Wednesday, April 30, 2008

5416: BB King Of Beers.

Received the following comment for Essay 4281 that’s definitely worth sharing…

Wow, reading that article by Tim Arnold brought back some frightening memories of ad men. I was the recording engineer on the BB King Budweiser radio spot. That session was the single most embarrassing moment of my career. Having to spend 6 hours in a room with completely out of touch advertising executives and “creatives” trying to tell BB King just how to play the blues. I only wish I had it on videotape.

Anyone who has ever listened to BB King knows that he never plays over his vocals, though the “passionate” blues enthusiast seemed to have no clue to this. I remember cringing whenever they pressed the talkback button to say something like, “BB…babe…I want to hear Lucille wail over the entire spot…Give me some Lucille, BB.” Of course they also had him singing “Bud” lyrics throughout the entire spot with no holes left for his guitar work. Mr. King was, however, gracious and accommodating throughout the arduous process and I’m sure the entire band got a good laugh afterwards. Check please.

They never did get him to play over his vocal until I sent a number of 4 bar vocal refrains to magnetic heaven.

The fact is that having celebrities hawk a product is neither groundbreaking nor creative…it’s Marketing 101. People are suckers for “if HE or SHE uses it, it must be great.” The only tough thing about it is prying the money to pay the celebrity out of the budget.

One thing Ad Men are VERY good at is tooting their own horn.

5415: Will The Axe Drop On Dupri? reported Procter & Gamble created a hotline to get consumer responses to placing advertising in media—specifically, BET and MTV— that features offensive rap imagery. The move appears to be a reaction to protests from the Enough is Enough Campaign led by Maryland pastor Delman Coates. Wonder if the ink has dried on the music contract between P&G and Jermaine Dupri.

5414: Divisiveness & Digital. Oh, And Diversity Too.

The story below appeared at A brief MultiCultClassics comment immediately follows…

New 4A’s Leadership Provides Healthy Dose of Boosterism
Chairman Tom Carroll Wants an End to Divisiveness and Ad Industry In-fighting

By Rupal Parekh

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. -- Ad agency chiefs used to hearing doomsday forecasts for their business model heard very different calls from two industry leaders at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ 2008 Leadership Conference here.

After an official passing of the baton by outgoing 4A’s Chairman Tony Hopp, incoming chairman and TBWA/Chiat/Day President-CEO Tom Carroll opened the event in his signature candid style, speaking out against persistent criticism by industry publications -- including this one -- of the good work agencies are doing in an environment that’s rapidly changing because of digital technology.

‘Stop listening to critics’
All industries need to calibrate themselves, Mr. Carroll noted, and the ad industry, in the midst of making difficult changes, isn’t doing a half-bad job of it. “We need to stop listening to the critics … we know what we’re doing with technology.”

He went on to urge agency executives to once and for all use stop using language that divides creative and digital disciplines: “It’s all digital … everything we do is digital … it’s one thing.” Mr. Carroll earned some laughs when he compared the notion of digital talent staging an attack on the industry to President Bush’s depiction of Al Qaeda.

The 4A’s leadership conference -- which in past years was dubbed a “management conference” -- has in prior years gotten its share of criticism “some of it deserved, some of it’s just piling on,” Mr. Carroll said. As a result, the group this year revamped the agenda by shortening sessions and mixing presentations with respected luminaries, such as TBWA/Chiat/Day’s Lee Clow and Tribal DDB’s Matt Freeman, with speakers from outside the industry, such as Google’s Eric Schmidt.

Still, he placed the burden on attendees to provide constructive feedback to evolve the confab and make it more relevant going forward.

Addressing agency concerns
Meanwhile, Nancy Hill, who in February took over as president-CEO of the group, succeeding O. Burtch Drake, went down a more inspirational route, squarely placed diversity and technology at the top of the organization’s agenda. Not necessarily new issues, Ms. Hill noted, but nevertheless the ones repeatedly cited as top concerns she hears from agency leaders around the country.

To boost the numbers of ethnic and racially diverse employees in agency ranks, the 4A’s before the close of its conference will announce a “major new initiative that will specifically address the dearth of African-American executives,” Ms. Hill said.

She further vowed to make it a priority to transform the nearly century-old organization into the “digitally savvy association of the future,” via a new website that launches today, and the rollout of a new digital platform and suite of online tools over the next year to allow members to better network and engage in a global conversation about advertising.

“Our perspective must be broader and more global in scope,” she said. “Our counterparts from around the world need and want to interact with us.”

OK, so Nancy Hill promised a “major new initiative that will specifically address the dearth of African-American executives.” Which probably means Hill recruited a bunch of Black adpeople to brainstorm a solution. Don’t mean to be the type of critic Tom Carroll criticized, but the industry’s failure at ethnic diversity is no different than its bumbling of integrated marketing. Advertising executives pigeonhole and segregate everything—and the worst part is, they place value judgments on the individual pieces. Unless the “major new initiative” includes rewiring the brains of typical advertising executives—and introducing serious behavioral modifications—it’s unlikely any real progress will take place. As it is, digital has already leapfrogged diversity on the official to-do list.

5413: Terminal Stupidity.

To get the true terminal experience, soak this ad in sweat and urine.

5412: Broad Imagery.

Ad Broad points out 6 things to avoid when doing ads for boomers. Madison Avenue perpetuates stereotypes with clichéd imagery when targeting specific audiences? Imagine that. Also, might add overuse of Motown music to the list—or in lieu of Motown, Louis Armstrong singing, “What A Wonderful World.”

5411: Eye-popping Shit.

If this Propel ad was produced by the agency that replaced Element 79, then the Chicago-based shop was robbed. If it was created by Element 79, then they deserved to lose the business.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

5410: Worlds Gone Wild.

Exposing deals in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Ashley Alexandra Dupre, the call girl linked to former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, is suing Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis for $10 million. Dupre is charging Francis with using her image to sell videos, even though she allegedly permitted Francis to film her in 2003. Perhaps this will inspire a spinoff series: When Call Girls Attack.

• The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, the maker of assorted gums, and Mars, the maker of M&Ms and more, announced plans to merge the companies. “Bringing together these iconic, world-class companies combines Wrigley’s strengths with the deep resources and proven brand-building savvy of Mars and will result in a powerful force for innovation and growth in the global confectionery marketplace,” said Warren Buffett, whose company will provide funding for Mars. Um, what are Wrigley’s strengths—the Doublemint Twins?

• General Motors announced plans to dump 3,500 workers because of lousy sales with pickup trucks and SUVs. A GM executive said, “With rising fuel prices, a softening economy and a downward trend on current and future market demand for full-size trucks, a significant adjustment was needed to align our production with market realities.” Since when has GM been in touch with reality?

5409: Who’s Your Daddy?

Just in time for Mother’s Day…?

5408: Creative Director X-Factors.

Saatchi & Saatchi X seems to be constantly seeking creative help. Check out this actual job listing:

At Saatchi & Saatchi X, our Creative Directors ensure delivery of world-class ideas and award-winning work that create sustainable growth for our clients. Our Creative Directors are connected players with their multi-functional teams, their peers, the creative youth and our clients. They are talented storytellers who are capable across multiple disciplines, such as digital, copywriting, design, interactive, CRM, promotional campaigns and environment/experiential.

Our Creative Directors are leaders in our agency, engaged in broad business discussions that shape the future of Saatchi & Saatchi X. They are inspirational leaders and mentors.

The ideal candidate will be an outstanding strategic and conceptual thinker, imaginative storyteller and persuasive communicator. You should also have a degree in a related field, with preferably 8 to 10 years of agency experience and a proven ability to direct and create award-winning work.

We are looking for team players who are passionate, curious, positive, and courageous.

“Connected players with…the creative youth” probably means you’ll be overseeing low-paid, inexperienced rookies. “Imaginative storyteller” definitely means major-league bullshitter. As for the world-class ideas and award-winning work, well, check out the examples depicted above from the agency website. Guess Prilosec side effects include delusions of grandeur.

5407: Lame Recognize Lame.

Game over.

Monday, April 28, 2008

5406: Bulging Bias.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Lending heft to an anti-bias campaign
Massachusetts bill aims to stem discrimination against the overweight, but some don’t want a ‘green light’ to be fat

By Lisa Anderson, Tribune correspondent

NEW YORK — In an overwhelmingly overweight nation that worships thinness, many describe prejudice against the obese as one of the last socially acceptable biases. Advocates for the plus-sized, particularly activists in the “fat acceptance” movement, want obesity to become a category legally protected against discrimination, like religion, race, age and sex. But not everyone agrees.

One such law, to ban discrimination against weight and height, is pending in Massachusetts.

“I think it would help mostly because it would send a message that fat people are equal citizens. It’s not in the litigation rates, but the rights consciousness that comes after legislation,” said Anna Kirkland, an assistant professor of women’s studies and political science at the University of Michigan.

Kirkland, who said she is not overweight, is the author of the just-published “Fat Rights: Dilemmas of Difference and Personhood,” which examines the question of whether weight should be a protected category.

Currently, people can seek protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they must prove their obesity is a disability and, in some cases, that it is caused by physical traits beyond their control.

“Right now, fat is just a marker of bad character, an undesirable personal trait that people bring on themselves,” said Kirkland, who prefers the word fat to the ambiguity of overweight and the clinical-sounding obese. “What you’re doing is forcing the law to force social change.”

According to generally accepted medical standards, about two-thirds of Americans are overweight (a body mass index of 25 to 30) or obese (a BMI over 30). It is a situation so entrenched in popular culture that it provides the basis for such reality shows as “Bulging Brides” and “The Biggest Loser” and for 242-pound Texas yoga teacher Abby Lentz to provide classes in “HeavyWeight Yoga: For the Body You Have Today” in her Austin studio.

But not everyone, including the corpulent, considers anti-weight-bias legislation a good idea.

“Legislation happens when people are too childish to police themselves,” said Sue Ann Jaffarian, author of the Odelia Grey mystery series starring a 220-pound heroine who is a reflection of her creator.

“But, as a fat woman, I don’t want a green light,” said Jaffarian, 55, who worries that such a law would validate what some consider unhealthy weight. “The downside of legislation is that the prejudice would go more underground.”

[Read the full story here.]

5405: Th-th-that’s All, Black Folks!

From The New York Times…

Cartoons of a Racist Past Lurk on YouTube


Among the millions of clips on the video-sharing Web site YouTube are 11 racially offensive Warner Brothers cartoons that have not been shown in an authorized release since 1968.

Some of the cartoons were removed on April 16. A message saying the cartoons were no longer available because of a copyright claim by Warner appeared in their place. By evening the messages disappeared, and some of the cartoons were back. Representatives for YouTube and Warner would not confirm whether the companies had tried to remove the cartoons.

Ricardo Reyes, a YouTube spokesman, said YouTube relies on copyright holders to identify infringing content and on users to flag offensive content. If people do not complain, videos remain, he said. Mr. Reyes said that copyright violations are removed “very quickly” once identified, but the problem “is that ownership is often tough to determine.” He said many users “unknowingly post because they don’t know the law.”

A representative for Warner wrote in an e-mail message that “Warner Brothers has rights to the titles” in question and that “we vigorously protect all our copyrights. We do not make distinctions based on content.”

The cartoons, known as the “Censored 11,” have been unavailable to the public for 40 years. Postings no longer appear if YouTube is searched for “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs,” a parody of “Snow White” and the most famous of the cartoons. But a search for “Coal Black” does find the cartoon.

These cartoons were controversial when first released; the N.A.A.C.P. unsuccessfully protested “Coal Black” before it was shown in 1943. Richard McIntire, the director of communications for the N.A.A.C.P., wrote in an e-mail message that “the cartoons are despicable. We encourage the films’ owners to maintain them as they are — that is, locked away in their vaults.”

WMAV01, a YouTube user who posted some of the cartoons and preferred not to give his name, wrote in an e-mail message that “these cartoons were never officially ‘banned’ by any law” and added that the cartoons had “historical value.” WMAV01 said the cartoons were available on Web sites like, which is run by “The Opie and Anthony Show,” a talk radio program.

The cartoons are also available on bootleg DVDs from Web sites like, which sells a collection of 165 such cartoons. At least two of the shorts are available on unlicensed DVDs sold by third parties on Amazon.

Michael Barrier, author of four books on the history of animation and comics, said the cartoons should be “presented in an informed way for an intelligent, adult audience.” Mr. Barrier also said the Censored 11’s appearance on YouTube “shows that there is a demand, so the logical step would be to release them in a way that is profitable for you as a copyright holder.”

5404: Judging R. Kelly.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Judge in R. Kelly trial must balance interests

The Cook County judge overseeing the R. Kelly criminal case is worried that the upcoming trial will turn into a three-ring circus.

Given Kelly’s star power, the salacious nature of the allegations against him and the likelihood that more than 300 journalists will be on hand, we see the problem.

But that’s no reason for Judge Vincent Gaughan to hold sessions in secret, as he has done for months.

In an emergency petition, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press have asked the judge to lift the shroud of secrecy.

At first blush, that petition might look like whining by three big media companies upset that they can’t get the dirt on the biggest celebrity case of the summer. But critical issues of law and the First Amendment are at stake.

Kelly is accused of a serious crime, child pornography, for allegedly taping himself having sex with a girl who was no more than 13 or 14. It matters that he get a fair trial -- and public scrutiny has a way of keeping trials fair.

It also matters that the public’s right to observe be respected, if only so they can see for themselves whether a multimillionaire with the best lawyers in town gets the same treatment as an average Joe.

Important matters in criminal cases often are resolved during the pretrial maneuverings of prosecutors and defense attorneys. Cases can be won or lost before a jury is ever picked.

Judge Gaughan has slammed the door on those hearings, sealed documents and gagged the lawyers.

We’d love to tell you specifically what the judge is worried about, but that’s secret, too.

In other such high-profile cases, judges have managed to keep the proceedings fair but open by taking common-sense precautions.

If Judge Gaughan is worried that revealing certain details of the case before the trial could bias potential jurors against Kelly, then he must quiz them carefully during jury selection. It’s always surprising how little many potential jurors know about even the most high-profile cases.

If the judge is concerned about protecting the privacy of the alleged victim or about the prejudicial impact of some detail in a court record, he can black out the offending words before releasing the rest of the document.

Judge Gaughan must do more to balance competing interests -- a fair trial vs. the public’s right to know. That’s his job.

5403: Extra Awful.

This ad is hard to endure.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

5402: Are Copywriters Endangered Species?

This actual job listing for a Creative Director seems to display the growing lack of respect for copywriters, particularly in below-the-line enterprises. Within a group of visual artists and designers, the lone copywriter isn’t even a full-time copywriter.

Define and create innovative advertising platforms for one of the nation’s top gaming and entertainment companies. Manage a 15-person, in-house creative team comprised of Art Directors, Graphic Artists, Production Artists, Web Designers, Electronic Sign Animators, Production Manager and a Copywriter/Producer. Skill set within travel/hospitality, gaming, entertainment or consumer products good to have. Comfort levels in print, direct mail, outdoor, web, television and radio a must. Qualifications: A few years (5+) of agency and/or creative team management.

5401: Old School Concept.

This idea would have been outdated in the 1980s.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

5400: Taxing Ordeals.

Courting disaster in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• After a short period of alleged marital bliss, Gary Coleman and his wife are already appearing on TV’s Divorce Court. “If he doesn’t get his way, he throws a temper tantrum like a five-year-old does,” said the wife during the show taping. “He like stomps the floor and yells, ‘Meehhhh,’ and starts throwing stuff around. He bashes his head in the wall, too.” Coleman admitted he gets frustrated, and also explained why he has no friends by saying, “People will stab you in the back, mistreat you, talk about me behind your back, steal from you. And they’re not really your friends. (They’re) only there because you’re a celebrity or because they want to get something from you.” Um, is Coleman really a celebrity anymore?

• Wesley Snipes has requested serving his 3-year prison sentence in New Jersey, close to where the actor lives. Wonder if Snipes will inevitably try to argue he’s not legally obligated to serve the sentence.

5399: Protesting The Bell Decision.

From The New York Daily News…

It’s our duty to protest Bell decision

By Errol Louis

It was a disaster that leaves a large swath of the population with the sense that the odds are rigged against them, the cops are out of control, and the courts are no place to look for justice.

It didn’t have to be that way.

Sitting in the front row of the courtroom as the verdict was read, I was amazed at how Cooperman gave the case a narrow reading that mentioned the flaws and inconsistencies of the prosecution case, but ignored the gaping holes in the defense version of what happened outside the Kalua that fateful night in 2006.

The detectives’ defense depended on the notion that they identified themselves as officers, ordered Bell and his companions to surrender, and reacted when Bell tried to drive away.

But the lieutenant in charge of the operation testified that he never heard his companions ID themselves, and the first outside officers to arrive on the scene testified that they didn’t see the detectives wearing badges. Cooperman gave no indication the inconsistencies mattered.

Cooperman also skipped any mention of whether the level of deadly force applied — dozens of shots fired at unarmed men who committed no crime — made any difference.

If all three officers on trial had done what Detective Michael Oliver did — empty their clips, reload and fire again — nearly 100 bullets would have flown. Would that be considered reckless?

I pray we never have to find out.

The next act in this drama will be a series of demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. They will be designed to make the whole city feel the deep unease and smoldering anger now felt by the Bell family and its supporters in the civil rights community.

It’s not an idle threat. Twenty years ago, in demonstrations called Days of Outrage, Sharpton and a surprisingly small band of nonviolent protesters shut down the Brooklyn Bridge and brought the subway system to a standstill simply by jumping down on the tracks at strategically-selected stations.

A repeat of that campaign — call them the Cooperman Campaign — would horribly inconvenience Gotham and draw national attention.

It would also illustrate what George Orwell called “the moral dilemma that is presented to the weak in a world governed by the strong: Break the rules, or perish.”

People should not have to paralyze the city to make everyone see that police actions in the Bell case — whether viewed as a crime or horrible blunder — cannot be excused as “just one of those things.”

IN THIS CASE, they must.

We have not heard Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Raymond Kelly or anyone else lay out a clear, convincing, detailed plan for ensuring there will be no more situations in which undercover officers rush up on unarmed, innocent people and unleash deadly force as if they’re in a war zone.

Sharpton and other protesters should nonviolently raise hell until we do. Protest in the face of unacceptable conditions is as patriotic as singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” on the Fourth of July.

And while many will heap scorn and gleeful contempt on demonstrators, the protesters should do what any patriot would if someone tries to drown them out during the national anthem.

Sing louder.

5398: Diamonds Are A Girl’s Biggest Friend.

Cheap lines for expensive rocks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

5397: Meat Market News.

Pornography and other buns in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• NFL star Terrell Owens was pictured at a porn photo shoot in Miami, and now he’s trying to get the website that posted the image to take it down. “All this was designed to bring embarrassment to him in his professional and personal capacity, and subject him to ridicule,” stated a letter sent on Owens’ behalf. “The clear meaning and innuendo is that Mr. Owens was actively and consensually participating in a porn site—a lie.” No, Owens is usually only offending people and embarrassing himself on the field.

• Arby’s is buying Wendy’s via an all-stock deal worth $2.34 billion. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer thinks that’s a lot to pay for a gal.

5396: Call It Contrived.

To us, it’s a cliché.

5395: Uniformity Rules.

Publicis Groupe agencies Leo Burnett, Arc and Lapiz are allegedly adopting a dress code. What’s most outrageous about this announcement? Not the ridiculous decision to dictate employees’ wardrobes. Not the incredibly amateurish poster design. Not even the corny and corporate copywriting.

No, what’s most outrageous is the depiction of the companies as diverse workplaces.

Update: The ad turned out to be a joke played on employees. However, MultiCultClassics’ main point still holds true.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

5394: Retired And Tired News.

Driving oneself crazy with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Ford Motor Company posted $100 million in 1Q profits. However, the automaker still needs more workers willing to accept early retirement and buyout offers. The company’s new tagline is, “Drive One.” Internally, it may be revised to, “Drive One Towards Early Retirement.”

• Toyota beat General Motors for the global automotive sales lead, selling 2.41 vehicles versus 2.25 for GM. Toyota may ultimately drive GM into early retirement.

• Surprise, surprise. The R. Kelly trial might be postponed again, as a lawyer seeking to join the defense team is fighting the judge’s refusal to let him participate. By the time this case is tried, Kelly will be well into retirement age.

5393: H&R Cell Block.

From The Associated Press…

Wesley Snipes to serve 3 years in prison for tax convictions


OCALA, Fla. (AP) — Wesley Snipes called on famous friends to vouch for him, highlighted his clean criminal record and even wrote the government $5 million in checks — all in an effort to convince a judge that his conviction on tax charges should cost him nothing more than home detention and some public service announcements.

None of it worked. The “Blade” actor was ordered to do hard time.

Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday for failing to file tax returns, the maximum penalty — and a victory for prosecutors who sought to make an example of the action star.

Snipes’ lawyers had spent much of the day in court offering dozens of letters from family members, friends — even fellow actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington — attesting to his good character. His attorneys recommended he be given home detention and ordered to make public service announcements because his three convictions were all misdemeanors and the actor had no previous criminal record.

But U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges said Snipes exhibited a “history of contempt over a period of time” for U.S. tax laws, and granted prosecutors the three-year sentence they requested — one year for each of Snipes’ convictions of willfully failing to file a tax return from 1999-2001.

“In my mind these are serious crimes, albeit misdemeanors,” Hodges said.

Snipes apologized while reading from a written statement for his “costly mistakes,” but never mentioned the word taxes.

“I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance,” Snipes said. He said his wealth and celebrity attracted “wolves and jackals like flies are attracted to meat.” He called himself “well-intentioned, but miseducated.”

Snipes surprised the court before Hodges handed down the sentence by offering the government three checks totaling $5 million in unpaid taxes over several years, money the government first denied but then accepted. Prosecutors called it “grandstanding” to avoid jail time, and a mere down payment on the actor’s still-undetermined multimillion dollar tax bill.

The action star of the “Blade” trilogy, “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Jungle Fever” and other films hasn’t filed a tax return since 1998, the government alleged. Snipes and the IRS will work in future civil proceedings to determine his full tax liability, plus interest and penalties.

Snipes was the highest-profile criminal tax target in years, and prosecutors called for a heavy sentence to deter others from trying to obstruct the IRS. The government alleged Snipes made at least $13.8 million for the years in question and owed $2.7 million in back taxes.

Snipes was acquitted in February of five additional charges, including felony tax fraud and conspiracy. Co-defendants Douglas P. Rosile and Eddie Ray Kahn were convicted on both those counts. Kahn, who refused to defend himself in court, was sentenced to 10 years, while Rosile received 54 months. Both will serve three years of supervised release. Snipes will serve one year of supervised release.

Snipes and Rosile remain free and will be notified when they are to surrender to authorities. Defense attorney Carmen Hernandez signaled in court that Snipes would pursue an appeal.

Kahn was the founder of American Rights Litigators, and a successor group, Guiding Light of God Ministries, that purported to help members legally avoid paying taxes. Rosile, a former accountant who lost his licenses in Ohio and Florida, prepared Snipes’ paperwork.

Snipes maintained in a years-long battle with the IRS he did not have to pay taxes, using fringe arguments common to “tax protesters” who say the government has no legal right to collect. After joining Kahn’s group, the government said Snipes instructed his employees to stop paying their own taxes and sought $11 million in 1996 and 1997 taxes he legally paid.

Prosecutors sought to justify the maximum sentence by raising those and other details from the IRS investigation, as well as a tax loss even for years in which Snipes was acquitted of failing to file a return. Such “relevant conduct” is allowed by law for a judge’s consideration at sentencing.

Criminal tax prosecutions are relatively rare — usually the cases are handled in civil court, where the government has a lower burden of proof. Prosecutors said Snipes’ case was important to send a message to would-be tax protesters not to test the government.

Snipes’ lawyers said he was no threat to society, and called four character witnesses Thursday, including television's Judge Joe Brown, who incited applause from the gallery by suggesting Snipes was no different than “mega-corporate entities” that legally avoid taxes.

Hodges twice halted the proceedings to quiet the crowd, threatening to clear everyone out if they made another outburst.

Defense attorneys Hernandez and Daniel Meachum said Snipes was unfairly targeted for prosecution because he’s famous. Meachum called prosecutors “big game hunters,” selectively prosecuting the actor while Kahn’s 4,000 other clients remained free.

Hodges was not swayed.

“One of the main purposes which drives selective prosecution in tax cases is deterrence,” the judge said, while denying it had anything to do with his sentence. “In some instances, that means those of celebrity stand greater risk of prosecution. But there’s nothing unusual about it, nor is there anything unlawful about it. It’s the way the system works.”

5392: Moron Of The Week.

Tony Zirkle, a moron seeking the Republican nomination in Northern Indiana’s 2nd District, delivered a speech before a group celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Zirkle claims he did not know much about the neo-Nazi organization, and he only intended to talk on “the targeting of young white women for pornography and prostitution.” His defense included, “I’ll speak before any group that invites me. I’ve spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta.” Perhaps Zirkle thinks appearing with Blacks is no different than hooking up with Hitler fans.

5391: Seeking Creative Director-Intern.

This actual posting for a Creative Director says a lot about the state of the job market:

To collaborate with their creative partner to administer and assign creative work to a creative team. To understand the dynamics of both print and broadcast advertising, and to properly execute and/or provide instructions for creative solutions in all media. To deliver compelling oral presentations of creative solutions to clients and agency personnel. To be proficient in printing requirements/techniques such as bleeds, crop marks, color conversions, etc. for proper delivery of jobs to service bureaus for printing. To service accounts directly, setting and maintaining design standards for specific clients or groups of clients, as well as working on presentations for creative meetings and pitches for prospective clients. To advise art directors, graphic designers and production artists with creative solutions. To be proficient with file formats, such as TIF, EPS, JPG and PDF, and how to create/edit them. To demonstrate proficiency in skills such as scanning, image-retouching and color correction. To communicate with Account Service personnel to determine the best design solution for clients. To ensure that mechanical specs are accurately applied, such as job slug, size and color. To be familiar with mounting/paste-up techniques and materials.

Wow, when’s the last time you saw a classified ad containing the term job slug? The poor fool that lands this role should be a visionary leader who’s also not above making PDFs and adhering his own layouts to foamcore board. Must be proficient with X-ACTO™ knives.

(Plus, note the only title to merit capital letters is Account Service)

5390: Signing Off.

Wonder if any paranoid types will question if he’s flashing gang signals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5389: Golden Parachutes And Arches.

Flying high in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• United Airlines announced plans to cut 500 managerial jobs and 600 union jobs after reporting it lost $542 million in 1Q. United lost lots of travelers’ luggage too.

• Boeing recorded a 38 percent jump in 1Q profits. How come all the airlines are tanking, but the airplane maker is flying high?

• Mickey D’s reported a 24 percent increase in 1Q profits. It’s actually good that the airlines are failing, because thanks to McDonald’s, most Americans can no longer fit into airplane seats anyways.

5388: D-Fence!

From The Associated Press…

Feds Scrap $20 Million ‘Virtual Fence’


TUCSON, Ariz. — The government is scrapping a $20 million prototype of its highly touted “virtual fence” on the Arizona-Mexico border because the system is failing to adequately alert border patrol agents to illegal crossings, officials said.

The move comes just two months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced his approval of the fence built by The Boeing Co. The fence consists of nine electronic surveillance towers along a 28-mile section of border southwest of Tucson.

Boeing is to replace the so-called Project 28 prototype with a series of towers equipped with communications systems, new cameras and new radar capability, officials said.

Less than a week after Chertoff accepted Project 28 on Feb. 22, the Government Accountability Office told Congress it “did not fully meet user needs and the project’s design will not be used as the basis for future” developments.

A glaring shortcoming of the project was the time lag between the electronic detection of movement along the border and the transmission of a camera image to agents patrolling the area, the GAO reported.

Although the fence continues to operate, it hasn’t come close to meeting the Border Patrol’s goals, said Kelly Good, deputy director of the Secure Border Initiative program office in Washington.

“Probably not to the level that Border Patrol agents on the ground thought that they were going to get. So it didn’t meet their expectations.”

The Border Patrol had little input in designing the prototype but will have more say in the final version, officials said.

Agents began using the virtual fence last December, and the towers have resulted in more than 3,000 apprehensions since, said Greg Giddens, executive director of the SBI program office in Washington.

But that’s just a fraction of the several hundred illegal immigrants believed to cross the border daily near southwest of Tucson.

The virtual fence is part of a national plan to use physical barriers and high-tech detection capabilities to secure the Mexican border — and eventually the Canadian boundary.

Boeing was awarded an $860 million contract to provide the technology, physical fences and vehicle barriers.

“Boeing has delivered a system that the Border Patrol currently is operating 24 hours a day,” Boeing spokeswoman Deborah Bosick said. She declined further comment.

Project 28 was not intended to be the final, state-of-the-art system for catching illegal immigrants, Giddens said. “I think some people understood that and some didn’t. We didn’t communicate that well.”

5387: The Two Faces Of Omnicom.

This week, Advertising Age reported that Omnicom beat expectations for 1Q, enjoying a 14 percent increase in profits. “The first quarter was a great start for 2008,” said President-CEO John Wren, adding that Omnicom “didn’t see any unexpected shifts in client spending patterns,” and the company is “not seeing a significant reduction in client spending.”

Advertising Age also noted the majority of Madison Avenue agencies failing to meet diversity hiring goals were in the Omnicom network. “Clearly the company isn’t pleased that it missed its numbers,” said a lawyer representing the ad giant. “But Omnicom doesn’t want to hire for numbers’ sake. It’s more important for us to create an environment that will accept [minorities] and help them to flourish. We want to make sure we are hiring the right people and, after we hire them, that we retain them.”

Nice to know Omnicom is striving to create an environment that will accept minorities. Wonder if the Diversity Development Advisory Committee thinks the first quarter was a great start for 2008. Obviously, Omnicom didn’t see any unexpected shifts in minority hiring patterns, and the company is not seeing a significant reduction in corporate exclusivity.

5386: Individual—Or Invisible—Man.

Johnson & Johnson makes individuals look totally generic.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

5385: Exchanging Peasantries.

Peasant conversations in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Colorado State Rep. Douglas Bruce sparked controversy by referring to Mexican workers as “illiterate peasants.” During a session, Bruce remarked, “I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don’t think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado.” Although he was immediately shut down by his political peers, Bruce defended his statement by explaining, “I looked up ‘illiterate’ in the dictionary and it means somebody who is lacking in formal education or is unable to read and write. I don’t think these people who are planning to come over here and pick potatoes or peaches are likely to have much of a formal education. I looked up the word ‘peasant.’ The word ‘peasant’ means a person who works in agricultural fields. These people, most of them, don’t speak English. Most of them haven’t had any formal education, that’s why they’re coming over here. I don’t blame them for trying, but I don’t think we should pave the way for more aliens to come here.” Bruce needs to look up “ignorant jackass.”

• Last Sunday, Naomi Campbell spotted the Heathrow Airport cops she tussled with two weeks ago and apologized (see photo above). She’s so pleasant to the peasants, um, police.

5384: Diversity On Drugs.

Can’t see the copy for the trees.

5383: Client Cluelessness Continues…

This Brandweek story appeared at last week. Scan it quickly to read the MultiCultClassics commentary immediately following…

Study: Marketers Flunk CRM
Only 6% of marketers have an excellent understanding of their customers

By Kenneth Hein, Brandweek

NEW YORK Marketers, who spend millions to gain data about their customers, generally fail to use it properly, according to a new CMO Council study.

Only 16 percent of companies rate themselves as effective or extremely good when it comes to customer relationship management. Forty-five percent said they are deficient or need more work at integrating and leveraging customer data.

The “Business Gain From How You Retain: Addressing the Challenge of Customer Churn and Marketing Burn” report polled 450-plus marketers globally. The CMO Council teamed with Computer Sciences Corp., IBM Software and Dun & Bradstreet to conduct the research.

“There is a lack of focus as to how to optimize revenue from existing customers,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, New York. “In a year of economic restraints, marketers should be more concerned with cross-selling and upselling.”

Too often marketers are enamored with chasing new conquests, said Loreen Babcock, CEO of direct and relationship marketing agency Unit 7, New York. “Let’s be honest. It’s sexier to bring new customers in, but that whole marketing model is broken because there is no accountability.”

Only half of the marketers said they have a strategy in place for further penetrating and monetizing key relationships. Not surprisingly, nearly a third of respondents (31 percent) reported customer churn rates of more than 10 percent. Roughly another third (32 percent) reported turnover of 5 to 10 percent. Two-thirds said they have no system in place for reactivating lost or dormant customers.

Nortel has made great strides in improving its CRM efforts, said Heidi Lanford, its global leader for marketing analytics. “We’ve formed more of a partnership with our customers. They help us innovate faster by helping us target what their needs are. Leveraging the customers we have is critical to us.”

Still, like many companies, Nortel has difficulties with data collection. “Since we’re a business-to-business company we struggle to get data from our channel partners that gives us a true view of the customer,” Lanford said.

Integrating a wide variety of siloed data sources across often inadequate IT systems is a challenge for many companies, said Alexander Black, senior partner in the strategic services group at CSC, an IT services company based in Falls Church, Va. “There can be as many as 20 to 25 different sources of data.”

Wealth management companies like Charles Schwab and Fidelity are the best at CRM “because they have the biggest risk if they lose their wealthy customers,” Black said. Internet retailers like eBay and Amazon are also tops because “they started with a clean slate. They don’t have the heritage of all those legacy systems.”

For many, however, “the landscape is a mess in terms of how data sources are linked,” said Babcock. As a result, 31 percent of respondents said they don’t do any data mining at all.

In the end, the number of respondents claiming to have excellent knowledge of their customers when it comes to demographic, behavioral, psychographic and transactional data—only 6 percent.

This report is yet another addition to the growing series of revelations that industry people don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

However, there are some key considerations regarding this latest study.

For starters, the results were offered up directly by the clients. In other words, clients seem to openly admit they are clueless about their own customers. What makes this so outrageous—at least for adpeople—is that clients still insist on criticizing and rejecting work aimed at customers.

So why do clients get away with killing campaigns when they are clearly lacking the intelligence to understand what might motivate and persuade the targeted audiences? Well, mostly because the only ones more ignorant than the clients are the advertising agency representatives.

You don’t have to conduct a survey to quickly realize that agencies—especially the BDAs, as George Parker calls them—do a lousy job of gathering and defining consumer insights. For confirmation, simply read the typical strategy brief given to creatives on any assignment.

Perhaps our collective stupidity ultimately ignited consumer generated marketing, as well as the paradigm shift of consumer control seized via the Web.

Apparently, customers didn’t need to collect research to conclude we weren’t doing our jobs.

5382: Please Stop.

This Weyerhaeuser ad is a waste of paper.

Monday, April 21, 2008

5381: 1Quickies.

Ups and downs in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Bank of America reported a 77 percent drop in 1Q profits. “These results clearly did not meet our expectations,” said Chief Executive Ken Lewis. “The weakness in the economy and prolonged disruptions in the capital markets took their toll.” Hadji Williams hopes to see the percentage significantly increase in the next quarter.

• Google reported a 30 percent increase in 1Q profits. Chief Executive Eric E. Schmidt said, “It’s clear we are well positioned for 2008 and beyond, regardless of the business environment we are surrounded by.” Especially if Bank of America employees proceed to use Google to search for new jobs.

5380: Mad Ave Diversity Color Commentary.

Here’s some color commentary regarding Madison Avenue’s diversity progress reported by The New York Times and Advertising Age.

As both sources noted, it’s tough to really determine the truth behind the figures.

Don’t mean to sound paranoid and suspicious. At the same time, Madison Avenue spent many decades delivering broken promises and blatant lies on the issue. Additionally, when New York City’s Commission on Human Rights asked agencies to submit staff figures for the most recent investigation, one shop listed its Black chief of security as an officer of the company. So there’s a pattern of sneaky behavior to inspire the raising of eyebrows.

There are other factors to consider too. Besides setting their own hiring goals—which is like letting a convicted criminal write his own sentence—the agencies participating in the pact never agreed to a definition for what constitutes a minority. From a technical standpoint, White women are categorized as minorities. To honestly assess the success, someone must closely examine the numbers. MultiCultClassics nominates Sanford Moore to sift through the data.

Draftfcb claimed 10 percent of its new minority hires are Black. Does the total reflect the workers picked up in the IPG acquisition of Steve Stoute’s agency—which includes Jay-Z?

And can somebody explain Omnicom’s poor showing? These guys allegedly created the Diversity Development Advisory Committee to brainstorm solutions. Omnicom agency Merkley + Partners actually scored a zero in its efforts.

It’s curious that Arnold didn’t offer minority breakdowns, especially since the place is connected with crusader Tiffany R. Warren. Surely Warren would be the first to boast of Arnold’s accomplishments, provided there’s something worth bragging about.

Indeed, all the agencies are awfully quiet despite apparently exceeding objectives in certain areas. What’s up with that?

Let’s hope the paranoia and suspicions turn out to be completely unwarranted. MultiCultClassics will quickly publish retractions and apologies as soon as the facts are revealed.

(SFX: Ticking clock, drumming fingers, cheery whistling.)

5379: Who Are You?

Bank of America says: Diversity & Inclusion. It’s the foundation of who we are.™

Um, some folks feel differently.

5378: Micro-Management 101.

There’s nothing worse than working for a micro-manager. Except working for a micro-manager with tufts of hair jutting out of his nose and ears.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

5377: “…Diversity Progress Still Cloudy.”


Agencies Chase Rainbow, but Diversity Progress Still Cloudy
Most Firms Meet Minority Hiring Targets; Some Question Whether Targets Are High Enough

By Megan McIlroy

NEW YORK -- The good news for many of the agencies that came under the gaze of the New York City Commission on Human Rights is that they met their goals for minority hiring in 2007. The bad news is critics are likely to be unimpressed.

For one, the goals were set by the agencies themselves. Second, some of them -- most notably a handful of Omnicom shops -- failed to meet even those goals. But perhaps more important, a closer look at the numbers shows African-Americans and Hispanics lag behind Asian-Americans and that agencies seem to lose minority hires as fast as they hire them. Following a two-year investigation by the CCHR, 15 advertising agencies in 2007 pledged to meet goals for minority hiring, presented as a percentage of total hires for the year. The goals will be monitored for three years, and agencies that don’t meet them will be subject to penalties.

The results are largely positive. On average, the 15 agencies set a goal of hiring 18% minorities and hired 25% minorities, according to the CCHR.

African-American focus
But it’s no secret that it was a specific lack of African-Americans in the agency world that drove the investigation. And a closer look at the numbers shows that of the total new minority hires, only about 30% were African-American. (This is based on the 13 agencies who reported minority breakdowns. Absent from that list were Havas’ Euro RSCG and Arnold.)

Of Ogilvy’s new minority hires, for instance, 46 were African-Americans and 107 were “other minorities.” At DraftFCB, 14% were Asian or Asian-American, 7% were Hispanic and 10% were African-American. According to 2006 U.S. Census figures the U.S. population is 4.4% Asian, 12.8% Black and 14.8% Hispanic.

“The numbers need to be pulled apart,” Carol Watson, president of Tangerine-Watson and a blogger for’s Big Tent blog, said, “because agencies weren’t required to, to show they improved the problem they were given in the first place” -- the lack of African-Americans.

Sanford Moore, the former BBDO adman who pressed for the latest CCHR probe into the advertising business, said he remains concerned about the results. “What Madison Avenue is doing is creating minorities of choice,” Mr. Moore said. “In this structure, blacks fall at the bottom. Whereas they talk about diversity, this is really a ploy for the continued marginalization and exclusion of African-Americans on Madison Avenue.”

Also troubling aspect was what seemed to be a revolving door.

“Agencies consistently feel they are able to get people in the early stage but they don’t stay,” said Ms. Watson. “Part of it has to do with not having a sense of support and community and being the only one.”

Indeed, some agencies in the CCHR report lost numbers of minority employees at the same pace they were gaining new ones.

But progress is progress and some are pointing out that regardless of who set the goals they were met -- and in many cases exceeded -- in the first year shouldn’t be overlooked. Cliff Mulqueen, deputy director of the CCHR, said he is optimistic about the progress the agencies are marking.

“This is going to take a while,” he said. “We didn’t expect in the first year that the whole industry was going to be diverse.”

Of the agencies included in the CCHR report, four are Omnicom-owned, four WPP Group owned-agencies, three Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned, and two each owned by Publicis Groupe and Havas.

Unmet pledges
Only five agencies did not meet at least one of their hiring goals, including four Omnicom shops.

This despite the fact that Omnicom has made an agreement with the New York City Council to spend more than $2 million to encourage to diversity, in addition to hiring diversity advisors, law firm Davis Wright Tremaine.

“Clearly the company isn’t pleased that it missed its numbers,” said Weldon Latham, one of the attorneys advising the holding company. “But Omnicom doesn’t want to hire for numbers’ sake. It’s more important for us to create an environment that will accept [minorities] and help them to flourish. We want to make sure we are hiring the right people and, after we hire them, that we retain them.”

5376: You Go, Girl.

Ladies’ Night in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The New York Daily News ran a story about five actresses, including Gabrielle Union and singer Jill Scott, who posed nude for the latest issue of Allure magazine. The piece plays nicely against all the coverage on the pope’s visit. Plus, it allows MultiCultClassics to post a nude photo of Gabrielle Union.

• Danica Patrick recorded her first Indy victory, becoming the first female winner in IndyCar history. Allure will probably seek to commemorate the event by asking her to pose naked.

5375: The Benefits Of Bedhead.

Too bad the benefits don’t cover a hair stylist.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

5374: Free At Last.

Cutting people free in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Foxy Brown was released from prison yesterday, driven off the grounds by New York City Councilman Charles Barron. Barron remarked, “She’s someone we need in our community to help with a positive message with our young people.” Right. Maybe the Pope will request a meeting now that he’s in town.

• AT&T announced plans to cut 4,600 employees, shifting resources to other areas of business. A spokesperson said, “Even with the reductions … we expect our head count overall to remain stable this year as we hire additional employees to support growth areas like wireless and TV.” Maybe the terminated will receive a free GoPhone® to GoAway.

• Citigroup will dump 9,000 jobs after reporting a $5.11 billion loss in 1Q. Let’s get it done.

5373: Crappos.

Hopefully, Zappos shoes are designed better than their ads.

5372: Lazy Recruitment Tactics.

It seems odd that with all the publicity surrounding Project Da Vinci, as well as the fact that the job market sucks (i.e., it’s a buyer’s market), WPP would need to recruit GCDs via

(Although sometimes this is just a way for big agencies to claim they opened the search to minority candidates.)

Friday, April 18, 2008