Saturday, July 31, 2010

7834: Unclear Waters.

From The New York Daily News…

Calif. Dem Maxine Waters to be charged with ethics violations

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A House investigative panel has decided to charge Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California with ethics violations, raising the possibility of a second high-profile trial with political implications for Democrats this fall.

People familiar with the investigation, who were not authorized to be quoted about unannounced charges, say the allegations could be announced next week. The House ethics committee declined Friday to make any public statement on the matter.

Waters has been under investigation for a possible conflict of interest involving a bank that was seeking federal aid. Her husband owned stock in the bank.

New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel also faces an ethics trial this fall on separate charges that included failure to disclose assets and income, nonpayment of taxes and doing legislative favors for donors to a college center named after him.

Both Waters and Rangel are prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Dual ethics trials would be a major political liability for Democrats, forcing them to defend their party’s ethical conduct while trying to hold on to their House majority.

While Rangel is a former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Waters is a prominent member of the Financial Services Committee.

Waters came under scrutiny after former Treasury Department officials said she helped arrange a meeting between regulators and executives at Boston-based OneUnited Bank without mentioning her husband’s financial ties to the institution.

Her husband, Sidney Williams, held at least $250,000 in the bank’s stock and previously had served on its board. Waters’ spokesman has said Williams was no longer on the board when the meeting was arranged.

Waters has said the National Bankers Association, a trade group, requested the meeting. She defended her role in assisting minority-owned banks in the midst of the nation’s financial meltdown and dismissed suggestions she used her influence to steer government aid to the bank.

“I am confident that as the investigation moves forward the panel will discover that there are no facts to support allegations that I have acted improperly,” Waters said in a prior statement.

The committee unanimously voted to establish an investigative subcommittee to gather evidence and determine whether Waters violated standards of conduct.

Waters, like Rangel, could settle her case by arranging a plea bargain with the ethics committee. So far she has decided instead to fight the allegations.

7833: Negro Leagues Go Postal.

From WYFF News 4…

New Postage Stamps Spotlight Negro League Baseball
Ninety-Six Man, Former Player Honored

By Kisha Foster, WYFF News 4 Reporter

NINETY SIX, S.C.—Thursday the United States Post Office unveiled two new commemorative stamps which spotlight Negro League Baseball.

Negro League Baseball gave black players a chance to show their talents before the major leagues were integrated.

Robert Williams, of Ninety Six, was the guest of honor at a reception at the local post office.

“Oh man its wonderful! The most beautiful thing about it, they recognized us. They didn’t forget about us,” said Williams.

Dressed in white jacket and black bow tie, the 77 year-old signed autographs and took pictures with people from various backgrounds and ages.

Williams was a shortstop for the Birmingham Black Barons.

He played for one season, in 1955. His career was cut short when he was drafted for the U. S. Army.

The Barons, which were a part of the Negro National League, played from 1920 to 1960.

Williams said, “I got in the Negro League and I played with some of the best ball players and against some of the best ball players. One thing every team that we played tried to get my contract. So that meant a lot to me, made me feel like I could play ball.”

Legendary stars who played in the league included Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson.

One stamp shows a close play at home plate, while the other commemorates Andrew “Rube” Foster, founder of the leagues that operated from 1920 to 1960.

Ninety Six Mayor Arvest Turner called the celebration a fitting honor for a native son.

“We are certainly proud of him as an asset to the town. I’ve been working with him on a couple of projects and he has always devoted his time to helping the community out,” said Turner.

Every year the U.S. Post Office receive 50,000 requests from the public for a different stamp.

United States Postal Spokesman Harry Spratlin said “The Citizen Stamp Advisory committee makes the decision. But they make the decision based on recommendations from the public.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

7832: Denny’s Grand Slam Exclusivity.

Adweek reported Denny’s hit a grand slam, selecting four White advertising agencies to pitch its business. Worth noting is contender Erwin-Penland in Greenville, South Carolina, which actually boasts a Diversity & Inclusion Council. However, it appears no minority shops were considered—which reflects the way minority diners have historically been treated at Denny’s.

Denny’s Picks 4 Finalists
Winner will succeed Goodby on the nearly $60 mil. assignment

By Andrew McMains

Denny’s has selected four finalists to compete for creative duties on its advertising account, the client has confirmed.

The shops were identified by Denny’s as MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, Omnicom Group’s BBDO and Interpublic Group’s Gotham, all in New York, and IPG’s Erwin-Penland in Greenville, S.C. They have been briefed and will make final presentations in mid-August, according to sources.

The winner will succeed Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, which split with the client this month.

Denny’s spent $58 million in major measured media last year, according to Nielsen. From January to April of this year, spending totaled $33 million. Those figures don’t include online spending.

The review comes amid the installation of a new chief marketing officer and a month after Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli left the company. The new CMO, Frances Allen, previously was CMO of Dunkin’ Brands and a marketing exec at Pepsi.

Goodby had worked on the account since early 2009.

That year and again in 2010, the shop created spots promoting free breakfast offers. Each spot aired during the Super Bowl.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

7831: Shirley Sherrod Seeks Suit.

From CBS News…

Does Shirley Sherrod Have a Solid Legal Case Against Breitbart?

By Dan Farber

In a speech Thursday at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, Shirley Sherrod said that she would “definitely” sue Andrew Breitbart, who posted a video of her remarks given to a local NAACP group that were taken out of context and made her appear racist.

Does she have a good case to bring against the conservative blogger and publisher?

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said that the most obvious legal path would be “false light and defamation.”

The Restatement Second defines the tort of false light:

652E. Publicity Placing Person in False Light

One who gives publicity to a matter concerning another that places the other before the public in a false light is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if

a) the false light in which the other was placed would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and

b) the actor had knowledge of or acted in reckless disregard as to the falsity of the publicized matter and the false light in which the other would be placed.

Turley offered this further analysis of a suit based on “false light”:

“This would certainly seem to be a case of intentional or reckless act. It could also be claimed to be highly offensive to a reasonable person. However, the editor can claim that the tape was meant to show not just the racially loaded comments of a speaker but the reaction of the audience to that portion of the speech. Moreover, Sherrod is still admitting to pretty disturbing racial views in her earlier view of white farmers from the 1980s or 1990s. That is not an entirely complete defense, however, because it still does not explain why the editor would cut out the point of the story.”

He also noted that as a public official or public figure Sherrod could be held to a different standard, which could make it more difficult for her to succeed in a “false light” suit.

Breitbart claimed that he posted the edited video to prove his assertion that the NAACP has racist elements. He took issue with the NAACP demand that the Tea Party renounce bigoted elements. Breitbart subsequently amended his blog post, calling the action an “expression of regret.”

Turley points out that in just bringing the case, legal discovery efforts could expose emails and other communications that shed light on Breitbart’s motives and agenda.

John Dean, the former Nixon legal eagle, responded to Turley’s analysis, noting that First Amendment standards protecting freedom of speech and the press require “extremely high levels of proof and evidence before anyone making a public statement will be held accountable for it.” There must clear evidence that Breitbart knew that he was promoting false and malicious information about Sherrod.

Dean also points out that from a financial damages perspective, Sherrod has not lost her job and has been vindicated via a mass of media attention, apologies from the President on down and a job offer. Dean wrote:

With only nominal damages at issue now, no attorney is going to take on this case on a contingency basis; even if a jury (or judge) were to award punitive damages to punish Breitbart, it does not appear he has very deep pockets, and libel-law-related verdicts are often dramatically reduced on appeal. In short, filing the action would not be financially rewarding, and it certainly would be (as with all lawsuits) very expensive, easily costing over a million dollars.

On the other hand, there might be some highly skilled lawyers and partisan contributors willing to fund the case.

The sage Dean, who was embroiled more than 40 years ago in the Watergate scandal, advised Sherrod to serve as her own counsel and take “ delight in going after a jackass like Breitbart, not to mention Fox News, to expose what they are doing.”

7830: H&R Block Blocks Diversity.

Advertising Age reported H&R Block is the latest advertiser to reassign its account sans a formal review. The tax preparer handed $155 million in billings to Fallon. If H&R Block held a pitch, would it qualify as a tax write-off? The decision ultimately blocked minority agencies from being considered—and perpetuated the exclusivity and buddy system that stifles all attempts at industry diversity. Somebody should audit H&R Block’s bullshit commitment to inclusive work environments.

H&R Block Taps Fallon for $155M Account Without Review
CMO Turtledove Puts Marketing Stamp on Company

By Rupal Parekh

NEW YORK -- H&R Block is shifting creative duties on its $155 million account to Publicis Groupe’s Fallon from Omnicom Group’s DDB without a review.

The agency change comes nearly a year after Robert Turtledove, who has previously held marketing positions at Pizza Hut and online information service, left his chief marketing officer seat at job site to become CMO at H&R Block.

By handing lead agency duties to Minneapolis-based Fallon—the shop Mr. Turtledove hired while he was at—Mr. Turtledove sends a clear sign he’s ready to put his stamp on the company. The move comes on the heels of the abrupt departure of H&R Block CEO Russ Smyth earlier this month.

When Mr. Turtledove stepped into the CMO role at H&R Block last summer, it was just after the company dumped its agency of nine years, Campbell Mithun, in favor of DDB. Many speculated the move was sparked by Mr. Smyth’s ties to DDB, solidified after 21 years at McDonald’s Corp.

Earlier this year in an interview with Ad Age, Mr. Turtledove was complimentary of DDB and touted having its account consolidated at a single holding company.

He said at the time: “In addition to DDB handling advertising, we have Tribal doing online and social media, Ketchum doing PR, Alma doing our Latino campaign and Rapp doing direct marketing. The oft-promised integration and synergy of working within a holding company is something we are realizing. There is real-time sharing of information and updating, and we have a more consistent voice now going to market.”

DDB referred calls to the client.

In a statement released today, Mr. Turtledove had this to say: “DDB is a world-class agency, and we are proud of and grateful for the work we accomplished together. We will continue working with Tribal DDB on several fronts, and OMD remains as the media agency of record. At the same time, the ever-evolving tax industry and consumer environment often demands different marketing approaches at different times. In that spirit, and based on our previous experiences working together, we believe that Fallon is the right partner to help us grow our business going forward.”

The win marks the second big account Fallon has snagged in the matter of a month. In early July, it was tapped by General Motors’ new marketing chief Joel Ewanick as the lead creative shop for Cadillac’s $270 million account, succeeding Publicis-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

H&R Block, which is estimated to have handled 15% of all tax returns last year, spends the bulk of its large ad budget in the first half of the year around tax season. According to Kantar Media, the company devoted $123 million in domestic measured media between January and May of 2010. In 2009, it spent $155 million, according to Kantar.

The pressure is on Fallon to deliver strong creative advertising that will help stabilize H&R Block at a tumultuous time. The 55-year-old tax-preparation company had to install a new CEO, Alan Bennett, in the wake of Mr. Smyth’s departure. It also recently parted ways with board member Tom Bloch, the last member of the H&R Block’s founding family to have ties to the company.

7829: Swastika Gains Universal Recognition.

From The New York Times…

Swastika Is Deemed ‘Universal’ Hate Symbol

By Laurie Goodstein

The swastika now shows up so often as a generic symbol of hatred that the Anti-Defamation League, in its annual tally of hate crimes against Jews, will no longer automatically count its appearance as an act of anti-Semitism.

“The swastika has morphed into a universal symbol of hate,” said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy organization. “Today it’s used as an epithet against African-Americans, Hispanics and gays, as well as Jews, because it is a symbol which frightens.”

Observing the trend, he said that his group had decided it would examine reports of scrawled swastikas for contextual clues. If it appears Jews were not the target, the incident will not be included in the league’s annual audit of anti-Semitic hate crimes.

“A year ago, there was a swastika put on Plymouth Rock,” Mr. Foxman said in an interview. “We saw it as a symbol of hatred against America, maybe against immigrants, I don’t know. But to count that swastika as an anti-Semitic incident would not be accurate.”

Using the new measure, the Anti-Defamation League logged 1,211 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2009. It included 422 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism like swastika graffiti, as well as violent episodes like the murder of a security guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

The tally was down from 2008, which found 1,352 incidents — in part because of the new approach to swastikas. (The group is considering whether to issue a separate report on swastika incidents that were excluded from its audit).

The change was first reported by The Jewish Week, a New York news weekly.

The swastika symbol, a symmetrical, hooked cross sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, was appropriated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party and became the defining motif of anti-Jewish hatred. It is still the contemporary calling card of many neo-Nazi groups.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish educational and human rights group based in Los Angeles, said he understood the reasoning behind the Anti-Defamation League’s move.

“The swastika is shorthand for every racist and bigot on the planet,” Rabbi Cooper said. “It is amazing that 60 or 70 years later that symbol has not lost any of its potency.”

7828: Old Spice Vs. Old Stereotypes.

Jim Edwards at BNET may be overthinking the racial implications of the Old Spice Guy. Edwards wrote:

Everyone loves the Old Spice Guy who asks, “So ladies, should your man smell like an Old Spice man?” But there was a time when, if you used a sexualized, shirtless black man to sell a cleaning product, you got accused of racism. (That time was January of this year, the product was Clorox (CLX)’s Pine-Sol, and the commercial showed a sexy hunk mopping a floor in a role-reversal fantasy.)

Edwards went on to tweak Pepper Miller for criticizing the imagery in a recent Pine-Sol commercial, and the writer wondered why the mopping Mandingo is viewed differently than the Old Spice Guy.

Well, since Edwards is bold enough to expose his confusion, MultiCultClassics will chip in two cents on the discussion.

First, Pepper Miller never called the Pine-Sol imagery racist.

Second, MultiCultClassics has consistently maintained that no one can dictate whether or not something is racist. In the end, people will make their decisions based on personal experiences, impressions, attitudes, beliefs, etc. After all, Andrew Breitbart thinks Shirley Sherrod is racist. And Whoopi Goldberg thinks Mel Gibson is not.

Third, the Old Spice Guy is not universally loved. At The Big Tent, Kiss My Black Ads blogger Craig Brimm wrote:

I had a friend write me about these same spots, namely the ones that feature the African American men. He said that they were all based in stereotypes. The Old Spice spots (which I love) are based on the “black buck” or “mandingo” schema that portrays the hyper-sexualized black male.

So some folks do indeed contend the Old Spice Guy is related to the Pine-Sol mopster.

While MultiCultClassics does not personally agree with such viewpoints, the offended cannot be dismissed. Everyone sees things through their own life lenses.

For whatever it’s worth, MultiCultClassics categorizes the Old Spice and Pine-Sol characters in separate silos.

The Pine-Sol Guy has the added burden of working with the stereotypical baggage associated with the Pine-Sol Lady. Plus, his depiction literally is sexual and subservient. Even Pine-Sol executives recognize many people deem the spokeswoman as offensive, despite the Clorox Company’s insistence that she’s cool. Finally, Pine-Sol heavily targets Black women through its advertising.

The Old Spice Guy is intended for a mass-market audience. He just happens to be Black—a man of any race or ethnicity could have handled the role. Ad agency Weiden + Kennedy used actor Isaiah Mustafa similarly to the Black athletes starring in Nike ads. It’s about entertainment value and concept. And it’s semi-ironic that Mustafa is an ex-professional sports figure.

But that’s just one blog’s opinion.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

7827: Questionable Financial Consultants.

A Midweek MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Actor Chris Tucker reportedly owes the IRS $11 million in back taxes. Is Tucker emulating Wesley Snipes? Look for the actor to beg Jackie Chan to produce another Rush Hour sequel.

• Jay-Z is allegedly irked that LeBron James didn’t consult with him during the free agency process. Um, Jay-Z has invested in the New Jersey Nets. That alone should be reason enough for James to avoid seeking NBA counsel from the hip hop mogul.

7826: Black Oystermen Feeling Blue.

From The New York Times…

Delta’s Black Oystermen Seeking Cleanup Work and Clinging to Hope

By Trymaine Lee

POINTE A LA HACHE, La. — Way down in the delta, just south of the Belle Chasse Ferry at Beshel’s Marina here, black men with work-worn hands and several generations of fishing in their blood sat around on old milk crates, hoping for a piece of the oil cleanup action that seems to have bypassed their little stretch of the bayou.

Nearly all of them have taken BP’s courses on oil cleanup, but few said they had been called to work; their little skiffs remain moored and forlorn, tied side-by-side like wretched sardines.

“The little guy loses again,” one of them lamented.

There was Hurricane Katrina five years ago. And now the great spill.

But even before those two blows, the fishermen in Pointe a la Hache and other small, historically African-American fishing towns and villages that dot the east bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, have long had to fight hard for every dollar, every oyster and every opportunity they could drag out of the bayou.

In decades past they have dealt with the red-lining of leases on the richest oyster beds and waterways. In the 1970s and ’80s they said they fought the laws against hand-dredging that disproportionately limited the work of the black oystermen. Many have been nudged out by the major fishing operations owned mostly by native whites and Europeans. And they have even had to compete with migrant Hispanic workers who are willing to work for little, and who filled the void when Hurricane Katrina ran off so many of the locals.

The very way of life in these fishing villages has been in danger as younger generations opted for work in other industries, like the local coal processing plant, or moved in search of education and fresh opportunities.

“You might see a time when there ain’t no more black fishermen around here,” said Warren Duplessis, 49, a deckhand for a two-man oystering operation. “Because now you can’t raise no children off the side of a boat. Nowadays you’ve got to take him out of here, let him learn something with the books. No future in what we’ve been bleeding and sweating for all our lives.”

With so many deckhands making so little money, maybe $100 a day, much of what they did make, in cash, was never reported. But now, to get loans to recoup on damages or lost income, or to be compensated by BP, they said they needed to show documents to prove how much they made.

“Their issues are institutional and historical in a sense that they’ve been struggling for a long time,” said Jeremy Stone, with Coastal Communities Consulting, a nonprofit that provides economic development services to disadvantaged entrepreneurs along the Louisiana coast. “These guys are on the margins of solvency all the time anyway, and they don’t have a lot of resources to collateralize debts.”

And they lack simple information about how to apply for aid, get small-business loans or meet filing deadlines, so many continue to struggle.

“We’re looking at a long road,” said Byron Encalade, president of the Louisiana Oystermen’s Association, which represents African-American and other nonwhite oystermen. “It’s not going to get any better. It’s getting worse.”

Mr. Encalade said BP had not been hiring local black fishermen in large numbers to help with the cleanup, pointing to dozens of moored boats at the marina, which is owned by a white Plaquemines Parish city councilman but is almost completely occupied by black fishermen and oystermen, as some degree of proof of the untapped work force here.

“A lot of them will leave,” Mr. Encalade said of the black bayou-men and women. “Some never came back after Katrina; all of this is just eroding our traditions.”

Steve Rinehart, a BP spokesman, said the company was unaware of any groups being left out of the cleanup efforts and had tried to be as inclusive as possible. “The selection is by vessel, not by person,” he said. Criteria include a safety check of charter vessels and crew training.

Mr. Rinehart said recent changes to BP’s vessels-of-opportunity program would allow rotation of the 3,000 vessels he said were registered.

While officials have reopened oyster season, which will surely mean a boost to the morale and pocket book of these oystermen, Mr. Encalade warned against high hopes of a hefty harvest.

He said the fresh water that had been diverted from the Mississippi River into the bays and bayous to keep out the oil had killed off much of the oysters, which need the right balance of salt and fresh water to survive. And officials had reclaimed many of their leases, he said.

Before the spill, Mr. Encalade said, he had 1,500 acres of oyster bed. Now he is down to about 300, with most of his oysters dead, picked clean from their shells by crabs and scavenger fish.

Others sang a similar tune.

Roger Moliere Sr., 71, sat perched behind the wheel of his truck, watching his son and a deckhand unload the skiff he built with his own hands when Junior was just a boy.

“When you’re poor and black and this is all you know, what else are you going to do?” Mr. Moliere said, grimacing. “Was a time if a man lost his job he could always come down to the bayou and feed his family. But this here, what you got happening now, this here might finish us off.”

Mr. Moliere, now retired after 52 years as an oysterman, handed down his boat to his son, Roger Jr. He said he had raised his family on what he could gather from the bayou, after dropping out of school in the fifth grade to help after his father left.

Inside the marina’s office, Elton Encalade, of the second Encalade clan in town, stood by a window and looked out on the semicircle of men on milk crates.

“Take a look out there,” he said, motioning outside. “See what they’re doing? Sitting, talking, nobody working. We’ve been out on that water all of our lives, but look what we’re doing now.”

He shook his head and took a long, deep gulp of the beer in his hand. “We just have to tough it out,” he said. “I know I’m going to make it. I know it like I know them waters out there. I’m going to make it.”

7825: Mad Men Mention.

Wanted to share a delayed reaction to the season opener of AMC series Mad Men. During a pitch to executives from Jantzen swimwear, Don Draper presented an ad featuring risqué copy and visuals. When the conservative clients rejected the work, Draper threw a hissy fit and growled that the men weren’t ready to partner with a “creative agency”—before literally throwing them out of the office. The scene might have offered high drama for viewers, but it was completely out of character for Draper. In previous seasons, the creative director and his crew have stressed the importance of advertising that sells, reflecting a professional persona closer to direct marketers than industry innovators. Hell, they’ve even scoffed at the groundbreaking efforts of Bill Bernbach. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is actually perfectly suited for a client like Jantzen. They are as hackneyed as the show’s creators.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

7824: Fishy Bullshit.

This Joe’s Crab Shack commercial serves up a full plate of stereotypes and awful writing.

7823: Driven To Excess And Success.

Quick hits in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Rapper DMX surrendered to a judge, prepared to start serving a 90-day prison sentence for reckless driving. Going from zero to 90 has never been a problem for the man.

• Wyclef Jean is thinking about running for president of Haiti. Well, he’s already got his theme song in place.

7822: Preachable Moment.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Sherrod controversy misses real message

By Jesse Jackson

Shirley Sherrod was pushed out and then invited back, as the administration realized that the right-wing attack on her was unfounded. But even the offer of a job gets it wrong. Shirley Sherrod is a freedom fighter. She’s not looking for a job, she cares about justice.

An edited video clip from a conservative blogger suggested that Sherrod, a former Department of Agriculture official who is black, denied a white farmer aid. The speech, when viewed in full, shows the opposite. Her mistreatment has occasioned another round of commentary about African-Americans and the White House.

But Sherrod would want that discussion to turn to what is happening to poor and working people, particularly people of color.

Americans are suffering through a Great Recession, but African-Americans and Hispanics are living—in terms of employment—in a crisis more like the Great Depression of 1929.

Unemployment is over 9.5 percent generally, but nearly 16 percent for African-Americans and 13 percent for Hispanics. Disparities in Illinois are even greater: In the fall of 2009, white unemployment in Illinois was at 8.9 percent, but a staggering 18.6 percent of African-Americans were unemployed. Long-term unemployment is setting new records, as a lot of the jobs are not coming back.

Get underneath the top lines and the scope of the catastrophe becomes clearer. A new survey by the Pew Research Center begins to tell the tale.

For example, more than 9 percent are unemployed, but the survey shows that during the 30-month economic downturn, more than half of adults in the labor force have suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers. African-American workers fared twice as bad as whites.

These realities have devastating effects on black households that have little family wealth or savings to fall back on. Loss of a job or a cut in hours produces increased credit card debt, late mortgage and bill payments and taps retirement savings. Nearly one in five blacks and Hispanics say that they don’t have enough income to meet their basic expenses. Hunger is growing; medical bills can’t be paid.

The effects are particularly brutal on the rising middle class families in black and Hispanic communities, the ones who have worked hard and have been making their way. The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research published a preliminary report showing that while the median wealth of white households dropped 9 percent in the Great Recession, that of Hispanic households plummeted 52 percent and blacks 30 percent. The Pew analysts suggest that blacks and Hispanics suffered disproportionate job loss, and they were the most exposed to subprime mortgages and home foreclosures.

But again, it isn’t just those who lose their homes feeling the effects. Some 48 percent of all homeowners report that their homes have lost value. One in five homes with a mortgage is “under water”—worth less than what is owed on the mortgage. Here blacks and Hispanics—who had been targeted by subprime mortgage lenders—are in the worst shape, with 35 percent of black homeowners and 41 percent of Hispanic homeowners under water.

It isn’t surprising that the Great Recession would have disproportionate effects on blacks and Hispanics. Lower-income workers suffer more than the wealthy, because they have fewer reserves to call on.

But that means that relief programs have to target the disproportionate effects. Mortgage relief may not reach many in much of the Midwest, where there was no housing boom. But in Nevada, where one of two homes with mortgages is under water, a program that works is essential to economic revival. Similarly, with staggering mass youth unemployment, we need direct jobs programs to put people to work.

As the panic around Sherrod revealed, this administration bends over backward to ensure that it is not seen as favoring African-Americans. But we don’t clean up the Pacific coast when the oil spill is on the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, July 26, 2010

7821: Black Russian.

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review…

First black politician elected to office in Russia

By The Associated Press

Novozavidovo, Russia — People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare — an honest politician.

Sagbo last month became the first black person to be elected to office in Russia.

In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone. But among the town’s 10,000 people, the 48-year-old from the West African country of Benin is viewed simply a Russian who cares about the town in which he’s has lived for 21 years.

He’s promised to reduce drug addiction, clean up a polluted lake and deliver heating to homes.

“This is my home, my town. We can’t live like this,” Sagbo said.

“His skin is black, but he is Russian inside,” said Mayor Vyacheslav Arakelov. “The way he cares about this place, only a Russian can care.”

Russia’s black population hasn’t been officially counted, but some studies estimate about 40,000 “Afro-Russians.” Scores of them suffer racially motivated attacks every year — 49 in Moscow in 2009, according to the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy Task Force on Racial Violence and Harassment, an advocacy group.

As a councilor, Sagbo has already scored some successes. He mobilized residents to turn dilapidated lots between buildings into colorful playgrounds with new swings and painted fences.

Sitting in the newly painted playground with her son, Irina Danilenko, 31, said it was the only improvement she has seen in the five years she has lived here.

“We don’t care about his race,” she said. “We consider him one of us.”

7820: Staying In The Black.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Blacks can get savings back on track

By Francine Knowles

African Americans who’ve had to cut back their savings and investments because of the recession can get back on track. That message for blacks and others in a similar predicament comes from Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson.

“It’s certainly possible to recover from this setback,” she said. “We need to be very deliberate and very disciplined about saving” going forward.

A survey released by Ariel last week found that middle-class blacks are more likely than middle-class whites to have reduced their saving and investing in the last two years. Among middle-class individuals with household incomes of at least $50,000 who responded to the survey, nearly half of all blacks and 31 percent of whites dipped into savings to make ends meet.

Twenty-seven percent of blacks who participate in 401(k) plans reduced the amount they contributed per month, compared with 16 percent of whites, the survey found.

Blacks “have been disproportionately affected by the recession,” Hobson said. “You can see that in the jobs numbers. The unemployment numbers for African Americans are approximately twice as high as for white Americans.”

The survey also found that 60 percent of blacks, compared with 37 percent of whites, have been asked for financial help by friends or family; 15 percent of blacks compared with 7 percent of whites asked family or friends for help.

“It sets us back in terms of retirement security, which is so important,” she said of the curtailment in savings. “Not only have people had their accounts experience a downdraft, but then to have a downdraft and to have liquidated some of those assets makes it even more challenging.”

But she said she believes that at some point the economy will fully recover.

“Jobs will come back,” she said. “When that does happen, be ready and willing to save.”

Start by squirreling away money in an emergency fund, she advised.

“Secondly, make sure to take advantage of the retirement plans that are offered inside of your company,” she said. “At minimum, contribute enough to get the company match, which is free money.”

And don’t shy away from stocks, she stressed.

“Despite the market volatility that we’re seeing, understand that the most money is made in difficult markets,” she said. “As Warren Buffet says, you want to buy at the point of maximum pessimism and sell at the point of maximum optimism. Because of the pessimism and fear that prevail today, stocks are cheap, and it’s a great opportunity to create wealth over the long-term.”

7819: Hyundai Uncensored Inspires Cursing.

There’s a new campaign titled Hyundai Uncensored, where the carmaker claims to have hidden cameras in vehicles to capture actual customer reactions. Of course, the too-beautiful-to-not-have-been-casted Black woman winds up rapping while behind the wheel.

7818: Mad Men Makes You Gag.

AMC series Mad Men kicked off its 4th season by continuing the erasure of culture. A new agency office means Hollis the elevator attendant is gone. And the peculiar living arrangements between Don and Betty Draper make Carla the housekeeper’s status uncertain too. However, a woman Don dated made civil rights references to “the boys killed in Mississippi” and Andrew Goodman. Additionally, there was a Black woman in the background of a diner where Pete Campbell and Peggy Olson met. The best acting moment of the episode involved young Sally Draper gagging on a marshmallow during Thanksgiving dinner. Viewers with brains can look forward to more gagging in the months ahead.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

7817: Comical Entertainment.

Sunday Funnies in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• A fight broke out at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with a conventioneer allegedly attacking another man with a pen. Perhaps the moron thought he was Bullseye. And it’s a wonder none of the superhero wannabes came to the rescue.

• The late Michael Jackson allegedly enjoyed watching Nazi documentaries, with a video collection including Nazis—Of Pure Blood, Oasis of the Zombies and Hitler’s Children. Puts a whole new spin on the uniform-style outfits Jacko always wore.

7816: Hispanics Going Mainstream?

From Advertising Age…

Hispanic Market Hits Tipping Point
Demo Accounts for One in Six U.S. Residents, Nearly Half Are at Ease in English

By Peter Francese

NEW YORK -- If you’re looking to reach upholders of traditional American values, your best bet might be the Hispanic market.

The market is growing: The 2010 Census expected to count a record 50 million Hispanics, or one in every six U.S. residents, meaning the Hispanic population will have increased a stunning 42% from the previous census in 2000. (By comparison, the non-Hispanic population will have edged up just 5% in that decade.) It’s also got scale: Hispanics are now the nation’s second-largest consumer market after white non-Hispanics, who are still the largest group at about 200 million.

But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Hispanics in America is how closely they exemplify our idealized concept of 1950s America. They are young (their median age is about where the whole nation was in 1955) and more often live in large, traditional, married-with-children families with lots of participation from grandparents.

More often than not, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they eat family meals at home, and spend less than average on alcohol. They’re moving to the suburbs, tend to be community-oriented, and have high aspirations for their children. In short, they are the sweet market for consumer goods and services that the entire nation used to be when baby boomers were young.

Hispanic children are overwhelmingly U.S. born. Fully 91% of Hispanic children were born in the U.S., compared to only 47% of Hispanic adults, which has great implications for the demographic’s speed of acculturation. With the Hispanic market at this tipping point, one of the biggest challenges for marketers is reaching young, acculturated bilingual Hispanics who behave differently than their parents who didn’t grow up in the U.S. and don’t spend as much time with Spanish-language media, but still feel a deep sense of Latino identity.

More than 1 in 3 Hispanics in the U.S. (34.3%) are children under 18 years old, as compared to fewer than one in four children (22.5%) that are non-Hispanics. The youthful U.S.-born Hispanic population means that children of immigrants, who typically attend public schools, where they learn English, will acculturate much faster than their parents did. And, in fact, English is making gradual gains as the language U.S. Hispanics are most comfortable speaking. Some 27% are most comfortable in English, with another 17% comfortable in both English and Spanish; meaning that nearly half—44%—of the demographic is at ease in English.

Over the next decade, as millions of bilingual Hispanic teens become young adults, we can expect their consumer behavior to move closer to other non-Hispanic young adults. However, the very large size of this segment suggests that the Hispanic culture is likely to remain strong, even among U.S.-born children.

The major difference between today’s immigrants and those who have come before them is the phenomenon called globalization. Inexpensive air travel, the internet and native-language TV stations featuring content from country of origin all allow this group of immigrants to come to the U.S. and become acculturated but still have close ties to their home countries in ways that past immigrant groups could not. That is having and will continue to have a transformative effect on the U.S. culture, including music, food and sports, as illustrated by this year’s World Cup fervor.

Hispanics will become a major force in U.S. consumer-spending growth over the next decade and beyond. The slowing growth and aging population that characterizes other segments of consumers means that younger and larger Hispanic families will be more vital to future growth in consumer spending than at any time in the past.

The Hispanic population is, on average, more than 10 years younger than the average for non-Hispanics. Their median age is just under 28, which means that 75% of adult Hispanics are age 18-49, compared to 56% of non-Hispanics. The household size of U.S. Hispanic families is the largest of any segment. The average Hispanic family has 4.0 members, compared to 2.9 members in the average white, non-Hispanic family. And only 4% of adult Hispanics live alone, compared to 15% of white non-Hispanics.

Hispanic consumers are the most geographically concentrated of any large consumer segment. The eight states with the most Hispanics are home to 76% of all U.S. Hispanics. About half of Hispanic consumers live in California and Texas. The other six states having more than one million Hispanics are Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey and Colorado. By contrast, the eight states with the largest concentration of non-Hispanics have just 44% of that consumer segment.

By 2015, millions of baby boomers will have begun retiring, thus reducing their consumer spending. Hispanic consumers will play a major role in replacing those retirees in the consumer marketplace and will contribute to the upsurge of retail spending and economic growth.

And given their growing influence on this country’s culture, perhaps one day we may be saying: “It’s as American as dulce de leche.”

Peter Francese is the founder of American Demographics magazine and is Ogilvy & Mather’s demographic-trends analyst.

7815: BP Spills The Truth.

Here’s some contextual truth in advertising. BP pledges to clean this up and make this right—alongside a story predicting Tony Hayward’s inevitable ejection.

7814: Race Matters.

From The New York Times…

Race: Still Too Hot to Touch

By Matt Bai

If Tom Wolfe had set out to write a “Bonfire of the Vanities” on modern Washington, a farce about lives and races colliding, he couldn’t have done much better than to invent the unlikely story of Shirley Sherrod.

An African-American bureaucrat in the Georgia office of the Agriculture Department, Ms. Sherrod became an instant celebrity last week because of a speech she gave to a N.A.A.C.P. convention in March in which she explained the evolution of her attitudes on race. A conservative blogger triumphantly circulated an edited clip in which Ms. Sherrod seemed to suggest that she had declined to help a white farmer in need of aid. (She hadn’t, to which the farmer attested.) From there, Ms. Sherrod was renounced by a jittery N.A.A.C.P., exploited by right-wing commentators, and fired and then unfired from her job, before at last receiving a conciliatory call from the president of the United States.

In many ways, Ms. Sherrod’s ordeal followed a depressingly familiar pattern in American life, in which anyone who even tries to talk about race risks public outrage and humiliation.

We might have hoped that the election of a black president would somehow make the subject less sensitive and volatile, in the way that John F. Kennedy’s election seemed to allay the last, lingering tension between American Catholics and the country’s Protestant establishment. But as the week’s events made clear, Mr. Obama’s presence alone isn’t going to deliver us from a racial dialogue characterized by cable-TV conflagration — and it may even complicate the conversation.

If Mr. Obama’s campaign was about “hope,” then it was, in some part, the hope for a more nuanced kind of dialogue. A telling moment was in 2007 when then-Senator Joe Biden, in summarizing Mr. Obama’s appeal as an African-American, condescendingly described him as “clean” and “articulate.” It was the kind of comment that at another time, with another black leader, might have led to Mr. Biden’s undoing.

Instead, Mr. Obama shrugged the whole thing off, saying no apology was needed. The next year, he chose Mr. Biden as his running mate.

In this way, Mr. Obama seemed to signal a new paradigm for black-white discussion — one in which a public figure could use language outside the defined limits of acceptability and expect to be judged in some larger context. In other words, the promise of Mr. Obama’s candidacy wasn’t a post-racial society where no one was going to notice the color of your skin; it was a society where you could talk about race — no matter what color you were — without automatically being called a racist.

And yet any hope that Mr. Obama’s election might magically erase the tension of recent decades has faded, as the N.A.A.C.P. and the Tea Party traded accusations over race. Black leaders have discovered that you still can’t raise legitimate questions about racism without being accused of “playing the race card.” And a large element of the Tea Party movement that is simply angered over government spending finds that in much of the public’s mind, it is still linked to its most extreme, antebellum elements.

And then there is the case of Ms. Sherrod, which seemed to bring together all the familiar elements of racial dysfunction in the society: bigotry and hypersensitivity, gross distortions and moralizing.

In some ways, Mr. Obama’s election seems to have further confused the conversation. Some white conservatives may be in no mood to feel contrite about the nation’s racial legacy now that a black man is sitting in the Oval Office. Civil rights groups, meanwhile, are struggling with the question of how to fight racism in a nation led by a president with an African last name.

Al Sharpton, who considers himself a black leader of Mr. Obama’s generation, has made the case that many of his older colleagues are preoccupied with protesters in the Tea Party and not focused enough on the opportunities that come with governing. “Some people are just used to fighting the power, rather than using the power to win,” Mr. Sharpton said in an interview. “You don’t get control of the White House and two governors and the Justice Department, and then start arguing with people carrying signs.”

Why haven’t we moved beyond the old, stultifying debate in the age of Obama?

One reason may be that Mr. Obama himself tries to avoid discoursing on the issue, in the way that Bill Clinton relished. The president is mired in a miserable economy that is endangering his party’s hold on power; White House aides don’t want him to appear distracted by a debate that may seem superfluous to many Americans. And to those aides, perhaps, Mr. Obama’s appeal among white voters as a biracial politician has been helped by the fact that he doesn’t talk much about it.

Before he entered political life, of course, Mr. Obama wrote expansively about his racial identity in a memoir. As a candidate for president, beset by controversy over the race-infused comments of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Mr. Obama delivered a less personal but deeply thoughtful speech about the racial grudges and suppositions that permeated the two cultures, white and black, into which he was born.

As president, however, Mr. Obama’s instinct, much to the irritation of older black leaders, has been to avoid any lengthy discussion of racial identity or animus. (It was Mr. Biden, and not the president, who spoke for both men when he said recently that they did not consider the Tea Party movement to be grounded in racism.)

President Obama did comment tartly on the arrest of his friend Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and then held the famous “beer summit” in the Rose Garden. Inside the White House, however, Mr. Obama’s foray into that debate, while trying to focus public attention on health care reform, was considered a calamitous mistake.

Perhaps the president’s reluctance reflects the particular perils faced by any president who represents an American minority — the reasonable fear that he will be perceived, however unfairly, as chauvinist or parochial.

The historian Robert Dallek, a biographer of John F. Kennedy, posits that whatever effect Mr. Kennedy might have had on American attitudes about Catholicism was cemented not by his election in 1960, but by the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. It wasn’t until that moment, Mr. Dallek says, when Mr. Kennedy proved that he could be relied on to protect the national interest as a whole — a judgment that extended, perhaps, to American Catholics generally.

Looked at this way, perhaps Mr. Obama is not just a president in the thrall of economic crisis, but a black leader in search of his defining moment, as well. The conflagrations continue, while we wait.

7813: Tea & Coffy…?

The May 2010 issue of Cosmopolitan in China features a cover photo and interior spread of a model sporting an Afro wig. Wonder if the wig was made in China.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

7812: Sex And Politics.

What would the Tea Party think of this call to patriots?

7811: Overreaction Of The Week.

Apple is delaying the release of its White iPhone 4 because it has “proved to be more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected.” Sure, give special treatment to the White ones.

7810: Memphis Blacks & Blues.

From The New York Times…

Black Candidate Brings Race Into a Primary in Memphis

By The Associated Press

MEMPHIS — In the city where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, a once-unbeatable black former mayor wants the Democratic Congressional primary to be a referendum on race.

Willie W. Herenton, the former mayor, is accusing Steve Cohen, the white two-term United States representative, of “trying to act black.” He tells voters in this majority-black city that they “need to come off that Cohen plantation and get on the Herenton freedom train.”

But President Obama has endorsed Mr. Cohen, who has an “A” rating from the N.A.A.C.P. and has built support in the black community by supporting civil rights legislation and bringing much-needed federal financing to Memphis schools and hospitals.

“It appears that the former mayor is making race the basis of his campaign, but I don’t think voters are going to go for that at all,” Mr. Cohen said. “President Obama’s election proves that voters don’t look at race when making a decision in an election.”

Mr. Herenton is betting they will. Though in interviews he is happy to address issues like improving schools, creating jobs and bolstering small minority businesses, on the campaign trail he focuses mostly on race and his contention that Tennessee needs “just one” black representative in its Congressional delegation.

“I believe that the Constitution includes all of God’s children and that we ought not to be segregated or treated differently because of our race, because of our class or because of religion,” Mr. Herenton said during a campaign stop.

His strategy is resonating with some black voters.

Antonio Parkinson has not decided whom to vote for in the Aug. 5 primary, but says Mr. Herenton’s argument about diversifying the delegation is valid.

“He’s pretty straight-up when it comes to his opinion about issues,” Mr. Parkinson said.

Dr. King’s assassination in 1968 tapped into racial tensions and set off riots across the country. Still, when it comes to politics, Memphis is not as focused on race as it was. Politically powerful black ministers have stayed mum, showing a reluctance to publicly support Mr. Herenton.

Four years ago, Mr. Cohen became the first white congressman since 1972 to win the heavily Democratic district, which roughly follows the city’s borders.

He has sponsored or supported legislation addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system and apologizing for slavery and segregation.

“Congressman Cohen has done more for African-Americans than a lot of African-Americans in Memphis have done for themselves,” said a supporter, Tony Nichelson, who is black.

There have not been many polls, although one released Monday showed Mr. Cohen far ahead among likely voters.

But Mr. Herenton, who is respected for improving the city’s economy, luring corporate investment and helping revitalize downtown, has never lost an election. He spent 18 years as mayor.

He resigned last year amid a federal investigation into whether he used his city office to help his private real estate deals, but the inquiry has gone dormant.

Mr. Herenton calls Mr. Cohen a phony, but the congressman has won loyalty from blacks.

Mr. Cohen hosted the opening of a campaign office that included soul singers and a rap group. When the group started rapping, “Keep goin’ and goin’, with Steve Cohen,” Mr. Cohen took off his jacket and danced along, slightly out of rhythm but unashamed. The crowd applauded.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

7808: USDA Chief Diversity Officer…?

Is the USDA emulating Madison Avenue? Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack—and when’s the last time anyone ever thought about the country’s Agriculture Secretary?!—is backpedaling over his decision to dump Shirley Sherrod. To compensate for the unfair firing, Vilsack has offered Sherrod a position whereby she would combat racial discrimination within the agency. In other words, Sherrod would become the USDA Chief Diversity Officer. Brilliant.

From The New York Daily News…

Shirley Sherrod, USDA employee fired over bogus racism video, offered new job: unlikely to accept

By Aliyah Shahid, Daily News Staff Writer

Tom Vilsack has a new job for the woman he wrongfully canned just two days ago. So will Shirley Sherrod take it?

Probably not.

The agriculture secretary offered her some sort of civil rights position in the Office of Outreach at the Department of Agriculture, Sherrod told CNN.

“I need some time to think about it,” she said, adding that she wanted to see how willing the Agriculture Department was to tackle civil rights issues in the department.

She said on NBC’s Today show on Thursday that she was unlikely to accept the position, adding she “would not want to be that individual that…everyone is looking to to solve the issue of racism in the USDA.” Sherrod said she wanted to review all the details before making a decision.

Sherrod, the former Georgia director of Rural Development, was forced to resign under pressure this week after right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart published a video clip where she seemingly tells a group she did not help a white farmer as much as she could have.

Sherrod said her statements, which were given at a local NAACP banquet in Georgia in March, were part of a larger story about overcoming her own prejudices 24 years ago.

Since the release of the full video, the racist claims against Sherrod have been widely dismissed. Officials from the NAACP and the Department of Agriculture—who initially approved the dismissal—have since apologized.

While Vilsack said the decision to ditch Sherrod was not ordered by the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs also issued an apology on Wednesday.

But Sherrod contends the White House had a hand in the dismissal. She’d even like to chat with President Obama about it.

“I really would not want the president to apologize to me,” Sherrod said on the Today Show. “I would love to have a conversation with him though.”

7807: There’s Something About Harry.


7806: Interracial Insurance.

This spot depicts an interracial couple, although it’s not clear if they’re married or even romantically involved. What’s your policy on interracial relationships, Liberty Mutual?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

7805: Thompson’s T-Shirts Take Off.

MultiCultClassics visitor and tipster Andrew Thompson has launched his own line of designer t-shirts. Check out his gear here and view his other creative work here.

7804: Masters Of Marketing Make A Mess.

David Burn at AdPulp noted the awfulness of the campaign created for the 2010 ANA Annual Conference—once again subtitled: The Masters of Marketing. It says a lot when advertisers who self-designate themselves as marketing masters are incapable of creating decent advertising. Plus, most clients would have rejected the ad, whining that the reversed type is illegible and the photo is too abstract. Why is the guy peering into a telescope? Probably looking for minorities in his White ad agency.

7803: Secretary Of Agriculture Eats Crow.

From Politics Daily…

Vilsack Apologizes to Sherrod, Offers Promotion

By Alex Wagner

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Wednesday accepted full responsibility for the ouster of USDA regional official Shirley Sherrod and said he offered her a more senior position in the department, which she is considering.

The White House earlier apologized to Sherrod, saying it acted before knowing all the facts. Sherrod, who is African-American, was essentially fired amid charges of racism stemming from an edited video tape released by the conservative Internet publisher Andrew Breitbart.

Vilsack’s statement came as pressure mounted on officials to give Sherrod her job back. “This was my decision and I made it in haste,” Vilsack said of Sherrod’s ouster.

“For the last 18 months we have focused on a long history of civil rights claims against the Department of Agriculture—tens of thousands of claims…I made it a goal that we would try to reverse that history, [and that I] would not tolerate discrimination in any way shape or form.” He added, “I did not think before I acted, and for that reason this poor woman has gone through a very difficult time.”

In interviews with CNN, Sherrod said that Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Cheryl Cook had told her that the White House had asked for her termination, but Vilsack denied the allegation. He said the decision was his alone.

“I accept responsibility,” he said during a press conference. “The buck stops with me.”

Vilsack added that Sherrod had been “incredibly gracious” and had accepted his apology.

The controversial video of a speech she made in March to an NAACP forum showed Sherrod admitting that she withheld full help to a white farmer who was facing bankruptcy. However, the remarks were taken out of context. The incident occurred 24 years ago, and Sherrod says she was telling the story in order to explain that she was wrong.

7802: Men Inferior At Multitasking.

From The New York Daily News…

You go girl! Women are much better at multitasking than men: study

By Rosemary Black, Daily News Staff Writer

Need to get some jobs done fast? Ask a woman.

Females are much better at multitasking than men, and they far outperformed guys when directed to search for a lost key, according to Science Daily. Some 70 percent of women in a study performed better than their male counterparts when looking for the key.

The search for the lost key task, which involved giving the men and women a blank sheet of paper representing a field and asking them to draw how they would search for the key, revealed that women planned more strategically than men, Professor Keith Laws of the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Psychology said, according to Science Daily. “I was surprised by this result given the arguments that men have better spatial skills than women.”

Laws’ research on multitasking focused on 50 male and 50 female undergrads who had eight minutes to perform several tasks simultaneously. These ranged from simple math problems and map reading to answering a phone call and explaining the strategy they would use to look for a key if it were lost in a field. While the male and female volunteers performed equally on math and map reading tasks, women outdid the men in the key search.

7801: Will Denny’s Discriminate With Agencies?

Adweek reported Denny’s followed its divorce from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners with the hiring of a new Chief Marketing Officer. Given Denny’s infamous history with discrimination and racism, it seems like the perfect opportunity to demonstrate corporate progress by choosing a minority agency to handle its advertising chores.

Ex-Dunkin’ Exec Joins Denny’s as CMO
The chain spends $60 mil. annually in measured media

By Adweek Staff

A week after splitting with Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners on its $60 million ad account, Denny’s has named Frances Allen chief marketing officer, an open position.

She held that title at Dunkin’ Brands from 2007-09, where her primary agency partner was IPG’s Hill, Holliday in Boston. Her resume also includes tenures at Pepsi-Cola, Sony Ericsson and Frito-Lay.

Debra Smithart-Oglesby, interim chief executive officer and board chair of Denny’s, said in a statement: “We believe her ability to drive brand reputation through compelling marketing campaigns will play an important role at Denny’s. [She] will be responsible for enhancing the focus of our national and local marketing efforts in order to re-energize and grow the Denny’s brand.”

Denny’s has more than 6,000 U.S. stores. Most of the chain’s advertising has centered around its breakfast offerings, including high-profile promos in the last two Super Bowls.

The company has had a series of management changes of late, with CEO Nelson Marchioli, who led the firm since 2001, leaving in June amid pressure from investors to transition Denny’s to a franchise-oriented business model.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

7800: Brainstorming For Change.

The July 19, 2010 issue of Newsweek features a section by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. To improve creativity, the duo disses brainstorming and discusses the importance of exploring other cultures—which kinda explains the lack of innovation coming from brainstorm-loving, culturally clueless Madison Avenue.

7799: It Pays To Be Black.

After reading the New York Post story below, one can’t help but think that if Black were Black, he’d stay in jail.

Black to go free on bail

By Paul Tharp

Conrad Black will be released from a Florida prison on bail, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The former chief executive of Hollinger International, imprisoned since March 2008 after being convicted of fraud and obstruction-of-justice charges related to his looting of the company, won his bail argument following a June 24 US Supreme Court ruling that gutted the “honest services” fraud law that was used to prosecute Black and other notorious white-collar defendants.

Black is serving a 6½-year term on the conviction.

It is not known when the 65-year-old Canadian executive, author and member of the British House of Lords would be released. The appeals court sent the case back to the trial court to decide the timing and conditions of Black’s release.

Black was convicted of looting $6.1 million from his Hollinger International. The firm collapsed after Black sold off pieces of the empire, which included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London and National Post of Canada.

7798: A Beef With USDA.

Wanted to take a moment to elaborate on the scenario involving former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended his decision to dump Sherrod with the following statement:

Yesterday, I asked for and accepted Ms. Sherrod’s resignation for two reasons. First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices. Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.

Our policy is clear. There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA and we strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person. We have a duty to ensure that when we provide services to the American people we do so in an equitable manner. But equally important is our duty to instill confidence in the American people that we are fair service providers.

Um, Vilsack admits his organization has spent the past 18 months “working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA…” Then he follows through by declaring, “There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA…” Okey-doke. Seems like the first notable act USDA executed to demonstrate its zero tolerance policy involved firing a Black woman in a rush to judgment.

7797: NAACP “Snookered.”

From AOLNews…

Farmer, NAACP Back USDA Official Who Quit in Racial Flap

By Lisa Flam

The NAACP said today it was “snookered” into condemning former black USDA official Shirley Sherrod after seeing a partial video clip in which Sherrod made comments about not helping a white farmer as much as she should have.

The civil rights group’s reversal came after Sherrod said her comments had been taken out of context and the farmer’s wife came to her defense. Elouise Spooner said Sherrod had helped save her family farm and is “a friend for life.”

Spooner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Sherrod was not being treated fairly. “I said, ‘That ain’t right. They have not treated her right,’ “she told the newspaper.

Sherrod said the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t know the whole story and succumbed to political pressure in forcing her to step down. She resigned Monday as the agency’s rural development director for Georgia after a clip of the speech was posted online by conservative outlets, and later FoxNews.

In a poor-quality clip from a speech she reportedly gave on March 27 at an NAACP Freedom Fund banquet, she talks about working with a farmer, identified by CNN as Roger Spooner, who was condescending to her.

“What he didn’t know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him,” Sherrod says in the video, as the crowd laughs.

“I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.”

But Elouise Spooner, 82, said Sherrod’s efforts were good enough for her. “She gave enough that it helped us save our farm,” she told CNN in an interview today.

Sherrod told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution early today that she was relating an event that happened 24 years ago, before she worked for the federal government. And she denied she is racist.

Sherrod, 62, told the paper the short clip left out the rest of the story, when she says she eventually worked with the farmer to help him avoid foreclosure, and became friendly with him and his wife. At the time, Sherrod worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

“And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she told the paper. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”

In an interview with the newspaper today, Elouise Spooner said she spoke to Sherrod on the phone today and will publicly support her. “She helped us and we’re going to help her,” she said. She later told CNN that the government “didn’t do the right thing” in forcing Sherrod out.

The USDA condemned her comments in the clip.

“There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA, and I strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement carried by several news outlets. “We have been working hard through the past 18 months to reverse the checkered civil rights history at the department and take the issue of fairness and equality very seriously.”

The NAACP initially supported Vilsack’s decision to accept Sherrod’s resignation.

“We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers,” NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement.

But the group retracted its criticism late this afternoon. It said in a statement that it was changing its stance on Sherrod after viewing the whole tape, talking to the former official, and listening to the farmers involved in the story, who “personally credit her with helping to save the family farm.”

“We have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and tea party activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias,” Jealous said in the statement.

Asked this morning on CNN why she didn’t tell the USDA the rest of the story, Sherrod said, “I did say that. But they, for some reason, the stuff that Fox and the tea party does is scaring the administration.

“I told them, ‘Get the whole tape’ … and look at how I tell people we have to get beyond race and start working together,” she said, adding later: “I tried to fight, but I didn’t have any support from the United States Department of Agriculture.”

Her resignation came after the NAACP passed a resolution condemning what it called racism within the tea party movement.

7796: Advil’s Painful Agency Search.

Adweek reported that Advil is looking at 5 advertising agencies to pitch its business. The RFP states the client wants an agency whose work can forge “deep emotional engagement and connections” with consumers. These delusional bastards must be taking drugs much more potent than Advil. Honestly, has Advil ever produced creative that wasn’t total shit? And of course, the batch of potential whores agencies does not include any minority firms. Because, by golly, those colored folks are simply incapable of delivering Advil’s traditionally contrived, dull and lazy campaign concepts.

Advil Looks at 5 Shops
Client spends $80 mil. annually on ads

By Andrew McMains

Five New York agencies have been briefed in a review of creative duties on the Advil brand, sources said.

Sources identified the contenders as WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, Dentsu’s mcgarrybowen, Havas’ Arnold, Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners and the incumbent, WPP’s Grey.

Client executives briefed the shops last week and will hold work sessions this week, according to sources. Final presentations are slated for early August. The agencies either declined to comment or could not be reached. Advil parent company Pfizer had no immediate comment.

Advil, whose major media spending exceeded $80 million last year, according to Nielsen, has been the focus of the review thus far, but other former Wyeth Consumer Healthcare brands may also shift in the end, said sources.

Grey, which declined to comment, also handles sister brands Robitussin, ThermaCare, Preparation H, Alavert and Dimetapp, which last year collectively spent more than $73 million, per Nielsen.

Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., is managing the process.

In October, Pfizer acquired Wyeth for an estimated $68 billion in cash and stock. Wyeth’s other over-the-counter brands include Centrum, ChapStick and Ambesol.

Media planning and buying—at TargetCast and Carat, respectively—and digital creative duties—split between IPG’s R/GA and Omnicom Group’s Tribal DDB—are not in play, according to the client’s initial request for proposals.

Ultimately, Pfizer wants a shop whose work can forge “deep emotional engagement and connections” between its brands and consumers, the RFP states. Additionally, the winning shop will be expected to “address key category issues beyond product parity, such as the growth of private label [brands] and increasing retailer influence.”

7795: New Orleans Has Gone Mad.

A blog visitor from New Orleans sent the picture above. The local Banana Republic is holding a casting call promotion for AMC series Mad Men. Most sources indicate New Orleans’ Black population hovers around 67 percent. Interested candidates should come dressed as housekeepers, janitors and elevator attendants.

Monday, July 19, 2010

7794: Blacks Ponder Proposition 19.

From The New York Times…

Blacks in California Split Over Marijuana Measure

By Jesse McKinley

SACRAMENTO — Ron Allen says he knows all too well the ravages of drug addiction.

“I was a pastor on crack cocaine, sir,” said Mr. Allen, who says he has been sober for 11 years and now identifies himself as the bishop of the International Faith Based Coalition here. “Drugs have no religious preference.”

And while crack cocaine laid him low, Mr. Allen says his first drug of choice was marijuana. So it is that Mr. Allen and a cadre of other black pastors, priests and other religious leaders have bonded together in recent weeks to fight what they see as a potentially devastating blow to their communities: Proposition 19, the California ballot measure that would tax and regulate marijuana.

In doing so, Mr. Allen and his followers have opened a new, potentially crucial front in the battle over Proposition 19, pitting those afraid of more widespread use of the drug versus those who see legalization as “an exit strategy in the war on marijuana.”

Mr. Allen has been particularly critical of Alice A. Huffman, the president of the California branch of the N.A.A.C.P., who has been vocal in her support for the measure, casting it as a potential victory for civil rights that could help reduce the number of young black men jailed on marijuana-related offenses.

“I’m not encouraging anyone to recreationally use marijuana,” said Ms. Huffman. “I am simply focused on the injustice and the disparities in the criminal justice system.”

How black voters in California decide on Proposition 19, which would allow anyone 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, could be critical to its success or failure. (At the moment, possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, about an ounce, is punishable in most cases by up to six months in prison and a $500 fine.)

Blacks make up less than 10 percent of the population in California, but unlike two larger minority groups in the state where opinions on the measure are also split — Asians and Latinos — their “participation in elections is on par with their populations,” according to the California Voter Foundation, a nonprofit group here.

In the case of Proposition 19 — which is trailing narrowly in a recent Field Poll — appeals to that potential swing bloc have already begun, and the measure’s backers have been seeking out the support of prominent black leaders. Last week, proponents secured what they view as a major endorsement, that of Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the former United States surgeon general and the first black to hold that position.

In a statement to be published in a voter guide, Dr. Elders said the legalization bill would help divert law enforcement resources to more serious threats. “We can let police prevent violent crime, or we can accept the status quo, and keep wasting resources sending tens of thousands of nonviolent marijuana consumers — a disproportionate number who are minorities — to jail,” Dr. Elders wrote.

Read the full story here.