SAG-AFTRA is keeping up the pressure on the advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, calling one of its top officers “hypocrite of the week.”
The union, which is in the third month of a strike against BBH, made the announcement Thursday about BBH’s global chief strategy officer and New York chairman Sarah Watson.
“Watson helps steer Times Up Advertising and has publicly spoken out about fairness and social justice, but the agency she leads is illegally attempting to withdraw from its commitment to the professional talent that helped build their company,” SAG-AFTRA said. “No way, Sarah. Keep your word BBH and honor your agreement.”
BHH did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The union instructed its 160,000 members on Sept. 20 not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly announced that it had withdrawn from the contract, asserting that the agreement is outdated and accusing the union of being inflexible.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris also blistered BHH in a statement.
“You don’t get to tell the world that you are an ethical company doing business in an ethical way and then walk out on your contractual obligations to your longtime partners,” she said. “BBH is illegally attempting to withdraw from our contract, claiming that it hinders their ability to ‘deliver the greatest level of flexibility and value for their work.’”
“As BBH well knows, SAG-AFTRA offers tailored agreements that provide flexibility and give producers the tools they need to hire the best union talent within competitive budgets,” Carteris added. “BBH is simply trying to walk out on their commitment to provide working actors with fair pay, benefits and a safe workplace. SAG-AFTRA actors know the truth and we are committed to shining a bright public light on BBH’s doubletalk and hypocrisy.”
SAG-AFTRA has been ramping activity on the commercials front, where it faces the challenge of advertisers using non-union actors. It’s held half a dozen demonstrations during the past week and brought on Bryan Cranston in a video backing its “Ads Go Union” campaign to persuade advertisers to stop using non-union actors.
SAG-AFTRA is prepping for a successor deal on its commercials contract, which represents over $1 billion in annual earnings for union members. SAG-AFTRA’s current deal with the Joint Policy Committee, which represents advertisers and advertising agencies, expires on March 31. The two sides have not yet set a date for starting negotiations.