180 Female Agency Leaders Launch ‘Time’s Up Advertising’ to Address the Industry’s #MeToo Problem

Top execs are working to end harassment and discrimination

DDB acknowledged this week that it had hired Droga5's Ted Royer to work on the Volkswagen pitch. Time's Up

Today, a group of 180 female CEOs, chief creative officers, chief strategy officers and other top agency executives announced the launch of Time’s Up Advertising, an official “vertical” aimed at discussing and addressing the industry’s pervasive problems with sexual harassment and gender inequality.

Time’s Up Advertising said in a statement it will “drive new policies, practices, decisions and tangible actions that result in more balanced, diverse and accountable leadership; address workplace discrimination, harassment and abuse; and create equitable and safe cultures within the advertising industry.”

Specifically, the group said it is committed to fixing policies “that have failed us,” leveraging the experiences of industry leaders with diverse backgrounds and adopting employee training to make the ad industry more inclusive and safe.

The initiative began at the end of January with a group of just 14 C-suite women, Time’s Up Advertising explained in a letter today that began with the phrase, “Hey, sisters, we know.” The letter states that one night of open discussion turned into “more meet-ups and phone calls, and hundreds of emails. Many hundreds of emails.”

According to the letter, the group quickly grew from just 14 executives to 180.

Those leaders include Alyson Warshaw, chief creative officer of Laundry Service; Debby Reiner, CEO of Grey New York; Andrea Cook, president of FCB/Six; Andrea Diquez, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New York; Kirsten Flanik, president and CEO of BBDO New York; Kate Weiss, executive vice president of human resources and partner at Universal McCann; Sarah Thompson, global and New York CEO of Droga5; Wendy Clark, global CEO of DDB Worldwide; Carla Serrano, chief strategy officer of Publicis Groupe and CEO of Publicis New York; and Kristen Cavallo, the CEO of The Martin Agency who was appointed in December after the agency’s former chief creative officer Joe Alexander departed amid a wave of sexual harassment allegations.

“We don’t for a minute believe we found all the answers,” Time’s Up Advertising wrote. “As women in senior leadership positions in advertising, we’ve agreed that we have the power to change this business we love until it looks more like the industry we want to lead.”

The group is calling on every agency, women-run or not, to join the effort by keeping up with the goals listed on its website. Time’s Up Advertising will also raise funds for the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which provides subsidized representation to individuals bringing up a sexual harassment or abuse case.

According to the announcement, the group will host its first community meeting on May 14 in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Representatives for both Time’s Up Advertising and the larger Time’s Up organization declined to comment for this story.

The organization’s launch comes less than a week after the industry’s latest controversy came to light. Last Thursday, Adweek broke the news that Hyundai’s Innocean Worldwide and its chief creative officer Eric Springer had been sued for sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination by Victoria Guenier, a former executive who claims she was forced out of her job last year.

@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.