach different groups of people with three guys who look the same? Favat: Actually they don’t look the same at all. Dan is completely bald, Trevor is like a 7’ tall Irishman, and Andrew is like a 5’6” guy from Brooklyn. [Laughter] They don’t look anything alike actually.

They also report to Val Difebo and Linda Sawyer. I don’t know, I don’t walk around saying all white men look alike. We just look at people as individuals.

Your head of diversity in New York, Felicia Geiger, was recently let go. Are you eliminating the position?

Vonda LePage, EVP, director of communications: We’re eliminating the position. One of the philosophies we lean into is that everybody at Deutsch, from the CEO to the receptionist, owns diversity. And we wanted to really make sure that everybody was stepping up and owning it. And by having one person who owned it, which is what that role was, kind of took the responsibility off everybody else. And so now our diversity efforts are spread much more through, not just HR departments, but other departments.

13175: Unilever’s Universal Lies.

Adweek reported Unilever is using its Dove brand to address beauty ideals for women in India. Um, Unilever is behind the Fair and Lovely skin-lightening product, which makes the Dove effort a fairly lovely act of hypocrisy.

Dove’s Latest Mission? Revamping Beauty Ideals in India

Brand hopes to spark change with new short film

By Kristina Monllos

Dove’s got a new short film, Let’s Break the Rules of Beauty, which champions a more inclusive approach to beauty for Indian women.

The 50-second short, from Indian film director, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker, Pan Nalin, showcases a variety of women whose look and style doesn’t necessarily fit the Indian beauty ideal of “youthful looks, fair skin, long black flowing hair and a trim figure.”

“[This] is the first Dove Masterbrand campaign created specifically for India,” said Victoria Sjardin, senior global brand director, Dove Masterbrand. “India is a country growing and evolving at a rapid pace and yet the traditional beauty ideal remains narrow and restrictive. In fact, our new research suggests 76 percent of Indian women believe that in today’s society, it is critical to meet certain beauty standards.”

According to the brand’s research, the pressure to comply with Indian beauty ideals comes from external, traditional and societal factors and 80 percent of India’s 631 million women believe that they need to look a certain way to do well in life.

“This campaign is designed to encourage India to embrace its diversity in beauty, and spark change against the variety of pressures and influences that are keeping a narrow beauty ideal alive,” said Sjardin. “Our hope is to genuinely start a conversation about expanding the beauty ideal and embracing the varieties of beauty that come from a country with 631 million women, 29 states and 22 languages.”

The digital campaign isn’t the brand’s first effort in India. Hoping to raise the self-esteem of young women in India the brand launched the Dove Self-Esteem Project in 2014. It has already educated 300,000 young people to date and, according to Sjardin, the brand aspires to reach 2.65 million young people by 2020.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

13174: Y&R&Hypocrisy.

This National Geographic campaign celebrating cultural differences from Y&R in Brazil is especially heinous and hypocritical when considering the agency’s notoriety for dousing diversity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

13173: Adweek’s Diverted Diversity Issue.

Adweek presented its “Women’s Issue”—filled with plenty of diverted diversity. Funny how the trade publications annually salute White admen, adwomen, media people, young adpeople, etc. Why no “Minority Issue”—besides the fact that it would be damned difficult finding enough adpeople of color to fill an entire issue?

Monday, April 25, 2016

13172: Nutty Professing.

Campaign published a perspective on mental health from Oystercatchers CEO and Founder Suki Thompson. According to Thompson, “While we’ve come a long way in tackling sexism and racism, we’re still burying our heads in the sand when it comes to mental health and mental wellness.” Um, is Thompson crazy? To think adland has “come a long way in tackling sexism and racism” demonstrates a serious lack of mental awareness. Thompson wrote, “Prioritising mental well-being should be just as vital as tackling sexism and racism…” Okay, but let’s hope mental well-being doesn’t receive the same amount of apathy, inaction and indifference as racism—although it will probably join sexism as another diverted diversity smokescreen.

We need to change the conversation about mental health

By Suki Thompson

Prioritising mental well-being should be just as vital as tackling sexism and racism, says Oystercatchers’ chief executive.

At this week’s Advertising Week Europe we came together to talk about stress — possibly the last taboo topic in our industry. While we’ve come a long way in tackling sexism and racism, we’re still burying our heads in the sand when it comes to mental health and mental wellness. In the UK, 70 million days are lost from work each year due to mental ill health.

Matt Atkinson, the group chief marketing officer of Saga; Nabs’ chief executive Diana Tickell; John Neal, performance coach and sports psychologist; Mark Rowland, director of fundraising and communication at the Mental Health Foundation; and Jonathan Harman of the Royal Mail joined me on stage and pulled no punches.

Nabs reported an upsurge of 67 per cent in people calling for emotional support in the last 12 months, with 65 per cent saying at some point in their career they felt unable to cope.

Mark Rowland shared his own story. His brother struggled for years with depression, a significant trigger being a sense of his own perceived failure: that he hadn’t achieved whatever his younger self had defined as a worthwhile life. It owned him and slowly suffocated him. Two years ago, his brother went out for a bike ride and never came back.

I can’t begin to imagine the devastation.

I believe that we’re at a point in time when the cultural wave is crashing. I can openly talk about cancer, and no one doubts I can do my job, yet mention a mental health problem [and that can range from depression to autism] and employers are less likely to offer up employment. That has to stop.

Lessons I learnt

As leaders, do we create or remove stress? Are we doing enough to bring the challenges of stress to the table? Matt Atkinson made a strong point when it comes to agency and client relationships. His view is that clients hold a great responsibility in setting the tone to ensure teams do great things together. “Work out whether you bring support and challenge into the room or just leave behind chaos,” he urged. The tone of conversations, meetings and even emails need to carefully be considered.

John Neal, currently prepping British athletes for the Rio Olympics, uses a brilliant visual device to communicate individual well-being, smartly avoiding what most see as an awkward conversation. His team fill up small bottles of water to illustrate how much space [i.e. capacity] they each have left for training.

And our industry is helping too. Nabs’ Advice Line provides confidential and practical advice on how to handle stress, and master classes give people confidence to talk and understand that it’s perfectly normal to feel that you can’t cope all the time.

Some practical tips

Fitness: Without exception exercise came top of the list.

Know yourself: realising that she is a born organiser, Diana spends time tidying up each evening and prioritising work load to reduce that last minute feeling of stress.

Sleep well: Matt turns off the family Wi-Fi at 9pm, without fail. Data shows that blue and white light late at night [that means TV too] guarantees restless sleep.

Pace yourself and support others: my PA will stop me from filling my diary — “too much Suki — time to breathe.”

Relationships: Mark told us that there is evidence that both home and work relationships can have a dramatic impact on our mental wellness, so don’t be afraid to change and speak up.

And finally, John’s advice: make love, and buy a mattress topper!

We’re at the beginning of a long journey and we need to get our business in shape. Employee health needs to be owned and supported by everyone. “Mental first aid” training should be included in leadership programs and executive coaching. Environments, schedules and cultural norms will need to reflect compassion and kindness.

Our call of action is clear: achieve parity between physical and mental health. We are organising a roundtable bringing together people who want to help lead change in our industry, marketing and agency heads, and experts to develop an agenda.

Please let me know if you want to take part at, or for support contact Nabs on 0800 707 6607 or FREEPOST NABS.

In the meantime, I’m off to buy a mattress topper and several small bottles of mineral water.

Suki Thompson is the chief executive and co-founder of Oystercatchers