Death threats aimed at F*ck the Cupcakes staff as vile comments surface on trade media

Staff at advertising agency Innocean have received personal death threats following a campaign in the lead-up to International Women’s Day.

Staff at Innocean, the agency that created the campaign for Fck The Cupcakes, which asked men to ‘show up’ for International Women’s Day, have received a barrage of threats. CEO of Innocean, Jasmin Bedir, has also received direct death threats to her personal email, following the campaign.

The comments section on trade forum Campaign Brief has also carried a significant number of vile comments about the campaign, which Bedir pointed out to Mumbrella.

The story was shared on a Reddit community titled ‘r/MensRights’ on Tuesday, six days after it was posted on CB. This prompted a further flurry of comments on the website, with the total count now standing at 87.

While Mumbrella has taken screenshots of the comments, it has chosen not to republish them. At the time of publishing, the story, and comments, remain live on Campaign Brief.

Mumbrella approached publisher and editor of Campaign Brief, Michael Lynch, to ask if the comments would be moderated and taken down, however, he did not respond at the time of publishing.

Bedir told Mumbrella the unmoderated comments “trivialise the hard work we do as marketers and agencies by inviting anonymous ridicule and vitriol.

“The comments on our latest campaign IWD speak volumes to the ‘editorial’ standards of Campaign Brief. It’s basically the trash mag of our industry.

“It applies zero duty of care, takes zero accountability for the impact it has on creative talent in this industry and how unprofessional it makes the entire industry look, and yet it keeps on existing.”

Innocean’s executive creative director, Wez Hawes, said, “The day before the campaign ran I sat down with the young creative team involved to explain what would happen on the comments thread and the potential backlash we’d receive due to the subject matter and the controversial executional tactics we employed.

“However, I did also stupidly tell them that it wouldn’t be as bad as last year, because we’re promoting an inclusive, non-offensive message about men being welcome this International Women’s Day. Little did I know the comments would be infiltrated by a far-right men’s group!”

Wez Hawes and Jasmin Bedir

Hawes said these “pep talks” with his creative staff happen often before campaigns go live, and since he moved to Australia, it has become a normalised standard procedure before a campaign goes live.

“I would assume it’s standard ECD or CD behaviour to ensure their teams feel protected and prepared for any online abuse too.”

An industry campaign, ‘Drop The Shade’, is currently arguing for the unfiltered comments section on Campaign Brief to be addressed, citing pervasive issues with mental health in the advertising industry.

The Ad Council’s 2022 Create Space report noted 28% of advertising professionals are impacted by ongoing mental health conditions, with women, gender-non-confirming and young people under the age of 35 impacted most.

Mumbrella approached the ACA on the commentary published on the Campaign Brief website, as well as the threats received by ad staff which runs in response to the work it is doing around DE&I and mental health through its Create Space initiative.

The industry body declined to comment on Campaign Brief’s comments moderation policy, however CEO Tony Hale provided the following quote.

“ACA stands by our Create Space initiative, a long-term program of work aimed at addressing inequality and underrepresentation in our industry.

CEO Tony Hale

“Since we launched Create Space we have continued to introduce a range of workshops, tools and resources to help members support a safe and inclusive working environment.

“Create Space is an ongoing program dedicated to real change and we support other organisations who shine a light on the same issues facing the industry.”

Chair of the DE&I committee at the ACA, Rose Herceg was also approached for comment.

Creative director at Paper Moose, Jeremy Willmott, and co-creator of the Drop The Shade campaign to address the comments section on CB agreed with Hawes, and said he often sees the effect the comments have on his staff, often having to counsel them.

On the F*ck The Cupcakes campaign, he added it was “hard to read that kind of vitriol on a piece of creative work trying to do something to positively impact the industry.”

“It’s crazy and this needs to stop.

“I’ve had to counsel junior creatives because they’re absolutely devastated by what they’re reading,” he said on why he and colleagues started the Drop The Shade campaign.

“We should as an industry be better, and hold ourselves to a higher standard than that, and rise above this kind of troll behaviour.”

Hawes continued: “It only hit home recently how ‘unique’ this situation is to Australia when Campaign Magazine in the UK controversially brought back their ‘Turkey of the Week’ gong, where the publication nominates an underwhelming campaign (without naming anyone involved). The UK ad industry was all up in arms and I remember thinking to myself: ‘Bah! You ain’t seen nothing…’”


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