Monday, June 30, 2008
Just when you thought The Big Tent was becoming, well, flaccid, along comes Arthur Leggett…
Flaccid Promises and Chicken Dinners
When It Comes to Diversity, Madison Avenue Just Selling a Bill of Goods
By Arthur Leggett
Never have I been so quick to anger, yet so slow to fulminate against inequitable, unaccountable, exploitative taxation. Seldom do I pause before waging a war for inalienable rights, rather than live in apathetic comfort with human wrongs. Finally, after cogitating, the need to express my Achilles rage, against what’s wrong with the advertising industry, ignites me.
Driven by the need to meet quarterly goals, advertising agencies continue to send perverted messages to brainless herds. Being an advertising pied piper is a privilege, and privileges come with certain responsibilities. One responsibility is to leave the world a better place by not practicing multinational slavery. Another responsibility is to ensure equal participation in the advertising business processes from consumers whose tax assessments support the advertising industry. And, given the power of the advertising medium, monkey-see-monkey-do ad agencies should be held to the highest standards of excellence.
A few years ago, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) subpoenaed senior advertising executives to have them answer for their woeful record on diversity hiring. Since then, we’ve all heard the Madison Avenue propaganda about the advertising industry rolling out the “inclusion” carpet, which amounts to little more than the gimmick of hiring meretricious barkers to scream, “Diversity welcomed!”
Advertising agencies don’t want to clear the diversity hurdle. Agencies benefit from the entrenched status quo. How do they? Consumers conspicuously gobble up consumer products without considering corporate hiring accountability.
Every so often, the discriminated class finds the chutzpah to confront employment disenfranchisement. During such times, big companies deploy tried and tested practices:
• Promise change.
• Complain about the lack of talent.
• Set up committees.
• Throw around a few political tchotchkes.
• Sponsor a few chicken dinners.
• Hire a diversity consultant.
• Hold hiring cattle calls.
• Hire a few custodians and mailmen.
• Propagate the progress made.
• Maintain the good-old-boy system.
If all fails, they start back at play one until they quiet the thunder. The open secret, whispered by senior executives in mahogany and leather corporate corridors, is that this thunder will easily pass.
It’s time to start a grassroots storm -- a storm with enough intensity and force to morph into a congressional hurricane. This is not a plea for quotas or tokenism, but one for equal participation.
It’s beneficial for advertising agencies to embrace the concept of equal participation. A hodgepodge of backgrounds helps cross-pollinate bigger and better ideas. And, the current U.S. demographic trends project that future consumer markets will be even more diverse.
At some point, senior advertising leadership has to consider the big picture. These myopic leaders should ask, “Are we hiring people who understand and can connect with a diverse population?”
Ironically, consumers subsidize advertising agencies’ hiring decisions. Every time consumers purchase products with hard-earned money, a message is sent to continue the status quo.
Unlike national elections with their sad 54% voter participation, consumer voting includes almost 100% of Americans. When you buy Tide or Coke, you cast a vote. Your vote sends a message of approval regarding the product, customer service and the outcomes of corporate hiring decisions.
Every product is “taxed” with an assessment rate to pay for advertising. Traditionally, this tax is around 1.5% to 5% of the suggested retail price. In 2007, more than $753 billion dollars were taxed from consumers.
Less than 1% of this tax was spent on hiring diverse employees, buying minority media or using minority talent in production. More than 10% of this tax was used to subsidize senior executives’ overpriced luxury skyboxes at NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL games and luxury golf outings.
Minorities over-index in most consumer-product categories; consequently they contribute a higher percentage to the advertising assessment tax. Despite their over-contribution, a paucity of diversity continues to permeate the advertising industry.
Why does the discriminated class continue to settle for flaccid promises and chicken dinners?
Don’t beg the industry to change.
Instead, stop buying products and using services from corporations that refuse to hold advertising agencies accountable for hiring outcomes. Change will only come when consumers change their spending behavior. Advertising agencies will change when the call to change is backed by political power, consequences and accountability.
Get MAD (Make A Difference): Write editors, the NYCCHR, advertising agency senior executives, national advertisers, the 435 U.S. representatives and the 100 U.S. senators. Call on the federal government to begin an investigation into the advertising industry plantation paradigm.
If not you, who?
[Arthur Leggett is the marketing director for a Chicago-based law firm. He previously worked at JWT Regional Advertising Force, the Cobalt Group and A. Eicoff.]
This actual craigslist ad was apparently posted by a copywriter out to create the Great American Novel smearing the advertising industry. In typical lazy adperson fashion, the wannabe author is soliciting content. Then again, it might be the work of an account person, as the request is riddled with typos and he’s convinced people can accomplish the assignment in less than 30 minutes.
You hate the Ad business and can write a scathing essay why
If you’ve been at an ad agency and experienced the blamestorming, puffery, layoffs, turn-n-burns, idea stealing, ego-maniacs, politics-ridden, overpaid, office sex, client horror stories, and just the general BS that makes up the internal world of the ad business, i want you to write about it for probably 10-20 minutes of just spewing--a half hour tops. I don’t want anything polished, spell checked or “heavy lifting.” I just want raw spilling, the sewage that is in your head about whats wrong with this business, why it should die, what should replace it, or whatever you got. Venom.
here’s why. I am writing a book on where advertising is going and i need sidebar evidence from people who are willing to be quoted or anonymously about why this industry deserves to be plowed and salted into the earth. So if you have significant rant and have been really inside an agency, I want to hear your experience that is really compelling (funny, insane, stupid, typical). If you want to do it, send me a quick note as where you’ve been and the general gist of the story. If you are interested, hit me back with a note and then we can do something. Since I’m a writer, I can clean it up if necessary, so this is not a “sweat the details” type of assignment, it’s one where i access the raw feeling of someone touched by this industry. I just need a paragraph--nothing long.
Everyone who gets into the book gets 100 bucks for their assignment--everyone. So divided by the half hour it will take, that’s 200/hr if your words make it in (and you will be listed as a contributor, thanked in the preface by name and all the glory that comes with that (sound of crickets). Anyway, spew, and send, that’s the deal—don’t even edit it. GO!
Sunday, June 29, 2008
From The Associated Press…
Court case gives Calif. gay pride parade new meaning
SAN FRANCISCO — Given San Francisco’s sizable role in initiating the lawsuits that led California’s highest court to strike down the state's bans on same-sex marriage, the city’s 38th annual gay pride festival and parade is likely to draw huge crowds this weekend, tourism officials say.
“It’s really going to be a Pride like none other,” said Joe D'Alessandro, president of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I have never seen so many rainbow flags in this city, along Market Street, on shops, on homes. It’s really a situation where the people are celebrating and the city is in a very festive mood.”
With 259 marriage license appointments and 284 reservations for wedding ceremonies scheduled at the San Francisco county clerk’s office, Friday was on pace to be the city’s busiest day for weddings since gay marriage became legal earlier this month. There were 202 license appointments and 115 weddings performed on June 17, the first full day that gay and lesbian couples could get married in California.
Although City Hall will be closed over the weekend, organizers of the weekend’s official pride festivities are putting up a wedding pavilion across the street where couples can get information about tying the knot or celebrate newly sanctioned unions.
Gay rights advocates also plan to use the occasion to build support for their campaign to defeat a ballot initiative that would overturn the state Supreme Court’s decision by amending the California Constitution to again ban same-sex marriage.
The theme for Sunday’s pride parade — “United by Pride, Bound for Equality” — was selected before the state’s high court handed down its ruling on May 15. The celebrity grand marshals are Latin American entertainer Charo, singer Cyndi Lauper and Stuart Milk, the nephew of the slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials.
The 2004 pride parade in San Francisco also had the air of a giant wedding reception. It was held four months after Mayor Gavin Newsom challenged the state’s marriage laws by directing local government workers to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but two months before the Supreme Court nullified the more than 4,000 unions certified during the city's experiment.
Tens of thousands from across the country typically flock to America’s gay Mecca for the festival, a virtual holiday in San Francisco. The parade traditionally opens with a blocks-long contingent of “Dykes on Bikes” — lesbians dressed in leather driving loud motorcycles.
While he said the parade will still celebrate “having a great time and living out loud,” D’Alessandro expects the mood to be more traditional this year than in years past.
“It’s not this subculture. It’s mainstream,” he said of the pro-marriage mood. “You can go to Macy’s to pick out your china, you can go to Shreve’s to pick out your rings, and you can go to the Four Seasons and pick out your reception room.”
Gay pride events were also planned for New York, Chicago, Seattle, Houston, Honolulu and other cities.
Overseas, extremists throwing rocks, bottles and gasoline bombs attacked the first ever gay pride parade in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Police in riot gear made about 60 arrests. No serious injuries were reported among the 150 or so marchers.
About 500 people marching in a gay pride parade in Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, were attacked by a group that threw eggs and shouted abusive slogans, said leading gay activist Jiri Hromada.
Revelers in Portugal carried a giant rainbow flag through the capital of Lisbon, thousands marched in Mexico City, and half a million danced through the streets of Paris to a soundtrack of disco mixes, choral music and accordion tunes.
In India, where homosexuality is illegal and taboo, gay activists were to hold demonstrations Sunday in the cities of New Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore. About 3,000 gays marched through Jerusalem without incident on Thursday, protected by 2,000 police officers.
The parades commemorate the Stonewall uprising of 1969, a series of fights between gays and police in New York widely considered the beginning of the gay rights movement. The parades began the next year in 1970.
This actual job listing for an Automotive Ad Agency Creative Director reads like the local car dealership hype the person will undoubtedly produce. The ideal candidate must create work as well as deliver voiceover copy—and have more hooks than bass pro shops! The clincher requirement: A master at innuendo.
We are a national full service Automotive Ad Agency looking for the right Creative Director. Can you concept, brand and retail while handling high volumes of TV, radio and newspaper ads on tight turnarounds? Better yet, are you a good voice talent that can deliver your words into the studio? This is a serious position for a busy ad agency. We have two radio production studios and two TV production studios in-house along with a full art department. We are looking for someone with the “gift,” the vision and ability to build a dealership’s brand equity while generating hooks and delivering dynamite retail. Someone who is good at concept and execution.
We are looking for someone with more hooks than bass pro shops! Someone who knows how to say you’re approved in over a hundred ways. Someone who can make words and phrasing dance to imply that all rebates, dealer cash and all manufacturer offers are available to anyone watching and listening, that the value of their trade is more than they originally paid for the vehicle. A master at innuendo. Someone who knows how to bring ups into the market and make our dealers’ offers stand out above all the rest.
To top it off you have to be able to do this while building the dealers brand equity.
Do your words have magic? Do they deliver, will our account executives and clients say, “That’s the stuff I like!”
Are you knowledgeable about manufacturer compliance requirements and know how to make this kind of creative work within these constraints?
We pride ourselves on our creative being unique, clever and engaging. Our work breaks through the clutter and is not standard car fare. Your range has to be from Audi to Volvo and everything in between, that means from Jag and Mercedes to Dodge, Chevy & Ford, to Toyota & Honda to Kia & Suzuki.
Do you have a killer TV and radio reel and a dynamite book? Send it to us so we can talk.
This is a management position and requires someone with the experience and knowledge to be able to communicate their ideas and concepts to account executives and coach them on how to present the campaigns to their clients.
The campaigns you develop have to answer the needs and challenges of our dealers.
You also will be in charge of quality control, supervising all creative and production before it ever leaves the shop for presentation or being released to be trafficked.
We are looking for someone who is fun to be around, even after crushing deadlines, long hours and the occasional weekend. A great leader and team member to work with our Senior TV and Radio Producer, Art Director and Account Executives. Someone that we can brag to our clients about!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Mini news items in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Verne Troyer—aka Mini Me—is suing TMZ and a porn distributor over a sex video he made with a girlfriend. Troyer claims the video was stolen, and he’s demanding its return, along with $20 million for having the footage posted online. The online video will probably gross more loot than Troyer’s latest flick—The Love Guru with Mike Myers.
• The millionaire couple convicted of enslaving Indonesian housekeepers has been sentenced. The husband will serve 40 months in prison, while the wife received a whopping 11 years. They will also pay over $37,000 in fines. “I just want to say that I love my children very much,” said the wife. “I was brought to this Earth to help people who are in need.” Hopefully, she’ll be able to fulfill her destiny with fellow inmates.
• Anheuser-Busch plans to raise prices and cut jobs to become more valuable than the $65-per-share offered by InBev. The beer company will offer early retirement packages to employees. No word if the Clydesdales will be put out to pasture.
From The Columbia Journalism Review…
Jay-Z? Shawn Carter? Mr. Z?
By Chris Faraone
The New York Times rarely refers to rock stars such as Alice Cooper, Moby, and Elton John by their birth names. With few exceptions, Vincent Furnier, Richard Melville Hall, and Reginald Dwight get free passes on their alter egos, as do the likes of American Idol icon Clay Aiken (Clayton Grissom) and anti-Christ superstar Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner). For some reason, though, the unofficial guideline that once compelled former Times critic Donal Henahan to make subsequent reference to Iggy Pop and Sid Vicious as Mr. Pop and Mr. Vicious (instead of Mr. [James] Osterberg and Mr. [Simon John] Beverly, or even Pop and Vicious) does not apply, apparently, to hip-hop artists. At the Times, the penalty for being a rapper is twofold: you are routinely called out on your birth name (no matter how nerdy and ironic it might be), and you rarely are addressed as “Mr.” This nominal double standard surfaces from time to time in hip-hop articles throughout the mainstream press, but due to the Times’s extensive urban-music coverage and its eternal struggle with honorific conformity, rap handles seem to inspire more copy dilemmas there.
Despite having sold several million discs and served as president of Def Jam Recordings under his alias, Jay-Z still gets pegged as Shawn Carter. The Times’s David M. Halbfinger and Jeff Leeds did so in reporting on the Brooklyn rap entrepreneur’s 2007 comeback, as did Los Angeles Times staff writer Richard Cromelin and the Boston Globe’s Sarah Rodman. No hip-hop artist is immune—Wu-Tang Clan ringleader RZA (Robert Diggs), Queens heavyweight 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson), and urban mogul Diddy (Sean Combs) are all routinely birth-named in the mainstream press.
Sam Sifton, the Times’s culture editor, says that while such decisions are handled on a case-by-case basis, rap artists often get special treatment. “There’s a big difference between [Houston rapper] Bun B and Tony Bennett,” Sifton says, referring to Bernard Freeman and Anthony Dominick Benedetto, respectively. “Tony Bennett took a stage name, which I think is a little different from taking an alias. Someone like Jay-Z can be Mr. Carter, certainly, or he can just be Jay-Z, but he’s never going to be Mr. Z.”
But is there a meaningful distinction between a “stage name” and an “alias”? That Sifton made an example of Jay-Z—rather than someone like, say, Ghostface Killah, whose chosen moniker is further outside the mainstream nomenclature—suggests that at the Times, at least, there is, and that rappers are in a class by themselves. Why else would Alicia Keys, a performer from beyond the rap realm—who took a stage name (or devised an alias) based on the instrument she plays—have never been outed as Alicia Augello-Cook? In Kelefa Sanneh’s October 5, 2003, Times CD roundup, Outkast rappers André 3000 (André Benjamin) and Big Boi (Antwan Patton) got name-dropped, while Erykah Badu’s birth name (Erica Wright) was never mentioned.
Even more confusing are articles that seem to follow no logic whatsoever: a December 3, 2006, Times profile on celebrity Sirius Radio hosts refers to rap personality Ludacris as Christopher Bridges (and as “Mr. Bridges” in subsequent references), but allows Eminem (Marshall Mathers), Snoop Dogg (Calvin Broadus), and Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) to use their stage names. On second reference, though, Bob Dylan is “Mr. Dylan,” while Eminem remains Eminem; Snoop is only mentioned once, but judging by former Times treatments he would have been called “Snoop” or “Snoop Dogg” had his name come up again.
“If you look in our archives, which we famously refer to as our compendium of past errors, you’ll see plenty of examples of us looking ridiculous,” Sifton says. “One of the difficulties that the Times has in addressing contemporary culture, and certainly hip-hop culture, is that we risk looking stupid all the time.”
Since it doesn’t look like it will be abandoning honorifics any time soon, blanket uniformity might be the best bet for the Times to look less foolish, or at least more consistent. After all, if they can call Brian Warner “Mr. Manson,” then surely America’s finest newsrooms can honor Calvin Broadus as Mr. Dogg.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Banding together with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Mickey D’s might have to change its name to Mickey Devo’s. Seems the recording artists known as Devo are suing the fast feeder for copyright infringement. Mickey D’s created a series of Happy Meals figures with an “American Idol” theme, and the “New Wave Nigel” character bears an uncanny resemblance to Devo members—plus, the toy plays a tune similar to Devo’s “Doctor Detroit.” A Devo band member said, “We are in the midst of suing them. This New Wave Nigel doll that they’ve created is just a complete Devo rip-off, and the red hat is exactly the red hat that I designed, and it’s copyrighted and trademarked. They didn’t ask us anything. … We don’t like McDonald’s, and we don’t like ‘American Idol,’ so we’re doubly offended.” Guess this means they won’t be participating in the Big Mac Chant-Off.
• Otis Williams, the last surviving original Temptation, is suing a group for using the iconic name and performing nationwide. While the new group does feature a former Temptation, they don’t have the rights to the legendary name. “You got promoters trying to be nickel slick,” said Williams, who still performs with the real band. “It confuses our fans until they get there and … they are disappointed.” Guess some folks think all Temptations look alike.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
From The Associated Press…
Malt liquor mural ads draw fire in Philadelphia
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
PHILADELPHIA — Graffiti-style malt liquor ads are drawing fire from parents and anti-blight advocates in a city known for its colorful murals.
The ads for Colt 45 malt liquor show comic book-style characters clutching bottles and cans of booze. “Works every time,” reads the slogan.
“I really wouldn’t want my daughter looking at it,” Jill Maguire said as she pushed a neighbor’s baby in a stroller near one of the ads. “She might think it’s cool.”
Jane Golden, the director of the city’s Mural Arts Program, said: “I just think it’s distasteful. I just think it’s the last thing we need.”
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said he would look into the matter.
One of the Colt 45 ads is painted on a building next to a bicycle shop in the working-class neighborhood of Fishtown, a gentrifying area that still has many struggling families.
The ad’s gray-and-white adult cartoon characters are shown holding golden cans and bottles of the malt liquor. In the corner, the small print reads, “Yo, enjoy our frosty malt beverages responsibly!”
A nonprofit anti-billboard group, the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight, has complained to city regulators, saying the ads should be removed because they are in areas not zoned for advertising.
Mary Tracy, executive director of the group, said they are particularly offensive in a city known for murals of famous places and people, from Frank Sinatra to Malcolm X.
Nicole Seitz, the group’s program director, said the group knows of two painted Colt 45 ads in Fishtown, as well as about seven other similar ads for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
Messages left by The Associated Press with Pabst Brewing Co., which produces Colt 45 and Pabst Blue Ribbon, were not returned Wednesday.
Last year, ads for Colt 45 were removed from the sides of city transit buses in response to community concerns. Inner-city activists across the country have long decried ads for malt liquor, which is similar to regular beer but with an alcohol content as high as 8 percent.
A bicycle mechanic who works at a shop next to one of the latest Fishtown ads said he’s torn over it: He thinks it’s great artwork, but he’s opposed to the corporate presence.
“Big business is behind it all,” said George Thoms, 34, who says he doesn’t drink.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
From The Chicago Tribune…
Don Imus’ offensive defense
By Clarence Page
For a guy who makes his living as a professional talker, the topic of race seems to leave Don Imus oddly tongue-tied.
In case you haven’t kept up, the pioneer “shock jock” has been broadcasting a new morning show on WABC-AM since last fall, months after he was fired from MSNBC and CBS Radio for proclaiming that the Rutgers University women’s basketball team looked like “nappy-headed hos.”
He returned to work with profuse on-air apologies and a pledge to foster an open dialogue on race relations on his new show. On Monday he fostered the sort of dialogue he had not counted on.
Or maybe he did. Listening to the on-air chatter that has stirred up another racial eruption, I had to wonder whether it was just another bonehead mistake or a brilliant publicity stunt.
On Monday’s show, sportscaster Warner Wolf was talking about how the Dallas Cowboys football player formerly known as Adam “Pacman” Jones no longer wants to be called “Pacman.” Jones is turning over a new leaf after having been suspended for a season and arrested six times.
Then Imus inexplicably injected race into the conversation:
“What color is he?” asked Imus.
“He’s African-American,” said Wolf, sounding a bit bemused.
“Well, there you go,” said Imus. “Now we know.”
Huh? That’s it? You might ask, “Now we know what?” Imus did not say. The omission left the rest of us to wonder whether Imus was expressing some sort of soft bigotry of criminal expectations in regard to black athletes.
It didn’t take all day for Rev. Al Sharpton to call the remarks “very disturbing” and say, “We are looking into this.” Sharpton led the campaign to have Imus fired last year from his national CBS Radio show and its simulcast on MSNBC.
Jones said he was upset by the remarks and would “pray” for the radio star.
But Imus insisted that those of us who heard something racist in his remarks heard him wrong. He said he actually was defending Jones, whom Imus thought was being picked on because of his race.
On his radio show the next day, Imus said he was trying to “make a sarcastic point” about the unfair treatment of blacks in the criminal justice system but had been misunderstood.
“What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason,” Imus said Tuesday. “I mean, there’s no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once.”
Calling the criticism “ridiculous,” Imus pointed out how his program’s cast is now more diverse than ever. It includes a black producer and two black co-hosts—one male and one female. Still, after his troubles last year, you might think he’d be extra careful about clarifying his sentiments the first time, especially on topics having anything to do with race, instead of letting his insinuations (“well, there you go; now we know”) hang heavily in the air.
Instead, he finds himself trying to explain why what he meant to say was different from what we may have heard him say.
If he was looking for attention—and what entertainer isn’t?—he could hardly have dreamed up a more slippery way to do it. Even the remarks that he said he intended to say exposed some of our society’s deepest racial wounds.
For example, just as it is offensive to imply that blacks are more criminal than whites, it is also offensive to imply that blacks are arrested “for no reason,” if you don’t back up the assertion. If “there’s no reason to arrest this kid six times,” that, too, begs for an explanation. Otherwise, Imus seemed to be committing the same offense of which Sharpton is often accused: exploiting serious issues like race, crime and overpampered athletes and shedding more heat than light.
Ironically, if Imus wants to put his edgy humor to the cause of fostering a helpful dialogue on race, he needs to get serious. He could take some valuable tips from George Carlin, a master of the art of humor who died Sunday at age 71. The envelope-pushing Carlin will be sorely missed by those of us who appreciate humor that also makes you think. Whether you agreed with him or not, you knew where Carlin stood. Imus, by contrast, has a self-defeating habit of shooting from the lip—and firing blanks.
Losing style points with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Michael Jackson announced plans to launch a line of clothing. “It’s still in the developing stages, but it’s going to be big,” said an insider. “This will be a major comeback for Michael. He’s dedicating a lot of his time and money to this venture.” Let’s hope it’s not a line of kids’ clothing.
• Shaquille O’Neal let loose a rap criticizing Kobe Bryant, and it cost Shaq his badge. The NBA star’s special deputy badge from the Maricopa County Police Department will be revoked because officials were not pleased with the raunchy rhymes. “I want his two badges back,” said the sheriff. “Because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they’re fired. I don’t condone this type of racial conduct.” Um, how many of his deputies are +7-foot, 325-pound NBA centers?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Rough landings in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Don Imus claims he was misunderstood, insisting his latest remarks were intended to “make a sarcastic point.” Imus said, “What people should be outraged about is that they arrest Blacks for no reason. I mean, there’s no reason to arrest [Adam Jones] six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once.” Um, Don, you’ve made racist remarks more than once.
• United Airlines announced plans to put 950 pilots on furlough. The airline said it had to take a “difficult, but necessary step to reduce the number of people we have to run our business.” The decision will no doubt reduce the number of customers they have to use their business.
From The New York Daily News…
Top advertising agency cuts ties to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe
BY DAVE GOLDINER, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
A New York advertising giant is severing all ties to its Zimbabwe affiliate after discovering links to strongman Robert Mugabe’s bloody election campaign.
Young & Rubicam said Monday it was stunned to hear that the managing director for Imago Y&R created jingles and ads for the brutal dictator.
The move came as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sought refuge in the Dutch Embassy from a tide of state-sponsored violence sweeping the African nation. The UN Security Council declared unanimously yesterday that that a free and fair run-off this Friday.
“We find it so abhorrent, and we want nothing to do with this,” said Aviva Ebstein, a spokeswoman for Y&R. “It is awful, and we feel we are taking a stand.”
Y&R is trying to dispose of an ownership stake in the Zimbabwe ad agency after discovering the Mugabe link last week. Zimbabwean newspapers say Imago Y&R made millions from Mugabe’s ruling party to create the feel-good campaign, even as militants went on a rampage to intimidate the opposition.
Dutch officials said Tsvangirai had taken refuge in the embassy in the capital of Harare on Sunday after pulling out of the election because of the deadly attacks.
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a controversial election on Mar. 29, but officials said he fell short of an absolute majority, forcing a runoff. Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since independence in 1980, insists the vote will go ahead as planned on Friday.
Independent human rights groups say 85 people have died and tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes, most of them opposition supporters, by the recent weeks of violence.
Check out this ad that appeared in the Advertising Age classifieds. Let’s hope Ad Age dispatches a reporter to cover the event. Wonder if anyone will even show up. In lieu of attending the meeting, everyone is encouraged to email thoughts to the address listed in the message.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Shock jock Don Imus sparked new controversy with another asinine remark, this time aimed at a male Black athlete.
While discussing NFL player Adam “Pacman” Jones, Imus and partner Warner Wolf presented the following exchange:
Wolf: “Defensive back Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, recently signed by the Cowboys. Here’s a guy suspended all of 2007 following a shooting in a Vegas night club.”
Imus: “Well, stuff happens. You’re in a night club, for God’s sake. What do you think’s gonna happen in a night club? People are drinking and doing drugs, there are women there, and people have guns. So, there, go ahead.”
Wolf: “He’s also been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.”
Imus: “What color is he?”
Wolf: “He’s African-American.”
Imus: “Well, there you go. Now we know.”
For anyone who questioned whether or not Imus is a racist, well, there you go. Now we know.
From The Washington Post…
Hate Groups’ Newest Target
White Supremacists Report an Increase in Visits to Their Web Sites
By Eli Saslow, Washington Post Staff Writer
Sen. Barack Obama’s historic victory in the Democratic primaries, celebrated in America and across much of the world as a symbol of racial progress and cultural unity, has also sparked an increase in racist and white supremacist activity, mainly on the Internet, according to leaders of hate groups and the organizations that track them.
Neo-Nazi, skinhead and segregationist groups have reported gains in numbers of visitors to their Web sites and in membership since the senator from Illinois secured the Democratic nomination June 3. His success has aroused a community of racists, experts said, concerned by the possibility of the country’s first black president.
“I haven’t seen this much anger in a long, long time,” said Billy Roper, a 36-year-old who runs a group called White Revolution in Russellville, Ark. “Nothing has awakened normally complacent white Americans more than the prospect of America having an overtly nonwhite president.”
Such groups have historically inflated their influence for self-promotion and as an intimidation technique, and they refused to provide exact membership numbers or open their meetings to a reporter. Leaders acknowledged that their numbers remain very small—“the flat-globe society still has more people than us,” Roper said. But experts said their claims reveal more than hyperbole this time.
“The truth is, we’re finding an explosion in these kinds of hateful sentiments on the Net, and it’s a growing problem,” said Deborah Lauter, civil rights director for the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate group activity. “There are probably thousands of Web sites that do this now. I couldn’t even tell you how many are out there because it’s growing so fast.”
Neo-Nazi and white power groups acknowledge that they have little ability to derail Obama’s candidacy, so instead some have decided to take advantage of its potential. White-power leaders who once feared Obama’s campaign have come to regard it as a recruiting tool. The groups now portray his candidacy as a vehicle to disenfranchise whites and polarize America.
[Read the full story here.]
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Beauty and the beast—you figure which is which—in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Naomi Campbell apologized for assaulting security guards at London’s Heathrow Airport in April, but she’s not backing down from her beef with British Airways, accusing the airline of racism. “I was called a racial name on that flight,” claimed Campbell, insisting that her nasty behavior “was part of my reaction.” British Airways countered, “We are proud of our diversity. We fly to 90 different countries around the world and employ a multi-nationality work force. We have strict policies concerning dignity at work and have long-standing training programs on diversity and inclusion.” Looks like they’re playing the corporate diversity card.
• A three-legged, one-eyed, semi-balding dog from Florida won the title of World’s Ugliest Dog in a contest. No word if he’ll be making an appearance in Dove advertising.
From The New York Daily News…
Promoting responsible fatherhood
By Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint
Last week, Sen. Barack Obama spoke out at a black church in Chicago about the importance of father involvement with children and families. He knows that many men, including the poor, are struggling with the challenges of a new model of fatherhood, one in which they play a greater role in child rearing.
Obama is right to shine a spotlight on these critical questions. Now, we must broaden the conversation to make sure we give every father the opportunities and the tools to be a good dad.
Men benefit from the satisfaction of being involved with their little ones. But many obstacles remain.
Some men complain that mothers shut them out. How do we change that? If the father has been cruel or indifferent to the mother or to the child, how can we ask the mother to give the man a second chance? It’s never easy for anyone involved. Still, if a mother has a difficult—but not violent—relationship with the baby’s father, it is important to get counseling to help them work through their issues for the sake of the child. Parents should not use the children to manipulate each other. There are counselors in churches, health centers and community agencies who can help parents learn to work together.
If the father is physically abusive and refuses to change, the mother has no choice but to shut him out. And the father should honor any legal restraining orders until he gets his act together and convinces the authorities that he has. In the meantime, for her children’s sake, the mother should try to find “substitute” fathers among relatives and community organizations.
The fact that a father is unemployed or underemployed should not disqualify him as a parent in the mother’s eyes. These men can play an important role in the home. If fathers take on more child care and household responsibilities, it lessens the burden on mothers. By participating in the life of the family, men can help relieve the stress that is frequently found in low-income families, as well as strengthen their children’s development.
Children who spend time with their fathers will develop closer family relationships and will benefit from the individual attention as they share in day-to-day activities. Kids feel hurt and abandoned when fathers are not part of their lives.
Finding ways to enable fathers to connect with their kids is crucial. As should be obvious by now, men often have to overcome some very real hurdles to bond with their children. These include child support difficulties, custody battles, incarceration, lack of education and unemployment.
Adfreak noted 50 Cent is pissed off at Taco Bell. The fast food joint’s president publicly asked the rapper to switch his name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent or 99 Cent for a day to promote the Taco Bell value menu—all in exchange for a $10,000 charitable donation. “This is a sleazy and ill-conceived publicity stunt by Taco Bell’s president, Greg Creed, whose disingenuous offer was leaked to the press before it was even presented to 50 Cent’s agent…” said a rep for the rapper. Fiddy added, “When my legal team is finished with them, Taco Bell is going to have a new corporate slogan: ‘We messed with the bull and got the horns!’”
Not sure why Taco Bell is interested in hooking up with Fiddy anyway. Maybe the fast feeder is unhappy with the rap performances of its drive-thru wiggers. Also, Taco Bell should be relieved a judge recently ordered Fiddy to surrender all his guns.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Serving up the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Naomi Campbell pleaded guilty to charges stemming from assaulting security at London’s Heathrow Airport on April 3. She’ll pay a $4,600 fine and serve 200 hours of community service. Wonder if cleaning airport toilets would be deemed cruel and unusual punishment.
• Employees at the San Diego County Clerk’s Office had been raising religious objections to performing same-sex marriages, and now their bosses have ordered them to do their jobs or face reassignment. Guess you could call the instructions straight talk.
• Ellen DeGeneres announced plans to marry Portia de Rossi. “Yes, we have set a wedding date,” said DeGeneres. “How do I feel about it? I obviously feel like it’s long overdue. I think someday people will look back on this like women not having the right to vote and segregation and anything else that seems ridiculous that we don’t all have the same rights.” No word if the guest list will include employees at the San Diego County Clerk’s Office.
From The Chicago Tribune…
The changing NAACP
A sign of changing times: The new president of America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization wasn’t alive in the 1960s. Benjamin Todd Jealous, 35, is the youngest president and CEO in the 99-year history of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Take that as a nod by the NAACP that its agenda, and that of other civil rights organizations, is changing. Laws to safeguard rights have long been in place. The focus now is on creating economic opportunity for African-Americans.
Jealous takes the leadership of the NAACP at a tough time for the organization. Its membership and funding have declined. It has struggled to get attention.
He replaces Bruce Gordon, a former Verizon executive whose business experience offered the promise of new fundraising connections and an updated agenda. Gordon expanded the NAACP’s mission to social services such as pregnancy counseling, mentoring programs and the teaching of entrepreneurial and financial skills, but he resigned over disputes with the NAACP board after just 19 months on the job.
Jealous has a broad, impressive background: He’s a former Rhodes scholar and director of Amnesty International USA’s Domestic Human Rights Program, and president of the San Francisco-based Rosenberg Foundation, which finances social justice organizations. He was executive director for three years of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization of black-owned community newspapers.
His mother, who is black, was among those who desegregated Baltimore’s Western High School in the 1950s. His father, who is white, participated in sit-ins to desegregate Baltimore lunch counters. His family has stayed active in the NAACP.
All that would seem to give him a solid sense of the historic importance of the NAACP.
And the knowledge that dynamic organizations realize history is just that … history.
From USA TODAY…
Hindus divided on whether to laugh or cry at ‘Love Guru’
By David Briggs, Religion News Service
First there was Apu, the stereotypical convenience store owner parodied on The Simpsons. Then there was Kumar, the brilliant stoner-slacker of the Harold and Kumar films.
Now the latest character to test the good humor of Indian Americans is Mike Myers’ The Love Guru, a narcissistic, sucker-punching spiritual leader whose goals in life are to meet girls and appear on Oprah. The film opened Friday (June 20) in theaters nationwide.
Enough is enough, some Hindu activists are saying. Lampooning a guru — a revered spiritual teacher in Hindu tradition — crosses the line from acceptable social satire to mockery of a minority religious culture little understood by Americans, they say.
Some Hindu groups have asked Paramount Pictures for an apology and to work with them on a study guide on Hinduism for moviegoers. Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada and a leader of the protest movement, said “the problem is that cinema is a powerful medium, and people who are not well-versed in Hinduism … they get misinformed. They start stereotyping Hinduism.”
The movie pokes fun at egotistical spiritual leaders who fool gullible people with nonsensical jargon, said Vijaya Emani, immediate past president of the Federation of India Community Associations, based in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Her advice to Hindu protesters after seeing the film: “Lighten up.”
But Deepak Sarma, an associate professor of religious studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, expressed concern that the film could fuel “a kind of jingoistic Americanism” that makes fun of those who are different among unsophisticated audiences.
“The amount of damage that’s going to be done for the understanding of Hinduism in America is tremendous,” said Sarma, editor of Hinduism: A Reader, who also screened the film.
The Washington-based Hindu American Foundation had taken a wait-and-see approach and after a screening in Minneapolis on Thursday, board members found it “vulgar, crude … and tasteless” but nonetheless few screeners thought it “anti-Hindu or mean-spirited.”
And for its part, the U.S. branch on the Hare Krishna movement dismissed the idea of a boycott and said the movie should remind all religious people to “take the time to laugh (even at ourselves) once in a while.”
Despite the great diversity within Hinduism, a guru is generally considered a spiritual teacher who leads disciples to a state of higher consciousness. Students are encouraged to treat their guides with humble reverence.
“The guru tradition is so much of a core tradition of Hinduism that this movie tends to denigrate it so the core of Hinduism is being attacked,” said Surinder Bhardwaj, a professor emeritus at Kent State University.
In the movie, Myers portrays the Indian-trained “Guru Pitka,” who oversees a self-help empire built on books such as If You’re Happy and You Know It, Think Again. Much of the humor seems to be aimed at 8-year-olds, with scores of attempts to elicit laughs based on bodily functions. Yet, from his long beard and saffron robe to his title as guru, Myers’ character evokes comparisons to Hindu guides.
Zed, the Nevada activist, said he tried to work with the film studio before the movie’s release but was rebuffed. He said he understands the importance of artistic freedom, but particularly when addressing matters of faith, “with the freedom comes the responsibility also.”
Virginia Lam, a spokeswoman for Paramount said the new film is in the same spirit as Myers’ Austin Powers films.
“No one could confuse, or has confused, this film as intending to tackle serious issues surrounding faith and religion — just as no one confused Austin Powers as being a commentary on globalism and trans-Atlantic relations,” Lam said in a statement.
While some advocate a boycott, and others advise critics to get a sense of humor, still others see the controversy as an opportunity to explain Hinduism to a larger population.
Sometimes, it takes perceived provocations such as the depiction of Jews in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or the portrayal of a guru in Myers’ new movie to address topics such as Jewish-Christian relations and Hinduism, said Brent Plate, an associate professor of religion and the visual arts at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
“In a strange way,” he said, “in retrospect, they get us talking about these issues.”
Friday, June 20, 2008
TGIF with a MultiCultClassics Monologue….
• Happy belated Juneteenth to anyone celebrating.
• Senator Barack Obama apologized to two Muslim women who were denied seats near him during a campaign stop in Detroit. Campaign volunteers had told the women to remove their headscarves or exit the rally. “I spoke with [one of the women], and expressed my deepest apologies for the incident that occurred with volunteers at the event in Detroit,” stated Obama. “The actions of these volunteers were unacceptable and in no way reflect any policy of my campaign. Our campaign is about bringing people together, and I’m grateful that [the woman] accepted our apology and I hope…any who were offended accept my apology as well.” You know before this is all over, Obama and McCain will have issued more apologies than Charlie Sheen, Don Imus, Isaiah Washington, Mel Gibson and Michael Richards combined.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Checking voicemail with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Charlie Sheen is catching heat for a voicemail message to ex-wife Denise Richards. In the voicemail, Sheen called Richards a “fucking [N-word],” even though she isn’t Black. Sheen issued an apology that read, “I deeply apologize by my choice of words to all I have obviously offended; especially to Tony Todd, an African-American, who was my best man at my first two weddings.” Hey, some of Sheen’s best men are Black.
• 50 Cent is going to court to keep his ex-girlfriend from proclaiming the rapper was responsible for the recent fire that gutted his Long Island house. “There comes a point where you can no longer sit on your hands and listen to her spread these falsehoods,” said the rapper’s lawyer. “Besides hurting his reputation, they have a damaging impact on their son.” Note to Fiddy: Don’t ask Charlie Sheen to leave voicemails for you.
• Some women are complaining the iPhone is sexist, as its touchscreen technology doesn’t work well for people with long fingernails. Steve Jobs will probably invent iNails—press-on nails with built-in iPhones.
• Circuit City announced its 1Q loss is bigger than expected, with an 11 percent sales drop at established stores. “We continued to see improvement in many of our operating performance measures,” said the retailer’s CEO. “We are rebuilding our selling culture and focusing on creating a good first and last impression with the customer.” As opposed to the existing bad first and last impressions?
From The New York Times…
Conspicuous by Their Presence
By CATHY HORYN
RACIAL prejudice in the fashion industry has long persisted because of tokenism and lookism. “We already have our black girl,” says a designer to a fashion-show casting agent, declining to see others. Or: “She doesn’t have the right look.” Laziness, paranoia and pedantry may also have something to do with the failure to hire black models for shows and magazine features in any meaningful number, but, hey, that’s just a guess.
A decade ago the thing to deplore was the stereotyping of black models by dressing them in African-inspired clothes (or the Asian girls in kimonos). This at least gave work to minority models, but it also encouraged a Western view of African culture of the many-bangles-many-beads variety.
O.K., so fashion ain’t deep. It looks into a mirror and sees … itself. The irony in fashion is that it loves change but it can’t actually change anything. It can only reflect a change in the air. But what changes fashion? What would finally move American designers to include more black models on their runways? That 30 percent of the country is nonwhite? That black women spend $20 billion a year on clothes? That an African-American is the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party?
The answer is the individual eye.
In fashion, one of the most influential eyes belongs to the photographer Steven Meisel. His pictures have caught an America basking in the earnest, self-reflected glow of celebrity and money. He has taken innumerable risks, especially with “Sex,” the 1992 volume he did with Madonna, that have paid off with a career that allows him to do whatever he wants.
And he has almost lovingly photographed some of the world’s beautiful women, tapping into their psyches, connecting with them on a human level, while transforming them into fashion deities.
As the model Veronica Webb, who first worked with Mr. Meisel 20 years ago, said: “Steven knows every single tic, every talent that every girl has. He just pulls it out of them.”
For the July issue of Italian Vogue, Mr. Meisel has photographed only black models. In a reverse of the general pattern of fashion magazines, all the faces are black, and all the feature topics are related to black women in the arts and entertainment. Mr. Meisel was given roughly 100 pages for his pictures. The issue will be on European newsstands next Thursday and in the United States soon after.
Under its editor, Franca Sozzani, Italian Vogue has gained a reputation for being more about art and ideas than commerce. Ms. Sozzani also doesn’t mind controversy.
[Read the full story—with multimedia slide show—here.]
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Bumping and grinding in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Why does everyone think it’s so cool and amusing to fist bump with the Obamas?
• ESPN columnist Jemele Hill sparked controversy—and landed a suspension—for using a Hitler reference in a recent perspective. Hill wrote that rooting “for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It’s like hoping Gorbachev would get to the blinking red button before Reagan.” ESPN responded by stating, “Both Jemele and ESPN.com apologize. The column, as originally posted, made some absolutely unacceptable comparisons. We’ve spoken with Jemele, and she understands that she exercised poor judgment. She’s been relieved of her responsibilities for a period of time to reflect on the impact of her words. Within hours of its posting on Saturday evening, the inappropriate references were removed from the site, but our system of checks and balances failed Jemele and our readers and we are addressing that as well.” Additionally, Hill issued an apology that read, “I deeply regret the comment I made in a column Saturday. In expressing my passion for the NBA and my hometown of Detroit I showed very poor judgment in the words that I used. I pride myself on an understanding of, and appreciation for, diversity—and there is no excuse for the appalling lack of sensitivity in my comments. It in no way reflects the person I am. I apologize to all of my readers and I thank them for holding me accountable. This has been an important lesson for me and illustrates that, like many people, I still have a lot of growing and learning to do.” The semi-ironic part is that Hill was pretty vocal when shock jock Don Imus made his infamous comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.
From The Associated Press…
Maryland elects 1st black woman to Congress
By STEPHEN MANNING | Associated Press Writer
LANHAM, Md. - Democratic lawyer and nonprofit executive Donna Edwards won a special election Tuesday to become Maryland's first black woman elected to Congress.
Edwards beat Republican Peter James in the race to serve the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn's term in Maryland’s 4th District. Wynn left office May 31 to take a lobbying job after losing to Edwards in February’s Democratic primary by 22 percentage points.
Edwards, 49, will hold the seat for the rest of the year. James also won his party’s primary in February, meaning he and Edwards will face each other again in November’s general election.
Once she is sworn in, Democrats will have 236 seats in the House to Republicans’ 199.
The victory also gives Edwards a chance to establish some seniority if she is elected to a full term. A half-year spent in the House could give her a slight edge over other incoming freshmen, such as better committee assignments.
Edwards most recently led the nonprofit Arca Foundation. Her win in February was her second try at the seat after losing to Wynn in 2006 by a slim margin.
With about 25 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Edwards had 93 percent of the vote, or 2,853 votes, to James’ 6 percent, or 189. Voter turnout appeared to be low.
Buoyed by support from powerful interest groups and unions, she capitalized on voter distaste for Wynn’s positions and votes on issues like the war in Iraq and the housing crisis.
James, 52, of Germantown, focused much of his campaign on trying to alert voters to what he says are fundamental flaws in the nation’s banking system. He describes himself as a Republican in the vein of Ron Paul, the libertarian-minded Republican presidential candidate.
Maryland’s first black elected congressman was Parren Mitchell, who served from 1971 to 1987 in the 7th District, according to Jennifer Hafner, the deputy director of research at the Maryland State Archives.