Wednesday, October 01, 2014

12118: Here Are Breaking In Comments.

Here Are All The Black People presented a panel titled: Breaking In. Breaking Wind might have been a more accurate label. William Burks Spencer moderated a Q&A session starring BBDO CCO David Lubars, mcgarrybowen ACD/Copylover Neisha Tweed, R/GA SVP ECD Chloe Gottlieb, Boone Oakley President Gregory Johnson and GSD&M Creative Director Jake Camozzi. The basic problem with the discussion? The executives offered nothing beyond common knowledge and common sense. Candidates could get greater insight from simply scanning the classic How to Put Your Book Together and Get a Job in Advertising by Maxine Paetro. Additionally, the panelists were too diverse—and not in a multicultural sense. Lubars and Camozzi sounded like traditional advertising dinosaurs. Has Tweed the social media ACD ever hired anyone? Gottlieb felt a little hackneyed, as digital types often do. And Johnson is a suit—so his opinions on portfolios mean less than zero. Not convinced any of the professional participants connected with the audience. Again, attendees would be better off working for Issa Rae versus these dullards.

12117: Here Are Issa Rae Thoughts.

Here Are All The Black People took place last week, segregated and separated from the annual Advertising Week. The multicultural creative career fair featured Issa Rae as keynote speaker. As the event video shows, Ms. Rae was a superior choice to open the festivities versus Dr. Cornel West, at least in terms of being contemporary, relevant and inspirational to a young and impressionable audience. On the other hand, Rae’s innovative spirit and emphasis on revolutionizing the media representation of Black characters flies in the face of the professional pigeonholing and perpetuation of stereotypes that persists for non-Whites in the ad industry. The HAATBP attendees would be much better off working for Rae than any advertising agency.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

12116: Exposing Exotic Mystique.

SATELLITE emphasizes its exotic wares with exotic models. But why is the Black woman showing the most skin?

From Ads of the World.

12115: Leisure Suits.

If it’s offensive to show models wearing tribal gear, what about tribal gear made out of food—to sell kitchen appliances?

From Ads of the World.

12114: Worshipping Sir Martin Sorrell.

The Sunday Times depicted White adpeople prostrating before omnipotent WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell, surrounded by the awards he has purchased. If Sorrell is indeed a God of Business, then God help us all.

But just to entertain the notion, let’s consider which Gods best reflect Sorrell:

Cronus devoured his offspring, which sorta mirrors Sorrell’s appetite for consuming companies via hostile takeovers.

Hades has been labeled as the King of the Underworld and God of the Dead and Riches, which certainly fits Sorrell.

Uranus works too, as Sorrell is a giant anus.

12113: White Is The New Black.

Advertising Week features a seminar titled: Performance is the New Black. Of course, there are no Blacks involved. It’s actually symbolic of AWXI, since there don’t appear to be any Black-focused seminars, workshops or special events at the annual soiree—besides the entertainment vehicles starring Black recording artists.

As previously mentioned, even Here Are All The Black People isn’t here, having been shifted to the previous week. There will be no discussions on diversity. Zero PowerPoint presentations detailing the buying power of Black consumers. Zip conversations chronicling cross-cultural case studies. Nada internships, scholarships or inner-city searches for future Black talent. Don’t expect a cameo appearance from Cyrus Mehri either. In short, AWXI has experienced a total Black blackout.

The Marcus Graham Project recently created an infographic showing that Black representation in the advertising industry has declined over the years. It looks like AWXI accurately reflects the sad reality.

Monday, September 29, 2014

12112: Thor, Goddess Of Thunder.

From USA TODAY…

It’s hammer time for a new female Thor

By Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

Thor is looking a little curvier than usual, but this new goddess of thunder can wield a mystical hammer as well as any Asgardian dude.

When the Avenger we all know and love is deemed unworthy to lift the mighty weapon Mjolnir, a woman takes up the mantle in Thor, the relaunched Marvel Comics series debuting Wednesday by writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman.

“She’s going to be Thor,” says Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort, “as powerful and strong as the previous god and embodying the same sort of nobility we think of as being Thor.”

(Don’t worry, Chris Hemsworth fans: The actor is still set to play his very male Thor in next summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and other Marvel movies in the foreseeable future.)

Aaron had been writing the male Thor in his God of Thunder comic book. But when old super-spy Nick Fury whispered something to Thor in the event series Original Sin, it made the Norse superhero drop the hammer and not be able to pick it up again.

Enter a mysterious woman from his corner of the Marvel Universe who wears a mask and is the first female to carry Mjolnir around.

The enchanted weapon has had a home in the hands of various folks over the years, from the alien Beta Ray Bill to even a frog Thor. But after Aaron built up the female supporting cast in his series, it made sense that the new Thor “was going to wind up being a lady,” says the writer.

“There will be things she does that are very different than what the previous guy did, in particular her relationship with Mjolnir. I’m having a lot of fun exploring that and really making Mjolnir a character in and of itself.”

Having a woman as Thor allows Aaron to continue playing with gender roles within the book. Thor’s mother, Freyja, has been ruling their Asgardian kingdom as its All-Mother, but when Odin returns, he expects it to fall back under his control.

Not so fast, says Aaron. “Now Freyja has proven herself to be a worthy leader and she’s not ready to just step aside and drift back into the shadows.

“The fact that Odin couldn’t pick up the hammer and someone else does, let alone a woman, and the fact that not even Odin knows who this person is under the mask, I imagine all that is going to drive him quite crazy.”

Meanwhile the hero formerly known as Thor, the Odinson, is in a darker place than ever because he can’t lift Mjolnir. However, when a giant threat arises on Earth, he rushes to help, even without his powers.

“He was always questioning his worthiness — there was always that little doubt in the back of his mind that he wasn’t the god he could be,” Aaron says. “Now, that doubt has exploded and seems to be confirmed.”

What exactly was whispered into his ear is going to stay a mystery for a while, the writer adds. While some assume it’s some dastardly revelation, “that he once pushed a bunch of nuns down the stairs or something,” there’s a little more to it than that.

The identity of the new Thor will also remain a secret, but Aaron promises not to tease it out for months and months. “The real story begins once we know who she is and what her story is. That’s the part I’m really excited to get to.”

There will also be a Thor vs. Thor confrontation early on since the previous guy is going to be angry someone else is running around with his favorite hammer.

That relationship will be one of the comic’s ongoing dramas as the Odinson becomes very interested in revealing the heroine, “especially once he decides that this is someone who knows him,” Aaron says. “He’s going to be looking at all the women around him in his life and try to figure out which one is this new Thor.”

12111: 3.5 Minutes With Roy Eaton.

From Advertising Age…

The Real Mad Men Diaries: Roy Eaton

Hall of Famer Who Broke Color Barrier Doesn’t See Much Progress in Industry Diversity

By Judann Pollack

“If you were white, I’d hire you immediately.”

That’s how Advertising Hall of Famer Roy Eaton recalls his first job interview at Young & Rubicam, where he began his career in 1955. Mr. Eaton, who played at Carnegie Hall as a child, earned a musicology fellowship at Yale and has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, had to fight his way into advertising because he is black.

Following the mantra his mother gave him, “You have do do 200% to get recognition for 100%,” Mr. Eaton went on to create a storied career, moving up to music director at Benton & Bowles. Over the decades, he created memorable ad jingles for products such as Yuban coffee, Beefaroni, Texaco, Honeycomb, Sugar Crisp and more. But it wasn’t easy getting past the color barrier, he recalls in this video, particularly when hiring African-Americans to appear even off camera in commercials.

Mr. Eaton, who today is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and is very active in composing and performing in his 80s, doesn’t see that much progress more than a half-century later. Ad agencies, he said, aren’t hiring more black copywriters or executives; instead they are hiring “a lot of African-American diversity officers.”

(View the video interview)

12110: And The Bland Played On.

Advertising Week 2014—aka AWXI—should be renamed Advertising White 2014, as minorities are virtually invisible at the annual soiree.

Sure, there are music artists and celebrities of color performing and/or injecting star appeal. And minority adpeople have been seeded into seminars, workshops and special events. However, the minority-focused items listed in the 2014 Official Guide for AWXI constitute perhaps the fewest in years (MultiCultClassics only spotted one LGBT affair and a single multicultural presentation).

Where are all the Black people? Well, for some unexplained reason, Here Are All The Black People took place last week. Did The One Club finally get tired of competing with the more popular Advertising Week offerings where all the White people are?

Also, where are all the Cross-Cultural clowns? You’d think AWXI might be an ideal forum for spreading the post-racial propaganda.

AWXI does, however, feature lots of content on Millennials, Baby Boomers and White women. Why, these historically victimized groups appear to represent The New Minorities On Madison Avenue.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

12109: Key In On Lost Boys Of Sudan.

From The New York Times…

Film on Lost Boys of Sudan Uses Keys to Stand Out

By Stuart Elliott

THE creators, producers and distributors of a new film are hoping that keys will be the key to helping their movie stand out in a crush of fall releases.

The film, “The Good Lie,” is a drama featuring Reese Witherspoon that is to be released by Warner Bros. on Oct. 3. The film tells a fictionalized story based on the arrival in the United States more than a decade ago of African refugees known as the Lost Boys of Sudan; Ms. Witherspoon portrays an employment agency counselor who helps a group of Lost Boys arriving in Kansas City adjust to American life.

A campaign to build awareness of — and sell tickets for — “The Good Lie,” which is to begin on Thursday, is centered on two tactics that are significantly reshaping the way movies are now promoted: social media and cause marketing.

The campaign involves a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, the Giving Keys, that was coincidentally started by an actress, Caitlin Crosby. The organization hires people who are trying to escape homelessness to make jewelry from repurposed keys that are inscribed with inspirational messages; buyers of a key are asked to “pay it forward” by giving it away to someone “you feel needs the message” and then blogging about the experience on the organization’s website, thegivingkeys.com.

In connection with “The Good Lie,” 250 keys inscribed with the word “Give” on one side and “Good” on the other will be distributed to celebrities and other so-called influencers who have a large and loyal following on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. The campaign will have elements that include a hashtag, #GiveGood; a video clip; events like engraving of keys for those attending screenings of “The Good Lie”; and giveaways of 50 additional keys to fans whose posts in social media are deemed inspiring and carry the hashtag.

Plans also call for the conversations generated in social media to be amplified by, among others, Ms. Crosby, the Giving Keys and Warner Bros., using their own social media accounts.

The cause-marketing aspects of the campaign are part of an attempt to aim “The Good Lie” at religious audiences. Another example is a philanthropic effort, the Good Lie Fund, in conjunction with the Tides Foundation, raising money to help Lost Boys in real life.

The campaign is being created by Ignition Factory in Los Angeles, which works for Warner Bros. and is part of the Omnicom Media Group division of the Omnicom Group. Although Warner Bros. and Ignition Factory declined to discuss the budget for the campaign, the social media focus suggests it is a thrifty initiative, estimated in the low tens of thousands of dollars.

“This kind of promotion, a way to give back, is inventive and in line with everything we’re trying to do on a grass-roots basis around the country” to interest moviegoers in “The Good Lie,” said Molly Smith, a producer of “The Good Lie” who was executive producer of the Oscar-winning movie “The Blind Side.”

“What I like about it is that it’s like a call to action,” she added, “giving people another way to be proud of giving back” and giving celebrities a way to “talk about something positive they’re doing instead of selfies.”

“The Good Lie” is not an easy film to market in that it has “themes and values” that may appeal to religious ticket buyers, Ms. Smith said, but “isn’t strictly a faith-based movie; it isn’t ‘The Ten Commandments.’ ” Ms. Smith financed “The Good Lie” through her Black Label Media and it is being released by Warner Bros. through a distribution deal with Alcon Entertainment, a company in which her father, Frederick W. Smith, founder and chairman of FedEx, is a primary investor.

The campaign is the first time that the Giving Keys has been involved with a “major motion picture,” Ms. Crosby said, adding, “I love what this film represents.”

“We’re going to encourage our followers and influencers, and their followers and influencers, to do random acts of kindness,” she added, “from the smallest gesture to big things like Reese’s character.”

The emotional components of the campaign echo some themes for the traditional advertising for “The Good Lie,” including posters and print ads that carry the headline “Miracles are made by people who refuse to stop believing” and these lines that are superimposed on screen during the theatrical trailer: “She opened her home. They opened her eyes.”

Chris Denson, West Coast director of Ignition Factory, said: “At the end of the day, we wanted this to be an extension of the storytelling and not make it feel like marketing. ‘Give Good’ is so central to what the story is.”

It is crucial that potential audiences not perceive the campaign as “a stunt,” he added, and the social media platforms will achieve a goal to “develop a community of like-minded people.”

At the same time, “one thing we like about this program is that it has a physical component” in the form of the keys, Mr. Denson said, in contrast to many social media efforts that have no tangible presence in real life.

Still, the number of keys will be limited to “close to 350,” he added, because “creating exclusivity is key, no pun intended,” to stimulating buzz online.

12108: Tuning Out For TV Licenses.

Don’t understand this campaign from DDB in South Africa at all—but pretty sure it’s offensive.

From Ads of the World.

12107: Old Ad-Guys™ = Old White Guys.

Tucked in the AgencySpy comments insisting Millennials are the root cause of unhappiness in the advertising industry is a link for Old Ad-Guys™—an apparent startup labeling itself as “a network of senior industry guys and gals who still love the business.” The site unintentionally verifies the label in a number of ways:

1. The design and user experience is crude—and that’s being polite—indicating the elder creators are digitally ignorant.

2. There is an overall lack of transparency, as no one is identified and the pay scheme is fuzzy—a sure-fire characteristic of old school, political dinosaurs.

3. The enterprise fosters exclusivity, only interested in hiring people with at least 20 years of experience—which will probably perpetuate the dearth of diversity poisoning our industry (as well as present high overhead costs).

4. Sorry, but the work sucks. It’s a bunch of contrived bullshit. Unfortunately, this flies in the face of the company’s premise that “experience is everything.” Younger, cheaper and less experienced creatives could produce results not significantly worse than the predictable dreck Old Ad-Guys™ offer.

The site states: “Our goal is to create a permanent agency, with permanent salaries and ultimately a network of Ad Guy agencies across the country and North America.” Um, it sounds like Old Ad-Guys™ wants to erect yet another mcgarrybowen, JWT, Zimmerman or any other traditional shop run by Old White Guys.

12106: WTF UWG AWXI Ad.

Wonder if anyone seeing this advertisement in the 2014 Official Guide for Advertising Week will know—or care—who UWG is. And why is the agency thanking Advertising Week for celebrating the culture in all of us? The seminar and workshop for LGBT and Hispanics appear to be the standard fare—that is, it’s the stuff attendees ignore. Hell, Millennials, Boomers and White Women will get far more attention than minorities this week.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

12105: Blackface Match.

From The New York Post…

Students who wore blackface to portray Venus and Serena accused of racism

By Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG — Two white students in South Africa who painted their faces dark to portray Venus and Serena Williams at a costume party have been accused of racism in a country whose painful history of white rule is still vigorously debated.

Stellenbosch University said Thursday that it was investigating the case after being informed about a photograph on Twitter that showed two of its students posing as the tennis stars. It noted social media reaction that mentioned “blackface,” which was common in old American minstrel shows featuring white performers as stereotyped black characters.

The university said it disapproved of any action that could cause offense but noted “various views and opinions” about the matter and did not want to jump to conclusions pending the outcome of the investigation.

The photograph shows two men in sports clothes, holding a tennis racket. One, in a mini-skirt, is wearing a blond wig. Their faces and arms are smeared with a dark substance.

In a statement, the two students and another student who posted the photograph said they aimed to portray two sports stars without “malicious or racial intent,” and that they regret their error in judgment.

Their action “has been associated with ‘blackfacing,’ which we now know is a disparaging practice used to portray offensive racial stereotypes, and we cannot stress enough that this was not our intent,” said the students, who identified themselves as Ross Bartlett, Mark Burman and Michael Weaver.

They said they were attending a Sept. 20 birthday party where people were encouraged to dress up as successful twins.

Some students at Stellenbosch University think the three students involved in the costume controversy should be expelled, while others dismiss the incident as a mistake that should not be taken seriously, the student council said.

The council condemned “blackfacing” and said a disciplinary panel should evaluate a case that has touched on old racial sensitivities in South Africa. The country held its first all-race election in 1994 at the end of white rule, known as apartheid.

“We acknowledge that there is a great deal of unresolved hurt, reaching far beyond the actions of these individuals,” the council said.

12104: Unhappy Campers.

Digiday published a story titled: Why agency people are so unhappy—which drew 95 comments from visitors over the course of a week. AgencySpy countered with its own take on the Digiday piece, drawing over 50 comments in a day. It’s hard to view either comment thread very seriously. After all, Digiday’s audience is not advertising agency-friendly. In fact, it’s highly unlikely the typical Digiday visitor even understands agency life, as most of them have never experienced it firsthand. On the other hand, the typical AgencySpy visitor is just plain unfriendly—with a limited understanding of life, period. The two audiences appear to ignore the general unhappiness among workers across all fields in the United States—and around the world. It’s nothing unique to advertising agencies, and trying to claim that it is merely demonstrates ignorance common to both sites’ fans. As well as both sites’ staffers.

12103: Comcast Vs. Digital Divide.

Comcast seeks to bridge the digital divide with limited-time complimentary service and an amnesty program for low-income families. Amnesty program? Sounds like Comcast is pardoning poor people. Well, the digital divide is really the poverty divide. But a little sensitivity would be nice—which is admittedly asking a lot of a cable company.

Friday, September 26, 2014

12102: Zipcar Taps Ignorance.

The new Zipcar commercials (here, here and here) are contrived, stereotypical, sexist, sophomoric, offensive bullshit—the spots create a culturally clueless car wreck.

12101: Eric Holder Is No Coward.

From The New York Times…

A Champion of Civil Rights, if Not of Civil Liberties, Just Like His Hero

By Matt Apuzzo

WASHINGTON — Something was not quite right when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had his photograph taken recently at Department of Justice headquarters. The wrong painting was on the wall behind him.

Aides scurried to reorganize the portraits so subsequent photographs would capture Mr. Holder, in the best light, framed by his hero: Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Mr. Holder, who announced his resignation Thursday, frequently invoked the Kennedy legacy as he made civil rights the centerpiece of his six-year tenure. He succeeded in reducing lengthy prison sentences, opened civil rights investigations against police departments in record numbers and challenged identification requirements for voters.

“I have loved the Department of Justice ever since, as a young boy, I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the civil rights movement how the department can — and must always — be a force for that which is right,” Mr. Holder said at a White House farewell on Thursday.

But Mr. Holder has continued Mr. Kennedy’s work in another way, one he is less likely to embrace but is no less part of his legacy. Like Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Holder has frustrated and confounded even his staunchest allies for his views on civil liberties.

Mr. Holder approved of the National Security Agency’s authority to sweep up millions of phone records of Americans accused of no crime. He subpoenaed journalists and led a crackdown on their sources. He defended the F.B.I.’s right to track people’s cars without warrants and the president’s right to kill an American who had joined Al Qaeda.

“This is an attorney general who displayed an odd approach, an odd schism between civil rights and civil liberties,” said Elizabeth Goitein, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice, a group that frequently supported Mr. Holder’s civil rights policies.

A child of the civil rights era, Mr. Holder, 63, was shaped by images of violence in Selma, Ala. He relished his place in history as the nation’s first African-American attorney general and used that to engage in discussions of race and inequality, even when President Obama was reluctant to do so.

A native of New York City, Mr. Holder spoke about being stopped without cause by the police and, after the recent shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., Mr. Holder sought to go there as the administration’s emissary.

But those who cheered him one day were bewildered the next as Mr. Holder, the most prominent liberal voice in the Obama administration, took positions giving the government wide authority to keep tabs on Americans.

It happened so often, it prompted a game of amateur psychology among civil liberties groups: Was Mr. Holder, at heart, unsympathetic to issues of privacy and government overreach? Was he overrun by other national security officials? Or had he been persuaded that keeping America safe required taking positions he might otherwise have opposed?

“At the end of the day, does it matter?” Ms. Goitein said. “If civil liberties were on his mind, and we didn’t see it, well, that and $2 will get you a cup of coffee.”

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, praised Mr. Holder’s tenure but acknowledged being frequently frustrated.

“You build your legacy when you can, and you cut your losses when you can’t,” Mr. Romero said. “The attorney general cut his losses on civil liberties when it comes to national security.”

No attorney general is without critics, and each leaves a complicated legacy. Mr. Holder has faced criticism for not prosecuting the major figures in the financial collapse. Republicans grilled Mr. Holder and his aides over the flawed Fast and Furious gun trafficking investigation, which led to a vote holding Mr. Holder in contempt of Congress.

But Mr. Holder’s tenure is unique in that his biggest supporters are also among his loudest critics. Groups like the A.C.L.U. cheered his call to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug crimes and his push for prisoner clemency. They applauded when Mr. Holder, like no attorney general before him, cast the drug war in civil rights terms. He spoke of broken families and a cycle of prison and poverty.

Those same groups have sued Mr. Holder over government surveillance. They demanded documents — and were rebuffed — detailing the department’s policies for tracking cars using hidden transmitters. They fought to release the legal opinions authorizing the attack that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who joined Al Qaeda.

Under Mr. Holder, the government accepted the theory that records that might someday be relevant to a terrorism investigation were immediately relevant — and could be seized. That analysis underpinned the N.S.A.’s collection of phone records.

“If you were to ask, ‘What would Bobby Kennedy do if he were sitting in Eric Holder’s chair?’ You might not find many differences, on all these issues,” said Thomas J. Perelli, a lawyer who served as Mr. Holder’s associate attorney general.

Though Mr. Kennedy presided in a different era with different laws, he similarly used wide surveillance authority to target Communists and other threats. He authorized wiretaps of civil rights leaders including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Bobby was certainly not shy about using wiretapping and used it as much as any attorney general,” said Evan Thomas, a journalist and Kennedy biographer. “Holder is following in Bobby’s footsteps in that sense.”

In a brief interview Thursday, Mr. Holder said he saw no contradiction in his views.

“I have national security responsibilities that obviously I have to take seriously, but I perform that national security responsibility in a way that is consistent with how I view these other civil rights issues,” he said. “There is a consistency there that, if they examine it closely, I think they can find.”

Asked about the N.S.A.’s authority to seize phone records, Mr. Holder said he supports proposals to limit that authority. But he declined to say why he accepted it in the first place.

Those who worked closest with him say Mr. Holder is easygoing and eager to be liked. But it was the reality of the office, they say, that underpinned his opinions.

“You see the intelligence every day. You see the threats come in, you see the plots getting thwarted, and you become a believer,” said Amy Jeffress, a lawyer at Arnold & Porter and a former counselor to Mr. Holder on national security. “That makes it harder to throw out entire programs because they’ll be unpopular with civil liberties groups.”

Mr. Holder’s Justice Department started more investigations than any of his predecessors into government officials who disclosed information to reporters. He subpoenaed journalists’ emails and phone records, and demanded their testimony. The New York Times reporter James Risen, who has refused to reveal his sources about information on Iran, remains under subpoena.

Mr. Holder acknowledged in the interview that those efforts went too far at times and pointed to new rules limiting investigations involving journalists.

Mr. Holder said the changes he helped enact in the criminal justice system were his proudest accomplishment. “We turned this aircraft carrier around after years of overreliance on incarceration,” he said.

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that in that area, Mr. Holder’s legacy was secure. “On the issue of civil rights, he has been the most engaged and extraordinary attorney general,” she said.

Michael D. Shear and Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

12100: On The Fence.

This electric fence campaign from Uganda is, well, shocking.

From Ads of the World.

12099: WTF AAF AWXI Ad.

The AAF is like a talent collection agency? Um, what the fuck is a talent collection agency? Is the AAF now a headhunter firm? Or is it some sort of collection agency, pursuing payments of debts from adpeople? Also, the “talent” responsible for the advertisement above is pretty mediocre. The AAF should ask for its money back.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

12098: Sir Martin’s Mindlessness.

WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell published a LinkedIn perspective titled, Bring Code Into The Classroom (And Other Principles For The Digital Age)—presenting “five guiding principles that apply to the worlds of both government and commerce.” Not convinced Sorrell is really writing 1,900-word essays all by himself. And if he is, the man is being way overpaid to do so, no? The best part is, Sorrell’s insightful thought leadership sparked a single comment—from a robot responder explaining how he made $7k per month working part-time.

12097: Oily Overpayments Stick.

From The New York Times…

Judge Denies BP’s Request to Recoup Overpayments to Oil Spill Victims

By John Schwartz

The oil giant BP cannot recoup hundreds of millions of dollars it claims to have overpaid victims of a 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

At a hearing in Federal District Court in New Orleans, Judge Carl J. Barbier rejected BP’s request that it be allowed to claw back the extra money paid out under an old accounting method.

BP had successfully argued last year that the accounting methods that determined claims payments were too generous, and earlier this year, Judge Barbier ordered the office that processes claims to adopt an accounting procedure more to the company’s liking.

But in a ruling from the bench, Judge Barbier said the earlier claims “were paid under the settlement’s terms as it was interpreted by the claims administrator and the court at that time.”

He added, “The fact that the decision and the interpretation were later reversed does not equate to fraud or anything close to it by these claimants.”

In a statement, Geoff Morrell, the senior vice president for communications at BP, said the company had asked the court to order the money returned “as a matter of equity and fairness.”

Lawyers for those suing BP pointed to the language in the settlement on the first page of the forms signed by claimants who received money; the form promised the amount paid would not change because of subsequent events.

The form, which was approved by BP as part of its 2012 settlement agreement with lawyers for spill victims, states, “It is possible that the terms of the proposed settlement may change in the future — for better or for worse — as a result of further legal proceedings. However, if you sign this individual release, none of those uncertain future events will affect you.”

The company has repeatedly argued that although it stands by the settlement as signed, its implementation was subsequently “hijacked” by the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, who the company says misinterpreted the agreement, and then was exploited by unscrupulous plaintiffs.

“For BP to have asked for the return of that money was not contrary to the release or any other part of the agreement,” Mr. Morrell said. “It was an attempt to reach the only fair outcome.”

In court Wednesday, Judge Barbier dismissed BP’s argument that the language of the release form did not cover this situation, saying, “The court finds this is classic hairsplitting.” He said that he had ordered restitution where fraud had been proved, but said that these claimants “did not commit fraud.”

A leader of the steering committee of lawyers for plaintiffs, Stephen J. Herman, said, “I think the judge correctly analyzed the law and the facts, and we’re pleased with the outcome.”

Mr. Morrell said BP “disagrees with today’s decision and will appeal it.”

Judge Barbier also heard arguments on Wednesday about the medical compensation plan BP agreed to for oil spill workers for conditions related to toxic exposure. The judge made no ruling on those arguments.

Judge Barbier is presiding over the sprawl of litigation from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 men and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the gulf. This month, he ruled that BP was grossly negligent in the days and months leading to the disaster, a finding that could cost the company billions of dollars in penalties.

Edward F. Sherman, a professor at Tulane University Law School who has followed the case closely, said it was “not surprising” that Judge Barbier had rejected the effort to reclaim the funds, given the language of the release form.

He noted that the company had also asked the Supreme Court essentially to declare its settlement agreement invalid because it allows payment to people with no obvious causal connection to the spill, despite the fact that the company negotiated the terms and argued for them in court. The argument was rejected by Judge Barbier and by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Professor Sherman said, “They keep trying, don’t they?”

12096: Offensive Karma & Kaepernick, 2.

DiversityInc reported on the controversy surrounding San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick allegedly directing the N-word towards Chicago Bears Defensive Lineman Lamarr Houston. Did he or didn’t he? Kaepernick denied any wrongdoing and is appealing the $11,025 fine that the league slapped on him. Houston stated that Kaepernick did indeed use the slur. Hopefully, there will be some official clarity, as Offensive Karma is at play here.

Did NFL Fine Colin Kaepernick for Using N-Word?

By Chris Hoenig

It appears that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick may be the first player fined by the NFL for using the N-word on the field.

Kaepernick was fined $11,025 by the NFL last week for “direct[ing] abuse language toward” an opponent in the fourth quarter of the 49ers Week 2 matchup against the Chicago Bears, but the league did not provide any additional details. FOX Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer reported that referees have said that Kaepernick directed the N-word at Bears defensive lineman Lamarr Houston.

Kaepernick, without going into any detail about what he was accused of saying, told reporters he planned to appeal the fine and that he had not done or said anything to warrant it.

“I didn’t say anything,” Kaepernick told reporters after the game, adding he was shocked when it was announced over the stadium PA that he was being penalized for “inappropriate language.”

The incident happened after Kaepernick threw the first of two late interceptions that helped spark the Bears’ 28-20 come-from-behind victory. As he celebrated Kyle Fuller’s interception, Houston jawed with Kaepernick, who shoved the 6’3”, 300-pound lineman and appeared to send a response his way.

Houston initially said publicly that he did not hear anything from Kaepernick, focusing instead on his own comment to the quarterback. “I said, ‘Nice pass,’” Houston told the Chicago Tribune.

“It will be appealed,” Kaepernick said after the fine was announced. “I didn’t say anything. Lamarr Houston said I didn’t say anything. We’re going to leave it at that.”

Kaepernick is biracial, but was adopted by a white couple when he was just a few weeks old.

Houston admitted after Glazer’s report went public, however, that Kaepernick did indeed use the N-word and curse at him.

“He was just saying inappropriate language,” Houston told the Chicago Tribune after the Bears beat the Jets in Week 3 on Monday Night Football—a game in which Houston himself was flagged for using inappropriate language toward an official. Asked if he was insulted, Houston said it was “a cultural thing.”

“I don’t know,” Houston said when asked about Monday night’s penalty. “[Umpire Tony Michalek] thought I cussed at him, but all I said was ‘Back up’ because he was all up on Willie [Young] and I just told him to back up some. I guess he was intimidated by it or whatever.”

The quick, decisive action by NFL brass to fine Kaepernick counters the league’s abysmal handling of the domestic-abuse allegations levied against several players in the past several months.

During the offseason, NFL owners weighed whether to implement an automatic 15-yard penalty for using the N-word—and other racial, ethnic and homophobic slurs—on the field.

Last July, a tape emerged that showed Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert. His tirade allegedly began after a security guard, who was Black, did not allow him backstage.

The team fined Cooper an undisclosed amount (though the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement reportedly limits the fine to just over $37,000), but the league took no additional action.

12095: Brothers & Boobies.

Definitely not sure about The Singing Mammogram from Susan G. Komen and Deutsch LA featuring a doo-wop group singing, “Take care of those boobies.”