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Agency Brief: Matthew McConaughey steps out of a Lincoln to talk to Stan Richards

An ally for Atlanta’s Black creatives

Full-service creative agency Chemistry and Cam Kirk Studios (which is led by hip-hop photographer Cam Kirk) are partnering to create The Ally Internship, dedicated to expanding job opportunities for Atlanta’s Black creatives. The two Atlanta-based companies say they are working together to “introduce advertising, design, photography and video production as viable career paths to aspiring Black creatives” as well as “creating a new path for job placement within these fields.” The internship will be paid and is set to begin in September. Interns will split their 40 hours a week between the studio and agency in Atlanta. Once completed, the interns will receive a panel review by Chemistry and Cam Kirk as well as have the opportunity to possibly land a job with either the agency or studio. Candidates for the internship program will be selected by Cam Kirk (the photographer) and Chemistry’s Chief Creative Officer Chris Breen. 

“When we prove this approach can be successful, we’re hoping other Black-owned creative businesses and ad agencies will use our blueprint to help open up new streams to tap into Black creative talent in Atlanta,” Kirk says.

Breen adds that the “lack of diversity not only in the industry, but also within my own agency” is a “problem” in need of fixing.

Cam Kirk works with artists like 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa and Migos as well as brands including Nike, the NBA, Puma and the MLB. Chemistry counts clients such as Netflix, Red Bull and Atlanta United. The two shops say they “are both largely influenced by the city of Atlanta” and therefore “this collaboration is a natural evolution in helping lift up the very community that has inspired them to grow and create.”

Dentsu commits ad efforts to help people with disabilities

Dentsu, the parent of Dentsu Aegis Network, announced it has entered into a partnership with The Valuable 500 initiative, through which company leaders commit to fostering innovations that enable people with disabilities to “realize their potential value in society, business and the economy,” according to the organization. Dentsu says it will be committed to “developing solutions for people with disabilities in the advertising communication domain” through its participation in the initiative, as well as improving its own workplace for employees with disabilities.

“Dentsu will continue to create work environments facilitating the active participation of people with disabilities, while exploring the potential, ideal conditions and a better future for all humanity,” the company says. “It will do this through the development of communications, tools, and designs promoting the active participation of people with disabilities in order to contribute to society.”

The holding company says its specific commitments include providing consultation services “as well as psychological and physical support for employees with disabilities”; creating a better office environment for people with disabilities through “floor renovations, signage and marker changes”; conducting employee training aimed at raising awareness “about people with disabilities and human rights”; and focusing on “the creation of spaces for the active participation of employees with disabilities and the development of solutions for clients with disabilities” through its Dentsu Diversity Lab. Dentsu says it also will contribute its creative and media efforts to the Para-Sports Development Network of Japan, which supports parasports competition organizations.

Dentsu joins The Valuable 500’s other partners including Omnicom Group and Virgin Media.

Omnicom Media defends SAP business

Speaking of Omnicom, the holding company successfully defended a major account this week following a review run by consultancy ID Comms. Omnicom Media Group retained its status as global media agency of record for software giant SAP. The account was previously handled by Omnicom-owned PHD, which will continue servicing the business alongside “multiple” of the holding company’s other media agencies through its dedicated SAP “North Star” unit. SAP selected both PHD and Omnicom agency BBDO as its media and creative AORs, respectively, in 2014 following a review. According to COMvergence estimates, SAP spent $17 million on measured global media in 2019.

“The timing felt right for me to take a closer look at our agency model,” SAP Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Tillman says, explaining the reasoning for launching the recent review. “A huge objective of ours is continuing to evolve our story and show up differently as a brand.” Tillman says SAP aims to become a $352 billion company within the next few years, and Omnicom will be critical in helping the brand achieve its goal.

Brief Mentions

VMLY&R hired Walter Geer as executive creative director of experience design. Geer joins the WPP agency’s growing customer experience practice and will be based out of New York, working closely with Jason Xenopoulos, VMLY&R New York CEO and co-chief creative officer of North America. Geer hails from Omnicom’s TBWAWorldHealth, where he was senior VP and group creative director, digital experience and innovation. Geer will report to Eric Looney, chief experience design officer, who leads VMLY&R’s experience design practice in North America.

Smith Brothers was selected by NatureSweet Tomatoes as its agency of record following a review, Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl reports. The appointment includes handling creative, strategy, media, digital and social media. New work is set to begin running in test markets before going nationwide in 2021. The Richards Group tells Wohl that it did project work on and off for more than 20 years for NatureSweet Tomatoes but was never agency of record and didn’t participate in the review.

Sensis, a digital agency, and consulting behemoth Deloitte, were hired by the U.S. Census Bureau to provide social media and digital marketing services. The two companies say they will partner to “create engaging and educational digital content to tell the story of the U.S. Census Bureau and how its data powers American society.” As part of the $8 million contract, Sensis will help the Census Bureau establish and adopt tools, processes, partnerships, best practices and strategies within digital and social media communications.

Ogilvy Health named Renata Florio chief creative officer, replacing Sam Dolin who left in April to become executive creative director for Klick. Florio will have oversight of all of the agency’s U.S. offices. She previously was a global executive creative director for Ogilvy New York, overseeing creative for the agency’s health and wellness offerings for the past three years. The agency says Florio will report to Andrew Schirmer and work closely with Kate Cronin in their co-president roles of Ogilvy Health.

Gravity Labs, a full-service agency based in Chicago, hired Mike Roe as its first chief creative officer. As part of the role, the agency says Roe will help strengthen its “model to remove pain points commonly seen by clients that hire large agencies by getting to big ideas faster, more collaboratively and efficiently.” Roe joins from Publicis-owned Razorfish, where he was regional executive creative director for the agency’s Chicago and Austin, Texas offices.

David Miami announced the return of Brenda Fell as executive producer of the agency. She rejoins the agency’s Miami office from David Buenos Aires, following stints at Leo Burnett Chicago as well as The Community. She worked as head of production at David Buenos Aires, where she oversaw acclaimed campaigns like MACMA’s “Man Boobs,” which raised awareness for breast cancer. In her new role in the Miami office, Fell will co-lead the production department alongside Executive Producer Carlos Torres.

Droga5 London promoted Shelley Smoler to executive creative director from group creative director. In her new role, the agency says Smoler will lead creative, oversee pitches and work across all clients, but with a specific focus on Amazon. Smoler has led Amazon Alexa globally, Amazon Prime in the U.S. and Amazon Prime Video in Europe and the U.K. while at Droga5. She was recently nominated for an Emmy for her work on Droga5’s Super Bowl LIV commercial “Before Alexa.”

Levelwing was named agency of record for human resources, payroll and compliance solutions provider Spur. Under the partnership, the independent agency will manage creative, media, analytics, content strategy and development and SEO for the client. Levelwing already released its first creative and media campaign this month for Spur, which aimed to “strategically solve a large addressable market issue,” according to the companies.