Thursday, January 18, 2018

13984: High-Tech Hypocrisy At CES.

Adweek reported more on CES 2018, continuing to critique the trade show for its lack of diversity. Honestly, given that the tech industry’s exclusivity is common knowledge and openly acknowledged, why bother hammering an event for appealing to and reflecting its core audience? Divertsity was on display, with advocates including HP CMO Antonio Lucio, who declared, “[Diversity in tech] may take a bit longer than all of us anticipated, but let’s get started.” Yes, things tend to take a bit longer than anticipated when half-wits like Lucio promote half-assed efforts.

Voice Reigned at CES 2018, but Diversity Was Still Elusive

Heads up, tech giants: Alexa and Siri don’t count as real women

By Lauren Johnson

Every year, the Consumer Electronic Show sets the agenda for the biggest trends and gadgets. Thousands of marketers descend into the desert to discuss the tech that consumers will soon get their hands on—and what it means for brands.

As technology weaves more intricately into our daily lives and consumer adoption continues to grow, CES’s packed show floor—clocking in at 2.5 million square feet across 11 venues, to be exact—has become a bit of a running joke for marketers in recent years. Advertisers know well that 90 percent of the products (think smart litter boxes or noise-canceling devices connected by Bluetooth) they see during the weeklong event won’t go mainstream. But this year, they’re particularly bullish on the other 10 percent, namely voice and artificial intelligence.

Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home were on the lips of every big brand and agency exec in Las Vegas, popping up in dozens of companies’ pitches and demonstrations about the Internet of Things.

“We’re really interested in voice assistants—we’ve seen a lot with Alexa and Siri,” said Meredith Verdone, Bank of America’s CMO. “For us to understand how people are interacting with chat is really helpful for us to see the consumer behavior of what’s working [and] what’s not working.”

Tech giants flexing their voice muscles

Among Las Vegas’ miles of casinos and conference halls, voice got its big IRL moment. Google Home’s activation included a giant gumball machine showing how artificial intelligence works by asking consumers to play a game where they ask the voice assistant a series of questions. Google also conducted a large out-of-home and media campaign in casinos and on the monorail system.

Meanwhile, Amazon was unavoidable even during a quick walk around the show floor, as both major brands (like Sleep Number and Whirlpool) and smaller startups pitched AI-infused products. The commerce giant also hosted at least nine panels talking about itself.

Right now, voice technology is nascent, and virtual assistants can only understand a relatively small number of words, but not for long. Expect the vocabulary of your virtual assistant to grow as the technology becomes more sophisticated.

“Hopefully, at a certain point, it will be more organic—there will be more natural language understanding, so you can speak more eloquently, [more] fluidly and faster,” said Michael Bassik, managing director of MDC.

One thing not prevalent at CES: Marketers’ one-on-one meetings with the platforms. Instead of spending time talking with platforms, it seems like advertisers this year were focused on seeing the future through techy gadgets.

Tech’s diversity problem

While flashy and glitzy tech was the main attraction at CES, one thing that wasn’t on full display was diversity.

Going into CES, much was made about the conference’s lack of female solo keynoters, with some marketers suggesting a boycott. While companies like Twitter, Sonos and Medialink hosted women-led panels and programming, the lack of diversity in both gender and ethnicity was prevalent at CES.

HP CMO Antonio Lucio, who has made a big push for more diverse teams for the past year, focused on attending non-official CES events—like Twitter’s #HereWeAre event with 150 attendees, which was live-streamed and racked up two million viewers. The two-hour event included Kara Swisher, cofounder and executive editor of Recode; Linda Boff, CMO of GE; and Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code.

Still, booth babes were in clear sight at several companies’ displays, and an event featuring sex robots at a nearby nightclub went viral after it was revealed that it was aimed at attracting women.

Diversity in tech “may take a bit longer than all of us anticipated, but let’s get started,” said Lucio.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

13983: Stars From Mars & Beyond.

Campaign presented “Power 100 Next Generation 2018”—marketing’s alleged rising stars—whose featured stars look like all the exclusive power players from previous generations. M&M’s Brand Director Alexa Saller added a dose of divertsity by gushing, “I am so proud of Maltesers’ mission to stand up for diversity, but what’s most important is that it comes from a really genuine place. It’s something our vice-president of marketing, Michele Oliver, is personally passionate about—and consumers recognise that. Using your brand to make a difference through your supply chain or with your advertising, backed up by concrete commitments, gives consumers a reason to pay attention to you.” Okay, but don’t be offended if MultiCultClassics pays no attention to your Pollyannaish and patronizing propaganda.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

13982: Fight For Funny Females.

Campaign presented divertsity drollery from Grey London Co-Chief Creative Officer Vicki Maguire, who advocated for more female comediennes in advertising. Of course, there was no acknowledgment of Annie the Chicken Queen, The Pine-Sol Lady or the Honey Bunches of Oats Lady.

Why funny women should take the lead in advertising this year

There’s a wealth of female comedy talent out there, so let’s tap into it and inject some humour back into our creative output, says Grey London’s creative chief.

By Vicki Maguire

It’s 2018 and advertising isn’t quite what it used to be. You can’t call your PA “sugar tits” or hire your talentless son. You can’t have a post-pitch grope in the edit suite or make the occasional racist joke “just for bantz”.

HR is preventing you from recruiting from your alma mater and one woman on the board isn’t good enough. There’s no more pinkwashing a scam ad in case they find out you pay women less than men, and no-one good will work with you because word’s got around that you’re a misogynist prick who can’t keep his hands to himself.

Oh, well, at least you can have a laugh. Funny ads are back in fashion, after all. But all your go-to guys for funny, like Kleinman and Linehan, are busy and Peter Kay is still trotting out “garlic bread”. What to do? You could go for something cute and furry instead. Kittens? Been done. Meerkats? Also done. Or just cute — women? Minefield. How about funny women? Now, that’s not been done for a while.

Time to dust off a few clich├ęs. You wonder whether Maureen Lipman is still alive. Or how about a childless Bridget Jones-type, with big pants and shrivelling ovaries? Or a ditzy chick who needs to call a plumber to get her out of a fix? No, that’s a bit porno and, besides, you can’t shoot with Terry any more. A power-suited ballbreaker surrounded by spineless male lackeys, perhaps? Or fat and funny? But, oh no, Dawn French has gone and lost weight. And now you’re out of ideas.

When it comes to women, the ad industry is still clueless. Research from The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media last year showed that in advertising women are “humourless, mute and in the kitchen”. The Museum of Brands has charted women’s evolution in ads in six dismal stereotypes: Domestic Obsessive, Selfless Nurturer, Sex Object, Unattainable Goddess, Fraught Juggler and Bit Part. Not funny. Never funny. In 2017, men were 2.6 times more likely to be funny in ads than female characters. This industry is desperately lagging behind. Even the BBC banned all-male comedy panel shows back in 2014.

Advertising has become focused on values and higher purpose lately, which has ended up making everything look a bit, well, samey. There was a time when British advertising was the envy of the world because — wait for it — it was funny. Everyone talks about how brands need to show human qualities but humour is one of the most important human characteristics. For most people, funny is how you choose your partner. In ads, funny cuts through, builds brands, increases equity and gives you a distinct tone of voice.

The nature of female humour can be different from men’s. Often, women use humour to “create moments of connection”, according to Carol Vallone Mitchell, author of Breaking Through “Bitch” – How Women Can Shatter Stereotypes and Lead Fearlessly. In contrast, men are more likely to use humour to gain top status, she says. Either way, in these dark times, we could all do with a laugh.

This may come as rather disquieting news to some of the throwbacks that still haunt the advertising world, but a new generation of female comedians is entering the mainstream. Performers such as Sarah Millican, Katherine Ryan and Bridget Christie are household names, inspired by the likes of French and Saunders, Victoria Wood and Jo Brand.

Female comedians have never been more popular, with tickets sales trebling between 2011-2014, according to Ticketmaster. The rite of passage that is the Edinburgh Fringe last year saw more funny women showcase their comedy in more female-written, female-performed shows than ever.

Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag have made the transition from stage to TV and been widely acclaimed – both here and in the US. The BBC is now actively seeking fresh young female comedy-writing talent with initiatives such as its Caroline Aherne Bursary for Funny Northern Women. The Maltesers ads, such as “New boyfriend”, championed some of our brightest up-and-coming talent.

Meanwhile, Sharon Horgan has started her own production company, Merman, which also has a brand content division. She’s on a mission to champion female ad directors — a move that the #FreeTheBid initiative is also backing, as only 9% of ads and 14% of films globally are directed by women.

We’ve always been shameless borrowers of culture. It’s time to give something back. In 2018, let’s make sure we have strong, funny female leads that aren’t foils or wallpaper. Great comedy powered by empathy, passion and an eye for the bizarre and quirky. Comedy that can connect rather than divide us, or simply score points. All of us — consumers, creators, brand owners included, irrespective of gender, sexual or religious persuasion or nationality, age or race — surely deserve a bit of that.

Vicki Maguire is the co-chief creative officer of Grey London.

Monday, January 15, 2018

13981: I Have A Divertsity Dream.

The Google Doodle commemorating MLK Day shows a divertsity spirit with its female imagery. The diversionary doodle maneuver makes sense, given Google’s actual dearth of diversity in regards to race and ethnicity—and the tech company is failing with gender equality too. Google displays strong commitments and insights for diversity, but the workforce displays strong dedication for exclusivity.

13980: Franklin Fun Facts.

The New York Times reported Franklin—the Black kid in Charlie Brown’s clan—was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Peanuts character later inspired The Franklin Blog.

Guess Who’s Coming to ‘Peanuts’

By David Kamp

“Is this your beach ball?” These were the first words spoken by Franklin, addressing Charlie Brown as the latter stared glumly out to sea. And this is how Charles M. Schulz integrated his comic strip, “Peanuts,” on July 31, 1968. Franklin’s initial three-strip arc unfolded quietly and gently, with the boys building a sand castle together while chatting.

Franklin stayed quiet and gentle, taking his place in the “Peanuts” gang as a steady but low-key presence over the next three decades — sometimes to the chagrin of African-Americans who found him to be anodyne at best and a token at worst. In a 1992 “Saturday Night Live” routine, Chris Rock complained, comically but pointedly, that Mr. Schulz had deprived Franklin of the kind of signature traits he had assigned the other “Peanuts” kids.

“Linus got the blanket, Lucy’s a bitch, Schroeder plays the piano, Peppermint Patty’s a lesbian,” Mr. Rock said. “Everybody got their thing except Franklin! Give him something! Damn, give him a Jamaican accent!”

Yet Franklin’s careful rollout and nice-guy equanimity were very much by design, as “50 Years of Franklin,” a new exhibition at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, in Santa Rosa, Calif., reveals. The exhibition opens this weekend in conjunction with the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday on Monday.

Dr. King’s assassination, on April 4, 1968, played a direct role in Franklin’s creation. Eleven days later, a Southern Californian named Harriet Glickman wrote to Mr. Schulz, introducing herself as “the mother of three children and a deeply concerned and active citizen.” In her grief, Ms. Glickman explained, she had been pondering “the areas of the mass media which are of tremendous importance in shaping the unconscious attitudes of our kids.” She then proposed an idea: “the introduction of Negro children into the group of Schulz characters.”

“I was acting on the feeling that maybe there was one little thing I can do,“ Ms. Glickman, who is now 91, told me in a recent interview. A civil rights and antiwar activist, she was shrewd to petition Mr. Schulz. “Peanuts” was at the peak of its popularity at the time, running in a thousand newspapers, with a devoted daily readership approaching 100 million. Mr. Schulz, as unassuming a man as he was, was a veritable godhead, revered in those divided times by Americans of all stripes.

Mr. Schulz wrote back to Ms. Glickman within two weeks, but only to tell her he couldn’t fulfill her request. He and his fellow white cartoonists, he said, were “afraid that it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends.” Undaunted, Ms. Glickman sent another note, asking if she could share his letter with black acquaintances. Mr. Schulz assented, though he again expressed reluctance to introduce a black character into “Peanuts.”

Ms. Glickman wasted little time in enlisting her friend Kenneth C. Kelly, a black father of two, who told Mr. Schulz, essentially, to get over his anxiety.

“An accusation of being patronizing would be a small price to pay for the positive results that would accrue!” he wrote. Mr. Kelly suggested that Mr. Schulz begin with a “supernumerary” black character, a de facto extra, who “would quietly and unobtrusively set the stage for a principal character at a later date.” This cautious approach would serve the dual purpose of not burdening Mr. Schulz and “Peanuts” with the duty of making a Major Social Statement and presenting friendship between black and white children as utterly normal.

But in the context of the late ’60s, Franklin’s debut was indeed a Major Social Statement. Inevitably, a few newspaper editors in the South made noises of protest, but by and large, the reaction to Franklin was positive, particularly among black readers.

Morrie Turner, whose “Wee Pals,” introduced in 1965, was the first widely syndicated strip by an African-American cartoonist, told Mr. Schulz in a letter that he found the “handling and the treatment of the character excellent,” adding, “The day Little Orphan Annie has a black boyfriend, we’ll really have it made.” More earnestly, a young black Army sergeant in Vietnam, Franklin R. Freeman, wrote to Mr. Schulz to express how gratifying it was to find “a new character in the strip who shares my name.”

For Barbara Brandon-Croft, who in 1991 became the first African-American woman to have a nationally syndicated comic strip in the mainstream press, “Where I’m Coming From,” the simple fact of Franklin’s addition to the mix was downright exhilarating. Ms. Brandon-Croft was 10 years old in 1968, and she told me: “I remember feeling affirmed by seeing Franklin in ‘Peanuts.’ ‘There’s a little black kid! Thank goodness! We do matter.’”

In the long run, Franklin ended up existing in a space somewhere between supernumerary and principal, most reliably serving as the academically proficient straight man to Peppermint Patty’s perpetually D-minus-pulling goofball. Like a lot of “Peanuts” fans, I wish Franklin had been given greater depth and more to do. In that very first series of strips, he mentioned that his father, like Sergeant Freeman, was away in Vietnam. Franklin and Peppermint Patty (and Marcie) attended a school on the other side of town from the strip’s core characters.

I’ve always been fascinated by the faint intimation that this was the neighborhood where the less-privileged kids lived. Whereas Charlie, Sally, Lucy and Linus were the children of nuclear families, Peppermint Patty was being raised by a single father, and Franklin (at first, anyway) was being raised by a mother in a similar situation. Were the lives of these kids harder? Was there a higher ratio of students to womp-womping teachers in their school? It was a path that, alas, went unexplored.

But Mr. Schulz, who died in 2000, was generally wise to stay within his lane. He correctly intuited that he could go only so far in portraying a black child’s experience. More auspiciously, Franklin served as proof that there was room for more black characters in the comics, their stories to be told this time by black cartoonists.

“It was ‘Here comes Franklin,’ and then it was ‘Here comes Luther, here comes Quincy,’” Ms. Brandon-Croft said, referring to the title characters of the syndicated strips created in 1968 and 1970 by, respectively, her father, Brumsic Brandon Jr., and Ted Shearer.

Fifty years after Franklin recovered Charlie Brown’s beach ball, we’re still living through times when representational firsts are newsworthy and cherished by fans: the first kiss between Asian and black characters in a “Star Wars” film (Rose and Finn in “The Last Jedi”), the first Marvel Studios movie headlined by a black superhero (next month’s “Black Panther”). Franklin might not have been the most fascinating fellow ever to populate the comics universe, but as his story shows, a first like him is necessary to advance the march of representation.

When I asked Ms. Glickman if she was at all disappointed by Franklin’s relative blandness, she laughed at the very thought. “Never! Are you kidding me?” she said. “I was so pleased with Charles Schulz. He did what he could do at the time.”

13979: Dreams Aren’t Free.

Adweek published a pathetic piece reminding culturally clueless White advertising agencies and marketers that Martin Luther King Jr. content is not in the public domain—so don’t think it’s cool to produce patronizing pap on MLK Day without paying for the privilege. This presents yet another example of the sad state of affairs regarding divertsity in adland. For example, International Women’s Day—which most U.S. adpeople never knew existed—generates splashy, multichannel campaigns featuring pricy, original executions. Yet the same White ad shops and clients celebrate the iconic civil-rights leader with crumbs or less. Ironically, International Women’s Day represents a dream assignment, while MLK Day symbolizes a dream deferred.

Read This Before Posting Images or Quotes From Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day

Opinion: Sometimes saying nothing is better than an awkward or off-the-mark attempt

By Hope Bertram

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, social media and community managers for brands big and small are thinking about posting quotes and images of King in reverence to his amazing legacy. Here are a few things to think about before scheduling that post hitting the send button.

According to The Washington Post, “All of King’s papers and speeches are owned by family members, some of whom also operate the licensing operation through which those who want to use them must go.”

While the entire speech is copyrighted, is it possible to use a sentence or two under fair usage laws? Are images of King copyrighted, as well? Images of King can be purchased on royalty-free images sites like Getty Images with prices ranging from $150 and up for standard editorial rights.

Is a meme with a quote considered editorial?

Daliah Saper of Saper Law explains: “Those who try to bypass formal licensing of Dr. King’s speech or his images and rely on a fair-use defense must be prepared to justify each use on a case-by-case basis. There is no clear definition of what does and does not constitute fair use. Courts will consider the context, purpose and amount of use in making their determinations. For example, classroom or editorial use might qualify as a fair use, whereas use in an advertisement or promotional tweet will be tougher to justify.

Converting an image or excerpts from a speech into a meme does not automatically make the use editorial or ‘fair.’ Indeed, even news outlets can’t just use images as part of stories without permission. That’s why they have their own photographers or they license images to run with their stories.”

Of course, if the usage is commercial, and you plan to profit from using the image or quote—like an “I have a dream” T-shirt—you must obtain permission and will likely have to pay a licensing fee.

Here are few general tips:

• The post or tweet should be a tribute and not a promotion.

• If you decide to post something related to King, stay on brand.

• The bigger the brand, the more exposure.

• The hashtag #MLKday is safe to use since you are referencing the day

• Talk about the topic, rather than using a quote or King’s name, likeness or quote.

Honoring the legacy

Once you’ve obtained the proper permissions, make sure to craft any tweet or post with care, honoring King’s legacy and not using it to promote your brand.

The Society for Human Resource Management did a wonderful job of this a few years ago, honoring King’s life works and starting a conversation about how to keep it moving forward.

On the more awkward end of the spectrum, ZzzQuil’s MLK Day tweet was just odd—perhaps on brand, but still uncomfortably awkward.

The internet wasn’t kind with its response. ZzzQuil was slammed by Twitter users who either mocked it or told it outright that it was wrong.

As Kristina Nette so eloquently put it:

All in all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Using copyrighted images or works of King can get your brand into trouble legally, and if you post something off-brand or promotional leveraging the day to make money, the internet might respond unkindly.

Sometimes saying nothing is better than an awkward or off-the-mark attempt.

Hope Bertram is the founder and CEO of educational event company Digital Megaphone.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Saturday, January 13, 2018

13977: CESexy.

Adweek reported on the culturally clueless contradictions at CES, where there are protests over the dearth of divertsity alongside sexist practices like “booth babes” embellishing the event. Oh, the humanity!

Women Execs Are Speaking Out About Diversity at CES, Yet Booth Babes and Sex Robots Are Still Prevalent

Conference shows tech industry’s widespread sexism

By Lauren Johnson

“Do as I say, not as I do” might as well be the mantra for discussions about diversity this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Weeks after marketers and execs slammed the conference’s organizers for its lack of solo women keynoters, numerous panels and execs are using the conference as a platform to talk about lingering diversity issues and gender equality. But the scene inside the convention center still reflects tech’s misogynistic culture: Dozens of the thousands of companies exhibiting at CES pay scantily-clad models (aka booth babes) to pitch their companies, showing that the industry still has a long way to go in overcoming sexism.

“The booth babe thing is unfortunate and it would be ideal for CES to get rid of all of that—it’s totally unnecessary and people are here to do business,” said Lorraine Twohill, Google’s CMO. “I think there’s still a lot of work to be done to make CES feel inclusive of women. If CES genuinely wants to have an event that feels welcoming to women, then you can’t have [booth babes.]”

Nima—a company that makes portable Bluetooth speakers in the shape of sports helmets and balls—employed two of its own models to demonstrate its products to attendees at its booth. Over the course of a few minutes, several male attendees asked to take pictures with the models, who were wearing sports bras and workout clothes.

A company rep at the booth said that the models were there “to help attract more customers and help people have a good time and enjoy.” A number of other sports-related companies are also using models to show off their products.

In addition, strip club Sapphire Las Vegas held an event on Monday night featuring “sex robots.” While the event is not officially associated with CES, it quickly spread on Twitter and was meant to attract both men and women.

According to Liz Gumbinner, co-publisher of Cool Mom Tech, brands’ desire to go viral is part of the reason why booth babes remain a staple at CES. With thousands of companies vying for attention, it can be hard for companies to cut through the clutter and make a splash.

“Brands are looking for any opportunity to get attention and a visual spectacle is an understandable part of that,” she said. “Hire a young women and dress her up as a cheerleader or sexy nurse and people will take photos with her—it’s far less expensive than hiring a celebrity.”

She added, “I also think a lot of tech companies are trapped in this kind of regressive dude culture and they think, ‘OK, Las Vegas, so that’s all about strippers and showgirls, right? It’s really just laziness.”

In response to CES’ lack of women speakers, some executives have suggested that attendees boycott CES this year. But combined with the flurry of sexual harassment allegations across media, advertising and entertainment, Bank of America’s CMO Meredith Verdone, thinks this “is a moment” for women, so she decided to attend this year.

“The reality is that yes, I wish [CES] could have found female CEOs to speak—the bigger issue is that we need to get more female CEOs,” Verdone said. “I’m not giving them a pass on it but it’s something that’s more systemic and maybe they need to change their criteria and broaden it so that it’s more than CEOs.”

Specifically, Verdone cited equal pay and hiring practices within her brand. Fifty percent of Bank of America’s employees are female while another 40 percent of management and more than 35 percent of the brand’s board members are women.

“It’s creating this groundswell and now we need to focus on it and do the hard work, not admire the problem but say, ‘What are we doing about?”

That’s not to say that CES doesn’t have its work cut out for itself. Verdone added, “If a year from now there’s no change, then maybe I’ll boycott.”

Kasha Cacy, president of UM for the U.S., also isn’t boycotting this year. Instead, she created a two-hour event featuring women that will take place on Wednesday.

“I’d rather jump in and use all of the people here to prove a point than to boycott,” Cacy said. “I think we’ve gone with momentum and now momentum has to stop and we have to change.”

When asked about what booth babes signal to the advertising and tech industry, she said, “We’re tackling these things one by one—I would hope that through tackling these things one by one people start to become more aware … hopefully we’ll get there.”

Friday, January 12, 2018

13976: Selling Diversity.

Even a diversity of shoes receives more attention than racial and ethnic diversity.