Monday, December 31, 2007
For the advertising industry, 2007 presented plenty of cultural cluelessness, insensitivity, stupidity and more—punctuated with a few signs of progress. See if you can tell which is which. The New York City Commission on Human Rights unveiled the minority hiring goals for Madison Avenue shops that pledged to improve. The figures are confusing and inconsistent, with no universal definition of what constitutes a minority. The agencies were scheduled to submit report cards at the end of the year, but no one has gone public with results so far. Wonder if they’ll grade on a Bell Curve. In January, Tim Arnold wrote an inane Adweek viewpoint on diversity and blues music, earning the title of Patented Purveyor of Passive Bias. In August, he played an encore performance with another blues-inspired editorial. Tim the One Trick Pony is giving us the blues. While agencies plotted tactics for minority recruiting, McCann Erickson appointed three executives to spearhead the agency’s efforts. Given the account losses at McCann, it’ll be amazing if the trio survives. Should the agency fail to keep IHOP, maybe it can pick up pancake maven Aunt Jemima and count her toward the minority quota. Snickers aired a homophobic spot on the Super Bowl, making GLAAD mad. General Motors followed through with its suicidal robot spot, probably making The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention contemplate homicide. Advertising Age upset folks with a story criticizing the AAF Most Promising Minority Students Program. Burrell Communications Group justified its clichéd Black History Month advertising with a study on Blacks’ attitudes about Black History Month. A 4As conference in Las Vegas held a diversity panel, but the audience wasn’t very diverse—or interested. Dads spanked Arnold for its Fidelity campaign. Former Marketing y Medios leader Laura Martinez launched a new blog, while former controversial icon Uncle Ben was relaunched as a company chairman. Edward F. Boyd, the Pepsi adman who broke color barriers via one of the original marketing campaigns projecting positive Black lifestyles, passed away on April 30. Don Imus sparked a debate at Advertising Age, and the shock jock received backing from General Motors and Jerry Della Femina. From the wonderful trend-spotting guru who gave you wiggers, Marian Salzman identified Muslim Americans as a potential revenue generator for advertisers. The AdColor Awards were a potential goodwill generator for advertisers and agencies (but MultiCultClassics questions the judges passing on Hadji Williams in favor of Magic Johnson). Frank L. White, the man who portrayed Cream of Wheat icon Rastus, got a grave marker nearly 70 years after his death. AdAge.com’s Small Agency Diary displayed small-minded thinking, as Hadji Williams staged back-to-back bouts with Bart Cleveland and Marc Brownstein. Brownstein, incidentally, was classified as a culturally clueless critter in 2006. The stereotypical arguments regarding minority hiring prompted a stereotypical MultiCultClassics rant. IPG boosted its minority percentages by buying Steve Stoute’s Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging. Asians weren’t buying the idiotic imagery from Stride Gum and Hot Pockets. Intel bowed to public outrage and apologized for its bowing Black men. The exclusivity on Madison Avenue was exposed via the excruciatingly dull AMC series Mad Men. Levi’s went both ways by editing two versions of the same commercial, one for general audiences and one for the GLBT market. Mickey D’s made Twista go away, cutting the rapper from its McDonald’s Live Tour. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that the government has been doing a lousy job of awarding advertising and public relations contracts to small and minority firms. Senator John Kerry declared, “This report shines a spotlight on the federal government’s failure to make equal opportunity a reality, not just rhetoric.” The 4As shined a spotlight on the largest graduating class for its Multicultural Advertising Intern Program. Advertising Age spotlighted a variety of issues under The Big Tent, a blog starring a slew of provocative and spirited thought leaders. Just For Men colored its campaign with the paranoia rooted in ageism. AAF President-CEO Wally Snyder and 4As President-CEO O. Burtch Drake retired, and the duo delivered similar bullshit on industry diversity. A consumer group accused Unilever of hypocrisy for the contradicting themes behind Dove and Axe. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown, but The Franklin Blog kicks ass. After spotting an actual diversity recruitment ad from JWT, MultiCultClassics belched out a bunch of parody messages. Telenovela drama ensued when the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies blasted blogger Laura Martinez. Marketing y Medios was discontinued as an occasional insert in Brandweek, Mediaweek and Adweek—and Adweek may soon follow, confirming plans to print on a bi-weekly basis. Creative director Steve Biegel revealed the rampant sexual discrimination in the business by suing his ex-employers at Dentsu for forcing him to patronize a whorehouse. Plus, Biegel supplemented the sex charges with anti-Semitism. The revamped Uncle Ben required a redo when consumer reactions included eye-rolling rejection. Kahlúa’s curious caricatures of Mexican natives invited savage complaints. Irish Americans were irked when Arby’s choreographed chimps executing a traditional Irish step dance. BBDO’s pro-bono campaign to raise awareness of children’s mental and neurological disorders wound up causing anguish and distress for the parents being targeted. Sanford Moore, the man who ignited the latest New York City Commission on Human Rights investigation, chipped in his two cents twice. Cliff Franklin of FUSE Advertising also mounted a soapbox. Omnicom essentially admitted spending its first year officially tackling diversity by assembling a special committee to tackle diversity. Yet General Motors is the biggest loser for 2007, experiencing a PR pileup involving the suicidal robot, supportive words for Don Imus and multicultural agency shifts gone horribly awry—thanks to alleged misreporting by the media that roused Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. In closing, MultiCultClassics salutes everyone who contributed to the listed events and expresses sincere gratitude to all visitors and friends. Let’s hope for a prosperous and progressive 2008.