FCB resigns Nivea over accusations of homophobia; Google celebrates Pride; Some Cannes controversy

FCB resigning Nivea after client says ‘We don’t do gay’

The longstanding relationship between FCB and Nivea is reportedly ending, with Ad Age reporting that the Interpublic network is resigning the global US$300 million account at the end of the year.

The decision follows an incident in which Nivea reportedly nixed an image of two men’s hands touching, with member of its client team telling FCB creatives, one of whom is gay, that “we don’t do gay at Nivea.” Quoting an internal memo sent to FCB employees by global CEO Carter Murray, Ad Age said the agency intends to resign the Nivea account when contracts expire at the end of the year.

The memo, which Ad Age printed in full, says that FCB informed Nivea of its decision in April. It also said that a detailed transition plan, including terms that “may allow some local markets to continue to service the business beyond the contract end,” is being finalized over the next few weeks. FCB Canada CEO Tyler Turnbull declined to comment when contacted by The Message.

Ad Age reported that FCB’s connection to Nivea goes back more than 100 years, although sources said client-agency tensions “have been mounting” since 2017. “There comes a point in every longterm relationship when you reflect on what you’ve accomplished together and set your sails for where your journey will take you next,” said Murray. “Sometimes that journey ahead demands tough choices that lead down different paths.” Nivea is said to represent 1% of FCB’s global revenue.

Meanwhile… Google celebrates pride with a kiss

In April, Google introduced a new “Kiss Detection” feature to its Pixel Camera app—enabling it to automatically take a picture whenever it detects people kissing. To promote the feature, Google just released a new Pride-themed ad showcasing joyous kisses shared by same-sex couples, all captured by Google Pixel.

Cannes’d controversy

Part of the fun of the Cannes Lions is the endless debate about the winning work. “That won what?” “That wasn’t as good as this” “I don’t even understand it.” “That looks really familiar”….and so on.

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This year, a Bronze Lion in Print & Publishing for Hyundai and Colombia’s MullenLowe SSP3 is coming under fire for versions of two of those complaints.

Admittedly, this anti-texting and driving campaign for Hyundai is a bit of a head-scratcher. For the record, the official entry states that the streaks represent how emojis appear when driving at speed.

Perhaps more interestingly, the ad has also come under fire for using Shutterstock imagery (hey, at least it didn’t win in Craft). And now, on top of that, the agency is also being accused of, er, borrowing the concept art from a Dutch artist named Rik Oostenbroek.

“Good job using stock photos from @shutterstock that are super inspired by my work,” Oostenbroek tweeted in response to MullenLowe Group’s self-congratulatory tweet announcing the Lion on the weekend. “Hope you guys are proud.” —DB

Arby’s working on meat-based plants
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While North America’s fast-food chains have all been stampeding to introduce meatless options in recent months, Arby’s is defiantly sticking to its mantra: “We have the meats.”

The roast beef sandwich chain this week unveiled what it’s calling meat vegetables (AKA “Megetables”). Its first product, “marrots,” is made from turkey breast covered with dried carrot juice powder. Arby’s says that the marrot is a good source of Vitamin A, offering more than 70% of the recommended daily value and more than 30 grams of protein. Arby’s says that megetables are in the early stages of development and not currently available to guests.

“Plant-based meats are the latest incarnation of making vegetables look like what Americans really want, which is great, tasty meat,” said Arby’s CMO Jim Taylor on the Inspire Brands blog, Inspire Stories.

Free the Bid 2.0
Three years after launching Free the Bid, an effort to get advertisers and their agencies to consider more female directors when they put a project out for bidding, Alma Har’el has expanded the initiative to become Free the Work.

According to a report on Adweek.com, Free the Work aims to “increase the number of women, trans-identifying, non-binary and underrepresented creators involved in all aspects of filmmaking.”

Calling itself “Free the Bid 2.0,” Free the Work bills itself as a “curated talent-discovery service of women [and] underrepresented creators.” Its home page features curated playlists by talent including Emmy winning writer and actor Lena Waithe (“Directors I’ve worked with this year”), Blackish star Tracee Ellis-Ross (“WOC directors who triumph [in] comedy TV”) and Oscar-nominated actor Lucas Hedges (“Music videos with mind-blowing visuals”).

According to the Adweek.com report, there has been a “marked change” in representation since Free the Bid’s inception, with some agencies seeing increases of anywhere from 35% to 400% in their bidding and hiring of female directors.


Chris Powell