Thursday, December 31, 2009

7404: 2009 Culturally Clueless Calendar.

As 2009 rings out, diversity fans in the advertising industry will party like it’s 1999. Or 1989. Or 1979. Or 1969, 1959, 1949, 1939, etc.

That is, the past year played like a rewind of, well, every past year. For Madison Avenue, the journey toward inclusiveness runs on a treadmill.

In January, Omnicom anointed Tiffany R. Warren as its new Chief Diversity Officer. A few weeks later, executives from DDB New York presented an Ad Age perspective on recruiting top talent—without making a single reference to diversity. Guess they didn’t get the memo on Warren’s arrival. Sanford Moore offered his opinion by declaring, “Diversity executives and diversity consultants are diversity pimps. The only thing that’s diversified are their bank accounts. They’re put there as window dressing. And window dressing gets taken down after the holidays.” Moore was ranting at a press conference starring Cyrus Mehri and the NAACP to introduce the Madison Avenue Project, along with a report documenting the blatant inequities that minorities face in the field. Ad Age appeared to confirm the charges with its Agency A-List, where A stood for Anglo. Things weren’t looking much better on the client side, as My Black Is Beautiful advocate Najoh Tita-Reid left Procter & Gamble. And the exclusivity picture became even clearer with the launch of the inane TNT series Trust Me.

In February, the ABAA celebrated Black History Month by writing a letter to the ANA, requesting a meeting “in order to open a substantive dialogue about how to bring Black-owned agencies into the mainstream.” To date, the ANA has made no public acknowledgement of the letter. They’d probably claim it was lost in the mail—by the Black mailroom attendant. Meanwhile, MultiCultClassics saluted Black History Month and beyond with Culturally Clueless FAQs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. And Madison Avenue honored Black History Month with The Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference, an event that could best be described as ghetto. Oh, and Tiffany R. Warren spent her second month on the job reminding Omnicom brass of “the far-reaching benefits of a diverse employee base.” That they needed to have their memories jogged in 2009 speaks volumes.

March came in like a lyin’ lion, with the NAACP and Madison Avenue Project firing letters to P&G and others, demanding the clients “require their advertising agencies to use diverse teams in creative and account management positions.” Perhaps these letters are in the same mysterious place as the ABAA letter to the ANA. Pray the missives weren’t rerouted to the mindless morons at Ad 2 Tampa Bay’s AdCast, who exhibited severe intellectual deficiencies with their thoughts on diversity.

April showered noteworthy happenings. The Diversity in Advertising Career Day inadvertently lived up to its oxymoron name, leaving potential candidates feeling isolated and abandoned. At the 4As Leadership Conference, President and CEO Nancy Hill announced that the organization would be known as the 4As—and later admitted there continues to be a dearth of AAs (African Americans, for the slow readers). W+K co-founder Dan Wieden delivered classic lines to rival Just Do It. Weiden confessed the issue of diversity “continues to gnaw at me because, like it or not, in this business I essentially hire a bunch of white, middle-class kids, pay them enormous, enormous sums of money to do what? To create messages to the inner-city kids who create the culture the white kids are trying like hell to emulate. But if you go into the inner city, odds are these kids aren’t even going to see advertising as a possibility, as an opportunity for them. Now that’s fucked up.” Also fucked up was the general lack of interest for the conference’s obligatory diversity-related panels. All of which inspired a special Easter ad from MultiCultClassics.

May? Meh.

In June, head-scratching moments included the handling of the Illinois State Lottery account, the trials and tribulations of New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook and the hiring pontifications practices of McCann Erickson.

The rhetoric repeated in July, as advertisers stumbled into the spotlight. Coca-Cola executive Yolanda White discussed the soft drink company’s renewed enthusiasm for Blacks—yet pledged no allegiance to Black agencies. Ad Age editor Teressa Iezzi whined insisted P&G was making the business shittier by injecting fiscal responsibility into production processes. Kraft Foods CMO Mary Beth West spoke openly and revealed, “I discovered being Black is where my heart is.” ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice proved that advertisers shouldn’t shoot videos without advertising agencies. And Ogilvy North American Chairman John Seifert proved advertising agencies shouldn’t shoot their mouths about diversity, as it ultimately exposes ignorance and idiocy.

August heated up with a lame video from CP+B interns that crystallized Wieden’s words. Plus, Wieden’s words prompted further online debating. Additional diversity ditties and disasters included a Polish joke by Microsoft, Pepsi’s rip-off of My Black is Beautiful, peculiar driving instructions from BMW and a Neil French-styled editorial penned by an adwoman.

In September, Ad Age unveiled its almost minority-free Media Mavens 2009. Advertising Week was weak, with diversity panels regurgitating the same old solutions. IPG Chief Diversity Officer Heide Gardner puffed, “Homogeneous creative teams limit the number of idea combinations. … They can also come up with some embarrassing creative.” Gardner should know, as IPG shop Draftfcb is behind some of the most offensive and culturally clueless stuff around. VCU Brandcenter director Rick Boyko joined the chorus of ad honchos admitting the industry has failed with diversity initiatives. In contrast, McDonald’s Global Chief Diversity Officer Patricia Sowell authored a book on workplace diversity. The woman should send copies to Mickey D’s White advertising agencies—along with copies of Doug Saint Carter’s brainchild.

October was kinda scary, and the spookiness had nothing to do with Halloween. Bob Liodice and Nancy Hill tried to assemble an army, despite the reality that Madison Avenue recruits tend to be dodgers and deserters. Mark LaNeve appropriately went from being a dishonest car salesman to hawking insurance. The U.S. Census promised a significant portion of its marketing budget would go to minority agencies, although White agency Draftfcb will control the purse strings. And The One Club cut Julius Dunn and his Adversity program from its budget.

In November, Ad Age unleashed Power Players 2009, a collection that somewhat symbolized White Power. At the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, Mickey D’s bragged about its use of ethnic insights, while its ethnic agencies still receive second-class citizenship in the corporate hierarchy. Of course, the majority of conference attendees acknowledged their enterprises did not engage multicultural specialists. The attendees do not engage minorities too, based on the conference video by Yahoo! Coca-Cola, on the other hand, said the multicultural space will be a core focus for the company. By 2020. Yee-hah! P&G ended the month by stressing the importance of supplier diversity to its White ad agencies—via email.

It wasn’t exactly a December to remember, with Ad Age pooh-poohing critics of the awful and offensive Shiny Suds spot. Additionally, Ad Age published its Book of Tens—allegedly calling out the big news items of the decade—and made zero mentions of diversity. Julie Roehm’s sex scandal trumped Cyrus Mehri and Sanford Moore. Adweek countered with the Best of 2000s Winners, dumping all minorities into a single receptacle and tagging Globalhue as Multicultural Agency of the Decade. It would be fascinating to tally how many times Adweek has actually reported on Globalhue in the last ten years.

Throughout the year, a band of stalwart revolutionaries sought to bring enlightenment to the masses. Craig Brimm tried to teach White people how to dance. Lincoln Stephens debuted The Marcus Graham Project. Celestine Arnold scored with race and culture in video games. Sanford Moore retold his views on apartheid in advertising. Latoya Peterson examined the racial erasures on AMC series Mad Men. Hadji Williams explored the inability of minority agencies to gain AOR status. Bill Green and Angela Natividad birthed AdVerve, a podcast that has probed racism, sexism and more. Harry Webber shared the joys of being blacklisted. Jo Muse preached on diversity. Laurence Boschetto was bashed for blathering about minority vendors. Laura Martinez translates culture with humor and passion. Alvin Gay is ready with a thought for this day. Kenji Summers keeps it real positive and optimistic. And The Big Tent contributors and commentators march onward. Apologies to everyone accidentally left off the list.

Let’s close out the post with a hat tip to Draftfcb and Omnicom, two enterprises that drew a tie for the greatest number of culturally clueless offenses in 2009.

So what lies ahead for 2010? Possibly a rewind of 2000. Or 1990. Or 1980. Or 1970, 1960, 1950, 1940, 1930, etc.

For now, MultiCultClassics ain’t going anywhere.

7403: Shocking News.

In the woods with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Tiger Woods is reportedly planning to enter an Arizona rehab facility for sex addiction and Vicodin and Ambien use. Shocking. Let’s hope Woods doesn’t drive himself there.

• AT&T is reportedly dropping Woods as a spokesman. Shocking. Wonder if he received the news via text.

• Rush Limbaugh reportedly checked into a hospital complaining of chest pains. Shocking. Wonder if the news will cheer up U.S. Blacks.

7402: Advertising Sucks.

An ad declaring that something sucks seems so 2009.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

7401: Pimp My Brand.

Whatever you call them, this is a contrived ad.

7400: Taco Bell’s Healthy Hypocrisy.

The New York Daily News reported on the latest gimmick from Taco Bell—a spokeswoman who claims to have lost weight while eating at the fast food joint. Pretty contradictory for a place that introduced The Fourth Meal.

Taco Bell’s new spokesperson, Christine, claims to have lost 54 pounds eating Fresco menu items

By Nicole Carter
Daily News Staff Writer

Move over Jared, there’s a new fast-food weight-loss icon in the making.

Say hello to Christine: She lost 54 pounds by ordering off Taco Bell’s low-fat “Fresco” menu, according to the chain’s new Drive-Thru Diet campaign, reports.

That’s right, Taco Bell.

The Mexican fast-food chain is serving up a healthier menu items and now a healthy spokesperson, like Subway’s Jared Fogle, who helped rake in billions of dollars over the last decade for the chain, reports ABC News.

Fogle’s now-famous before and after weight-loss commercials (he lost over 245 pounds) made him a household name and rebranded the sandwich joint as a healthy alternative to burgers and fries.

But with nearly one-third of the population obese, experts are having a hard time swallowing the idea that fast food is really an answer to living a healthier lifestyle, according to

“What I like is the availability of fast food items that are improved,” Dr. David Katz, director of Medical Studies in Public Health at Yale University told

“I also suspect that most people hoping to ‘be’ Christine will be very disappointed, just as most Jared wannabes are,” Katz continued. “These are likely people who made a dramatic commitment to lifestyle change, and simply relied on a particular source of convenience food as a part of their strategy. That doesn’t make that source of convenience food the solution!”

In a short statement on, Christine attributes her weight loss, which happened over two years, to “choosing Fresco items … and making other sensible choices.”

“These results aren’t typical,” she adds, “but for me they were fantastic!”

7399: Minorities R Us.

This banner ad—which looks like a stereotypical diversity message—is running on Um, somebody tell Valassis that most advertisers don’t bother targeting minorities.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

7398: Slicing The Competition.

Domino’s delivered some free hype via AdPulp, but Papa John’s crashed the pizza party.

7397: Ammunition For Elin Nordegren.


Woods Scandal Costs Shareholders Billions

Infidelity has its price. Just ask shareholders of Nike, Pepsi and EA Sports, three of Tiger Woods’ biggest corporate benefactors.

According to a new study by economists at the University of California Davis, the Woods scandal has cost those who own stock in the golfer’s chief sponsors an estimated $12 billion.

The study, conducted by economics professors Christopher R. Knittel and Victor Stango, charted the stock performance of the top eight companies sponsoring Tiger Woods in the wake of the revelations stemming from his late-night car wreck.

“This is what is called an event study,” Knittel said. “We looked at the stock prices of these companies relative to the market as a whole and tracked them accordingly.”

According to Knittel and Stango’s tally, Accenture, Gillette and Gatorade lost 2 percent to 3 percent of their aggregate market value since Woods’ alleged serial adultery surfaced. Pepsi, Nike and EA Sports have lost over 4 percent.

For Nike alone, “that means roughly $1.3 billion in losses,” Knittel said.

Calculating the total value that Woods—the world’s highest paid athlete in terms of corporate sponsorship for several years running, according to Forbes—has added to each company over the course of their relationship with him is more difficult, Stango said. Partly, that’s because tracking the cumulative benefits a sponsorship yields for a brand involves a greater number of variables to consider.

Event studies, by contrast, provide a more focused snapshot. “The key is you can use this method if there is a surprise introduced to the market,” Stango said. Certainly, for Woods’ sponsors, the events of recent weeks have been surprising indeed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

7396: Hacking Out Digital Content.

This actual craigslist ad demonstrates once again why the digital space is rife with mediocrity. A hack writer seeks hack assistants to create hack website content at the whopping sum of $10 per page. And you know the hack is taking a cut of the ultimate billings. The crazy part is, he’s rewriting content—which means the original stuff must be total garbage. Don’t worry about SEO, as no one will ever read this digital diarrhea.

Freelance Writer Needs Help With Overflow of Work

Date: 2009-12-28, 11:23AM CST
Reply to:

I’m a freelance writer who has an overflow of work. I need 1-2 writing assistants to help me rewrite content for 2 websites. My rates are $10 per page for this particular project. The writers chosen must be dependable & available immediately. Pay is via PayPal promptly on the 15th & 30th of each month.

7395: It’s Not Brain Surgery. Actually, It Is.

Nicely designed and clever banner ad for The Mount Sinai Medical Center. Too bad it links to a website that is not equally interesting—plus, you almost have to be a brain surgeon to navigate it.

7394: Humming Along With Drug Ballads.


Mexico’s drug ballads hit sour note with government

By Chris Hawley, USA TODAY

MEXICO CITY MEXICO CITY — Experts worry the music romanticizes leaders of cartels, desensitizes fans and undermines the fight against crime.

When the song The Farm hit Mexico’s airwaves this fall, it quickly became a sensation in a country increasingly frustrated by a 3-year-old war against drug cartels.

In seven stanzas stuffed with symbolism, the song tells the story of a fierce dog, perhaps representing drug traffickers, that causes no trouble until a fox — the Mexican president — provokes it, unleashing a wave of bloodshed. The music ends with a plea to tie up the dog.

The song by Los Tigres del Norte, along with “drug ballads” by other musicians and the investigation of a Grammy-winning singer for possible drug ties, has stirred a debate over the role of popular music as Mexico, helped by some $830 million so far in U.S. aid, tries to break the cartels. About 13,000 people have died in drug-related violence since the crackdown began in 2006.

Drug ballads, known as narcocorridos in Spanish, have long been a part of Mexico’s norteño music, which is driven by accordions and a polka-like beat. As the body count climbs, though, some experts worry that such hits are undermining the government’s efforts.

“It’s possible that this kind of music desensitizes Mexicans to what’s going on,” says Rubén Tinajero Medina, a musicologist at the University of Chihuahua.

Decoding the message
The controversy over the music echoes similar debates over “cop killer” rap music in the United States during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.

Greg Etter, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Central Missouri who has studied narcocorridos, likens the most explicit of them to neo-Nazi death metal and says they could fuel a backlash against authorities.

“Music is a motivator,” Etter says. “Depending on how it is received, it can be very dangerous.”

In Mexican dance halls and record shops, smuggler music is hot: Sixteen Drug Ballads, by singer Larry Hernández, is one of the best-selling albums of the year. Another new album, El Tigrillo Palma, recounts the exploits of fugitive kingpin Joaquin “Chapo” Guzmán in songs such as The Power of Chapo. El Compa Chuy is nominated for a Grammy for an album featuring smuggler ballads, El Niño de Oro.

“It’s a way of describing what our people are going through, the suffering of the Mexican people,” says Jorge Hernández, lead singer of Los Tigres del Norte.

Singing about drug traffickers also carries risks. Since 2006, at least 10 norteño musicians have been killed in apparent hits by drug gangs, and on Dec. 11, police detained three bands, including Grammy-winning singer Ramón Ayala, during a shootout at a Christmas party attended by alleged members of the Beltrán Leyva gang.

Ayala was released on Wednesday but remains under investigation for possible organized crime offenses, the office of Mexico’s attorney general says.

Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the leader of the drug gang, was killed Dec. 17 in a shootout with authorities.

In the past year, no song has created more controversy than The Farm (La Granja in Spanish). The song is inspired by Animal Farm, George Orwell’s 1945 allegorical book assailing communism.

The song is written to make it onto radio stations that normally would not air narcocorridos, says Juan Carlos Ramírez-Pimienta, a Mexican music expert at San Diego State University.

Listeners pore over the lyrics and the song’s video, looking for meaning in the animal characters and decoding them on fan websites.

Many seem easy to interpret: The fox is former president Vicente Fox, who began purging the federal police of corrupt elements and extradited dozens of drug kingpins to the United States during his 2000-06 term.

The crash of a “sparrow hawk” refers to the mysterious crash of a Learjet carrying Mexico’s Interior minister on Nov. 4, 2008.

Open to interpretation: Does the dog represent drug traffickers or the Mexican police? And is the finale urging Mexicans to unite against drug traffickers or let them be? The band won’t say.

“Everybody can interpret it as they want,” Hernández says. “We’re just storytellers.”

In defense of free speech
In October, the organizers of the Lunas Entertainment Awards asked the band not to play the song during the awards show at the government-owned National Auditorium. Los Tigres boycotted the show in protest. At a news conference, they accused the Mexican Interior Ministry of pressuring the Lunas organizers and some radio stations to keep the song off the air.

The Interior Ministry issued a written statement denying the accusation.

The Farm reflects a recent change in the themes of narcocorridos, Ramírez-Pimienta says.

Before the latest crackdown on cartels, such songs focused on cars, women, clothes and other luxuries enjoyed by Mexican drug traffickers — “party corridos,” Ramírez-Pimienta calls them.

“Now we’re seeing a return to the ‘epic’ corrido, with more emphasis on the battles involved,” Ramírez-Pimienta says.

Other songs romanticize newly emerging cartel leaders. A new Los Tigres del Norte song, Queen of Queens, likens alleged trafficker Sandra Ávila Beltrán to Cleopatra and the Queen of Sheba.

“Two beauties of the ages, but nothing compared to Sandra,” the song says.

Fans deny that music is undermining the fight against crime.

“People take it too seriously,” says Elizabeth Monroig, a member of the Boss of Bosses, a Los Tigres del Norte fan club in suburban Mexico City.

“Yes, these groups talk about things that are going on in the country, but they also sing about love and other things. It’s just music.”

Hawley is Latin America correspondent for USA TODAY and The Arizona Republic. Contributing: Dan Nowicki of The Arizona Republic.

7393: Advertisers Admit To Being Garbage.

This recycling instruction sheet seems like a partnership ad, given all the depicted brand-name items. And direct marketers can’t be too pleased to see their handiwork labeled as junk mail.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

7392: Percy Sutton (1920-2009).

From The Associated Press…

Percy Sutton, attorney for Malcolm X, dies at 89

By Cristian Salazar, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – Percy Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X before launching successful careers as a political power broker and media mogul, has died. He was 89.

Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, confirmed that Sutton died Saturday. She did not know the cause. His daughter, Cheryl Sutton, declined to comment Saturday when reached by phone at her New York City home.

The son of a former slave, Percy Sutton became a fixture on 125th Street in Harlem after moving to New York City following his service with the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. His Harlem law office, founded in 1953, represented Malcolm X and the slain activist’s family for decades.

The consummate politician, Sutton served in the New York State Assembly before taking over as Manhattan borough president in 1966, becoming the highest-ranking black elected official in the state.

Sutton also mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate and mayor of New York, and served as political mentor for the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s two presidential races.

Jackson recalled Sutton talking about electing a black president as early as 1972. Sutton was influential in getting his 1984 campaign going, he said.

“He never stopped building bridges and laying the groundwork,” Jackson said Sunday. “We are very glad to be the beneficiaries of his work.”

In a statement released Saturday night, Gov. David Paterson called Sutton a mentor and “one of New York’s and this nation’s most influential African-American leaders.”

“Percy was fiercely loyal, compassionate and a truly kind soul,” Paterson said. “He will be missed but his legacy lives on through the next generations of African-Americans he inspired to pursue and fulfill their own dreams and ambitions.”

President Barack Obama called Sutton “a true hero” to African-Americans across the country.

“His life-long dedication to the fight for civil rights and his career as an entrepreneur and public servant made the rise of countless young African-Americans possible,” Obama said in a statement.

In 1971, with his brother Oliver, Sutton purchased WLIB-AM, making it the first black-owned radio station in New York City. His Inner City Broadcasting Corp. eventually picked up WBLS-FM, which reigned for years as New York’s top-rated radio station, before buying stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit and San Antonio between 1978-85.

The Texas purchase marked a homecoming for the suave and sophisticated Sutton, born in San Antonio on Nov. 24, 1920, the youngest of 15 children.

Among Sutton’s other endeavors was his purchase and renovation of the famed Apollo Theater when the Harlem landmark’s demise appeared imminent.

“The Apollo and its staff stand on the shoulders of Mr. Sutton as the theater continues to flourish,” said Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of Apollo Theater Foundation Inc. “(He) will be greatly missed and will always be an integral part of the Apollo legacy.”

Sutton’s father, Samuel, was born into slavery just before the Civil War. The elder Sutton became principal at a segregated San Antonio high school, and he made education a family priority: All 12 of his surviving children attended college.

When he was 13, Percy Sutton endured a traumatic experience that drove him inexorably into the fight for racial equality. A police officer approached Sutton as the teen handed out NAACP pamphlets. “N-----, what are you doing out of your neighborhood?” he asked before beating the youth.

When World War II arrived, Sutton’s enlistment attempts were rebuffed by Southern white recruiters. The young man went to New York, where he was accepted and joined the Tuskegee Airmen.

After the war, Sutton earned a law degree in New York while working as a post office clerk and a subway conductor. He served again as an Air Force intelligence officer during the Korean War before returning to Harlem in 1953 and establishing his law office with brother Oliver and a third partner, George Covington.

In addition to representing Malcolm X for a decade until his 1965 assassination, the Sutton firm handled the cases of more than 200 defendants arrested in the South during the 1963-64 civil rights marches. Sutton was also elected to two terms as president of the New York office of the NAACP.

After Malcolm’s assassination, Sutton worked as lawyer for Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz. He represented her grandson, 12-year-old Malcolm Shabazz, when the youth was accused of setting a 1997 fire that caused her death.

Sutton was elected to the state Legislature in 1965, and quickly emerged as spokesman for its 13 black members. His charisma and eloquence led to his selection as Manhattan borough president in 1966, completing the term of Constance Baker Motley, who was appointed federal judge.

Two years later, Sutton announced a run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jacob Javits, although he pulled out of the Democratic primary to back Paul O’Dwyer.

Sutton remained in his Manhattan job through 1977, the same year he launched a doomed campaign for mayor that ended with Edward I. Koch defeating six competitors for the Democratic nomination.

Sutton was among the first voices raised against the Vietnam War, surrendering his delegate’s seat at the 1968 Democratic convention in protest and supporting anti-war candidate George McGovern four years later against incumbent President Richard Nixon.

In addition to his radio holdings, Sutton also headed a group that owned The Amsterdam News, the second largest black weekly newspaper in the country. The paper was later sold.

Sutton’s devotion to Harlem and its people was rarely more evident than when he spent $250,000 to purchase the shuttered Apollo Theater in 1981. The Apollo turned 70 in 2004, a milestone that was unthinkable until Sutton stepped in to save the landmark.

Sutton “retired” in 1991, but his work as an adviser, mentor and confidante to politicians and businessmen never abated. He was among a group of American businessmen selected during the Clinton administration to attend meetings with the Group of Seven (G-7) Nations in 1995-96.

“He was a great man,” said Charles Warfield Jr., the president and chief operating officer of ICBC Broadcast Holdings Inc., when reached early Sunday. He declined to comment further out of respect for the wishes of Sutton’s family.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he last visited Sutton in a nursing home Wednesday. He recalled meeting Sutton for the first time at age 12; Four years later, Sutton paid for his trip to a national black political convention because the teenage Sharpton couldn’t afford to go.

“He personified the black experience of the 20th century,” Sharpton said. “He started the century where blacks were victims. We ended as victors.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Sunday that flags on city buildings would be lowered in Sutton’s honor.

Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York and M.L. Johnson in Chicago contributed to this report.

7391: Truth In The Ad Game.

With the Chicago Bears, the bone-crushing brawls are currently happening in the front office, while the bone-headed calls are happening in the backfield.

7390: You’re Fired. That Was Easy.

From The Chicago Tribune…

The truth doesn’t count

Four years ago, the office supply company Staples accused a sales director named Alan Noonan of padding his expense reports and fired him. The company, though, didn’t let him go quietly. A vice president at Staples sent an e-mail to about 1,500 employees announcing the firing of Noonan and reminding them that compliance with company policies was not optional.

Noonan sued for libel, claiming that he had been singled out for public humiliation and that the company had acted maliciously. No other Staples employee had been called out in such a way for violating company policy.

Normally, such a lawsuit would be tossed out if the accusation against Noonan was true. The U.S. Supreme Court has held for decades that truth is an absolute defense against libel. (Noonan said he was guilty of sloppiness with his expense records.)

A judge in federal district court rejected his complaint, citing the Supreme Court standard. But Noonan appealed, and in February a federal appeals court ruled that he could pursue his claim under a century-old Massachusetts law. That law allows a libel action if a defendant was malicious in his intent, even if what he wrote was the truth.

This ruling has caused journalists to do a double take. They have long operated under the Supreme Court rule that truth is an absolute defense against libel. This ruling is dangerous, and not just for journalists. It opens the door for libel actions against all sorts of truthful speech, if a court finds that the speaker had malicious intent. Think about talk radio. Think about the comment boards on Web sites. Think about Michael Moore documentaries. Think about the e-mails you send. Think about office memos.

The appellate court finding could have a chilling effect on all of them if it stands.

The case went back to the district court, and in October a jury ruled in favor of Staples, finding that the company and its execs had not shown malice toward Noonan. He has appealed, though, arguing the jury wasn’t properly briefed on the Massachusetts law.

So this is still kicking around. It’s a case to watch as it meanders through the courts.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

7389: Fighting Words.

The cover quote on the latest issue of JET seems downright prophetic.

7388: Adweek Clearly Culturally Clueless.

Here’s an admittedly delayed reaction to the Adweek story below. Read it quickly, then check out the MultiCultClassics perspective.

Survey: Is Diversity a Plus?
A new study finds no clear consensus

By Mark Dolliver

In polite society, one encounters little diversity of opinion about whether “diversity” is a positive aspect of modern-day American life. But a survey released this month by USA Network finds many respondents dissenting from the view that demographic and lifestyle diversity is far more a good than a bad thing for the country.

Conducted in late October and early November by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies, the poll noted the fact that “there is a great deal of diversity in the population of the U.S., with people of many different nationalities, religions, races and lifestyles.” It then asked respondents to say whether they regard this “more as a strength and advantage for the U.S.” or “more as a challenge and a source of problems.” There was a nearly even split between those seeing it as a strength/advantage (25 percent) and those seeing a challenge/problems (28 percent), with most of the rest regarding it as equally a strength and a challenge.

In a breakdown of the findings by race and ethnicity, white respondents were more apt to see diversity as a challenge/source of problems (29 percent) than as a strength/advantage (23 percent). But the numbers weren’t dramatically different among the survey’s black respondents (31 percent strength/advantage, 28 percent challenge/problems) or its Hispanic respondents (30 percent strength/advantage, 26 percent challenge/problems).

Another question in the survey listed three possible goals for the country and asked respondents to pick the one “you personally feel we should most try to encourage in the U.S. at this time.” A plurality (40 percent) opted for “Judging people as individuals, rather than on the basis of their race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.” Nearly as many (36 percent) picked “Focusing on the things we have in common and that unite us as Americans, rather than on our differences and the things that divide us.” Lagging well behind (chosen by 23 percent) was “Celebrating the freedom we have as Americans to be different and follow our own paths, rather than conforming to a certain mold.” If nothing else, these results suggest there’s more enthusiasm for the “melting pot” than the “gorgeous mosaic” model of national unity and comparatively little aversion to “conforming” as a social behavior.

Linguistic diversity is a sore point for significant numbers of respondents. One section of the survey noted that “Languages other than English are being used increasingly in daily life by businesses—such as having multiple languages on ATM machines—to accommodate customers whose first language is not English.” It then asked whether respondents view this trend favorably or unfavorably. Seventeen percent expressed a “very” and another 17 percent a “somewhat” favorable opinion, while 20 percent were “neutral” on the matter. But 28 percent had a “very” and 17 percent a “somewhat” unfavorable view of the phenomenon. The “unfavorable” vote was particularly high among white respondents: 35 percent took a “very” and 19 percent a “somewhat” dim view of the trend.

Where religion is concerned, the survey also detected resistance to efforts to enshrine religious diversity by downplaying the country’s predominantly Christian origins. Respondents were asked to pass judgment on the observation that “The Christian traditions that have been part of our society—including prayers at public events and public displays at Christmas time about the birth of Christ—are less prominent now so people of different faiths and beliefs do not feel excluded.” Twenty-seven percent said they view this trend favorably (14 percent “very,” 13 percent “somewhat”), and 24 percent were neutral about it.

But nearly half regarded it unfavorably (31 percent “very,” 18 percent “somewhat”). Here again, an outright majority of white respondents viewed the trend unfavorably—34 percent “very” and 18 percent “somewhat.”

The Adweek story is disturbing on a few levels. First, Adweek is hardly qualified to comment on anything related to diversity, as the publication regularly reflects the cultural cluelessness of the field it covers. Second, polls are no different than focus groups; i.e., these research tools rarely present useful information, yet offer data that is ultimately interpreted to justify whatever position people see fit to advance. Third, it is wrong to potentially apply the results to the advertising industry, as Madison Avenue is not on par with the rest of society regarding matters of inclusion—indeed, the business often appears to be stuck in a pre-Civil Rights Era time warp.

To fully appreciate the discussion, blog visitors are encouraged to download the complete study referenced by Adweek. The findings of any survey are only as good as the questions posed, and Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies asked some peculiar ones.

It is kinda dumb to have people choose between diversity being viewed “more as a strength and advantage for the U.S.” or “more as a challenge and a source of problems.” America is not the mythical post-racial Nirvana. Hell, the ultra-progressive among us are still sorting through the bugs associated with diversity, so it is likely that people would recognize the challenges and problems. But that doesn’t mean challenges and problems should be branded in a negative light. Great change always features obstacles to overcome. On the flipside, it is difficult to declare the strengths and advantages of diversity while the experiments are being conducted. There are simply not enough examples to prove anything either way. And on Madison Avenue, there are virtually zero examples, as diversity has yet to be adopted at all.

It should also be noted that the percentages broke down as follows: 25% of respondents saw America’s diversity as more of a strength and advantage; 28% saw it as more of a challenge and source of problems; 46% saw it equally a strength and challenge. Perhaps the majority of people do understand the complexities.

It is silly for Adweek to decide the study shows “there’s more enthusiasm for the ‘melting pot’ than the ‘gorgeous mosaic’ model of national unity and comparatively little aversion to ‘conforming’ as a social behavior.” Respondents displayed preferences for statements like, “Judging people as individuals, rather than on the basis of their race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation,” and “Focusing on the things we have in common and that unite us as Americans, rather than on our differences and the things that divide us.” Um, these are the tenets of diversity. Wanting to be judged as an individual foremost, as well as seeking connections versus conflict, does not translate to gladly abandoning your cultural identity and embracing assimilation. Might have missed it, but there were no mentions of melting pots or gorgeous mosaics in the survey.

Survey respondents seemed to grasp the potential power of diversity:

10a. What are some of the ways you think of America's diversity as being a strength and advantage for the USA? In what ways is America better off because of the fact that it has people of many different nationalities, religions, races, and lifestyles? [208-214] *

Gives us more ideas, diverse perspectives/points of view/opinions 20%
Opportunity to educate ourselves about other cultures/races/religion 11
Helps us learn tolerance/acceptance of those different from us 10
Adds to America’s diverse culture, we’ve always been a melting pot 6
Diversity is good/beneficial to everyone 5
Strengthens us/gives us more power 5

Plus, lots of the perceived challenges seemed to focus on immigration issues:

10b. What are some of the ways you think of America’s diversity as being a challenge or source of problems for the USA? What are some of the downsides or difficulties that result from the fact that America has people of many different nationalities, religions, races, and lifestyles? [215-221] **

Too many illegal immigrants who receive benefits/take our jobs 9%
Everyone should learn English if they’re going to live/work here 9
We are too divided/separated along racial/cultural/religious lines 9
Some immigrants never try to assimilate to American culture 7
We need to be more tolerant/accepting of those different than us 7
Some people are just bigots/intolerant/narrow-minded 6

Yes, the survey produced no absolute consensus proclaiming diversity is a plus. Conversely, it produced no reason to believe it won’t be a plus.

MultiCultClassics might be overreacting, but the Adweek story leaves an impression that diversity is not as important or necessary as advocates believe. In stereotypical fashion, Madison Avenue could read the Adweek report and feel justified in promoting and perpetuating exclusivity.

The advertising industry does not need more excuses to deliberately extend over 70 years of inaction. Surely there is clear consensus on that.

Friday, December 25, 2009

7387: Is Santa Claus An Addict In Ads…?

Santa’s obvious love for smoking and soft drinks explains his obesity.

And he’s even participated in racist propaganda.

7386: Stocking Stuffers.

A Merry MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• José Feliciano was seeing red over a parody of his iconic “Feliz Navidad” tune. The spoof version—which appeared on a conservative website—mocked illegal immigrants. Feliciano remarked he was “revolted beyond words,” as the song was intended to be a “bridge” between cultures versus “a vehicle for a political platform of racism and hate.” The website creators apologized and removed the offensive work, which undoubtedly spoiled the holiday cheer for the website’s regular visitors.

• Rapper T.I. is not spending the holidays behind bars, as he was released from a federal prison on Tuesday to serve the remainder of his time in a Georgia halfway house. BET will probably try to create a reality TV series titled, “T.I. In Da Halfway House” or “Halfway House Party.”

• TAG Heuer reset their watches and public statements by deciding to support spokesman Tiger Woods. “TAG Heuer confirms today that it will continue its relationship with golf No. 1 Tiger Woods but will respect his desire of privacy by modifying his role in the coming months’ marketing programs,” stated the advertiser. “Tiger Woods became a TAG Heuer brand ambassador in 2002. The relationship between the leader in prestigious sports watches and chronographs since 1860 and golf virtuoso Tiger Woods has always been extremely professional and productive.” This probably means that Woods was also sleeping with a TAG Heuer female executive.

7385: A Colorful Claus.

Happy Holidays!

7384: Stock Stereotypes Holiday Edition.

(Search Words: African American Santa Claus)

I’m Dreaming of a White Wife Christmas

Santa Jemima

Bulging With Holiday Cheer

Ho Ho Ho

7383: Back Like Quasimodo.

Harry Webber’s retirement from blogging was short-lived. He’s back and presenting NeoAdvertising produced for RADD, the entertainment industry’s Voice For Road Safety.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

7382: We Don’t Need No Stinking Business Plan.

This actual craigslist ad must have been written by an unemployed account person. He wants to start a business and needs creative people to think outside the box and launch it. Of course, he has no strategy or vision. Or specifics. Or budget. He just asks creative people to think outside the box and come up with something. At which point, he’ll run with it.

let’s create something (chicago/wisconsin)

Date: 2009-12-24, 12:48PM CST
Reply to:

i want to create a business with others. let’s face it, the economy won’t get any better, so we have to think outside the box. i’m looking to team up with creative people and get our ideas and sell them online. after all it’s a global economy. i’m looking to team up with graphic artists, copywriters, accountants, web expert, e marketer, data base marketer, product fulfillment company, basically to work as a team and make money. this might be ideal for a skillful person that is struggling with money at the moment. i’m not looking for you to invest anything but your time and skills. i’m looking for open minded individuals that think outside the box. i do respect your time, after all that is our most important asset. if your interested in teaming up to get ahead, let me know.

thanks, have a merry christmas.

7381: Only On The Golf Channel…

Accepted Rejected by The New York Daily News.

7380: Culturally Competent Claus.

From The Miami Herald…

For Santa Claus, culture counts
When Santa Claus arrives in South Florida, he learns that being bilingual and fitting in with locals is important.

By Laura Figueroa

While some may know Santa through the iconic images of a rosy-cheeked, white-bearded man, many children in South Florida’s melting pot are finding that Santa speaks Creole in Little Haiti, swivels his hips to Merengue music in Hialeah and revs up his motorcycle to deliver gifts up and down U.S. 1.

“Language is not a factor,” said Pete McKibben, aka “Biker Claus,” who traded in his helmet for a Santa hat while handing out nearly 600 gifts to the children of farm workers and day laborers.

“That costume has no language,” McKibben added. “It’s universal … their smiles said it all.”

For many professional and volunteer Santas, donning the red-and-white suit means not just being able to “Ho Ho Ho” really well, but to be culturally aware of the communities they serve.

At a recent convention of Santas hosted by the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas in California, wannabes brushed up on their Spanish holiday greetings.

“Feliz Navidad,” they practiced. “Que bonitas botas”—what lovely boots.

“We encourage every Santa to individualize or personalize their routine,” said Ric Erwin, national secretary of the fraternal Santas. “Some of these kids have been waiting all year to talk to Santa, you want to make what little time you have with them count.”

Even at the “Harvard of Santa Schools”—the Charles J. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Mich., students get schooled on Santa’s role in different countries.

“We try to make sure all of our Santas catch up on the culture of Santa Claus,” said Holly Valente, admissions director of the 73-year-old school.

During the three-day course, Santas learn while the big man delivers gifts with the aid of his reindeer in the United States, in other countries it’s white horses or a donkey that do most of the heavy lifting.

“It’s very important they know these customs,” Valente said. “That way if a child asks, they’re prepared.”


For Alain Lasontant, a Haitian-American businessman who plays Santa, that means wishing children a “Joyeaux Noel.”

Outside of a Little Haiti storefront last Saturday, kids screamed with excitement as compas music played in the background for a toy giveaway organized by Haitian business owners.

“Speaking Creole makes them feel comfortable,” Lasontant said. “They know that Santa can speak to all children.”

Lasontant, who lives in Miramar, often played Santa for his kids when they were growing up. He was recruited for the Little Haiti toy giveaway by Frantz Devilme, who was looking for a Creole-speaking Santa to put the kids at ease.

“A lot of these kids don’t speak English, they just got here from Haiti with their families, or their parents only speak to them in Creole,” Devilme said. “A lot of them are scared, they’ve never seen Santa up close. Santa has to be able to understand them, and let them know he is only there to bring happiness.”


In Hialeah, the city relies on Spanish speaking staff to play the role of Santa and Mrs. Claus at the city’s annual Santa Snow Blast.

At the event, Santa sauntered onto the stage with the city’s mayor and council members, and greeted kids in the largely Cuban-American city in both English and Spanish.

Malls have also become attuned to hiring a diverse array of Santa candidates during the frenzied holiday shopping season. And if Santa isn’t bilingual, he always has his little helpers to rely on.

“Although our Santa’s not proficient in Spanish, he is supported by several ‘helpers’ who are,” said Anabel Llopis, marketing director for the Aventura Mall.


At the Lauderhill Mall, managers have hired a black Santa for the past 23 years to cater to the surrounding black and Caribbean communities.

“Santa is every color, he speaks every language, and belongs to everyone,” said Cynthia Baker, the mall’s manager. “To tell you the truth, I’ve just always considered Santa a force of love. It doesn’t matter what country he’s from or his language.”

McKibben, aka “Biker Claus,” only knows a few words of Spanish, but that doesn’t stop him from hopping on his motorcycle and leading a caravan of 200 leather clad bikers down U.S. 1 to St. Ann’s Mission in Naranja, where most children speak Spanish.

“Kids have this innocence where they don’t judge,” McKibben said. “They don’t care what Santa looks like.”

For many children, it doesn’t matter what color Santa’s skin is, what his mode of transportation is or what language he speaks, so long as there’s a St. Nick to believe in.

Holding a gift she received during a toy giveaway at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church last Sunday, Rose Francois, 9, summed it up: “I’ve never seen Santa, but I know he’s there.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

7379: Rustling And Hustling.

If adpeople are whores, then placement agencies are surely the industry’s pimps. This actual craigslist ad shows a Flash flesh-peddler seeking new interactive hookers. Watch out, newcomers. Mac daddy demands a serious cut.

Are you an Interactive Creative New to Chicago?

Date: 2009-12-23, 3:00PM CST
Reply to:

Have you just moved to the city, trying to get your foot in the door with advertising agencies, design firms or other companies who use creative interactive talent?? If you are a Web Developer, an Interactive Art Director, Flash Designer, Web Designer or Interactive Copywriter and have at least two years of experience in the work place, we could be a great source for you to use to either find full-time or freelance work.

We are a creative staffing agency located in downtown Chicago that has contacts with many advertising agencies, design firms, as well as various companies that use creative talent for both full-time and freelance positions and the need for interactive talent continues to increase.

We are proud to represent the finest creative talent that Chicago has to offer, so if you feel that you are the best of the best, please send us your resume along with your salary requirements, and please state if you are looking for freelance or full-time positions. If we feel that you would be a good match with some of our clients, we would love to set up a time for you to come by our office and meet with us!!

7378: Clio Presents Lifeless Idea.

Um, shouldn’t an awards show promote itself with breakthrough and original ideas?

7377: Boys Choir Of Harlem Fades Out.

From The New York Times…

A Quiet End for Boys Choir of Harlem

By Sharon Otterman

For more than three decades, they sang Mozart in Latin, Bach in German, and Cole Porter and Stevie Wonder in English, from Alice Tully Hall in New York to Royal Albert Hall in London.

For the audiences that marveled at the Boys Choir of Harlem, it was an additional wonder that the young performers with world-class voices had emerged from some of the most difficult neighborhoods of New York. December was always a busy month, as the choir toured the country’s premier concert halls and appeared on television Christmas specials.

But this year, the boys are nowhere to be found. Last week, Terrance Wright, a 39-year-old choir alumnus, picked up a microphone in front of the altar of Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church in Harlem, the choir’s last home, and delivered news that surprised few people but saddened many.

“Tell the people. Let it be known,” Mr. Wright said, glistening and exhausted after leading a Christmas concert by former singers in the choir. “There is no Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem.”

The choir’s last official performance was in 2007, around the time of the death of its founder, Walter J. Turnbull. But no one ever announced that it was gone. Board members and alumni had hoped to revive it, but they acknowledged last week that they had not had any success.

For a famous organization that politicians had vowed would outlive its founder, it had a quiet end. Many of the choir’s materials, like copies of handwritten scores and its trademark burgundy blazers, now sit in black garbage bags and open boxes in the church’s damp dirt-floor basement, amid overturned tables and sacks of plaster of Paris.

Led by Dr. Turnbull, who started the group in 1968, the choir sang at the White House for nearly every president since Lyndon B. Johnson, and it was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Bill Clinton. But it did not survive long enough to perform for the country’s first black president.

The choir’s demise as a functional organization was a result of many factors, but everyone agrees it was set in motion by a single episode: an accusation by a 14-year-old boy in 2001 that a counselor on the choir’s staff had sexually abused him. The counselor eventually was sentenced to two years in prison.

The accusation and the scandal that followed — Dr. Turnbull did not report the claim to the authorities and allowed the counselor to continue working with children — set off a chain of events that led the city to oust the choir in 2006 from the Choir Academy of Harlem, the school building that had been its home. That, in turn, deepened the choir’s already serious financial problems.

Owing millions in payroll taxes and penalties, and immersed in a lawsuit stemming from the abuse accusations, the board of the Boys Choir gathered in the months after Dr. Turnbull’s death, said Howard Dodson, the leader of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Mr. Dodson was brought onto the board, along with former Mayor David N. Dinkins, in an effort to save the choir.

“There were those who didn’t want to declare its end because they were wishing something would show up to make it real again,” Mr. Dodson said. “That was the hope.”

The meeting, he said, was spent with lawyers, who were negotiating with the I.R.S. about how the liens would be paid. “Trying to revive the choir, unfortunately, was not uppermost in anyone’s agenda at that time,” he said.

At the church, leaders were getting little information from the board. People kept calling — and do to this day — wanting to book the choir at events. Church members stacked the choir’s materials on an unused stage upstairs and then, finally, in the basement.

“When Mr. Turnbull died, everyone said, ‘We are not going to let this die,’ and no one did anything,” said George Reyes, who arranged concerts and concessions for the choir. A few months passed. Then, he said, a decision was made by some of the alumni.

“We finally got together to say, O.K., we are going to continue what Mr. Turnbull started,” Mr. Reyes said.

With that, about 30 former singers in the choir began practicing, this time men and women together, to make up for the lack of soprano and alto male voices. (The Girls Choir of Harlem was founded, also by Dr. Turnbull, in 1988.) Mr. Wright, who joined the choir at 16 and later became Dr. Turnbull’s assistant, took the lead.

With little support except for what they earn at occasional performances, like a recent Christmas show at a Brooks Brothers store, the alumni began singing their old classical, Broadway and gospel arrangements, and adding some R & B and soul.

They made their first international appearance in October, traveling to Shanghai for an international arts festival. Financing came from unlikely sources: The country music duo Brooks & Dunn helped out, and a Texas businessman paid their airfare. “The standard politicians around the city didn’t even return our phone calls,” Mr. Reyes said.

To listen to the alumni choir, which performed its Christmas concert at the Metropolitan Church on Dec. 13, is to realize what, besides the dusty boxes in the basement, the choir has left behind. Tyneshia Hill, 24, sang a haunting, lyrical soprano solo in “Mary Was the Queen of Galilee” that raised gasps from the audience. She works as a school aide in the Bronx and lives with her mother in Co-op City.

But the choir was not just about building musicians. “It was understanding how to balance everything in our lives, about how you become a global citizen,” said Matthew Gadsen, 25, a former singer in the choir who went to Georgetown University on a full scholarship and now works at an investment bank. The hardest thing, he said, “is that I had that opportunity, and now there’s another kid in a public school in Harlem who doesn’t.”

The alumni say they want to revive the original goal of the Boys Choir — the development of boys and girls through music — if not the actual organization, which may be doomed by its debts and the lawsuit. Their mission, they said, took on an additional note of urgency this month, after education officials proposed closing the high school grades of the Choir Academy, which the city had run on its own after 2006, for poor performance.

But starting over, Mr. Wright said, might require first that people know the original choir is dead.

“Though there’s no Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem,” Mr. Wright told the crowd before launching his red-and-black-clad singers into their final gospel song, “there is still life. It just means God has something else planned.”

7376: Racial eHarmony.

eHarmony shows interracial couples in this spot. Wonder if racial and ethnic preferences are part of the compatibility profile.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

7375: Building A More Complicated Mousetrap.

This actual craigslist ad shows the specialists are growing increasingly absurd.
Rube Goldberg Builder

Date: 2009-12-22, 2:23PM CST
Reply to:


Do you make crazy mousetrap style, domino-effect, chain reaction machines like Rube Goldberg is famous for? Do you have one already built that you could add to?

Contact me if you have or want to build a Rube Goldberg machine to be featured on National television.


Monday, December 21, 2009

7374: Don’t Sleep On Fake Tiger Ads.

The New York Daily News is accepting submissions for parody Tiger Woods ads. The publication rejected MultiCultClassics’ Gillette ad, but approved the Ambien concept depicted here. Check it out and join the festivities.

7373: Airheads Wanted.

Yeah, who needs those dumb Ivy League educations that helped land a Black dude into the White House?

7372: Chevy Volt Dance? Try Dolt Dance.

Much has already been said and posted regarding the infamous Chevy Volt Dance. Check out the video if you missed it. Lost in all the criticism aimed at the stupidity of General Motors and the wasting of bailout money is the probability that some White advertising agency-event marketing shop-PR firm came up with this garbage. When U.S. automakers should be producing the most compelling and breakthrough messages ever, consumers are bombarded with the same old contrived, hackneyed bullshit. Brought to you by an advertising industry that has been as resistant to change and culturally clueless as the automakers it services.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

7371: The Young And The Clueless.

Check out this March 2009 video produced by Ad 2 Tampa Bay’s AdCast. The presentation and subsequent blog post deliberately and unknowingly reflect the industry’s diversity issues. That is, professionals clearly recognize that problems exist. Yet they seem baffled by the realities, unable to grasp and devise solutions. And ultimately, they don’t appear to be very concerned about it all.

7370: Saab Story.

Despite more last-minute news items, it looks like General Motors will inevitably dump Saab into an auto brand graveyard. Wonder what all the Saab fans and fanatics are thinking now. Has anyone considered masterminding a deal for the Swedish automaker with ABBA? There’s a natural cultural and acronym connection. Better yet, see if Elin Nordegren might be interested. The former Swedish bikini model is primed to net a wad of cash from hubby Tiger Woods if a divorce happens—or maybe Woods could buy the brand for her as a reconciliation gift. It’s time for some breakthrough thinking, GM.

7369: Best Of The 2000s = More Of The Same.

Adweek presented its Best Of The 2000s Winners, and ultimately demonstrated its editorial staff is still living in the 20th century. Read the brief tribute below, followed by a MultiCultClassics perspective.

Multicultural Agency of the Decade

“GlobalHue has consistently offered creative solutions that embrace a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities,” says Olivier Francois, president, CEO and head of marketing at Chrysler. “Their work is a testament to a greater understanding of the changing needs of the audiences we’re trying to reach.” This sentiment reflects the agency’s successful investment in demographic research following the 2000 U.S. Census, which helped fuel the shop’s growth into the largest, smartest multicultural agency in the U.S. with revenue of $83 million in 2008. Memorable work includes the award-winning “Grandma’s Hands” spot for Walmart, TV and online efforts for the Navy, and spots for Subway and Chrysler. In 2009, the agency won a significant general assignment from Jeep that resulted in the striking tagline, “i live. i ride. i am. Jeep.” Chrysler is hardly alone in its praise. One Walmart rep says GlobalHue’s “intelligent understanding of customers” and ability to convert that knowledge to business-building initiatives “is an example to all of us.” Joe Saracino, vp of marketing communications at Verizon Wireless, adds: “GlobalHue has shown uncommon dedication to our business and to the quality of the work they do for us. We are very pleased to know that the industry views their work with similar high esteem.” —Mike Chapman

MultiCultClassics admits in advance that this perspective is a little sloppy—but the Adweek contest was too.

Where to begin? First and foremost, the overall salute is a total farce, and not just in regards to multicultural advertising. Simply view the comments for the White Agency of the Decade polling. The thread reflects the sentiments expressed for nearly every category. The finalist list in each division seemed nonsensical, and the reader voting was clearly bullshit, with agencies like Euro RSCG and Burrell allegedly stuffing the electronic ballot boxes in their own favor. Stay classy, adpeople.

On the one hand, awards always feature controversy and sour grapes (check out these comments too). However, the handling of Multicultural Agency of the Decade was particularly curious, and it’s probably rooted in Adweek’s continuing cultural cluelessness—as well as the ridiculous segregation that exists within the industry.

Why are the minorities dumped into a single receptacle? Do they all look the same to Adweek? The smaller Asian American shops surely suffered in the competition. Where do the GLBT agencies fit in the crock melting pot? And while the usual suspects such as Jeff Goodby appear in multiple categories (e.g., Executive and Creative Director), were any minorities spotted outside of Adweek’s multicultural ghetto?

Adweek doubtlessly struggled to concoct praise for Globalhue, as the publication does not regularly spotlight multicultural shops. Indeed, the most press Globalhue has received in the 2000s involved Jim Edwards’ probing of its Bermuda account dilemmas. No disrespect intended, but can anyone name, say, five great campaigns Globalhue has created in the past ten years? To call the Jeep tagline “striking” is being generous—or disingenuous. Yeah, Globalhue picked up lots of new assignments. But its relationship with IPG certainly impacted the wins. Plus, it was recently reported that 50 percent of Globalhue’s revenue comes from its Latino unit, yet Adweek made zero mention of work from the segment. How much time did Adweek spend examining the multicultural contenders?

If minorities comprise a sole category, the Latino agencies should have dominated. The last ten years—at least in the multicultural silo—have arguably been the decade of Latino marketing. The audience has exploded, along with interest and support from advertisers. For evidence, note the numerous White firms that launched Latino enterprises. If Adweek scrutinized by account wins, The Vidal Partnership and Lopez Negrete definitely deserved recognition. If Adweek judged by creative, wouldn’t Grupo Gallegos have warranted a mention? It’s one of the few minority shops to win at Cannes.

The Adweek awards also inadvertently pointed out the inequities lingering on Madison Avenue. For example, White Agency of the Decade Goodby, Silverstein & Partners once netted over $2 billion in earnings in a few months. Globalhue—the largest U.S. multicultural agency—boasted revenues of $83 million in 2008. The staff of Globalhue is roughly 200 385 people strong. White Small Agency of the Decade Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners employs 150 professionals covering $30 million in revenue. Somebody please ask accountants to explain the variations in revenue and FTPs here. In the end, the hugest multicultural shop is not much bigger than a small White shop—with minorities apparently shouldering a greater staffer-per-revenue figure.

Too bad Adweek didn’t include a category for Victim of Discrimination. Of course, industry minorities would have lost that honor to Steve Biegel.

7368: Funny, How That Works, Gillette.

This ad takes on greater relevance when Gillette spokesman Tiger Woods is inserted.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

7367: Junk Food Advertisers Big, Fat Liars.

From The Los Angeles Times…

Companies fall short in advertising healthy foods to children

More than a dozen major companies pledged to push healthier foods two years ago, but study found ads for sugary cereals, fast food and sweet snacks made up more than 70% of the total.

By Mary MacVean

Despite a 2-year-old pledge by more than a dozen major food companies to advertise healthier foods to children, about two-thirds of those companies’ ads remain for products of low nutritional quality, according to a study released Monday.

The report, released a day before the Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies are set to suggest nutritional standards for foods marketed to kids, concluded that the industry’s effort at self-regulation has failed. Ads for sugary cereals, fast food and sweet snacks made up more than 70% of the total studied.

“We cannot win the battle against childhood obesity as long as we continue to allow industry to bombard children with ads for foods that they really shouldn’t eat very often,” said Dale Kunkel of the University of Arizona, lead researcher of the report, which was commissioned by the advocacy organization Children Now.

“Other countries have already put a stop to this type of commercial exploitation, and it’s time for the U.S. to act more responsibly to protect the health of the nation’s children,” Kunkel said.

Industry officials, however, said that their efforts are working and that the landscape for children’s advertising is changing. They said the two years since the initiative began is not enough time to measure change.

In 2006, the Council of Better Business Bureaus established the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative as a self-regulation plan. Companies taking part agree to devote at least half of their advertising toward children to promote “healthier or better-for-you” foods or to include messages encouraging good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Sixteen companies now take part, including Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods Inc., Coca-Cola Co., McDonald’s Corp., ConAgra Foods Inc., General Mills, Burger King Corp., and PepsiCo.

Kunkel’s study, funded by the California Endowment, a private health foundation, looked at 139 children’s broadcast and cable programs in February, March and April. The researchers examined 534 food and beverage ads that ran during, before or directly following the programs, 381 of them from companies taking part in the initiative.

Products were categorized using a Department of Health and Human Services plan for “go” foods, which can be eaten almost any time; “slow” foods, which have moderate nutritional value and could be consumed several times a week; and “whoa” foods, which should be eaten only occasionally.

The report found that 68.5% of ads by companies taking part in the initiative were for foods in the “whoa” category; 31% were for products in the “slow” category; and that less than 1% of the ads were for foods in the “go” category.

By comparison, in 2005, 84% of the foods marketed to children were in the “whoa” category, the report said.

Susan Davison, a Kraft spokeswoman, said her company believes the initiative is working. Because of it, she said, “most of the major children’s food marketers now use science-based nutrition standards to determine what products are advertised to children.”

As one of the positive changes, she added, “Kraft Foods has stopped advertising many well-known, beloved products to kids such as Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies.”

Elaine Kolish, director of the initiative, said that dozens of products have been reformulated to improve their nutritional profile, such as reduction in the sugar content of cereals.

And, she said, in a survey of ads last year, 83% were for products that were “at least a good source of a nutrient” such as calcium or Vitamin E, or contained a half-serving of items federal government authorities encourage children to eat.