Agency Brief: Trump takes aim at Madison Avenue
Dear Madison Avenue: It’s your turn to feel the wrath of our oh-so-diplomatic president. Taking a little break from reprimanding Democrats or “the fake news media” on Twitter, President Donald Trump instead took aim at ad agencies in a tweet late Thursday evening.
Trump tweeted: “Thank you to all of my great Keyboard Warriors. You are better, and far more brilliant, than anyone on Madison Avenue (Ad Agencies). There is nobody like you!”
Keyboard warriors is a normally derogatory reference to aggressive social media trolls—the core of the president’s fan base. What agencies did to draw the ire of Trump is unclear. It’s possible Trump’s snark was directed at campaign manager Brad Parscale, the founder of agency Parscale Digital, with whom he’s had a rocky relationship over the past few weeks. Trump’s been looking to shake up his campaign and had been reaching out to ad agencies before the start of the pandemic. That's according to one executive at a well-known New York shop that he says was approached by the president late last year. It’s possible Trump is being rejected by industry folk—the anonymous exec says his agency turned Trump away. Anyway, we might never know what specific event prompted Trump to take a jab at agencies on Twitter, where he airs all his dirty laundry. Guess everyone’s time will come, as Chrissy Teigen found out last year.
MediaCom to power Duracell’s planning and buying
WPP’s MediaCom has been appointed as Duracell’s new global media agency of record across 32 markets including the U.S., U.K. and China. The decision follows a review that kicked off in November 2019, before the global coronavirus pandemic. The partnership is effective July 1. Previously, Publicis Groupe’s Starcom handled media responsibilities for a handful of Duracell’s markets including the EMEA but not for the U.S. or China, according to one person close to the business. That person says Publicis did not compete in the recent review. A Publicis Groupe spokesperson declined comment. According to COMvergence estimates, Duracell spends $55 million annually on measured media in the U.S. MediaCom had worked with Duracell before when it was owned by P&G; the CPG giant announced its sale of the company to Berkshire Hathaway in 2014.
“The future is battery-powered,” says MediaCom Global Chief Operating Officer Nick Lawson. “Duracell is an iconic brand and it gives us great pride to welcome them back into the MediaCom family. We are excited to apply our unique expertise and strategic thinking through our standout people.”
Publicis Groupe halts 401K match
Publicis is hitting pause on matching employees 401k contributions, Ad Age's George P. Slefo has learned, making it perhaps the first holding company to do so. The company informed workers about its decision roughly three weeks after releasing its first quarter earnings. Similar to its competitors, Publicis is either furloughing employees, reducing executive compensation or cutting staff due to the pandemic, which has hit agencies hard as marketers pull back on their budgets. One person close to the business says the matter on Publicis' 401K match will be revisited later this year. Publicis Groupe declined comment.
According to a new report from the World Federation of Advertisers this week, large multinational marketers are even more likely to “cut harder and hold back ad spending for longer.” New research found that 89 percent of marketers have deferred campaigns, up from 81 percent when surveyed in March. The report found that 52 percent of large multinational marketers will now hold back ad spend for six months or more, compared to 19 percent in March.
This collective is reminding people to reach out to loved ones feeling isolated
Papel & Caneta (Paper & Pen)—a global nonprofit collective made up of creatives working to combat ad industry issues including racism and gender discrimination—created an initiative to help people deal with feelings of isolation through the pandemic. Openness is a free platform in six languages that was created by a team of creatives, strategists and film directors. The site provides conversation starters and suggestions on what to say to a friend or relative who might be feeling lonely. It also urges those who feel lonely to “open up to a friend.” In tandem with the platform, Paper & Caneta also released a moving film, called “Openness” (below), that serves as a call to action for initiating conversations, through a simple text, with people for whom social distancing could “become a trigger for anxiety, fear, depression and the feeling of loneliness,” according to the collective.
The film was shot in different cities around the world—including New York, New Delhi, London, Barcelona, Paris and São Paulo—by 20 directors in isolation. It shows typically crowded tourist destinations now eerily vacant due to the pandemic. The entire effort was created in three weeks and it received participation from employees at AKQA, BBDO, Wieden+ Kennedy, R/GA, África and Wunderman+Thompson. Production studios Loud and Landia, as well as video news agency Ruptly, supported the project. Papel & Caneta says that “long before” the COVID-19 outbreak, “loneliness had already reached epidemic levels.” The collective points to a 2018 Cigna study that found that 46 percent of Americans “sometimes or always feel alone.”
"People are much more sensitive during isolation,” AKQA Art Director Paula Essig says. “It seems like an obvious thing to do, to send messages to people you love, but not everyone is doing this—sometimes because they just don't know what to send or because they forget or because they're feeling withdrawn themselves. With Openness, we wanted to incentivize this first and very simple step to opening up the windows and leaving them open. The light will come in naturally."
A partnership to take pride in
One month ahead of Pride (honored annually throughout June), Havas Media Group and Gay Times Group have partnered to start the celebrations early. The two companies debuted an educational awareness program that provides Havas Group’s more than 20,000 employees with real answers to honest questions about the LGBTQ community, “so they can become more aware and informed allies,” according to a statement from the companies. Throughout May, the “Havas Pre-Pride” initiative will answer employees’ anonymously submitted questions in part with links to resources from Gay Times contributors. Gay Times will also provide resources and best practices around the topic of Pride marketing in the current landscape. The partnership stems from Havas Media Group’s Meaningful Media initiative that studies and champions “media that matters most to audiences,” i.e. media that is engaging, trusted and influential.
“We’re passionate about creating LGBTQ+ media that affects real social change, and that’s why Havas’ Meaningful Media initiative was so exciting to us,” Gay Times Group CEO Tag Warner says. “We're so often asked genuine questions that may seem naive but are important to answer if we all want to do better for the global LGBTQ+ community. I hope Havas colleagues will be able to use the information we provide in the coming weeks to push the dial and affect real social change.”
Circus Maximus helps Shack Shack come to your shack
Shake Shack tapped Circus Maximus for a “Stay at Home” social media series. The creative agency says it will be helping the fast-casual food chain develop a social media initiative in response to the “changing market conditions and a desire to bring value to a community of consumers tuned into the digital space during this time.” Shake Shack announced last month it had transitioned to a “to go”-only model—just pickup and delivery are available—like every other restaurant was forced to do as well due to the pandemic. It also introduced a new line of online offerings including the ShackBurger kit, a DIY meal package in partnership with Goldbelly. Circus Maximus will now be spearheading the new social media series, “Shake Shack at Your Shack,” which features weekly episodes such as cook-alongs with Shake Shack Culinary Director Mark Rosati and Executive Chef John Karangis. The content began rolling out across Shake Shack’s media channels this month.
“We had initially engaged Circus Maximus for a completely different product launch campaign, but things changed nearly overnight,” Shake Shack Chief Marketing Officer Jay Livingston says. “We’re grateful for the agency’s ability to pivot quickly and help us deliver content that supports our changing business needs.”
Connelly Partners, an independent Boston-based shop, was named agency of record for Liberty Bank, a full-service financial institution and Connecticut’s oldest bank. The agency was brought on as Liberty Bank heads into its next phase of growth. The company recently appointed a new leadership team with David Glidden joining from TD Bank in 2019 as president and CEO. Connelly Partners will lead all creative, media, digital and strategy under the partnership. The agency expects to debut its first work for the company in late 2020. Liberty Bank says it chose the agency for “its size, like-minded philosophy and strong strategic and creative process.”
Phenomenon, a Los Angeles independent agency, hired Sandy Song as its first chief client officer. Song hails from 180LA, an Omnicom shop, where she was managing director. Song has also held positions at Deutsch, Team One and RPA. In her role at Phenomenon, she is tasked with “providing a true partnership” to the agency’s client roster. Song will be dedicated to talent growth, development and representation, “understanding that varied experience in both professional and personal backgrounds are critical to shape thinking and informing the work," according to the agency.
Oberland, a New York-based agency, has been appointed by Tyto Care to raise awareness to its services and drive participation. Tyto Care is a New York-based telehealth company that puts “healthcare in the hands of consumers.” The company has a TytoHome handheld examination device that allows for at-home physical exams of the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat, abdomen and body temperature. Oberland is tasked with developing a purpose-driven brand idea to drive sales of Tyto Care products through all channels, including through increasing the number of healthcare organizations it partners with. Colleen Sellers, Tyto Care’s VP of marketing, notes that “telehealth has never been more essential for individual patient care and healthcare workers on the front line.”
Zambezi, a Culver City, California-based agency, announced a new partnership with Traeger Grills, as well as a fresh brand platform and pandemic-related campaign, which conveys the message “you don’t have to go out for great food; you just have to go outside.” Under the partnership, Zambezi will handle all cross communications, creative and media for Traeger Grills, “the original wood fire grill.” The partnership kicked off with a new brand platform: “Welcome to Traegerhood,” which shows how the company’s products “can bring grilling fanatics together to share in a more flavorful way of life,” according to Zambezi.
Joan, an independent New York agency, opened Joan Studios, a production arm. The studio specializes in full-scale shoots and direct-to-client productions including TV commercials, video content, documentaries, online advertising, social, gaming and photography. Joan says the studio also has a remote production model in place due to the pandemic, working with creators from their respective locations to develop video, CGI, motion graphics, photography, collage and hand-drawn art and illustration. The agency hired Daniel Marin, an ex-consultant and veteran of Publicis and WPP, as president of Joan Studios.
Match Marketing Group, a North American consumer engagement agency, bolstered its U.S. and Canada creative teams with two senior hires: Eric Moncaleano, executive creative director of North America, and Gary Westgate, VP and head of creative for Canada. Moncaleano will be responsible for overseeing creative for Match’s clients in the U.S. and Canada including Ford, PepsiCo, Nestle, LG, Diageo and Adidas. He most recently was senior VP and executive creative director of Publicis North America. Westgate will lead the creative department for Match’s Toronto-based operations and report to Moncaleano. He most recently was leading his own creative consultancy and prior to that was a creative director for Anomaly in Toronto.