Atlanta agencies and brands pledge to reflect diversity of the city by 2030: Agency Brief
A group of agencies and brand marketers in Atlanta, Georgia—where all eyes are focused ahead of the state’s Senate runoff election next month—have taken a pledge to dismantle systemic racism within their businesses. Those that have signed the pledge—which involves a commitment to matching the diversity of their teams by 2030 to reflect Atlanta’s population, which is currently 62% people of color and 38% white—include agencies Nebo, Media Frenzy Global and Dragon Army as well as brands Mailchimp and Aflac.
As we know, they have a long way to go. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the ethnic makeup of the marketing industry in the U.S. is 86.1% white, 6.1% African American, 5.6% Asian American and 8.9% Hispanic American. The signatories of the pledge have also committed to forming an alliance that they say “will work together to tackle this difficult, prevalent issue.”
“While our city’s demographics will inevitably shift over time, the point of this pursuit is to acknowledge the disparity in the advertising and marketing industry—and, more importantly, to take real, measurable actions to correct it,” comments Dragon Army CEO Jeff Hilimire, who co-founded the pledge.
Shannon Watkins, senior VP of brand and creative services at Aflac, adds: “We must be willing to commit to actionable, measurable progress against ambitious and worthy goals.”
The Martin Agency replaces chief growth officer
Interpublic Group of Cos.’ The Martin Agency has made a series of promotions following Thursday’s announcement that its chief growth officer, Michael Chapman, left to become the chief marketing officer of CarLotz, a used car and consignment dealer. The agency promoted Taylor Grimes to executive VP and head of new business to pick up Chapman’s responsibilities. He was VP and group director of communications planning. Additionally, The Martin Agency appointed Head of Production Tasha Dean to its executive committee, taking the slot vacated by Chapman. The Martin Agency says Dean joining the executive committee “brings 50% BIPOC representation to the highest levels of leadership.” The agency credits Dean with helping to found Superjoy, its creative studio and content hub, in December 2019, and leading it to double in size since.
“This promotion is because of who Tasha is, not the department she represents,” The Martin Agency CEO Kristen Cavallo adds on Dean’s appointment. “As a producer, she’s honed her skill of turning ideas into reality. As a prolific accomplisher, she’s taken her skills far beyond production—building new revenue streams, ways of working and tools to make us self-sufficient.”
The pandemic isn’t slowing down new business anymore. This week we saw Coca-Cola Co. putting its $4.2 billion creative and media account across its 400 brands up for review, while people close to the matter told Ad Age that Airbnb sent its creative business to Droga5 without a review. And wait, there’s more.
Noodles & Co. picked Fortnight Collective as its agency of record through 2021. The maker of all sorts of noodle dishes, including “Zoodle” and "Caulifloodle,” says it chose the Boulder, Colorado-based agency to help it “adapt to shifting consumer needs” amid the pandemic and “deliver advertising that generates awareness, builds brand loyalty and evokes a positive emotional connection from current and future consumers.” Fortnight Collective had already been partnering with the company on a project basis since March, helping it develop creative around the launch of new products including its Perfect Bowls and Family Meals.
Mischief @ No Fixed Address scooped up the AOR title for plant-based Alpha Foods, which launched into the now $5 billion category in 2015. Mischief @ No Fixed Address will handle branding and strategic work through 2021 under the partnership. The companies say work has already begun on developing brand designs and creative activations for the new year. Alpha Foods’ plant-based products are now sold in national supermarkets including Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Albertsons/Safeway and Wegmans, and it recently started a direct-to-consumer subscriptions service to ship meal bundles to people still hunkered down in their homes.
WPP’s Ogilvy Social.Lab beat out 17 rival shops in a pitch for The International Volleyball Federation’s creative and strategic account. Under the partnership, the agency will run the organization’s global brand communications and media strategy and planning leading up to the 2022 Volleyball World Championships. Ogilvy Social.Lab says agencies it competed against in the pitch include Saatchi & Saatchi London and AKQA (soon to be AKQA Group).
Fintech startup Self Financial handed San Francisco-based independent agency Odysseus Arms an assignment to handle a national campaign promoting its credit-building products. The campaign is set to debut next year. Odysseus Arms will develop strategy and creative for the campaign, while R&R Partners will lead media planning, buying, research and analytics.
Finally, rounding out the wins, is WPP’s Essence, part of GroupM, which was awarded the media account of Jeep in China. The account will be handled out of Essence’s Shanghai office. The agency will be responsible for brand strategy, media planning and activation, as well as creative development and production, across Jeep’s line of locally produced vehicles in China.
Ogilvy continues hiring spree
WPP’s Ogilvy has made three additional executive hires as it continues its leadership shuffle that earlier involved appointing Devika Bulchandani to North America CEO and Andy Main to global CEO. This week, the agency named Stacey Ryan-Cornelius global chief financial officer; Jag Dhanji global chief people officer; and Julianna Richter global CEO of its public relations and influence division.
Ryan-Cornelius was previously global chief financial officer and chief operating officer for Geometry Global, WPP’s commerce shop that was recently folded into VMLY&R. This marks her return to Ogilvy, as she first joined in 1999 and served in various leadership roles until her exit in 2018. Dhanji joined Ogilvy in 2017 as chief talent officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Richter comes from WayPoint Partners, a global growth advisory and M&A firm, where she was a partner. Previously she spent 17 years at Edelman, most recently as U.S. chief operating officer.
Main says Ryan-Cornelius is “not only a seasoned leader with vast experience and creative commercial acumen, but also a leader experienced in business transformation and growth.” Of Dhanji, he says her “experience working across fast-moving organizations and industries, and the passion she has shown for building a culture at Ogilvy that empowers people to do their best work, will be an amazing asset to our team.”
Returning to profit
After the struggles of many agencies this year, here’s some positive news for once. Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine reports that Mother London has announced that it has repaid all the money it received through the U.K. government furlough scheme. Having initially asked those earning over 30,000 pounds to defer part of their salary, which was due to be repaid in December 2021, and putting 32 roles on furlough, the agency now says it has been able to recoup income lost in the initial pandemic financial shock. It has returned all the salary deferrals a year ahead of plan, returned all the employees to work and, at the same time, returned to profit, according to Jardine.
Mother Global CEO Michael Wall comments: “We were grateful to the U.K. Government for releasing these funds at the start of the pandemic. As our year went on, and thanks to the hard work and commitment of our team, we found ourselves in the fortunate position of not needing the financial support. So we’re returning the money.”
Ready, set, reform
As the industry works to combat systemic racism, New York digital marketing agency Ready Set Rocket is the latest shop to announce updates to its diversity, equity and inclusion measures. The agency has made the following three commitments: First, the shop says it will be auditing “everything as it relates to DE&I,” including how the agency presents itself on its website and social media, how it writes job listings, how it conducts interviews and how it undergoes the recruitment process. Ready Set Rocket says it will also be improving how it recruits diverse talent by working with “recruiters specializing in finding diverse talent and adding them to the [agency’s] freelance bench and full-time hire candidate pools.” Its final commitment is to implement quarterly training “on implicit bias and language use.”
"We're now in a place where yes, we all agree there's a social and business case for having a more diverse and inclusive team, especially in marketing where you need to be able to speak to diverse audiences,” says Mike Shannon, who leads HR at Ready Set Rocket. “Still, we haven't made that investment into DE&I before.”
Kinetic Worldwide, WPP’s out-of-home agency, appointed Keith Kaplan as global CEO. Kaplan comes from Outfront Media, where he was a strategic advisor. He replaces Marc Antoine de Roys, who recently announced his retirement.
Epsilon, the data marketing giant Publicis Groupe bought for $4.4 billion last year, hired two new executives. Joe Doran was poached from customer intelligence tech company Signal to be its first chief product officer. Doran will be responsible in part for accelerating the integration of Epsilon and Publicis’ PeopleCloud. The company also hired Jen Mahone Rightler as its VP of diversity and inclusion. She joins from Boeing with her first task being to assess Epsilon’s current D&I practices.
The Advertising Club of New York’s International Andy Awards named PJ Pereira, creative chairman and co-founder of Pereira O’Dell, as its new jury chairman. He will serve in the role for two years, and has sat on past Andy Awards’ juries. In tandem with his appointment, the Andys also announced it would be launching a new “Face The Future” creative mentorship initiative to “propel a new generation of diverse leaders for the industry.”
AMV BBDO promoted Kelly Knight to be its first chief diversity and HR officer. She has been serving as an HR director since 2006. Knight’s initial task in the expanded role will be working with senior leadership to “ramp up its work building a culture which is inclusive, celebrates and recognizes diversity,” according to the agency.
Work & Co hired Saulo Rodrigues to help lead design in Brazil as group design director. He joins the digital product agency from R/GA São Paulo, where he was VP and executive creative director. Work & Co says his appointment comes as the company continues to grow in Brazil and elsewhere, counting nearly 400 team members now across Latin America, the U.S. and Europe. The agency says Rodrigues will help boost recognition in the region, where Work & Co services clients like Claro, Itau and Globo.