Friday, August 31, 2007
Wondering aloud in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• An audiotape interview between Sen. Larry Craig and the officer who busted him for naughty behavior in an airport restroom was made public (see Essay 4390). During the interview, the cop accused Craig of lying. “You’re not being truthful with me,” said the officer. “I’m kind of disappointed in you, senator. … I expect this from the guy we get out of the ‘hood. I mean people vote for you. Unbelievable.” Wonder if Craig cruises toilet stalls in the ‘hood too.
• A cop in Houston was suspended by a school district for distributing a “Ghetto Handbook,” complete with a guide to Ebonics. “This publication was completely reprehensible and [Houston Independent School District] condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” wrote the HISD superintendent. Wonder if there’s a section about Sen. Larry Craig in the ‘hood.
• A study by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine shows Americans would prefer to sacrifice sleep versus giving up their leisure time activities. Wonder if Sen. Larry Craig is very sleepy.
AMC series Mad Men ended its three-week streak of depicting zero non-White minorities—presenting a whopping two Black men in a single episode. However, they were recurring caricatures: the guy selling sandwiches who originally appeared in the second installment and the elevator attendant who showed up in the third. The elevator attendant even displayed a bug-eyed reaction to Campbell showing up for work with a rifle. O Lawd!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
From Advertising Age’s The Big Tent…
An Inconvenient Mexican
For Some, I’m Not Hispanic Enough
By Laura Martinez
Growing up in Mexico City, I thought my family and friends were kind of an oddity because we didn’t look like the Scandinavian types dominating the airwaves and the outdoor advertisements. Happy blond, blue-eyed people were everywhere pitching sodas, insurance, airlines and cars. At night the 9 o’clock telenovela invariably brought us a story about a good, virginal maid who was also very light skinned and for some reason ended up in the arms of the rich home-owner (who by the way always sported a compound name such as Alberto Manuel or Roberto Alejandro). People in the ads did not look like the people we saw in our everyday lives simply because, as my creative director friend later explained to me, the point was to send a message that was “aspirational”; that is, to have people aspire to be more stylish, more wealthy, more … blond?
That was then -- and there. But now after nine years in the U.S., exposed to Hispanic-targeted media and so-called “Hispanic-specific advertising,” I feel like an oddity again, because I don’t seem to fit the “type” of Hispanic people the media insists on portraying, and researchers insist on “researching.”
Take my recent brush with a focus-group recruiter who called to ask if I would be interested in participating in a focus group among Mexican women ages 31-50 living in the New York City area. “Sure!” I thought. After all, I had nothing much to do and was going to walk away $50 richer. Mind you, it was not only the 50 bucks that caught my attention. I was perfect for the gig. I am a Mexican who speaks Spanish (duh!), still between the ages of 31 and 50 and, most importantly, I live very near the place where the focus group was to take place. But then came the pre-screening process, an excruciating 10-minute phone interview, which I failed miserably (and it was in Spanish).
It went sort of like this:
--Which brand of facial cream do you use at night?
--None. I don’t wear night cream.
--OK. Which is your cellphone provider?
--Oh … [long pause] … What about education? Did you finish elementary school?
--I have a BA in Journalism so I guess you can say I did.
--Are you married?
--I’m sorry chica, you just don’t qualify for our test, but we’ll keep you posted on our upcoming focus groups.
Although I’m still trying to figure out the connection between the cellphone and the night cream, I realized that having an education but not a husband was too much for these researchers to bear. I am sure someone out there perusing over the data figured I was simply not the type of Mexican they were looking for.
The whole incident was actually funny and gave me a story to blog about, but at the same time I could not help but wonder: Why can’t marketers and advertisers just acknowledge that Latin Americans (and everyone else for that matter) come in all sizes, shapes and colors? Why do they insist on giving us only Hispanic-looking dolls? (I grew up playing with Barbie and Ken, for God’s sake!) I guess marketers are right when they say I am simply not the target of their multicultural efforts, but one thing I’m pretty sure of: For matters concerning marketing and advertising, I am simply an inconvenient Mexican.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Jiminy! It’s another MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Sen. Larry Craig is now proclaiming he’s not gay, while another man is claiming he had sex with the elected official in a train-station restroom. “I am not gay. I never have been gay,” declared the senator, who was arrested in June for soliciting an undercover cop in an airport restroom (see Essay 4387). “I don’t go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn’t do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!” Jiminy is probably a man he met in another restroom.
• The New York Post reports that Foxy Brown is a subdued prisoner at Rikers Island (see Essay 4387). “Everyone who passes by looks at her—she’s usually sleeping or reading her books,” said an inmate. “Her hair looks like whoever did it ran. That’s how much the weave is coming apart.” Jiminy!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Bathroom breaks in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• What’s with elected officials and public restrooms? Florida State Rep. Bob Allen was busted for offering $20 and a blowjob to an undercover cop in a park restroom last month (see Essay 4288). Now there’s news of Idaho Senator Larry E. Craig, who allegedly made sexual advances to an undercover cop in an adjoining toilet stall at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last June. According to reports, Craig tapped his foot—a known signal to engage in nasty behavior—and also brushed his foot against the cop’s and repeatedly waved his hand under the stall divider. But the senator insists it’s all a misunderstanding. “At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions,” said Craig in a statement. “I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.” Probably just signaling for extra toilet paper.
• Foxy Brown, currently penned up on Rikers Island for probation violations, filed a suit against the Correction Department in the hopes of gaining freedom. But a judge nixed the move. Foxy might get the attention of elected officials if she writes out a plea on toilet paper.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Time to make the MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Time to make the donuts healthier. Dunkin’ Donuts is eliminating trans fat from its menu, targeting October 15 as the date it will happen. Baskin-Robbins ice cream sold at the donut shops will be free of trans fat by January 1. Homer Simpson will picket the place on January 2.
• Despite Barnes & Noble’s announcement that it will not stock the upcoming O.J. Simpson “If I Did It” book (see Essay 4361), pre-order sales via the bookseller’s online site are surging. “We still have no plans to stock it in our stores,” said a Barnes & Noble spokesperson. Nonetheless, O.J. will probably make himself available for book signings.
• CBS “60 Minutes” curmudgeon Andy Rooney sparked controversy with a recent column criticizing Major League Baseball and calling out the prevalence of Latino players. “I know all about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but today’s baseball stars are all guys named Rodriguez to me,” wrote Rooney. “They’re apparently very good but they haven’t caught my interest.” His comments drew immediate reactions, with folks accusing the old fart of racism. “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have said it,” said Mr. Rooney, although he doubted he would apologize for it. “It’s a name that seems common in baseball now. I certainly didn’t think of it in any derogatory sense. … That’s what I do for a living, I write columns and have opinions, and some of them are pretty stupid” Nice to see Rooney realizes he’s a professional racist.
Advertising Age launched a blog called “The Big Tent,” which is “devoted to the discussion of diversity in the advertising, marketing and media industries.”
The current lineup of participants shows promise: Tangerine-Watson’s Carol Watson, Arnold’s Tiffany R. Warren, The Hunter-Miller Group’s Pepper Miller, journalist extraordinaire Laura Martinez, IW Group’s Bill Imada, The Vidal Partnership’s Alberto J. Ferrer, Feit Family Ventures Corp.’s Jonathon S. Feit and GTM’s Karl Carter. Of course, Hadji Williams is already leaving comments—not sure why he isn’t on the official roster of writers.
While this appears to be a well-intentioned effort, it seems incomplete to hold a discussion on diversity without any White folks. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a segregated soapbox.
Click on the essay title above to check it out.
Here’s the introduction presented by Advertising Age editor Ken Wheaton:
About The Big Tent
In politics, the “big tent” refers to a party in which diverse viewpoints are accepted, where the comfort of a unified ideology is exchanged for the clamor of many voices. While political scientists and historians might argue that the big tent has its limits when it comes to winning elections, it’s a necessity in industries that hope to reach out to all Americans.
Advertising Age’s The Big Tent is a blog devoted to the discussion of diversity in the advertising, marketing and media industries. Hiring practices, multicultural marketing, the role of “minority” shops, the inclusion of criteria beyond race and culture in diversity discussions -- we hope that entries from industry leaders in this arena will stimulate a year-round discussion on these matters.
And by all means, please jump into our comment section and join the conversation.
From The New York Times…
BET Says Cartoon Was Just a Satire
By MARIA ASPAN
Black Entertainment Television’s new animation division seems to have stepped right into a pitfall of self-parody: a short cartoon video it introduced on July 20, “Read a Book,” seems to flaunt every negative stereotype in the African-American community.
In a gloss on the hip-hop videos frequently shown on BET, an animated rapper named D’Mite comes on with what looks like a public service message about the benefits of reading, but devolves into a foul-mouthed song accompanied by images of black men shooting guns loaded with books and gyrating black women with the word “book” written on the back of their low-slung pants. The uncensored cut is making the rounds on YouTube, while a cleaner version was shown on BET.
The cartoon, which represents an effort by the network to broaden its programming, was the subject of an article on Friday in The Los Angeles Times, which noted that the network has been “long criticized for showing gangsta rap videos and those with scantily clad female dancers.”
“It’s meant to be very satirical, and in a real way kind of mimics and mocks the current state of hip-hop and hip-hop videos,” said Denys Cowan, senior vice president of animation for BET. He said the video was not part of any literacy campaign or “Schoolhouse Rock” alternative, but was intended for BET’s demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds.
Opinion online has been divided. Someone who posted the video on YouTube praised its “positive message” and “social satire,” while another anonymous user uploaded it under the title, “BET racist rap?”
“Read a Book” makes an especially jarring contrast with another animated short in rotation on the network, “Bid ’Em In,” a sharp and sober depiction of a slave auction.
Mr. Cowan said the contrast was a deliberate reflection of the broad range of projects that his division hopes to tackle.
“They’re not the same, and there’s room for both of them on the network,” he said. “We don’t want to underestimate our audience’s ability to understand what they’re looking at. There is no one monolithic black way of doing things.”
Sunday, August 26, 2007
The editorial below appeared at AdAge.com—a MultiCultClassics response immediately follows…
Diversity Debate Can Get Rough, but It’s Necessary
An Ad Age Editorial
There are few things in the industry on which we can reach consensus, but it’s safe to say that we can all agree on this: Marketing is never easy; marketing to a diverse audience is harder still.
Procter & Gamble has made two major moves in the arena recently. The first, which we wrote about last week, involved moving its Hispanic-marketing unit from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and giving it a home with the rest of the marketing team at company headquarters. The second, which we cover this week, is its “My Black is Beautiful” program under the lead of Najoh Reid.
It will be interesting to see how the discussions surrounding these moves play out. While P&G will undoubtedly win praise, the marketer is also opening itself up to criticism. Some in the Hispanic advertising and marketing community argue that Hispanic marketing is a distinct entity and should not be folded into general marketing. They’ll be watching closely to see how the move to Cincinnati affects P&G’s Hispanic messaging. For “My Black Is Beautiful,” it’s not beyond belief that someone will point out that the marketer is simply trying to cash in on the insecurities of a specific group.
Regardless, P&G is right to push ahead. And the debate swirling around such moves is welcome. Too often, the general-market side of the industry seems too paralyzed by fear to have real discussions about multiculturalism and diversity.
Even broaching the subject puts one at risk of offending any number of people for any number of reasons. Diversity is not multiculturalism is not race [sic]. As we learned while ironing out the details of our new diversity-related blog, The Big Tent (AdAge.com/bigtent), if one has a discussion relying on the old black-and-white dichotomy of the American cultural divide, the Hispanic market will point out that it’s the biggest -- and biggest-spending -- minority group (and not a race, mind you). And the gay community, as well as disabled Americans, will remind you that defining diversity by race and ethnicity is too limiting.
They were all right. And we actually learned a thing or two we wouldn’t have learned had we not broached the subject.
Which is exactly why the industry -- all of it, not just the minority shops and watchdogs -- should be discussing these things in the first place.
It’s nice to see Advertising Age attempt to enhance its editorial content with diversity. It’s also disturbing to see the continued cultural cluelessness demonstrated by the supposed industry experts.
For starters, calling P&G’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign groundbreaking (see Essay 4378) shows a definite unfamiliarity with minority marketing. While this well-intentioned effort may have broad reach, it’s hardly unique. Additionally, comparing the initiative to Dove’s “Real Beauty” bullshit is inaccurate—particularly since the Dove perspectives remain primarily White. Vaseline recently ran a campaign for its lotions celebrating Black skin (the skinvoice.com website appears to have vanished). Hell, virtually every health, beauty and fashion brand targeting Black women—including many P&G products—has adopted a “My Black Is Beautiful” stance at least once in their respective marketing histories. On abstract levels, there are numerous corporations wooing minorities with such tactics. Mickey D’s hypes the “365 Black” campaign, designed to honor Black History past February, and a host of advertisers have created identical year-round propaganda. Other minority segments undoubtedly feature similar semi-patronizing concepts.
That aside, there’s a bigger related story receiving zero press coverage. A few years ago, P&G kicked off plans to distribute more assignments to minority agencies. It’s unclear how successful this scheme has been, although the White agencies maintain political and financial strangleholds on the accounts (e.g., Grey Advertising allegedly produced commercials introducing Pantene’s Black hair care products, despite the fact that a capable minority shop is on Pantene’s agency roster). If they really wish to exhibit diversity innovation, P&G should award total control of any brand to a minority firm. Unfortunately, it looks like “My Black Is Beautiful” does not apply to the mega-advertiser’s minority partners.
Finally, Advertising Age is correct in recognizing race and ethnicity limit diversity discussions. But the truth is, minorities have never charged that it’s just a racial and ethnic thing (minorities, incidentally, is not a term labeling people solely based on their skin color or land of origin). Rather, the issues revolve around the global offenses of discrimination and exclusivity—which go way beyond race and ethnicity. In the end, it’s impossible to hold diversity discussions when all the involved players don’t come to the proverbial roundtable.
‘My Black Is Beautiful’
P&G Wants to Connect With African-American Women. Najoh Reid Provides the Blueprint and the Rallying Cry.
By Jack Neff
Najoh Tita Reid has one of those classic childhood stories from when she was 4 or 5. One of her white friends wouldn’t let her white doll play with Ms. Reid’s black doll, which she termed “ugly.”
Then her friend pointed out the doll’s resemblance to Ms. Reid, who went home crying. Her mom, after reassuring Ms. Reid, also got her some Essence and Ebony magazines and put up a “Black Is Beautiful” poster in her bathroom. “This being the 1970s,” Ms. Reid said, “it wasn’t hard to find.”
But unlike most people, Ms. Reid, now 34, is in a position to do much more than that. She’s multicultural marketing director for the world’s and country’s biggest advertiser, Procter & Gamble Co. And she’s convinced P&G to start putting its considerable marketing heft – “scale marketing” as they say at the Cincinnati headquarters -- behind a new multibrand campaign called “My Black Is Beautiful.”
The campaign’s goal is to make all black girls and women feel that way regardless of skin tone or origin and, of course, forge a closer relationship between P&G brands and their black consumers in the process.
The campaign obviously bears some resemblance to the idea behind a globally lauded effort by one of P&G beauty's key competitors, Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” from Unilever. The formula for both: Find a group that feels slighted by popular culture, then position your brand(s) squarely on their side.
But there are some key differences in origin, society and company that make the P&G push groundbreaking and potentially powerful in its own way.
Potentially, that is, because quite uncharacteristically for P&G, this thing isn’t fully thought out yet. Ms. Reid took a hiatus from maternity leave to unveil the concept at the National Association of Black Journalists meeting in Las Vegas earlier this month, where it generated keen interest -- particularly from black anchorwomen, Ms. Reid said -- but so far relatively little coverage.
P&G’s Always and Tampax have established a $50,000 grant, and the company is in talks with women’s organizations to develop a series of community discussions on the issue, with booklets likely to be distributed by Essence, but that’s about it so far.
Yet the emotional and selling power behind the idea clearly go well beyond Ms. Reid’s playtime experience or a one-off public-relations campaign.
P&G research found that 71% of black women feel they’re portrayed worse than other women in media and advertising. Despite that, they spend on average three times more than the general market on beauty products. The company’s idea is, in part, to give black women the attention warranted by that spending, building “My Black Is Beautiful” over many years to a program “that will stand the test of time,” Ms. Reid said.
Yet it’s also quite of-the-moment, as in P&G’s Sister Souljah moment. The company earned some credibility on the issue by being among the first and certainly the biggest advertiser to pull the plug on Don Imus in April after his infamous remark.
Ms. Reid already had been developing the program, practically since she moved to her new post last year after serving as global brand manager on Pampers. But the Imus controversy led her to believe it was time to act. “This is not one of those things we need to talk about for years,” she said.
“We know the insight to be true. So we said, ‘Let’s start grass roots and work our way toward national advertising,’” Ms. Reid said. “It’s more authentic, for one. It’s a movement that really begins with conversations that mothers and daughters have.”
Mr. Imus’ remark came about a month before P&G was to hold its first global summit of executives of African descent, which brought 400 individuals to Cincinnati. That was, Ms. Reid realized, a near-perfect platform from which to launch “My Black Is Beautiful” within the company.
Her presentation brought some women to tears, she said. A dark-skinned executive cried because she, too, had been made to feel ugly as a child. A light-skinned executive cried because she’d never felt fully accepted as black.
By trying to celebrate all shades and origins equally, P&G also is looking to traverse a difficult boundary in multicultural marketing: recognizing that many Hispanic women are also black. Few if any beauty marketers have figured out how to market around this. Drug-store chains, for example, get disproportionately heavy beauty business from Hispanic women and disproportionately little beauty business from black women.
By extending the “My Black Is Beautiful” umbrella over some Hispanic women, too, P&G is hoping for a multicultural campaign that works in both markets.
Ms. Reid, who started her career as a 17-year-old sales intern in Boston, said she received support from P&G management after enduring a few racial slurs from retailers during that time. She’s part of a legacy of diversity efforts that were a hallmark of former Chairman-CEO John Pepper’s career.
With her new campaign, she hopes to recast some of P&G’s key general-market beauty slogans with new meaning for black women. Olay’s “Love the Skin You’re In,” Pantene’s “Shine” and CoverGirl’s “Every Woman Is a Queen” all can be seen in a new light, she said, alongside “My Black Is Beautiful.”
By the numbers
Percentage of black women who are concerned about the way they’re portrayed in popular media: 77
Percentage of black women who say they’re portrayed worse than any other racial group in media: 71
Percentage of black women who believe black teens are portrayed worse than other racial groups in media: 69
How much an average black woman spends on beauty products compared with the average woman overall: 3 times
Sources: Procter & Gamble Co., P&G/Essence poll
The AdColor™ Awards Update:
MultiCultClassics received an email announcing Hadji Williams has been successfully nominated. Additional notes included:
• Every nominee will receive a certificate of nomination from The ADCOLOR™ Industry Coalition
• The 2007 ADCOLOR Selection Committee will meet on Wednesday, September 12 to choose this year’s winners
• Winners will be announced industry-wide mid-September and officially in the October 8th issue of Advertising Age
The final awards ceremony will take place in Miami, Florida on November 4th at The ANA Multicultural Marketing Conference.
Dog Days in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• NFL quarterback Michael Vick, facing potential prison time for his dog-fighting escapades, received support from his mother. “Everybody makes mistakes,” said Vick’s mother. “Everybody deserves a second chance. He has given his life over to God. He is not a criminal … He’s a good person. He has a big heart, and it just hurts.” She also went on to rip Vick’s father for allegedly lying about the NFL star and having a drug habit. Guess not everybody deserves a second chance.
• Rapper DMX may be in the doghouse for alleged animal cruelty. Arizona cops searched the rapper’s home, responding to claims of mistreatment of pit bulls. A dozen dogs were seized. During the search, officers also uncovered drugs and assault-style weapons. No words of support from Vick’s mother yet.
From The Chicago Tribune…
A question of manhood
Boys will be boys, the saying goes, a shake of the head and a shrug used to convey the impracticality of trying to corral the speed fetish common to young men.
In the Sydney region of Australia, young men have been particularly busy driving fast and crashing cars. Males 17 to 25 years old make up 7 percent of the drivers there, but they were involved in more than a third of all fatal crashes between 2002 and 2006.
Speed bumps don’t stop them. Speeding tickets are easily disposed. Dire warnings of the mortal dangers of speeding in a car have been ignored. “How,” an Australian road-safety official asks, “do you make this behavior socially unacceptable?”
The answer: a cheeky, risque ad campaign questioning the manhood of those who leave tire tracks as their calling cards.
The ads, launched in late June, feature passengers and onlookers waving their pinkie fingers -- a gesture that, in non-verbal Aussie parlance, implies a man’s physical endowment doesn’t measure up. Laws have failed. Australians hope humiliation will do the trick.
Australians aren’t the only ones to have had this idea. In Bangkok, officials instituted a plan requiring police officers who commit minor infractions -- such as tardiness and parking violations -- to wear bright pink Hello Kitty armbands. Alas, that plan was quickly dropped because wearing a girlie cat was deemed too embarrassing for Thai cops.
But embarrassment is precisely the goal in Australia. And it just might work.
The ads have been downloaded more than 100,000 times from the Web site of the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority. The site has crashed several times from the heavy traffic -- no pun intended.
The potential sequel: ads that show slower, more careful drivers getting an approving reception from women. That, it seems, would get most boys’ attention.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Capping things off with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Baseball caps manufacturer New Era Cap pulled MLB caps deemed as appealing to gang members. The caps featured imagery associated with the infamous Crips, Bloods and Latin Kings. “It has been brought to our attention that some combinations of icons and colors on a select number of our caps could be too closely perceived to be in association with gangs,” said New Era Cap CEO Christopher H. Koch. “In response, we, along with Major League Baseball, have pulled those caps.” It was only a matter of time before bangers started busting caps.
• Burger King posted big 4Q profits, spurred by late night and breakfast sales. Profits could soar further if the King teamed up with the Latin Kings.
From nationwide news sources…
Choice of sculptor for Martin Luther King Jr. monument draws flak
By Ben Evans, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The selection of a Chinese sculptor to carve a three-story monument to Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall is raising questions about what part of his legacy should be celebrated.
King promoted peace and understanding among all people. His primary fight, however, was to win particular opportunities for blacks in the United States by juxtaposing the plight of an oppressed people against a message of freedom and democracy.
A loose-knit but growing group of critics says a black artist — or at least an American — should have been chosen to create the King memorial between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials in the nation’s capital. They have been joined by human rights advocates who say King would have abhorred the Chinese government’s record on religious and civil liberty.
“They keep saying King was for everyone. I keep telling people, ‘No, King wasn’t for everyone. King was for fairness and justice,’” said Gilbert Young, a black painter from Atlanta who has started a website and a petition drive to try to change the project.
“I believe that black artists have the right to interpret ourselves first,” Young said. “If nobody steps up to the plate to do that, then certainly pass it along to someone else.”
The memorial foundation directing the project seems surprised at the criticism. Ten of the 12 people on the committee that chose the sculptor, Lei Yixin, are black. Lei is working closely on the design with two black sculptors in the U.S., organizers said, and the overall project is being directed by a black-owned architecture firm.
The foundation also points to King’s preaching — in a quote that will be incorporated into the monument — that to achieve peace, humans must “transcend race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
“The bottom line is Dr. King’s message that we should judge a person not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character,” said Harry Johnson, the foundation’s president and chief executive. “In this situation, we’re talking about the artistic character.”
Lei, designated a master sculptor by the Chinese government, is one of nine artists in the field who are considered national treasures in China. He has carved monuments to many of the country’s national figures, including Mao Zedong, father of communist China.
In a telephone interview Friday from Hunan province in central China, Lei said he was honored to have been chosen and was aware of the controversy.
“I deeply understand because Martin Luther King is a hero for black Americans,” he said.
But, he added, “Martin Luther King hoped that everyone would be brothers and sisters no matter the color of their skin or their social status, that they would all enjoy the same opportunities and rights. … I want my sculpture to show that Martin Luther King fought for democracy.”
Ann Lau, a Chinese native who lives in Los Angeles, bristles at the suggestion of democracy in her home country and said King would never condone Beijing’s policies. The granite used for the statue probably will be mined by workers laboring in unsafe and unfair conditions, the human rights activist said.
Lau, Young and others plan to present their online petition to lawmakers in Washington next month in an effort to force the foundation to reconsider the project. Although the $100 million project is financed with private donations, they said citizens should have a say because the monument is being built on public land.
“The whole thing is wrong,” Lau said. “We are going to be permanently connecting Dr. King with someone whose ideology is totally opposed to Dr. King’s ideology.”
But Johnson, the foundation president, asked why the foundation should hold Lei accountable for his government.
“I think you have to take this away from the government,” he said. “We didn’t question Lei about his politics or his ideology. We questioned him about whether he could do the work.”
The King monument is scheduled to be completed in 2009.
[Contributing: Anita Chang, The Associated Press]
Friday, August 24, 2007
Big news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Mickey D’s Big Mac is celebrating its 40th birthday with the opening of the Big Mac Museum Restaurant in Pennsylvania. The sandwich’s creator is pictured above, looking like he’s enjoyed a fair share of his own invention.
• Nicole Richie spent a whopping 82 minutes in jail, despite having been sentenced to a four-day stay. LA officials insist the decision to release her was based on the over-packed prisons. “Our jails are full quite a bit,” said a deputy. “This doesn’t just happen with Miss Richie, this happens to anyone else who is sentenced to the same thing.” As if Richie’s skinny little ass was taking up too much cell space.
• New York Knicks star Stephon Marbury was backpedaling after speaking out in support of Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick, who’s facing potential prison time for his dog-fighting involvement. Marbury was quoted as characterizing dog fighting as a sport, but he tried to clarify his statements a day later. The hoops star explained, “I never said dog fighting was a sport. I said, ‘From what I hear, dog fighting was a sport.’” From what we hear, Marbury is an idiot.
The sixth installment of AMC series Mad Men continued to ignore the existence of non-White minorities, although Don Draper’s wife spent a moment discussing the primitive nature of pygmies.
Two inane plotlines permitted creator Matthew Weiner to expose the cultural offenses he seems most comfortable exaggerating: sexism and anti-Semitism.
A lipstick client led to a focus group of the office “hens”—setting the stage for frat boy humor, condescending male chauvinism and ho-hum hokum.
An Israel tourism client inspired plenty of Jewish-related silliness. Deciding that people in Israel are uncommonly beautiful, one adman proclaimed, “The Jews there don’t look like the Jews here.” Seeking insight and enlightenment, Don Draper proceeded to read Leon Uris’ Exodus, and he also initiated a lunch date with the Jewish retail store client to probe her for insider secrets. Of course, this stimulated introspective lecturing, melodramatic whining and navel-gazing on all sorts of taboo topics. Additionally, Draper’s wife admitted the first boy she ever kissed was a Jew. Oy vey—such scandalous revelations!
The stereotyping in Mad Men just doesn’t feel, um, kosher.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Doing time in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Foxy Brown is heading to jail, pending a hearing on probation-violation charges scheduled for September 7. The three-months pregnant rapper has routinely been causing trouble for months (see Essay 4361). “She has finally abused the privilege of probation to the point of no return,” said a probation department lawyer. “Her actions are offensive at best, criminal at worst.” Which means she’ll soon have a new reality TV show.
• Naomi Campbell is now facing a lawsuit from a former housekeeper who was allegedly beaten by the supermodel. Which means she’ll soon have a new reality TV show too—America’s Top Model Convict…?
• Michael Jackson has one less lawsuit to worry about. A judge tossed a suit by the kin of a heart-attack victim who died at a hospital after being moved to make room for the King of Pop. Hey, Jacko’s umpteenth nose job deserves priority over the needs of regular folks.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Courting current events in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Foxy Brown is headed for court again, as probation officials are seeking to lock her up for a variety of incidents. Recent events include refusing to cooperate with a grand jury after getting mugged in June, beating a neighbor with her BlackBerry and lying to cops during a traffic stop. Somebody owes Foxy a tuition refund for her anger-management classes.
• Barnes & Noble announced its stores won’t stock the O.J. Simpson “If I Did It” book. “Our buyers don’t feel there will be enough of a demand to carry it in our stores,” said a spokesperson. At this point, an endorsement from Oprah’s Book Club won’t help sales.
• A judge ruled that jurors will be permitted to view the infamous R. Kelly video—including the urination scenes—during the upcoming trial. No word if Barnes & Noble will be stocking copies of the video.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
In a peculiar turnabout, Gary Bentz is back at Advertising Age’s Small Agency Diary, and now he’s hyping Latino youth consumers. Bentz has gone from “Creativity Is My Culture” to selling cultural creative. In the words of Bart Simpson, “¡Ay, caramba!”
I Got Yer Influencers Right Here
Why You Should Pay Attention to the Young Latino Consumer
By Gary Bentz
Many marketers drool over the under-19 age group. But did you know that 1 in 5 people in this target segment is Latino?
Let me rephrase that: that’s 20% of the new American generation. In other words, there are over 16 million young consumers that are currently redefining the industry as we know it. That’s greater than the population of all but 4 states in this great nation. And almost half the population of Canada (33 million), just to paint a clearer picture.
This is the group that dictates industry and category trends, the new brand adopters, the ones that are reconditioning the market and the way brands address us Latinos. They are sports, fashion, music and entertainment influencers among their peers. They represent $20 billion in consumer buying power and are projected to grow six times greater than the rest of the teen market.
In 2006, Latinos under the age of 20 accounted for more than 38% of the total Hispanic population in the United States.
The average percentage of the Hispanic teen population in the top 10 Latino markets is 43.1%.
Eighty percent of the teen population in Los Angeles is Hispanic.
Now that we got all that demographic mumbo-jumbo out of the way and we can all agree that this is a group to recon with, may I ask if your clients are winning the impressions war against this target?
If anyone thinks this is an emerging market, you’re dead wrong. If you assume that they act and react like a so-called minority group, you just don’t get it. Young Latinos know who they are, understand the world they live in and perfectly function in their all-inclusive social environment. These are smart, computer-savvy, educated, proud and capable bilingual and bicultural consumers. They are vested, accepted and celebrated by their peers, regardless of their heritage. Our future generation is defined by their home -- and to the great majority, home is here. Not south of the border, not across the Atlantic, nor in the other Americas.
Ask yourself, are you basing your impressions on media numbers or on strategic/creative communications? Are you placing and posting your ads based on circulation vs. content? Are you giving creative license to your team to develop “relevant” campaigns that really impress those you are trying to engage?
These questions are two fold. If you’re a general-market agency, are you representing your client’s best interest in spending their marketing dollars accordingly -- against the real composition of this segment? (Especially now, since I’ve shared with you some pretty impressive numbers.) And, if you’re a Hispanic agency, are you allowing your team to find the best way to really reach this consumer with original creative tactics and not just Spanish “transcreations”? (I personally hate that term.)
Be psychographically inclusive in your creative communications and not exclusive to your demographic strategies. Decide if this is a viable consumer target and commit to reaching it the right way! Address them as Latinos in the mainstream, talking up to them and not down, making sure that their portrayal is representative of their aspirations and not their limitations. Because sooner than later you will be living in their world and wishing you would have evolved and grown “a la par” (meaning together)!
From The Los Angeles Times…
The false modesty movement
A fashion trend that pushes anti-feminist values sends a dangerous message to young women.
By Anne K. Ream
What is it about the growing “modesty movement” that makes me so nervous? On the face of it, there’s a lot to like about a girl-driven “revolution” that offers an alternative to the in-your-face fashion popularized by the Britneys and Bratz of the world. When a statement T-shirt can turn a girl from a subject to an object – “I’m blond. I don’t need to be good at math” -- in no time flat, who could argue that a return to sartorial decency is in order?
Enter the modesty movement. On websites such as Modestly Yours, Modesty Zone and DressModestly.com, its adherents argue for curfews on college campuses, decry coed bathrooms and advocate a “chaste but chic” dress code for teens and young women. They call themselves sexual revolutionaries, but that might be something of a misnomer: In their world, abstinence is the order of the day and female virtue is the best way to ensure female safety.
The faith-based website purefashion.com, which encourages teen girls to “live the virtues of modesty and purity,” instructs young women to be “helpful at home … obedient and happy.” What’s troubling about this language is how neatly it anticipates the findings of a Yale University study showing that men who get angry in the workplace are admired, while women who express displeasure are seen as “out of control.” So much for the idea that well-behaved women rarely make history. Apparently, it’s far more important for girls to make nice.
Marketers are getting modest too. Macy’s now carries “Shade” clothing, created by a team of Mormon women devoted to demure dress, and Nordstrom features “Modern and Modest” apparel.
The mother of the modesty movement is Wendy Shalit, whose 1999 book, “A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue,” argues that today’s young women have reverted to an earlier mode of femininity, deciding that in the face of sexual excess, chastity is the ultimate 21st century rebellion.
No one would argue that the right to say no to sex isn’t a good thing. And surely we can agree that talking to girls about the value of their bodies, and their selves, is a welcome cultural shift. But when Shalit argues that “many of the problems we hear about today -- sexual harassment, date rape … are connected to our culture’s attack on modesty,” she is making a dangerous leap.
It’s not a lack of female modesty but a sense of male entitlement that leads to sexual violence. And the idea that we women can change men’s behavior by changing our clothes is not only disconcerting, it has been debunked. As millions of women know all too well, no one ever avoided a rape by wearing a longer skirt.
One of the most vocal advocates for a return to female modesty is, perhaps not surprisingly, a man. In his book, “Manliness,” Harvard University professor Harvey Mansfield argues that women, in demanding equality inside and outside the home, have created a crisis for men. According to Mansfield, modesty is one way to set right what the feminists have wrought: “Women play the men’s game, which they are bound to lose. Without modesty, there is no romance -- it isn’t so attractive or so erotic [to men].”
And therein lies the problem with so much of the modesty movement. Scratch the surface, and what’s supposed to be good for girls reveals itself to be all about the boys: dressing in a way that doesn’t over-excite them, demurring so that their manhood remains intact and holding tight to our sexuality until we find a husband who is worthy of that ultimate “prize.”
What’s lost in this view of the world is the power of female desire: not just sexual and sartorial but professional and intellectual. There is something liberating about a girlhood (and womanhood) that is not lived solely in anticipation of, or in response to, a man. There’s something freeing about a world in which women have the right to take risks (and to get mad).
I suppose I’d feel better about the modesty movement if it had its parallel in the world of men. But quite the opposite is true. At the top of the bestseller list is “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” a celebration of male derring-do that encourages boys to dive into life headfirst, taking and embracing risks along the way. The authors and publisher have made clear that no parallel book for young women is in the offing. I guess the fairer sex will have to satisfy itself with Shalit’s latest tome: “Girls Gone Mild.”
Criminy, it’s another MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Criminal sexual harassment charges were dismissed against two Oregon 13-year-olds. The boys had allegedly slapped the asses and poked the breasts of female classmates. They apologized in court to the girls by saying, “I never intended to hurt you in any way,” and “I hope we can still be friends.” Madison Avenue will probably recruit the two as future admen.
• Add another charge to Foxy Brown’s rap sheet—lying to police during a traffic stop. When pulled over last week for running a stop sign and using her cell phone, the rapper gave officers a fake name and birth date. She was issued seven tickets. Not sure who the citations were made out to.
From nationwide news sources…
Poll: White Youths Happier Than Others
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK (AP) -- From their relationships to their jobs to their money -- even from they time they first roll out of bed -- young white Americans are happier with life than their minority counterparts.
According to an extensive survey of 1,280 people ages 13-24 by The Associated Press and MTV, 72 percent of whites say they are happy with life in general, compared with 51 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Martin Carpenter, 21, a black New Jersey resident. “There’s a lot of issues out there for African-American young adults. You can still go to certain places and feel uncomfortable, like you don’t belong there.”
Martin’s feeling about racism, real or perceived, was echoed in the survey: 28 percent of minorities believe race will hurt them in the quest for a better life. Among whites, 20 percent feel their race will help in getting ahead.
Destiny Brown, 17, a black Virginia high school student, said she has friends who were already passed over for work simply because their names sounded different: “I know sometimes your name -- people will give you a hard time when you try to get a job.”
The difference in levels of happiness is not always stark, but it’s consistent. Among whites, 67 percent usually wake up happy in the morning; for minorities, the figure is 61 percent.
Those numbers extend into all aspects of life:
-- Parents: Sixty-six percent of minorities are happy with their relationships with mom and dad, compared with 79 percent of whites.
-- Sex: Sixty percent of white youths are happy with their sex lives, compared with 46 percent of minorities. Both groups are about equal on the sexual activity scale.
-- Friends: Eighty-one percent of minorities are happy with their relationships with friends, compared with 88 percent of whites.
-- Jobs: Fifty-one percent of minorities are happy with their jobs, compared with 64 percent of whites.
-- Money: Forty-four percent of minorities are unhappy with the money they have, compared with 35 percent of whites.
-- Grades: Sixty-three percent of minorities are happy with their school grades, while 73 percent of whites are satisfied with their marks. Barely half of the minority respondents say school makes them happy, contrasted with 60 percent of the whites.
The study also found a split in how the races perceive the keys to happiness.
Among minorities, the most important factor was lack of financial worries, chosen by one in four respondents. For whites, one in five people chose a good family.
Carpenter, one of the survey participants, spoke for the majority of minority youths who feel their race will not cause problems later in life.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m thinking on a smaller scale. In my community, it’s not that big a deal.”
The AP-MTV poll was conducted by Knowledge Networks Inc. from April 16 to 23, and involved online interviews with 1,280 people aged 13 to 24. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.