AMC’s The Pitch 6 Muse vs. Bozell Predictions for JDRF the diversity episode

The upcoming episode of The Pitch features Muse Communications and Bozell as the agencies working on a pitch for client, JDRF that’s used to stand for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation- but they broadened their brand to drop the Juvenile to expand their appeal- and changed their name to the meaningless initials making sure to make the brand meaningless, you can read their excuse for their poor branding on their site.

If the show had viewers, there would probably be some controversy surrounding Muse’s cpot that will appear during the episode to those that watch it over the air on AMC (that means no one watching it on iTunes like us, or on torrents, etc or over on Sky Atlantic where the Brits seem to think the show would be better with brit firms instead of those crass, craftless yanks (from various twitter comments).

The Muse spot is called “White Space”.

The spot points out that, so far, The Pitch has been primarily white people talking to other white people. Read the video description:

As the only diverse-segment agency featured in AMCs “THE PITCH,” the men and women of Muse saw an opportunity to amplify the ongoing conversation about the need for more diversity in the advertising industry.

And here’s what we’re talking about — the excuses, the empty intentions and the quiet arrogance that allows for old white men to sit around a table with young white men and feel that everything is as it should be.

Yes, we have diverse-segment agencies, which come with diverse-segment budgets and diverse-segment control over creative. And despite all the challenges we face, our work continues to shine.

But understand this: Saying you want to do more about diversity is not the same as getting something done.

And we say to those who have the power to change the face of this industry — the time to do what’s right is always right now.

Muse plans to air the ad on TV during the episode on Sunday

An advertising agency that is to be featured on the AMC reality competition series “The Pitch” plans to run a commercial during the episode, but not on behalf of a client.

Rather, the agency, Muse Communications, which is led by an African-American, Jo Muse, will devote the spot to a frank discussion of the subject of diversity in the ad industry.


We hope they got the space cheap, because the ratings are zip.

Ideas don’t care who their  parents are Nor do they care about culture or skin color great ideas only want to know one thing: do you have the goods to bring them to life? At Muse, We believe every human being has the ability to be brilliant. Simply put, insight and ideas come to those who passionately seek them. Collectively we possess the intuition and expertise born of multiple cultures and social sectors giving us a unique and strategic viewpoint Undoubtedly we’re eclectic, Divers. And Dynamic. That’s why after more than 25 years, Muse continues to prove that when insight, creative philosophies and inspiration are brought together, the best results are but a campaign away.

The Muse About Manifesto

It’s a bold move by Muse to stake a claim about diversity in a show where the “creative” is supposed to be king. How AMC and Studio Lambert feel about this might be interesting, but the reality is the lack of diversity in advertising is our industries dirty little secret. We’re a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business- which is a diversity classification by the Federal Government- which “requires 3% participation” on every government contract- and yet, we’ve only had a few inquiries in over 14 years of being listed on CCR (soon to be SAM)- and oddly enough, one was from Bozell, when they were still in NYC and big. We’re also eligible for SBA HUBzone contracts- an SBA classification for businesses in “Historically Underutilized Business Zones” but it hasn’t generated a contract either.

Could the early release of this spot and the PR around it be an indication that Muse didn’t win? Trying to deflect the reason they lost? At least a few on our staff think maybe, but comparing sites gives us some other insights.

There are  differences between Culver City CA  based Muse @muse_USA and  Bozell of Omaha NE @Bozell. Reviewing their work, Muse has a handful of big-time clients. Their website features a number of big-budget commercials for clients such as Honda and Wells Fargo which feature cutting-edge special effects and camera techniques. They appear to be the larger agency, and they aren’t worried about SEO with their Flash based site. Bozell, based in Omaha now- they bought the brand after one of the major holding companies did their Moby Dick moves and swallowed a Mad Ave stalwart,  appears to have smaller clients. One of the most interesting of them is Letter-Photo, a company that lets you create custom framed sayings with sleek black and white photographs. Muse’s work is a bit more refined in execution, but they are also dealing with larger clients with larger budgets. On Twitter, Bozell has been tweeting for a while- Muse seems to have just discovered the twitterverse, not a good sign.

We’re picking Bozell as the winners. We haven’t been right yet, either in our predictions posts or when we stop the show right before “the call”- best indication of who will win is whichever agency has the problems in their presentation in the edit, sends the “rookie” in (ringer or not) or shows the client frowning or not responding.  But we don’t feel too bad; judging by the “Who Should Have Won?” Polls on AMC’s website, post-show audiences generally prefer the loser.

Here’s the teaser for the episode:

Diversity in advertising still a failure

This isn’t really news, but, Ad Age has a pretty long article about yet another public meeting questioning why the big ad agencies are whiter than a Clorox ad on a black and white TV from the 50’s.

While the article focuses on the black/white thing, there is the subgroup of “Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses” SDVOB’s. The large agencies who have government ad contracts are mandated to spend 3% of their budget with SDVOB’s, yet not a single one does. Think about the $300+ million dollars that both McCann and GSD&M have to recruit for the Army and Air Force respectfully. Not only are they not meeting the goal, they find ways to make excuses on why they can’t.

(Yep, you guessed it, The Next Wave is an SDVOB and HUBzone certified advertising agency)

Read the whole article-

Agencies Have Funny Way of Showing ‘Commitment’ to Diversity - Advertising Age - The Big Tent
The New York City Commission on Human Rights held a public meeting Monday night regarding the issue of diversity in the advertising industry. A rough count of those sweltering in the close quarters of a conference room on Rector Street showed 27 people in attendance. It’s hard to say what was more discouraging: that of the 27, three were members of the commission, two were lawyers and three were journalists; that of the six white people in attendance, two were members of the commission, two were lawyers and one was a journalist; or that in an industry this size, on an issue this public and this important, a turnout of 20-some-odd people was considered a success. (And before anyone starts griping about other representation, there was one Asian-American woman in attendance and no Hispanics. But let’s be honest: From the start, this has been predominantly a black-white issue.)

More embarrassing and much more troubling? Of the 16 New York ad agencies that have had their dirty laundry aired by the commission — and of those many, many other agencies that hide behind the other 16, thinking “Better them than us” — exactly two, Arnold and Saatchi, had representatives in attendance…

Kudo’s to Arnold and Saatchi for at least sending a representative.

We’ll sit by the phone waiting for the call…. (not).

GAO: Only 5% of Government Ad Business Goes to Minority Firms

News Flash: the Federal Government just realized that minority firms aren’t getting their fair shake on Government contracts. How about throwing this into the equation: since 2003, there has been a Federal requirement for 3% of all Government contracts to be set aside to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses. Now I can assure you that if only 5% is going to minority firms- which includes Women Owned, African American Owned, Native American Owned, Asian Indian owned, 8A firms, HUBZone located firms- and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business owned- the SDVOB participation is an infinitesimally smaller fraction.

When I attended the Diversity Fair held by the 4A’s and the AAF in NYC last November (06)- there were only 3 SDVOB’s in attendance. I spoke to all the agencies that had military recruiting contracts- and almost universally was ignored.

It’s not just the agencies at fault here, it’s also the Federal buyers who also don’t seem to risk anything by non-compliance. We’ve only just begun a conversation with GSD+M who are in the process of defending the Air Force recruiting contract. Our only contact previously, was from a mid-level exec at Leo Burnett far into the process for the botched US Army recruiting award, which Leo lost to McCann. McCann has hired a “Diversity” exec, but all calls to his office are met with a standard line that we aren’t approaching them correctly, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Here are some excerpts from the Ad Age article:

Advertising Age - GAO: Only 5% of Government Ad Business Goes to Minority Firms
The U.S. government is doing a poor job of awarding small and minority firms advertising and public relations contracts, according to a Government Accountability Office study.
The GAO found that on average the government devoted 5% of its $4.3 billion in ad-related expenditures to small or minority businesses.
The GAO found that on average the government devoted 5% of its $4.3 billion in ad-related expenditures to small or minority businesses.

The GAO report released yesterday examined contracts from 2001 through 2005. It found that on average the government devoted 5% of its $4.3 billion in ad-related expenditures to small or minority businesses, but that compliance varied considerably among government agencies.

Treasury, Defense
The Department of Defense used minority firms for advertising only 1.8% of the time and paid them on average nearly 84% less than non-minority firms. The Treasury Department used minority firms for advertising only 1.9% of the time and paid them on average nearly 47% less per contract than ad contracts with non-minority firms. (Government numbers usually include work preparing brochures, hiring photographers and public-relations efforts along with traditional advertising.)….

The Defense Department’s $2.7 billion in spending surpassed all the other agencies combined. Health and Human Services spent $494 million and the Treasury $188 million during the five years studied.

Senators speak out
The GAO report has angered some Democrats. In letters sent the day of the report’s release, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada; Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass.; Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y;. and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Carol Kilpatrick, D-Mich., urged the Defense and Treasury departments to do more.

“I am deeply concerned that the Departments of Defense and Treasury are denying minority advertising firms the opportunity to work with the federal government,” said Mr. Reid.

Mr. Kerry suggested the government’s record was inadequate. “This report shines a spotlight on the federal government’s failure to make equal opportunity a reality, not just rhetoric,” he said.

Ms. Kilpatrick said the lack of compliance is making a “mockery” of the contracting process. “Despite an [Clinton era] executive order, federal agencies are not providing minority business owners — who pay taxes, provide jobs, and help strengthen our economy — with equal opportunities in the federal contracting process. Failure to promote inclusion and fairness in contracting is not only an egregious disservice to America’s families, but it is also a mockery of the promise upon which our country was founded.”

Little mention has been made of the main reason for lack of minority participation: Bundling of contracts. We were recently contacted by the Veterans Administration, which now requires VA buyers to look first to SDVOBs then VOBs for outsourcing, about a video production contract.

The guaranteed buy has a maximum of  $14,252,000.00 (later purportedly revised up to $27 million) and ” the minimum amount the Government must order for each location (Salt Lake City, UT; St. Louis, MO; Washington, D.C.) is $500.00 for the entire contract, including optional ordering periods” to provide video production services. Some of the sample projects in the RFP were perfect fits for us, and other SDVOB businesses. An example from the RFP:

Purpose and Scope of Videotape Product:
Purpose:  To provide Production services for a 30 minute ‘PTSD Among Women Iraq Veterans’ videos.
The video format will be interviews with VA staff and patients with an on-camera professional narrator.

Which is fully within our- and many other SDVOBs reach.

Unless there are stringent rules about subcontracting, Primes contractors will find loopholes, set up shell firms or generally ignore Federal law requiring SDVOB and minority hiring requirements.

If you are interested in working with an SDVOB with HUBzone certification we can help you meet your hiring requirements- either by being your subcontractor, or by introducing you to other SDVOB and VOB businesses through our association with and NAVOBA.

If you would like to share you frustrations with us, please feel free to comment below.

A new pimp for creative talent

Extending the myth that great advertising can be produced on the fly- ignoring the hard work of studying the customer, the market and the clients unique selling position- we now have a new pimp for the creative superstars:

Comparing themselves to Creative Artists Agency- which is more of a rep firm than a placement company- brings a whole new level of sneer to the ad world. In an industry that already has proven itself unable to integrate, or provide pay equity, we now have another tip-of-the-hat to the good ol’ boy network concept.

Yes, bringing in top talent can help you refine a good plan, a good concept, or help you brainstorm- but, the idea that you can freelance a brand to stardom must end.

With the Internet making it really simple to share your skill set with the world- finding the right people has gotten easier, not harder. When was the last time you had to wait for a portfolio to arrive by FedEx before you knew what the person was capable of?

Advertising Age - Headhunting Has a Whole New Look
The former CEO of Bartle Bogle Hegarty USA has joined forces with Gary Stolkin, chairman-CEO of global recruitment agency Kendall Tarrant, to rebrand his business with no less an aim than creating the ad-world equivalent of the entertainment industry’s Creative Artists Agency — and, in the process, change headhunting as it’s been known.

Answer to industry ills?
Today the pair relaunches the London-based agency with offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, São Paulo and San Francisco as the Talent Business, adding a 10-person New York office under the direction of U.S. CEO Lucy Meredith. As the name — a shift away from the stodgy legal-firm approach of putting the principals’ names above the door — may suggest, Ms. Gallop and Mr. Stolkin believe they can create a different type of talent agency at a time when the industry regards itself as being in a talent crisis.

“The industry is going through a big bang right now,” Mr. Stolkin said. “All the agencies say, or want to be able to say, that they can do everything: ads, digital, direct or whatever. But recruitment is typically done by recycling the same ad people. We wanted to create an agency that would cut across the silos of the different disciplines. We also wanted to come up with a genuinely global offering, so that we can find and provide a resource for talent all over the world.”

While silo-integration efforts always prompt industry skepticism, the Talent Business is backing its bluster with an internal fee structure that eschews the usual recruitment-agency model of paying each individual headhunter a commission on candidates placed in jobs. Instead, employees share 25% of the company’s pre-tax profit — last year Kendall Tarrant made around $3.5 million after employee bonuses were paid. By removing the focus on commission, Ms. Meredith said, the company will encourage sharing of candidates among recruiters and focus on clients’ best interests rather than on simply putting butts in seats.

Removing stigma
The Talent Business is hoping strong branding across its website — — and other communications efforts will help turn the shop into a destination for people interested in changing jobs and take away the stigma of knocking on a headhunter’s door. As one media-industry recruitment consultant admitted: “At some consultants, there’s a belief that the best candidates are the ones you root out, not the ones who come to you. Good candidates probably feel the same way.”

The consultant doubted that mind-set could be easily changed, but Ms. Gallop and Mr. Stolkin think candidates should be asking recruiters to show them the money. They envisage something akin to a firm of sports or entertainment representatives, offering life coaching and job advice throughout a person’s career. “The reason we focused so heavily on the branding here is that if we get this right, the candidates will come to us,” Mr. Stolkin said.

No matter how good thetalentbusiness thinks they are- they have no clue about one type of search that executives use now: Google.

Their site, built in Flash, doesn’t show up in Google at all:

Your search - - did not match any documents.

Guess the first person they should place is someone who can help them with their own search results.

Do diversity and politics mix with marketing strategy?

First off, I have to plug one of my favorite guerrilla marketing websites: In Bubble Wrap- where a small bookseller, 800 CEO Read, is competing with and Barnes and Nobel, on a shoestring. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising, they give away 20 copies of a business book each day to an audience interested in business books. Considering the cost of the books (which they may get as a promotional copies anyway) and the cost of the site and postage, they are getting huge exposure for minimal dollars.

Not only do I have the opportunity to win, I learn something each day about a current business book. Today, the book talked about how Pepsi added marketshare by being the more politically correct marketer, in a day when all the people in ads were lily white.Picture of  the book cover of

InBubbleWrap: Pepsi Gave Us Some Jackie Robinsons
In the late 40’s and early 50’s, while Coca-Cola was visibly and enthusiastically supporting Georgia’s racist governor Herman Talmadge, Pepsi’s progressive CEO, Walter Mack, saw a way to make his uphill battle with Coke even out. And to be clear on this, yes, his primary motivation was the pursuit of profit. So, he decided to approve a campaign targeted at black consumers, and at the same time, hired someone to put together a team of all black sales people to push Pepsi on the African-American community. It worked. Pepsi soon became known as a “liberal” soft drink, inspiring entire communities to favor their beverages. Pepsi basically revolutionized the strategies of niche marketing.

Compare this with today’s attempts to connect with “new” markets. Dove has made a lot of noise and gotten a lot of attention with their Campaign for real beauty where they attempt to use models that look more like real women than waifs.

With Pepsi, it’s an example of a company going against prevailing social policy looking for profit. Corporate America now regularly enters political battles by supporting lobbyists and giving to political campaigns- and many hedge their bets giving to both sides. Being more “Green” is a marketing strategy with a political bent, and Toyota and Nissan have campaigned to tell us that many times their products have more American made content than American cars. Looking at “The Pepsi Challenge” I’m wondering if a company is going to position itself as an anti-war company to cash in on the growing displeasure with the war?

The best advertising creates an emotional response within the potential customer- we’ve seen companies wrap themselves in the flag for years- who will be the bold one to question the war first? Or has it been done?

What do you think?

Big agency hires little agencies for big client. The next agency model?

Ad Age is looking for innovative strategies for the next advertising agency model. In their first article, “How Toyota got in touch with the heartland” they look at how mega-agency Saatchi & Saatchi partnered with 4 small agencies and 5 freelance creative consultants to work on the new Toyota Tundra campaign.

Now why would Saatchi do that? And why would Toyota agree? It’s called diversity- maybe not in the traditional sense of minority hiring, or Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business- but in diversity of ideas. Big agencies, in big cities are sometimes insulated from the reality of the rest of the country. As Ad Age points out- the difference between calling that thing under the back bumper a “tow hitch” or a “receiving hitch” would escape most creatives in LA.

It’s also a form of creative out-sourcing- not in a bad way, but in a forward thinking way like the way Eli Lilly and Company went Open Source in their search for answers to create new drugs. Saatchi can hire an agency where 80% of the employees actually own pick-ups(Brothers & Co) as opposed to the yuppie-mobile favored by people in LA. The perspective on the consumer is different out here in the “fly-over” states.

A recent trip to NYC gave me insight on the BMW motorcycle account. Walking around NYC I saw BMW’s everywhere. The agency is in NY, the client in NJ- this is what they see. The only time you see more BMW’s than Harley’s in the Midwest is when the weather sucks- and we BMW riders are the only ones on the road. Our reality is that the dealers are going under left and right- from lack of interest generated by advertising created in an alternate reality- where BMW’s rule, and dealerships are plentiful.

Saatchi also doesn’t have to carry as many people by using this strategy. Why buy the cow, when you only need the milk? The cost of a creative team is more than just salaries and benefits- overhead for office space, computers, support personnel all add up.

Is this the model of the future? Is this the beginning of the end of the Mega-agency and a return to small creative shops? Are there creatives outside the spheres of advertising that can do good work? Whoever heard of creative in Minneapolis, Portland or Miami before Fallon, Wieden + Kennedy and Crispin Porter + Bogusky?

The best soliders in the US Army, a megalithic organization, aren’t operating in the huge units- they work in teams of 12 on a Special Forces team. Maybe the ad world is starting to see that big isn’t always beautiful. After all is said and done, most “Big Ideas” come from a creative team of two.

Maybe the return of the creative team is the next big thing.

Ad Age lists the team for the Tundra campaign:

Saatchi & Saatchi LA

Agency partners:
Brothers & Co. Tulsa
Pocket Hercules, Minneapolis
VSA Design, Fort Collins Co.
RadicalMedia LA

Freelance Creative Consultants:
Eric McClellan
Ray Johnson
Andrew Christou
Charlie Tercek
Gavin Milner

If you know the links to Eric or Gavin- let me know.