Wednesday, September 20, 2017

13832: Burrell Breaks Barriers.

Adweek reported Tom Burrell became the one Black in The One Club Creative Hall of Fame. Kudos to Burrell, but surely there are other worthy Blacks—including Georg Olden, Roy Eaton and Harry Webber—who also deserve recognition in the exclusive club.

Tom Burrell Becomes First African-American Inducted Into One Club Creative Hall of Fame

He founded Burrell Communications Group in 1971

By Erik Oster

Burrell Communications Group founder Tom Burrell, who has been breaking barriers his entire career, has added yet another one to the list.

The One Club inducted Burrell into its Creative Hall of Fame, making him the first African-American to receive the honor, which dates back to Leo Burnett’s inaugural induction in 1961. Burrell was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame back in 2004.

A pioneer in recognizing and celebrating the purchasing power of the African-American community, Burrell coined the phrase “Black people are not dark-skinned white people.” His advertisements for Coca-Cola are archived at the Library of Congress, recognized for their cultural and historical significance.

Tom Burrell began his career in the mailroom at Wade Advertising while still at Roosevelt University. The agency’s first black employee, he soon earned himself a junior copywriting position, working on the agency’s Alka-Seltzer and Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour accounts, according to the Advertising Hall of Fame. He went on to work at several agencies, including Leo Burnett and FCB, before founding Burrell Communications Group in 1971.

He retired in 2004 and currently serves as chairman emeritus for the agency, which is now led by co-CEOs Fay Ferguson and McGhee Williams Osse and CCO Lewis Williams. Burrell Communications Group currently counts McDonald’s, P&G, Comcast, Walmart, Toyota Motor Sales Inc., AARP and Hilton among its client roster.

In addition to his work in advertising, Burrell is the author of Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority and founded nonprofit The Resolution Project to “challenge and reverse ongoing mass media stereotypes and negative race-based conditioning.”

13831: Dancing For Diversity…?

The latest Google Doodle celebrates the 100th birthday of Mexican dance pioneer Amalia Hern├índez Navarro, and presumably also salutes Hispanic Heritage Month. Would Hern├índez Navarro dance with joy to learn Latinos represent a paltry 4% of Google’s current workforce?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

13830: Targeting Racists Is Easy!

Advertising Age reported it’s possible to target advertising messages to racists. Is this news? Is anyone surprised that an industry featuring lots of people exhibiting unconscious bias—as well as conscious bias—would have any trouble connecting with like-minded bigots? However, Ad Age insisted, “But it also turns out advertisers aren’t all that interested in deliberately reaching anti-Semites.” Maybe not, but advertisers are interested in deliberately conspiring with White advertising agencies where diversity remains a dream deferred, diverted, delegated and denied.

Turns Out, Brands Can Target Ads To Racists. But Would They?

By Garett Sloane

Turns out the ability to target specific bigotries is more widespread than first thought. But it also turns out advertisers aren’t all that interested in deliberately reaching anti-Semites.

On Friday, two more media outlets uncovered the ability for advertisers to target groups of people based on racist interests, this time on Google and Twitter. Racist-inspired ad targeting had first been discovered on Facebook on Thursday by investigative journalist group ProPublica.

Internet outrage aside, most advertisers are not surprised by this darker side of ad targeting. While ugly, targeting racists isn’t as much of a risk for brands as having their ads show up on racist websites through automated media buying, which is the typical brand safety concern with online ads.

“In theory, anyone could hack ad targeting tools on Facebook, but why would you unless you’re a Trump alt-right type,” asks one digital agency exec, speaking on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the subject. “Anyone could reverse engineer what racists are interested in. Like if they were interested in, say, Breitbart or some other publication, you could then target lookalike audiences. There are all sorts of crude tools to target them.”

Another agency exec discussed how those same ad targeting tools can also be used for good. In one instance, YouTube is able to identify young people who are prone to radicalization and customize the videos they see to offer content that could help discourage their violent tendencies.

YouTube has developed ad campaigns that target these types of youth, who are deemed to be at-risk of joining groups like ISIS.

“Think about how much is uploaded to YouTube every day,” the agency exec said. “The fact that it can flag as much as it does, is amazing. And anything can be used for evil.”

On Thursday, ProPublica had found areas in Facebook’s self-serve ad system where it could find groups of people based on their education history, and in more than 2,000 examples people on the social network had listed anti-Semitic terms as their fields of study. People had listed “Jew hater,” “how to burn Jews” and other offensive language, and they were able to be discovered in the ad system, and they were made available for targeting. Facebook said it was taking steps to shut down the ability to target against such offensive terms.

BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast found similar flaws in Google and Twitter’s ad platforms. On Google, there were racist search terms available for targeting—“black people ruin everything” and “Jews control the media,” among a number of others, according to BuzzFeed. Twitter had similar categories available, according to The Daily Beast.

The targeting loopholes weren’t a big concern to most advertisers, because they say they wouldn’t use them, however the issue does expose more problems with automated online advertising. Leaving machines to do much of the work, and with artificial intelligence taking over more of the thinking, there are more opportunities for these types of embarrassing mishaps.

“The lesson here for Facebook is this: People are crass, stupid, and sometimes evil,” says a social media agency executive. “Don’t automate anything without some level of human oversight or guardrails in place. Machines aren’t perfect.”

Monday, September 18, 2017

13829: Beam Diversity Up, Scotti.

Adweek reported on the dubious progress revealed by Verizon CMO Diego Scotti, who had mimicked HP CMO Antonio Lucio’s request for White advertising agencies to primarily promote White women and secondarily consider colored people. Sure enough, the fuzzy figures exposed by Scotti showed a big boost for White women and questionable results for people of color. When asked why he didn’t force quotas on his White ad shops, Scotti explained, “We don’t really believe in quotas, we believe in progress.” Okay, but how does one measure—and ultimately judge—progress if specific numbers aren’t applied to the equation? Scotti then segued to hyping his company’s latest diversity scheme, which involves an internship program for colored college students. Wow, that’s original. When discussing diversity, Scotti admitted, “This is not an easy thing to solve, so for me I never expected to have crazy results quickly, but I learned a few things that are important.” Whatever. But everyone should learn one thing that is important: High-tech companies like Verizon and HP are diversity dinosaurs—and these companies have maxed their quotas for conspiring with White advertising agencies.

One Year After Calling on Agency Partners to Be More Diverse, Verizon CMO Shares the Results

Diego Scotti on new hires and Verizon’s Ad Fellows program, which kicks off today

By Katie Richards

One year ago, Verizon CMO Diego Scotti sent a letter to all of the brand’s agency partners. In that letter, Scotti called on each of the 11 agencies on the Verizon roster to focus on improving the number of women and people of color working for them.

Scotti’s letter came around the same time that HP and General Mills put out similar demands, laying out quotas for their agency partners to reach. Verizon didn’t ask for agencies to meet a certain quota because as Scotti explained, “we don’t really believe in quotas, we believe in progress.” Instead he asked that all of the agencies share the current state of their workforce 30 days after the letter was sent out and deliver an action plan to improve upon those numbers in the future.

“Now we meet every quarter with all the agencies together, and everybody needs to report their progress in front of everybody else, which in and of itself is changing the dynamic of how we are having this conversation,” Scotti explained. It holds everyone accountable.

Now one year after making that call to action, Scotti shared how both Verizon and its partners are doing on the diversity and gender front.

At the agencies, 31 percent of employees at the leadership level are people of color, up nine percent from last year. Eleven percent of those in leadership positions are hispanic, up 5 percent; 51 percent are female, up 3 percent.

“This is not an easy thing to solve, so for me I never expected to have crazy results quickly, but I learned a few things that are important,” Scotti said. One of those important lessons Scotti learned came from starting an in-house agency that launched in February.

There are already 70 people working on Verizon’s in-house team and the staff is split, 50 percent white and 50 percent people of color. Additionally, 52 percent of the staff is female and 48 percent is male.

“The number one lesson is when you build something from scratch and you put the filter of diversity in it, you can do it,” he said. “If you create the right environment, then you can do it.”

Looking specifically at new hires, 210 employees have been hired in the past year to work on the Verizon account across agencies; 41 percent of the hires were people of color and 53 percent were women.

Creating an in-house agency and focusing on improving agency and internal diversity numbers was the first prong in Scotti’s diversity-focused approach for Verizon. Another prong is the Ad Fellows program, which officially kicks off today.

The Ad Fellows program selects 20 college graduates from across the country, all with diverse backgrounds, to participate in an eight-month fellowship program. Scotti hopes that at the end of the program, 90 percent of the fellows will score full-time jobs at one of the six companies participating in Ad Fellows.

What makes Ad Fellows different than your typical fellowship, though, is that Verizon tapped five of its agency partners—McCann, Momentum, Rauxa, Zenith and Weber Shandwick—to participate in the program.

Over the course of eight months, the 20 fellows will be split into smaller groups and rotate between Verizon and a handful of the participating agencies (which cover creative, media and PR). That way the recent graduates have a chance to explore different parts of the marketing and advertising business and find out what it is they want to do with their career and what parts of the business they excel in.

The program is fully paid and covers housing and expenses for all 20 fellows to ensure that people of all backgrounds can have the chance to participate.

While the program just kicked off today, Scotti already has big plans for its future. Outside of holding more cycles each year, Scotti hopes that the idea of an Ad Fellows program can extend beyond Verizon. He hopes one day that, “every company in America has an Ad Fellows program and they gather agencies to work with them. I would love to partner with the ANA or The Ad Club or some organization that could help bring other clients to partner with the ad agencies and make it a really big thing.”

Sunday, September 17, 2017

13828: Stock Schlock.

Leave it to stock image suppliers to invite you to “Elevate Your Work With Powerful Images”—via banner ads featuring thoroughly mediocre and forgettable images.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

13827: Googling Diverted Diversity.

Campaign reported Google is being slapped with accusations of gender discrimination in a U.S. lawsuit—ultimately proving the power of diverted diversity. After all, the tech company admits that women account for only 31% of the workforce; however, Latinos represent 4% and Blacks represent 2%. So where’s the lawsuit for people of color? Sorry, racial and ethnic minorities, but you’ll have to get in line behind all the angry White women.

Google accused of sex discrimination in US lawsuit

Google is being sued by three female former employees, who are claiming that it discriminates against women, paying them less and favouring men for promotion.

By Ben Bold

The three women have filed a lawsuit that claims that the technology giant while aware of the situation has done nothing to remedy it.

The suit has been filed in a San Francisco court; it argues that Google discriminates against female staff with lower pay and limited opportunities for promotion compared with men.

One of the trio, Kelly Ellis, a former Google software engineer, tweeted that she hoped to “force not only Google, but other companies to change their practices”.

Ellis joined Google in 2010 and despite her four years’ experience was given a role typically given to graduates. A male colleague with a similar level of experience was given a higher-ranking role, she said. She resigned four years later due to the “sexist culture”.

The plaintiffs are seeking class-action that would cover women who had worked at the company in the past four years, demanding unpaid wages.

Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said in a statement: “Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions.

The majority (70%) of Google staff are men, with 80% of tech staff male and 75% of leadership positions.

The news follows a row that broke out last month at Google over an engineer’s memo criticizing its diversity initiatives, arguing that “psychological differences” explain why women are underrepresented in tech.

The 10-page memo, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” argued that “we need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism”.

Google is also under investigation by the US Department of Labor over its pay practices.

Friday, September 15, 2017

13826: WPPoop.

Adweek reported WPP is merging five shitty consultancies and design agencies to form a global pile of poop. Of course, blending shops from different countries will allow WPP to continue peddling the lie that it represents “the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation.” Now, that’s a monumental bunch of bullshit.

WPP Is Merging 5 Consultancies and Design Agencies to Form a New Global Brand Offering

The unnamed agency will launch in January

By Erik Oster

WPP announced this week that it will combine five of its brand consultancies and design agencies to form a new global brand agency.

The new group, which has yet to be named, will combine Brand Union, The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, Addison Group and VBAT. The launch is set for January 2018, with the latter shop continuing to operate under its own name.

The network will include around 750 employees across 20 countries, with client billings estimated at over $100 million worldwide. Jim Prior will lead the network as the global CEO and Simon Bolton will serve as executive chairman. Prior currently serves as The Partners CEO, while Bolton serves as Brand Union’s worldwide CEO.

“Our clients and our industry are ready for change and by bringing these agencies together, we can serve clients across the full range of sectors, capabilities and geographies,” Prior said in a statement. “This convergence builds the next generation brand agency and is motivated by the opportunities for growth—for our clients and for us.”

“Bringing our agencies together will instantly give our clients the benefit of scale and single point of access to a breadth of services that covers almost every aspect of brand and communications,” Bolton added.

WPP’s decision to merge the entities seems to be keeping with reorganization trends at the holding company as it attempts to rebound from a disappointing first half of 2017. Despite some major account wins, WPP failed to meet first half revenue goals in August and saw its stock plummet as a result. That stemmed largely from U.S. clients reducing ad spending totals, but it placed additional pressure on CEO Martin Sorrell to reduce overall operating expenses to increase the network’s efficiency, but some observers called for a more radical reorganization at the holding company.

“The pressures that we’re seeing accelerate the need to simplify what we’ve got,” Sorrell said at the time.

“The brand consulting business has always struggled to achieve the critical mass that ad agencies and media agencies have achieved. WPP’s hands were tied on this to some extent as they continue to push for efficiencies and scale,” Greg Paull, founding principal of international consultancy R3, said.

The pending formation of the new global brand agency also follows on the heels of WPP announcing the merger of MEC and Maxus to form a new global media network earlier this year as part of its ongoing reorganization.

Like the newest offering, that one went without a name for several weeks before the holding group introduced the world to Wavemaker last month.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

13825: Enter The Little Dragon.

Advertising Age reported China loves hip hop too.

Rapper’s Delight: China’s Hip-Hop Talent Showcase Boosts Brands

By Angela Doland

A rapper named Little Dragon struts across a stage, baseball cap slung low on his forehead. The camera cuts to glistening McDonald’s chicken wings, and Little Dragon plugs the product in a rap couplet—in Mandarin. “Hip-hop snack box/share it and it’s better.”

Welcome to “The Rap of China,” a new singing contest and a major vehicle for sponsorships and product placements. It’s also the first rap talent show in a country not known as a thriving hotbed of hip-hop culture. More: It’s a massive hit. The online video platform that shows it, iQiyi, says there have been over 2 billion combined views in 10 episodes of the show, in which Chinese rappers in huge gold chains and slouchy sweats try to outdo each other.

It’s a success with sponsors too, including local brands Nongfu Spring water and Xiaomi electronics, as well as Absolut vodka, Chevrolet Camaro and McDonald’s. As is standard in China, sponsor content and product placements are a huge part of the show, and nobody is surprised to see a supposed rebel rapping about the pleasure of sharing McDonald’s snack boxes.

Big investment, big payback

Doing a rap show “was kind of a gamble—before it actually started, nobody knew what would happen,” says Kevin Cao, iQiyi’s commercial marketing director. “We put a lot of time and resources into it, investing more than $30 million.” The program has more than made that back, taking in almost $46 million in ads and sponsorships.

One reason for its success is that mainstream stars appear too. Heartthrob Kris Wu, an actor-singer and former boy band member, is a celebrity mentor for the rappers, and though people online mocked his hip-hop credentials, he draws huge audiences. His catchphrase “Can you freestyle?” became a meme that publicized the show all over China’s internet.

Until now, rap had been more subculture in China than mainstream, but nonetheless attracted government attention. In 2015, the Ministry of Culture blacklisted 120 songs, including hip-hop tunes, because of their subject matter (from flatulence to suicide). But the Communist Party apparently doesn’t object to rap music itself, since the state broadcaster put it in a propaganda video in 2015. That song sampled speeches by President Xi Jinping and included lyrics like “Reform the supply side and upgrade the economy.”

Online TV boom

IQiyi, part of Chinese search giant Baidu, originally planned to hold a mainstream singing contest, a common form of TV entertainment in China, and had collected $46 million from sponsors to do so, Cao says. When iQiyi scrapped that project to go the rap route, it returned the $46 million and started over.

China has 751 million people online, according to official statistics, and online TV has been stealing ad dollars away from traditional TV in China as it has elsewhere. Each of the local internet giants owns a big video platform: Baidu has iQiyi, Tencent Holdings has Tencent Video and Alibaba Group Holding owns Youku Tudou. Most of the programming is free to watch, though people who buy subscriptions for a few dollars a month get extra content and see fewer ads. With so many people skipping interruptive ads now, more branded content is being built into the shows, from song lyrics to branded “stickers” dancing across the screens.

Chinese brands, more than multinationals, have embraced the zany sponsorship opportunities as they tend to be more experimental with their marketing. But foreign brands seemed to grasp the potential of rap on the mainland. Ruey Ku, Publicis media content general manager in greater China, says she believes “foreign brands saw the high relevance of hip-hop culture with the youth they’re targeting.”

McDonald’s and Absolut were among three sponsors that came on board before shooting started, iQiyi says. Some sponsors joined afterward. McDonald’s, the second-biggest sponsor, went all in; it tapped Wu to appear in commercials, and it has a snack box to match.

The show’s top sponsorship cost $18 million and went to Chinese water brand Nongfu Spring, the name of which is emblazoned on the show’s logo. That’s at the high end for sponsorships of online TV but still affordable compared with traditional or satellite TV, where prices for a top show can run four times that.

Merchandise is another potential revenue stream. IQiyi created a brand called R!ch for the show, including big golden chain necklaces that feature in the contest. They’re on sale on iQiyi’s online shopping mall for $14 each. The company is also working on licensing deals with other brands.

But one of the biggest beneficiaries of the show has undoubtedly been the New York clothing brand Supreme, which Wu, the show’s star, wears. On search engine Baidu, queries about Supreme are up about 170% this summer compared with the same period last year, according to Kantar Media CIC. That’s just a stroke of luck for the Supreme brand: IQiyi says it’s not a product placement.