Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Old news from Advertising Age…
• The latest issue of Ad Age published the final results of its online poll that asked, “Do you think that the changing media environment is fueling age discrimination at ad agencies?”
The publication also offered quotes from various whiners. “[Age discrimination] is so obvious it hurts,” said one agency executive. “They completely ignore the most affluent and powerful generation this country has ever seen — the baby boomers!” A creative director proclaimed, “I’m a dinosaur that’s been online since 1987. I wonder: Are 25-year-olds writing all those ads for products and services aimed at aging baby boomers? Can ad agencies not see the value in employing creatives in the demographic segment that they’re pitching?”
Gee, it sure is interesting to see old admen defend themselves with arguments they’ve ignored when shutting out others.
Incidentally, the final tally showed 89 percent of respondents voted yes. The overwhelming majority were probably boomers who needed assistance from their young secretaries to figure out how to vote online.
• Ad Age also offered the editorial below (the MultiCultClassics rebuttal immediately follows)…
Old or young, talent is the issue
AD AGENCIES SHOULD fire older employees who don’t get that the advertising game is changing. Agencies also should fire young people who don’t get that the game is changing.
The issue should not be about age but about ability and, as an agency CEO said in Ad Age last week, “finding people who display intellectual curiosity.”
The specter of age discrimination came to light in a lawsuit by 54-year-old George Hayes, a 30-year veteran of McCann Erickson and Universal McCann who is suing his former employer, alleging wrongful termination based on age.
Courts will decide the case on its merits. But there is a broader imperative for agencies and employees: Both must embrace change or face the consequences.
Advertising is a “youth-obsessed profession,” as Ad Age’s Matthew Creamer wrote last week. That’s reality. There is a bias toward new and improved, not old and improved.
Agencies (and all employers) must not discriminate based on age (that’s illegal) and should reward talent regardless of age (that’s smart business).
Younger workers have a competitive advantage in a changed media world. They came of age in the digital era, growing up with wireless, the Net and iPods. Younger talent also comes cheaper than older workers, a critical issue when marketers are hammering agencies to work on lower margins.
What about older workers? The issue is front and center for aging boomers. The average baby boomer this year will turn 50, according to American Demographics. There will be no coasting to retirement; the onus on boomers is to perform.
So what should older advertising workers do? Embrace change; draw on experience, but be ready to ditch old methods; and stand with colleagues, regardless of age, who believe in a zero-based, media-neutral approach to marketing, communication and technology.
The game is changing, but there has never been a greater need for talent of any age with the intellectual curiosity to define the new rules.
“Talent is the issue.”
“The issue should not be about age but about ability…”
“There is a bias toward new and improved, not old and improved.”
“Agencies must not discriminate based on age and should reward talent regardless of age.”
Gee, these arguments are old. And downright disgusting in an industry that thrives on discrimination and exclusivity.
It’s easy to seamlessly replace the word “age” in the lines above with Black, Hispanic, Minority, Female, Gay, etc.
The discriminators are quick to push fairness and legality when they find themselves playing the role of victim. How stereotypical.
Throwing bricks and more in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Supporters of stricter border security have been sending messages to elected representatives in Washington via bricks (pictured above). The bricks symbolize the notion of building a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, in addition to being a disruptive delivery device. About 10,000 bricks have been received to date. “Given the approval ratings of Congress these days, I guess we should all be grateful the bricks are coming through the mail, not the window,” said one senator’s spokesperson. Rep. William Jefferson has requested that people send him only gold bricks.
• Liz Taylor defended Michael Jackson, speaking about his bedroom antics with children and insisting “there was nothing abnormal about it.” In fact, Taylor admits she played in bed with Jacko and his nephews. Yeah, there’s nothing abnormal about frolicking between the sheets with Uncle Michael and Auntie Liz.
• DJ Troi Torain (aka DJ Star) defended himself against charges of sex threats aimed at the child of a rival DJ (see Essay 600). DJ Star insisted that if his words make him a criminal, then someone should also bust another rival who labeled him a “spermless dwarf.” Great, now folks are defaming dwarves with erectile dysfunctions too.
Oprah’s record as hip-hop fan has scratches
By Clarence Page
WASHINGTON -- You can tell a lot about people by what they have on their iPod. Oprah Winfrey recently acknowledged that she’s “got a little 50 [Cent] on my iPod. I really do. Love ‘In Da Club.’” That’s the most revealing tidbit I’ve heard about a major newsmaker since Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said she clicks her iPod most often to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” among other anthems of our generation.
That’s appropriate. Every woman has at least a little Aretha in them, Lena Horne once said, although I expected the former first lady to be humming along to Helen Reddy’s “I am woman, hear me roar …”
Winfrey was defending herself in a surprise appearance on a New York City radio station, Power 105.1 FM, against a complaint from rap star and actor 50 Cent that she rarely invites rappers on her talk show. “I think she caters to older white women,” he said.
Now, now, that’s a cheap shot even for a guy who calls himself “50 Cent.” Ludacris, another rap star and actor whose real name is Chris Bridges, chimed in with a complaint in GQ magazine. Oprah was “unfair” to him, he said, during a show in which he appeared last October with co-stars from best-picture Oscar winner “Crash.”
Mercy. Who knew that big-name macho rap stars had such tender feelings? Apparently touched by their angst, Ms. Live-Your-Best-Life called New York DJ Ed Lover to assure the world that, “I listen to some hip-hop.” Besides “Fitty,” she claimed to “love Jay-Z, love Kanye [West], love Mary J. [Blige].”
I’m still trying to wrap my mental arms around the thought of Ms. Winfrey jogging, say, along Lake Shore Drive listening to 50 Cent's “In Da Club.” You go, girl.
I don’t question her musical taste. As they used to say on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” back in my day, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.
However, as I often ask my teenage son as he tries, often in vain, to keep me in tune with today’s late-breaking cultural waves, does she listen to the lyrics?
“You can find me in da club/ bottle full of bub,” it begins. “Bub,” by the way, is short for “bubbly,” as in champagne, I am told on the street. If you’ve heard something different, feel free to further enlighten me.
“I’m into having sex, I ain’t into making love/ So come give me a hug if you into getting rubbed.” And that's from the clean version, I point out, the one played on old-fashioned, non-satellite radio. The uncensored version could make Howard Stern blush, were he still capable of embarrassment.
But, while Winfrey tries to show how deeply she still gets down with the people, Ice Cube, another rap and movie star, has joined the bash-Oprah fray, arguing that he’s more ready for Oprah's audience than she seemingly thinks.
“I’ve been involved in three projects pitched to her, but I’ve never been asked to participate,” he tells FHM magazine in its July issue, scheduled to hit newsstands on June 6. When he was helping to promote “Barbershop,” his hugely successful 2002 movie, she had Cedric the Entertainer and Eve on the show, “but I wasn’t invited,” he moaned. “Maybe she’s got a problem with hip-hop ... She’s had damn rapists, child molesters and lying authors on her show. And if I’m not a rags-to-riches story for her, who is?”
Well, not exactly from “rags,” judging by various Cube biographies. Born O’Shea Jackson in 1969 in South Central Los Angeles, he was raised by working parents, which in itself puts him well ahead of the usual gangsta stereotype.
He reportedly began writing rap as a student at William Howard Taft High School, a racially and economically mixed school in the San Fernando Valley community of Woodland Hills, where the median income tops $70,000. Not too ghetto.
Despite the cultural handicap of graduating from a decidedly un-ghetto high school, he dropped out of college to join young Dr. Dre and others to form the angry N.W.A., short for “Niggaz With Attitude,” best known for the 1989 underground hit “[Expletive] Tha Police,” which brought an FBI investigation and a publicity bonanza.
Yet, now in his mid-30s, a different, family-oriented Cube has emerged in such comedies as “Barbershop” and “Are We There Yet?” I eagerly await the satisfaction of seeing him yell at his kids to turn down that profane rap music.
In the meantime, as 50 Cent trumpets his “rubbin’” work and a former N.W.A. promotes his family values, I need not wonder why so many of our kids today are so morally confused. Maybe that’s just my generation talking.
From the latest issue of Newsweek…
See Reverend Run
Former Run-DMC rapper brings back the tough love.
By Allison Samuels
June 5, 2006 issue - Angela Simmons wants a party for her high-school graduation, and boy, does she have ideas. A Plexiglas dance floor over the family swimming pool. Gift bags with iPods. And the finest food 250 teenagers can devour. But, look, girls with much less spend much more on MTV’s hit show “My Super Sweet 16,” and the Simmons family has a brand-new Rolls-Royce. If you watched the first season of “Run’s House” on MTV, however, you know that Angela and her four siblings don’t get to fling much bling. “Run”—formerly of the seminal rap group Run-DMC—is her dad. He’s a minister now, and he and wife Justine preside over their house like stern Sunday-school teachers. It may not sound like fun—Angela ended up with a simple pool party and barbecue—but that’s the surprise of “Run’s House,” which is returning for its second season on June 15. In a time when TV families have to be outrageous, dysfunctional or both, “Run’s House” is sweet, wholesome and charming. “We wanted to do a show about a family who just has regular problems, not extremes,” Run says. “You don’t have to always be shocking.”
How did a functional family end up on MTV, home of “The Osbournes”? Star power helped. Run has a mogul for a brother, Russell Simmons, and a good friend in co-executive producer Sean (Puffy) Combs. “Run is hip-hop’s Frank Sinatra, and MTV saw that,” says Combs. The show plays like an unscripted version of “The Cosby Show” or “Father Knows Best,” with Father fighting valiantly to keep the upper hand. A reality show with a moral? “My children don’t talk back to me or my wife or cuss,” says Run. “Can you imagine a black family where the children cuss out the parents? There is just no way that’s happening around here—and that’s the biggest difference you will see on our show: total respect. You can’t live in here with me without it.”
The show speaks to anyone with a family, but it’s been especially resonant for African-American viewers. They’ve made the Simmons family superstars. Angela and her sister, Vanessa, have been dubbed the “hip-hop Hiltons”—they’re always looking to spend Dad’s money—and Justine is something of a June Cleaver with a manicure. “I have people come up to me all the time at church, in the mall, just saying how they know someone just like me,” she says as she scrambles eggs for her youngest son. “It’s weird to have someone you’ve never met before tell you how much they like you—but I take it as a compliment.” The biggest winner has been Run, who’s been out of the spotlight for years. In addition to doing the show, he’s written a new book, “Words of Wisdom: Daily Affirmation of Faith.” “I’m showing people, and in particular the younger hip-hop artists, that you can grow up, have a family and still be cool,” he says. “I have guys like Nelly coming up to say what an inspiration it is to see me be a father. What more can I ask for?”
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The following appeared in newspapers nationwide…
Women can’t save black America alone
By Leonard Pitts, a syndicated columnist based in Washington
For some of us, it is the easiest thing in the world to idealize black women. To romanticize them, sentimentalize them.
Consider “Legends Ball,” a TV special last week produced by that uber black woman, Oprah Winfrey. I seldom watch Winfrey’s programs, but her salute to trailblazing black women kept me rooted. There was something soul settling in seeing all those sisters, daughters, mothers--Gladys Knight, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, Dorothy Height, Leontyne Price and more--gather in their big hats and finery to celebrate and be celebrated.
Or, consider a chat I had earlier this month with a group of academics and health-care professionals about the fact that black women have among the lowest suicide rates in the country--one-third that of white women, according to a 2003 University of North Carolina study. Asked why, I began to wax rhapsodic about the grounding that spirituality gives, the grace that hardship brings and that serene majesty that often settles in on black women of a certain age.
Point being, black women are the strength and succor of their community. They are the last line of defense.
That’s why there’s something heartbreaking in what Bill Cosby recently told 500 of them, the graduating class of Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta. In his commencement address, Cosby advised the young women that they will have to assume sole responsibility for the salvation and uplift of the black community because their men, by and large, have opted out.
As quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he said: “Men as young boys are dropping out of high school, but they can memorize lyrics of very difficult rap songs and know how to braid each other’s hair.”
As quoted by the Palm Beach Post, he said, “You young women have to know it is time for you to take charge.”
As quoted by EURweb.com, a black Web site, he said, “It is time for you to pick up the pace and lead because the men are not there.”
The stark figures on incarceration and education that support Cosby are, of course, so well known as to defy repetition. And a 2003 Newsweek report tells us that increasingly, black women of education and achievement are having a hard time finding similarly situated black men.
Full disclosure: Cosby provided a blurb for the cover of my book, “Becoming Dad,” which is being reissued in June. The book makes many of the same points he's been making in recent years, so it should come as no surprise that I agree with him here. But I have a caveat:
There is nothing new about women picking up the slack for men. We take it for granted that they will do this, that they will raise the children, tend the house, anchor the community, when the men are jailed or killed or simply uninterested.
So Cosby simply told those women what, surely, they already know. And even though it was truth, it occurs to me that it’s truth that might more productively be addressed to black men.
Even iron, my father liked to say, wears out. And if iron can get tired, maybe even idealized, sentimentalized, romanticized black women can. Maybe sisters can get tired of forgiving brothers, daughters tired of making excuses for fathers, mothers tired of burying sons. And maybe, instead of telling them to be ready to shoulder the burden, Cosby should have told them to demand that men share the burden. After all, a man will generally always strive to be what a woman he adores requires him to be.
Maybe, then, black women should begin to require one thing of black men: that they be better. Better than the systemic racism of the criminal injustice system, better than all the internalized lies of inherent inferiority. Better, in the way women have long had to be.
See, my father was right. So it is neither fair nor pragmatic to ask black women to save black America. We all need to save it, or else stand by and watch as that last line is crossed.
From The New York Times...
Found in Translation: King’s ‘Dream’ Plays in Beijing
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
BEIJING — For months now, Caitrin McKiernan has gone from place to place in this city to ask Chinese people an unlikely question: What does the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you?
The questions don’t end there, either. In most of these gatherings, she gets far more specific, burrowing into the history and tactics of the American civil rights movement.
“Who knows what the Birmingham bus boycott was?” she asked a group of university students in May. “What is a sit-in?” “What’s the meaning of separate but equal?” At the level of language, every one of those terms presents a formidable challenge, even to a woman who has spent years in this country and speaks fluent Chinese.
But language is not the half of it. How can one translate Dr. King’s actions into the realm of ideas for an audience in a city notably hostile to protests? How does one convey to Chinese people the meaning of the life of a man who died fighting for civil rights nearly 40 years ago?
The answers may have begun to emerge since the production at the National Theater on Sunday of the play “Passages of Martin Luther King Jr.” by the noted King scholar Clayborne Carson and based on the life and words of the American civil rights leader. Ms. McKiernan, who studied under Mr. Carson at Stanford and is the play’s producer, was prepared for any kind of audience response, from deeply moved to completely stumped and anything in between.
But the responses of Ms. McKiernan’s discussion groups and the reactions of her cast suggested that Dr. King’s message would hit home here, that Chinese viewers would see parallels to divisions in their own society. That prospect poses a thorny problem for the government, which, on one hand, has endorsed Dr. King’s work as a blow for the class struggle and against American imperialism, but on the other insists that racism and discrimination are purely problems of decadent Western societies.
The government, however, gave the production its imprimatur, and permission to play at the prestigious theater.
A distinct possibility was that the universality of Dr. King’s message and the causes he fought for would completely escape Chinese viewers.
But the reactions Ms. McKiernan has heard so far suggest otherwise, and give her reason to hope that her dream of building a bridge between the societies by talking about peaceful struggle and universal rights has some hold on reality.
During one recent discussion at a Beijing university, after viewing excerpts from the PBS documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” students explored their feelings on the discrimination they discern between migrant workers and more affluent residents of the country’s eastern cities. Others spoke about the inferior position of women in their society or of being treated badly during visits overseas or the predominance of American power in the world.
“The significance of Martin Luther King for me is that we have to have the courage to stand up for our legitimate benefits,” said a Chinese student who identified himself as Paul.
Ms. McKiernan has avoided lecturing her audiences, or even steering the discussions. “I don’t want this to be about what happened in the U.S. in some past year,” she said. “I want this to be about what discrimination is, and how it relates to your life.”
The talks have usually begun with an explanation of how Dr. King’s life came to mean so much to her, a Californian who first came to this city at 16 as an exchange student and had to struggle to overcome cultural differences with her host family. Then she studied Dr. King in college, and she has had him on her mind ever since.
“I realized that King was this great bridge between the United States and China,” Ms. McKiernan said. “China is an emerging superpower, and the U.S. is the superpower, and King is someone that both sides believe in, and can be the starting point for a dialogue about how we wish the world to be.”
Then she sighed, and said, “But it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
The challenges have come from every direction: persuading the National Theater to accept the production, recruiting professional actors and production people, enlisting gospel singers from the United States to join the performance, doing endless and mostly fruitless fund-raising.
The American Embassy provided a modest grant, as did Stanford. But the multinational corporations that abound in Beijing proved skittish, even more than the government.
Beijing’s unexpected stake in Dr. King’s legacy is twofold, involving both past and present. The country’s slogan for the 2008 summer Olympics is “One World, One Dream,” which officials say brings to mind Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That address has been famous here since Mao Zedong hailed it in August 1963, and it is still taught in schools.
In such matters context is everything, and for Mao, Dr. King was first and foremost a symbol of “the sharpening of class struggle and national struggle within the United States.” In a speech some people here still recall today, Mao called on “enlightened persons of all colors in the world, white, black, yellow and brown, to unite to oppose the racial discrimination practiced by U.S. imperialism.”
Then, as now, Chinese people were ill prepared to discuss their country’s internal problems, a subject about which they were not educated, nor did Mao link Dr. King’s struggles to the problems of China’s ethnic minorities or, for that matter, human rights or inequality.
But to listen to the participants in Ms. McKiernan’s discussion groups, or the actors in her production, that is what many people confronted with Dr. King’s words today readily do.
“In today’s China it would seem that discriminatory actions are not so common,” said Yan Shikui, the narrator for the production. “But in fact, it is very serious. We talk about the difference between urban and rural citizens, the gap between the strong and the weak. All of these are very deep notions buried in people’s minds, which cannot be solved by using violence. They have to be addressed through ideas.”
A one-liner MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• It’s all in the family with G-Unit rappers. The mother of a G-Unit member pulled her pistol and opened fire at a wild barbecue in Queens. Technically, the mom is a correction officer — so she was using a licensed gun to return fire at shooters taking aim at party guests. But her son, G-Unit’s Jesse Brown Jr., was arrested on various charges after resisting with police who arrived on the scene. Reports claim over 30 shots were fired. Somebody better rent a metal detector for the next family get-together.
Monday, May 29, 2006
The following originally appeared in The Washington Post (for those who have noticed the ad campaign depicted above) …
For Mexicans and Americans, A Nudge to ‘Think Together’
By Frank Ahrens
Just in time for Cinco de Mayo (the celebration of Mexico's May 5, 1862, military victory over the French, for those not versed in their Mexican history) and the flare-up of the immigration debate comes the launch of http://www.matt.org/, the Web site of “Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together.”
First, let’s address the fact that Matt is about the most Anglo name you can think of. A more Spanish acronym would have resulted if the group had been named “Mexicans and Americans Taking Exception, Okay?” That would make the site “Mateo,” Spanish for Matthew.
Now, on to the nonprofit group itself.
It’s the brainchild of Lionel Sosa, Mexican American businessman success story and a friend of the Bush family and Republicans all the way back to former Texas GOP senator John Tower, who hired Sosa for the 1978 campaign. Sosa became known as a man who could deliver the Hispanic vote. He worked for President Ronald Reagan in 1980 and President Bush in 2004.
Sosa’s message -- which he says he learned from Reagan -- is that Latinos and Republicans share much -- strong family values, self-reliance, religious faith. They are natural Republican voters, but they “just don’t know it yet,” Sosa has quoted Reagan.
Perhaps to appear apolitical, the Web site of MATT.org, based in San Antonio, does not mention Sosa. The site could use much more disclosure in its “About Us” section, such as mentioning Sosa and saying where its money comes from. Sosa is mentioned in a trade press article about MATT.org that is linked to from the site.
MATT.org’s mission is: “To encourage bicultural Mexicans and Americans to understand, address and solve the major problems of our two nations to the benefit of both peoples,” according to a video on the site. Those problems include: the simultaneous U.S. reliance on undocumented Mexican labor and moves in Congress to crack down on immigration; the porous, 2,000-mile border and its capacity to deliver terrorists to the United States; an American backlash against Mexican and other Latin immigrants and their rising political and economic power here; and the debate on “free trade” vs. “fair trade,” to name a few.
America and Mexico have shared a number of things in their pasts, Texas, among them. And before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush’s main foreign interest appeared to be Mexico and his compañero President Vicente Fox, a onetime Coca-Cola executive and neighbor of the former Texas governor.
The two rode horses together like old range hands and seemed to share a vision for a more open border. For a short time, “Amexica” became a popular term for describing the growing nation-between-two-nations that runs along the border and the rising influence of Mexicans in the U.S. culture.
But the terrorist attacks waylaid much of that, and with the recent demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of legal and illegal immigrants across the country, sentiment has risen among many in Congress and across the country to tighten the border and crack down on foreign workers.
MATT.org says it provides a way for those on both sides of the border to let lawmakers know what’s on their minds. Site organizers envision it as a bipartisan sounding board.
The site is part of a large media campaign featuring radio and television spots in English and Spanish, as well as print and billboard placements. “Mexicans & Americans: Be Heard,” read the billboards. TV spots promote unity, with Latinos and Anglos saying, “We’re a lot alike.”
One spot features a testimonial by a blond American woman, saying, “it hurts me to read in the newspapers about problems going on between our two countries. Who’s solving them? Should we leave it to others? Maybe it’s time we spoke our minds.” The tagline for the ads is, “Let’s shape the future with a million clicks,” a strategy used to great effect by grass-roots Web groups such as MoveOn.org and the Parents Television Council.
Curiously, there appears to be no way for users to e-mail lawmakers, a staple of grass-roots Web activism, through MATT.org.
The site -- which charges no fees -- also includes discussion forums, registration to allow viewers to participate in opinion polls, and op-ed articles assembled from wire services in the United States and Mexico, such as a profile of three candidates for Mexican president, titled “The Three Enemigos,” saying that none of the trio is dealing effectively with the immigration issue.
The essay below appeared in The Chicago Tribune. Leave it to Mickey D’s to create a Global Moms Panel while ignoring the Global Obesity Problem. If the fast feeder really wants to learn how to “better serve the needs of mothers and families worldwide,” it would have been easier for company officials to simply read “Fast Food Nation.” Or the ingredients list of any item on their menu.
Lovin’ the global moms
McDonald’s recently announced the creation of a Global Moms Panel to provide guidance on ways that it can better serve the needs of mothers and families worldwide.
The folks at McDonald’s haven’t exactly spelled out the duties of these moms--from Argentina, China, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. Advising the fast food giant on “balanced, active lifestyle initiatives” is how a news release put it. Will this international panel of moms be giving McDonald’s advice on new items for its menu? Moms, after all, are the commanders in chief of many dinner tables and lunchboxes.
If so, McDonald’s may want to determine just what kind of mom it has installed on its panel. Is this the mom of our childhood, the mom of Velveeta and baloney sandwiches on white bread? Or is this more of a free-range organic chicken modern mom? Will she replace the McFlurry with tofu shakes and yank the extra large fries in favor of the extra large bag of carrot sticks?
How much do these moms--or any moms--really know about nutrition? It depends. In many a childhood experience, it was Mom who insisted that we eat our fried liver, which is in no way to be confused with a health food. It was Mom who cooked the life--and vitamins--out of our vegetables. Don’t even get us started on the dreaded meatloaf of uncertain provenance.
This is not to criticize Mom--honest! No one, least of all she, really knew about the potential risks in certain foods then. Now we’re bombarded with information about dietary dangers--some real, some imagined.
Feeding kids healthily isn’t easy. And it isn’t always Mom’s mission. What about global dads in this equation? Not every dad is a beer-guzzling, doughnut-worshiping Homer Simpson. Some of them are overseeing the care and particularly the feeding of their children with admirable hawkishness, deflecting demands for candy or cookies with offers of fruit or other healthier snacks. (What’s that? Laughter?)
Yes, the siren song of fast food and junk food, of grease and salt and fat, is loud and often irresistible. Many moms and dads fight those battles every day; more healthy choices at places like McDonald’s can only help.
So we wish the global moms well. We’ll be awaiting their insights into nutrition and whether they’ll provide some tips on, say, how to entice their kids into ordering the occasional salad instead of the burger. First, however, we'd like to know the moms’ stance on the critical issue of fried liver.
Monday Morning MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Michael Jackson is touring through Japan and made a stop at an orphanage in Tokyo (pictured above). Isn’t that sort of like inviting a Roman Catholic priest to a Boy Scouts convention?
• Americans are impatient, according to an Associated Press poll. Sorry, don’t have the time to come up with a smart-ass line for this one.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Nielsen Media Research came under fire for questionable measuring tactics involving minority programming. As a result, Nielsen partnered with minority advertising agencies to help create positive spin. The ad featured here represents one such effort.
Funny thing is, there’s a blatant typo in the second sentence of the body copy. So much for the company’s alleged commitment to accuracy and reliability.
Borderline insanity with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• If you build it, they will not come. The Minuteman Project is erecting a fence in Arizona to aid their anti-immigration efforts (pictured above). About 200 volunteers had gathered for the event, and a few hope to continue the barrier along the entire border. “We’re not going to stop,” said a Minuteman. “We’re going to stay here with a group and keep building.” Hey, it would go a lot quicker if they hired undocumented workers to help.
• There’s controversy brewing in the West, where undocumented workers are used to fight wildfires. In the Pacific Northwest, immigrants account for nearly half of the 5,000 private firefighters. An unspecified number may be here illegally. “I don’t think it’s in anybody’s interest, including the Forest Service, to enforce immigration — they’re benefiting from it,” said a spokesperson from one forestry company. Wonder how Smokey the Bear feels about this.
• Police and skinheads disrupted Moscow’s first gay pride parade, which had been officially banned by the city. Moscow’s mayor said such events “may be acceptable for some kind of progressive, in some sense, countries in the West, but it is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia. … As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades to be conducted.” Participants claimed the police did not prevent the skinheads from hassling marchers. “The police were encouraging the skinheads,” a supporter said. “It was disturbing but not surprising. [The mayor] spent months encouraging violence by his public homophobia.” Don’t look for Moscow’s mayor to make an appearance on Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Rocking the boat with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Minnesota Vikings players Fred Smoot and Bryant McKinnie pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges from the infamous boat party last October (see Essay 476). Smoot allegedly used sex toys on women, while McKinnie performed oral sex on another partygoer. “Hopefully next year’s party will be at the children’s hospital,” said a prosecutor on the case. Hide the children.
• A federal appeals court decided former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson was not fired for being Black with attitude. Richardson charged the school terminated him after comments made during a 2002 press conference. Richardson had said, “See, my great-great-grandfather came over on the ship, I didn’t. And I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. My great-great-grandfather came over on the ship. Not Nolan Richardson. … I did not come over on that ship, so I expect to be treated a little bit different. Because I know for a fact that I do not play on the same level as the other coaches around this school play on. I know that. You know it. And people of my color know that. And that angers me.” Richardson was fired four days after making the statements. However, school officials insist they decided to ship out Richardson prior to his speech. Interestingly, the school chancellor’s last name is White.
Movies and Manicures in a MultiCultClassics Monologue...
• Walt Disney Studios is considering layoffs, as DVD sales fall and movie production costs rise. Insiders indicate the staff cuts — which could reach up to 10 percent — may happen in July. Talk about a summer blockbuster.
• Foxy Brown is scheduled to go on trial in July for allegedly attacking salon workers for a manicure gone bad. You don’t want to be around while she’s getting her nails done for the big trial.
• Ice Cube became the latest rapper-actor to complain about Oprah. Mr. Cube claims the talk-show goddess has dissed him. “For [Ice Cube’s movie] ‘Barbershop,’ she had Cedric the Entertainer and Eve on, but I wasn’t invited,” he said. “Maybe she’s got a problem with hip-hop.” Or maybe she saw “Are We There Yet?”
Friday, May 26, 2006
The following appeared in newspapers nationwide…
Lifting the veil off ‘Latinophobia’
Immigration debate covers for an assault on a culture
by Ruben Navarrette Jr.
May 26, 2006
SAN DIEGO -- In declaring English the national language of the United States, the Senate finally did something useful.
Oh, I don’t mean the result. It was dreadful. What I mean is that the Senate did the country a service by lifting the veil and revealing what (much of) the immigration debate is really about. Here’s a hint: It ain’t immigration policy. And it ain’t pretty.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wasn’t far off the mark when he called the English language amendment racist and said it was “directed basically to people who speak Spanish.”
People don’t like to hear it, but now that much of the country has come down with a touch of “Latinophobia,” racism, nativism, ethnocentrism and other unpleasant “isms” are back in style.
I don’t have a problem with declaring English--as in a related amendment also approved by the Senate--merely a “common and unifying language.” But calling English “the national language” is more absolute, as if no other languages should be spoken. It is also unnecessary, divisive and insulting to any U.S. citizen or legal immigrant who, in addition to English, also speaks Spanish, Russian, Chinese or any other foreign language and doesn’t feel any less American because of it.
Of course, as I’ve said before, anyone who lives in the United States should learn English. But here’s the key: They should do so for their own good and for the good of their children, and not to stay in the good graces of fellow Americans desperate to remain culturally relevant amid changing demographics.
Don’t confuse this with requiring that illegal immigrants learn English if they want a path to legal status. These people shouldn’t even be here in the first place, and so the United States has every right to set the conditions under which they can stay.
But what about the Puerto Rican in Connecticut who was a U.S. citizen at birth because Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth, or the Cuban-American in Florida who came to the United States legally in accordance with the Cuban Adjustment Act, or the Mexican-American whose family has lived in Arizona for six generations? These people and their children have worked hard, paid taxes, gone to war and defended this country against enemies foreign and domestic. These people may speak both English and Spanish, but why should they be made to feel as if the only way to be authentically American is to speak only English and drop the Spanish?
Besides, what’s the point? The Senate vote was entirely symbolic. While declaring that government should “preserve and enhance” the role of English, the Senate did not do away with bilingual education or bilingual ballots. And the vote won’t have any effect on what really drives many Americans loco (if I can still say that)--namely, efforts by companies to advertise and otherwise communicate in Spanish in hope of getting their slice of more than $700 billion in annual spending power rattling around in the pockets of the nation’s 40 million Latinos. The vote was also cravenly political. It was red meat tossed to the radical fringe of the Republican Party to help make more palatable what the administration really wants: a comprehensive reform plan that combines enforcement with guest workers, with the possibility of legalization for at least some of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants.
And yet, the Senate vote--and the public support for it--did serve a purpose. It proved once and for all that, despite the insistence by many Americans that their only concern is with illegal immigration, the truth is more complicated. We’d be more honest to admit that if there is one toxin that this country has never gotten out of its bloodstream, it’s a resentment of immigrants and foreigners regardless of their status.
The vote made clear that what worries many Americans is not just the fact that people are coming illegally, but the impact they’re having on the culture and the rest of society once they get here. After all, if the only issue is that people enter the country legally, what difference does it make what language they speak once they get here?
And last, senators confirmed the suspicions of many U.S.-born Latinos that they’re in the cultural crosshairs, that many of those who claim to only be anti-illegal immigrant are really anti-Latino and anti-Mexican, and that the immigration debate has become a proxy for an assault on the language and culture of a minority that is, in parts of the country, on its way to becoming a majority.
Like I said, the real motive behind all this is not pretty. But at least now it’s out in the open.
MultiCultClassics presents Blacks & Booze…
Looks like Martell produced a campaign of Black hands folded/praying before the product (see Essay 624).
Now the headline reads: I will not play ball. But I will master the game.
Good, because it’s dangerous to drink and drive to the basket.
Suits and shoots in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Ford Motor Company is being sued by 22 former and current employees who charge the automaker discriminates against Blacks. Lawsuits were filed between April 2004 and January 2006. One incident occurred in November 2004 when a worker emailed his supervisor to inquire about a raise. The response email read, “Now you listen to me nigger you will never receive a pay increase at Ford as long as I’m manager.” While Ford acknowledges the email was sent, no proof existed that it was actually sent by the supervisor. Others claim they were denied promotions. “I’ve been with the company for 29 years,” said another employee. “I have a bachelor’s and master’s degrees and I never made entry-level management. … I’ve done everything that I needed to do and still I cannot break that glass ceiling to entry-level management. It is sexism, it’s racism, it’s all of the ‘isms.’” Ford’s new advertising slogan is, “Bold Moves.” But it looks like the automaker is executing some old moves.
• Kanye West provided an impromptu performance during the current trial accusing West and Ludacris of ripping off other rappers’ rhymes (see Essay 623). The judge asked West to recite lines from the 2001 hit “Stand Up,” and the artist proceeded to deliver the obscenity-filled lyrics. The jurors burst into laughter. IOF, the opposing rap group, probably failed to laugh — but more than likely started to spout profanities.
• Rapper Beanie Sigel was wounded by gunfire during an attempted holdup. After treatment at a Philadelphia hospital, Sigel called out from his ride, “I got shot. I’m cool.” Just another day at the office.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The story below appeared in The Christian Science Monitor. Apparently, Mexican President Vicente Fox was wrong when proclaiming, “There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even Blacks want to do there in the United States.”
Rising black-Latino clash on jobs
By Daniel B. Wood
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
LOS ANGELES - From where Johnny Blair Vaughn sits outside Lucy Florence Coffee House in the heart of Los Angeles's black community, he can feel the temperature rising over immigration.
The biggest reason, says the father of seven, is jobs.
“If you drive across this city, you will see 99 percent of all construction is being done by Hispanics.... You will see no African-American males on these sites, and that is a big change,” says Mr. Vaughn, who has worked in construction for two decades. His two oldest boys, in their early 20s, have been turned down so many times for jobs — as framers, roofers, cement layers — that they no longer apply, he says.
While Los Angeles is ground zero for black-Hispanic friction these days, echoes of Vaughn’s words are rising throughout urban black America as Congress labors over immigration reform. In cities where almost half of the young black men are unemployed, a debate is raging over whether Latinos — undocumented and not — are elbowing aside blacks for jobs in stores, restaurants, hotels, manufacturing plants, and elsewhere.
Hispanics and blacks tend to gravitate to the same inner-city areas and low-skill labor markets — and the result is a clash over jobs that require less skill and less education, experts say.
“In this era of mass immigration, no group has benefited less or been harmed more than the African-American population,” says Vernon Briggs, a Cornell University professor who researches immigration policy and the American labor force.
Yet a precise relationship between the presence of immigrants and the loss of black jobs has not been clearly proven in research. Rather, the influx of legal and illegal immigrants has been so massive that it has affected the internal migration of native-born Americans to the point where “economists have given up trying to prove a one-to-one-displacement,” says Dr. Briggs.
Some Latino groups, meanwhile, counter that such a correlation is more a perception than a reality.
“We are fighting ... hearsay and opinion,” says Randy Jurado Ertll, a Hispanic educational consultant and director of El Centro de Acción Social, Inc., a community service organization in Pasadena, Calif. “Blacks say, ‘Hey a Latino immigrant came and took my job,’ and some Latinos say, ‘Blacks have all the jobs at the post office or city hall and don’t want to give jobs to Latinos.’”
Statistics show that young African-Americans are having trouble in the job market. Unemployment among young blacks nationwide is 40 percent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “For blacks, the growing presence of immigrant workers adds to the formidable obstacles they face in finding a job,” said a Pew Research Center study released in April. Among blacks, 78 percent say jobs are difficult to find in their community compared to only 55 percent of Hispanics.
Many economists disagree that immigration is the reason black unemployment is high. Instead, shrinking budgets for job training and creation, industry downsizing and manufacturing flight to foreign countries are to blame.
Yet the perception that Hispanic immigrant workers are pushing blacks aside in the job market is evident in many cities with a high black population including Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, and Denver, Briggs says.
“Latinos and blacks are at each others’ throats in our jails and in our high schools,” says Najee Ali, an activist based in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Mr. Ali notes that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had to intervene after several high school brawls broke out between Hispanics and blacks in recent months. Riots in the Los Angeles County Jail — the nation’s largest — came about in part because of tensions on the streets between black and Hispanic gangs, observers say.
“Undocumented immigration that is taking jobs from blacks is the number one issue nationwide. Unless we address it, the same kind of eruptions we are seeing in Los Angeles will jump to these other cities as Latino populations increase there,” he says.
Others point out that tensions between blacks and Hispanics are not new and are not tied solely to immigration. They also result from a competition for housing, education, and healthcare due to the sheer number of Latinos — they are the largest and fastest-growing minority group. Hispanics’ increasing political clout as well as recent immigrants-rights demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands Hispanic immigrants in dozens of cities have roiled many in the black community.
“It angers me because I know that the jobs immigrants are coming to get are not just the ones they got in the past ... seasonal jobs for picking,” says Vaughn. “They got a glimpse of what America is, and they want a piece of the American pie. I can’t blame them ... but there has to be a way for the government to step in and make it fairer so that African-Americans can be employed also.”
A vast majority of blacks, including Vaughn, believe Latin American immigrants are hard working, according to the poll taken by the Pew Research Center. Blacks are also more sympathetic than whites to the plights of immigrants.
They remember their own struggle to gain civil rights and the help that Latinos offered during the 1960s.
“The battle over immigrant rights will be fought as fiercely and doggedly as the civil rights battle of the 1960s. That battle forever altered the way Americans look at race. The immigrants-rights battle will profoundly alter the way Americans look at immigrants,” says Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author of nine books on the black experience.
Today, the black community is split over how to address immigration. The NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights generally support the immigrant marches. They’re against exposing all illegal immigrants to felony charges as outlined in a bill passed by the US House in December. A California Field Poll in April found that 82 percent of blacks instead support a US Senate measure, which would give undocumented workers currently in the US for more than five years the opportunity of citizenship.
But a vocal subset of blacks has a different view. Choose Black America, a coalition of business, academic, and community leaders, formed this week to advocate for stronger border security and not allow illegal immigrants to become citizens.
In April, a band of protesters marched in front of the office of Rep. Maxine Waters (D) of California because she, along with the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, supports citizenship for illegal immigrants. Blacks also have “singed the phone lines at black radio talk shows with anti-immigrant tirades” and “bombarded black newspapers with letters blasting illegal immigrants,” says Hutchinson.
“It’s definitely one of the hottest topics on talk radio I’ve ever seen,” says Greg Johnson, marketing director of KJLH, a leading black radio station in Los Angeles. The majority of callers favor more conservative enforcement solutions to immigration, but the station is getting callers on all sides, he says.
“Some are adamant to get them [immigrants] out; others say, ‘let’s work with them;’ and others say ‘let’s figure out how to regulate it,’” says Mr. Johnson. “Some of the stress I’m seeing I don’t understand. Blacks are divided on this issue and it needs to be talked out ... Latino/black relationships have to be resolved. We all live in the same neighborhoods we are part of the same community.”
Despite these differences, some in the black community are seeking to build an alliance that lifts both blacks and Latinos.
With Rev. Sharpton and Christine Chavez, the daughter of United Farm Workers founder Cezar Chavez, Ali is expanding a national black and Hispanic coalition in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Washington, and New York — modeled after efforts started here last August. The groups are trying to find common ground on jobs, housing, education, healthcare, and controlling gangs.
Mr. Ertll says his group wants to meet at both the official and grass-roots levels to address the concern of low-income jobs for all ethnicities.
But some do not agree with construction worker Vaughn and others who say that Hispanics are a threat to blacks trying to find work.
“Yes, immigrants are coming in to take the jobs, but if you really put your mind to it, you can get one,” says Jamal Dillard, 18, who just got hired as a courtesy clerk at Albertsons grocery for $6.75 per hour.
Some Hispanic and black thinkers agree that many American employers are taking advantage of both groups.
“It is past time for all African-Americans to understand that our interests and those of immigrants are not at odds,” wrote Sharpton in a reply to critics. “Those truly concerned about economic fairness would be better off targeting businesses that exploit and underpay illegal immigrants to the detriment of American workers.”
That detriment is the bidding down of wages for all lower-income jobs.
“The real culprits are the employers who work people 12 to 14 hours a day at $8 an hour or less without having to pay payroll taxes or provide any other form of benefits,” says Ernesto Nieto, president of the National Hispanic Institute. “To direct blame to people in need because of American greed is to beg the question of who’s really at fault here and who’s really playing by the rules.”
Making comebacks in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Alleged misogynist and adman Neil French is reportedly launching a new awards show. Hey, the advertising industry definitely needs another awards show. Wonder if the competition will be open to women.
• DiversityInc.com wonders if former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina lost her job because she was a woman playing in a traditionally male arena. The computer company appears to be profiting under the concepts and structures Fiorina created. DiversityInc.com wrote: “When male CEOs formulate a plan and execute it, they are described as bold, mavericks and visionary. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina did just that and got fired.” Neil French probably thinks Fiorina is “crap.”
• Responding to the recent news of an age discrimination lawsuit filed against McCann-Erickson (see Essay 621), AdAge.com posted the following question: “Do you think that the changing media environment is fueling age discrimination at ad agencies?” On Wednesday, the yes votes tallied 81 percent. Not convinced the changing media environment is fueling age discrimination; rather, deep-rooted discrimination is fueling age discrimination. The changing media environment is simply a convenient excuse.
• Michael Jackson lost his appeal to maintain undisputed custody of his kids. A February 15 ruling reinstated parental rights to ex-wife Debbie Rowe, who had relinquished her rights in 2001. Jackson sought to appeal the decision, but his effort was rejected. No word if Rowe will also seek parental rights for pet chimp Bubbles.
• Janet Jackson lost 60 pounds. She claims she gained weight for a movie role, which ultimately went to Mariah Carey. Janet must have felt like a raging bull.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Reading the legal copy in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Ludacris (pictured above) and Kanye West are being sued for allegedly ripping off other rappers’ rhymes. A group called IOF and their managers believe the 2003 hit “Stand Up” is too similar to their tune, “Straight Like That.” The rapper superstars call the charges ludicrous and insist IOU nothing, IOF.
• The U.S. Senate voted on a measure that would double the fines imposed on companies hiring undocumented workers. Employers could be charged up to $20,000 under the new rules. Hey, where does all the money collected from these fines inevitably go? Maybe Rep. William Jefferson knows (see Essay 619).
• Indian students in Arizona are protesting a mandate that may prohibit them from wearing eagle feathers in their graduation caps. Tribal elders and family members traditionally give feathers to students to honor their graduation achievement. But the Mesa School Board is enforcing the anti-feather rule. However, the students are encouraged to enroll at the University of Illinois, where they can join the school’s Chief Illiniwek mascot (pictured below).
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The article below appeared in the latest issue of Advertising Age. The MultiCultClassics response immediately follows…
Digital Future Poses Threat of Ad-Industry Ageism
Discrimination Lawsuit Seen by Some as Harbinger
By Matthew Creamer
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The ad industry’s march into the digital future could lead to some early retirements for Madison Avenue’s baby-boomer executives.
Age discrimination lawsuits could become more of a problem for the industry as large ad agencies refit themselves for a digital world.
A lawsuit filed earlier this month by a longtime McCann Erickson media executive who alleges he was wrongfully terminated because of his age is drawing attention to what one executive recruiter calls “the elephant in the room.” While the issue of age discrimination has long been a wrinkle for a youth-obsessed profession, the intense pressure from marketers for guidance on how to survive in the fast-evolving media world, now forcing dramatic changes in so many agencies, is likely only to exacerbate it.
“With the digital age, there are so many things that are new that having 15, 20 or 25 years of experiences can actually be a disadvantage,” said Amy Hoover, exec VP at recruiter Talent Zoo. “It’s no secret that this is a young person’s business, and I don’t have the solution to that problem.”
In the past few years, that’s only become more apparent, as it’s now standard operating procedure for ad agencies to make bold statements about the need to equip themselves for a consumer-controlled media landscape. Iconic agency names have been altered, creative departments have been turned over, top managers have been fired and org charts have been rewritten-all in the name of change.
‘youth instead of experience’
Former Universal McCann exec VP George Hayes’ lawsuit against his former employer and its parent, Interpublic Group of Cos., is interesting because it arises out of that very language. Universal McCann, which last year brought in new leadership to stem a couple of years of client losses, is now in the midst of attempting a turnaround, having made management shifts in recent months in important regions as well as in its global ranks.
In papers filed in New York State Supreme Court, Mr. Hayes, 54, argues that new Worldwide CEO Nick Brien “has value[d] youth instead of experience and desired younger persons in place of older persons and acted upon his discriminatory preference by terminating older persons because of their age.” Mr. Hayes, who had worked at McCann Erickson since 1975 in various capacities, including launching McCann’s spot-buying unit for former media-buying client General Motors, is seeking $30 million in damages.
Mr. Hayes points to a series of meetings in which Mr. Brien displayed the alleged bias, including one in New York in which the new chief executive “stated that the young people in the group ‘got it’ when it came to the ‘new media’ of the digital age, that ‘things will be different around here.’”
That’s the kind of talk that can send shivers up the spine of a human-resources person or agency manager. “I worry about it, and I’m sensitized to it,” said one agency CEO who requested anonymity. “But I’ve found this isn’t about age. It’s about finding people who display intellectual curiosity.”
Talent Zoo’s Ms. Hoover said many agencies aren’t looking for that, especially since 9/11, when a lot of big salaries were dumped as part of broader layoffs. “I’ve interviewed hundreds of senior-level executives who have had to make dramatic changes in lifestyle and who aren’t finding positions,” she said. “I often encourage them to look outside this industry.”
One employment-law expert said agencies need to be careful when attributing abilities, skills and talents to one age group over another.
“Agencies can’t have decision-making based on stereotypes in culture,” said John Dickman, a partner at the Chicago law firm Winston & Strawn. “They also have to give older employees the same opportunities to succeed or fail as everyone else.”
Love the last comment:
“Agencies can’t have decision-making based on stereotypes in culture. … They also have to give older employees the same opportunities to succeed or fail as everyone else.”
The legal eagle is obviously unfamiliar with the advertising industry, as agencies have practiced decision-making based on stereotypes in culture since the very beginning. Looks like ageism offers new possibilities for discrimination and exclusivity on Madison Avenue.
The viewpoint below appeared in the latest issue of Advertising Age. The MultiCultClassics response immediately follows…
Here’s how to harness the Hispanic market
Marketers who look long-term and avoid assumptions can come closer to capturing that elusive Latino demographic
By CHIQUI CARTAGENA
As tv and cable networks unveil their programming plans for next year, there is huge buzz around the fact that some-in an effort to stop the corrosion of their audiences-are borrowing a page from their Spanish-language counterparts and warming up to the idea of the telenovela, a type of Spanish-language soap that drives millions of viewers every day in the United States and around the world.
The interest, no doubt, comes as a result of the success of “Desperate Housewives,” which is nothing more than a telenovela in the true sense of the genre. ABC recently announced plans to roll out “Betty the Ugly,” based on a popular Colombian telenovela that reigned supreme on Telemundo a few years ago, and NBC is leveraging its knowledge of the Hispanic market by developing an English-language telenovela called “Body of Desire.” But many people in the TV industry still ask themselves: “Will this new format work in the general market and, more important, will English-dominant Hispanics watch?”
This quandary is the same for all marketers looking to tap into the growing Hispanic market no matter what products they are trying to sell. The reality is that most marketers are as “Lost” as the characters in the ABC hit drama when it comes to the Latino market. The problem is exacerbated even more by the level of ignorance that “general-market” executives exhibit toward this market. After 20 years of advising executives in corporate America about how to enter the relatively uncharted waters of the Hispanic market, I have to come realize that, invariably, they all make the same mistakes. Here, then, are a few to avoid:
1. Don’t make assumptions about the Hispanic market.
I’m always shocked by the number of companies that go to market with Hispanic efforts without ever doing any research. The first thing you need to do before you can successfully sell your products to Latinos is understand who your target market really is and what they know (or don’t know) about your product or brand.
Hispanics are different. Unlike most other immigrant groups in the United States, Latinos have been able to hold on to their language and culture, thanks to the geographic proximity of Latin America and the ease with which one can travel and communicate with friends and family back home; the constant flow (both legal and illegal) of Hispanic immigrants, which refreshes the number of predominantly Spanish-speakers; and the growth of Spanish-language media in the United States. These three factors have slowed the natural process of assimilation. Don't get me wrong: Assimilation is taking place, but at a much slower pace than most people ever imagined.
Another factor slowing the process of assimilation is the fact that now everything Latino is cool. Whereas before, children of Hispanic immigrants may have wanted to hide their roots, now they proudly display them by speaking Spanish not only with their families but also with friends at school.
2. Don’t assume all Latinos speak only Spanish.
While the usage of the Spanish language is not going away and will continue to be a critical factor in this market for years to come, the reality is that Latinos are becoming more bicultural and bilingual. You often will see data claiming that 75% of all Latinos speak some Spanish, while other data claim the complete opposite-that 75% speak some English.
Guess what? Both statistics are true, because roughly half of all Hispanics are bilingual and the rest are more or less evenly split between Spanish-dominants and English-dominants. The main point here is that a growing number of Latinos are actually bilingual and bicultural, especially the younger generations that either were born in the United States or immigrated at a very young age. This group of bilingual Latinos is often referred to as “acculturated.”
Acculturated Latinos live in two worlds: the English world of work or school and the Spanish world of family and friends. They are unique in that they choose which language to use depending on the situation and their needs at the moment. The fact is that “language switching” is a reality in the Hispanic market. Why should this matter? Because contrary to the popular notion that you are reaching the Hispanic market through a Spanish-language media buy, the reality is that you are only reaching part of it. Smart marketers are starting to realize that they must advertise in both languages.
3. Don’t enter the Hispanic market without making a commitment.
There are more Hispanics in the United States than there are Canadians in Canada. However, when companies are considering the Hispanic market, they think in terms of “test.” Because of that short-term mentality, their Hispanic efforts usually are underfunded and not really well-thought-out. The result, more often than not, is a complete disaster, and then everyone throws his hands up in the air and says: “Oh well, we tried, but it didn’t work.” Do you really want to enter this market with a mediocre effort that could taint your brand for years to come with this increasingly important demographic? If you are looking for growth for your business in the future, start by making a commitment to the Hispanic market and putting your best people to work on a long-term plan.
4. Don’t be fooled by a Hispanic surname.
I’m always amazed at how stupid some very smart executives can be regarding the Hispanic market. Once they have decided to do a Hispanic project, their knee-jerk reaction is to assign someone with a Hispanic surname to lead the project. Truth be told, it was not that long ago that just about any Tom, Dick or Harry-or should I say Jose, Rafael or Maria-would get the job without having the first clue about what to do. There is a big difference between a “professional Latino” and a “Latino professional.”
5. Don’t think that this market is monolithic.
This is a fast-growing market in an incredibly dynamic marketplace. As a result, what we know about the Hispanic market today will change in a year or two. But perhaps the most important thing to note is that the Hispanic market has been slowly shifting from one that was predominantly foreign-born, 20 years ago, to one that is predominantly U.S.-born. Studies show that foreign-born Latinos are very different than U.S.-born Latinos. They tend to be older and more conservative in their views on family, religion and politics. They also tend to be less educated and have lower household incomes. It’s this younger, more educated Latino with a higher household income that everyone wants to capture. I guess we will soon find out if they tune in to “Betty the Ugly” or not.
[Chiqui Cartagena is managing director-multicultural communications, Meredith Integrated Marketing and author of “Latino Boom! Everything you Need to Grow your Business in the U.S. Hispanic Market.”]
It’s always sobering (and slightly depressing) to discover that these arguments must still be presented — for nearly every minority segment in the U.S.
Here are a few reasons behind the mistakes presented by Ms. Cartagena:
1. Clients make assumptions about the Hispanic market because they’re cheap, lazy and ignorant. The cheapness often inspires the decision to forgo any sort of research. Besides, it’s easier to conduct down-and-dirty focus groups with corporate cafeteria and janitorial services employees — or personal housekeepers. And if the agency folks are Latinos, well, they should inherently know everything, right?
2. Clients assume all Latinos speak only Spanish. They also assume all Latinos eat tacos 24/7, dance to Salsa music, wear sombreros and beat piñatas. If any or all of these elements are not blatantly visible in a layout or storyboard, don’t expect to sell the concept. Remember, you don’t have research to dispute the need for such stereotypical imagery.
3. Clients almost always enter the Hispanic market with a commitment. Unfortunately, it’s a commitment to keep funding significantly lower than general market efforts, develop project-based, short-term objectives and assign the initiatives to segregated — and even junior-level — executives.
4. Clients are routinely fooled by anyone even remotely Latino. Most clients would gladly hand over their segregated business to Cameron Diaz or Martin Sheen without a second thought. Additionally, general market agencies are notorious for trotting out their resident minorities and positioning them as bona fide experts.
5. Clients MUST think of the Hispanic market as monolithic. Otherwise, they would have to allocate more financial resources to their Hispanic marketing. Instead, the general market efforts will continue to receive the lion’s share of budgets, with generous sub-segmentation. But Hispanic efforts shall cover the entire market with limited messages and money; in other words, the (stereo)typical Hispanic spot must speak to every living Latino regardless of demographics, psychographics or any other distinguishing characteristic.
Again, the points above can be applied to all minority segments in the U.S. with minor modifications.
ProTesting our Patience with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• A South Carolina student (pictured above, center) protested her high school’s ban on clothes displaying the Confederate flag. She’s also challenging the ban in court, claiming she wants to honor ancestors who fought in the Civil War. More than likely, she’s just a die-hard Dukes of Hazzard fan. (Oh, and the “Southern Chicks” shirt she’s holding in the photo is a solemn tribute.)
• PETA named Prince the “world’s sexiest vegetarian.” Let’s all celebrate with Chex Party Mix like it’s 1999.
• Author Studs Terkel and other professionals filed a lawsuit against AT&T, seeking to bar the phone company from providing customers’ calling records to the National Security Agency. “Having been blacklisted from working in television during the McCarthy era, I know the harm of government using private corporations to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans,” remarked Terkel in a statement. “When government uses the telephone companies to create massive databases of all our phone calls it has gone too far.” Yeah, the government should just go back to using illegal wiretaps and high-tech surveillance devices.
• Rep. William Jefferson continues to dispute charges that he illegally accepted money (see Essay 615). “There are two sides to every story; there are certainly two sides to this story,” said Jefferson. “There will be an appropriate time and forum when that can be explained.” OK, but at this point, it appears the two sides of the story are Jefferson’s version and the truth.
• A federal judge nixed a lawsuit against NBC Universal for creating a parody of hip-hop clothing company FUBU. The 2001 film “How High” featured a fake line of clothes called BUFU — By Us, Fuck You. FUBU (For Us, By Us) complained the gag hurt their reputation. Guess the judge’s ultimate statement was, “FU FUBU.”
Here’s another collection of corporations boasting about their commitment to diversity.
What do they all have in common?
These advertisers partner with ad agencies demonstrating zero commitment to diversity.
Sure, some of the advertisers will compensate by also hiring minority ad shops. But does that really address the core dilemma — or simply perpetuate the industry’s segregation and exclusivity?
(Click on the essay title above to review related rants.)
Monday, May 22, 2006
Cold case in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Looks like Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana is busted (pictured above). The man was videotaped taking $100,000 from a Northern Virginia investor wearing a wire. FBI agents later found $90,000 stashed in Jefferson’s freezer. Talk about getting caught with cold, hard cash. Of course, Jefferson vehemently denies all accusations. During the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, New Orleans was a graveyard of discarded refrigerators. Most residents would have loved swapping their Frigidaire for Jefferson’s.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Winners and losers in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Lionel Richie (pictured above) is big in Iraq. Iraqis who can’t utter a word of English still belt out Richie’s tunes with reckless abandon. Why is the crooner so popular there? Richie believes the mystique is rooted in the core message of his work — Love. Hey, Iraq sounds like the perfect locale for Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie to stage The Simple Life.
• Even members of the National Guard are unsure about the decision to deploy troops to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. One soldier remarked, “It’s not the right thing to patrol the border, ‘cause that’s not what they’re for. … You’re taking people from high-stress areas; you’re putting them somewhere they don’t belong. People are going to be getting killed. It could be detrimental.” Or it could be a dream come true for The Minuteman Project.
• A new underground video game is sparking controversy because it’s based on the infamous Columbine shooting. “Super Columbine Massacre RPG” lets players assume the roles of real-life shooters Eric Harris (pictured below) and Dylan Klebold, attacking victims in the high school. The game’s creator claims it was made as an “indictment of our society at large,” and also because he’s a bullied kid who related to the actual killers. Regardless of his high score, the guy sounds like a total loser.
• Ray Nagin is a winner in New Orleans, retaining his mayoral title. “It’s time for us to stop the bickering,” he said. “It’s time for us to stop measuring things in black and white and yellow and Asian. It’s time for us to be one New Orleans.” He then thanked voters of The Chocolate City for their support.
• Barry Bonds matched Babe Ruth by belting his 714th homerun in Oakland (pictured below). Although for most fans, Bonds’ record will always feature a major-league asterisk.