M&C 'devastated', apologises for burlesque party

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 24 January 2016

M&C Saatchi has publicly apologised over its entertainment choices at its 21st birthday party last week after criticism spilled over into the mainstream media. The agency says it is "devastated" by the fallout and concedes that a burlesque theme "may not have been appropriate".

The event featured a line-up of diverse acts including London DJ Norman Jay MBE; Miss Burlesque Australia 2012, Briana Bluebell; topless male dance duo Hip Hop boys; satirical performance artistes The Bag Ladies; drag trapeze acrobat Decoda Secret; singer Deni Hines and Sydney DJ Alex Taylor. You can see our gallery of the night here.

Mumbrella wrote a scathing piece the following morning calling the event sexist and asking whether the entertainment was appropriate in 2016. It was then picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald and by SBS over the weekend. The comments thread blew up on both sides; many in support of M&C and its burlesque theme, others believing that it was an indictment of sexism in the industry.

You can read AdNews editor Rosie Baker's thoughts on it shortly.

The M&C statement reads:

"In regards to the article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 January 2016, M&C Saatchi would like to issue a public apology.

On Thursday night, we held a party for our 21st birthday. At no time was there a 'striptease' performance. However, as there was a series of performances, the consideration that a burlesque routine may not have been appropriate in this context was overlooked. This has been a strong reminder to be more diligent about ensuring these sensitivities are always at the forefront.

Throughout the evening there was a diverse repertoire of acts - soul diva Deni Hines, dance duo Hip Hop boys, satirical performance artistes The Bag Ladies, drag trapeze acrobat Decoda Secret, top Sydney DJ Alex Taylor, acclaimed London DJ Norman Jay MBE and Miss Burlesque Australia 2012, Briana Bluebell.

We are devastated this has caused offence and concern around this issue. This was not our intent. M&C Saatchi has made huge efforts to champion gender diversity within the Group.

We have a diverse workforce and the professional development of all our staff, both men and women, is of paramount importance. We have four women on the leadership team, including our General Manager, and 50% of our department heads are female. Over the last year, over half our key senior hires have been female (52%) and 72% of our employee promotions were women. In 2014, 18% of our Creative hires were female and in 2015 this increased to 30% of hires. This does not excuse the mistake we made and we have learnt a very important lesson. We hope others have too. This is a critical issue and one that M&C Saatchi will continue to promote. We are committed to doing more to further continue this important conversation."

What do you think of what happened? An over the top reaction or was the backlash warranted? Comment below and let us know.

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop me a line at rosiebaker@yaffa.com.au

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