The ad industry, like most others, is having a #MeToo reckoning. Most of the activity is happening by way of discreet firings, but a vigilante group has emerged to let everyone know exactly who is being pushed out for bad behavior.
Diet Madison Avenue is an Instagram account run by a collective of 17 anonymous individuals hoping to draw attention to sexual harassment and discrimination in the advertising industry. The name itself is a reference to Diet Prada, an Instagram account that started posting in 2014 as a way of documenting and calling out copy-cat designs.
DMA has been unabashed in revealing specific industry men accused of sexual harassment. The group is controversial not only for calling out bad actors by name, but also for its irreverent tone. Two days before media outlets caught wind that Publicis Seattle’s chief creative officer, Andrew Christou, was being fired, DMA posted his photo with the words “GOODBYE YOU PRICK” written in red overtop. In the caption below was his handle alongside #timesup and #metoo.
It’s no surprise that the group is ruffling feathers. Whisper networks, like the recently circulated Shitty Media Men list, often draw criticism for sharing information that could potentially hurt innocent people
I chatted with the group over Instagram about what they’re doing. One member, whom we’ll refer to by the initials DD, talked about why Instagram has become their weapon of choice. “We started out on Instagram as a way to connect to each other. From there it grew,” writes DD. “All of us had an Instagram. It allowed us to communicate on a private page and feel like we had a safe space.”
DD added that Instagram was already the group’s favorite platform, and it has useful features–like group chats and group stories–conducive to DMA’s purpose. Instagram also allows them to share photos, documents, and audio recordings with each other, privately and safely. “[I]t was quicker than Facebook etc,” DD writes.
So far, they’ve been able to attract a following of around 16,400 people, including 49 volunteers who assist with a variety of tasks. They insist they are just getting started. Today, DMA announced a decision to file paperwork to create two organizations, a 501c3 and 501c4, in order to push their work beyond the scope of Instagram.
“It would be in everyone’s best interest if the executives, the agencies, and the clients saw Diet Madison Avenue as an ally in the common quest to do the right thing, ” writes DD. “but often, we are viewed like the cast of Scooby Doo—a bunch of trouble-making meddling kids.”