Advertising For Skeptics With Bob Hoffman

During this 212th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Bob Hoffman, returning guest and author of the new book, Advertising for Skeptics.

On the show today, we talk about the main ideas that inspired Hoffman to write Advertising for Skeptics and the delusions he believes the marketing and advertising industries are under. We laugh a lot, and maybe we’ll inspire you to get a cocktail after you’re done listening.

Hoffman tells us how Advertising for Skeptics came out of his musings on the industry. Hoffman says, “My idea is that we should be skeptical of the things that we accept as common wisdom in the advertising and marketing business, and we should question them.” Then he goes on to talk about the troubling lack of accumulated knowledge in advertising. He says, “If advertising is less effective now than it was fifty years ago, where’s the arrow of progress?” He then reluctantly offers advice to people in advertising and marketing cautioning, “The best advice I can give is to be careful.” We then explore various hot topics in marketing today. This discussion with Hoffman will invite you to consider what you think you know about advertising.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Bob describes Advertising for Skeptics. 02:47
  • Bob’s mission in writing his latest book. 04:19
  • The lack of accumulated knowledge in advertising. 05:54
  • What we measure today in advertising. 12:13
  • Bob’s advice to people in marketing and advertising. 13:21
  • Bob’s thoughts on GDPR and why enforcement seems impossible. 16:46
  • Comparing Byron Sharp and Mark Ritson. 20:20
  • COVID-19 advertising. 22:52
  • Launching a book during a global pandemic. 24:07
  • How Bob fills his time during social distancing. 25:28
  • The most impactful purchase he has made in the last 6-12 months of $100 or less. 28:42
  • Bob’s go-to cocktail during a pandemic. 30:29

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

Reddit Names Michael Seibel As New Board Member

This week in leadership updates, Reddit names Michael Seibel as Alexis Ohanian’s replacement as board member, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario steps down, McDonald’s promotes Alistair Macrow to global CMO, Instagram hires Melissa Waters as global head of marketing, Ford brings on Cheil UK CEO Peter Zillig as head of European marketing and Universal Music Group Nashville promotes Lori Christian to senior vice president of marketing.


Reddit Replaces Alexis Ohanian With Michael Seibel As New Board Member

Following Alexis Ohanian’s resignation from Reddit’s board, Reddit has named Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel as his replacement.

In announcing he would be stepping down, Ohanian asked to be replaced by a black candidate.

Seibel co-founded Justin.tv before it became Twitch, as well as Socialcam before selling it to Autodesk in 2012.


Patagonia Chief Executive Officer Rose Marcario Steps Down

After 12 years with Patagonia and the last six as its CEO, Rose Marcario is leaving the company, noting that the team has been planning her succession since late 2019.

Patagonia COO Doug Freeman will lead the transition until Patagonia finds a replacement.


McDonald’s Names Alistair Macrow As Global Chief Marketing Officer

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski has announced the promotion of Alistair Macrow, former CMO of McDonald’s international business, to the role of global CMO. The news comes after the position sat empty for 11 months.

Macrow replaces Colin Mitchell, who led McDonald’s marketing team since July 2019.


Instagram Appoints Melissa Waters As Global Head Of Marketing

According to Variety, Instagram has hired Melissa Waters as global head of marketing.

Waters comes from Hims & Hers, where she served as CMO. Prior to that, she was VP of marketing at Lyft for two years and before that, VP of brand and product marketing at Pandora.


Ford Names Peter Zillig As Director, Brand And Marketing Communications For Europe

Ford has hired Peter Zillig as director, brand and marketing communications for Europe, according to Campaign. Effective July 1, Zillig will report to Roelant de Waard and be responsible for strengthening Ford’s “Bring on tomorrow” brand positioning.

Zillig joins from Samsung-owned agency Cheil UK, where he served as CEO for three and a half years.


Universal Music Group Nashville Appoints Lori Christian As Senior Vice President Of Marketing

Universal Music Group Nashville has promoted Lori Christian to SVP of marketing after she led the company’s publicity department since 2012. In her new role Christian will manage media marketing, brands and sponsorship, international marketing and creative services departments for the label group’s 36 artists as well as the media site Sounds Like Nashville.

Prior to Universal Music Group Nashville, Christian oversaw the publicity department at Capitol Records Nashville and managed publicity for Sony Music’s RCA Records label.

How Brands Are Honoring Pride Month

Between the pandemic and ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, brands are navigating how to address both causes without distracting from messaging around widespread calls for social reform in America. With the arrival of Pride, observed every June, some brands have launched campaigns and products in celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride, which black transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson and Latina transgender activist Sylvia Rivera helped catalyze. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first US pride rally, and while in-person parades have been canceled, publishers, organizations and brands are either postponing events or pivoting virtually. Here’s a roundup of brands activating around Pride.


Apple

In addition to this year’s Pride Edition Sport Band featuring a vertical-stripe rainbow design, Apple launched a second watch in collaboration with Nike. Apple’s annual Apple Watch Pride Edition band and face collection directly support the work of organizations like GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, Gender Spectrum, ILGA World and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Disney

Disney’s installment of the Rainbow Disney Collection, an array of colorful apparel and merchandise, complements its donation of $100,000 to GLSEN. It has also launched a Disney Pride playlist, available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, YouTube and Vevo.

GLAAD

In a statement announcing the postponement of its Pride initiatives and brand partnerships, GLAAD recommends that any campaigns that do launch during this time take into account issues black LGBTQ+ people are facing.

GLAAD has partnered with FOX’s #TVForAll campaign to host a Zoom conversation on June 22 featuring artists from GLAAD’s team to discuss the intersection of Black Lives Matter in entertainment and the LGBTQ+ community.

NYC Pride, together with GLAAD, will stream a three-day virtual drag festival on Facebook to raise funds for local drag performers.

Grindr

Grindr postponed the launch of its #PridePerseveres initiative in light of the protests and has launched in a different light: via an Instagram Live series to spotlight black queer voices and the “urgent need for queer responsibility and racial justice.”

Harry’s

In mid-May, during Mental Health Awareness Month, Harry’s kicked off its support of the LGBTQ youth community on social media by announcing the launch of a limited-edition set called Shave With Pride. Harry’s is giving 100 percent of the profits to the Trevor Project in the US and £10 from each purchase to the UK-based Akt charity.

Nike and Converse

Nike’s BeTrue and the Converse Pride Collection are inspired by the More Color, More Pride flag which was popularized in 2017 by social justice advocate Amber Hikes. On Nike’s first BeTrue Air Force 1 shoes, the rainbow includes black and brown stripes to recognize people of color in the LGBTQIA+ community.  Converse’s nine-piece Pride collection of Chuck 70 and Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers and accessories also expands the rainbow to include a black and brown stripe.

Them

On June 22, Condé Nast-owned LGBT magazine them. is streaming a one-hour live concert on YouTube with special performances from members of the LGBTQ+ community including Michael Kors, Zac Posen, Tegan and Sara and Cynthia Nixon, among others.

Starbucks

Starbucks’ creative manager Brenden Mendoza created the brand’s Pride cup this year, a 24-ounce tumbler featuring iridescent rainbow stripes and the word “LOVE” across it. The tumbler launched in stores at the end of May.

Skittles

Skittles gave up its rainbow by creating colorless Skittles to show support for the LGBTQ+ community because, as the brand noted, “During PRIDE only #OneRainbow matters.” For every Skittle Pride Pack purchased, Skittles is donating $1 to GLAAD.

Time Out

As part of its month-long #PrideWorldwide campaign, Time Out is partnering with the first-ever Global Pride, a 24-hour virtual event curated and hosted by LGBTQ+ organizations worldwide, set to live stream on June 27. The virtual event will feature musical performances, speeches from activists and addresses by public figures.

Reebok Ends Negotiations To Renew Deal With CrossFit Following Tweet From CEO

Negotiations to renew Reebok’s 10-year exclusive deal as the CrossFit title sponsor, which has positioned Reebok as the sole licensee of CrossFit apparel and shoes and was set to expire sometime after this year’s games, ended when Glassman replied to the Director of Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s statement, “Racism is a public health issue,” with the following tweet: “It’s FLOYD-19.”

In a statement to Morning Chalk Up, Reebok said that it would fulfill remaining contractual obligations in 2020, citing its commitment and dedication to the CrossFit community ties it has built over the past decade.

Reebok’s exodus imperils the millions of dollars CrossFit receives in royalty payments from Reebok’s licensing deal and the multimillion-dollar prize fund Reebok contributes each year.

Glassman then tried to backpedal, championing Floyd in this apology he issued:

By then, however, the damage had been done. Glassman’s remark was met with public backlash from brands and members of the CrossFit community alike. Nearly 100 current and past CrossFit participants posted text-only messages saying, “I’m Out,” as well as video reactions, declining participation in these year’s games, pending major changes being made to CrossFit.

Previous sponsors of CrossFit, such as LIFEAID’s FITAID and Rogue, also censured Glassman’s statement. Rogue, for example, decided to immediately remove the CrossFit logo from Rogue Invitational, its upcoming online fitness competition, noting that its future with CrossFit is dependent on the “direction and leadership within CrossFit HQ.”

Co-founder and president of LIFEAID Aaron Hinde said in a video that the company will also end its longstanding relationship as a sponsor of the CrossFit Games.

Glassman’s remark comes as brands rally behind the Black Lives Matter movement, which CrossFit was silent about until after Glassman’s tweet went viral. In fact, after the affiliate owner of a CrossFit gym urged CrossFit to speak up about its stance on Black Lives Matter, Glassman chided her for, “doing your best to brand us as racist.”

While countless brands issued statements supporting the black community and pledging donations to organizations supporting racial justice, CrossFit resumed normal messaging; even going so far as to launch a new program called CrossFit Health Education, which provides education and professional development opportunities for doctors, trainers and health-care providers, on June 2. On that same day, which came to be known as Blackout Tuesday, brands went dark on social media to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters.

New York Times Diversity Report Shows Fair Progress In Diversifying Staff

Across The New York Times, 43 percent of new hires in 2019 identified as people of color, according to the company’s latest diversity report for 2019.

The breakdown reflects New York Times’ fair progress in diversifying staff across gender, race and ethnicity. At the leadership level, inclusivity is growing, but still has a ways to go; people of color now represent 21 percent of leadership roles, up from 16 percent in 2015. Women, on the other hand, now represent 49 percent of leadership, up from 40 percent in 2015.

Representation among staff overall has improved. People of color now account for 32 percent of New York Times staff and women represent 51 percent of staff.

Despite the advancements, white employees still dominate staff and leadership roles, representing 65 percent of all staff, down from 73 percent in 2015, and 76 percent of leadership, down from 83 percent in 2015.

The company admits it still has gaps in representation at the leadership level and explained its ongoing initiatives in 2019 to bridge that gap. In terms of hiring, it says it relies on diverse panels to assess diverse slates of job candidates and provides hiring managers with tools to remove bias from job descriptions.

To ensure pay equity, the New York Times conducts pay reviews every two years and reviews promotion and retention data at least quarterly.

Examples of how the publication has sought to foster a more inclusive culture include adding gender-neutral bathrooms to its offices in New York and London, in response to staff requests; incorporating inclusion and belonging in trainings on unconscious bias; encouraging senior executives to hold regular discussions on progress and challenges across the company; and implementing regular town halls and Q&As with company and department leaders, with more ways for employees to share feedback, like office hours and smaller forums.

Google is faring much worse in reaching a racially just workplace. According to its seventh consecutive diversity report, released in early May, the percentage of black hires in the US in 2019 was 5.5 percent, up by just 0.7 percent from 2018.

Warner Bros. Hires Tricia Melton As CMO, Global Kids, Young Adults And Classics

This week in leadership updates, Warner Bros. appoints Tricia Melton as CMO, Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics and Hangar 24 Craft Brewing hires John Waters as CMO.


Warner Bros. Hires Tricia Melton As Chief Marketing Officer, Global Kids, Young Adults And Classics

Tricia Melton, former SVP of marketing, brand, creative and communications at Disney-owned Freeform has joined Warner Bros. as CMO, Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics. Effective June 29, Melton will oversee the unit, which houses Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Warner Bros. Animation and Turner Classic Movies.

Before Freeform, Melton was SVP, entertainment marketing and branding for TBS, TNT and TCM. Prior to that, she served as VP, marketing for Lifetime Television.


Hangar 24 Craft Brewing Names John Waters As Chief Marketing Officer

According to Brewbound, Hangar 24 Craft Brewing has appointed former Air Force Fighter pilot John Waters as CMO.

During his tenure as the F-16 Demo Team Commander, Waters transformed the US Air Force’s social media strategy, growing his team’s social media presence to over 200,000 followers and nearly 7 million engagements.

UK Ad Leaders Pen Open Letter Urging Industry To Take Action Against Racism

More than 200 UK advertising and media leaders have signed an open letter urging the industry to promote a racially just workplace, to call out and maintain an open dialogue about racism and be conscious of the trauma many black employees may be experiencing during this time of unrest.

The letter points to the latest IPA Agency Census, published in April, which revealed ethnic diversity at a leadership level has fallen fractionally year-on-year: in 2019, just 4.7 percent of C-suite executives were from an ethnic minority background, down from 5.5 percent in 2018.

To create and maintain “inclusive cultures sensitive to inequity and the pain of racism,” the signatories encourage the industry first empower leaders to drive representation by making inclusivity a core part of its strategic priorities, and thereafter transparently communicating these objectives. Leaders should also use their brand channels to acknowledge the escalating racism of the last few months and share relevant information backed by black-driven research.

Enabling employees to understand their privileges and biases and ensuring leaders widen their points of view must also become priorities.

Calling out racism whenever it’s encountered, the authors note, is everyone’s job, from the CEO to all staff. This requires creating safe spaces where frank conversations about racism can occur and using existing employee resource groups, such as WPP’s Roots and Publicis Group’s Embrace, or creating new ones.

The letter also implores leaders to check in with black employees and to promote and celebrate black talent as well as work with black-owned businesses and supply chains. Lastly, they caution leaders against creating advertising that funds white supremacy or racist content

Brands Rally Behind Blackout Tuesday, Though Some Fall Short

Two black women in music, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, recently staged a blackout, which was observed on June 2, in response to the nationwide protests that ensued after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. “The Show Must Be Paused” was created “in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.” While its intended purpose was for major labels, who have for years profited from black artists, to disconnect from work and get educated about the country’s interminable racism issue, the initiative suffused non-music brands’ messaging across social media; countless accounts posted a blank black box, transforming the Instagram feed into endless darkness.

Upon sharing black boxes, however, many brands erroneously used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which is being used to help organizers and allies spread information needed to keep people informed, in replacement of the hashtag #BlackOutTuesday; thereby blocking information from being disseminated. 

Additionally, some argued that pausing all activity for a day, as encouraged by the organizers of “The Show Must Be Paused,” would counteract the very goal of protests, which is to bolster black voices and the ways which allies can support racial justice.

Many brands voiced their support on blackout day in the form of social media posts, letters from CEOs and donation pledges. In an analysis of the Fortune 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity, Klear found that in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, 31 percent of companies made a public statement against racism and in support of black communities.

Perhaps fearing they lack the appropriate past rhetoric to appear authentic in their support of Black Lives Matter, many brands chose to post one version or another of a black box, with or without supporting text; including the 49ers, Pandora Jewelry, Disney and Vans, to name a few. While others posted messages from their CEO, including Panera, Macy’s and Taco Bell.

SiriusXM and Pandora and Live Nation both announced their observance of Blackout Tuesday. And just before the day arrived, Spotify announced that it will continue to use the power of its platform to amplify black voices but that, “now is not the time for silence.”

Glossier pledged $500,000 in donations across organizations for the cause and an additional $500,000 in the form of grants to black-owned beauty businesses, with more details to come.

Facebook also pledged $10 million to efforts committed to ending racial injustice as it faces internal unrest; Facebook employees held a virtual walkout on June 1 in response to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s inaction on President Trump’s posts.

Peloton pledged both $500,000 to the legal defense fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and hosted a live “Speak Up Ride,” followed by a 10-minute “Breathe In, Speak Out” meditation.

Other brands took a more effective approach in their observance of Blackout Tuesday. ViacomCBS and its networks like Comedy Central and MTV aired a poignant eight-minute, 46-second, text-only video to commemorate the victims of police brutality. The words “I can’t breathe” repeatedly appear to the sound of nearly nine consecutive minutes of deep breathing. On June 1, ViacomCBS went dark for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which marks the time in which Floyd was killed. ViacomCBS’ network Nickelodeon also announced a “declaration of kids’ rights”:

Ben & Jerry’s, which has an ethos rooted in acts of social justice, was also one such brand, posting this message:

Reebok was possibly the most forthright about the role it plays in Black Lives Matter; in a series of text-only Instagram posts, the brand acknowledged that without the black community, Reebok would not exist: “We are not asking you to buy our shoes. We are asking you to walk in someone else’s.”

A text-only video ad made Nike one of the first brands to make a statement about the protests, pre-blackout. Though Nike’s past campaigns reflect a commitment to social justice, some responded to the ad with criticism, citing Nike’s flawed labor practices and the lack of diversity in its own company.

The challenge that remains for brands is how to communicate support for Black Lives Matter without coming across as tone-deaf. Acknowledging that their success has been built on the borrowing of black culture and profiting from black consumers is undoubtedly the first step.

Google Diversity Report Shows Little Progress Toward Racially Just Workplace

The percentage of black hires in the US grew from 4.8 percent in 2018 to 5.5 percent in 2019, a paltry 0.7 percent increase. That’s according to Google’s seventh consecutive diversity report, released in early May.

Google’s workforce representation for most underrepresented groups also saw only a minor uptick. For example, black and Latinx employees accounted for 9.6 percent of the US workforce in 2019, up from nine percent in 2018. The percentage of black employees in leadership roles was flat while the percentage of Latinx employees in leadership positions increased by just 0.4 percent.

A Spencer Stuart report released recently paints a slightly brighter picture for representation among chief marketing officers (CMOs); in 2019, of all new CMOs, 19 percent were from racially and/or ethnically diverse backgrounds, compared to zero in 2018.

Google did, however, see the largest increase in its hiring of black technical employees since its first report in 2014, albeit a small increase—0.7 percent.

Google’s representation of black employees may appear underactive, but this year’s findings are actually milestones; in addition to its hiring percentage of black technical employees being the largest in the US since Google started publishing diversity data, its hiring percentage of black non-tech employees in the US also saw the largest increase since 2015.

The company’s percentage of Latinx technical employees, on the other hand, grew by just 0.2 percent. Still, the amount of overall Latinx hires declined from 6.8 percent in 2018 to 6.6 percent in 2019.

Additional findings show little progress for women too. Female employees represented 33.2 percent of global hires in 2018, dipping to 32.5 percent in 2019. In the same time, the number of women hired for technical positions remained stagnant, at about 25.6 percent. Google hired more women for leadership roles though, up by 0.6 percent. 

Though the data show otherwise, Google has launched small initiatives in an effort to achieve gender parity. For example, job postings run through its bias removal tool resulted in an 11 percent increase in applications from women.

The report also includes attrition rates; in 2019, Latinx attrition in the US reached below the Google average while women continued to have an inferior attrition rate. Attrition grew significantly for black women while it was highest for Native Americans.

The percentage of Native American employees in leadership positions dropped by 0.2 percent.

Globally, women represented 40 percent of interns in tech roles, and blacks and Latinx represented 24 percent of US interns.

Google attributes its “recent progress” to equipping leaders with workforce data and managers who work closely with the company’s diversity experts to identity opportunities that align with its company-wide objective to “advance a diverse, accessible, and inclusive Google.”

Google admits it has work to do to increase underrepresented talent in its workforce, which is why it’s also collecting race and ethnicity data worldwide through a voluntary self ID campaign.

Nike’s ‘Don’t Do It’ Anti-Racism Ad Receives Mixed Reviews

Nike released a 60-second video spot urging people not to turn their backs on racism as nationwide protests decrying police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery erupted. In a play on its renowned slogan, Nike titled the video, “For once, Don’t Do It,” posting it across its social channels, with the hashtag #UntilWeAllWin.

The text-only video features seven pithy statements appearing in white text against a black backdrop, including “Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us” and “Don’t sit back and be silent.” The video ends with the call-to-action: “Let’s all be part of the change.”

Since Nike posted the video at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, May 29, on Twitter it has received 6.7 million views, 210,000 likes and 100,000 retweets. On Instagram, it’s been viewed nearly 14 million times.

In a statement, Nike told CNN, “We hope that by sharing this film we can serve as a catalyst to inspire action against a deep issue in our society and encourage people to help shape a better future.”

Nike has a long history of highlighting its stand on social issues. In 2017, it launched an equality campaign titled “EQUALITY,” to encourage people to speak out on causes important to Nike athletes and employees including diversity and inclusion. The campaign was accompanied by a monochrome film and a $5 million donation to organizations advancing equality across the US.

In 2018, Nike unveiled a two-minute video spot narrated by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to show its support of athletes who were protesting racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.

However, Nike’s most recent anti-racism ad has drawn mixed reviews, sparking criticism on social media. While the video received praise from some celebrities, like rapper Travis Scott, one user lambasted Nike for the lack of diversity at its company. For example, Cindy Gallop tweeted:

One user shared a video showing protesters looting Nike’s store, in response to which another user responded: “Believe in something, even if it means getting looted.”

Another user trashed Nike for its labor practices: “My head is about to explode from the irony of the fact that Nike uses literal slave labor. But hey it’s a problem outside America, so I guess it’s fine to ‘sit back and be silent’ about it.”