Tag Archives: agency

Grey becomes Valenstein & Fatt

In 1917 anti-semitism was rife – having a Jewish name would do you no favours in a predominantly white, male industry like advertising. In New York, Jewish entrepreneurs Lawrence Valenstein and Arthur Fatt, set up a company called ‘Grey’ which is now one of the largest advertising networks in the world. However, they didn’t name the agency after themselves like others did, and it’s been debated whether or not Grey would have been as successful with the name ‘Valenstein & Fatt’. As sad and unfair as this seems, xenophobia was the norm, and many Jewish people around the world hid their surnames in an attempt to “fit in” with society, along with other minorities who have done the same.

Unfortunately, it seems as if this attitude towards cultural, religious and racial differences has in fact not evolved as much as you’d expect over the last 100 years – the recent election of the US President is a prime example of how common xenophobia still is, worldwide:

Fast forward to 2017: Everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed.
Too much in this world is still ugly. We know that the more diverse we are, the more powerful our ideas will be. So we will continue to celebrate difference. To break down barriers to progress and opportunity. We believe that everyone has the right to put their name above their door. Whoever you are, wherever you come from. We are Open.

Along with a prejudiced President in the USA, here in the UK ‘Article 50’ is being triggered this week, creating a final divide between the UK and Europe. With these events in mind, Grey is communicating a message of diversity and inclusion by recognising their Jewish founders, whilst hoping to create a conversation about diversity in advertising.
Unfortunately the name change will only be for 100 days, which is a shame, and almost makes this campaign seem like a bit of a gimmick… Although they claim the name change is “a mark of how far we’ve come, but how much there is still left to do”, I can’t help but feel as if it’s just a marketing ploy without any actual lasting impact or strong, dedicated message if they’re just going to change the name back.

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Valenstein & Fatt have written a manifesto about how they will lead by example:

1) We are publishing our diversity data. Progress cannot be made without clear measures and transparency about who we are today. Our new study is independent and in depth and is based on the voluntary responses of 305 individuals, which represents over 60% of the agency and reported according to standards set by the British Office of National Statistics (ONS). Research developed in partnership with PSB examines roots, identity, education and lifestyle. It will be measured and shared annually and we are encouraging other agencies to take it up as their methodology.

2) We are launching a cross industry taskforce to identify the barriers to recruitment and retention of talent among ethnic minorities. The first gathering will be chaired by CEO Leo Rayman, and we are inviting leading organisations in this space and the most progressive agencies, including Chairwoman of Mediacom, Karen Blackett, to join us in agreeing industry-wide initiatives and targets. We will also commit to targets for our advertising output, to ensure that it is nationally representative. 

3) We are launching the Valenstein & Fatt Bursary to pay a year’s rent for up to two young people from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds. To qualify, candidates must have been offered a job at Grey, be state educated and live outside of Greater London. Applications are open from this summer.

4) We will inspire the next generation, by working with 100 primary and secondary schools to introduce students to a career in the creative industries. Working with Exec Head Michelle Williams and education therapist Jodie Cariss and starting with the New Wave Federation primary schools in London’s Hackney, we will offer a tailor made programme for the schools involved, from assemblies to full day workshops, coaching and agency open days.

5) We will develop our diverse talent. Recognising that recruiting people with different start points isn’t enough, 50 individuals identified as ones to watch will be matched and formally mentored by our Executive and senior leadership. In parallel we will run Community mentoring workshops open to any member of the agency who wants to participate.

That’s all fantastic, and it’s lovely to see such an influential agency speak out against prejudice, but I don’t believe they should have done this without 100% committing to a permanent name change. What’s the point otherwise?

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Guinness (St Patrick’s Day): Iris & mcbess

St Patrick’s Day (Friday March 17th) is just around the corner, so ad agency Iris have teamed up with esteemed artist and illustrator mcbess to create a series of illustrations for their client Guinness.

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Featuring the line “Let’s Get Together”, mcbess has created characters enjoying the iconic drink, surrounded by numerous recognisable previous brand references such as the toucan (below), surfers and ‘sapeurs’ (AMV BBDO).

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Although mcbess is a hugely talented artist, and a favourite of mine, I can’t see past the TfL ads which have dominated the London Underground and therefore remained associated to TfL in my mind:

However, it’s certainly proved beneficial for mcbess that his work is instantly recognisable, due to the monochrome and complicated personal style, which has caught the attention of other brads like Nike, Converse and Jack Daniels.

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Candid Conversations: Being Black in Advertising

Advertising agency TBWA launched a cultural editorial series called ‘Backslash’ last year, curated by 200 creators from across the global network. TBWA describes Backslash as “your daily edit of cultural trends”, and all of their employees receive a daily two-minute video about a range of topics, e.g. VR in medicine and science, social media’s responsibility of their users’ mental health, drone taxis, kids and technology… the list is lengthy and diverse. The project was created with just an Instagram account and internal content for employees, but TBWA believe that the team has expanded so quickly that they are hoping to create more publicly distributed content in the future, like the one above.

Richard Stainer, chief executive of TBWA\London said:

Creating at the speed of culture requires a deep knowledge of culture, and this is what Backslash gives us. It turns TBWA into a global knowledge and creativity network.

Diversity in advertising has been an enormous topic of discussion recently, and many agencies have explored this dialogue through different projects. TBWA’s Backslash looks at black professionals working in the ad industry in the short film above, featuring employees from the Omnicom network.

Nick Barham, TBWA Worldwide chief strategy officer said:

We felt that, for Black History Month, it was important to think about African American culture as it relates to advertising. I don’t think change is happening as quickly as it should. We want to represent what people are listening to, what they’re interested in and what brands care about.

As someone who is very switched on and actively interested in diversity in all aspects of life, I surprised myself with how little I had considered the lack of black creatives in advertising. The conversations in this short film about diversity are absolutely evident and relevant. Hopefully those who had never considered the lack of black talent in advertising think differently about the way agencies embrace inclusion.
It’s important that agencies consider and discuss diversity in the workplace, rather than those who feel like the minority discussing amongst themselves. Creating content for purposes other than client projects is a great way to start a conversation about race, as it becomes more human and less like a storyline created to jump on the equality bandwagon.

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The Standing “O”

Creative agency Deep Focus created a micro-site to say thank you to our favourite president, Obama. The site The Standing “O” contains user-submitted GIFs of people giving Obama a standing ovation, creating a mosaic of Obama himself.

As President Obama’s time in office comes to an end, we wanted to send him off properly – by bringing the world together for one last standing ovation. Join us in #TheStandingO.

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The micro-site allows users to submit a GIF, zoom in to the mosaic and select individual gifs to view. Deep Focus partnered with Giphy and NowThis to collect the GIFs, or videos (that were then turned into GIFs by the agency’s team) of people applauding Obama, which were then moderated to make sure they were not offensive. Algorithms placed the GIFs in the photo of Obama based on colour schemes to create the wonderful tribute wall to the 44th President.

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Creme Egg: Hunting Season

Creme Egg is back in season with a funny ad by Elvis Communications – a concept miles better than last year’s weird ‘have a fling with a Creme Egg’ campaign, by the same agency.
Creme Egg super fan ‘Gregg’ (I wish he was a real super fan – that would’ve been great) announces the three-month Creme Egg Hunting Season, ending in Easter Sunday.

I look forward to the rest of the ads for this campaign.

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Branding: Diz-Diz Popcorn

I can’t say I’ve ever seen such extravagant and fashionable popcorn packing before! Gourmet microwave popcorn brand Diz-Diz hired branding and design agency TATABI Studio to design packaging for their unusual flavours.

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The colour-scheme and metallic packaging is so on trend, particularly as gold and silver tones (especially rose gold) are dominating fashion and clothing designs. These beautiful combinations, on top of a white and grey marble, are also prominent in cosmetics brands – I feel like I should be rubbing the popcorn on my face, not eating it!
Usually consumers would be interested in the speed and ‘ready-meal’ appeal of microwaveable popcorn, but TATABI have gone above and beyond this POS, focusing on the quality and aesthetic of such a simple product.

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AKQA: The Snow Fox

Creative agency AKQA have created this children’s digital storybook for Christmas, transforming the traditional bedtime story of flicking through the pages into a beautifully designed app.

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Inspired by the winter tradition of stories by the fire, The Snow Fox puts the magic of storytelling into the hands of children like never before, giving them the power to bring each page to life in their own personalised story.

Not only is the app’s aesthetic beautiful, the added detail such as personalisation (name and gender of the child) and recordings of the child’s voice for a rendered video at the end is the perfect addition to this digital book.
I love the illustration style and colour palette, which seems to be a rare find in companies and brands who randomly roll out apps and games (not naming any names, Channel4’s ‘Gogglebox’ game, wtf) with little consideration regarding the design.

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Anomaly London: 12 Days of Christmas

A Tale of Avian Misery from Anomaly London has seriously set the bar high when it comes to agency Christmas cards! Directed by Ben White and Craig Ainsley, written by Craig Ainsley, and wonderfully narrated by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, this hilarious modern-day take on the Christmas song ’12 Days of Christmas’ is so bizarrely ridiculous, but so perfect.

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