Wednesday, September 30, 2009

7140: Discrimination Settlement. Well Spent.

From Crain’s Chicago Business…

Sears settles $6.2M discrimination suit

By Lorene Yue

Sears Roebuck & Co. has agreed to pay $6.2 million to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed the retailer violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by firing disabled employees instead of accommodating them on the job.

The settlement, approved Tuesday by a federal judge, is the largest obtained by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for a single suit, the agency says. Sears does not admit any guilt as part of the settlement.

“This will provide relief to a lot of people,” said John Hendrickson, a regional attorney for the EEOC. “People are going to get some monetary compensation for the discrimination they suffered.”

Sears Holdings Corp., the parent of Sears Roebuck, said in a statement that it chose to settle the suit “because the factually intense nature of the case would take quite some time and considerable expense” to litigate.

“Despite the settlement, Sears continues to believe that it reasonably accommodates its associates on leave due to work-related illnesses or injuries under the Americans With Disabilities Act,” the company said in the statement. “We have always proceeded and will continue to proceed in good faith when considering and making reasonable accommodations for our associates.”

The EEOC suit, which sought class-action status, was filed in November 2004 in federal court on behalf of John Bava of Barrington and other employees. Mr. Bava took workers compensation leave after being injured on the job, but he says he was fired at the end of his one-year leave and his attempts to return to work were never accommodated.

Mr. Bava said he learned he had lost his job “for medical reasons” when he called Sears’ corporate offices to determine why his employee discount card was rejected during a store purchase.

The EEOC claimed in its suit that Sears’ workers comp leave policy was inflexible and that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to work with disabled employees.

The settlement also requires Sears to amend its workers’ comp leave policy and train its employees in American With Disabilities Act compliance.

“I’m very happy with it,” Mr. Bava said of the settlement.

A February hearing has been scheduled to determine how the $6.2 million will be distributed.

7139: Chevy Dealers Are Dingbats.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Women who shop for cars are called “dingbats”

By Greg Burns

The Chicago office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is one of the most aggressive federal agencies around, and this week it is rising to the defense of “dingbats.”

“Dingbat” is the unflattering term that male employees of Castle Chevrolet in Villa Park supposedly were using to describe the dealership’s female customers.

The car dealer’s principals also are accused of making sexually hostile, abusive and threatening remarks to female employees, groping them and ignoring their complaints.

No one at Villa Park Chevrolet responded immediately to a request for comment. The case has been filed in U.S. District Court after voluntary “conciliation” failed, so presumably the company is contesting the allegation.

Led by regional attorney John Hendrickson, the EEOC office at 500 W. Madison carries a big stick. It’s the same office that went after the Illinois factory of Mitsubishi, in a sex-harassment case that attracted national attention after uncovering outrageous examples of abuse. “One would think that anyone in the auto industry—especially after EEOC’s Mistubishi case—would know that sexual harassment is not only a violation of federal law, but also just plain terrible for the bottom line,” Hendrickson said.

7138: Barbie—Black Is Beautiful.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

A New Barbie Look
Dolls | New line of role-modeling sisters has African-American features

By Sandra Guy, Staff Reporter

Mattel on Tuesday launched its first series of black dolls featuring varying skin tones and ethnically authentic looks, with a big sister portrayed as a role model to a little sister.

Mattel describes the dolls as having “fuller lips, a wider nose, more distinctive cheek bones and curlier hair” than their predecessors.

The “So In Style” line includes three sets of sisters: Older sister Grace with younger sister Courtney; Trishelle and Janessa, and Kara and Kianna. Each character has a distinct personality: Grace’s style is “girly girl,” Trishelle is “smart and sassy,” and Kara is “funky and fun,” according to Mattel.

The big-and-little sister dolls together cost $19.99; the little doll assortment is $7.99, and the Stylin’ Hair doll assortment costs $24.99.

Mattel’s design of new dolls isn’t child’s play. Stacey McBride-Irby, a Barbie designer for 12 years who lives in Gardena, Calif., came up with the line because she wanted authentic and inspirational dolls for her 8- and 6-year-old daughters.

Mattel employs 25 “hair and face designers,” including two licensed cosmetologists, according to an article in Allure magazine marking Barbie’s 50th birthday this year. The magic still works, since “Holiday Barbie” is on retailers’ lists of popular toys for this coming holiday season.

Barbie has had ethnically diverse “friends,” both male and female, for many years, including the late 1960s-era Brad, Ken’s friend, and the “Nurse Julia” doll depicting the TV character played by Diahann Carroll.

Yet the mentoring role of the older “So In Style” sister is “a way of letting girls see that they can take on a positive leadership role,” said Reyne Rice, toy trend specialist for the Toy Industry Association.

“Girls age 14 can mentor girls who are 6 by teaching positive values and what it takes to get along in the world,” Rice said.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

7137: Count On Cultural Cluelessness.

Advertising Age reports on Draftfcb’s campaign for the U.S. Census. Hey, bet on the agency ultimately offending every cultural segment in America.

Census, With DraftFCB, to Blanket Country With $300 Million Push
Massive Effort Uses PR, Events, Paid Media and Corrals 100,000 Partners

By Elizabeth Mcbride

WASHINGTON, D.C. ( -- The U.S. Census Bureau is preparing to roll out what is likely the largest advertising campaign in U.S. government history, a $300 million effort to motivate Americans to take part in the 2010 Census.

The 2010 campaign, which begins in January and will last through the summer, includes $140 million worth of paid media, a website, PR, events and materials to promote the Census through more than 100,000 partners that range from storefront churches to Target Corp.

The Constitution requires a census every 10 years. Late next spring, about 1.1 million Census workers will take to the street to identify people who didn’t fill out their forms—the very people the government hopes to reach, though they are also the hardest to reach with advertising.

This is the second time the Bureau has developed a paid ad campaign, and the last one was successful: The 2000 Census campaign, by WPP’s Y&R, reversed the post-war trend of lower participation rates. The data gathered 10 years ago showed that Hispanics had grown to be the largest ethnic group in the United States—and affirmed the importance of minorities to American companies.

In September 2007, Interpublic Group of Cos.’ DraftFCB, New York, won the 2010 contract after an 18-month process in which more than 100 agencies showed interest.

Big net
The campaign is a chance for an agency to be involved in something beyond the mere commercial, said Jeff Tarakajian, DraftFCB exec VP. It’s also an opportunity to stretch an agency’s targeting strategies. “Typically, when we do a campaign, we are discovering the broad-enough target audience,” said Mr. Tarakajian. “In this case, everyone is the target audience.”

More than $400 billion in federal funds is allocated in part based on Census data, and congressional districts are based on the figures. Further, Census data are used by marketers and agencies alike in their attempts to shape strategy, direct dollars and target specific demographics.

DraftFCB’s campaign notes well the lessons of the 2000 Census. The campaign uses ethnic identity as one wedge to motivate people to fill out this year’s form.

DraftFCB has tapped 11 subcontractors, most of them agencies that specialize in targeting particular ethnicities. “Materials will be distributed in 28 languages,” said Raul Cisneros, chief of the Census Bureau’s 2010 publicity office. Material is being designed specifically for Russian immigrants, Arabic language speakers and American Indians, to name a few.

In addition to using ethnicity and geography to target advertising, DraftFCB appended the Census database of participants in 2000 to a market-research database to develop a group of five different mind-sets: The Leading Edge, The Head Nodders, The Insulated, The Unacquainted and The Cynical Fifth.

Within each audience, DraftFCB identified the mindsets that were most prevalent and critical, and is using that knowledge to shape the material.

The pitch
The overall message will emphasize the benefits of participation—better roads, better schools, better hospitals—with a tagline of “It’s in our hands.”

Yet the message is subtly different in the material aimed at the approximately 4.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, and 1.5 million Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

“When you think about it, we’re the only ones who were conquered,” said Michael Gray of G&G Advertising, a Billings, Mont., firm that is responsible for reaching those populations. “We have this huge mistrust of the government.”

G&G’s language deliberately doesn’t promise anything, because that might be seen as overpromising, Mr. Gray said. “We talk about the fact that by participating you may help bring better roads and schools.” Images of Census rolls from the early 1900s, a time in which American Indians were categorized as “Uncivilized Citizens,” may help inspire pride in the audience, which may in turn motivate them to fill in lines for name and tribe.

The money to target groups at such a minute level is actually an unexpected luxury. The 2010 campaign got a big boost from the stimulus package, which allocated $150 million and likely pushed the campaign to the top of the list of biggest government ad outlays.

”It’s certainly the largest in recent times,” said Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a subsidiary of TNS. However, he added that wartime campaigns in the 1940s, adjusted for inflation, might rival it.

DraftFCB’s approach of designing messages around ethnic groups may spark controversy. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican from Minnesota, has already said that she won’t fill out the questions on the form dealing with ethnicity—for fear, she said, that the government will misuse the information. Some immigrants’ rights advocates have suggested to immigrants that not participating would put pressure on the local and state governments that depend on rising population counts for more federal dollars.

One particularly controversial area is likely to be the issue of counting illegal immigrants. So DraftFCB has come up with messages that offer reassurance that their information will not be shared with other government agencies. “Confidentiality is a key message,” Mr. Cisneros said.

The Census Bureau has established a goal of 64% of Americans filling out their forms—that’s three percentage points lower than in 2000. The lower goal reflects the reality of a fragmented media landscape and a more disaffected population, Mr. Tarakajian said. “Ten years ago, we were consumed by Monica Lewinsky,” he said. “Think of what we’ve been through since then.”

7136: Braiding Bailout.

From The Chicago Tribune…

A twist of hair

Braiding hair is a skill that’s passed down from mother to daughter, aunt to niece and friend to friend in the African-American community. It is also, for many women, a way to earn a living. But plying their trade legally is extremely difficult. Illinois law says braiders must have a professional cosmetology license, and that requires 1,500 hours of cosmetology school. That training can cost up to $10,000.

That’s a high hurdle. Day-care assistants, who change, feed, and watch our kids, need only a high-school diploma, and 15 hours of training a year. The licensing requirements drive braiders underground. They work from their living rooms and kitchens. They can run a business that way, but they can’t establish one that’s legal.

State Rep. William Burns (D-Chicago) wants the license for hair braiders to require “a reasonable amount of training that would make sure that basic hygiene, sanitation and techniques were covered.”

That just makes sense. “We really think it’s important to eliminate barriers for people who want to be entrepreneurs,” said Alie Kabba, executive director of the United African Organization.

Ten states exempt braiders from cosmetology licensing, requiring only that they comply with basic business regulations and sanitation guidelines. “We’ve opened up the hair braiding markets now to no ill effects,” said John Kramer, spokesman for the Virginia-based Institute for Justice. “In each of those examples we’ve seen hundreds of jobs created in the industry. These women no longer have to operate in the underground economy.”

The market grows, more women are employed and the tax base expands. In Mississippi, more than 300 women have registered hair braiding businesses since the state lifted licensing requirements in 2005, according to the Institute for Justice.

Illinois is one of just seven states that require braiders to obtain a full cosmetology or similar personal-care license. The onerous rules for braiders survive because lobbyists for cosmetologists have resisted easing the rules. It’s not hard to see why: onerous licensing restricts the competition.

Burns has tried in the past to eliminate licensing requirements for braiders. Now he wants to move a compromise, a bill that would reduce the required training to 300 hours.

That would be enough time to cover sanitation, hygiene, disease identification and best business practices. That type of course might cost less than $200.

This is a nice little test case of whether lawmakers will listen to the lobbyists or listen to the people. If they listen to regular people, they’ll support Burns on this.

“I grew up in a black neighborhood, I was used to seeing women braid each other’s hair in the community,” Burns said. Braiding is a skill often learned on front stoops and back decks, a skill that’s marketable.

Legislators, here’s a measure that won’t cost a dime in taxes, and it will let scores of people run legitimate businesses. Don’t get twisted in knots over it. Just ease the rules.

Monday, September 28, 2009

7135: Advertising Week Tweak Three.

And The Ad Bands Played On.

The New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott presented a recap of Advertising Week. Not surprisingly, the review included zero references to any diversity-related or multicultural bashes. As noted previously, the VCU Brandcenter panel appeared to draw a modest crowd. And there still seems to be no sign of information regarding The New Dynamics of Diversity. In contrast, Elliott reported the majority of events enjoyed huge turnouts, with attendees packing facilities and agendas extending beyond allotted timeframes. This makes Ken Wheaton’s suggestion of producing a Mad Men knock-off with minority cast members even more ridiculous. First, it would be a total fabrication of reality. But most importantly, like Advertising Week diversity events, it would fail to lure a captive audience.

7134: Retouching The News.

Looking at the ugly news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Lawmakers in Britain and France are proposing restrictions on advertising that retouches models, citing concerns that girls and women are feeling pressure from viewing the false, idealistic imagery. A British member of Parliament said, “When teenagers and women look at these pictures in magazines, they end up feeling unhappy with themselves.” Forget the ads. Have these morons bothered perusing the editorial spreads in British and French fashion magazines?

• The Obama Chia Pets that were taken off Chicago drugstore shelves after complaints have resurfaced at CVS stores in the city. The creator now claims he recently presented the item to President Obama and did not receive a negative reaction. Um, why is the creator of Chia Pets allowed to get near the President?

• New studies show obesity is now the leading cause of cancer. The National Cancer Institute revealed obesity and being overweight account for up to 14 percent of cancer deaths among U.S. men and 20 percent of cancer deaths among women. Wonder how much longer before Mickey D’s menu items carry warning labels like cigarette packages.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

7133: Mad Men Reflects Mad Ave.

Advertising Age editor Ken Wheaton proposed the unoriginal idea of creating a Mad Men knock-off starring cast members of color in order to recruit minorities to the real advertising industry. Too bad original AMC series Mad Men would counter such a tactic by depicting hard, cold reality. In the latest episode, elevator attendant Hollis appeared in the background for barely a minute. On Madison Avenue in 2009, minorities continue to enjoy similar cameo roles via security, reception, mailroom services and janitorial maintenance.

7132: Advertising Week Tweak Two.

Came across this asinine reporting hatched at the equally asinine Advertising Week. Read the pap quickly—then check out the brief MultiCultClassics commentary immediately following…
The shortage of digital talent in advertising

By Brian Morrissey

It might seem like doom and gloom on the jobs front in the ad industry, but there are some who are still in demand, notably digital talent. Check out the jobs sections of shops like R/GA, AKQA, Organic and others, and you’ll find dozens of openings. MDC Partners organized an Advertising Week panel to shed light on the difficulties agencies have in recruiting and retaining digital talent. The biggest problem, according to participants: Techies aren’t that crazy about going to work in agency land as opposed to startups or tech giants like Google. “There’s a talent pool out there, but they’re in spots we’re not looking,” said Darren McCormick, digital agency cultural lead at Microsoft. Instead of ad schools, these app developers are as likely to learn the tricks of the trade during Mountain Dew-fueled coding sessions in dorm rooms, added Scott Belsky, CEO of creative talent network Behance. This is a problem even for the hottest of agencies. Jeff Benjamin, executive creative director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, said recruiting these individuals involves more than padding salaries. It’s about making advertising a cool and rewarding career choice. “The question is, How do you position the agency as something exciting for these guys?” he said. Even with next-generation ad schools like Sweden’s Hyper Island, agencies aren’t belles of the ball. Instead, the biggest demand comes from “traditional network agencies,” according to Mattias Hansson, CEO of Hyper Island, yet that’s among the least appealing options to students. Benjamin spoke to us after the session (see above) about the talent shortage, how to overcome it, and what’s the one question he asks everyone he interviews.

Hmmm. The advertising industry is unable to woo candidates into a field where they’ve historically been dissed. Plus, agency leaders openly admit failing to recruit outside of the standard talent pool. Let’s not forget that the stereotypical Mad Man is incapable of relating to potential prospects on all cultural levels. Why does this sound so familiar?

The obvious solutions include launching inner-city youth internships, appointing Chief Digital Diversity Officers, promoting segregated digital award shows and broadcasting a TV program starring digital talent in advertising agencies. Eureka!

7131: Calling Marcus Graham.

From Ad Age…

Perhaps Pop Culture Could Help the Ad Industry’s Diversity Issue
The Business Needs More Sexy Programming Like ‘Mad Men’—but With Professionals of Color

By Ken Wheaton

You know what might help the diversity effort in the ad industry? A TV show or online video series.

OK, stop laughing. And put away your angry e-mails until I explain.

This idea is far from original. A few years ago, on one of our Ad Age blogs, someone brought up the idea, saying that what could help is a TV show that put advertising in a positive light for young minority applicants. As you might expect, this led other commenters to point, laugh and accuse the person who brought it up as being the internet equivalent of the guy who says, “Some of my best friends are black.”

But just last week, while at a VCU Brandcenter diversity summit, an African-American creative brought up the idea. Even better (or worse, depending on your point of view), he mentioned none other than whiter-than-white Darren Stephens from “Bewitched” as something he remembered from his own childhood.

I know that there are many schools of thought on why minorities—African-Americans in particular—are so woefully underrepresented in this industry: institutionalized racism, lack of mentoring, lack of outreach, lack of entry-level candidates, lack of opportunity for advancement into the management ranks. I could go on.

On my bad days, I shrug my shoulders and assume that the only thing that will change this industry is a class-action lawsuit or clients using the blunt instrument of procurement and some pretty strict guidelines. (Before I continue, here’s a starting place for the folks who can’t seem to find the African-American talent currently in the system:

But let’s assume that one of the many sides of this multifaceted problem is the so-called pipeline issue. The theory—or excuse—is that there are vast swaths of the minority community who have never even heard of advertising. If they haven’t heard of it, they can’t consider it as a career choice. And if they aren’t applying for the jobs in the first place, well then?

The pipeline argument is not as far-fetched as it sounds. I grew up in middle-class white America out in the hinterlands and never considered “advertising” as a job. It’s not one of the things a high-school kid sees when he’s filling out the career-path-projections on the ACT, SAT and all those other tools of the guidance counselor.

As someone else pointed out to me recently, young kids of all races stumble all over themselves to get entry-level jobs in music, TV, film and, unbelievably (to me), journalism—and often do so for no pay whatsoever.

Why? Because those industries are sexy. They’re cool. And they’re very, very visible.

And advertising? What little reputation it has is bad.

And then we come to “Mad Men.” The PR side of the advertising world likely hates this show. Many of the guys who worked at the time definitely hate this show.

But even that bleak portrait of the ad world is downright sexy. And it’s not just because the cast is hot. It’s because it shows—warts and all—this weird, creative sector of society that we don’t usually see. That’s powerful stuff.

Of course, because of the historical period it’s portraying, it’s likely only powerful stuff for white kids.

But the fact is, if one show can whip up so much excitement, why couldn’t another show do the same elsewhere? Scripted drama, comedy, a reality series tracking those already in the industry—it doesn’t matter. Showing professional ad creatives of color writing, illustrating, editing, mixing, cutting, fighting, laughing, working—and getting paid—in a free-wheeling environment, who knows how many lives that could touch?

OK, now you can write your e-mails calling me simple-minded and naïve. But the diversity problem is still with us. And the way I see it, every idea—even if it’s a little Pollyannaish—helps.

7130: Calling Culturally Curious & Clueless.

To all Madison Avenue culturally curious types—and even culturally clueless types—Carmen Van Kerckhove is calling you out. Actually, she’s requesting that you call her to participate in the latest FREE teleseminar. Here are some details:

‘Just Be Yourself!’
How Race Gets in the Way of Expressing Our Authentic Identities.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

What kinds of racial stereotypes do you find yourself battling on a daily basis? What elements of your authentic self are you suppressing? How is race getting in the way of your self-expression without you even knowing it?

On this lively, information-packed 60-minute call, you’ll learn:

• How the quest for racial or cultural authenticity can thwart your true identity.
• What “covering” is, and what it has to do with your civil rights.
• Why it actually benefits you to know what racial stereotypes exist about your ethnic or racial group.

This FREE call is a content-rich preview to the newest session of Carmen’s program, The Racialicious Experience. If you’re a fan of the Racialicous blog, you won’t want to miss it! To learn more and register, Click Here Now!

Not sure if this program can help Mad Ave White folks come to grips with their own confused racial identities, but it can’t hurt to find out, particularly since the teleseminar is FREE.

Don’t emulate the advertising industry by ignoring racial issues for decades. Click Here Now!

7129: Don’t Pity The Fool.

From The New York Daily News…

Mr. T gives his gruff-but-sweet persona another go with role in ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’

By Ethan Sacks
Daily News Staff Writer

Mr. T pities the foolish person who tries to pigeonhole him as a cartoonish tough guy who’s a relic of ‘80s pop culture.

Now, he’s back in the spotlight as a real cartoon - lending his voice as a tough but tender police officer in the new 3-D computer-animated film “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

And though he broke through with an intimidating image cultivated in movies like “Rocky III,” Mr. T, aka Laurence Tureaud, says it’s all an act. Raised by a single mother in a household of 12 kids in a poor Chicago neighborhood, the 57-year-old actor is out to inspire struggling kids in inner cities and beyond.

“’I’m nothing but a big, overgrown tough mama’s boy,” he says. “I won’t get involved with certain movies, I won’t be hanging out in certain places. A lot of people look up to me and I won’t violate that.”

If you haven’t noticed, the former “A-Team” star has strong opinions. Consider yourself warned.

Everything about his shtick was calculated for a higher purpose ... or a higher calling. He used to wear mismatched socks to make poor children more comfortable about not being able to afford stylish clothes.

“It gave me a platform. I’m tough on the outside, but I’m a marshmallow on the inside. That’s what makes it work. The kids know me. The fact that I’m around all those years, a lot of kids have grown up with me. If you check my rap, my rap hasn’t changed. Back then I was telling kids to be good, don’t do drugs, listen to your mother. Even now that they’re grown up and there’s a whole different generation, the message hasn’t changed. There’s a method to my madness. I was a lot deeper than people realized.”

The images of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina changed his life. Mr. T won’t wear real gold jewelry anymore. For recent commercials such as for the “World of Warcraft” game, he puts on only costume jewelry.

“As a Christian I said I would never wear my own gold again because of what happened with Hurricane Katrina. It would be a sin against God for me to wear my gold [when so many] people lost everything. Sure, it’s my trademark, I am the same person whether I’m wearing the gold or not.

“My moral values are the same. The gold don’t make me, I make the gold.”

He sees taking a role in “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” as a chance to connect with a new generation of kids - and his own inner child.

“Every time I was in the recording studio I am visualizing what it’s going to look like when it’s finished. We were in the theater with everybody else with their 3-D glasses on and the crowd and the kids. It takes you back to when you were a kid again.”

As entertaining and funny as he thinks his new movie is, at least one part of the plot was tough for him to digest.

“It’s fun and I’m reaching a whole new audience. But I don’t believe in food fights - because there are too many hungry people in the world.”

He won’t take the bait and complain about not getting cast in the upcoming movie remake of the ‘80s TV action series “The A-Team,” the show that made him a star.

“Quentin (Rampage) Jackson [who is playing B.A. Baracus], I’m a fan of his. He’s the UFC fighting champion. As one tough man to another, I respect him. I’m not mad at Quentin Jackson and I’m not mad at [’A-Team’ creator] Steve Cannell. I like to think he’s my friend, because back in ‘95 when he heard about me going through the chemotherapy for my cancer, he would call me constantly to check up on me. There’s no hard feelings. I’m not mad about nothing. There’s no I in A-team. ... I’m grateful that I had the time [on the show] back in the ‘80s. When the movie comes out, I’m going to go see it and I’m going to enjoy it.”

Don’t assume he’s one of those former ‘80s stars desperate to claw his way back into the limelight.

“If I never make another dollar, if I never get on TV again, all I wanted to do was buy my mother a house and pretty dresses, and I told her I would be a good little boy. And I’m batting a thousand.”

7128: McDiversity Tastes Funny.

McDonald’s Global Chief Diversity Officer Patricia Sowell Harris authored None of Us is As Good As All of Us: How McDonald’s Prospers by Embracing Inclusion and Diversity. Here’s another example of a major corporation endorsing diversity while partnering with general market advertising agencies that are Whiter than Ronald McDonald’s clown makeup.

7127: Advertising Week Tweak One.

Check out the Advertising Age article below detailing one of the diversity-related events held during Advertising Week. MultiCultClassics commentary immediately follows…

Ad Biz Diversity Panel Suggests Poaching Talent From Other Industries

More Internships and Better Self-Promotion Can Also Help Boost Minority Recruitment

By Kunur Patel

NEW YORK ( -- For years Madison Avenue has been arguing that finding minority candidates for middle- and upper-level management positions is difficult. So one novel suggestion floated during a panel discussion of diversity, sponsored by the VCU Brandcenter during Advertising Week, was to look elsewhere.

Jon Cropper, founder of marketing firm FuturLogic, said there’s an opportunity to make a play for all those unemployed consultants and marketers of color, courtesy of the recession. With solid experience in business strategy, consultants in the midst of an unexpected career change could be assets for agencies—especially on the media-planning side. While that might mean pay cuts for some, at least agencies have the lure of sexier work environments, he said.

Mr. Cropper, formerly a chief marketing officer for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ companies, also points to record labels, where small budgets and marketing plans executed in-house make, by necessity, for creative, agile talent.

That’s not to say the advertising agency world needs to go poaching other industries. As Heide Gardner, Interpublic Group of Cos.’ chief diversity officer, put it, minority talent in adland is already out there and is ready for promotion. Right now, Black Creatives is a global network of advertising and marketing people that both amasses and develops multicultural talent.

For entry-level recruiting, William Goodloe, president-CEO of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, an organization that trains and places minorities in Fortune 500 companies, offers its internships with those companies as a model for advertising. In 2008, SEO placed 430 interns in 44 Fortune 500 companies, including investment banks and marketers such as Xerox and 80% received full-time offers at the end of their internships. He parallels the financial and advertising industries as businesses that focus on selling ideas.

“These kids don’t come in the side or back doors,” he said. “We train them and they go through the programs like all other intern candidates.”

In terms of training minority talent and widening the pipeline into agencies, Rick Boyko, director of ad school VCU Brandcenter, suggested that one of the simple things the industry can do is to do a better job of marketing itself to minorities.

“The ad industry is not good at getting people at the top of the funnel,” Mr. Boyko said. “It could do a much better job of promoting itself to people of color.”

The industry, through the 4A’s and other trade groups and programs, does offer internships, but the results do not translate into the long-term success seen in other sectors. One of the reasons, Mr. Goodloe said, might be insufficient buy-in from the top. CEOs of banks such as Goldman Sachs sit down with intern classes during their time there.

According to Ms. Gardner, Interpublic has made C-level diversity objectives a priority. Often overlooked is that the company has included diversity targets in the criteria for executive bonuses. Tying that performance to pay seems to be paying off to a certain extent, she said.

African-American spending has reached $913 billion, according to 2008 data from Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. Trade publication Hispanic Business projects Hispanic purchasing power in the U.S. to hit $1 trillion. Asian-Americans are expected to spend $670 billion by 2012, according to an AsianWeek study. Beyond the financial incentive for clients, Ms. Gardner also points out diverse agencies make better work.

“Homogeneous creative teams limit the number of idea combinations,” Ms. Gardner said. “They can also come up with some embarrassing creative.”

The panel itself grew out of an off-the-record meeting held earlier in the week. The meeting, according to Mr. Boyko, was the first in what he hopes to be an annual gathering in which industry executives and thought leaders discuss issues facing the advertising and marketing world. In addition to Ms. Gardner and Messrs. Boyko, Goodloe and Cropper, the meeting also included PepsiCo chief marketer Dave Burwick; 4A’s CEO Nancy Hill; Martin Agency President and Creative Director Mike Hughes; Publicis, New York, CEO Joe McCarthy; and Johnson & Johnson Corporate VP Brian Perkins, along with Advertising Age’s assistant managing editor Ken Wheaton.

MultiCultClassics encourages visitors to listen to the WADV Radio recording of the event spotlighted above, as it reveals things not clearly communicated in the Ad Age piece.

For starters, it appeared that the panel drew a modest crowd. Once again, Madison Avenue demonstrated its true commitment to diversity. As predicted, it seems Advertising Week seeded the stereotypical talk of colorblind togetherness between endless navel-gazing and presentations on digital. Plus, why is there no mention of The New Dynamics of Diversity? Did George Parker’s post douse everyone’s enthusiasm?

What fresh ground was covered in the VCU Brandcenter huddle? The need for internships and wider talent scouting is a broken record. Even the notion of poaching executives from other fields is hardly original—isn’t that what Howard University was charged with executing?

Having to constantly argue that diversity makes good business sense is becoming insulting too. Must this be repeated yearly? White ad honchos act as if they’re still living in the 1930s.

Ironically, Heide Gardner declared, “Homogeneous creative teams limit the number of idea combinations. … They can also come up with some embarrassing creative.” Um, Gardner is employed by IPG, parent company of Draftfcb, an agency that has produced some of the most offensive and culturally clueless work in the industry.

Rick Boyko admitted, “We’ve not done a good job of [recruiting minorities].” Add this moron to the long list of Mad Men who have publicly confessed to indifference and inaction bordering on institutionalized racism.

Highly disturbing is the revelation that a closed-door meeting was held between various leaders prior to the VCU Brandcenter soiree. Hey, there’s nothing like forwarding inclusion via isolation. Boyko said it “was the first in what he hopes to be an annual gathering in which industry executives and thought leaders discuss issues facing the advertising and marketing world.” Yippee! Let’s wait until 2009 to conduct the first serious powwow on diversity. And we’ll reconvene in 2010.

In the meantime, enjoy your Mosaic Awards.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

7126: KKKontextual Advertising.

A USA TODAY story on University of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl’s joke about the KKK is accompanied by a Wells Fargo ad featuring Black kid athletes.

7125: PHD And BBDO Sued For Stealing Idea.

From The Miami Herald…

Ad exec’s suit claims his idea was stolen

By Scott Andron

Three years after he sold a country music song to Kmart, a Broward advertising executive hoped to sell his latest “advertainment” concept, a reality TV show about pickup trucks, to Dodge.

But now Jay Schorr says the automaker’s New York advertising and media agencies used his idea without paying him a cent. So he’s suing PHD Network and BBDO for more than $15 million.

Schorr, president of TMR Multimedia in Hallandale Beach, said he proposed his ideas to Chrysler last year, and the automaker asked him to talk to the defendant firms. BBDO is an international ad agency network, while PHD specializes in media planning.

The agencies pumped him for information about his ideas, he contends, and led him on with the prospect of compensation down the road. Then, Schorr said, the other firms used his ideas, which included real-life tough-guy truck buyers competing at tasks like hauling big loads and towing heavy objects, in Internet videos and television ads.

But, he said, they paid him nothing.

The case was filed in Broward Circuit Court in July, but moved to federal court at the request of the out-of-state defendants, both units of Omnicom Group—a Madison Avenue advertising and marketing conglomerate and one of the largest firms of its type in the world.

Through one of their attorneys, Guy Cohen of the New York-based law firm Davis & Gilbert, the defendants declined to comment on the case.

But in court papers filed last week, the New York firms said they came up with the “Dodge Ram Challenge” marketing campaign on their own, the campaign is different from TMR’s proposed “Pulling for America” campaign, and the case should be dismissed.

It has tentatively been scheduled for trial in federal district court in Fort Lauderdale in June.

Local intellectual property lawyer Ury Fischer said Schorr may have a tough time winning his case.

First of all, while the written expression of an idea—a movie script, for example—can be copyrighted, the idea itself generally can’t be. That means creative professionals need to use confidentiality agreements to protect their ideas while making a pitch.

“Just picture me incredulous,” said Fischer in a telephone interview after reading TMR’s complaint.

Fischer, who works for the Coral Gables law firm Lott & Friedland, said TMR’s biggest problem may be the lack of any written contract promising compensation or confidentiality.

Schorr said he first dreamed up the idea of a product-focused reality TV show back in 1997, but set it aside for future use.

In the meantime, he came up with another concept blending advertising and entertainment. In 2005, he sold a country song, I Found Love in a Kmart Store, to the retail chain. Kmart had country star Darryl Worley record it, and the song was used in an ad campaign.

In May 2008, Schorr dusted off the reality TV idea and pitched it to Chrysler, which, he said, asked PHD and BBDO to review it. These two firms then “eagerly and actively sought out all the details” of TMR’s idea, according to the complaint.

In June, after some preliminary discussion with PHD, TMR developed “Pulling for America,” a proposed series of webisodes and associated TV ads in which real-life truck buyers would drive 2009 Dodge Ram pickups in competitions highlighting the vehicles’ toughness.

After some additional back-and-forth, TMR said, a PHD staff member told the Hallandale firm in July that the proposal had been “green-lighted.” But when TMR tried to discuss payment, the firm was either put off or ignored altogether, Schorr said.

Then, in September 2008, Chrysler unveiled the “Dodge Ram Challenge” a reality video series broadcast via the Internet. TMR said the project bore a striking resemblance to its “Pulling for America” plan.

Meanwhile, Chrysler, which is not a defendant in the case, used similar ideas in television ads during the National Football League playoffs and other sporting events.

A 2000 case, All Pro Sports Camps v. Disney, would seem to offer some hope for Schorr.

In that case, a small firm claimed that it pitched the idea for a sports park to Disney, which stole the idea. An Orlando jury ordered Disney to pay $240 million to the company. Disney appealed, but later settled for an undisclosed amount.

Unfortunately for Schorr, the Florida Legislature has since passed a law requiring written evidence of a contract to prove such a case.

“This statute does throw a wrench in the gears for the plaintiff,” said Michael Chesal, an intellectual property lawyer with Peretz Chesal & Herrmann in Miami.

But Schorr’s attorney, Robin Sommers of The Ticktin Law Group in Deerfield Beach, said a contract was plainly implied.

“They asked Jay what he would be looking for in compensation,” Sommers said. “It doesn’t get any clearer that there was an intent on both sides to enter into a contract.”

To show that the Dodge Ram campaign was innovative, TMR’s complaint notes that Chrysler itself described it as “game-changing.” The campaign also was mentioned in several trade publications and websites.

David Vinjamuri, the head of a New York-based training firm for marketers, reviewed it on his blog. “It was a nice spin on a few things that had been done before,” said Vinjamuri, president of ThirdWay Brand Trainers, in an interview Thursday.

Vinjamuri remembered Schorr’s Kmart song, and said small firms like TMR sometimes can be more creative than larger shops. And it’s not unusual for the little guys to claim the big guys stole their ideas.

“The big firms pretty regularly get accused of it,” he said.

For his part, Schorr sees the case as bigger than himself.

“The truth of the matter is, small business has been screwed so royally, this is just another instance of corporate greed,” he said. “It’s horrible. I think we’re fighting on behalf of all small businesses.”

7124: The Great White Hope…?

Just watch this.

Friday, September 25, 2009

7123: Diversity Is An Olympic Event.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Diversity key to games bid success

2016 | Olympics panel wants to see full range of city’s ethnicity, experts say

By Lisa Donovan | Cook County Reporter

Mayor Daley’s Olympic bid team is entering the final week of the campaign for the 2016 Games, and experts agree that pulling ahead in the tight race requires everyone from the White House on down to sell the city’s diversity and financial plan while politely slamming the competition.

One week from today, President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, Daley and Chicago 2016 bid CEO Patrick Ryan, along with a select, undisclosed few others will stand before the International Olympic Committee in Denmark to make a final pitch for Chicago. While the group is biracial, the team also needs to reflect the city’s wider ethnic communities.

Just-released U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2008 show there are 2.7 million residents in Chicago, with whites in the minority, African Americans making up 34 percent of the population and Hispanics 28 percent of the population.

“If you don’t look like you’re including all the citizens of your city in some way, the [IOC members] kind of understand that,” Andrew Young, who co-chaired Atlanta’s winning bid for the 1996 Summer Games, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The city’s growing Hispanic population, along with Polish, Italian, Asian and other communities, also should have a voice in the final bid for the Games, whether it’s the final presentation or the hard-core lobbying effort in the days leading up to the vote, observers say.

After Atlanta won the 1996 Games, IOC members praised the diversity of the bid team.

Young, a former United Nations ambassador, said the presentation was an exclamation point on a bid that for years called on Atlanta’s diverse community to lobby IOC members.

“The thing we marketed all along is, there were 71 countries, and we had someone in Atlanta doing well in 65 of those countries. So, we went to the Koreans, we went to the Polish delegation, the Irish delegation,” said Young, credited with locking up the African IOC vote, believed pivotal in the city’s win.

Chicago 2016’s bid team says it has been trying to hammer the message home, trotting out city Tourism Department statistics showing 132 languages are spoken in Chicago, which along with the suburbs counts 26 ethnic groups.

“The IOC membership—they have seen a diverse team as well as people from different parts of our city,” said Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky.

In the days leading up to the Oct. 2 vote, officials from Chicago and the competing cities of Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro will be in Copenhagen to schmooze with IOC members—an opportunity for everyone from the White House to the mayor to explain how Chicago’s $4.8 billion Games plan—the least expensive of the four bids and perhaps the most perplexing—will be financed.

While the other cities have the full backing of their governments to pay for the Games, Chicago 2016 has a plan that largely draws on private donations.

“What I think most IOC members do is try and choose the city that brings the least risk,” said Canadian IOC member Richard Pound.

“Your personal views, whether you’d like to spend two weeks in Chicago, Rio or Madrid, is less important when you’re exercising this choice,” Pound said in a telephone interview this week. “The thing IOC members are asking themselves is ‘where do I have the least risk?’”

And that’s where the art of slamming the competition comes in. Olympic rules restrict a bid city from saying or doing anything to tarnish a rival city. But experts agree each city needs to distinguish itself.

For Chicago, that means setting itself apart from its biggest threat: Rio.

Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consulting firm SportsCorp Ltd., suggests Chicago “needs to emphasize the strengths and subtly, very subtly highlight some of the weaknesses of the other cities.”

Contributing: Washington Post Foreign Service, AP

7122: Ebony Not In The Black.

From Newsweek…

Ebony: Up for Sale?

The advertising slump hammers the nation’s oldest magazine devoted to African-American life.

By Johnnie L. Roberts | Newsweek Web Exclusive

For 50 years, the Ebony Fashion Fair has been a glamorous social event in dozens of U.S. communities. The traveling fashion show has raised $55 million in college scholarships for African-American students. But this year the company behind the show, Johnson Publishing which publishes Ebony, pulled the plug on the event, citing lack of corporate sponsorship due to the recession. “This is devastating to us,” Ann Lee, publicity chairwoman for the Charmettes, a civic group that staged the event in Broward County, Fla., told The Miami Herald.

It’s been a year of excruciating decisions for publishing companies—layoffs, pullbacks, closures. Now it appears Johnson Publishing’s chairman and CEO, Linda Johnson Rice, has reached what must have been an agonizing decision: Johnson Publishing is seeking a buyer or investor for its flagship publication, Ebony, in an effort aimed at securing the survival of the nation’s oldest magazine devoted to African-American life. It’s unclear whether the company’s other properties, including Jet, would be part of a possible sale.

According to media and investment executives familiar with the developments, Chicago-based Rice, the daughter of Ebony’s legendary founder, the late John H. Johnson, has approached, among others, Time Inc., Viacom, and private investors that include buyout firms. Time Inc., the world’s largest periodical publisher, already owns Essence, a monthly lifestyle, beauty, and fashion magazine for African-American women. Viacom, meanwhile, owns BET (Black Entertainment Television).

Nothing has yet resulted from any of Johnson Publishing’s overtures, however. And it’s unclear whether negotiations are underway between the publishing company and any of the identified parties or other potential rescuers.

Time Inc. declined to comment, as did Viacom. “Your facts are incorrect with respect to Time Inc. and Viacom,” a spokeswoman for Johnson Publishing said. Johnson Publishing likely made its overtures through the media giants’ properties, NEWSWEEK’s sources indicate. They also declined to elaborate much beyond acknowledging, on condition of not being named, that they were aware of Johnson’s efforts. According to one top magazine executive, Johnson Publishing is requiring potential bidders to sign a confidentiality agreement to access the company’s financial information, a standard practice in the dealmaking world.

One publishing executive familiar with the situation said that Rice, given the magazine’s historical significance and its deep roots in her family, hopes to remain an integral part of it. This suggests she prefers to woo a partner rather than sell the magazine outright. In any case, a purchase by a mainstream media company or publisher—a move that would end African-American control—might cause a stir in some quarters of the African-American community, as was the case with Viacom’s acquisition of BET. And Ebony’s woes would appear to dash hopes that African-American-owned or -oriented media would see a big lift in the marketplace with the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president. Ebony landed the first post-election print interview with the president-elect and his wife. Rice is a close member of the Obamas’ Chicago social circle.

The economic downturn has killed off scores of magazines, including such prominent titles as Condé Nast Portfolio and Domino, while forcing others onto the auction block, including BusinessWeek. But the historic Ebony has fared worse than average amid the industry’s woes. In fact, Ebony’s advertising pages and ad revenues have declined in each of the last three years, even during periods when the industry was flat to positive. Among the 243 magazines tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau, ad pages plunged an average of 28 percent, with revenues falling by 21 percent, in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period a year earlier. But Ebony’s decline was sharper, as advertising dived almost 35 percent, dragging revenues down almost 32 percent, to $18.8 million from 2008’s $27.7 million. And the deterioration of Jet magazine, Ebony’s sister publication, was even more severe—about 40 percent in ad pages and revenues.

And according to industry tracker Media Industry Newsletter, things have only turned grimmer for Ebony since the first half. Total ad pages sank by 40 percent this year through the October issue, now on newsstands and featuring Whitney Houston on the cover, compared with 2008’s January–October editions. The company is “in big, big trouble,” a publishing executive close to the developments told NEWSWEEK. “It’s a sad thing, because they are so important to [African-American] communities.”

In 1942, with a $500 loan collateralized with his mother’s furniture, John Johnson launched what would become the world’s largest African-American-owned publishing company. Three years later he began publishing Ebony, which changed the face of publishing and media merely by its existence and mission. “Ebony,” Johnson once said, “was founded to project a dimension of the black personality in a world saturated with stereotypes. We wanted to give blacks a new sense of somebodiness, a new sense of self-respect.” Covers graced with positive images of African-American celebrities and politicians are a staple of the magazine, as are articles extolling African-American achievement. Johnson, who died in 2005, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

7121: Yahoo! Ineffectiveness!

Yahoo! is seeking a Global Director of Ad Effectiveness Research. Your first assignment will be to verify the ineffectiveness and abject awfulness of the new Yahoo! ad campaign.

7120: Sweatshop Seeks Minorities…?

Here’s a peculiar way Ogilvy is recruiting minorities—with the promise of 17-hour workdays.

7119: Coffee, Tea Or Me?

Grande news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Bikini-clad baristas in Washington were busted for prostitution because they charged customers to touch their breasts and buttocks. Plus, the women were billing up to $80 to strip while preparing beverages. Oddly enough, the services still sound more affordable than Starbucks.

• At the 140: Twitter Conference, co-founder Biz Stone declared the micro-blogging site will stay ad-free through 2009. Um, somebody tell Biz that over half the Tweets are advertisements.

• In California, 70 Jack In The Box restaurants were temporarily shut down because the owner-operator owes around $1.5 million in sales taxes. Imagine this guy’s troubles if the government eventually approves additional taxes for fast food. Jack will be appealing to President Obama for a burger bailout.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

7118: Philly Style.

From The New York Daily News…

White cop told cornrows break work rules, while dozens of black officers wear the hairstyle

By Simone Weichselbaum and Rich Schapiro
Daily News Staff Writers

A white Philadelphia cop who reported to work with his hair in cornrows was yanked off the street and ordered to get a new ‘do.

Officer Thomas Strain was relegated to desk duty by a black superior this month, even though several black cops sport the same hair style, Philadelphia police sources said.

“If other ethnic groups are permitted to wear their hair in that manner, why are they singling out this one officer?” a fellow cop told the Daily News.

“It is ridiculous that we are wasting time and energy on this.”

Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said Strain’s boss, identified as Inspector Aaron Horne, told the veteran officer to cut his hair to look more “professional.”

Police policy requires officers to have “clean, properly trimmed and combed hair” that doesn’t extend to their collar or cover their ears, Vanore said.

The policy prohibits radical hair colors but doesn’t ban specific styles, such as cornrows, Mohawks or dreadlocks.

Vanore stressed that Strain, who has since cut his locks, was reprimanded because his hair was unruly - not because it was in cornrows.

But not all Philly cops bought that argument.

It’s absolutely discriminatory,” a fellow officer told the Philadelphia Daily News. “[Strain’s hair] was neat. It was above his collar. It’s not like he shaved a Nazi sign or something anti-black or anti-Hispanic on his head.

“It’s just cornrows,” the cop added. “I don’t know what the problem is.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

7117: Hiding The Race Card.

From the September 28, 2009 issue of Newsweek.

7116: How Are Your Hand Skills?

This actual craigslist ad is bound to result in a happy ending for some enterprising graphic designer.

Massage Therapist seeks a graphic designer

Date: 2009-09-22, 9:36PM CDT
Reply to:

I am seeking to hire a graphic designer to help create a brochure. I am willing to pay 15.00 per hour or willing give you a free massage. If you are interested, stop by tomorrow or Thursday. I am located at 890 east main east Dundee IL 60118 next to dunkin’ donuts. Come by anytime from 10-5.

Monday, September 21, 2009

7115: When Racists Relax.

Read this Chicago Sun-Times editorial quickly, then peruse the brief MultiCultClassics commentary immediately following…

Racism debate takes focus off real issues

Jimmy Carter is probably on to something. “There’s an inherent feeling among many people in this country that an African American ought not to be the president,” the former president said last week.

That might help explain why Rep. Joe Wilson tried to shout the president down during his speech to Congress on health care. It might also help explain some of the scary vitriol aimed at Obama during the health-care debates this summer.

But that doesn’t mean we’re due for a national conversation on race.

Obama is keeping his focus where it belongs—on health-care reform.

Wading into the racism debate won’t get health-care reform through Congress. It won’t bridge the partisan divide. It will only distract us—as opponents would love to do—from hammering out a deal on one of the most important challenges of our time.

In the end, a successful Obama presidency—featuring bills to reform health care, stem global warming and improve schools—will do more to counter real racism than anything he or we or you might say now.

Obama loves his “teachable moments,” and he has used them well.

When the Rev. Jeremiah Wright surfaced during the presidential campaign, Obama was right to pause—against the advice of several top aides—to deliver a historic speech on race.

When Obama inelegantly stepped into the middle of a dispute between the Cambridge Police and Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., he was wise to invite both sides to the White House for a beer and a debriefing.

But this is not such a moment.

The charge of racism this time is too much in debate. President Carter holds one view. Plenty of reasonable people hold another.

And the risk of distraction is too high.

There’s something about this editorial that seems cowardly per Eric Holder’s contention. It doesn’t help that the bizarro times present a White President seeing racial bias while the Black President insists it’s not the cause of conflict. And why would it be so difficult to discuss race while also addressing the other issues of the moment?

This stall tactic is so typical on Madison Avenue too, where it’s been executed to perfection since at least the 1930s. As Advertising Week commences, it will be interesting to see how the patronizing prioritizing continues.

Given his political problems, it seems unlikely that New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook will make his annual appearance. Adweek recently published Sanford Moore’s accusations of apartheid, so the fiery activist might be quiet as well. Haven’t heard much from Cyrus Mehri lately either.

Let’s hope the celebrations don’t turn into a staged lovefest via the yearly AAF Mosaic Awards and probable support for the ADCOLOR® Coalition. The Advertising Week schedule includes a handful of events MultiCultClassics will attempt to spotlight in the days ahead—including a diversity soiree sponsored by Draftfcb. Um, Draftfcb hosting a diversity bash is like the KKK partying for Kwanzaa.

MultiCultClassics predicts industry leaders will seek to emphasize the importance of solving agency downsizings, countering reduced client billings and obsessing over the imperative for embracing digital.

As for diversity, well, the risk of distraction is too high.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

7114: Mad Men Mows Through History.

The latest episode of AMC series Mad Men continued to distort history in favor of drama. Sterling Cooper experienced corporate reorganization reminiscent of the 1990s versus 1960—including a bizarre mishap involving a John Deere rider mower. Plus, it appears the previous installment covered Black culture for the season, as this week was completely devoid of minorities. Although there was certainly a bit of black comedy in response to a coworker’s foot loss.

7113: Greetings From Obesity.

Dairy Queen—or DQ—is positioning its offerings as vacations. It’s the perfect getaway from good health.

7112: Media Mavens Miss Multiculturalism.

Advertising Age presents Media Mavens 2009. Are there really so few people of color deserving recognition in the field?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

7111: Ripped Off.

This ad should probably include a legal disclaimer that reads: Sex-crazed hottie not included.

7110: Calling All Posses.

Sprint says, “Round up your posse.” Not sure which posse the company really had in mind.

Friday, September 18, 2009

7109: Abercrombie & Fitch & Discrimination.

From The Associated Press…

Teen alleges discrimination by Abercrombie & Fitch

By Sean Murphy (AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY — A Muslim teenager claims in a federal lawsuit that she was denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store at a Tulsa mall because she wore a head scarf.

In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 17-year-old Samantha Elauf said she applied for a sales position at the Abercrombie Kids store in the Woodland Hills Mall in June 2008. The teen, who wears a hijab in accordance with her religious beliefs, claims the manager told her the head scarf violates the store’s “Look Policy.”

“These actions constitute discrimination against Ms. Elauf on the basis of religion,” the lawsuit states.

A spokeswoman for the New Albany, Ohio-based retailer declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the company has “a strong equal employment opportunity policy, and we accommodate religious beliefs and practices when possible.”

An attorney for the EEOC claims the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects workers from discrimination based upon religion in hiring. The EEOC said the lawsuit was filed after the agency attempted to reach a voluntary settlement.

“It is unlawful for employers to treat applicants or workers differently based on their religious beliefs or practices in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, hiring and job assignments,” EEOC senior trial attorney Michelle Robertson said.

The suit seeks back pay for the teen and a permanent injunction against the retailer from participating in what it describes as discriminatory employment practices. It seeks undisclosed monetary and non-monetary losses resulting from “emotional pain, suffering, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation and inconvenience.”

The suit also seeks punitive damages against the company for its “malice or reckless indifference to her federally protected rights.”

In 2004, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. agreed to pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the EEOC that accused the company of promoting whites over minorities and cultivating a practically all-white image in its catalogs and elsewhere.

7108: Obama Rejects Racism.


Obama Sunday shows: Race ‘not the overriding issue here’

President Obama has wrapped up five taped interviews to run on various Sunday shows, some of which are offering previews—most of which deal with his rejection of the idea that racism is a factor in some of the criticism he is taking over health care and other issues.

“Are there people out there who don’t like me because of race? I’m sure there are,” Obama said on CNN’s State of the Union With John King. “That’s not the overriding issue here.

He added: I think there are people who are anti-government. I think that there are—there’s been a longstanding debate in this country that is usually that much more fierce during times of transition or when presidents are trying to bring about big changes.”

Obama made similar comments to Bob Schieffer of CBS’ Face The Nation, David Gregory of NBC’s Meet The Press, and George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week. Obama also spoke with Univision.

The president told Stephanopoulos that most Americans are trying to figure out what the health care issue means to them.

“Now there are some who are, setting aside the issue of race, actually … more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right. And I think that that’s probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol.”

7107: Fishing For Racist Excuses…?

From The Chicago Tribune…

Fishing with tackle box that’s full of race bait

By Jonah Goldberg

Of all the poisonous and intellectually vapid controversies ginned up in my lifetime, the current breakout of St. Vitus’ Dance over the “racist” opposition to Barack Obama may be the most egregious.

Al Sharpton tells CNN’s Larry King that decent and racially sensitive Americans shouldn’t let a small minority make health care into a “racial issue.”

Someone in the control room surely yelled, “Cue the laugh track!”

In case you don’t get the joke, this entire “debate” over whether opposition to Obama’s health-care reform is racist is totally, completely and in every way conceivable an invention of the left.

Oh, sure, there are some racists who oppose Obama. Shocking news, that.

And, yes, a tiny, tiny fraction of the signs at the tea party protests last weekend were racially insensitive. But if that’s how we’re going to score, then opposition to the Iraq War is anti-Semitic. After all, I saw a bunch of signs at anti-war protests that said bigoted things about Jews.

Meanwhile, no significant conservative politician, pundit or intellectual has said that they object to Obama’s agenda because he’s black. Rather, they’ve said they oppose his agenda for precisely the same reasons they oppose Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s and Barney Frank’s agendas. They stand athwart Obama yelling “Stop!” just as they did with Bill Clinton and Democratic presidents before him.

Magically, the alchemic powers of Obama’s black skin transmogrify the same arguments and the same rhetoric into racism. Saying “you’re wrong” to a white politician is a disagreement; saying it to a black politician is like shouting through Bull Connor’s megaphone.

It’s been said that a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich. Well, these people can indict a ham sandwich for being racist. There is not an issue, topic or flavor of ice cream that Sharpton won’t inject racism into. But suddenly King needs to ask him whether opposition to socialized medicine is racist—as if Sharpton’s response was ever in doubt. Why not just ask the host of an infomercial whether you really need a ShamWow?

Left-wing writers spent the week droning on about how it’s now racist to say “I want my country back.” These amnesiacs are blissfully unaware that “taking back” America was the rallying cry of the Democratic Party for eight years under George W. Bush. Anti-white racists all?

Jimmy Carter sighs, “It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

Well, ditto. Except I think the abominable circumstance is the Vesuvian eruption of nonsense belched forth from distempered liberals frustrated by their inability to win a public policy debate.

An “overwhelming proportion” of the vocal opposition to Obama stems from the “inherent feeling” that “an African-American should not be president,” testifies the de facto voice of Southern self-loathing and pharisaical pomposity.

Really, President Carter? Based on what? Polls you’ve studied? Which ones? Or did you descend from the temple of the Carter Center, flee your entourage of sycophants and canvass some neighborhoods? How many people told you they don’t think a black man should be president? Or are you reading minds again?

The good news is that the race peddlers have undermined themselves. The notion that opposing skyrocketing deficits and socialized medicine is racist is met with eye rolls by the vast majority of Americans, who do not need Sharpton and Carter to tell them what is—or is not—in their own hearts.

And, in fairness, when it became clear that Carter had turned this “debate” from mere fraud to farce, it suddenly dawned on some Democrats, including those in the White House, that smearing millions of voters (many of whom voted for Obama) as racists isn’t the best politics.

But some just won’t let go. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times hears Rep. Joe Wilson shout, “You lie!” And her instinctive response is: “fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!”

It’s the “fair or not” that gives Dowd away. She admits to hearing racism whether or not it’s warranted. That’s called prejudice. And unlike Wilson’s foolish outburst, Dowd’s was carefully considered. Dowd, Carter and Sharpton can’t grasp that conservatives are less hung up on race than they are and that we can get past Obama’s skin color. “Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it,” writes Dowd. She’s right. She’s one of them.

Tribune Media Services Jonah Goldberg is an editor at National Review Online.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

7106: 10,000 Hours From Genius.

7105: Shout Outs.

Truth and Lies in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Former President Jimmy Carter continued to inspire reactions regarding his comments stating Representative Joe Wilson’s infamous shout was rooted in racism. Carter also said, “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward … Obama is based on the fact that he is a Black man. … I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way. But that racism inclination still exists, and I think it has bubbled up.” Joe Wilson would probably holler, “You lie!”

• Chris Brown started performing community service for his sentence stemming from assaulting Rihanna. The service included clearing weeds and brush by hand and with yard tools. Brown will also be removing graffiti and washing cars—which he’ll probably leverage into a new music video.

• Does she or doesn’t she? Abercrombie & Fitch filed a lawsuit against Beyoncé, accusing her of trademark violation. The clothing company insisted the songstress was launching a new fragrance called “Sasha Fierce,” while A&F has already been selling their own fragrance called “Fierce.” However, Beyoncé’s peeps claim her fragrance is not using the name at all. Kanye West will probably jump to Beyoncé’s defense.

7104: Obama’s Critics Lie?

From The Chicago Tribune…

Fiery rhetoric of Obama’s critics

By Clarence Page

People are asking, but President Barack Obama’s White House team denies that racism has anything to do with the protests against his health-care reform plan. That’s smart. The same approach worked during last year’s presidential campaign. In public, Team Obama constantly said race didn’t matter, while in private the team never forgot that it mattered a lot.

Race still matters, although it’s not always easy to say how much. Why do some people think, for example, that the “9/12 Project” tea party protests on the Washington Mall were racially tinged? Maybe it was the sign that television networks photographed that said, as I remember the quote, “The zoo has an African [lion]; The U.S. has a lyin’ African.”

Other signs promoted the idea that Obama is not really a natural born citizen or that maybe he should just die.

But, in fairness, most of the signs weren’t like that. I’m sure most of the folks who showed up in the Mall didn’t have race first and foremost on their minds. Yet, their efforts to appear racism-free seemed downright poignant at times.

For example, somebody made the effort to produce some preprinted signs that offered helpfully: “Not a race issue, Not a party issue, Just an old American freedom issue.” Dear sign carriers: I’m sure you mean well, but every time a black American of my generation hears someone say, “It’s not a race issue,” I immediately think, “Yup, it’s a race issue.”

The great success of the civil rights revolution was to make discrimination illegal and make any sign of racism taboo in decent society. Yet, as serious racism receded, suspicions of racism rushed in to fill the gap. People are afraid to talk about race for fear of offending someone, and if you bring it up you risk being accused of playing the race card.

Yet, it strikes me that one of the byproducts of having a black president is how many white people I know are learning what it feels like to be black in a society that constantly is telling you that something is not a race issue when you so plainly and clearly think it is.

For example, my column-writing colleague Maureen Dowd of The New York Times arched many eyebrows with this bit of mind-reading after Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, rudely blurted out “You lie!” during Obama’s health-care address to Congress: “Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber. ... Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president—no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq—convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.”

My response: Welcome to my world. Judging by the polls, about 15 percent or so of the country was in shock and even ran to gun shops to stock up, according to news reports, when they heard Obama won the presidential race. Some of them naturally show up at protests like the 9/12 march and buy “I’m with Joe Wilson” T-shirts. I just hope Wilson’s new fans are still happy when they have to go dig up their birth certificates and prove their citizenship just to get some health care.

Yet, on a more cheerful note, a scene you probably did not see on TV happened after the protests as the mostly white protesters wandered home through the nearby Black Family Reunion, an annual two-day street fair on the Mall. Although it sounds like a setup for a zany Hollywood movie, everyone was civil and courteous. Some of the protesters mingled and bought some lunch. That’s the Washington way: Never let political differences get in the way of a good meal. There’s a valuable lesson in civility. Appetizing too.

In judging Obama’s performance, it would be wrong to make too much of the role played by race, although it would be foolish to make too little of it. Team Obama came into office with a lot of defensive boasting about the big jobs they had to do with two wars, economic catastrophe and a broken health-care system, among other disasters. How do you separate the impact of Obama being the nation’s first black president from that of his being the first to take on such a big load of hot-button issues?

Yet, I am amused by conservatives like talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh who insist racism has nothing to do with Obama’s problems. Only a few months ago they were blaming white guilt for his success. Folks, you can’t have it both ways.