Gary Vaynerchuk's social media agency VaynerMedia has landed itself in hot water on Twitter, after a Cannes Lions party invite circulating on the company’s behalf urged "attractive" potential female guests to send "recent untouched photos" of themselves in order to be considered for entry.
The email about VaynerMedia’s 'Wednesday Party', which it is due to host this evening in partnership with men's digital title Thrillist, was tweeted out today (22 June) by former BBH executive and equality campaigner Cindy Gallop.
Sent from a third-party promoter, it read: "Please be aware this specific list is for attractive females and models only. Gentlemen may contact the PR departments of the respective sponsors."
"Ladies," the email continued, "If you are interested in attending please send us recent untouched photos and or [sic] your Instagram/Facebook links for you and each of your additional female guests. Once we have reviewed we will send you specific entry details."
Vaynerchuck has told Twitter users he is "stunned and angry" about the email and has put it down to an external "3rd party production company" issue.
"This is not me at all," he tweeted, "I have no idea where that came from and I am finding out now, I'm horrified," he added before sending an apology video to Gallop.
— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) June 22, 2016
The Drum understands the email was not sent directly from VaynerMedia or Thrillist but by a promotional team working on the 'Wednesday Party' event. The number at the bottom of the email can be tracked back to Ticketmaster-owned event site Get Me In.
It's 2016, @vaynermedia@thrillist. This is not how you party at @cannes_lions. #canneslions#changetheratiopic.twitter.com/jF50tdPe0p — Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) June 22, 2016
Unsurprisingly, the invitation drew ire on Twitter, with Gallop directing her post towards both Vayner Media and Thrillist saying: "It's 2016. This is not how you party at @cannes_lions. #CannesLions #ChangeTheRatio."
Others described the incident as "pathetic", "gross", and "majorly disappointing".
@cindygallop@tomfgoodwin@VaynerMedia@Thrillist@Cannes_Lions shameful, pathetic. embarrassing. — sam marcus (@runsammrun) June 22, 2016
Wow… I hope their doctors, accountants, lawyers and partners request a recent untouched photo to even see them… ☠ https://t.co/YlG1GztSb5 — Marek Lenik (@criography) June 22, 2016
In an email to The Drum a VaynerMedia spokesperson explained the company was "caught off guard and horrified to learn" that the production company it appointed to help with its Cannes event had "hired another company, which hired a promoter" who without its knowledge put out the offending email.
"As you can imagine, we at VaynerMedia are gut-wrenched that this happened, since it is the opposite of who we are and how we operate. We're actively working to get details on how this could occur and to ensure we prevent it from ever happening again," the spokesperson said.
The Drum has reached out to Thrillist for comment, and will update this story when it responds.