Saturday, January 31, 2009

6386: Classic Blunders.

A refreshing MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Coca-Cola is dropping the Classic from its name, which was originally introduced in 1985 after the classic marketing blunder that changed the soda’s iconic formula. A company spokesman explained, “When people think Coke, they think classic, so more than two decades after introducing the word classic, the reason for being—quote unquote—for that word as a descriptor has disappeared.” Unless they’re cocaine addicts, in which case thinking Coke results in other types of responses.

• More hotties are suing Hawaiian Tropic Zone. A class-action lawsuit by four former employees charge the women were sexually assaulted, groped and subjected to a hostile workplace. The joint sounds like such a war zone, they ought to change its name to Tropic Thunder.

• It was a rough week for U.S. workers, as corporations cut over 100,000 jobs. “There’s no reason to anticipate a hiring frenzy any time soon,” said the director of economic research at Argus Research. “Labor usually accounts for about 75% of a company’s costs, and if the outlook remains bleak, they slash jobs. There is no reason to believe this trend will stop any time soon.” So much for the old cliché that a company’s most important assets are its people.

• There’s a rumor that Dell might introduce a cell phone. The company will probably use the device to terminate Enfatico via text.

• The United States Postal Service is considering reducing the number of days it delivers mail. Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night can trump a shitty economy.

6385: Scoring With The Rooney Rule.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Steelers owner’s fight for minorities pays off

On Sunday, Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will add to his family’s long NFL legacy if his team wins a record sixth Super Bowl championship.

But Rooney’s most important legacy may lie less with Super Bowl rings and more with a rule he pushed through the NFL in 2002, now called the Rooney Rule.

It mandates that NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate when they have an opening for a head coaching job, under most circumstances.

Some NFL teams balked at the rule initially. Some still pay it only lip service.

But the rule has delivered a sea change in the racial makeup of head coaches in the NFL.
In 2002, there were only two minority NFL head coaches.

Since then, 11 African-American head coaches have been hired, including the Chicago Bears’ own Lovie Smith.

It’s important to understand what the Rooney Rule is and is not.

It is not a mandatory affirmative action plan.

It doesn’t demand teams hire anyone or meet certain racial quotas, only that they let at least one minority coach in the door for an interview.

For years in the closed, insular world of NFL coaching, getting through that door was pretty tough for African-American coaches.

Now, minority coaches at least get a chance to prove themselves.

And just as important, even when they don’t get the job, they often become part of the mix for the next open job.

While the low-key Rooney over the years has played down the difficulty he faced in getting the rule passed, just imagine how hard it must have been to get a bunch of rich NFL owners—who don’t like anybody telling them anything—to go along.

It is a modest, common-sense step, and look what change it has helped create.

We can already hear critics saying that no hiring decision should be based on race, even who is interviewed; just let the best man get the job.

We’d respond that in many cases the best men did get the job, but NFL teams never would have interviewed them in the first place—they were not the first names that came to mind—were it not for the Rooney Rule.

Anyone care to argue Mike Tomlin isn’t doing a great job coaching the Steelers?

Friday, January 30, 2009

6384: Black Friday.

Blackened news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele was named the first Black Republican National Committee chairman. Steele declared, “This is the dawn of a new party moving in a new direction with strength and conviction.” Hey, it beats moving in a new direction with Bush and Cheney.

• Exxon Mobil sold enough black gold to break its own record with a $45.2 billion annual profit. That beats the average profit of most U.S. companies by over $45.2 billion.

• Procter & Gamble reported 2Q profits rose 53 percent, although net sales dropped 3.2 percent. Regardless, the P&G accountants are likely purring, “My, Black Is Beautiful.”

6383: Adweek’s New Bullshit Minority Report.

Adweek published the Nielsen report below. Scan it quickly and catch the MultiCultClassics perspective that follows.

Nielsen: Spanish-Language Ads on Rise

By NielsenWire

NEW YORK Advertising in Spanish-Language media is growing, according to a new analysis of multi-cultural ad spending conducted by Adweek parent the Nielsen Co.

Total spending in Spanish-Language media climbed 2.7 percent to $4.3 billion through the first three quarters of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007.

Procter & Gamble spent the most on Spanish-Language advertising through September 2008 with $133 million in expenditures.

Of the top-10 advertisers in this category, DirecTV stood out with the most growth, spending almost five times as much as it spent through the first three quarters of 2007.

The analysis also included a look at spending on African-American media, which dropped 5.3 percent through the first three quarters of 2008. P&G cut its ad spending in the category by 10 percent compared to 2007, but was still the top advertiser in African-American media with $63.3 million in expenditures through September 2008.

There was some notable spending growth within African-American media. Walmart, the No. 3 advertiser on the list, expanded its expenditures by 130 percent over the same time frame in 2007. Overall, the top-10 advertisers spent 2 percent more on African-American media through the first nine months of 2008 versus 2007.

This report plays loosely with the facts, and a cursory read creates misleading impressions.

In Spanish-language marketing, increased spending never translates to sufficient spending. Even a five times boost doesn’t warrant high fives. That’s the reality for all minority-focused expenditures.

It’s also interesting to see distinctions being made between minority media and minority advertising. Media dollars are up. But that doesn’t mean minority agencies are benefiting, as many White-owned media companies and advertising agencies are controlling the media duties and dollars.

Black advertising agencies aren’t likely to stay in the black. Overall media dropped 5.3 percent, while P&G’s ad spending dropped 10 percent. In this case, 5.3 percent + 10 percent = 100 percent screwed. Love the way the report tries to spin things in a positive light, declaring P&G still spends the most in Black media.

But here’s another dirty little secret to consider. Way back in Essay Two, MultiCultClassics noted a P&G initiative to better distribute assignments across its roster of agencies. The hope was that minority shops might even nab general market projects. Didn’t happen. In fact, White agencies continue to handle minority-targeted assignments, allowing the Black agencies to serve as “consultants” who review storyboards and give suggestions. It’s a pretty patronizing and cynical gesture from a corporation proudly proclaiming, “My Black Is Beautiful.”

As for the 130 percent jump for Walmart, it’s tough to say. Again, doubling the amount does not mean leveling the playing field. The Martin Agency is producing lots of work with Black casting—and probably placing the media too. Plus, the report compares current figures versus the same period in the previous year. Not sure, but wasn’t Walmart jerking around its multicultural shops back then, letting them twist in the wind while the Arkansas-based retailer concentrated on the review to appoint a new White agency?

The Adweek headline reads, “Spanish-Language Ads on Rise.” The bullshit is on the rise too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

6382: Firsts And Lasts.

Signing out in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• President Barack Obama signed his first bill, approving equal pay legislation. Obama declared the act would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody.” Um, wait until he hears about the Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc. report on Madison Avenue.

• Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was officially ousted from office after a 59-0 vote by the state Senate. No word if Blagojevich will demand a recount.

• A new Pew study revealed about half of all Americans wish they lived somewhere else. And about all Illinois residents wish Rod Blagojevich lived somewhere else.

• Michael Jackson is being sued by director John Landis, who claims Jacko owes him royalties for various projects related to the “Thriller” video Landis directed. It’s a wonder Landis can even still recognize the King of Pop, as Thriller was shot about a dozen plastic surgeries ago.

• Ford Motor Company reported 4Q losses at $5.9 billion, but insist they still don’t need bailout money. Maybe they can float some cash to Jacko.

• Kodak reported 4Q losses at $137 million, prompting plans to cut 4,500 jobs. Talk about a Kodak Moment.

6381: Not Getting The Job Done.

In the zone with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• A former Hooters employee (pictured above) is suing New York’s Hawaiian Tropic Zone, charging she was denied a job by a manager who declared, “You don’t speak White. … You are ghetto.” Um, wouldn’t that make her ideal for Hawaiian Tropic Zone’s core customers?

• Spirit Airlines pissed off its own crews by introducing uniform designs including aprons emblazoned with logos for booze. The union president for flight attendants griped that “turning flight attendants into walking billboards is unacceptable.” Um, don’t they already wear outfits with Spirit logos? The union also complained Spirit runs advertisements that are sexist and demeaning. So much for team spirit. However, there’s a woman who was rejected by Hawaiian Tropic Zone who might be interested in a job.

• Corning reported 4Q profits fell 65 percent, prompting plans to cut 3,500 jobs. Corning’s tagline reads, “Possibilities Made Real.” Guess they didn’t make enough of the possibilities real.

• AT&T reported 4Q earnings dropped 23.6 percent. Company accountants are currently drinking heavily in more bars in more places.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

6380: Desperate Defensive Driving.

It’s a sure sign the economy is crashing when you see BOGO offers for trucks.

6379: Art Lovers And Assorted Perverts.

This actual craigslist ad for a creative gig was probably posted by a recently laid off art director with too much time on his hands. Photo (preferably full nude) applicants only. Wow, he’ll even give you copies of the artistic digital pics—go ahead and download ‘em from Flickr.

Female Nude Wanted for Art (Chicago)
Reply to:
Date: 2009-01-26, 2:23AM CST

Looking for beautiful petite female models for digital experimental nudes with my girlfriend. These will be used to create a mix-media art project. Compensation is copies of photos. Will only respond to photo inquiries.

6378: DDB Needs Talent. In The C-Suite.

Advertising Age published an amazingly asinine article titled, “Recruiting Top Talent in a Downturn,” written by two executives from DDB Worldwide in New York. Go ahead and read the drivel if you have five minutes of your life to completely throw away.

Of course, you can scan the 950+ words and not find a single reference to diversity. This is hardly surprising from an Omnicom shop—especially one that apparently views minorities as candidates for the mailroom.

The authors are Chief People Officer Greg Taucher and Chief Communications Officer Jeff Swystun. First of all, what the fuck is a Chief People Officer? Secondly, when did Chief Communications Officers become qualified to comment on hiring? DDB recently elected a Chief Diversity Officer, and Omnicom followed with a similar appointment. Why weren’t these individuals tasked with presenting a perspective on luring top talent? Could it be because they have no true authority in the matter? Or does the quest for top talent exclude non-Whites?

The moronic musings of Taucher and Swystun include:

Six months ago, we were all battling in the “war for talent,” in which much of the leverage arguably was in the hands of the recruit.

Recruits will still be discriminating when it comes to choosing agencies to work for as part of their broader career strategies (if they are smart). That means the brand and culture of an agency will see new and increased relevance.

The selling points agencies emphasize to attract talent are changing rapidly. Let’s face it: Advertising agencies all wish to communicate creative, youthful personas. That is why we enjoyed and have clung to aspects of the dot-com era—foosball, pool tables, half-day “sabbaticals,” popcorn machines, free-beer Fridays.

Six months ago, ... much of the leverage arguably was in the hands of the recruit. Um, what industry have Taucher and Swystun been working in? Downsizing and dumb management have seriously restricted job seekers’ career options and tactics—and they lost their bargaining power long before the summer of 2008.

Recruits will still be discriminating … That means the brand and culture of an agency will see new and increased relevance. Okey-dokey, but will agencies such as DDB still be discriminating to maintain their brand and culture?

Advertising agencies all wish to communicate creative, youthful personas. With foosball? Um, DDB comes off like a toupee-toting divorcee cruising college campuses for coeds. And is the writers’ remark really rooted in ageism?

It’s hard to imagine what might have motivated Taucher and Swystun to share their outdated and out-of-touch pap. But their public display of cultural cluelessness makes them the perfect recruits—for Carmen Van Kerckhove.

Messrs. Taucher and Swystun, CLICK HERE NOW!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

6377: Learning From The Master.

The New York Times reported on a new campaign from the Ad Council designed to teach teens about Digital Age harassment. Gee, can’t think of a better, more experienced instructor on harassment than the advertising industry.

6376: “…So Help Me God.”

The Franklin Mint is offering this handsome coin featuring President Barack Obama reciting the oath of office. Does the flip side depict him retaking the oath?

6375: The Designful Company Demands Diversity.

Every self-respecting creative person committed to producing great work will enjoy The Designful Company. Marty Neumeier, who also authored The Brand Gap and Zag, continues to inspire and challenge us all.

Calling for an end to spreadsheet obsession, Neumeier argues for organizations to embrace design and its inherent benefits, presenting 16 “levers” to facilitate the revolution.

MultiCultClassics will forgo a deep review, as smarter and more talented people have already praised the book. Instead, we’ll touch on a few tangential (albeit slightly muddled) notions on industry diversity triggered by reading it.

When discussing true company growth, Neumeier wrote:

A 2007 McKinsey study looked at the performance of 1,077 companies over an 11-year period. It found that less than 1% outperformed their competitors on both revenue growth and profitability. What the top nine performers had in common were these things: 1) a preference for organic growth over acquisitions, and 2) a heavy reliance on intangibles such as strong brands to drive performance.

Sustainable growth and profitability are not borrowed from the future by starving the flow of investment, and not squeezed from the past by milking a business model on its last legs. Sustained greatness, by definition, is sustainable. The look of sustainability can result from blind luck—stringing together a series of unrelated success—but real sustainability results from a consciously built culture of innovation.

…McKinsey found that out of 157 companies that invested in acquisitions in the 1990s, only 12% grew faster than their peers, and only seven companies generated above-average shareholder returns.

That’s a pretty damning indictment of what is currently poisoning the advertising game. The mergers and takeovers that accelerated through the 1990s don’t appear to be bearing much fruit. Even Sir Martin Sorrell seems to accidentally admit the flawed acquisition schemes are borne of individual impatience and greed versus a vision for breakthrough invention. As for milking a business model on its last legs, Madison Avenue executives have squeezed the teat dry.

So what does this have to do with industry diversity? Well, as times become increasingly desperate, adpeople grasp ever tighter to the old ways, protecting their precious political turf and perpetuating failure. No one is cultivating new innovation cultures—or inviting any new cultures, for that matter. Yet change and success demand that we move beyond such obsolete practices.

Neumeier recognizes the positive power that comes from collecting a wide range of opinions and ideas. He highlighted marketing guru Mary Parker Follett, who offered the following thoughts in her 1924 book titled Creative Experience:

Contentious problems are best solved not by imposing a single point of view at the expense of all others, but by striving for a higher-order solution that integrates the diverse perspectives of all relevant constituents. … Adversarial, win-lose decision-making is debilitating for all concerned.

The path toward a better business model has been mapped out for generations. And it has always integrated inclusion and diversity.

A designful company is diverseful. The sooner we realize that—and proactively strive to build such an enterprise—the sooner we’ll begin to experience greater prosperity and progress.

Monday, January 26, 2009

6374: Trust Me, This Ain’t Reality In Advertising.

The only problem with TNT series Trust Me is the lack of reality probably rooted in the creators wanting to appear oh-so-liberal and progressive.

A Black account director working at a major advertising agency?

A female copywriter who has won Clios for Bud Light commercials?

What’s next—a White Chief Diversity Officer?

6373: Senator Oprah And Other Politics.

Making the cut with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich revealed he considered naming Oprah to Barack Obama’s Senate seat. And if she declined, Blagojevich probably would’ve opted for Dr. Phil or Tyra Banks.

• Sprint Nextel announced plans to cut 8,000 jobs. For 8,000 people, The Now Network becomes The Now Not Work.

• Home Depot announced plans to dump 7,000 jobs, plus close 48 stores nationwide. You can do it. We can help—by continuing to avoid shopping at Home Depot.

• Starbucks is brewing plans to dump 1,000 workers. That’s a Grande amount of unemployed baristas.

• Caterpillar reported 4Q profits dropped 32 percent, and said it might unload 20,000 workers. Employees are hoping management will move like a caterpillar on that decision.

6372: Digital Focus Groups Deserve Deletion.

Only a lazy digital account person could have dreamed up this—soliciting feedback for banner advertising via the Web. Hey, respondents need only click on the Ad Feedback link to gain the opportunity to critique the creative. You’ll be allowed to answer questions like:

How would you describe your overall opinion of the ad?

Like it a lot
Like it a little
Neither like nor dislike it
Dislike it a little
Dislike a lot

When thinking about the ad in comparison to other online ad formats, would you say it is...?

Better than other online ad formats
Neither better nor worse
Worse than other online formats

Record your level of agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

The ad was relevant to me personally
The ad was intrusive
The animation or movement of the ad was appealing
The ad takes up too much space on the screen
The images or graphics in the ad were appealing
The ad was confusing
The ad was different than other online ads

What do you LIKE MOST about the ad?

What do you DISLIKE about the ad?

Not sure how the responses would be adequately measured, as participants aren’t required to identify themselves at all. Plus, the questions are the worst examples of old-school focus group probing, sans the traditional perks of free food and bowls of M&Ms. Why employ outdated advertising processes against what is still touted as new media? There’s gotta be a better way.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

6371: Not-So-Super Bowl Ads.

Illegal use of hands via Photoshop®

Roughing the pisser and pooper.

6370: Indians Dog Out Slumdog Millionaire.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Some Indians find ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ a tired depiction of their lives.
The story of an impoverished street child in Mumbai, which has won 10 Oscar nods, is a stereotypical Western portrayal, Indians say, that ignores the wealth and progress their country has seen.

By Mark Magnier

MUMBAI — Even as American audiences gush over “ Slumdog Millionaire,” some Indians are groaning over what they see as yet another stereotypical foreign depiction of their nation, accentuating squalor, corruption and resilient-if-impoverished natives.

“Slumdog,” which earned 10 Oscar nominations last week, including one for best picture, is set in Mumbai, is based on an Indian novel and features many Indian actors. Yet some critics attribute the film’s international success in large part to its timing and themes that touch a chord with Western audiences.

“It’s a white man’s imagined India,” said Shyamal Sengupta, a film professor at the Whistling Woods International Institute in Mumbai.

The story of an orphaned street urchin overcoming hardship to win a fortune on a game show and walk away with his childhood sweetheart—capped by a Bollywood ending of dance, song, love and fame—provides a salve for a world beset by collapsing banks, jobs and nest eggs, some people here say.

The film was released in the U.S. days before Mumbai came under attack by militants. That may have strengthened its connection with foreign viewers, analysts said.

Mumbai was an ideal backdrop for the international production, wrote Vikram Doctor, a columnist in India’s Economic Times, because it is a “cutting edge, if rather crummy, place” that has slums along with posh restaurants favored by the global glitterati. “Who after all is interested in unremitting squalor, sameness and sadness?” he wrote.

The film’s mix of Indian and foreign talent, and English and Hindi dialogue, has sparked debate here over whether it’s an Indian film. It was based on a novel by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup, directed by Briton Danny Boyle, best-known for “Trainspotting,” adapted by British screenwriter Simon Beaufoy of “The Full Monty” fame and acted by Indians and foreigners of Indian descent.

“These ideas, that there are still moments of joy in the slum, appeal to Western critics,” said culture critic Aseem Chhabra.

Others, such as Shekhar Kapur, who directed “Elizabeth,” say it’s Indian. “What’s most relevant is that ‘Slumdog’ is the most successful Indian film ever,” he said. “It was directed by a British director and funded by a European company, but so what? ... Foreign crews are very common in Indian films now.”

“Slumdog” saw its Indian premiere Thursday, in Mumbai.

At the star-studded premiere, Boyle responded to criticism here that the film focused too much on prostitution, crime and organized begging rackets, saying that he sought to depict the “breathtaking resilience” of Mumbai and the “joy of people despite their circumstances, that lust for life.”

For some, the underdog theme is passe. Rags-to-riches tales dominated Bollywood through the early 1980s as India worked to lift itself from hunger and poverty.

With India’s rising standard of living and greater exposure to foreign culture, Bollywood increasingly has turned its attention to middle-class concerns.

“Within the film world, there’s a desire to move beyond the working class and lower sectors of society,” said Tejaswini Ganti, an anthropologist at New York University.

The ambivalence some Indians feel toward the movie doesn’t preclude it from becoming a success in India, experts said. “There is still a fascination with seeing how we are perceived by white Westerners,” said Sengupta, the Mumbai film professor.

Many workers in Bollywood also have transferred onto “Slumdog” their hopes for an “Indian” Oscar after homegrown favorite “Taare Zameen Par” failed to garner a nomination. “Taare,” about a dyslexic child who finds an outlet through art, was the latest in a string of Oscar letdowns dating to 2002.

Critics here point to other foreign depictions over the years they consider inaccurate, distorted or obsessed with poverty and squalor, including “Phantom India,” “Salaam Bombay!” and “City of Joy,” in which a doctor played by Patrick Swayze arrives to save the titular city.

Some people add that the criticism of “Slumdog” might be its focus on issues some people in India would rather minimize.

The country has seen enormous benefits from globalization. But “Slumdog” raises questions about the price paid by the people left behind and the cost in eroding morality. For India, this hits a nerve, after a top Indian IT outsourcing enterprise, Satyam, reported this month that it had faked profits.

“A lot of people felt it was bashing India, but I disagree,” said Rochona Majumdar, an Indian film expert at the University of Chicago. “We’re too quick to celebrate ‘Incredible India,’ she said, referring to an Indian tourism slogan. “But there is an underbelly. To say we don’t have problems is absurd.”

6369: Black Is Beautiful 2.0?

From The Chicago Tribune…

Is black the ‘new black’?

By Clarence Page

Some compliments are hard to take.

Take, for example, Larry King’s announcement a day after President Obama’s inauguration that it is now “in” to be black.

In fact, the ageless CNN talk-show host announced during a conversation with journalist Bob Woodward and fellow talk-show host Tavis Smiley on “Larry King Live” that his 8-year-old son Cannon “now says that he would like to be black.”

Woodward and Smiley burst into what sounded like slightly cautious laughter. “There’s a lot of advantages to being black,” King continued, beaming with fatherly pride. “Black is in. Is this a turning of the tide?”

Not to me. As a black parent, I’ve lived through this movie, only in reverse racial roles. When our son was 4, he came home from preschool one day to announce that he wanted to be a “white policeman” when he grew up.

His mother and I tried not to sound shocked, despite our imagined horrors of a budding racial-identity crisis damaging our son’s sense of self. Besides, I had already learned that if you react to something shocking that your kid says, he will only say it again.

Instead, I quietly reached for a how-to manual by psychiatrists James P. Comer of Yale and Alvin Poussaint of Harvard on raising black children. The book just happened to include a response to a black parent whose 4-year-old wanted to be white.

The good doctors’ remedy? “Relax,” they said.

It turns out that it is quite normal for children of all races to become aware of color differences at age 4, but they don’t attach any value to it. It is left to us, their elders, to teach them to love, hate or give everyone a fair chance to prove his or herself.

And the reverse also was true, Comer and Poussaint pointed out: It is not unusual for white kids to want to be black, if their personal heroes happen to be black.

Indeed, at that time 15 years ago, my son’s best friend was a 5-year-old blond-haired, blue-eyed kid in our neighborhood who was firmly convinced, as his dad put it, that “he is Michael Jordan.”

For King, cross-racial tourism by kids appears to be a new experience. That would explain his amazement and apparent ignorance of a pesky unwritten rule in today’s political correctness: Let no racial praise go unpunished.

It was King’s casual assertion that there’s “a lot of advantages” to being black that stirred the biggest uproar of Internet chatter. A Huffington Post writer fumed, “As soon as sonny boy gets passed over for jobs, opportunities, promotions, loans—snubbed, driven by, underestimated, charged more, ignored by doctors, success looked at with surprise and asked constantly if he plays basketball—he’ll go right back to spending his white daddy’s money.”

Ah, yes, as much as the world welcomes America’s first president of known African descent, it is more than a little early to declare blackness to be an advantage. In fact, if Barack Obama screws up, I suspect that we won’t see another black president for another hundred years.

For now, I am not shocked that King’s kid would think being black might give him some sort of advantage. It is a mark of our progress as Americans that today’s kids can grow up with images of black, successful role models.

But ironically, the more success we black Americans show in this country, the harder it becomes for us to convince anyone that being black is a terrible handicap. To paraphrase an old song, nobody knows the troubles they have not seen.

By now you may have noticed, dear reader, that it’s hard to joke about race these days, even when the humor obviously is good-natured and free of malice. Joe Biden could tell you that. Back when the master of foot-in-mouth-surprises was still a Democratic senator from Delaware, he famously derailed his own presidential campaign momentum with a well-meaning but racially naive compliment of Obama as “clean” and “articulate.” What sounded like praise to Biden sounded like condescension to quite a few black Americans.

Obama didn’t hold it against Biden, as evidenced by his choosing him as his running mate. Yet the episode left an important lesson: We can’t move into a truly post-racial future without a vocabulary that can help us to talk more frankly about our racially troubled past.

6368: Robert Townsend Shuffles To The Web.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Robert Townsend takes tales online

‘DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM’ | Chicago-born entertainer creates webisodes to help parents

By Sandra Guy, Sun-Times Columnist

Robert Townsend, Hollywood director and star of “Hollywood Shuffle,” remembers how his mother, a single mom, raised four children on the West Side.

“We lived all over Chicago, but we finally settled on the West Side,” he said.

Townsend watched lots of TV and started entertaining his mom with his impressions of actors from Bogart to Shakespeare. Townsend credits the late James Reed, his fifth-grade teacher at Hefferan Elementary, with recognizing his talent and driving him to speech festival competitions, which he won.

“My family was on welfare and didn’t have a car,” said Townsend, a graduate of Austin High School.

“Teachers can really affect a kid’s life,” he said. “I named my character, Jefferson Reed in ‘Meteor Man,’ after my teacher.”

Townsend’s background informed one of his latest projects—an online video drama, “Diary of a Single Mom,” debuting Jan. 27 on the Public Internet Channel, (His documentary on the history of black comedians, “Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black History,” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival Jan. 15).

The initial eight-segment Diary series focuses on three single moms from different cultural backgrounds: Monica Calhoun (“Sister Act 2,” “The Best Man”) is Ocean, 27, who tries to find a new job and get a GED while being consumed with her two children; Valery Ortiz (“South of Nowhere,” “10 Items or Less”) is 25-year-old Lupe, who struggles with being a young woman and a parent, and Janice Lynde (“Six Feet Under,” “General Hospital”) is Peggy, a white woman in her 50s who has never paid the bills but is forced to raise her 11-year-old grandson after her husband and daughter die in a car accident.

The series also stars acting icons Billy Dee Williams as Ocean’s uncle and Richard Roundtree as Ocean’s mentor.

Chicago native Cheryl L. West, whose play “Holiday Heart” was turned into a movie on Showtime that Townsend directed, created the characters and wrote the script for “Diary of a Single Mom.”

West attended Bryn Mawr Elementary on the South Side, and graduated from Thornwood High School after her family moved to south suburban Markham.

West, a single mother of a 12- and 13-year-old, said the series reflects universal themes with which every single parent grapples: “How is there going to be enough time? Can I do enough? Am I providing well enough?”

“Yet there are millions of women and men who manage and do it well,” West said.

West said she appreciated being able to create a serious drama with an African-American female as the lead actor.

“We’re dealing with very real issues and situations—people trying not only to strive but to thrive,” she said. “These women [in the series] are able to marshal their strengths to help each other.”

Each webisode lasts 12 minutes, and will let viewers comment on the episode page or on the series’ page on MySpace.

Townsend hopes the series can change people’s lives by enabling them to ask questions and find information on a Web toolbox.

The toolbox pops up on the side of the screen and offers online resources dealing with the issue at hand, whether it’s finding child care or GED classes. The content will be localized for Chicagoans in the next couple of months.

The toolbox may point the viewer to a blog, a Web tool or content from, a Web portal created by the series’ parent organization, One Economy (

One Economy, a nonprofit that calls its mission public-purpose media, started nearly nine years ago to advocate for greater broadband access and quality information online.

One Economy plans to syndicate the toolbox so that other nonprofits and public-policy organizations can post the toolbox on their own sites.

“The organization could embed the toolbox on its Web site. The toolbox would come with a short snippet or a full video program in a media player,” said One Economy’s Rob Bole.

The groups that embed the toolbox could add their own content.

Bole sees the power of the Diary series partly because it is unique: The scripted fictional show, chock-ful of stars, lets people dream about themselves in a new way.

The key is to make the content engaging, authentic and relevant, rather than preachy and guilt-filled, Bole said.

“Because we come from the community development world, we have a better sense of how people’s lives work in their communities,” he said. “People know we’re doing it in their self interest.”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

6367: Dressed For Success And Bankruptcy.

Weekend styles in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Looks like President Barack Obama’s Midas touch isn’t always immediate. Hartmarx Corporation, the creator of Obama’s suits, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Expect to see an Obama Suit Collection soon.

• The New York Daily News reported Bank of America apparently canned Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain for buying a $1,200 wastebasket during an office redecorating. It would be interesting to see the executive suites at Bank of America. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone into their designer trash receptacle.

• Tom Hanks apologized for recently calling Mormon Proposition 8 supporters “un-American.” Hanks’ statement read, “I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination … But everyone has a right to vote their conscience; nothing could be more American … To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are ‘un-American’ creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use ‘un- American’ lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have.” The offended Mormons are probably spiritually obligated to forgive Hanks.

6366: Stop Trivializing Hate and Murder.

From The Chicago Tribune…

‘Lynching’ rhetoric misses the mark

By James Grossman

The lawyers for Gov. Rod Blagojevich have resigned, indignantly protesting that they cannot participate in a “Potemkin-like lynching proceeding.” This follows Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) urging the U.S. Senate not to “hang or lynch” Roland Burris as they considered the legitimacy of his appointment.

Lynching, a national disgrace generally associated with the American South during the century between Reconstruction and the civil rights movement, continues to resonate as a powerful symbol in American political culture. The term summons up a sense of unfairness in the administration of justice, a determination of guilt based on something other than evidence.

It also summons up an association with racial oppression. So how can Blagojevich use it?

In this case, the historical record stands on the side of the governor. Plenty of white Americans have died at the hands of lynch mobs, including suspected loyalists during the American Revolution and abolitionists a few generations later. Wesley Everett, a radical labor organizer, was the victim of a lynch mob in Centralia, Wash., in 1919. Even in the South, where lynching was primarily an act of violence by whites against a black citizen, one can point to Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman from Atlanta who was lynched in 1915. But if lynching analogies do not require a racial component, they do require more precision. Burris and Blagojevich have not had an experience that bears any relationship to lynching. It is time for Americans to stop trivializing this horrible crime by tossing the word willy-nilly whenever someone is treated unfairly.

Lynching was a particularly grotesque form of violence, generally culminating in homicide. More than 2,000 black Southerners were killed by lynch mobs from 1884 to 1900. Most were men and had violated the rules governing the place of African-Americans in the South during the era of white supremacy. As one Louisiana newspaper put it a bit more plainly: “The younger generation of Negro bucks and wenches have lost that wholesome respect for the white man, without which two races, the one inferior, cannot live in peace and harmony together.”

White Southerners defended lynching as necessary to protect virtuous white womanhood from oversexed and uncontrolled black men. But fewer than 20 percent of lynchings in the South involved an accusation of rape. As journalist Ida B. Wells said, men could be lynched for anything “from violating labor contracts to shooting rabbits.”

Lynchings were public spectacles. Photographs show large crowds with men hoisting young children to give them a better view. Some were announced beforehand in the newspaper. And lynchings were brutal. Men’s testicles were cut off. Fingers were chopped off and sold as keepsakes. Victims were hanged, and then often burned.

So, Rush, rest assured that Burris was in no danger of being lynched. And Blagojevich will not go to jail—never mind be burned at the stake—without a trial and an inevitable appeal.

James Grossman is vice president for research and education at the Newberry Library and senior research associate in history at the University of Chicago.

6365: Taco Bell Is In The Doghouse.

From The Los Angeles Times…

Appeals court ruling favors creators of the Taco Bell Chihuahua
The fast-food chain is solely liable for $42 million in breach-of-contract awards to two Michigan men who developed the mascot idea, which was the basis of the company’s hit ad campaign in the ‘90s.

By Carol J. Williams

The wise-cracking Chihuahua who earned millions for Taco Bell Corp.—and some criticism from Latinos as an ethnic stereotype—has a new slogan:

“¡Yo quiero mi dinero!”—I want my money!

A federal appeals court Friday ruled that Taco Bell is solely liable for $42 million in breach-of-contract awards to two Michigan men who created the diminutive mascot that starred in the Irvine fast-food giant’s hit $500-million advertising campaign in the 1990s.

TV commercials featured the dog decked out as a beret-sporting revolutionary or bandit in sombrero, stirring complaints that they amounted to derogatory depictions of Mexicans. But the spots featuring the Chihuahua and voice-over by actor Carlos Alazraqui were phenomenally successful.

The talking dog’s refrain “Yo quiero Taco Bell” became a pop-culture punch line, as well as “Drop the chalupa!”—an instant favorite with sports commentators—and “¡Viva Gorditas!” (Long live the little fat ones, the name of the Mexican food chain’s stuffed crunchy taco).

The ads stopped running in 2000, freeing the dog, named Gidget, for further big- and small-screen fame, with roles in “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” and Geico insurance ads. She also appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” during which she was given a choice between a Taco Bell chalupa and Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC, which like Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc., won out.

A dispute over the rights to market the sassy Chihuahua began in 1998, when Joseph Shields and Thomas Rinks of Grand Rapids, Mich., filed suit alleging breach of contract. The developers of a “psycho Chihuahua” cartoon had been in talks with Taco Bell advertising agents to adapt the character for TV spots when, the men claimed in their lawsuit, Taco Bell took the idea to another ad agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day.

In June 2003, a federal jury in Michigan ordered Taco Bell to pay the creators $30 million, and a federal judge tacked on nearly $12 million more in interest three months later. The judgments prompted Taco Bell to sue TBWA, arguing that the ad agency was liable for the disputed content.

Friday’s decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Taco Bell Corp. vs. TBWA ruled that the fast-food chain, not the ad agency, was responsible for the ads and the awards due the Wrench agency owned by Shields and Rinks.

When asked if Taco Bell would appeal the decision, company spokesman Rob Poetsch said: “We just received the opinion today and are reviewing our options.”

6364: Diversity Job Fair Is Cool. Sponsor Is Not.

Adrants, New York University and Business Development Institute are presenting the Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference in New York City on Wednesday, February 11, 2009. The trio should be commended for their continued commitment to the cause.

However, it’s interesting to note the Recruiters & Sponsors include Merkley + Partners, the agency that scored a big fat zero after its first year of signing a diversity pact with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Here’s the agency’s blurb:

Merkley + Partners has been built by senior advertising executives who have all worked at large agencies on large brands. We focus our collective experience and expertise on solving clients’ problems in diverse and rapidly changing markets. In this way we’re large enough to be entrusted with some of the world’s most well regarded brands, while small enough to focus senior talent on every client’s business. Our mission: to make connections. Making connections. For our clients. For ourselves. We are in the business of connecting people to brands. We make connections that stick. For our clients, we create a bond that connects a brand and a consumer. We create a connection between words and images that changes people’s behavior. Internally, we connect with each other... We connect by being very people-friendly. We connect within our own halls. We connect by spreading thoughts and ideas, one person to another.

Um, so why can’t these fools connect with any minorities? Seems like their opening line tells the story. The place was “built by senior advertising executives who have all worked at large agencies on large brands.” In other words, M+P is an exclusive club where only big agency refugees with big agency experience gain entry. Are these guys supporting the Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference for legitimate reasons—or are they just seeking to avoid the wrath of the New York City Commission on Human Rights and Cyrus Mehri? M+P claims to “connect by being very people-friendly.” What “people” are they talking about? The agency should invest $297 and connect with Carmen Van Kerckhove.

6363: Tossing Cookies.

Cooking up the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• A Greenwich Village bakery cooked up controversy by creating “Drunken Negro Face” cookies to honor President Barack Obama on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The place received numerous complaints from folks in the community. “I’m sorry that people were offended by the cookie,” said the owner. “We were just trying to make a large number of people happy, and instead we made a large number of people confused and angry.” The bakery is—you guessed it—French..

• First Lady Michelle Obama dissed the new dolls fashioned after her daughters. “We believe it is inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes,” stated a White House spokeswoman. Now toymaker Ty Incorporated is backpedaling, claiming the dolls—named “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” are not representing the Obama girls. Ty is fucking lying, pardon our French.

• Harley-Davidson announced plans to fire 1,100 workers, citing the bad economy. “We reduced our production levels prudently in 2008, helping our dealers achieve lower inventory levels,” said the chief executive, “and we’re going to show similar discipline in 2009.” Either that or introduce the Obamotorcycle.

• Toyota officially passed General Motors as the world’s biggest automaker. GM’s only chance to regain dominance would involve introducing the Obamobile.

• Microsoft deleted 1,400 workers, and plans to trash up to 5,000 jobs in the next 18 months—firing employees for the first time in its history. Folks were told to clean out their Microsoft Offices and, oh, never mind.

Friday, January 23, 2009

6362: Winning And Losing The Illinois Lottery.

Advertising Age reported that Energy BBDO in Chicago won the Illinois Lottery account. The story also focused on JWT Chicago’s defeat in the review.

There is no mention of incumbent agency RJ Dale Advertising, a shop whose role was somewhat unprecedented in the history of the advertising industry. RJ Dale Advertising is a Black-owned enterprise—a multicultural shop. When the place won the account by beating competitors including DDB Chicago, there was a bit of controversy. Some argued RJ Dale Advertising received preferential treatment through its relationships with Lottery officials, while others sneered the Lottery was targeting Black consumers. Have accounts never been won because of personal connections or strategic initiatives? Regardless, RJ Dale also experienced a tremendous amount of political scrutiny that turned out to be unjustified and unwarranted. Search the blog for “RJ Dale” if you want more details.

In the end, observers such as Ad Age contemplate the fate of agencies like JWT Chicago. By all means, let’s not wonder about a Black agency that just lost its biggest client.

Here’s the Ad Age story:

Energy BBDO Wins Illinois Lottery Account
Decision Is Another Blow for Chicago’s JWT

By Jeremy Mullman

CHICAGO -- The Illinois Lottery has awarded its creative advertising account to Omnicom Group’s Energy BBDO, Chicago.

Energy BBDO beat out WPP’s JWT, Chicago, and Marc USA in a pitch for the account, which spent $18 million in measured media last year.

Energy BBDO led a pitch for the account that also included Omnicom siblings OMD and Integer Group, which will work on the business as well.

The account is the first win for Energy BBDO since Dan Fietsam joined the agency as CEO last summer from Publicis in the West. The agency’s other clients include Wrigley, Bayer and Jim Beam.

Lottery marketing director Sara Cummins said: “Each agency brought innovative ideas to the table, but we found Energy BBDO to be best suited for the Lottery’s needs. We made the decision based on the team’s enthusiasm, excellent chemistry, strong leadership and ability to reach out to Illinoisans in new and creative ways.”

The decision is a blow to JWT’s Chicago office, which, once the primary agency for the likes of Kraft, Miller and Federated Stores, is now down to only a handful of accounts. The shop will have to defend one of those accounts, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism, in a review expected early this year.

A JWT spokeswoman declined to comment.

6361: Hucksters 2.0.

These banner ads—which appeared at—are messed up for a few reasons.

First, you will not learn enough about digital in a one-day course to reinvent yourself. Guaranteed.

Second, if you’re trying to get “ready for the 21st century economy” in 2009, you’re a little late to the party.

Finally, taking advantage of a potential downsizee’s paranoia in a lousy job market is obscene.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

6360: Something Stinks In France.

Earlier this month, MultiCultClassics noted the comments from Publicis Groupe Overlord Maurice Levy on Obama’s victory:

“Congratulations on such a great choice. Once again the American people have proved that they are right there when it comes to turning points in history—and they know how to make history. ... I have always thought politics, that is something I should not get involved in. But I had to because this is so fantastic. It erases all the bad images, the bad pictures of the last eight years with one vote. It is a wonderful demonstration of the strengths of America, a formidable lesson for the world.”

At the time, Levy’s remarks seemed hypocritical and patronizing given the lack of diversity in his U.S. advertising agencies. Now Associated Press points out Levy’s entire country is messed up on the diversity front.

France’s diversity chief says nation risks social upheaval if discrimination isn’t fixed

By Associated Press

PARIS — France’s equality chief said Wednesday the country was heading “straight into apartheid” and toward a major social explosion unless changes are made rapidly.

Yazid Sabeg issued a wakeup call to the French nation, which has already suffered major rioting from alienated immigrant youth in the country’s social housing projects.

He stressed that the current financial crisis will hit those suffering from discrimination and lack of opportunity most severely.

“We are creating a social civil war in this country,” said Sabeg. “I believe that today we are digging a ditch that leads straight into apartheid.”

Sabeg spoke during a program on the Parliamentary Channel in which he responded to reporters’ questions.

Sabeg is the son of Algerian immigrants and is known for his efforts to bring equality to the workplace.

President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Sabeg in December to the newly created post of diversity and equality commissioner. He is to oversee a government action plan aimed at putting more ethnic minorities on TV screens, in political parties and in elite schools that lead to jobs in government and industry. Details of the plan are to be presented in March.

Sabeg said that France has been given four alerts over the past quarter-century, the latest in 2005 when fiery riots ricocheted through housing projects across France.

French of immigrant origin, most often from Muslim North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, fill the projects which ring major cities, and those who live there feel isolated from the mainstream. Many French had previously been unaware of the despair and anger locked up in the projects.

Since the 2005 unrest, France has taken a series of measures, but anti-racist groups and experts say discrimination and lack of opportunity remain largely entrenched.

Sarkozy gave broad outlines of the plan in December.

On the agenda is making elite education more accessible to minorities by forcing schools to reserve 25 percent of their places for students receiving state aid.

Among other measures, political parties will be asked to sign a “diversity charter” that could become a criterion for receiving public funds, and TV stations will be required to spell out diversity goals to the country’s audiovisual watchdog.

Businesses will be encouraged to accept anonymous resumes so that names and addresses don’t keep candidates from a first interview.

Sabeg, like Sarkozy, also wants researchers to be allowed to gather data on ethnic minorities — currently taboo in France which forbids the categorization of the population via ethnicity.

6359: The Obama Stimulus Plan: Dolls And ‘Do’s.

Dolled up in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Obama Family might wind up stimulating the entire economy all on their own. Ty Incorporated, maker of the iconic Beanie Babies, is releasing “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia”—dolls fashioned after the Obama sisters. But the company will probably outsource production to sweatshops abroad.

• The First Lady’s hairdresser, Johnny Wright, signed a deal for his own reality TV series. What? No program in the works for Michelle Obama’s manicurist?

• Dick Parsons has been named chairman of Citigroup. First Barack Obama assumes the Office of the President. Now Parsons grabs the reins at Citigroup. OMG, Blacks are taking over the world!

• Southwest Airlines reported 4Q losses, its second losing quarter after 16 years of profitability. That “ding” you hear is not the sound of a ringing cash register.

• OfficeMax hired a former Circuit City executive as its CFO. Um, is OfficeMax looking for some help on the bankruptcy tip too?

• A new study shows cleaner air can increase your lifespan by 5 months. However, the economy will make it 5 months of living hell.

6358: Dialing For Diversity.

Carmen Van Kerckhove’s FREE teleseminar lured over 500 listeners. Now Carmen is extending the call for diversity with an exclusive five-part telecourse this February titled:

Diversity Career Success:
How to Take Your Organization From Culturally Clueless to Diversity Dynamo
(and Skyrocket Your Own Career While You’re At It)

For folks seeking to elevate their diversity skills—or Madison Avenue executives attempting to acquire their very first clue on the subject—the program is sure to deliver. The FREE handouts are over, however, as registration will cost $297. But that’s a bargain compared to most professional seminars. Hell, the typical advertising executive pays more than that to keep their BlackBerry and iPhone running. Plus, the small investment could help reduce the amount of loot Cyrus Mehri intends to squeeze from the ad industry.

Don’t delay! To learn more and register CLICK HERE NOW.

P.S., Signing up a friend or associate will make a perfect gift for Black History Month.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

6357: Sales Are In The Basement.

Leaky basements in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Filene’s Basement plans to close a third of its discount fashion stores nationwide. You know things are bad when the bargain basement retailers are bombing.

• Wireless phone maker Ericsson reported a 31 percent drop in 4Q profits, and will now be calling for 5,000 job losses. Ericsson employees are encouraged to not answer their work phones – especially if the caller ID shows it’s the HR director.

• United Airlines reported more losses, along with plans to jettison 1,000 jobs. In an effort to generate profits, the airline will probably raise fees for an extra carry-on bag to $1 million.

6356: A Is For Anglo.

Advertising Age presented its Agency A-List with the picture above. OK, they managed to find one Latino. But the White male dominance is ridiculous. There was more diversity on the A-Team.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

6355: Swearing And Cursing.

An Inaugural MultiCultClassics Monologue…

Congratulations, President Obama. Here’s what you’ve won:

• Clear Channel is clearly cutting 1,850 jobs. Wonder if anyone’s tuning into the Inauguration via Clear Channel.

• Bose Corporation is cutting 1,000 jobs. Bose management will be turning a deaf ear to ex-employee complaints.

• Warner Brothers will cut 800 jobs. Th-th-th-th-th-th-th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

6354: The Source Makes A Booty Call.

From The New York Times…

Hip-Hop Magazine No Longer Accepts Ads for Lewd Products

By Richard Pérez-Peña

One thing magazine advertising and hip-hop music have always had in common is skin — images of models, usually women, in alluring poses and various states of undress. The Source, the hip-hop magazine, does not aim to do away with such images — there is a lot of money in them — but it wants to make the sex in its pages a lot less explicit.

To that end, the magazine announced recently that it would no longer take what the co-publisher, L. Londell McMillan, calls “booty ads,” for pornographic films, pornographic Web sites or escort services. But those have been a mainstay for The Source — more than half the ads in the magazine at times, he said.

The Source hopes to gain more than it loses by chasing mainstream advertisers that do not want their ads alongside the adults-only kind. That’s a serious gamble at a time when magazines are struggling, unable to hold onto the ads they have.

“I realize the risk that we’re taking,” said Mr. McMillan, 42, a partner at a major law firm, Dewey & LeBouef. “But I think when you have the more raunchy, seedy ads, you lose ads like financial services ads, some of the travel ads, the bigger corporate consumer ads like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, technology, high fashion.”

The Source, he said, should be able to appeal to the core hip-hop audience, mostly young men, while also being something “you wouldn’t mind your kids seeing.”

Founded in the 1980s, The Source became the first major magazine devoted to hip-hop, but in the 1990s, it lost ground to its primary competitor, Vibe. Since then, it has gone through turnovers in management and financial troubles that culminated in bankruptcy.

A group of investors, led by Mr. McMillan, bought The Source in 2008. The major independent auditors of circulation and advertising have not examined it in recent years, making it hard to gauge the magazine’s progress, but these are hard times for the entire industry.

Mr. McMillan says eliminating sex ads is no mere business decision. Sounding, at times, less like the music’s fans than like their parents, he says he wants to transform the often raunchy image of hip-hop itself.

“We don’t want to just glorify the lowest-hanging fruit,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that want hip-hop but don’t want some of the filth that some of the business carries with it.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

6353: Diversity Operators Are Standing By.

Carmen Van Kerckhove is a passionate crusader for diversity. In fact, she’s downright obsessive about the subject—she’s a bona fide Diversity Diva. Carmen has expertise and fresh opinions that go way beyond the stereotypical diversity programs. She co-founded Racialicious, the provocative blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. She hosts the podcast Addicted to Race. She’s president of the diversity education firm New Demographic. Carmen has taken her soapbox to CNN, NPR and MSNBC, and lectured at places like Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. She also runs other blogs and projects covering issues of inclusion, racial identity and Keanu Reeves (her second source of obsession).

Carmen is launching a new project that kicks off with a FREE teleseminar on Wednesday, January 21 at 5pm EST (yeah, that’s less than two days away). The FREE teleseminar is titled:

The 3 Biggest Diversity Blunders
Your Organization Could Be Making Right Now
(And How to Avoid Them)

You can register and learn more about the FREE teleseminar by clicking here now.

The teleseminar is bound to be informative and insightful for all. And if you’re from Madison Avenue, you damn well know your organization could benefit from Carmen’s perspectives. Let’s face it, the typical advertising executive would feel lucky to only be making 3 big diversity blunders. Maybe Carmen will offer an advanced course for modern-day Mad Men. In the meantime, you can pick up some basic knowledge for FREE before the impending Cyrus Mehri lawsuit.

Again, you can register and learn more about the FREE teleseminar by clicking here now.

6352: I Have A Promotional Message.

A handful of advertisers commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When you buy a Home Depot gift card, the retailer will make a donation toward building a home for Dr. King’s papers.

Delta Airlines flies the same ad it presented last year, hyping its donations toward building a memorial for Dr. King (how damn long does it take to sculpt a statue?).

Target doesn’t donate anything, opting to tell us to get involved in our communities.

And Wells Fargo seems to be saying we should save our own money to realize the dream.

6351: Martin Luther King, Jr. And Madison Avenue.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday obviously has special significance this year, as the nation is about to witness its first Black president take office. Even hardened cynics must agree the social and political event marks a major milestone in American progress.

It’s a safe bet that Dr. King would be pleased with the happenings on Pennsylvania Avenue. But how might he react to the situation on Madison Avenue?

Consider the picture painted by the recent Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc. report. When the authors sought to compare the staffing figures for Blacks on Madison Avenue versus the expected representation based on staffing figures in other fields, here’s what they concluded:

African Americans account for 4.3% of “officials and managers” in the advertising industry today. … about 47% of the expected representation.

African Americans account for 5.9% of professionals employed in the advertising industry today. … about 60% of the expected representation.

Bendick and Egan also observed “occupational segregation,” a phenomenon they described as “employment outcomes in which persons of different races tend to be employed in different functional roles, in different establishments, or at different levels of responsibilities.” Sounds like a technical explanation for the predominance of Black mailroom attendants, as well as the separate-but-unequal multicultural marketing silos.

The report presented other noteworthy factoids:

Based on data from 279 establishments within the advertising industry, 15.9% of the places employed zero Black managers or professionals.

The prestigious One Club Hall of Fame inducted 39 individuals between 1961 and 2008—and none was Black.

Blacks earned 82¢ or less for each $1 earned by White counterparts.

“Under-utilization of African Americans in the advertising industry has been recurrently brought to the industry’s attention for at least six decades.”

At the rate to date, “eliminating today’s Black under-utilization will require 71 years, or until the year 2079.”

Of course, Dr. King spoke to a wider audience than Blacks. Ditto Bendick and Egan, who wrote:

Although this paper focuses on African Americans, the same issues of employment bias in the advertising industry simultaneously affect other “outgroups” -- race-ethnic minorities such as Latinos and Asians; women; older workers; persons with disabilities; and even White males who do not share the cultural or stylistic characteristics of the White males who dominate the industry. These other groups would benefit alongside African Americans from a reformed, inclusive advertising industry culture. This broad potential enhances the urgency of addressing the problems raised in this report -- and addressing them in effective ways.

So how might Dr. King react to Mad Men 2.0—and the constant resistance to change from an industry boasting to be on the cutting edge of culture, yet woefully behind the times regarding diversity? Would the civil-rights icon lead a march on Madison Avenue—and perhaps rethink his position on nonviolence? We can only dream of the possibilities.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

6350: More Creative Direction By Barack Obama.

IKEA also jumps on the Obama bandwagon, lifting the signature “Change” message. The digital components are pretty cool—but c’mon, this retailer is Swedish.

6349: Overreaction Of The Week.

Why does this exposé on the “Most Dangerous Children’s Toys” have to spotlight the Black Baby Alive® doll? Hell, she didn’t even make the Top Ten lists of various watchdog groups.

6348: Creative Direction By Barack Obama.

Two more advertisers jump on the Obama bandwagon. At least SoftSheen-Carson credited Obama for the copy. Pepsi ripped off the man’s slogan and logo.