Ogilvy Employees Confront Boss Over CBP Contracts Following Sludge Report

Sludge's reporting on CBP contractors inspired employee protests at the ad agency Ogilvy, prompting follow-up reports in NPR, the Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed News, AdWeek, and many local outlets.

Ogilvy Employees Confront Boss Over CBP Contracts Following Sludge Report
Ogilvy CEO John Seifert, far left, at Thomson Reuters during 2016 Advertising Week in New York City.

Following a Sludge report on Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contracts, employees at the ad firm Ogilvy confronted their bosses in a closed meeting about the company’s willingness to work with the agency, which detains immigrants in squalid conditions.

“News of the shop’s relationship with CBP began spreading online after a report on the website Sludge included Ogilvy on the ad firm’s list of its contractors,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

BuzzFeed News obtained audio from the meeting:

“This is about people, not just about money,” one employee told their boss during the meeting. “I’m not sure what our values are,” another employee said. Another said they weren’t sure how they could show their face at an upcoming conference knowing their company did work for the agency.

“We’re willing to work with companies that are allowing children to die and that are running concentration camps,” another employee said.

The meeting was also covered by NPR’s All Things Considered, Adweek, and other national outlets, meaning that the Ogilvy contracts, which before the Sludge were only known to management and a select few, are now public knowledge.

As with our widely-read stories on ICE contractors last year, Sludge’s latest reporting on CBP vendors making money off the child separation policies at the border has received another huge rush of traffic and attention. I’m pleased to share that June was Sludge’s highest-traffic month ever, in our thirteenth month of publishing, and that July is on-track to keep that pace.

Next, we want to publish the first comprehensive look at every organization in the U.S. that has contracted with CBP or ICE since 2010. There are thousands of companies, universities, and governments across the country that have worked for the Trump Administration’s immigration agencies, with some in your state, perhaps in your city. 

Sludge is independent and reader-supported—we’re doing this work with the support of people like you.

Here’s another way that Sludge helps build public knowledge about trending topics in the news: earlier this month, Adam Rifkin with the human rights coalition Lights for Liberty suggested we make a Twitter “megathread” of all of our reporting on ICE profiteers and CBP vendors. We did, and we called-out all the top contractors and conflicts of interest around ICE. 

One more way that Sludge works to build awareness of important stories—Sludge makes national news more locally-relevant by placing CBP and ICE contractor information on interactive maps, to see groups in your area with ties to child separation policies. Our nationwide map of ICE contractors earned a shout-out from Texas-based immigration non-profit RAICES as “crucial work”.