Advertising fraternity stunned by many #MeToo stories buried under the industry carpet

#MeToo Movement displays the magnitude of sexual harassment issues in India.

Tanushree Dutta, who in a recent interview, allegedly said that actor Nana Patekar behaved badly with her on the set while doing a song of a film sparked conversations around the well-known #MeToo movement in India. This movement gained a huge momentum on social media after the actor Alyssa Milano took to the social media in 2017 as one of Harvey Weinstein’s most vocal criticizers with the following tweet, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The various sexual assault and harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s along with the hashtag #MeToo became a rallying cry for women to raise their voice on social media who suffered sexual misconduct at some point in their lives. However, not many may know this but it was Tarana Burke, an African-American civil rights activist who founded the Me Too movement 10 years ago. She has been using the #MeToo slogan for more than 10 years and doing the necessary work, too.

And today, after Tanushree Dutta’s scathing polemic against the actor’s alleged misbehaviour, several women are again taking to the social media to reveal the dirty doings by men of high status in the foyers of advertising. The list contains high-profile names from the advertising industry. Their doings are now no more curtained-off but brought to the fore as allegations and testimonies continue to spread like wildfire on social media.
May men who have been called out on social media for shameless acts of sexual indecorum are on the verge of getting ousted from agencies. Also, many of them have stepped down from their coveted seats or designations after the #MeToo movement has publicized their sexually transgressive behaviour. For instance, 4 of the well-known men in the advertising fraternity have stepped down after many women told them off on social media for sexual misconduct while riding the sweeping #MeToo movement. Dentsu Aegis’s Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Kartik Iyer and Praveen Das were some of the big names to have relinquished their positions as creative barons from Happy Creative Services (owned by Dentsu). Further reports also confirmed a fourth big name that made it to the sexual harassment list, Dinesh Swamy of iProspect India, who also had to call it quits.

Dasgupta, the senior creative director at Happy Creative Services was well-known around his bro-code industry circle as a good creative mind. Now, he is allegedly reported to have been a crude sexual predator by at least four women. Similarly, there are allegations against the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Kartik Iyer and Managing Director, Praveen Das.

Several Twitter users have tweeted about the various horrors of sexual impropriety that they have had experienced at the hands of some coveted names in the industry, and are leaving no stone unturned to call out their names on social media and also launch a tirade against agencies that have still not taken any action against the reported offenders. We have listed some of them below. (Twitter handles and tweets)

Last but not the least; we would like to conclude this article with the official press releases from some of the big advertising agencies.

Happy Mcgarrybowen

“Dentsu Aegis Network has always believed in providing a safe environment at our workplaces which is free from any kind of harassments. We have an internal committee constituted as per the rules prescribed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 to look into any complaints in this regard. Certain incidents have just come to our notice involving senior members of Happy that allegedly took place few years ago, when Happy was not a part of DAN (Dentsu Aegis Network).

“An inquiry into these alleged incidents has already been initiated. Dentsu Aegis Network does not and will not accept anything but professional behaviour at our workplaces. We have a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of harassment at our workplaces and we are committed to speedy redressal of any complaints raised in this context after following due process, as advised by the internal committee.”

iProspect India

“With more than 50 percent of our staff being female employees including the agency CEO, iProspect has always believed in providing a safe working environment for all. We have an internal committee adhering to Vishakha Guidelines. It is unfortunate that one of our recently recruited employees has been named in the #MeToo movement for an incident which is alleged to have happened a few years ago during his tenure with his previous employer. We have a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment at workplace and we will immediately be conducting an inquiry regarding this.”

Dentsu Webchutney

“Omkar Sane worked with us at Dentsu Webchutney between 2014-2015. During his time here, we received official complaints about his behaviour from two employees. Post the investigation which started the next day, he was let go from his position and the office immediately. And the company hasn’t worked with him in any capacity since then.”

DDB Mudra Group

“On Sunday, an accusation of behaviors and actions that violate our code of conduct was levied against an individual at our agency, anonymously via a public post on a social media site. The accusation stands in stark contrast to our values and standards at 22feet Tribal Worldwide and at the DDB Mudra Group more broadly, where it is our primary responsibility and commitment to provide our associates with a safe, fair and dignified workplace. Within hours of being notified yesterday, we initiated the process of verifying the allegations and getting them investigated.”

Publicis Communications

We have taken note of the incidences reported in the tweets. We are deeply concerned by the seriousness of these allegations and are investigating them on priority. We will ascertain facts of the matter and see that the outcome is fair and just, and appropriate actions are taken as per the Company’s policy. We re-iterate that Publicis India has a zero-tolerance policy towards any type of workplace misconduct or abuse of power or harassment.

Creativeland Asia

“We have seen some of the rumors spread by certain individuals in anonymity linking the agency with events. CLA has a great gender diverse working culture, we are one of the most secure and coveted creative agencies to work for. CLA has a robust system completely independent of the management to redress, assist and support, complainants having the employees interest at its heart.”

Medulla Communications

“On Friday, one of our employees was accused on social media of misconduct that is against our policies. As an organisation, we have a majority of women employees and are extremely conscious of and against the issues brought alive under #MeToo. Yesterday itself we initiated a conversation with our female employees (through other senior women employees) to see if any of them have faced any such issues in any way. None of them so far have raised any issues with any of our male or female employees. We are also investigating these particular complaints on social media but so far none of the women who have complained are working or have worked with WYP and Medulla or our affiliates in any way.”

Having said it all, the #MeToo movement continues to set the alarm bells ringing among the advertising folks in and around the country.

This article is about:
MeToo Movement, Tanushree Dutta, Nana Patekar, film, Alyssa Milano, Harvey Weinstein, Sexual Harassment, Advertising, Sexual Assault, Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Kartik Iyer, Praveen Das, Dentsu, Dinesh Swamy, iProspect India, Happy Creative Services, Happy mcgarrybowen, Dentsu Aegis Network, Medulla Communications, Creativeland Asia, DDB Mudra Group, 22feet Tribal Worldwide, Dentsu Webchutney, Advertising Agency, Digital campaign, Awareness campaign


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