Blind Items: Fighting Over Crumbs

Word on the street in the creative agency world, as you probably know, is that the reviews are growing smaller. And rarer.

Everything’s all project-based from Budweiser on down, and for some reason, clients often don’t even want to publicize new relationships to people like us, who only want the best for the ad industry!

  • Part of that shift has included a greater focus on the little wins and the “keeping up relations” moves, according to our sources. Specifically, a certain major CPG client that works with multiple holding companies on a global level recently went through an informal review round … you know, a “let’s explore future opportunities” sort of thing. This process involved pitching new creative ideas, but the key twist here was that the brief was presented by the global chairman/CEO/svengali himself, with the poor chief creative officer sitting dutifully in the background as his work got manhandled by the Cooper in that Sterling combo. We just hope he got a big old attaboy on the Uber ride home.
  • On a smaller scale, a very recently concluded pitch for a major U.S. brand was run, as we hear it, by the North American CEO of the winning agency network in question. Sure, it sounded great—good name, group picture, press release, the works. But the win was a very small portion of the larger portfolio with the client’s annual budget hovers right around $10 million. The fact that the CEO played lead tells you maybe things aren’t as solid as they seem. Still, new business!
  • It could be worse, though. One agency has recently promoted itself as proudly independent after breaking from its parent company some months ago and pitching the trades with a brave story of defying industry trends. Reality, however, is a little different: the holding group chose to cut the agency loose, and now we hear it has been forced to downsize again by moving into a much smaller office after being unable to maintain its lease. You lose some, you lose some.

Finally, apropos of nothing at all, we really just want to take every possible opportunity to revisit this GIF, courtesy of one Lara O’Reilly.

Introducing Your New Least Favorite Buzzword, ‘Cagency’

In case you’re not in London this week checking out the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers’ annual get-together, we have some very exciting updates: ad agencies and consultancies might not be gunning for each other after all!

According to Campaign’s Gideon Spanier, Accenture Interactive managing director of Europe, Africa and Latin America Anatoly Roytman took the opportunity to reveal that his network is developing a new offering: the “cagency.”

The concept is a consulting firm combined with a creative shop, which is also known as any ad agency worth a damn.

No really, have you even heard about all the “traditional” agencies now claiming to offer consulting services?

We should take Roytman seriously as he is the guy in charge of Accenture’s recent acquisition spree, which included Fjord and Karmarama. And this all gets a little less amusing when you remember that most creative places can’t pretend to compete with Accenture when it comes to scale or existing client base. But let’s just link to that severely overplayed Ghostbusters clip and laugh about how ridiculous marketing jargon can be.

Bonus points: two people independently came up with a related riff on the very worst of Billy Corgan’s many bad songs.*

We will have to give this one to Matt because he was first by three minutes, which is a lifetime on Twitter.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming…

*Fine, their first two albums were good enough.

FCB Chicago Eliminates All Wednesday Meetings Forever and Ever, Amen

Happy Friday! Aren’t you glad it isn’t Wednesday??

Of course you are … but you wouldn’t be saying that if you worked at FCB Chicago this week.

That’s because the agency officially instituted a new “Meeting Free Wednesdays” policy today. You heard that right, readers: no meetings on Wednesdays. Zilch, zero, nada. Period.

Welllllll, that’s not QUITE accurate. This new policy only applies from 1 to 5, and if staff members totally hate it then it could theoretically end on May 1st. Something also tells us that certain clients might have trouble observing these new guidelines, but you never know.

Why are they doing this, you ask? Because everyone hates meetings, especially when you’ve got other work to do, which is always. (This principle applies to media too, by the way.)

Should be interesting to see how well it works.

Here’s the full memo from CCO Liz Taylor and president/CEO Michael Fassnacht.

March 2, 2018
To: FCB Chicago
Fm: Michael & Liz

RE: Introducing Meeting Free Wednesdays

You spoke. We heard. As such, we are excited to announce “Meeting Free Wednesdays” at FCB Chicago!

Beginning next month, we are encouraging all of you to go meeting free each Wednesday from 1-5 p.m. This new initiative is in response to employee feedback that too many meetings are interfering with their ability to complete work during office hours—but now, you can! Please do your best to NOT call any client or internal meetings on Wednesday afternoons in April. We’re both very committed to this policy, and will not schedule meetings during this time.

To help encourage everyone to use this time for work, we will be sending out an agency-wide calendar invite blocking Wednesday afternoons. Look out for the first one—taking place on April 4. HR will also be conducting a survey at the end of April to ask for your thoughts on how we can continue to make Meeting Free Wednesday better—and most importantly, meeting free.

We value your happiness and well-being, and hope this new initiative helps everyone achieve a better work-life balance!

Michael & Liz

ESPN Partner Laundry Service Is the ‘#1 Ad Firm’ in America, According to ESPN Writer

Brooklyn’s Laundry Service scored a big number 7 on AdAge’s A-List, moving up two spots from last year. But they’re number one in the mind of ESPN journalist Darren Rovell.

You may have heard yesterday that the agency’s client Papa John’s and the NFL mutually decided to end their relationship, because Rovell broke the news.

The relationship was supposed to go through 2020, though we suppose one could see the end coming. And the move could be positioned as part of Papa John’s CMO Brandon Rohten’s plans to put fewer eggs in the football-shaped basket.

But that’s not why we’re posting. Immediately afterward, Rovell shared a very interesting and seemingly unrelated opinion.

Hmmm, we wonder why he might say that… especially since the news is four months old.

Maybe it’s because Laundry Service’s content division, Cycle, signed a deal with ESPN back in October to produce social media and influencer work for “blue-chip accounts.” No, it can’t be that. (Laundry Service and its CEO Jason Stein retweeted that one unironically, we’re told.)

This morning, Rovell clarified: it’s all about the good creative.

Or else he works for Ford now. We asked him how he arrived at this very strongly held opinion on the ad industry, but he was too busy writing about Pizza Hut to respond.

On the plus side, it seems the whole sponsorship story will not affect consumers’ relationships with Papa John’s.

[Pic via ESPN]

Anti-Gay Group Really Wants W+K’s ‘DTF’ OKCupid Ads To Disappear, You Guys

Last month, W+K launched a “DTF” campaign for OkCupid, redefining the term in ways meant to showcase the different types of couples who meet with the online dating service.

While the campaign actually dreams up less obscene acronyms for the letters, conservative extremist group CitizenGo (which was founded in Madrid around five years ago and operates campaigns in some 50 countries) still found plenty to be offended by. Among the objections the group has to the campaign is that it “promotes drug use” (One ad reads “Down to Four Twenty” and pictures a couple lounging on a levitating chair) and “promiscuity” (Presumably taking issue with “Down to furiously make out”). According to the group, W+K’s wicked ads even promote “prostitution,” although we have no idea where they’re getting that one from.

Mostly though, CitizenGo’s issues with the campaign go back to the group’s primary focus: who is putting which sets of genitals where … and when.

One can see, via a cursory glance at the group’s other recent efforts, that it focuses primarily on an anti-LGBTQ agenda. Other petitions include:

  • “Delaware Parents: Say NO to Dept of Ed.’s attempt to parent your children on sexual/racial identity”
  • “LGBT ‘Safe Spaces’ at Montclair State Are Dangerously Over-Inflated”
  • “Enough! CA elementary school uses LGBT indoctrination techniques”
  • Most amusingly, “AMC – Do not renew blasphemous – and, downright disgusting – show ‘Preacher’”

You get the (very repetitive) point.

Its main objection to the OKCupid then, is the “Down to Fall Head Over Heels” ad showing a romantic relationship between two women.
The group’s petition notes that W+K’s campaign for the online dating site will “will be viewed by millions, including children, in public spaces.”

We have a feeling the ads will stay up, though.

I Didn’t Name My Agency ‘Something Massive’ So You Could Make a D*ck Joke

This is a guest post by Rebecca Coleman, founder and managing partner of L.A. agency Something Massive.

It’s not lost on me that the name of my agency, Something Massive, sounds like the punchline to an after-hours joke.

After almost ten years in this business, I thought I’d pretty much heard it all … until a couple weeks ago. A few of my female colleagues recently attended an industry awards show to present a nomination, and the very first man they encountered thought it was appropriate to compare the name of our company to the size of his own genitalia.

Let’s reiterate that this was a formal industry event.

My team, with client in tow, had only just met this man. To deflect the offense, they politely pointed out that the joke was inappropriate.

Nevertheless, he persisted—and not in a way that would make Elizabeth Warren proud.

As the night progressed, the joke-maker’s table mate suggested that the act of “making out” with our client might make her feel “wined and dined.” (On the contrary, it made her feel nauseous.) Not the type to just smile and nod, the women from my agency pointed out the idiocy of such an assumption, while the jokester’s male friend, who happens to be the CEO of another nominated agency, said nothing. He neither interjected nor apologized for his friend’s blatant display of misogynist disrespect. In fact, he laughed in comradery.

It was only when my tweet on the subject received a modest degree of attention online that this CEO felt compelled to speak up, arguing that the person in question was merely a “guest.” He proudly stated that his agency does not tolerate this kind of behavior.

But it sure seems like he tolerated it while it was going on. And when did the universal rule of “you are the company you keep” become so subjective?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the recent wave of voices speaking out against any type of harassment, complicity can be just as detrimental, if not more so.

I want to be clear about one thing: I am not humorless. I can appreciate a good d*ck joke. Given the right context and delivery, they can be very funny and entertaining. There is room in this world for feminism and d*ck jokes to coexist. That said, let me stress context and delivery. I am absolutely not OK with a d*ck joke when it creates an uncomfortable environment, be that professional or personal.

In the aforementioned incident, it happened to be professional—which is why I’m focusing my attention there.

As much as I loved Mad Men, the year is currently 2018, not 1968 … yet the advertising industry doesn’t appear to have moved the needle as much as we’d like to believe. Even though there is considerably less day-drinking, the anonymous Instagrammers at Diet Madison Avenue have correctly noted that advertising is still very much a boys’ club. Two women couldn’t even make it through an industry event without enduring a verbal assault, and this type of tone-deaf behavior endures because it is so often overlooked and brushed off as par for the course.

Aside from common decency and respect for your peers regardless of gender, this was a fundamental case of misreading the room. Aren’t all of us advertising and marketing executives supposed to be experts in audience? Disrespect and poor comedic timing do not make for an effective combination.

There are simple, courteous ways to engage with your industry peers just as you would your clients’ would-be customers. They are, in essence, the basics of advertising.

  1. Know your audience.

No important message will be heard, received, and acted upon if not delivered to the right person at the right time.

  1. Build a positive brand image.

Online or offline, you have a brand image to cultivate and uphold. Don’t you want it to be a positive one?

  1. Stand for something.

Our cultural climate increasingly demands that brands and people draw lines in the sand. Silence is a position, too–– and it’s not a good one.

  1. Don’t make a d*ck joke to someone you’ve just met.

This isn’t one of the building blocks of marketing, but maybe it should be.

I’m not sharing this story for the shock value because, honestly, no one is shocked. Instead, it’s a call for an industry I love to be better. A lot better. Moving mountains better. I know that we can do that because we are the experts in this stuff … if only we could all follow our own recommendations.

For the record, the event organizers have banned the jokester in question from all future events. It’s a small step in the right direction.

Dentsu’s Global Profit Margins Drop Due to ‘Fight Against Overwork’

Dentsu’s global profits dropped in the fourth quarter of 2017 despite the fact that its overall revenue continued to grow. And executive officer (not CEO) Arinobu Soga attributed the disappointing results on the holding group’s attempts to rein in the “culture of overwork” that created a major PR disaster last year.

According to this morning’s report in Nikkei Asian Review, Dentsu’s profits dropped nearly 2 percent while its revenue rose 10.8 percent.

This is at least partly due to the 13 billion yen ($120 million) dedicated to “work reforms” over the year as the company attempts to come back from the story of a young employee who committed suicide in late 2015, attributing her own death to “karoshi” or overwork.

Former CEO Tadashi Ishii later resigned just over a year ago.

“Under the circumstances, continuing to chase the top line would be difficult,” Soga said on the company’s earnings call in referencing the aforementioned reform efforts.

According to the Nikkei report, these projects involved hiring more staff members and automating certain unspecified office operations in order to reduce the number of hours worked overall.

And the company is getting closer to cutting total yearly hours to “under 2,100 per employee” in an attempt to reach 1,900 by 2019. These employees also used nearly 10 percent more of their paid leave over the past year than in 2016, though the number was still only 64 percent.

It won’t surprise many to learn that Americans are also taking less of their paid leave, but then 46 percent of U.S. employees took every one of their paid days last year. (We presume none of the people in question worked for ad agencies.)

Because of all these changes, Dentsu has to rely more heavily on mergers and overseas acquisitions for new revenue—and it is consistently either in first place or running a close second to WPP in surveys that track such matters.

We Hear: Verizon Doesn’t Have Coverage in Location Featured in ‘Answering The Call’ Super Bowl Spot

Verizon went the emotional route with its 60-second “Answering The Call” spot from McCann New York in Super Bowl LII. The ad featured first responders to a series of natural disasters across the country. Implicating the network’s role in facilitating such communication is the line “They answer the call. Our job is to make sure they can get it” near the conclusion of the ad. Among the first responders pictured is a member Quincy, Illinois’ fire department.

The problem? It appears Verizon’s network doesn’t offer coverage in Quincy or the surrounding area.

At least that’s the assertion in a blog post from a local country station. “When I moved to this area, I had to switch from Verizon, a carrier I had been with for 10 years, because they didn’t have coverage,” the post claims.

Quincy is, of course, just one of the areas featured in the ad. But it seems at least one area resident objects to Verizon’s use of a local tragedy for what “felt like a cheap, exploitative ploy.”

It’s not the first time Verizon has been accused of something like this. A 2013 spot featured actor Donnie Wahlberg touting Verizon FiOS while on the streets of Boston at a time when the service was reportedly not offered in the city.

We Hear: T-Mobile Planned to Run a Super Bowl Ad Starring Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci

T-Mobile ran a gentle message of equality for its Super Bowl LII ad, narrated by Kerry Washington and set to a cover of Nirvana‘s “All Apologies.”

The 60-second spot, which was created in-house and ran during the third quarter, was a notable shift in tone from the brand’ previous Super Bowl efforts. As it turns out, T-Mobile may have had something far different in mind.

The Wall Street Journal cited a TMZ report that the brand had reached out to former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci about appearing in its Super Bowl ad before dropping the idea.

A source told AgencySpy that the brand had planned to to run a Super Bowl ad with Scaramucci and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. When the plans fell through, the source claims, T-Mobile switched gears dramatically, wrote the new ad in-house and shot it around ten days before the Super Bowl.

It’s unclear at what point in the process this happened or whether TMZ’s other assertion—that the ad was centered around “Scaramucci at a podium fielding questions about T-Mobile, and whenever someone had their information wrong he’d scream, ‘Fake news!!!’”—has any validity.

Still, we’d all like to imagine the Spicer/Scaramucci spot that could have been. And we can say that neither of T-Mobile’s main agencies, Mother and Publicis Seattle, had anything to do with the ad that eventually aired.

We reached out to T-Mobile for comment today but have yet to receive a response.

Publicis Says Cannes Jury Placements Don’t Conflict with Its Promise to Skip All Awards Shows

Publicis Groupe made headlines last summer for announcing that it would forbid all its agencies from entering any work into ad industry awards shows for one year. The inherent implication was that none of its employees would be attending, either.

An internal Re:Sources email confirming the policy stated that all Publicis entities “will not participate in any vendor conferences, industry trade shows and/or award shows effective July 1. This is mandatory and exceptions will not be approved. … Award/trade show ban is effective for the entire Groupe.”

The idea was that Publicis would be absent from all such events until its own VivaTech conference in August 2018, at which it will debut its AI platform Marcel, created in partnership with Microsoft.

This week, however, we learned that several top Publicis Groupe executives will, in fact, be attending Cannes in 2018 … as jury presidents.

  • Leo Burnett’s Mark Tutssel (who will soon be that agency’s top-ranking executive) is president of the Sustainable Development Goals jury
  • Saatchi & Saatchi chairwoman and global CCO Kate Stanners is running the Print & Publishing competition
  • Nick Law, who is amusingly still listed as global CCO at R/GA, will be in charge of Creative eCommerce

In other words, Publicis leadership will very much be present in France over the summer. This might seem like a blatant contradiction, but Publicis wants us to know that it isn’t so.

Today a holding group spokesperson clarified. “Since the beginning of our 12-month pause from industry awards, festivals and events we’ve always been very clear,” the statement read. “This decision was taken so we could invest in our platform.”

That means Marcel, which is in the works even though we haven’t seen it in action yet. Now keep in mind this paragraph from Adweek’s original story:

According to an internal memo written by CEO Frank Voris of Publicis Groupe’s financial services unit, Re:Sources, Sadoun’s company is “looking for 2.5 percent cost synergies for 2018” and hopes to achieve those savings, at least in part, by “eliminating all award/trade shows for the next year.”

The key argument, though, is that it doesn’t count as long as Publicis isn’t paying for it … which would seem to reinforce the argument that this is primarily about saving money.

“We’re very happy for our people to participate in any kind of jury or panel as long as the festival concerned covers costs and expenses,” the spokesperson continued. “We’re delighted to say that Mark, Kate and of course Nick are participating in Cannes under these conditions, and we’re looking forward to coming back to the awards circuit with a bang in September 2018.”

Glad we cleared this up. And on that note, may the best work win!

What Does This Very Awkward Polish Candy Ad Remind You Of?

File under “What Fresh Hell Is This”: today a friendly source came across this truly incredible ad for Swedish/Finnish toffee brand Dumle that ran in Poland.

It’s striking because, well, it looks a whole hell of a lot like a spoon filled with heroin. In fact, we cannot imagine anything else that this image could have been meant to resemble—especially since no one melts toffees in a spoon (to our knowledge, at least) and the roughly translated copy reads, “Can the new year be even sweeter? Maybe!”

As our source put it, “Before you click, make sure you are sitting down and you are not eating anything because you might choke.”

The Facebook promo, which initially appeared on December 31, recently got new attention after appearing on S?aba Reklama or “Weak Advertising Blog,” a page tracking all the very worst in Polish advertising.

That site also includes not-quite-classics like this one, which seems to casts a pickle as a moth(?), and other evidence of hipsterdom flourishing in Eastern Europe.

We’ve reached out to Dumle on Facebook but unsurprisingly have not heard back. The brand does not appear to have worked with a major agency in recent years, and we are still somehow amazed that their marketing team published this.

The whole thing—both the post and the painfully approximate Facebook comment translations—are somehow both amusing and sad.

Some of the latter:

“Is that why mom said not to take candy from strangers???????????????”

“gentlemen, ever more amateurs are pushing for advertising, hehe”

“It’s gold ahhahahahahhahah”

“Respect #balls

Wife of Saatchi Exec Responds to Backlash Over GoFundMe Page for Doggie Influencer’s $10K Vet Bill

Saatchi & Saatchi chairman and chief strategy officer Richard Huntington and his fashion designer wife Annabel Bird responded today to the viral, negative attention they garnered for launching a GoFundMe page to foot a £7,500 ($10,632) vet bill for their dog, a four-year-old Welsh Terrier named Edward Lear, who happens to be an Instagram star.

Bird started out thanking everyone who donated to the pup’s cause in an update on the crowd-funding page she created earlier this month.

Richard Huntington, Saatchi & Saatchi chairman and CSO.

“Unfortunately, his page has received some negative press because of who my husband Richard works for,” she continued. “As you know, this page was set up for our friends and family and those of mine and Edward’s Instagram followers who kindly asked to donate money to help with his recovery. This is not uncommon in the dog community on Instagram which is a wholly supportive and wonderful place to hang out.”

Bird concluded that her “only concern has been for Edward” but told those who now may wish to withdraw their donation to email her directly.

The news that Huntington and Bird launched the GoFundMe page, which so far raised £5,365, to fund treatment for Edward from celebrity vet Noel Fitzpatrick, was first reported by the Daily News U.K.

In the original GoFundMe post, Bird explained Edward has elbow dysplasia in one of his front legs and torn cruciate ligaments in both rear legs, plus arthritis. The couple’s usual vet referred them to the specialty Fitzpatrick who could operate on the pooch. But their insurance only covered £4,000 of the total £11,500 operating cost, leaving them short £7,500.

Bird called on Edward’s 10,400 followers to donate to the cause and get him “scamping again.”

Bird’s and Huntington’s ploy would otherwise not be unusual—GoFundMe was launched specifically to help people with similar types of personal causes—if it were not for their social status, being that the latter is a top executive at a giant agency network owned by conglomerate Publicis Groupe. As many Twitter critics pointed out, Bird and Huntington certainly don’t seem to need the financial help.

FMD, the absolute nerve of these people, Richard Huntington (@ adliterate) & wife Annabel scrounging vet bill donations on @gofundme! “Our insurance has a limit of £4,000…So, we are left with bills of £7,500 and are asking for help to pay them.”

— Lyndsay Farlow (@LyndsayFarlow) January 24, 2018

Another user asked, “The two of you have no shame, do you? … Money enough and yet begging for pocket money?”

The duo live a lavish life in their £1 million flat in Primrose Hill, London, according to the Daily Mail.

Bird owns online London lifestyle store, Bleak House. Huntington was named chairman and chief strategy officer of Saatchi & Saatchi in February 2017, but had been with the agency since 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Huntington graduated from the prestigious University of Cambridge and, according to the Daily Mail, is thought to earn a six-figure salary.

WPP to End Sponsorship of Swanky London Event Where Men Allegedly Groped and Flashed Hostesses

WPP has promised to end its annual sponsorship of the Presidents Club Charity Dinner—also known as “the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity”—after a damning Financial Times report detailed allegations of harassment and misogynistic behavior at the London soiree.

This 33-year-old “black tie, men-only event” purports to attract “many leading figures from the financial and commercial industries” and happens each January in one of London’s fanciest locations: the Dorchester Hotel ballroom.

Financial Times accounting and tax reporter Madison Marriage performed a bold act of journalism by taking a deep, dark look inside the Dinner. According to her must-read (paywalled) account, this event—which ostensibly exists to raise money for reputable charities—very quickly descended into sexual debauchery.

130 women were specifically hired to serve as hostesses; unbeknownst to organizers, two of them were undercover FT journalists. According to the report published today, their experiences consisted primarily of fighting off the aggressive advances of wealthy, aging British men.

One key passage from the piece:

Over the course of six hours, many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester.

Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.

The full story includes many more details about the way these women were recruited by an event-based casting agency and warned that men would try to hit on them in various and sundry ways throughout the dinner. Its staffers then observed these women and encouraged them to engage more directly with attendees—even if that meant dealing with many unwanted touches.

Attendees at the Dinner must sit at tables sponsored their employers and bid on auction items like “lunch with Boris Johnson.” The event was hosted by British comedian David Walliams and included top politicians leaders of businesses like Goldman Sachs and Barclays. This year and in past years, one of those companies has been WPP.

According to the report, Martin Sorrell was not at the table last week “though he has attended in the past.” But WPP Europe chief operating officer Andrew Scott reportedly sat at the table in his place.

In response to the allegations in the story, the world’s largest agency holding company has decided to stop sponsoring a table and sending its executives to the dinner each year.

“WPP has traditionally sponsored a table at the Presidents Club dinner to support its fundraising for children’s charities,” read a statement provided by a company spokesperson. “Neither the company nor our attendees were aware of the alleged incidents until informed of them by the Financial Times. WPP takes these reports very seriously and, while we will continue to support relevant charities, in light of the allegations we are ending our association with the event.”

All involved parties including the hotel, the casting agency and the Presidents Club itself told FT that they were varying degrees of shocked and appalled by the behavior detailed in the story. The WPP representative declined to elaborate on the statement provided to us above.

The entire story documents behaviors that many in “polite society” believe to be relics of a not-so-distant past. It also includes a video segment.

[Image via]

Publicis Groupe ‘Formally Rejects’ Anonymous Letter Alleging Financial Improprieties

Publicis Groupe has released a very unusual statement today asserting that its financial house is very much in order, no matter what some rogue parties may want to imply.

The brief, cryptic statement went live via international press wires just over an hour ago, and it seems intended to counter an “anonymous letter” about alleged improprieties in the holding group’s finances. Publicis also sent the release out to various media organizations as it went live.

Specifically, the release says the letter, which went out to “auditors and some financial analysts,” accused Publicis of inflating or overvaluing its organic growth for the years 2016 and 2017 by way of “an early application of IFRS 15.”

It goes on to state that the company “formally rejects these allegations,” asserting that the letter’s author “obviously has no knowledge of accounting standards and is proceeding by amalgam, for the sole purpose of creating doubt and disturbing the reality of Publicis Groupe’s figures.”

Earlier in the release, the language describes this letter as a “destablization attempt” by an individual or individuals who will somehow profit or achieve other, unspecified goals by sowing uncertainty among Publicis shareholders.

These actions somewhat resemble those taken by “activist investors” who look to pressure company management.

The release does not clarify how Publicis allegedly used IFRS to overstate its growth. IFRS is a new international standard “providing guidance on accounting for revenue from contracts with customers” that went into effect earlier this month.

The holding company reported modest growth last summer when analysts predicted negative numbers, but its disappointing Q3 results led to a large October stock drop from which it has yet to recover.

A Publicis spokesperson declined to elaborate beyond the release.

TBWA’s Backslash Predicts 2018’s Biggest Trends

TBWA’s cultural insight studio, Backslash, unveiled its 2018 Pre-Trends report today, with input from 250 TBWA creatives and strategists from around the word.

According to the report, the five big trends you can expect in 2018 are: genetic activism, “vapourware” or fictional fashion, bot-manufactured content, the rise of block chain and meme money and a social media leader starting a cult.

The agency walks through its top five predictions in a video featuring two Backslash employees, as well as the implications for brands.

After watching the video we still have a few questions, such as: Why is what appears to be an old truck with a pair of surfboards on the roof parked in what we assume is the middle of Backslash’s office? We also have to admit we still don’t completely understand what Blockchain is.

In regards to genetic activism, the agency summarized, “As DNA technology empowers people to predict and manage their healthcare, they will rise up to demand solutions and pharmaceutical investment for conditions they may not yet have.”

The idea is that as people have more access to genetic information through services like 23andMe, they will “demand action, treatment and recognition based on their DNA profiles.”

The agency coined the term “vapourware” for the predicted phenomenon of “computer-generated goods like lenses, filters and virtual designs created purely to be worn for social media.” Kids these days.

Bot-manufactured content isn’t hard to explain, nor much of a surprise in the wake of AI-CD ?, McCann Japan’s AI creative director. As you may recall, creative director Mitsuru Kuramoto defeated his artificially intelligent counterpart in a subsequent creative battle and AI-CD ? went on to make some, uh, questionable decisions when asked to create a music video for Kawaii pop girl group Magical Punchline. Still, Backslash predicts that “human made” tags may be required in the near future.

The idea of a social media influencer starting a cult, sadly, is all too believable.

CP+B, Jose Cuervo Help You Engage in Some ‘Holiday Mindfulness’

CP+B L.A. launched perhaps the most bizarre holiday campaign we’ve seen this year for Jose Cuervo, entitled “Holiday Mindfulness.”

“Holiday Mindfulness” encompasses a bunch of “meditations” on various stressful holiday situations, including unwanted interactions, shopping and travel. The intentionally over-the-top approach spots are presented like some kind of cheesy meditation exercise video from the seventies but, you know, with tequila. Things gradually get stranger as each of the three spots progress.

In “Holiday Mindfulness with Cuervo: Eliminate Dreaded Encounters,” the calm voiceover begins “Today we free you from the stress of awkward run-ins with people from your hometown.”

“You thought you’d never see them again,” the voiceover continues as a voice whispers “You were wrong” in the background. As the spot continues the humor hinges on this call and response approach, along with accompanying cosmic visuals and meditative music.

The advice for those encounters with Todd (or was it Chad?) pretty much boils down to “just zone out and drink tequila.”

While the humor may be hit or miss, we do appreciate CP+B for going for it with the oddball approach and Cuervo giving its agency the room to get a little crazy.

CAMPAIGN TITLE: Holiday 2017
EXECUTION TITLE: Cuervo Holiday Mindfulness
LAUNCH DATE: Dec 13, 2017
COPYWRITER: Chelsea O’Brien

Omelet Co-Founder Ryan Fey Reveals His New Gig: a Food Network Series About Grilling

Behold, dear readers, the “other opportunities” that Omelet co-founder and chief brand officer Ryan Fey, left in August to explore. Starting tonight, Fey will be the face of the Food Network’s new reality cooking show “The Grill Dads” along with fellow Omelet veteran and former chief experience officer Mark Anderson.

The series—which debuts at 9:30 p.m. ET, when you should be just drunk enough to want some more wings—is a product of Guy Fieri’s competition show, “Guy’s Big Project,” which served as a review of sorts looking for the network’s next big culinary-travel series. The other show that came out of that competition is “Eat, Sleep, BBQ” with Rashad Jones.

Apparently, Fey and Anderson, who the Food Network described as lifelong friends, decided to enter based on their shared love for grilling meat and being dads. The show will follow them across the country as they try to find the most delicious dishes—kid-friendly and otherwise.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mark, Ryan and Rashad into the Food Network family,” said Courtney White, senior vp of programming at Scripps Networks Interactive, in the press release. “Throughout the journey on ‘Guy’s Big Project,’ Mark’s and Ryan’s energetic personalities and ability to convey their excitement for grilling on camera made them stand out.”

When Fey left Omelet after 13 years, the only regarding his future plans indicated that he would be “pursu[ing] his creative passions.”

“Ryan takes with him our warmest wishes and eternal gratitude for his contributions to our agency,” Kurz added at the time. “He will always be a core part of the Omelet family. We wish him the best in all his future endeavors.”

Internal Memo Implores KBS Employees to Party Responsibly by Following ‘The Mom Rule’ This Holiday

As one more year comes to a close, our society is collectively freaking out over its newfound sensitivity to creating safe, comfortable workplaces for all employees. Advertising agencies have taken their own approaches to the Weinstein wave with the ultimate goal of reducing or, ideally, eliminating the risk of bad behavior among staff members.

About a week ago, for example, The Wall Street Journal and later Digiday reported on a memo that FCB worldwide CEO Carter Murray sent to all staff, suggesting that they have “Responsible Fun” this year, rather than “Stupid Fun” or “Regrettable Fun.”

Murray specifically warned against sharing dumb and/or embarrassing pictures on social media and warned staff members that, should they feel the need to “gyrate” to the music, they would be best advised to keep their hands to themselves.

This week, Publicis employees got a more specific note telling them to lock up all the alcohol … at least until 6 PM.

Now, a memo sent out to the agencies in the KBS wing of MDC Partners (KBS, The Media Kitchen and Attention) takes a different tack by suggesting that everyone simply follow “the Mom Rule.”

What is that rule, exactly? It’s pretty simple: whenever you’re deciding whether or not to do something, just imagine that it involves your mom.

Dear KBS-ers, TMK-ers and Attention-ers,

We know you’re all ready to let loose at Thursday’s Holiday Party. Trust me, all of HR is prepared to get turnt after a dreadful period of open enrollment. But no matter how wild you get, we remind you to do so responsibly.

Now, we understand responsibly getting wild sounds like some kind of oxymoron. So to help you understand where the boundary lies of what is responsible we present you with the Mom Rule.

The Mom Rule is simple. If you’re in a questionable situation, treat your co-workers as if they were your Mom or insert your Mom into the situation.

So lets apply the Mom Rule to some situations you may encounter Thursday night.

If you misbehave at the party, can you blame it on the alcohol? Absolutely not. First of all, you wouldn’t misbehave in front of your Mom. Second, in the rare chance you did, your Mom wouldn’t accept alcohol as an excuse. Even if you are her little bundle of joy you’re always responsible for your actions, alcohol or not.

Can you post other people’s misbehavior to social media? Nope. Would you post a picture of your Mom misbehaving to social media? We didn’t think so. Your Mom also wouldn’t like to see a picture of you or anyone else misbehaving either.

You have an off color joke to tell, should you share it? No, again. Your Mom isn’t a fan of toilet humor and she doesn’t want to wash your mouth out with soap, she’s got reading to do for book club tomorrow night.

You’re under mistletoe with a co-worker, is it OK to go in for a kiss? Eww and no. If you were under mistletoe with your Mom or in any situation that, well, you get it.

If your jam comes on is it OK to dance with someone to let them know you know all the lyrics? Yes, but dance with them like they’re your Mom. We don’t think this needs explanation either.

If you leave the party with co-workers, do your titles still matter? Yes. If you left your home and went to Chili’s because your Mom loves the 2 for $22 deal, she would still be your Mom at Chili’s. Co-workers are co-workers and your mom is your mom. The end.

The note was signed by KBS global CEO Guy Hayward. It’s similar to Murray’s note in that it addresses potentially serious matters with a light-hearted tone.

The mom juxtaposition does strike us as a bit odd, though. And we must sadly report that there is no longer an operating Chili’s location in Manhattan, meaning KBS staff members would have to go to Jersey City, Forest Hills or … yes … Staten Island.

But we’ve yet to receive any social media pictures of the party, so maybe The Mom Rule worked after all.

MDC Partners hasn’t commented on the note.

Publicis Groupe Warns All Employees to Keep Alcohol ‘Under Lock and Key’ This Holiday Season

No one likes a hung-over Santa Claus—and this year, Publicis is pulling out all the stops to ensure that there won’t be any shenanigans under the mistletoe.

A memo sent to all staff this week—and to us today—looks to curb those alcoholic impulses by keeping the workplace entirely liquor-free. At least until 6 PM.

Here’s the Spark Foundry version of the memo, which went out to all agency leadership via CEO Chris Boothe:

Spark Executives:

Effective immediately, PM Americas office leads have been asked to help cascade the following rules in regards to alcohol in the workplace and enforcing compliance to these rules moving forward.

We have been asked to ensure that all Spark employees remove any and all alcohol from public display. This includes any wine or spirts from vendors/clients or from events in the past that may be on employees’ desks or in offices.

Across all Publicis offices in the Americas, alcohol owned by the company should be held under lock and key by senior personnel.

This alcohol will only be accessible after standard work hours, which is 6pm.

Some more helpful guidelines are below:

•       No consumption during office hours –  only by exception directed by Brand CEO / Office Lead
•       Any alcohol for staff consumption under lock and key
•       No displays of alcohol in offices, rooms, areas other than under locked cabinet
•       Where clients are involved (Miller Coors, Brown-Forman, etc) discretion to be used in public areas with displays and signage

Thank you for your help enforcing this policy.  If you have any questions please feel free to see me.

Chris Boothe

The memo, you may notice, does not elaborate on the reasons behind this new policy—nor does it specify how long the new restrictions apply.

It may well be for the same reason PR reps warned agency executives not to flaunt their rose bottles at Cannes Lions last year.

Patrick Stewart Voices Anomaly London’s Holiday Film About a Girl Who Accidentally Addresses Her Christmas Letter to Satan

Anomaly London got some serious star power for the agency’s holiday video about a girl named Hope who addresses a letter to Satan instead of Santa.

Sir Patrick Stewart provides narration for the animated comedic tale of a misaddressed letter which would “changes the very face of Christmas.”

The only thing Hope wants for Christmas is a puppy, but her letter arrives in hell rather than the North Pole. There Satan has all the feels when he reads Hope’s kind words. This really shakes things up down in hell, leading to a chain of events that has quite the impact on Christmas Day. Think South Park meets The Nightmare Before Christmas and you sort of have the idea.

We’re not normally fans of agency holiday vanity projects, but Anomaly did something really out of the ordinary with this outlandish animated tale. It seems safe to say you won’t see anything quite like it from the batch of agency holiday stunts this year. Plus, who can resist Patrick Stewart?