Thursday, January 31, 2008
Liars and other suspicious characters in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Isuzu is getting out of the U.S. car market. Although the company will continue to focus on its truck line in the states, it could not compete in the car category. Additionally, Joe Isuzu could no longer compete in the liars category, as Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick appears to be assuming a dominant lead.
• Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick made a televised apology, although he technically did not specify what he was apologizing about. The mayor is embroiled in a scandal involving an alleged affair with a staffer and racy text messages. The messages contradict denials of extramarital wrongdoings delivered during a police whistle-blower trial in 2007. Investigators are probably now asking the mayor, “Who’s in your Fave 5?”
• Sears ex-CEO Aylwin Lewis will still get paid through March 2010. In addition to his $1 million annual salary, Lewis will collect health benefits, $1.8 million in restricted shares and more. Looks like Lewis won’t have to shop at Sears or Kmart anytime soon.
• Cable channel RFD-TV is closing in on returning shock jock Don Imus to television. RFD-TV hooked up with Comcast to begin offering televised simulcasts of Imus’ radio show to major cities. Guess it’s one more reason Bob Garfield hates Comcast.
From international news sources…
Australia to Apologize to Aborigines
MOUNT DRUITT, Australia - As a girl, Mari Melito Russell felt out of place. She was darker than the other kids at school, she felt more comfortable in the forest than her suburban home and she had vivid dreams of an Aboriginal woman beckoning her.
At age 24, she learned a shocking truth that helped explain her unease and set her on an agonizing search for an identity snatched away from her the day she was born.
Russell is among thousands of Australian Aborigines who were forcibly removed from their families under policies that lasted for decades until 1970, leaving deep scars on countless lives and the nation’s psyche.
Australia’s government said Wednesday it would formally apologize to the so-called “stolen generations” as the first item of business of the new Parliament, on Feb 13.
The issue has divided Australians for decades, and an apology would be a crucial step toward righting injustices many blame for the marginalized existence of Australia’s original inhabitants — its poorest and most deprived citizens.
“It’s not going to bring back my life,” Russell, 72, told The Associated Press Wednesday at her home on Sydney’s outskirts. “It’s not going to bring back my mum. It’s not going to take away the abuse that I had to endure when I was growing up.”
“But at least it’s a start.”
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected last November and whose pledge to apologize overturns a decade of refusals by his predecessor, has ruled out paying compensation. But he says he is determined to help all Aborigines achieve better health, education and living standards.
“This is about getting the symbolic covenant, if you like, between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia right and then moving on,” Rudd said this week.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said Wednesday the apology would “be made on behalf of the Australian government and does not attribute guilt to the current generation of Australian people.”
Her statement reflects the lingering concerns of many Australians that they should not be made responsible for mistakes by their forebears.
[Read the full story here.]
Adverganza’s Catharine P. Taylor interviewed new 4As CEO Nancy Hill. Check it out if you haven’t already. Taylor is definitely among the top advertising writers in the blogosphere, so it’s not surprising Hill requested talking with her. Here’s an excerpt:
So anyway, we also touched on the industry’s sorry record when it comes to diversity and how the 4As could do more to make it, well, less white bread. (My words, not hers.) Hill feels many minorities have trouble picturing themselves in the ad industry, which is among the difficulties in making the industry more diverse. “How can we position the industry as attractive to all constituencies?” she asked. “I think that starts before somebody gets out of school.”
Um, that’s a pretty safe and obvious statement. But let’s give Hill a little time to really consider the issues and see if she initiates any legitimately progressive, meaningful and measurable efforts. Although it might be interesting and revealing to view Hill’s personal (and personnel) record on diversity, as she’s held leading roles at major agencies.
Also, someone might ask Hill why she thinks minorities have trouble picturing themselves in the ad industry—that is, what’s wrong with this picture? The school remark is cool for future generations. Yet as MultiCultClassics has repeatedly pointed out, the future generations—by virtue of being inherently more diverse than predecessors—will naturally add culture. The question is, how will the industry address the generations that have been grossly underrepresented?
Most importantly, who’s going to school the current majority on how to change?
Adscam and Adrants have already panned this Taco Bell spot, and rightly so. Additionally, some folks have already noted the stereotypes. But let’s review and rehash it all anyway.
What’s most amazing—besides the realization that the commercial was produced in the 21st century—is the culturally clueless depiction of a mariachi band. The music track, incidentally, feels like it was scored by a monkey band. The cartoonish accents are a nice touch, especially the hollering of the tagline. You can almost picture the creative director at the recording session telling the voiceover talent, “Can you sound more Mexican?”
Taco Bell is constantly attempting to woo Latino customers. This is not the way to do it. In fact, the effort is downright shameful—it’s offensive on nearly every level imaginable.
Draftfcb is responsible for this mess. They should be beaten like a piñata, then fired. Pronto.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
On Monday, The Washington Post Company’s Washingpost.Newsweek Interactive launched The Root, an online magazine targeting Blacks. The website’s creators are Post Chairman Donald Graham and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Collecting Garbage with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• The San Diego Minutemen received a new section of road for cleaning up as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program. Members of the state Latino Legislative caucus worked with highway authorities to make the move, claiming the original designated road section posed safety concerns. The original spot, incidentally, was also near a Border Patrol checkpoint. Of course, the Minutemen are complaining that they shouldn’t have to move. “Caltrans could be violating their own rules of discrimination by revoking our permit,” said a Minuteman. “We’re not going to relinquish it voluntarily.” Guess they don’t like being deported.
• Mickey D’s has flipped its stance about banner ads appearing alongside scantily-clad women on a BET site. “When we learned about our placement there, we worked through our agency to express our concern about the placement of our advertisement on that page of the Web site,” said a McDonald’s spokeswoman. “It was not an appropriate representation for our brand.” Last week, the same spokeswoman originally defended the media placement and said, “We have a responsibility to market to young adults in areas and avenues that make the most sense.” Guess it’s a spokeswoman’s prerogative to change her mind—and media plan.
• British airliner Ryanair sparked controversy with a print ad featuring a scantily-clad schoolgirl hyping back-to-school fares. An advertising watchdog agency condemned the ad and demanded Ryanair never run it again, but the advertiser has indicated it won’t honor the ruling. Guess BET might have a replacement for Mickey D’s.
Andrew Dwyer, Steve Biegel’s lawyer, is apparently not satisfied merely facing off with the Dentsu legal team. He’s also battling bloggers. It’ll be a long time before anyone confuses Dwyer with Denny Crane.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
A Restful Defense In A MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Wesley Snipes’ defense rested in the tax-evasion trial on Monday, and lawyers are scheduled to deliver closing arguments on Tuesday. “We chose not to call witnesses because there was no need to. The government prosecutors have put on a case that simply does not come close to meeting the standard of its burden of proof,” said Snipes’ lawyer. “It was obvious after we went over the evidence the government presented that we could move on to closing arguments immediately and get a just acquittal for Wesley on all counts listed in the indictment.” Plus, they’ll probably need time to read Snipes’ 600-page closing argument.
• Foxy Brown lost in her bid for early release due to medical conditions involving loss of hearing. Guess the judge wasn’t hearing it.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Adrants and the Business Development Institute are continuing their Diversity in Advertising efforts with two upcoming job fairs in San Francisco and New York. Learn more about the events here.
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
Retaliation lawsuits under fire
RACE | Court may disallow claims under 1866 Civil Rights statute
BY FRANCINE KNOWLES
Four and a half years ago Matteson resident Hedrick Humphries sued Cracker Barrel restaurant, alleging he was fired from the company’s Bradley site in retaliation for complaints he made about race discrimination.
Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the race discrimination case to decide whether retaliation claims can continue to be brought under one of the country’s oldest federal civil rights laws -- statute 1981 under the 1866 Civil Rights Act.
If the Court disallows retaliation lawsuits, damages would be reduced to victims of racial discrimination, and others would be left without any recourse, contends Humphries’ attorney, Cynthia Hyndman and other civil rights experts.
“Broad protections would be taken away for people who are victims of racial discrimination and retaliation,” Hyndman said.
But Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores argues the statute doesn’t contain specific provisions prohibiting retaliation, so such claims, which have been made under the law for many years, shouldn’t be allowed.
“The case before the Supreme Court seeks clarity in the laws that provide equal protection against retaliation for both employees and employers,” Cracker Barrel said in a released statement.
Humphries, who had worked as an associate manager at Cracker Barrel for nearly three years, alleged he was fired after complaining that an acting general manager at the store was making racist remarks, including saying that a black cook at the restaurant “must be drunk or drugged” because that’s “how they all are.” He also alleged his firing came after he reported to management he was the victim of racially motivated discipline, and complained that the firing of another employee was racially motivated.
Cracker Barrel has denied wrongdoing in the case.
[Read the full story here.]
Adweek published a column by McCann Erickson Chairman Nina DiSesa, which is actually closer to being hype for her soon-to-be-released book, Seducing the Boys Club. Regarding the progress of women in advertising, DiSesa wonders:
It’s 2008. How are we doing?
How many women are creative directors in the large New York agencies?
How many women are running advertising agencies that don’t have their name on the door?
How many women have P&L responsibilities that indicate real control and authority?
Um, you’re doing significantly better than minorities, girlfriend.
Read the column here.
Evolution of Dinosaurs in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• There’s excitement at Sears, as CEO Aylwin Lewis will step down and out on February 2. His interim replacement will be W. Bruce Johnson. “We are entering a new phase in Sears’ evolution as a multi-channel retailer, as reflected by the new operational structure we recently announced, and the board has determined that now is the right time to put in place new leadership to take the company forward,” said Chairman Edward S. Lampert. So far, Lampert could be labeled a multi-channel failure.
• Verizon announced 4Q 2007 earnings rose 3.9 percent. Guess we know where some of Sprint’s 683,000 former customers defected.
• Mickey D’s reported 4Q 2007 profits rose 3 percent. The average citizen’s waistline and blood pressure probably rose significantly higher.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
AdAge.com reported on new attempts to sell Colt 45 malt liquor to a young audience. It should be interesting to see the ultimate public responses. On the one hand, malt liquor gained notoriety when targeting low-income minorities—so expect condemnation from community activist groups. However, the true audience has always included young adults, particularly college students. Malt liquor continues to be a cheap, high-octane beverage. But this new campaign integrates comic-book style art, opening the door to accusations of deliberately appealing to under-age drinkers. The brown bag pushes the negative stereotypes associated with urban dwellers, which will undoubtedly fuel protests too. Looks like a no-win scenario for the advertiser and agency.
Challenge: Make Malt Liquor Look Good on Paper
Pabst Uses Icon From Controversial Brand’s Past to Reposition It as Edgy to New Generation of Drinkers
By Jeremy Mullman
CHICAGO -- Talk about a marketing conundrum: Revive Colt 45 malt liquor -- once seen as an exploitative product that preyed on the urban poor -- as an edgy choice for young hipsters.
But Pabst Brewing Co. is trying to do just that, with a campaign from Seattle boutique Cole & Weber. The push uses outdoor, digital and print ads to spread what it calls “The Tales of Colt 45,” graphic-novel-type strips that show young drinkers enjoying alcohol-fueled adventures. And in what might well elicit a wince from those familiar with the brand's history, all the creative appears to be drawn on brown paper bags.
“The brown bag was really the canvas these adventures write themselves on,” said Todd Grant, Cole & Weber’s executive creative director. “We’ve all had those cult adventures, and it’s fun to tell the tales.”
Of course, the image of malt liquor being carted around in brown bags isn’t universally viewed as benign and fun. Activists and a congressman in Philadelphia successfully pushed for Colt 45 wraps to be taken off a pair of city buses last year, saying the marketing of malt liquor was irresponsible given the rising crime rate there.
“Given our rising epidemic of violence, your promotion of especially dangerous malt liquor is extraordinarily counterproductive,” Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) said at the time. “Through these ads, [the transportation authority] is effectively condoning malt-liquor sales.”
In its late-1980s heyday, when sales topped 2 million barrels annually, Colt 45 was hardly bashful about marketing in poor neighborhoods, where the image of actor Billy Dee Williams and the slogan “Works every time” were often ubiquitous on billboards. Colt 45 contains 6.1% alcohol, making it boozier than most beers (Budweiser, for example, is 5%).
“We really wanted it to be a brand-new thing,” Mr. Grant said. “Whatever baggage they did have … doesn’t exist anymore.”
Neither, it seems, do a lot of the brand’s consumers. Sales have fallen by more than half since the late 1980s, and most of the remaining drinkers are aging.
To appeal to younger drinkers, Cole & Weber tapped graphic novelist Jim Mahfood (author of the volume “Classic 40 Ounce: Tales From the Brown Bag” and a regular contributor to alternative newsweeklies) to create a series of scenes and stories of young adults enjoying themselves with Colt 45. Most of the creative shows 20-somethings flaunting their oversize cans in social settings such as rooftop parties and dance clubs.
The brand’s ad budget is centered on the New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles markets, although it also made national print buys in magazines such as Vice, Fader and Juxtapose.
Mr. Williams is nowhere to be found (Mr. Grant said unsuccessful overtures were made to have him make a cameo in one of the strips), but his signature “Works every time” slogan does appear in most of the work, which some experts said could be problematic. “Anytime you call attention to the [alcoholic] strength of a brand, you’re taking a risk,” said Benj Steinman, editor and publisher of the newsletter Beer Marketer’s Insights. Federal regulations prohibit the use of strength as a selling point for alcoholic beverages.
Make The Logo Bigger pointed out this latest story on NASCAR and its diversity issues. One thing to consider is the stereotyping associated with NASCAR fans; that is, there’s a perception that they are all a bunch of redneck yahoos. The fan base actually features a broad range of Whites, and most of them are upper- and middle-class suburban families. Not sure, however, if NASCAR has ever probed to see what percentage of its “diverse” White audience could be categorized as biased and racist.
Nascar’s Race Problem
by Melba Newsome
With growth stalled, a multibillion-dollar sports business looks to diversity for a jump start. But some Fortune 500 would-be sponsors fear that supporting minority drivers could set off a rebel yell.
Marc Davis was doing what Nascar drivers do all the time—getting even.
With 10 laps to go in a tight 200-lap race at Hickory Motor Speedway, Davis, then 16 years old, was fighting hard for the win when a rival tapped his rear bumper and sped around him as he tried to recover. On the next lap, Davis repaid the favor by thumping his competitor and causing him to spin out. Both ended up at the back of the pack. For the drivers, this was no big deal. Retaliation is part of the sideshow that gives Nascar its edge. But this episode had an extra element: Davis is black, and his rival, also a teenager, was white.
And Hickory, 50 miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, is Nascar bedrock, America’s oldest continuously operating motor speedway and the hallowed minor-league track where such legends as Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty cut their teeth. It attracts a hardcore following, an overwhelmingly white crowd that was perfectly happy when Nascar was just a backwater redneck sport. So though Davis had already proved his Nascar mettle by winning six races at Hickory that year, his tangling with a white driver caused an uproar among about a hundred fans, who stormed a fence surrounding the track, some of them chanting, “Go home, nigger!” Several were ejected from the stands.
As for Davis? He walked away like a driver from a bad crash, determined not to let the episode dampen his ambition to become one of the best drivers in the history of America’s second-most-watched sport. He had already inked a six-year deal with Joe Gibbs Racing, the powerhouse established by the famed Redskins head coach and run by his son J.D., and home to Nextel Cup Series contenders Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin. By the 2007 season, Davis had graduated from the Hickory farm club to the Busch East Series, an East Coast racing circuit known for developing young racers, and finished in the top 10 among more than 70 drivers. When he turns 18 this June, Davis, a daredevil since his elementary-school years, is expected to climb yet one more Nascar rung, bringing him closer to his goal of racing against the likes of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Of the racial incident, Davis’ father and manager, Harry, says, “It is what it is, but I will not allow it to be a roadblock. Our only purpose is to race.”
[Read the full story here.]
Saturday, January 26, 2008
A Lil MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Lil Wayne got into a lil trouble, as Arizona cops busted him for drug and gun felonies on Friday. After the artist’s tour bus was stopped, a search revealed a pistol, pot, cocaine and ecstasy. In most rapper buses, those features come standard.
• Sylvester Stallone admitted he’s not lil, thanks to human growth hormone usage. “HGH (human growth hormone) is nothing,” said Stallone. “Anyone who calls it a steroid is grossly misinformed. … Testosterone to me is so important for a sense of well-being when you get older. Everyone over 40 years old would be wise to investigate it because it increases the quality of your life. Mark my words. In 10 years it will be over the counter.” Look for Stallone to introduce a chain of Rambo Pharmacies.
• Ex-HarperCollins publisher Judith Regan picked up a lil cash, settling her $100 million defamation lawsuit against Harper’s parent company, News Corporation. Regan charged that her former employer fired her for making anti-Semitic remarks that she denied ever uttering. News Corporation released a statement that read, “After carefully considering the matter, we accept Ms. Regan’s position that she did not say anything that was anti-Semitic in nature, and further believe that Ms. Regan is not anti-Semitic.” While the final settlement was not disclosed, you can bet News Corporation lawyers exclaimed, “Oy Vey!”
The New York Post spotlighted a racist and sexist incident involving Madison Avenue icon Jerry Della Femina. Technically, Della Femina appears to be only indirectly responsible in the scenario. But it’s not the first time the man has demonstrated a certain cluelessness. Anyway, read the article below and decide for yourself.
LI NEWSPAPER SLURS BARACK
By SELIM ALGAR and MAGGIE HABERMAN
Adman and Hamptons publisher Jerry Della Femina apologized yesterday for a racist and sexist column in one of his newspapers that mocked Barack Obama with ugly stereotypes.
“It is a horrible column. It was a disaster,” Della Femina told The Post yesterday after one of the Hamptons free weekly papers he publishes, the Independent, offended the black community in the tony Long Island towns.
“There’s no excuse for it and it won’t happen again.”
Della Femina, who co-owns the paper, spoke after columnist Rick Murphy penned his “Low Tidings” humor column about the bitter battle between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, using some of the oldest stereotypes in the book — while accusing the Illinois senator of essentially not being black enough.
The column referred to Obama as “Yo Mama bin Barack” and describes his strategy, in a mocking first-person narrative, as planning to “deny I am black unless I am campaigning in Harlem,” adding, “The truth is I don’t know many black people.”
It said that he was told to “call everyone brother. Blacks, I am told, do this even if their real brothers are mostly in jail,” and said his advisers told him to “talk jive.”
The column also said his plan for beating Clinton was to “bitch-slap that ho … white women, I am told, like that.”
After several complaints to the paper, the column was pulled off the paper’s Web site.
Murphy printed an apology acknowledging that it was “ill-conceived and offense. The Independent, a multicultural employer with a 13-year history of diversity, apologizes for this lapse of judgment.”
Della Femina said he never saw the column before it ran.
He said that the paper had reached out to the local NAACP chapter “and offered them two pages in which they could … just say anything they wanted.”
The Obama campaign declined comment.
Della Femina said Murphy will not be fired.
“We can’t turn our back on the guy, he did something [wrong] … he’s apologizing for it. No one should want to work in a news organization with the thought that if they make a mistake, they’re going to get fired.”
Copywrite, Ink. presented a thoughtful perspective on the Steve Biegel versus Dentsu case, drawing one response that reflects the racism festering in the fiasco.
Here’s the comment:
This is the [classic] example of blaming the accuser. Fact: Japanese businessmen go on these excursions regularly. Fact: This guy says he reported it to his boss. Fact: He has witnesses. Let’s see what Weitz says in court. And the employees who were coerced into the bath. Let’s see what they say in court. How many American companies are going to hire this Japanese company now? They are the ones whose credibility is questioned. And will always be questioned, even if they put their multi-million dollar legal machine to work and defeat him with pr spin. What specific claim did they deny anyway?
Let’s face it. The claims are not that unreasonable based on typical Japanese business practices, are they?
Let’s hope Anonymous is not closely associated with Biegel and his attorney. After all, Biegel charges he’s the victim of sexual harassment and discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism. It would be unfortunate to discover the Biegel crew is covertly fighting bias with bias.
Anonymous also compounds cultural cluelessness with corporate cluelessness. Surely the writer doesn’t naïvely believe Madison Avenue honchos have never solicited prostitutes with coworkers. Heaven forbid they might ever frequent Times Square gentlemen’s clubs with clients. No, that sort of perverted activity is exclusive to the mysterious and obscene Japanese businessmen.
As for Americans rejecting Japanese companies, well, let’s consider how Toyota is fast overtaking the U.S. automakers. Perhaps Anonymous is confusing anti-Chinese with anti-Japanese business sentiments. Then again, they probably all look alike to Anonymous.
What’s with the staging for political candidates advertising their commitment to education?
The Black candidate shows up in a predominately White school…
The Indian American candidate meets with a predominately Black group of kids…
The Latino candidate opts not to appear at all, displaying a United Nations classroom…
What’s the lesson to be learned here?
The Black candidate shows up in a predominately White school…
The Indian American candidate meets with a predominately Black group of kids…
The Latino candidate opts not to appear at all, displaying a United Nations classroom…
What’s the lesson to be learned here?
Adweek.com reported on Friday—along with a hardcore Biegel fan—that a judge nixed the Dentsu motion for a summary judgment, allowing the infamous lawsuit to proceed.
Does this mean Steve Biegel struck like a stealthy ninja to seriously wound his evil Japanese nemesis? Has Biegel Ninja aggressively seized the offensive? Will he now move in to deliver the final death blow?
Um, doubt it.
In the end, the judge’s action may actually prolong Biegel’s agony. The man will likely spend many months and major money to inevitably be told his case sucks.
According to Adweek, “Dentsu in court papers claimed Biegel signed a form when he was hired acknowledging the company’s policy against sexual harassment and only complained about alleged harassment one-and-a-half years after the incidents occurred.” Biegel apparently “does not recall” being schooled on Dentsu’s policy. Plus, he’s supposedly clueless about having received the company rulebook.
Yeah, right. A Madison Avenue veteran forgot his agency’s basic policies and procedures. And he didn’t even think to look for them while responding to sexual harassment and anti-Semitic discrimination. Did Biegel join the business yesterday? Was the ex-creative director ever in a managerial or hiring role? No way should a senior-level agency executive be so ignorant. If he was, well, maybe he deserved to be terminated.
Biegel’s starting to resemble Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that Prague prostitute.”
Of course, Biegel still has to prove his charges. He’s presented nothing solid so far. Perhaps he’s holding it all back for the grand showdown.
Um, doubt it.
Sorry, Biegel fan. The judge’s decision does not translate to confirmation that your hero has a legitimate case. In fact, we’ll bet the man ultimately slinks off in silence like a ninja—after experiencing zero success battling Dentsu and its legal team.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Adding insult to injuries in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Sprint continues to sprint ahead with corporate restructuring, replacing three key executives—including the Chief Marketing Officer. “Permanent leaders will be named in conjunction with a review of overall strategy and an effort to streamline operations,” said chief executive Daniel Hesse. “I have no predetermined timeframe in filling these positions but plan to act as quickly as possible.” In some areas, the company is apparently not interested in moving at the speed of light.
• Golf Channel Anchor Kelly Tilghman returned to work after her suspension and opened with another formal apology. “I’m Kelly Tilghman. It’s an honor to be with you again,” said the woman. “In a recent live broadcast, I used an inappropriate word that was offensive to many. Over the last two weeks, I’ve taken this time to reflect and truly understand the impact of what I said. While I did not intend to offend anyone, I understand why those words were hurtful. I am terribly sorry for any hurt that I’ve caused. I would like to express my deepest apologies.” Tell it to the fired editor from Golfweek magazine.
• Don Imus is upsetting advertisers with his inappropriate remarks again. This time, the shock jock actually insulted paying sponsor FlatSigned Press, calling their products “cheesy.” The company now charges Imus with hurting their sales, and a $4 million lawsuit has been filed. Additionally, Green Bay cheeseheads are demanding an apology.
Adweek.com scooped the latest droppings from the Steve Biegel versus Dentsu fiasco. It’s a complex, detailed story with a simple message: Biegel’s legal days are numbered—the clock is ticking like a quickie session with a Prague prostitute.
You don’t need Denny Crane to explain what’s happening here. Biegel’s problem is his arguments and charges are almost purely emotional and subjective. In contrast, Dentsu is building a tight defense, citing facts, legal precedents and hard-to-dispute truths.
Biegel spouts “Sharapova crotch shot” and “slavishly deferential.” Dentsu volleys with “Faragher-Ellerth” and “Policies & Procedures Employee Manual.” Yes, Biegel’s blustering might make for a more entertaining primetime courtroom drama. But real cases involve those nettlesome things called laws.
Right now, Biegel’s as lawless as Xena’s Lucy.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Bitter grinding in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Starbucks is charging a buck and offering free refills in test markets to combat competition from value-driven rivals. The special price is roughly 50 cents less than the regular cost. Wonder if the wild animals in those lame Starbucks commercials will feel offended upon receiving a cheaper gift.
• Busta Rhymes got a sweet deal for pleading guilty to assaulting a former driver and a fan in separate punching incidents. The artist received three years’ probation and 10 days of community service. Plus, he’ll pay about $1,500 for driving while intoxicated with a suspended license. “I just wanted to say that I’m very grateful to the judge. I am very grateful to the system. I believe in the system,” said Rhymes. “It hasn’t failed me personally yet.” Seems like Rhymes beat two people and the system.
• Wesley Snipes may not fare as well as Busta Rhymes. The actor’s tax-evasion trial featured the reading of a letter Snipes sent the IRS in 2006. In the 600-page document, Snipes declared he was a “nonresident alien” and the IRS tricks folks to “terrorize, enslave, rape or pillage” taxpayers. Snipes also warned the government’s “illegal collection action” would lead to “significant personal liability” for the involved officials. Unless the actor can convince the court he actually accidentally sent the script for an upcoming Blade sequel, his next legal tactics are pretty clear: Immediately hire the attorneys for Busta Rhymes and R. Kelly—then use his vampire powers to resurrect the late Johnnie Cochran.
• NFL icon Jim Brown criticized Tiger Woods for not speaking out faster and more forcefully in response to the infamous Kelly Tilghman “lynch” remark. Brown said, “He waited until it was politically correct to come out and he should have come out right away.” Maybe Woods was waiting for Snipes to draft him a 600-page commentary.
• General Motors maintained its sales leadership over Toyota by a measly 3,000 cars in 2007. GM did, however, completely dominate Toyota in the “disrespecting-minority-advertising-agencies” category.
From The New York Post…
BUSTA BUSTS OUT AGAIN
What is it about rapper Busta Rhymes that brings out the dumb in judges?
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Larry Steven yesterday gave Rhymes a no-jail deal in exchange for guilty pleas on a remarkable collections of charges amassed over the last several years—including two assault charges, DWI and driving with a suspended license.
Steven gave Rhymes three years probation and 10 days of community service.
Rhymes even gets to pick his own “community service.” (Wouldn’t celebrity-perp trash-picker-uppers Boy George and Naomi Campbell have loved that deal!)
If this were anyone else, leniency for a couple of misdemeanor assault charges might be understandable.
But this is Busta Rhymes.
• He previously got probation for a ‘99 illegal-weapons charge in New York and a 2004 assault charge in Massachusetts.
• He conspicuously refused to cooperate with Brooklyn DA Joe Hynes in the investigation into the 2006 slaying of Rhymes’ bodyguard, Israel Ramirez. The murder of the father of three remains unsolved.
In a city where the judiciary actually served justice, full cooperation with Hynes would be the minimum requirement for a no-jail plea bargain.
But Judge Steven handed down a sentence even lighter than the no-jail wrist-slap offered by his colleague, Judge Tanya Kennedy, last February.
Kennedy yanked that deal when Rhymes walked out of her court—and was picked up on the suspended-license charge less than 48 hours later. How’s that for respect?
Obviously, Steven learned nothing from the episode.
Still, justice may yet be done.
Rhymes is to be formally sentenced in March—and, under the deal, any violation over the three-year probation period could mean a year in jail for Rhymes on outstanding charges.
The rapper seems an even-money bet to be back in court—but what are the odds that New York’s mush-brained judiciary will do the right thing even then?
Pretty long, we’d guess.
Busta Rhymes is doubtless laughing at New York’s ridiculous bench today.
And who’s to blame him? It’s absurd.
Last Monday in Chicago—while the majority enjoyed the MLK Holiday away from work—crowds braved the bitter cold to check out the PSI Diversity Job Fair at Navy Pier. The website hyped the event as “the first and only Diversity Job Fair selected by the National NAACP, the National Urban League and endorsed by leading national media.” Not sure about the final attendance figures, as this report is based on visiting around 1:00-3:00 pm (the fair officially opened at 10:00 am). But there appeared to be a healthy turnout of employment seekers.
The predominately Black audience, mostly ranging from 25-35 years old, sported formal business attire and hauled bags and briefcases filled with résumés. They stood in lines up to a dozen deep, patiently waiting for the chance to shake hands and briefly connect with representatives from various corporations and service groups. A special area was set up for interviews, and giveaway logo-emblazoned pens were plentiful. While the Marines garnered lukewarm interest, the other booths attracted decent gatherings. The participants included AT&T, Comcast, Aflac, bp, Microtrain and Best Buy.
Conspicuously absent were any advertising agencies. Granted, Chicago is not facing pressure from the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Plus, the local ad community might whine that recent downsizings prohibit active recruiting.
At the same time, it’s unlikely there’s a better and more convenient way to lure minority prospects. Can’t imagine the job fair organizers charged hefty fees to join the extravaganza. After all, admission was free.
On a date designated to celebrate diversity, the advertising industry literally took the day off.
How typical. And stereotypical.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Just picked up a copy of Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry by Jason Chambers. Will attempt to post a review in the coming weeks. The local Barnes & Noble stocked the title in the African American Studies section versus Marketing and Advertising. In the meantime, you may learn more about the book here and here.
Punching in and out with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Chuck Norris, Texas Ranger and Mike Huckabee fan, sparked controversy by declaring Republican presidential candidate John McCain is too old to run the White House. Look at the photo above and try to explain why Norris should be taken seriously as a political analyst. Huckabee would be better off partnering with Steven Seagal.
• Various sources reported potential layoffs at Yahoo! One blog claimed the company is seeking to eliminate up to 2,500 jobs, while newspapers estimated figures in the hundreds. Wonder if employees are using Yahoo! hotjobs® or opting for the more popular Monster.com.
Monday, January 21, 2008
From The Los Angeles Times…
A black president? We’ve already had the pleasure
By Joel Stein
A lot of liberals say they’re not supporting Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential primaries because an African-American can’t carry the South in the general election -- which is a liberal’s clever way of saying that he won’t vote for a black person.
But, it seems, they’re wrong. Although Iowa and New Hampshire aren’t in the South, they are full of hicks, which is what rich liberals actually mean when they refer to “the South.”
You have to live among rich liberals to understand what they’re saying. You’ll never believe what they mean by “middle class.” They mean themselves.
America is ready for a black president because we’ve seen them before. Black presidents, in fact, have been our awesomest presidents ever: Morgan Freeman in “Deep Impact” and Dennis Haysbert in “24.” And their approval ratings -- box office grosses and Nielsen ratings, the only approval that matters in the U.S. -- have been huge. The Freeman and Haysbert administrations, which endured Carter-level challenges such as a comet headed toward Earth and working with Kiefer Sutherland, have specifically prepared us for Obama. Like him, they confront without being confrontational. They’re calm, earnest, utterly decent and way, way cooler than white presidents -- which is what I’m sure Joe Biden was trying to say when he called Obama “articulate” and “clean.” If only I had translated for him sooner.
If there is a choice between winning a culture war or a political war, take the cultural one. Sure, the blunt force of the law can make something happen quickly -- unless the law equivocates to make only three-fifths of something happen, or to just not ask and not tell -- but culture affects how people think, which is how real change occurs. You can only send the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Ark., so many times, but Norman Lear can make people see the absurdity of racism every week.
The creators of “24” were totally misguided in their reasoning for casting a black presidential candidate. They thought the threat of his assassination would up the stakes because it might spark a race war. But viewers didn’t care about his race. Haysbert knew by the second season that America was ready to elect a black president because white people would stop him on the street to say they wished he were the real president.
Obama is strikingly similar to Haysbert’s character, President David Palmer: Both were senators, both campaigned in their mid-40s and both deliver JFK-style speeches in a cool, jazz baritone. “I think we both have a similar approach to who and what we believe the president is. Barack doesn’t get angry. He’s pretty level. That’s how I portrayed President Palmer: as a man with control over his emotions and great intelligence,” Haysbert says.
In fact, it’s weird to imagine the two of them in the same room, as they were during a small fundraiser at which Obama pointed him out and said, “I see we have a former president in the room.”
Freeman, another Obama campaign contributor, was born in 1937 and grew up in Mississippi, never thinking we could possibly have a black president. But after 1998’s “Deep Impact,” Freeman says, white people told him, too, that they wished he were really president. “If you think of these roles and how the country reacted, you kind of get the notion that perhaps they could handle it,” he says. In fact, he started to sense that in 1984 -- when Jesse Jackson sought the Democratic nomination, and, more important, when Bill Cosby’s sitcom made him the highest paid entertainer in the country -- that we’d one day have a black president. Maybe one similar to the one he portrayed. “It remains to be seen if Barack Obama would be the same kind of president as Bob whatever-his-name-was,” Freeman says.
It’s not completely insane for America to have tested out, in fiction, the idea of a black commander in chief. Because, really, all presidents are fictional characters. Sure, the president has very tangible effects on some people: soldiers, Iraqis, welfare recipients, guys facing a prison sentence named Scooter.
But for the rest of us, the president primarily influences how we feel about the country. We love Ronald Reagan not just for helping end the Cold War but for smiling like a used-car salesman and convincing us that morning had broken. Haysbert, Freeman and Obama can do that without even smiling.
If you think about it, Barack Obama wouldn’t stand a chance if Geena Davis had been a little more compelling in “Commander in Chief.”