Creative Director Behind Oregon Healthcare Ad Proud to Be A 'Stupid F&%king Idiot'

Have you heard about the Cover Oregon kerfuffle? Apparently an ad created by Wieden+Kennedy satellite, North, was parodied by John Oliver on HBO, who took jabs at the apparent failure of the state's health insurance exchange which cost upwards of $200 million and doesn't really work. Oliver took issue with one particular ad North created that features folk singers portraying the fact everything is wonderful in Oregon and he created a parody featuring Lisa Loeb that basically labels everyone in Oregon a bunch of "fucking idiots." It's actually quite hilarious -- but North Chief Creative Officer Mark Ray is not amused and has penned a scathing blog post entitled "Yes, John Oliver, We Are Stupid Fucking Idiots" in which he pulls no punches in his lambasting of Oliver for not understanding the whole picture. And for, well, clearly hurting his feelings a bit. 

After just nine months on the job, Arnold New York President Corey Mitchell is leaving the building. Clearly something was amiss. Something didn't gel. Somebody pissed someone off. Or Mitchell fell on his face. Of course, no one is saying such things. At least publicly. Only the official spokesperson speak is being served up: "This decision was reached mutually. Corey made many terrific contributions to the agency both in new business and with current clients. We appreciate his work and leadership." For his part, Mitchell said: “It’s been important to me to manage my exit proactively, minimizing impact on clients and our staff. I’m happy to be leaving on a high note and wish Arnold and our clients the very best. We agreed to this earlier in the year. I’ll remain through May managing a transition and will announce a new position over the summer." Hmm. And so he was thinking of leaving, what, like 6 months after he arrived? Not good.

Well this is interesting. New York based agency Robert Snow Marketing is -- seemingly to prove its worth -- making, in their own words, a bold move. So what's the bold move? They're offering to write a "complimentary 500-word white paper [which they value at over $1,500] for qualified technology companies upon request." Now, depending upon the scope of said 500 words, $1,500 might be a good deal. If it's a technical piece that requires a lot of research, then yes, it sounds about right. But 500 words is not a lot of words and can, for some, be whipped out in under an hour. So as they say at the outset of any marketing project, make sure you both agree on scope.

WPP continues to grow its stable of digital agencies with the recent acquisition of Toronto-based Twist Image. In business for 14 years, the agency has 100 employees and handles Walmart, TD Bank and the Montreal Canadiens. Twist Image President Mitch Joel is stoked because he will have access to WPP's data assets and partnerships with Google, Facebook, Twitter and others.

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  • Aishwarya Rai Blames Creative Agency For That Racist Ad

    For the past day or so, it seems impossible to escape from a Google News alert that isn't filled with that story about popular Indian celebrity Aishwarya Rai, who appeared in an ad for Kalyan Jewellers elegantly dressed with a dark-skinned child holding an umbrella over her head. Many have called the ad racist. 

    An open letter from a consortium of feminist, child and human rights groups says the ad appears to "be representing aristocracy from a bygone era -- bejewelled, poised and relaxing while an obviously underage slave-child, very dark and emaciated, struggles to hold an oversize umbrella over your head." 

    The letter, which shares several examples of 17th- and 18th-century images that would now be considered racist, continues: "We wish to convey our dismay at the concept of this advertisement, and that you have, perhaps unthinkingly, associated with such a regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product...we, therefore, urge you to do the right thing -- cease to associate yourself with this offensive image by ensuring that further use of this advertisement is stopped."

    In response, a statement from Aishwarya pretty much shirks any responsibility and blames the creative agency for the debacle. The statement read: "On the onset we would like to thank you on drawing our attention to the observation of the perception of the advertisement. Here is an attachment (picture of Aishwarya without the child holding the umbrella) of the shot taken by somebody during the shoot. The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand. However shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professionals working on the brand visual communication. Thank you once again."

    Kalyan Jewellers has pulled the ad.

  • Apparently, The Spanish Can't Pronounce 'Ogilvy & Mather' Properly

    Is there any other industry that pokes fun at itself as much as advertising? Perhaps, but I can't think of one right now. Maybe it's because I have yet again been distracted by a witty agency self-promotion that gleefully mocks the fact that seemingly no one in Spain can properly pronounce "Ogilvy & Mather."

    To point out this travesty and to offer some help, the agency itself has produced a series of videos featuring a very regal English gentleman offering helpful tips on the proper pronunciation of the agency's name.

    Once such video instructs viewers that the emphasis is on the "O" and should be pronounced as if one were surprised or in pain. Sort of like being whacked in the nuts with a boot. Which is exactly what happens to our regal English gentleman in this particular video. 

    Check out all the videos here.
  • Surprise, Surprise. Chuck E. Cheese Gets New CMO And Launches Agency Review

    This is getting so tired. New CMO joins brand. CMO, in an effort to prove his or her worth, trashes current agency and launches review, thereby proving that whatever the previous CMO had in place sucked and the new solution is far superior. It's like a broken record. Oh wait, half of you have no idea what a record is. Anyway, the whole thing is like predicting an apple will fall if you drop it.

    So what's the latest CMO-fueled shenanigan? In January, Michael Hartman joined Chuck E. Cheese as chief marketing officer. Previously, Hartman was senior marketing officer at Seaworld. Yeah, probably a really good move for Hartman, given the crap that brand is facing these days. But back to the agency review.

    Sources tell AdWeek the brand has launched a creative agency review. But the source everyone really wants to hear from, Hartman, isn't talking. Mums the word I guess. It's as if it's some sort of national security secret that will topple the entire world of marketing if any one were, God forbid, to become privy to the inner dealings of an agency review. 

    Currently, the account is handled by The Richards Group. But...wait for it...no one from The Richards Group is talking either. Last year, the brand spent $28 million on media, according to Kantar Media.
  • Rise Interactive Agency Wins LA Search Marketing Award

    On Wednesday at the LSA|15 Conference in Los Angeles, the Local Search Association announced the winners of its second annual Ad to Action Awards competition. LSA received 91 entries across 10 categories and the winners were revealed on the main stage at the event.

    The competition focused on celebrating the most innovative "local" marketing products or solutions that facilitate consumer actions such as calls, clicks, store visits, etc. The winners demonstrated the greatest potential for driving local consumer engagement and best addressed current market needs.

    The judging panel -- made up of 18 companies including Twitter, Foursquare, Yahoo, MapQuest, xAd and more -- evaluated these products and solutions. Each judge reviewed a subset of entries and no judge reviewed any entries where there was a potential conflict of interest.

    In the Platforms and Services category, Chicago-based Rise Interactive, which likes to refer to itself as an "interactive investment management firm," won the top spot. And we can see why. Any agency that can spin the fact that they buy online advertising into "interactive investment management form" is worthy of praise.

  • SMG Just Screamed 'Oh Sh*t' ... Again!

    Late last year, in an effort to consolidate its global media planning business with one agency, Mars yanked its account from Starcom, placed it in review and handed it to MediaCom. The agency has also recently lost Microsoft and Anheuser-Busch InBev. Now, Starcom is getting the shaft again.

    Soft drink giant Coca-Cola has placed its U.S. media buying and planning account into review. While MediaVest will participate in the review alongside sister Coke agencies UM, MediaCom and Carat, we all know how these things go.

    Hoping to placate any nervousness, a Coke spokeswoman said: "We have a very productive and strong relationship with Starcom MediaVest Group that has served both companies very well for the last 11 years. Over this period, SMG has continually improved and strengthened its offering and remains a valued partner. As the media marketplace reshapes and reinvents itself, we frequently take the opportunity to formally review our media partners all around the world. Continued appraisal of our partners ensures we are both working with, and acting as, the best partners to create the most value at the right price."

    Oh -- because evaluating the actual work agencies do on a day-to-day basis for you is too difficult? You need the dog and pony show to make sure your agencies don't get too comfortable? Same old story.
  • Agency Stages Fake Robbery to Illustrate How Awesome Its Work Is

    On April 16, it was reported that three men broke into the offices of Sagmeister & Walsch at 206 West 23rd Street in New York and made off with a bunch of stuff. The entire robbery, however, was caught by a ceiling cam that normally streams studio activity to the agency Web site.

    Of the robbery, Steffan Sagmeister said: "We never thought something like this could happen. When we launched our website we thought it would be a good way to showcase our work to those who admire us; now it's all gone." 

    Following the robbery, the agency tweeted: "We are Deeply saddened by this loss. Next time take the printer." You see, all the robbers took was the agency's work and nothing else. Now what sort of robbers do you think would take only the work -- that's valuable to no one but the client and the agency -- and not all the physical electronics that could be sold?

    Well, the agency itself, of course. Yes, the agency staged the robbery, got Creative Review to write about it and then the agency's receptionist burst into laughter when AdWeek's Tim Nudd called for confirmation. Well played, indeed!
  • Has Mobile Advertising Finally Arrived? Not According to AKQA CCO Rei Inamoto

    For, oh, at least the past 7-10 years, every prognosticator has gleefully been promising "this is the year of mobile!" to the point where it's become a joke. Now, certainly, mobile has matured and has become a viable medium for many things including advertising. But AKQA CCO Rei Inamoto isn't completely convinced.

    In an interview with The Drum, Inamoto said, “To an extent I think the promise of mobile in relation to marketing has been exaggerated. The biggest misconception about mobile and the biggest mistake that advertisers make about mobile is to treat it like an advertising channel. Instead we should use it as a way to provide service not to provide a message.”

    And, being the smart guy that he is, he's right. Rather than forcing old models (*cough* ...banners) through mobile devices, brands should embrace new services. Many have. Love them or hate them, Inamoto cites Uber as a brand that's fully embraced mobile, not as an advertising medium per se but, rather, as a platform for doing business. 

    So, yes, mobile has finally arrived. But my hope for the medium is that we can skip past all the missteps we took forcing old advertising models onto the internet and treat mobile very differently and more effectively. Like the personal service it has become. Not a pipe through which to shove ads.

  • Publicis, Omnicom Downplay the Whole Agency Rebate Thing

    The notion (accusation?) that ad agencies take kickbacks in the form of lower ad rates, cash or free ad space in exchange for more media budget is not a new thing. And it's not just a few weeks old, either, when former MediaCom exec Jon Mandel made news telling a seemingly shocked world that, OMG, media sellers reward media buyers for increased spending. This practice has been going on since before anyone had heard of Madonna.

    Anyway, the topic arose again Tuesday during a Publicis Groupe earnings call during which Maurice Levy said: “We are not suffering at all from this kickback situation. Most of our clients know exactly what our practices are. They know that we are extremely rigorous and that we are playing by the rules. So we are suffering as an industry because there has been a lot of noise which has been made by a former media commentary.”

    In an Omnicom earnings call earlier that day, Omnicom Media Group CEO Daryl Simm said: “Our media agencies in the U.S. don’t seek rebates, and the U.S. of course is not a rebate-based marketplace from a negotiation standpoint. So in terms of our media agency clients in the U.S., they receive all the value that gets negotiated on their behalf.”

    Pivotal Research Analyst Brian Wieser isn't buying the defensive statements and said: “There remains some inconsistencies as to what marketers perceive and what vendors know about the nature of rebates. The statements today and what we’ll hear from WPP and Interpublic won’t cause this issue to go away anytime soon.”

    And, you know what -- he's probably right. Because anytime there are negotiations, there's bound to be a little grease applied to the situation in order to make everything move smoothly across the two sides of the table.
  • Agencies, Don't Like That BuzzFeed Post About Your Client? You Can Get It Deleted

    In an audit of the 1,000 posts that BuzzFeed deleted from its site, three were deleted because advertisers complained. Yes, it's true. Don't like what someone writes about you? All you have to do is bitch a little and get it removed. 

    In 2013, BuzzFeed published a post about an Axe body spray ad that was, it seems, not very positive. The brand's agency at the time didn't like what they read, complained and it was removed. Also is 2013, the publication chided Microsoft about its Internet Explorer browser. According to BuzzFeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith, the post was deleted because its author "had worked on a Microsoft ad campaign, and BuzzFeed's chief revenue officer complained about the post to me."

    A third post, published in January 2014, which discussed what brands had planned on Twitter for the Super Bowl was pulled because it was critical of what Pepsi had planned and -- oops, the brand's Twitter account was handled by BuzzFeed staff at the time. Of that decision, Smith said: "We'd never previously considered the case of an editor that would be writing about an ad that was produced by our creative team, but we decided it was inappropriate and deleted the post." Really?

    Remember when advertising and editorial where separate entities? Yeah, neither do I. We've all been pummeled so hard with native advertising bullshit over the past few years that it's practically become -- much like the banner before it -- invisible. Not to mention the over-the-top, incessant use of ridiculously sensationalistic clickbait headlines that achieved nothing but to quicken the tactic's invisibility.

  • Job-Seeking Ad Students Envision Ad Agencies As Ice Cream Flavors

    You know it's true. Ad agencies spend an inordinate amount of time positioning themselves in a never-ending effort to separate themselves from the sea of sameness -- which, when you think about it, is really a pointless effort because all agencies do the same thing: Help brands sell stuff. You know it's true.

    But what if ad agencies were to define themselves as ice cream flavors? Hey, it's probably better and more informative than all those overly wordy Web sites that at the end of the day all say the same thing: nothing at all.

    So two Miami Ad School New York students, Aditya Hariharan and Joshua Namdar, decided to help us all differentiate between agency sameness by, yes, envisioning ad agencies as ice cream flavors by taking into consideration some of the better-known work each agency has done. They put it all up on a Tumblr aptly named Agency Scoops.

    So which agencies are what flavors? Ogilvy is Share A Scoop, McCann is Dumb Death by Chocolate, Leo Burnett is GR-R-Reat Lovin', BBDO is an M&M-themed Peanut Caramel Split and Wieden+Kennedy is Just Desserts with a Nike swoop holding a scoop of ice cream.

    On the back of each ice cream label are listings of each agency's clients and awards. The effort, of course, is a job-seeking effort for the creators but also a humorous way to help creative students seeking summer internships to get a, ahem, taste of different agencies.
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