Deutsch LA Fires CCO After Offensive Email About Casting Black Talent Resurfaces

Brett Craig had been with the agency since 2012 and was promoted to creative chief in 2018

Brett Craig
Before becoming CCO in 2018, Craig worked across accounts including Dr Pepper and Taco Bell. Deutsch LA

Agency Deutsch Los Angeles has fired chief creative officer Brett Craig after a former employee shared a screenshot of an offensive work email from 2015 on Instagram this week.

An agency spokesperson confirmed that Craig was let go Wednesday. Adweek reached out to Craig for comment via LinkedIn but has yet to receive a response.

The email, which sources with knowledge of the matter say was sent by Craig, discusses casting decisions, makes remarks such as “I think were [sic] now BET channel” and refers to a casting candidate as “Not so urban/AA” (the abbreviation stands for “African American”). Craig was fired as a result of the racist email resurfacing, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Via @kadiatou.kamakate on Instagram

The email resurfaced when an anonymized version was posted by former Deutsch employee Kady Kamakaté, who noted that the person who wrote the email had since been promoted “to a very high position.”

“The time I spent there was riddled with incidents like this,” Kamakaté wrote in the Instagram caption. “I never once felt protected or empowered enough to speak up … lest I be considered ‘too Urban/AA.'”

Craig was promoted to the CCO role in December 2018. He first joined Deutsch in 2012 and worked on accounts including Dr Pepper, H&R Block and Taco Bell. He is also the author of the book Collaborate or Die: How Being a Jerk Kills Ideas.

The resurfaced email followed a Black Lives Matter post by Deutsch last week. Some responded to the post with skepticism that the agency was sincerely committed to change, while others criticized the delayed response. Eventually, the email was brought up in the thread. One current New York employee defended Deutsch’s New York office for making progress during his five years with the agency.

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Black Lives Matter.

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Deutsch LA has been working with employees on commitments to address systemic racism, including representation, training and support of the Black community, according to sources with knowledge of the agency’s operations. The agency alluded to these commitments in its responses to comments regarding its Black Lives Matter post.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.