The founders of Havas-owned Rosapark are “rethinking” the agency’s name after facing criticism on Twitter earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Nathan Young, president of 600 & Rising and group strategy director at Periscope, tweeted an image of Rosapark’s founders—all of whom are white men—with the following comment: “Advertising’s race problem in one image.”
Young’s tweet prompted a response from someone named Louis Duroulle, who—according to LinkedIn—is an account director at Havas Paris. While Duroulle’s tweets have since been deleted, he essentially accused of Young of “trash talking” Rosapark:
Later that day, Young tweeted that he’d “had a conversation with U.S. leadership” at Havas.
“I won’t disclose details, but I did speak to several issues of importance to our members and received assurance that U.S. diversity data would be forthcoming,” he tweeted. The members he’s referring to are those of 600 & Rising, a nonprofit Young founded alongside Bennett D. Bennett earlier this month that’s dedicated to advocating for Black people in the advertising industry.
In a statement sent to Adweek, the founders of Rosapark said they “fully understand” why the name is receiving criticism.
“We are aware of the various comments on social media related to the name Rosapark, and we would like to assure you we are taking them very seriously,” they wrote. “We are sincerely sorry if the name of our agency, which we chose 8 years ago, has caused any offense. In the current climate and in light of recent world events, we fully understand why.”
They also said they are “particularly sensitive to the issue of diversity in our industry.” According to the founders, Fichteberg—who earlier this year was named president of the Association of Communication Consulting Agencies’ advertising delegation—“has put diversity at the heart of his program, which aims to profoundly transform our industry in this area.”
“In light of the above, we will be rethinking the name of our agency,” the statement concluded. “Please rest assured that we are fully committed to this subject.”
Since its inception in 2012, the founders of Rosapark—which was named Adweek’s International Agency of the Year in 2018—have maintained that the agency was not named after Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist who famously refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Ala.
In 2015, French publication L’ADN interviewed Chiquiar and Fichteberg. In the article, they discuss how they landed on Rosapark, explaining they were inspired by parks, skateboarding culture and the desire to add a touch of “feminine softness,” hence “Rosa.” A translated version of their comments is below:
One of Rosapark’s prerogatives is to understand the times. What it brings, what technologies can be useful for brands, decipher trends … “We try to understand people better.” A philosophy that is embodied by the agency as a whole. “The agency’s name, Rosapark, translates what we are. Urban, city children … The city has a particular rhythm: How to create a parenthesis to the frenzy? ” The idea of the park is becoming a “breathing lung.” The “K” translates the skateboarding culture of the founders. And to bring a touch of more feminine softness, Rosa goes to the park. For them, there was no question of having an acronym for their agency’s name. “It prevails over egos, personalities, willingness to put themselves forward. Here, we speak with one voice around Rosapark,” Chiquiar said.
The following year, former Rosapark creative director Mark Forgan said the agency wasn’t deliberately named after Parks in an interview with the Epica Awards.
“The guys wanted to name it after an urban location, and they liked the idea of ‘park.’ Then they felt that ‘rose park’ or ‘rosa park’ made it feel a little less masculine since they were three guys,” Forgan said. “The link to Rosa Parks was almost incidental.”