Thursday, June 30, 2005

Essay Fifty-Nine

Giant-sized MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• DaimlerChrysler settled racial bias lawsuits brought by minority customers in Chicago and New Jersey. The car giant was accused of showing discrimination in its customer lending policies. The settlements require the company to spend about $3.5 million sponsoring consumer money literacy programs in minority communities. Plus, they’ll provide their own employees with anti-discrimination training. Seems strange that settlement money will be spent on cleaning up its own garage. DaimerChrysler’s brands include Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep. The customers should have held out for a Cabriolet. Or at least a nice set of rims.

• Hermes…Oprah. Oprah…Hermes. The swanky retailer is still reeling from criticism for dissing media giant Oprah Winfrey in France. Merci, merci me. Some snotty store manager refused to sell Oprah a watch. Now she’s going to show them what time it is. At this point, the retailer would probably fling open its doors to peddle a timepiece to Flavor Flav.

• Bill Cosby continues to be a giant pain in the Black ass. The Jell-O king has restarted his nationwide ranting and raving toward low-income minorities. Hey, hey, hey — never mind that Cosby is deflecting attention from his own moral shortcomings. There’s a clever twist to “The Pot Calling The Kettle Black” somewhere in this scenario. Readers, feel free to submit suggestions.

• Critics are already calling Being Bobby Brown a giant disaster. The reality TV series debuts today on the Bravo network. It’s weird to use the word reality in reference to anything associated with Brown. Maybe Bill Cosby will make a cameo appearance to reprimand Bobby and Whitney for their irresponsible lifestyles.

• R. Kelly is currently embroiled in two sex-related legal actions. One case involves videotaping sex acts with a minor. The other involves videotaping sex acts with an unknowing adult. Now this brotha would be a giant success launching a reality TV series.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Essay Fifty-Eight

New Corporate “Dag-lines” with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Walgreens — The Pharmacy America Trusts — may soon become The Pharmacy Black America Distrusts, as employees are now suing the drugstore chain for allegedly discriminatory practices. The suit claims Walgreens’ policies include assigning minority workers to stores in Black and lower-income areas, making it more difficult to advance. Talk about having a drug(store) problem. The company’s current advertising slogan reads, “That’s life. This is Walgreens.” Let’s hope they respond to the charges with a better line than that.

• The Cracker Barrel restaurant chain continues to struggle to rebuild its reputation after years of facing racial discrimination lawsuits and paying millions of dollars in settlements. Here’s a thought — the first step could involve simply changing their name.

• Ultra-upscale retailer Hermes may have made a blunder of Olympian proportions. Seems their boutique in France dissed Oprah, Goddess of All Earthly Things. It started when Oprah rolled up to the shop after closing time, seeking to buy a watch for Tina Turner. But the store representatives made like Ike Turner and denied Oprah entry. Of course, there are rumors of racism, with sources saying Hermes has been having recent problems with North Africans. Can’t wait to hear the details surrounding that excuse. The retailer has already offered an official apology. Look for Oprah’s studio audience to receive Hermes watches soon.

• Can you hear me now? Good. The NAACP called former Verizon executive Bruce Gordon to head the organization. Maybe the civil rights group is seeking to change to the National Association for the Advancement of Cell Phones.

• The San Antonio Spurs won their third NBA championship with a Game 7 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Featuring starting players from Argentina, France, The Virgin Islands and more, the Spurs make a strong case for the power of diversity. It’s fan-tastic!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Essay Fifty-Seven

We’re Number One — or at least in the Top Million — with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Oprah is the top Pop Culture Icon, according to American cable network VH1. Semi-ironically, Elvis — who built a career ripping off Black culture — nabbed the number three slot (comic book character Superman ranked number two).

• Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama is the most popular U.S. senator in the nation based on polls conducted by SurveyUSA. Semi-ironically, North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad — who opposed the anti-lynching resolution passed by Congress — tied for second place.

• Chappelle’s Show: Season 2 Uncensored is the all-time leading seller in the TV DVD category. Semi-ironically, Seinfeld — the popular television series that never featured a Black character — holds second place.

• Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man? by Charles Barkley is not likely to be a number one best seller in the non-fiction category, but it’s still definitely worth reading. Semi-ironically, the current non-fiction best seller is 1776 by David McCullough, a nearly 400-page book chronicling the United States’ birth year — although a review of its index lists less than five pages mentioning Blacks.

• Michael Jackson is now the top celebrity to beat a criminal rap, edging out OJ Simpson and Robert Blake — pending results from the upcoming legal actions involving Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Semi-ironically, Jackson’s post-acquittal celebrations included a rowdy slumber party with Hispanic boys.

(OK, MultiCultClassics made up the last entry.)

Welcome, New Readers


In the Advertising Industry, racism continues to be a major problem.

Diversity programs flounder.

Self-regulatory initiatives move more slowly than the legal actions in our court systems.

It seems like everyone wants to pretend nothing’s wrong. Sadly, the only people speaking out are outsiders — from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to New York City Council member Larry Seabrook and the New York City Human Rights Commission. Insiders can’t go public unless they’re ready to leave the industry entirely, fearing the politics that lead to job loss and more.

It’s time to create discussions and debates. And now there’s a forum designed to do just that.

The blog was created by an advertising insider with a unique perspective on today’s multicultural issues. The writer has worked extensively at mass market agencies and multicultural agencies, witnessing firsthand all the things most people will ignore or even deny.

Please view the blog — starting with Essay One. Then share it with everyone you know.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Essay Fifty-Six

Missing the exit and missing the point with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Traffic Stop Statistical Study revealed Blacks are pulled over more often than other groups. Did somebody really need to conduct a study to uncover these results? The Nutty Professor could have presented the same conclusions without a lick of research.

• The good news: A stretch of U.S. 61 in Tennessee has officially been named the B.B. King Highway in honor of the famed bluesman. The bad news: A disproportionately higher percentage of Blacks will probably be pulled over in this area too.

• A growing number of activists are complaining — and rightfully so — that missing minorities don’t receive the attention and coverage that missing pretty white girls do. Too bad these missing minorities aren’t driving through Illinois.

• Jennifer Wilbanks, the infamous runaway bride, will soon be cashing in on her fake abduction via an exclusive rights deal with ReganMedia. It’s safe to say most people were happier when this moron was missing. Remember, Wilbanks originally claimed to be kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a Hispanic man. Which all goes to show it really pays to be a lying, racist criminal in America.

• Michael Jackson’s family is seeking to deal for their own reality TV show. As if American audiences haven’t seen enough of the odd collection of reconstructed faces and altered body parts. Someone please inform these carnival freaks they’ve far exceeded the proverbial fifteen minutes. At this point, the only appropriate network would be the Sci-Fi Channel.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Essay Fifty-Five

RJ Dale Advertising and the Illinois State Lottery account continue to make news. Or rather, the Chicago media continue to make the events seem like news. The most recent stories simply regurgitate information already disclosed. And the repetitive hints of illegal misconduct have yet to draw any official charges. The following story appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 13, 2005. MultiCultClassics offers its two cents below the newspaper report.


Ad firm’s woes dismissed

State awarded deals despite money issues

By Rick Pearson
Tribune political reporter

June 13, 2005

Only days after Illinois Lottery officials acknowledged that R.J. Dale Advertising & Public Relations was having financial problems, they gave the firm a $7.1 million no-bid contract extension and made it the lottery’s chief advertising agency, state records show.

The records also show that even as the lottery was bumping up R.J. Dale Advertising’s contract, lottery officials knew the firm was having financial difficulties involving another R.J. Dale client, Jewel-Osco.

Lottery officials have previously said they required R.J. Dale to form an escrow account to ensure lottery vendor bills were paid. But that account was formed several months after R.J. Dale had established its own escrow account, when it had a smaller contract to provide black-oriented lottery advertising.

State records involving that escrow account, obtained by the Tribune, show that the lottery knew the firm was under financial pressure when it decided in early 2004 to give R.J. Dale a multimillion-dollar infusion of cash and added responsibilities.

Robert J. Dale, the ad agency’s owner, said Friday that the use of escrow accounts by advertising firms was “fairly common” and said such accounts assure that “vendors get paid.”

Asked if the early 2004 escrow agreement was an indication of financial problems, Dale said: “We're a small business and, like so many other businesses, we have financial difficulties. There’s no story in that.”

The earlier escrow agreement, signed by R.J. Dale and approved by lottery officials, raises new questions about the lottery’s relationship with the firm — an issue first brought to attention when a state audit last month contended the firm received millions of dollars from the lottery though it lacked the documentation to back up the payments. Dale disputes the audit finding and contends it is owed money by the state.

But lawmakers involved in state purchasing questioned whether it was wise for the lottery to enter into an expanded financial agreement with a financially troubled firm.

“I think it’s troubling when you have a state vendor struggling to meet its responsibilities for its contractual obligations and you give them a contract expansion while they’re still trying to reorganize,” said state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger of Elgin, a leading Republican on state procurement who also may run for governor.

The auditor general’s findings, as well as a previous inspector general’s investigation of the lottery that wrapped up Sept. 30, have formed the basis for an investigation of the lottery by Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan. In addition, the state ordered a special forensic audit of lottery billings and payments involving R.J. Dale. The audit, with a price tag that has risen to $60,000, was to have been completed May 1, then mid-May, then mid-June and now is to be finished by the end of the month, lottery officials said.

Escrow agreement OKd

On Jan. 29 of last year, records show, lottery officials signed off on an escrow agreement in which R.J. Dale acknowledged it was “experiencing difficulties managing the payment of its debts and other obligations as they become due. Company has sought the advice and assistance of a consulting firm ... with respect to managing company’s collections of certain accounts receivable and accounts payable.”

The agreement notes that R.J. Dale’s creditors “will continue to do business with company, if company’s accounts receivable and payable are managed by an independent third party.”

The third party, a subsidiary of Associates for Quality Management Inc. of Libertyville, was given the responsibility by R.J. Dale to negotiate with the firm’s creditors involving media advertising for the lottery and Jewel-Osco and provide a system to pay them, according to the escrow agreement. Jewel-Osco officials declined to comment.

Only days after lottery officials signed off on the escrow agreement on Feb. 3 of last year, lottery officials began on an emergency basis the process of turning over to R.J. Dale the duties of serving as the state’s primary lottery ad agency, replacing DDB/Chicago for the remainder of the 2004 fiscal year. DDB/Chicago gave up the state contract, contending the lottery wanted to focus too much of its energies on sales to the black community.

In replacing DDB/Chicago, the lottery gave R.J. Dale a $7.1 million, no-bid contract extension, state records show.

“My question is why this was approved when, by their own admission and their own escrow, R.J. Dale was in financial trouble already?” asked state Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley), who co-chairs the Legislative Audit Commission. Mautino said he would seek answers from the lottery when his panel reviews the lottery’s state audit.

But a lottery spokeswoman said DDB/Chicago’s decision to give up the lottery ad contract “created a need to find someone to step in fast.”

“R.J. Dale had done good work for lottery, was already on board, and was [the] logical choice after their impressive presentation to win” the contract for African-American-oriented advertising in 2003, said Geraldine Conrad, a spokeswoman for the lottery’s parent agency, the state Department of Revenue.

Conrad said that later in 2004, the lottery required R.J. Dale to maintain an escrow account to assure the payment of vendors later after the ad firm won a two-year, $38 million contract as the lottery’s prime advertising agency against 12 other firms.

“Lottery picked Dale for its creative capabilities and presentation of ideas,” Conrad said. “This is a small, local firm whose creative work landed a big contract. (The Department of) Revenue made certain that an escrow agreement was set up to assure that vendors were paid and lottery got services it paid for. This system is working.”

Award-winning firm

Dale’s firm last week touted its five awards for lottery TV advertising in 2004 and 2005, including a spot featuring comedian Bernie Mac. Dale and lottery officials also have said the firm is responsible for an 8 percent increase in sales last fiscal year over the year before.

In Oct. 22 of last year, a second escrow agreement involving the lottery and R.J. Dale replaced the earlier one. That escrow agreement, which the lottery said it requested, says “certain of the company’s vendors and customers have requested an independent paying agent be appointed” to pay invoices.

Dale, the ad firm’s owner, said it was “hard to answer” whether anyone looking at the language of the earlier January 2004 escrow agreement would view his company as being in financial trouble.

“The way the vendors look at [the escrow agreement] is that it is just the best assurance they could possibly have that they would receive their money in a timely basis,” Dale said. “It’s not uncommon for a small business to have financial struggles, and we work through them.”

Dale, whose firm became the first African-American-owned business to get the lottery’s primary ad contract, maintained the heightened scrutiny that his firm has undergone is a result of “some people inside government and outside government who would like to see this contract revert to the place where it’s always been — large, white-owned [ad] agencies.”

“If you looked at it from a black person’s perspective, you would understand how we arrive there,” Dale said.


After carefully reading and re-reading the latest Chicago Tribune story, MultiCultClassics asks, “So what’s the real problem here?”

RJ Dale Advertising struggles with financial woes. Big, fucking deal. The newspaper’s investigative reporter would have more difficulty finding a Chicago advertising agency not struggling with financial woes. Count all the companies that have literally vanished over the last decade. Or take a look at Chi-town shops like J. Walter Thompson, Campbell Mithun or Euro RSCG. RJ Dale’s money hassles make the company completely typical in today’s industry. So what’s the real problem here?

Lottery officials openly admit to having known of RJ Dale’s cash dilemmas before awarding the entire account. It could be assumed that decision-makers from both parties held honest, straightforward discussions early on, which actually demonstrates a tremendous amount of professionalism and integrity. So what’s the real problem here?

It’s not unprecedented for governmental institutions to make special arrangements with businesses. How many airlines, automakers, department stores, construction firms, manufacturers and other corporations have benefited from legitimate governmental partnerships and assistance? (There are plenty of semi-similar scenarios in the advertising industry. For example, Leo Burnett pays annual fines to the City of Chicago for deliberately breaking the law by allowing employees to smoke in its building — an action obviously bankrolled by the company’s client, Philip Morris.) When speaking about RJ Dale’s escrow agreement, a spokeswoman from the state Department of Revenue clearly said, “This system is working.” Additionally, everyone points to increased lottery sales and award-winning work. So what’s the real problem here?

Another increasingly annoying note involves DDB, the agency that handled the Lottery account before RJ Dale. DDB allegedly “gave up the state contract, contending the lottery wanted to focus too much of its energies on sales to the black community.” Let’s get real — lotteries are technically legalized gambling. So it might be controversial to target lower-income folks with this product (although no one has stated the Lottery is focusing on lower-income Blacks). However, it seems hypocritical for DDB to take such a noble stance. After all, they have a relationship with Spike Lee’s advertising agency. Additionally, DDB creates messages targeting Blacks for State Farm Insurance, Budweiser and the artery-clogging edibles from McDonald’s. These efforts are arguably as controversial as lottery ads — hey, insurance is much more despised than lotteries. So what’s the real problem here?

The media often zeroes in on all the auditing of RJ Dale. But anyone familiar with the industry knows there are few ad agencies on Earth that don’t undergo regular audits from holding companies, clients and the government. Granted, the majority of agencies are not subjected to the scrutiny this minority shop has experienced. Yet based on the information made public so far, there is little visible wrongdoing. Even the critical politicians merely pose questions versus spew condemnation. So what’s the real problem here?

Now Attorney General Amy Madigan — whose own career, incidentally, was aided by political family ties that could easily be deemed suspicious — is leading further investigations. Perhaps Madigan will succeed in exposing the smoking gun others have failed to uncover thus far. Regardless, the media and assorted pundits might consider delaying final judgments until damning evidence is presented. Or any damned evidence, for that matter. Instead, everyone submits accusations and negative implications. So what’s the real problem here?

Agency owner Robert J. Dale believes his company is being targeted with discriminatory and racist actions. “If you looked at it from a black person’s perspective, you would understand how we arrive there,” Dale said. Lots of individuals associated with Black-owned businesses share Mr. Dale’s point of view. Conversely, most critics are incapable of seeing things from a Black person’s perspective.

So is that the real problem here?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Essay Fifty-Four

Here’s an interesting — albeit not very surprising — story that was forwarded to MultiCultClassics:

Senators who refused to sign anti-lynching resolution

by kos

Tuesday June 14th, 2005 at 09:09:49 PDT

Here are the 20 Senators who 1) refused to co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution passed yesterday, and 2) refused a roll-call vote so they'd have to put their name on the resolution.

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

19 Republicans and 1 Democrat, a real wall of shame.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Essay Fifty-Three

Signs of progress, signs of hope and signs of trouble with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Floridian Glynn Birch has been named as the first man to lead MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). They say this cat Birch is a bad mother — shut your mouth!

• Senator Barack Obama questioned Henrietta Holsman Fore, President Bush’s nominee for a State Department position, about racially charged comments she allegedly made in a 1987 speech. A newspaper article wrote that Fore said, “Blacks preferred pushing drugs to working in a factory” and “she had found Hispanic workers to be lazy.” If approved, Fore’s new responsibilities would include overseeing human resources and the civil rights office for State Department employees around the world. The references on her resume probably list Bill Cosby and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

• Philadelphia high school students will soon be required to take a year of African and African American studies. Hats off to the school district officials pioneering the effort. Dunce caps to the parents and citizens opposing the initiative.

• It’s graduation season, which means more opportunities for students to be reprimanded for acts of self-expression. Thomas Benya of Charles County, Maryland was denied his diploma after wearing a braided bolo tie honoring his Native American heritage. Nice to know our school systems are teaching young minorities early on about the discrimination they’ll inevitably face in the real world. The lesson for all students: Assimilation + Conformity = Success.

• Mike Tyson went down and probably out for good in his fight with Kevin McBride. A desperate Tyson sought to steal a victory by landing low blows, head butting and attempting to break McBride’s arm. The former champ must have thought he was tangling with Robin Givens.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Essay Fifty-Two

Bikinis, Boy Scouts and other uniform issues worn out by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• It’s Black Girls Gone Wild in Myrtle Beach, with sistahs sporting bikinis displaying Confederate battle flag designs. The controversy? There’s a five-year-old NAACP boycott of the image. Clearly, the ladies aren’t keeping abreast of political events. Perhaps the actions in South Carolina could be countered with Union Army thongs.

• Boyz N the Hood are not Boy Scouts N Atlanta. Officials claimed over 5,300 registered members were Black. As it turned out, the real figure is closer to 500. So much for Scout’s Honor.

• The US Army is falling short on its recruitment goals, bringing new meaning to its slogan — An Army of One. Hope they’re not using the same auditors as the Boy Scouts in Atlanta.

• Comedy Central’s recruitment efforts appear to be awful too. A network executive met with Dave Chappelle recently, no doubt to plead for the comic’s return. Wonder how many Comedy Central officials have checked into mental health facilities over this situation. Then again, the network continues to make mad profits from sales of Chappelle’s Show: Season 2 Uncensored on DVD.

• McDonald’s “Baobab” TV commercial is bao-bad. Shouldn’t be long before the fast food giant introduces a Premium Baobab Salad.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Essay Fifty-One

Bust a rhyme with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• GI Yo! Live from the hood — Fort Hood in Texas, that is — a group of brothas who served in Iraq released a collection of rap tracks detailing their experiences. It’s da bomb. Hit their site at

• Bobby Brown is AWOL again, prompting a judge to issue a warrant for his arrest. Dave Chappelle has no idea where Brown might be hiding out.

• Chappelle’s Show: Season 2 Uncensored is the hottest-selling TV-series-to-DVD in history, disappearing from the shelves faster than Chappelle disappeared from his Comedy Central gig.

• Also on video — or videogames — Black characters galore. But Black executives remain under-represented in the videogame industry. To reset the situation, Joe Saulter co-founded the Urban Video Game Academy to teach Black high school students about the business. Saulter is CEO of Entertainment Arts Research, a Black-owned videogame company. Saulter’s new nickname: Malcolm Xbox.

• One place not interested in luring Blacks is Dillard’s. The department store giant is facing a lawsuit for allegedly charging Blacks more than whites for service at the chain’s hair salons. Imagine the confusion if Phil Spector stopped in for a trim. Dillard’s is still stinging from a 2002 US Supreme Court ruling that awarded S1.2 million to a sistah who allegedly was not permitted to sample cologne at a Kansas City store.

• Wachovia Bank has admitted its predecessors dealt in the slave trade, owning and accepting them as collateral. Wachovia Bank credit card holders should refuse to pay their bills as reparations.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Essay Fifty

In March 2005, called out Adweek and Advertising Age for doing a lousy job of representing minorities in their editorial content (see Essay 14). MultiCultClassics graciously offered suggestions for enhancing the publications’ multicultural reporting (see Essay 17).

Based on viewing Adweek and Advertising Age since’s expose, it’s clear the two magazines are still light-years away from progress. In fact, it looks like Adweek is choosing to ignore the watchdog group’s scolding. On the other hand, Advertising Age actually appears to be trying. But the May 30, 2005 issue shows the complexities and contradictions involved with the effort.

The cover featured a photo and blurb announcing the annual Women To Watch special report saluting the industry’s female leaders — directly opposite a risqué photo of a bikini-clad Paris Hilton deep throating Carl’s Jr.’s big, juicy burger. One can only wonder what the Women To Watch women thought of the ironic juxtaposition.

In, the editorial staff semi-bragged that the honorees included three Hispanics. Yet based on the photographs presented, there were zero other minorities selected. Granted, two of the women did not have headshots to accompany their tributes. And the photographs don’t reveal if any of them are disabled and/or lesbian, which would technically qualify them for additional minority status.

Surely the industry has at least one African American or Asian American woman worth watching. The question must be asked — Who the hell was doing the watching here? The special report stated, “A team of editors identifies women at marketers, media and agencies who have a strong track record and are poised for the next big step.” While Advertising Age’s editorial roster displays many female names, it’s interesting to note the columnists who warrant photos beside their bylines are mostly white men. Which implies Advertising Age, like the industry it covers, is a good ol’ boys club. Maybe the Women To Watch judging process incorporated a Photoshop® bathing suit competition or “Whom would you rather sleep with?” contest.

To contrast the criticism, Advertising Age also announced the hiring of Chiqui Cartagena as director-business development-multicultural. Cartagena’s responsibilities entail “growing Ad Age and Creativity’s business in the multicultural markets, which include Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American and gay and lesbian, through print and online advertising, custom projects and events.” Bet her coworkers have already nicknamed her “Chiqui the Chicky.”

Advertising Age is attempting to move forward and deserves a little credit for the endeavor. But if the publication really hopes to grow business in the multicultural markets, it must start with the black and white of its editorial content — and the white of its editorial roster. Then again, why should Advertising Age be any different than the advertising industry?

One final note: Attached to the May 30, 2005 issue was a complimentary copy of The Advocate.