Friday, November 30, 2007

Essay 4779

Not too sure about this new Kahlúa campaign from Publicis New York. Granted, it’s no Bud Light “Zagar and Steve,” but it’s a pretty curious way to communicate the liqueur’s pre-Columbian heritage. There’s a really bad spot receiving lots of airtime right now that isn’t online yet—but click on the essay title above to see the launch commercial via YouTube.

Essay 4778

Target Market News interviewed GM North America Vice President Mark LaNeve, discussing the latest PR mess involving the automaker’s multicultural marketing. Click on the essay title above to check it out.

Essay 4777

Taking shots with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Rodney King was struck in the face and arm with shotgun pellets in San Bernadino on Wednesday, although his injuries are reportedly not life threatening. Guess we can’t all get along. No word if Vice President Dick Cheney is involved.

• An Arkansas lawmaker apologized for sending an email that stated, “we are being outpopulated by the blacks” and “we are being overrun” by undocumented immigrants. However, he insisted the message was not racist. Perhaps the official should seek counsel from Dog the Bounty Hunter.

• Fred Goldman is back in court, this time to fight a Swedish web site offering free downloads of O.J. Simpson’s “If I Did It” book. Goldman, who owns the rights to the book, demanded that the pirate site stop posting the book. But in the lawsuit, the site operators stated, “they are not subject to the laws of the United States.” They appear to be taking an O.J. Simpson defense, as the man acts like he’s not subject to the laws of the United States too.

Essay 4776

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


Word to the wise: Learn English

¿No hablas inglés? Do something about it. You can’t keep pressing “No. 2” for Spanish forever. Only one in four Latino immigrants speaks English very well, according to a new report released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center. That’s loco.

The bitter hostility aimed at illegal immigrants stems, in great part, from immigrants’ failure to learn English. And until more legal and undocumented immigrants speak the language, they’ll be muffled out by loud protests of angry Americans.

English proficiency isn’t too much to ask. If we settled in France, how long would we last if we insisted on speaking English? Would a Japanese businessman go to China and keep talking Japanese, expecting everyone else to understand him?

Other immigrants, including Italians and Germans, came to this country, struggled and drew the ire of earlier settlers. But they slowly changed their fate in part by learning English. History does repeat itself.

Eighty-eight percent of second-generation Hispanic adults speak English very well, and by the third generation, only 25 percent speak Spanish at home, the Pew study found.

We know many immigrants work two and three jobs, and have little time to study. But learning English pays off. It’s the difference between a chance at a bright future, possibly college and white-collar jobs or being limited to industrial and labor positions that are low-paying and back-breaking.

“You could double your earnings,” said Lisa Thakkar, with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Immigrants should be reassured by older immigrants that adopting English doesn’t mean they have to give up speaking their native language or that assimilation into the American culture means tossing out their centuries-old traditions. English is simply how we communicate, and if immigrants can't express themselves, then they can’t fully blame Americans for filling in the void with age-old stereotypes.

Worse, if immigrants don’t learn English, they forfeit the chance to become American citizens: There are 8.5 million legal immigrants in the United States eligible for citizenship, but most can’t speak English well. In Illinois, more than half the adult immigrants in Illinois speak only limited English.

For those of us who keep whining “Why can’t they speak English?” here’s your chance.

Volunteer to teach an English-as-a-second-language class. Push for immigrant groups, churches and community centers to hold more sessions. Call local leaders and ask why a state Legislature bill that earmarked $25 million for English classes for legal immigrants was slashed during budget negotiations.

We have to find a way to bridge the language divide.

Por favor.

Essay 4775

Essay 4774

Given all the hoopla surrounding GM this week, we’ll forgo commenting on this one.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Essay 4773

From The New York Daily News…


The FDNY’s new face

Here is excellent news that has been a long time in coming: City Hall has taken a major stride toward increasing the number of minorities who work for the Fire Department, while upholding strict merit standards.

The FDNY’s firefighting ranks are overwhelmingly white, and repeated efforts to boost diversity came to naught—until this week, with the results of the department’s most recent qualifying exam.

This time around, the number of blacks and Hispanics taking and passing the exam leaped, as did, even more importantly, the number scoring in the top 4,000—those most likely to be hired.

In 2002, when the last test was given, the top 4,000 scorers were 81% white, 4% black and 9% Latino. This year, the breakdown was 65% white, 12% black and 18% Latino. The percentages signal that over the next few years, the city could add at least 600 minority firefighters to the 11,000-member force.

The achievement began with a $1.4 million recruitment drive. The FDNY talked up the entrance exam at churches, schools and street fairs in neighborhoods where the department has rarely been considered a career option. Officials also offered test preparation courses in communities that have been underrepresented in the department.

At the same time, the city reworked the written and physical aspects of the test. The process was done against a backdrop of charges that previous questions had been biased against minorities and worries that the new exam would lower standards.

The stats from the test suggest those concerns were groundless. Virtually the same number of whites took and passed this test as in 2002. If the questions had been easier, the white passing rate would have risen along with the minority passing rate. It didn’t.

As for why more minorities aced this test, the biggest factor seems to have been simply that more took the exam. And that’s wonderful.

The results should give great pause to the Justice Department, which had sued the city, alleging discrimination. The feds would be well advised to withdraw the legal action rather than seek a court-ordered remedy for a problem that’s being solved the correct way—by applying rigorous standards evenhandedly.

Essay 4772



Lamar to Step Down from McDonald’s

Neil Golden to Take on CMO Role

By Emily Bryson York

CHICAGO – McDonald’s USA CMO William “Bill” Lamar, 55, today announced plans to retire.

The 25-year Golden Arches vet was responsible for marketing of nearly 14,000 U.S. restaurants as well as product development and business research. He has served as USA CMO since 2002 and will step down at the end of the first quarter 2008.

No surprise
Mr. Lamar’s replacement will be Neil Golden, 46, who will assume the job April 1, 2008. Mr. Lamar’s desire to retire has been no secret. In fact, rumors swirled that he could retire as early as last January. And Mr. Golden, VP-marketing for McDonald’s USA, has long been considered the front-runner for the top U.S. marketing spot.

Mr. Golden will have big shoes to fill. Mr. Lamar helped fuel the turnaround at the fast feeder’s domestic units, oversaw the launch of the Dollar Menu and premium products including McGriddle breakfast sandwiches, gourmet salads and coffee, and the introduction digital marketing, which reduced dependence on TV ads. Mr. Lamar also led the charge to develop a uniform domestic-marketing strategy, which led to the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign.

Michael Jordan of Mickey D’s
“Bill’s contributions to our brand are simply too vast to attempt to quantify,” Don Thompson, president of McDonald’s USA, said in a statement. “What Bill has effectively done in his own unique and quiet way is leave an indelible mark on our brand that will last for generations to come.”

Darren Tristano, executive VP of Technomic, likened Mr. Lamar’s retirement to Michael Jordan’s from the Chicago Bulls.

“He’s done a very good job helping bring McDonald’s together, been part of a team that’s turned the company around, been part of a very successful advertising campaign. He’s helped the company be where it is today,” he said.

Gregarious with a booming baritone, Mr. Lamar was known as “the operations guy.” He spent 10 years in various restaurant operations positions. Five years of that was spent working as VP and general manager for the McDonald’s Atlanta region, which included more than 700 restaurants in four states, and more than $1 billion in annual sales.

Golden’s golden track record
“The health and trajectory of McDonald’s business continues on a path to a bright and prosperous future,” Mr. Lamar said in a statement. “It’s a good time for me and my wife to turn the page knowing the brand we love is in such a good place.”

His successor, Mr. Golden, is responsible for new initiatives, strategic planning, plan development and ethnic marketing. He began his McDonald’s career in 1989 as a regional marketing supervisor for the Indianapolis region.

“Neil Golden has a proven track record of people and marketing leadership for brand McDonald’s,” Mr. Thompson said. “Knowing the essence of our business, coupled with a keen insight for what resonates and motivates people makes Neil uniquely qualified to lead national marketing for the U.S. business.”

Essay 4771

Lights out in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Sears reported a 99 percent drop in 3Q profits, the worst quarter since Sears and Kmart combined in 2005. Sears Holdings’ chief executive and president said, “We are very disappointed in our performance for the third quarter. We cannot blame our results entirely on the retail and macro-economic environments. We have much on which to improve and are working hard to do so.” Start by turning off the stupid Blue Light character.

• The Democratic National Committee nixed a presidential debate scheduled for December 9 due to a potential strike by CBS news writers. CBS will probably enjoy higher ratings by airing reruns of Without A Trace instead.

Essay 4770

GM North America Vice President Mark LaNeve contends that final decisions regarding “diversity agency” assignments on the automaker’s brands are still pending.

So it’s the perfect opportunity for GM to deliver on the “new approach to multicultural marketing” that a spokesperson hinted at recently.

Instead of reducing the involvement of multicultural shops and risking a consumer backlash, GM can do something completely groundbreaking: Appoint a multicultural shop as AOR.

Not AOR for the multicultural portion of an account. Rather, let a minority-owned shop assume the lead role.

There are plenty of over-qualified contenders available, some currently on GM’s roster and others not.

Let’s be blunt. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to produce for GM. Modernista has executed the standard celebrity-talking-head commercials for Cadillac with yawn-inducing results. Campbell-Ewald’s Malibu concept is the car advertising you can ignore. Leo Burnett’s work is so forgettable it’s impossible to even list the stuff. Surely any multicultural shop would have no difficulty matching or exceeding those efforts. Plus, their niche expertise would eliminate the need for additional agencies. There are cost efficiencies to be realized here, folks.

Think of the positive PR benefits. The advertiser who regularly displays lines like “An American Revolution” and “This Is Our Country” would be demonstrating their beliefs in a unique, unprecedented fashion. Talk about making good on LaNeve’s statement that “GM will fulfill our strategy to broaden our diversity agency representation.” Imagine how the innovative spirit might rub off on the vehicles’ personalities too. It’s a win-win for everybody.

The alternative is to continue treating multicultural shops like second-class citizens, disrespecting their abilities and hampering them with substandard budgets and resources. But let’s face it—there’s absolutely nothing new about that approach.

Essay 4769

Essay 4768

100 Percent Corny.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Essay 4767

An abbreviated MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• O.J. Simpson pleaded not guilty to charges of armed robbery and kidnapping. Look for his upcoming new book, “If I’m Guilty,” due to release just in time for Christmas.

• The CDC reported obesity rates for U.S. women appear to be leveling off. Does this mean Dove will stop running ads with fat chicks?

• The FDNY announced the latest firefighter exam netted the most diverse applicant group in its history. Minorities may comprise one-third of future hires, prompting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to proclaim, “We are finally making strides in increasing diversity.” So why can’t they figure things out on Madison Avenue?

Essay 4766

Wanted to clarify a few points regarding the GM scenario, as blogging can lead to misunderstandings.

In many ways, this event is an opportunity for us all to examine the systems, processes and hierarchies we’ve created in our industry.

MultiCultClassics has always strived to present diverse opinions regarding multicultural marketing. It is a complicated and even confounding thing, filled with contradictions and highly emotional components. The combination of professionalism and politics often leads to uncomfortable conversations. Conflicts too. At the same time, it’s imperative that everyone attempts to consider the situations from multiple perspectives, deliberately weighing the causes and effects of each action.

MultiCultClassics doesn’t presume to have the answers—nor do we represent any collective group.

MultiCultClassics also believes that every player is truly committed to doing the best thing—and the right thing—for all parties involved.

Change is not easy, and not everyone walks away happy. But we must believe in a collaborative and open forum that embraces an inclusive spirit. Otherwise, we lessen the possibility for meaningful progress.

We now return you to our regular reprogramming.

Essay 4765

Leaping through a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Kanye West and Evel Knievel settled a federal lawsuit Knievel had filed over trademarked imagery in a music video by West. “We settled the lawsuit amicably,” said the daredevil Knievel. “I was very satisfied and so was he.” Which means Knievel collected a pile of money that even he would not be able to leap over with his motorcycle.

• The retired Florida professor who invented Gatorade died yesterday. His remains will probably be placed in a big Gatorade jug and dumped over the winning coach at the next Super Bowl.

• R.J. Reynolds will not advertise in newspapers or consumer magazines next year. This is not a major defeat, as Big Tobacco realizes the newspaper and magazine industries are dying like, well, their customers. Plus, it’s cheaper and easier to reach people via product placement in movies and TV shows. Thank God A&E agreed to more seasons of the critically-acclaimed, cigarette-puffing Mad Men series.

Essay 4764


Not sure what the hell is going on with General Motors, but it’s a PR pileup right now.

Here’s a rearview synopsis from MultiCultClassics’ perspective:

About a week ago, presented a piece titled, “Five GM Brands to Shift Multicultural Work to General-Market Shops.” The story (see Essay 4728 for the verbatim record) essentially stated that GM moved most of the assignments traditionally slotted for minority agencies to White agencies; plus, the Carol H. Williams agency was losing major GM business and defending its Chevrolet work in a review. We’re uncertain if scooped the item or it hatched elsewhere.

Numerous media sources and blogs—including this one—picked up the story and offered reactions. The pro-multicultural crowd blasted the decisions. And as expected, word hit the online grapevine, with folks organizing boycotts and protests.

Why, MultiCultClassics even created a series of parody ads criticizing GM, posting five of them on Monday and Tuesday (two can be viewed at Essay 4750 and Essay 4752). Advertising blog Agency Spy referenced the MultiCultClassics campaign too. Bloggers at The Big Tent,’s blog dedicated to diversity issues, prepared to launch additional opinions. Target Market News, a Chicago-based web site focused on multicultural marketing, chipped in its two cents. Black Enterprise also investigated the scene, quoting GM executives, irate industry honchos and Carol H. Williams (definitely check Essay 4761).

Sometime during the spirited activity, Ad Age revised the original story (see Essay 4759). Suddenly, the whole affair appeared to be a consolidation tale, with assignments going from minority shops to Publicis Groupe’s minority shops (the exceptions being accounts that never had minority input to begin with). However, the CHW details remained the same.

Meanwhile, multicultural marketing experts allegedly broadcast their concerns on Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show. And God only knows what other consumer strikes have been plotted and executed.

But wait, there’s more. GM North America Vice President Mark LaNeve delivered an official clarification, actually posting it on this blog (see comments for Essay 4750).

To reduce the chaos, MultiCultClassics typed updates and removed three parody ads (we kept two to illustrate the communications mess).

Those are the game highlights so far, sports fans.

For spectators like our friends at Agency Spy who are perplexed by the loud commotion, MultiCultClassics will contribute a few biased thoughts.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions. Stories identified a GM spokeswoman who called the maneuvers “a new approach to multicultural marketing.” However, no one has elaborated on this innovative vision. With all due respect, GM is not exactly a trendsetter—despite the fact that the automaker does indeed fund a ton of multicultural and general marketing. When will the multicultural marketers learn about the amazingly fresh multicultural marketing concept?

GM executives insist it’s not a cost-cutting deal. But agency sources claim GM wanted a single bill from Publicis, and the agencies expect cost efficiencies to be realized by the client. Guess cost cutting and cost efficiencies are different terms. Heaven forbid these acts might be related to the automaker’s multi-billion-dollar profit losses.

Mark LaNeve argued GM’s multicultural spending has increased in recent years, and he predicts the trend to continue. That’s got to be a swell announcement for the general market agencies about to handle multicultural duties. Heck, minority shops usually receive peanuts compared to their majority counterparts. Although the growing billing is likely tied to the exploding Latino segment. It should be noted too that increased spending does not translate to sufficient spending in the multicultural marketing world.

Awarding multicultural assignments to general market shops is, well, bullshit. And honestly, it’s not just a racial thing. As Robert J. Dale said in the Black Enterprise story, minority agencies would love to win general market business, yet they are consistently blocked from competing. A GM executive served up a standard “we-need-global-capabilities” excuse. Quiet as it’s kept, the advertising industry has not simply segregated the workers, we’ve also segregated the work. Sort of. Because when minority shops want general market prizes, the door is shut. On the flipside, when general market agencies long for the slivers of the budgetary pie reserved for minorities, it’s no problem. Don’t worry, you won’t even have to pitch for it. Adding insult is GM’s declaration that Modernista, the shop stealing the minority budgets for Cadillac and Hummer, “feel[s] that their overall campaign will be developed with a multicultural point of view.” As if the expertise of multicultural marketers can be so effortlessly absorbed. Let’s also remember that the GM spokeswoman proclaimed, “We will not have one-size-fits-all.” But they will have one agency with all the pie.

Black Enterprise reported the GM spokeswoman “emphasizes that the reorganization has nothing to do with agency performance.” This is perhaps the scariest notion in the event. It may mean that minority shops have less power than they realized. Your professional fate is not linked to your achievements, but rather, your connections to holding companies. Unlike general market shops who are constantly vying for new business against opponents within the same network (e.g., how many IPG agencies were involved in the last Wal-Mart contest?), minority shops are chained to their corporate bosses. The independent shops probably have the bleakest futures.

It’s such a shame, as GM has historically been a major supporter of multicultural marketing. The automaker must carefully study the consumer response to the misinformation. The public doesn’t play around in these dramas. GM is absolutely under the microscope at this juncture. Proceed with extreme caution. No GPS capabilities or OnStar system can navigate them through the quagmire ahead.

Better think about hiring a minority PR firm.

Essay 4763

Essay 4762

If this were a TV spot, the EKG would be synched up with the Law & Order musical notes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Essay 4761



Changing Gears
GM restructuring drives away black-owned ad agency

By Marcia A. Wade

November 27, 2007--In order to achieve what General Motors spokeswoman, Ryndee Carney, describes as consistency and efficiency, GM decided to reorganize its 2008 advertising roster in a manner that has temporarily and possibly permanently booted the black-owned Carol H. Williams Advertising Agency (No. 2 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with $367.5 million in billings) from its garage.

The African American accounts for six of GM’s eight U.S. vehicle brands have been reassigned to general market agencies. Carol H. Williams Advertising managed four accounts: Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, and Hummer. GM reassigned each of those accounts, with the exception of Chevrolet. They reassigned Cadillac and Hummer to Modernista, explaining that “both [brands] feel that their overall campaign will be developed with a multicultural point of view,” says Carney. The creative work for Buick, Pontiac, and GMC has been consolidated with Leo Burnett Worldwide.

Carney says that although the Chevrolet account is up for review, Carol H. Williams is still a contender. Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging may also be in that running. Translation, which was black-owned until its acquisition by Interpublic Group of Cos. in October 2007, also helped with the Chevrolet account by marrying Mary J. Blige and other musicians with their favorite Chevy. Chevrolet expects to choose an agency before the end of Q4 2007.

“Carol H. Williams has done a stellar job with GM,” says Robert J. Dale, president and CEO of Chicago-based R.J. Dale Advertising and Public Relations (No. 14 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with $44.5 million in billings), one of the country’s most experienced black advertisers.

But Carney emphasizes that the reorganization has nothing to do with agency performance. “There was a need to have consistency. We did not need multiple agencies providing the same work,” she indicates.

According to Ken Smikle, founder and publisher of Target Market News, a Chicago-based research firm that monitors African American marketing and media, “the only consistent growth GM has had with its top brands is with African American buyers.”

In 2006, R.L. Polk & Co., an auto industry and marketing research firm, reported that while personal registrations in the auto market were down approximately 1% from 2003 to 2005, new vehicle sales to minority customers were up approximately 18%.

In the same report, Lonnie Miller, director of industry analysis at R.L. Polk & Co., said automakers who neglect repeat business from minority customers “risk missing out on the biggest growth opportunity in the auto industry right now.” Miller later cited that by 2010 minority buying power is projected to grow by 14%.

“With the increase in populations of people of color, you would think that would lead to more opportunity for agencies of color,” say Dale. GM’s ad agency reform is a risk that other automakers are not willing to make and for good reason. “African American agencies are more expert at niche marketing whether they are talking to working moms, young adults or African Americans. They have earned their bread and butter by crafting very focused, strategic ads,” says Smikle. “[Carol H. Williams Advertising] should have been given the opportunity to compete for general market business instead of having everything they’ve worked on taken away from them.”

Carney says “We need an agency that has scope, size, and global capability to handle [our general market business]. I’m not personally aware [of a black-owned agency with that capacity], that’s not to say that they don’t exist.” Dale suggests that the onus to include black-owned agencies is on the Association of National Advertisers, whose members include major automakers. He says they should adopt and apply their own version of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires football teams to interview minority candidates for a head coaching opportunity.

“Only after the Rooney Rule, did African American coaches began to get hired as head coaches,” says Dale implying that without that rule it is unlikely that world would have witnessed two black coaches battling it out in the 2007 Super Bowl.

“Some of us at black-owned agencies feel that we should have the opportunity to compete for and win general market business and not just be restricted to multicultural or African American opportunities,” expresses Dale. “This is even more critical now that it appears that we are being stripped of multicultural business that is now being handed to general market agencies.” “I had an excellent relationship with GM. I am still working with them to work through this. I am being told it is for efficiencies, but it is very tough,” says Carol H. Williams, president and CEO of Carol H. Williams Advertising. “We understood and continue to understand that GM is committed to African American advertisers, but perhaps this business consideration doesn’t reflect the importance of the loyalty of the African American market to GM,” says Williams.

Essay 4760

Faking progress in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Foxy Brown was taken out of segregated confinement early, serving only 40 days of a 76-day sentence. The rapper had been placed in special holding for various offenses including screaming at guards and refusing to take a drug test, but was released for good behavior. Hey, it’s pretty rare to see Foxy Brown and good behavior in the same paragraph.

• New York radio personality DJ Star, who was fired for on-air threats and sexual comments directed at a rival’s wife and 4-year-old daughter (see Essay 868), is reportedly returning to the airwaves. What’s next? The Michael Richards Comedy Comeback? Dog the Bounty Hunter’s Christmas Special?

• Advertising Age reported Dentsu is seeking a dismissal of the Steve Biegel lawsuit (see Essay 4685). “If [Biegel] thought he had valid legal claims, he should have filed his lawsuit a year ago,” said a Dentsu spokesman. “Instead, he prepared his lawsuit and showed it to some of Dentsu’s biggest clients, while he and his attorney were attempting to extract in excess of $1 million from Dentsu.” Hey, a million bucks will buy a lot of Prague prostitutes. Regarding Biegel’s charge that his termination was tied to being Jewish, the spokesman added, “He was Jewish when he was hired by Dentsu, he was Jewish when he was fired and his firing was approved by the president of Dentsu, who is also Jewish. Mr. Biegel has provided not one shred of proof that his faith had anything to do with his firing.” Oy vey.

Essay 4759 revised its story regarding the General Motors shift in multicultural marketing. In the earlier piece (see Essay 4728), the article stated multicultural shop Vigilante was losing its GM business to Leo Burnett. The updated article states Vigilante is actually picking up more business, but Burnett will manage the work (whatever that means). Additionally, Latino shop Lapiz (tied to Leo Burnett) picks up business from AccentMarketing in Miami. GM officials say the shifts are designed to consolidate work with Publicis Groupe, which owns Leo Burnett, Lapiz and Vigilante. However, there’s still no explanation regarding GM’s contention that this is all “a new approach to multicultural marketing.” The revised piece, including the editor’s note, appears below.


GM Brands Shuffle Multicultural Strategy

Chevy African-American Account in Play; Carol H. Williams to Defend

By Jean Halliday

DETROIT -- Six of General Motors Corp.’s eight vehicle brands are shifting strategies for how they handle multicultural advertising.

In what a spokeswoman called a new approach to diversity marketing, two brands -- Cadillac and Hummer -- will move responsibility for African-American advertising to its general-market agency, independent Modernista, Boston, Jan. 1.

The brands’ incumbent, Carol H. Williams Advertising, Oakland, Calif., is also defending Chevrolet’s African-American account, which is in a review handled by consultant Hasan Ramusevic, Raleigh, N.C. A decision is expected by the end of the year, the GM spokeswoman said.

Other Chevy shops
In addition to Williams, Chevrolet had used Translation, New York, mostly for consulting and relationship building, and its general-market shop, Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., which did the brand’s African-American launch work for the 2008 Malibu, the spokeswoman said.

Williams also will lose GMC, which it won in a 2002 review when GM consolidated its African-American accounts. At the time, total estimated billings were $20 million to $30 million with revenue estimated at $3 million. (The GM spokeswoman declined to reveal spending on any of the accounts.)

Vigilante Advertising, New York, under the umbrella of Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett, will assume duties on GMC next year. Vigilante already has Buick’s and Pontiac’s African-American accounts. Chicago-based Burnett will manage the accounts, the spokeswoman said.

Burnett assumed the newly consolidated Buick-Pontiac-GMC general-market accounts Oct. 1, winning the business without a review following negotiations between Publicis chief Maurice Levy and top GM executives, according to execs close to the matter.

The main purpose of the reshuffle is to consolidate business at Publicis agencies. According to agency execs, GM wants a single bill from Publicis for the Buick-Pontiac-GMC division.

GM would not discuss the reasons for the shifts, but said it was not done as a cost-cutting move. Agencies, however, expect cost efficiencies to be extracted.

Changes to Hispanic accounts
There also will be changes on the Hispanic front.

AccentMarketing, Miami, will lose Pontiac and GMC accounts to Lapiz, Chicago, a Burnett sibling. Lapiz will also assume Buick’s Hispanic account. Buick had no Hispanic agency. Burnett also will oversee those Hispanic accounts.

AccentMarketing, which won GM’s consolidated Hispanic accounts in 2001, keeps GM’s corporate Hispanic account, as well as Cadillac, Hummer and Chevrolet.

Neither Saturn nor Saab had any multicultural agencies of records, with the brands’ general-market shops handling. Interpublic’s Deutsch, Los Angeles, handles Saturn, while sibling McCann, Birmingham, Mich., will assume Saab's account Jan. 1 from sibling Lowe, New York, in a previously announced shift.

GM spent a total of $66 million in Hispanic measured media across its vehicle brands last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Chevrolet got the most, $43 million, TNS said.

[Editor’s Note: This report corrects an earlier news story headlined “Five GM Brands to Shift Multicultural Work to General-Market Shops.” The earlier story has been deleted from our archives.]

Essay 4758

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


Most Democratic candidates are ignoring African Americans


Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they’re not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign. African-American and urban votes are critical to any Democratic victory. Bill Clinton won two terms without winning the most white votes. His margin was the overwhelming support of black voters. George Bush learned that lesson; that’s why his campaigns spent so much effort suppressing the black vote in key states like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. His victory margin was the tally of votes suppressed or uncounted.

Yet the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign -- have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, La., not one candidate showed up.

Democratic candidates are talking about health care and raising the minimum wage, but they aren’t talking about the separate and stark realities facing African Americans.

The civil rights movement succeeded in ending segregation and providing blacks with the right to vote. But the end of legal apartheid did not end the era of discrimination. And the ending of institutionalized violence did not end institutionalized racism.

Patterns of discrimination are sharply etched. African Americans have, on average, about half of the good things that whites have, and double the bad things. We have about half the average household income and less than half the household wealth. On the other hand, we’re suffering twice the level of unemployment and twice the level of infant mortality (widely accepted as a measure of general health).

African Americans are brutalized by a system of criminal injustice. Young African Americans are more likely to be stopped, more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be arrested if searched, more likely to be charged if arrested, more likely to be sentenced to prison if charged, less likely to get early parole if imprisoned. Every study confirms that the discrimination is systemic and ruinous. And yet no candidate speaks to this central reality.

African Americans are more likely to go to overcrowded and underfunded schools, more likely to go without health care, more likely to drop out, less likely to find employment. Those who do work have less access to banks and are more likely to be ripped off by payday lenders, more likely to be stuck with high-interest auto and business loans, and far more likely to be steered to risky mortgages -- even when adjusting for income. And yet, no candidate speaks to this central reality.

The result is visiting a catastrophe on the urban black community. I and many others campaign for young people to stay in school, to graduate and not to make babies until they are prepared to be parents. My son and I write and teach about personal financial responsibility. Personal responsibility is critical. But personal responsibility alone cannot overcome the effects of a discriminatory criminal justice and economic system in generating broken families and broken dreams.

The Rev. Martin Luther King saw the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights as the first stage of the civil rights movement. The second stage -- to gain economic justice and equal opportunity in fact -- he knew would be more difficult. Now, 40 years later, it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes.

Essay 4757

Essay 4756

Pity the copywriter who’s forced to use a trademarked phrase for a headline.

Essay 4755

From, Mark Dolliver’s take on the recent Pew Research Center study…


The Intra-Racial Divide

By Mark Dolliver

If you think a hip-hop soundtrack will help a brand ingratiate itself with black consumers, guess again. A Pew Research Center poll found 61 percent of black adults saying they think hip-hop exerts a bad influence on society; 71 percent said the same about rap. Asked to assess some prominent blacks, just 17 percent deemed 50 Cent a good influence on the black community. (By comparison, Oprah Winfrey was rated a good influence by 87 percent.)

The split on hip-hop reflects a deeper divide. [According to the study,] black adults see a widening divide in the values of middle-class and poor blacks. Just 23 percent agreed that “middle-class and poor blacks share ‘a lot’ of values in common.” Forty-two percent said they share “some values in common,” while 22 percent said they share “only a little” and 9 percent said they share “almost no values in common.”

Strikingly, 37 percent agreed with the statement, “Blacks today can no longer be thought of as a single race because the black community is so diverse.” Barely half (53 percent) said it still makes sense to view blacks as a single race “because they have so much in common.” Be that as it may, one wonders in reading the report whether the phrase “black community” has become obsolete.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Essay 4754

Are all tourists guaranteed an opportunity to play patty-cake with the First Lady?

Essay 4753

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


Their future, our future

The sooner we recognize the value of immigration and begin working together, the smoother integration will go

Ask a typical Chicagoan where most new Latinos in the area are coming from, and they’ll probably describe some illegal border crossing.

But they’d be wrong.

The source of 72 percent of the group’s recent population growth is actually the local maternity ward, where Latino children are being born to proud parents who have achieved or are still pursuing the American dream.

That revelation comes from the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. Their research paints a picture of the region’s Latino population -- busting misperceptions -- and suggests ways to help suburbs cope with the challenges of integration.

As the report makes clear, Latinos are a critical part of the region whose future is intertwined with our own. If they fail, the region fails, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to work together.

A main goal is to promote discussion between Latinos and non-Latinos in areas that are undergoing rapid change, said Sylvia Puente of Notre Dame, a study author. “There are not enough places where this dialogue is happening,” Puente said.

Why look at the suburbs? Because that’s where the action is. Contrary to another stereotype -- that the integration debate is confined to the big city -- the study points out that 55 percent of the region’s Latino population now lives outside Chicago.

Among other findings: The region’s 1.7 million Latinos are now a fifth of the region’s population and will probably be a third by 2030. Two-thirds of the region’s Latinos are U.S. citizens. Latinos make up 15 percent of the labor force and half of the growth in owner-occupied homes. Three-fourths of Latino households are bilingual.

The report recommends communities look for ways to promote cultural understanding, such as festivals. It said communities should work to get Latinos involved in civic life -- and Latinos, in turn, should step up to leadership positions, such as on school boards.

Among other recommendations, the report said suburbs need to develop smaller homes and more affordable rental housing to accommodate the growing Latino population. Schools should explore dual-language programs to help students learn English.

“What we are dealing with is the speak-English-only mind-set that is holding us back from the best practices,” said Daniel Barreiro, director of community services in Aurora and a former school board member.

The report won’t sway anyone who thinks we should yank up the welcome mat, kick out all those “illegals” and their children and slam the door behind them. Fortunately, a more practical group, including suburban mayors, recognizes the reality and the value of immigration and is interested in finding the best ways to make integration happen. Doing nothing will only make things worse.

“We have to look at what happens if we don’t do anything,” said Addison Mayor Larry Hartwig, a suburban mayor who helped on the report. If that’s what happens, “we’re going to spend a lot of time on conflict.”

Essay 4752

[UPDATE: View comments at Essay 4750 and Essay 4759 for clarification.]

Essay 4751

From The Chicago Tribune…


On race issues, we should ask better questions

By Dawn Turner Trice

Say you were contacted for a national survey and this was one of the questions: Which of these statements comes closer to your view -- even if neither is exactly right: Blacks today can no longer be thought of as a single race because the black community is so diverse OR blacks can still be thought of as a single race because they have so much in common.

How would you answer? Could you answer? We’ll revisit this in a moment.

This month, the Washington-based Pew Research Center released the results of a much-talked-about survey, “Optimism about Black Progress Declines, Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class,” that included the above question.

The study showed that Hurricane Katrina and the Jena 6 controversy, among other things, have African-Americans feeling pretty down about racial progress in America.

From Sept. 5 through Oct. 6, the folks at Pew contacted a diverse group of Americans with a larger sample of African-Americans. Interview questions addressed the economic prospects of blacks, their values, politics, and experiences with discrimination, integration, the criminal justice system, affirmative action.

One theme Pew wanted to focus on was the trends in income disparity for African-Americans since the civil rights movement. In 1970, the percentage of blacks with incomes of $50,000 and above, adjusted for inflation, was just 18 percent. In 2006, nearly 1 in 3 African-American households had incomes that high.

Indeed more and more blacks have seen their incomes move into the middle class and upper middle class ranges. Still, the gap between the black middle class and black lower class is increasing. And this is what served as the basis of the various questions relating to values.

The Pew researchers asked whether over the last decade values held by middle class blacks and poor blacks had become more similar or dissimilar.

Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the center, told me that when the values question was asked 20 years ago, about 50 percent of the respondents said the values among blacks of various incomes were more similar. This time there was a striking difference. By a ratio of 2 to 1, respondents said the values of poor blacks and wealthier blacks have grown more dissimilar over the last 10 years.

So, now to that original question up top: Should blacks be thought of as a single race or not?

I’m a fan of the Pew Center, but I found the question quite disturbing. First off, it’s a bad question because you have no clue what is meant by a “single race.”

Race is such a loaded term whose meaning is both based on genetics and a social construct. Either way, you’d have to believe that it’s possible for some people, based on their values (or, I guess, anything else), to splinter off. Impossible, right? So, what’s the point?

To ask whether blacks can be a single race, implies there’s an alternative. Is there?

Taylor said that researchers try not to direct people being surveyed, so they didn’t attempt to clarify any of this.

It all seems ludicrous actually.

There’s always been diversity within every racial group. There have always been people with questionable values up and down the economic scale. This is what sent entertainer Bill Cosby scurrying a few years ago to clean up his comments about poor people not holding up their end of the bargain in terms of racial progress. He was forced to stress that he meant some poor people, so that he wouldn’t unfairly paint all poor people with the same brush.

Perhaps what was more disturbing than the question were the answers. Thirty-seven percent of African-Americans said blacks shouldn’t be considered a single race.

Fifty-three percent of the black respondents said there should be no splintering off.

Taylor said both of these groups were diverse, with respondents spanning the class spectrum. Does that surprise you? It surprised me.

But maybe it shouldn’t. There are those who think that separating somehow can be a solution to the ills affecting black folk.

Distancing aggravates an already bad situation. There are many questions we should be asking to better understand what ails us. The above question really isn’t one of them.

Essay 4750

[UPDATE: View comments and Essay 4759 for clarification.]

Essay 4749

This mom and son may be the most overused stock photo family in America.

Unbelievable Update: The item below arrived in the mail today (11.28.2007).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Essay 4748

Dogs and dog lovers in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman is being sued again, this time for rubbing against a Las Vegas woman and slapping her buttocks. So much for “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

• Willie Nelson filmed a commercial to support anti-dogfighting legislation in Georgia. However, Nelson fully supports smoking marijuana with your dog.

Essay 4747

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


City no place for food deserts

City needs to get serious about sating all residents’ need for decent grocery stores

Hyde Park is one of the most racially and socially diverse neighborhoods in Chicago, with a broad mix of housing. The area is home to the elite University of Chicago and part of a vibrant college community. For all its fine attributes, the South Side community also is part of a vast “food desert,” meaning it has with no mainstream grocery stores or supermarkets.

Hyde Park is just one of scores of Chicago neighborhoods -- mostly low-income African-American and Hispanic areas on the South and West Sides -- with few stores that sell the fresh meat, produce and frozen foods that are essential to a healthy lifestyle. The food store supply may dry up even more next month if the Hyde Park Co-op Market goes out of business.

“Living in a food desert can mean more obesity and other health problems, including diabetes and premature death, especially for mothers and children,” said researcher Mari Gallagher, who studied the impact of food deserts on public health in Chicago. The study, “Good Food,” was done exclusively for the Sun-Times by Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group.

What food deserts lack in fresh fruits and veggies, they more than compensate for with fast-food restaurants, liquor stores and gas stations that sell food -- the fatty, salty kind that contributes to premature death from diabetes, obesity and other health problems. Of 325 food stamp retailers in Chicago’s food deserts, 44 are liquor stores. Only 16 are classified as mainstream groceries, but there are lots of fringe stores -- gas stations, bakeries, dollar stores and the like -- that sell food.

To preserve their constituents’ health, the aldermen in those food deserts need to mount a strong push to attract major grocers. And instead of pushing anti-business legislation such as the tax-heavy big-box ordinance that targeted Wal-Mart, they ought to be trying to attract more stores.

Gallagher’s study found that following a doctor’s dietary guidelines would be extremely difficult for the 500,000 or more people who live in the 287 areas that mostly lack grocery stores. In the typical desert, the nearest grocery store is eight blocks or one mile away, roughly twice the distance of the nearest fast-food restaurant.

Gallagher said a perception of higher rates of crime and shoplifting makes supermarkets and other stores shy away from desert areas. Target marketing, such as was done for the “Good Food” study, can help retailers pinpoint the best profitable locations.

Consider all the major chain supermarkets that have opened downtown, which used to be a food desert. Residents in the South Loop now have a veritable smorgasbord with a new Jewel Food Store, Dominick’s and Whole Foods -- all along the bustling Roosevelt Road business corridor. Could one of those food giants also be headed for Hyde Park? The University of Chicago says it’s negotiating for a “high-quality” store to replace the food co-op if it agrees to vacate its space at 1526 E. 55th St. in the Hyde Park Shopping Center.

Maybe it won’t be a major supermarket, though. “Stores don’t want to be first” to take a chance, Gallagher said. But after one store moves in and makes a profit, others jump in, as evidenced by the big-name and specialty stores in the Clybourn Corridor.

The city must attract supermarkets and other businesses to these food and commercial deserts. Tax Increment Financing districts were created to address just such shortcomings, so Mayor Daley and city planners -- with more prodding from aldermen -- must pour more funds into these needy areas like they did in the less-needy La Salle Street financial district.

Essay 4746

Last year’s Wal-Mart ads were pretty corny, but they look better than the current crop (or crap).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Essay 4745

Breaking up is hard to do in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and TV reporter Mirthala Salinas have ended their affair, canceling the telenovela-like spectacle that entertained California for the past months. Which means California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is free to make his move on Salinas.

• Hulk Hogan learned from a reporter that his wife had filed for divorce. “Thank you for the great information,” said Hogan to the reporter. He’ll also be thankful to learn Mirthala Salinas is back on the market.

Essay 4744

A different way of thinking and a better way of working should not involve using a chalkboard.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Essay 4743

Hitting the bars with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Former pro wrestler “Hardbody Harrison” is facing hard time after being convicted on charges that he held women as sex slaves. Harrison Norris Jr. worked as his own lawyer and claimed the women willingly lived with him, trained as wrestlers and were in great shape. Well, now he’s got an opportunity to try his training school with fellow inmates.

• Guards Gone Wild! That’s the contention of “Girls Gone Wild!” creator Joe Francis, who’s in prison awaiting his trial for tax evasion. Francis accused guards at an Oklahoma jail of abusing him, denying him food and blankets, plus threatening to tie him to a chair for two days. “Mr. Francis was treated like every inmate that comes through the Grady County Law Enforcement Center,” countered a prison spokesman. No word if there’s any video on the event.

Essay 4742

A marketing puzzle in any language
Media companies use English, with a Spanish accent, to reach a growing bilingual audience.

By Lorenza Muñoz, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Eighteen-year-old Brian Morales represents a growing segment of America that baffles advertisers, broadcast networks and cable channels.

The Santa Monica College freshman listens to Metallica and Linkin Park on his iPod. He also likes rock en español such as La Ley and Mana. His favorite TV show is the sci-fi drama “Heroes” on NBC and he tunes in to Univision to watch news and soccer with his dad. He’s equally at ease in English and Spanish.

“My culture is not ordinary. It’s mixed,” Morales said. “I am Hispanic but I do have my American culture.”

This cultural fusion is becoming an increasingly typical demographic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 5 U.S. adults ages 18 to 34 is Latino. Garcia and Rodriguez are now among the top 10 most common surnames in the nation. At least 50,000 Latinos in the U.S. turn 18 each month, UCLA demographer Leo Estrada estimates.

Despite the economic clout such figures represent, media companies and advertisers are grappling with whether to reach this growing audience in Spanish or English. Most efforts to date have been focused on Spanish. Six years ago, NBC Universal spent nearly $2 billion to buy Telemundo; Time Warner’s HBO created HBO Latino, where it airs Spanish-language movies; Walt Disney Co. created ESPN Deportes and Fox initiated Fox Sports en Español for Latino sports lovers. Comcast Corp. launched CableLatino, which offers a package of Spanish-language channels, on its local cable systems.

Traditionally, television advertisers and networks have believed that if they were not reaching Latinos through the two major Spanish-language networks, Telemundo and Univision, then they would connect with them through mainstream shows that have proved popular with young bilingual audiences such as “Ugly Betty,” World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Raw,” and “American Idol.”

Some believe that those strategies miss the sweet spot because they fail to recognize that the majority of Latinos living in the U.S. are bilingual and speak predominantly in English, while at the same time retaining their cultural roots.

“There is still a wide-open space for entertainment targeting Latinos who live in English and Spanish,” said Antoinette Alfonso Zel, former senior executive vice president of strategy for Telemundo. “That is the opportunity that may well be filled by the Internet unless the networks commit to this audience.”

[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]

Essay 4741

(Belated Halloween Ad)

Essay 4740

This ad could use more intelligence.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Essay 4739

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


The online divide

While Web sites like Facebook and MySpace are designed to help meet new people, college students are using them to communicate along racial and ethnic lines

BY DAVE NEWBART, Staff Reporter

In theory, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace should help college students meet new people outside their existing social groups and help students who live at home expand their horizons.

But a new study suggests that students use the sites largely to communicate with people they already know, and tend to use such sites along racial and ethnic lines. And the study shows that students who live at home actually use the sites less than those who live on campus.

The study, by Northwestern University assistant communications Professor Eszter Hargittai, was published recently in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Hargittai surveyed 1,000 students at the University of Illinois at Chicago about their use of social networking sites.

She found the use was widespread: 85 percent of men and 89 percent of women use the sites. That was slightly lower than another study that found that 94 percent of students at Michigan State University use the sites, but still significant.

But which sites were used varied by race.

Whites, blacks and Asian Americans favored Facebook over MySpace. But Hispanics favored MySpace. Meanwhile, Asian Americans were the only group that used such sites like Xanga and Friendster in significant numbers.

Hargittai couldn’t say for sure why the disparities existed but speculated that many Latinos, who tend to go to college in lesser numbers than whites or Asian Americans, could use MySpace to stay in touch with friends who aren’t in college. Formerly, Facebook was only open to college students. (While blacks also attend college at lower rates, she said the sample was too small to make significant conclusions.)

“These services are used for keeping in touch with people you already know,” she said. “People tend to hang out with others like them” and stay in touch with others in the same community, she said.

She said sites like Xanga and Friendster are popular in many Asian countries and account for their popularity among Asian-American students here.

For students who live at home -- as is the case with most UIC students -- the networks aren’t necessarily expanding their social base. While 87 percent of students who live on campus use Facebook, for example, just 71 percent of students who live with their parents do. She said part of the reason is time: Commuters might be spending more time getting to or from school or tending to family obligations than socializing online.

“One important aspect of going to college is to meet people, create social capital,” she said. “These students are missing out.”

Essay 4738

Giving Thanks in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Admittedly don’t follow the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but what the hell is Ronald McDonald doing in it—introducing a McTurkey Burger?

• If CBS news writers go on strike, it could cancel the Democratic presidential debate scheduled for December 10. “It is my hope that both sides will reach an agreement that results in a secure contract for the workers at CBS News, but let me be clear: I will honor the picket line if the workers at CBS News decide to strike,” said Hillary Clinton. Wonder who wrote that line for her.

• An inmate from a New York state prison sent letters filled with a white powdery substance to several media organizations and the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters. “The contents tested negative for any pathogens … It appears to be talcum powder,” said an FBI representative. Sharpton will probably complain about the powder being White.