Saturday, April 30, 2011

8750: The Social Change Poseurs At JWT.

Advertising Age reported that JWT won an inaugural ADC Designism Award, which honors work for nonprofits that drives social or political change. Whatever. When there’s a potential trophy on the line, JWT goes all out. But when it’s time to create advertising for social and political change within the industry, check out what JWT comes up with below. Hell, the agency didn’t even bother submitting any concepts for the The MultiCultClassics Cultural Competence Contest.

ADC Honors Design for a Cause

New Designism Award Recognizes Work That Drives Change

By Karen Egolf

The Art Directors Club in May will salute 4th Amendment Wear and JWT, New York, with its inaugural ADC Designism Award honoring work for a nonprofit that drives social or political changes. The new award will be given May 10 in New York as part of the organization’s 90th annual awards ceremony.

The award grew out of the ADC’s long-running Designism lecture series. “The idea that design is a catalyst for change is a mantra for us. Designism is about change—social, cultural and business change,” says ADC VP Brian Collins, chairman-chief creative officer, Collins, New York, “We decided to turn this into an award that would recognize the power design has to shape understanding and change behavior.”

Says organization President Doug Jaeger, a partner in JaegerSloan, New York: “Designism is a really important program at the ADC. It helps the creative community understand that they are not only on the planet to sell products but can actually help motivate the public to do good.

“After sitting in last year’s judging, we saw a tremendous amount of work that had Designism qualities but lacked an awardable distinction,” Jaeger says. “So this year, for the first time, we created a category.”

JWT won for its “Burma” effort for Human Rights Watch. The agency created a one-day interactive art installation and series of presentations highlighting that country’s 2,100 political prisoners. The agency created a giant piece representing a Burmese prison with pens forming the cell bars. Visitors removed the pens to sign a petition calling for the release of the prisoners.

“The ‘Burma’ thing is remarkable to me on all sorts of levels,” Collins says. “Just by signing your name, you’re making a tangible change. They get people to take action, and that’s a great factor of Designism. It’s the best design around a cause that I’ve seen this year.”

The other winner, 4th Amendment Wear, is being honored for an in-house collateral promotional effort in support of its underwear with metallic messages for Transportation Security Administration screeners at airports. The company created the underwear to encourage people to think more about their constitutional rights and make a statement without harassing TSA employees.

“I think it’s so smart; it’s almost too clever,” Collins says. “It’s your own personal protest. It’s an attempt to retain dignity in something that is sometimes less than a dignified process.”

8749: Desperation, Defenders & Donald.

Showering April news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Over 75,000 people applied for 2,000 jobs in Illinois, northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin during Mickey D’s “National Hiring Day” on April 19. This is either a clear indication that the U.S. still has major unemployment problems, or people cannot resist the alluring power of the McRib® sandwich.

• In Sydney, Australia, eggs were hurled at Justin Bieber during a concert performance. While the recording artist was not hit in the incident, his fans on Twitter struck back at the egg launchers. “Dear person who threw eggs at @justinbieber in Sydney, you now have over #9millionbeliebers after you, be afraid! We go harder than hard!” Wow, those beliebers must have the culprits shaking in their boots now.

• Donald Trump staged a profanity-laced rant at a Las Vegas casino, ripping political leaders and promising supporters he would soon make an announcement regarding his potential presidential run. Didn’t Trump once fire a contestant on The Apprentice for using offensive language in the boardroom? Hey, Trump, You’re Tired!

8748: Mitt Catches Foot In Mouth.

The New York Daily News reported Mitt Romney was backpedaling after suggesting it was time to “hang” President Obama. Actually, Romney meant to say Obama’s policies were the linchpin… no wait, he should have said Obama must be whipped into shape… that is, Americans shouldn’t be slaves to the Obama administration’s… um, or maybe Obama is a cotton-picking… oh, never mind.

Mitt Romney suggests it’s time to ‘hang’ President Obama during stop in New Hampshire

By Nina Mandell, Daily News Staff Writer

Mitt Romney scrambled to do some damage control after he suggested it was time to “hang” President Obama in a speech in New Hampshire Friday night.

The former Massachusetts governor and probable 2012 presidential candidate was speaking at a dinner when he said in response to an attendee’s question, “Reagan came up with this great thing about the ‘misery index’ and he hung that around Jimmy Carter’s neck and that had a lot to do with Jimmy Carter losing. Well we’re going to have to hang the ‘Obama Misery Index’ around his neck.”

Romney went on to describe how people in the U.S. are suffering because of high fuel prices, foreclosures and bankruptcies.

“We’re going to hang him with that,” Romney said before catching himself and adding, “so to speak, metaphorically.”

Seeming to know that he had just severely misspoke, Romney then added, “You have to be careful these days.”

On Saturday morning, his spokesperson Andrea Saul told CNN in an email that any stories of the remarks were “an exaggeration.”

“It is not what the governor meant and that was very clear in what he actually said. It’s a ridiculous exaggeration of his actual comments,” she said.

Romney, who announced he was forming an exploratory committee earlier this month, is considered a possible favorite to win the GOP nomination.

When asked if he would participate in the Republicans’ first debate in South Carolina next week, he answered “Stay tuned,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Romney’s spokesperson did not immediately return an email request for comment to The News.

Friday, April 29, 2011

8747: Black People Love Their Rides.

In 2010, Black car buyers created a sales increase that was over 68 percent greater than White purchases, according to Polk. Toyota was the favorite brand among Blacks (with a 15 percent share of market), followed by Ford (11.7 percent), Chevrolet (11.4 percent), Honda (11.3 percent), Nissan (10.2 percent), Hyundai (5.6 percent), Kia (4.2 percent), Dodge (4.0 percent), GMC (2.8 percent) and Volkswagen (2.2 percent). Black consumer market growth leaders were Buick (72.2 percent), Hyundai (53.2 percent), Kia (34.6 percent), Cadillac (34.4 percent), GMC (33.6 percent), Infiniti (30.9 percent), Subaru (28.3 percent) and Audi (27.1 percent). “With the U.S. population growing faster in the African-American segment than others, there’s a significant opportunity for automotive manufacturers and dealers to begin to align marketing initiatives toward this specific audience,” said the product strategist at Polk. “Those companies that are ahead of the curve, like Toyota, are already reaping the rewards.” Gee, maybe that’s why General Motors quietly hired Black ad agencies in late 2010 after dumping minority firms in in recent years—plus, GM appointed a new Diversity VP.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

8746: Meet A Non-White Stranger.

Advertising Age’s Small Agency Diary published a post by Peter Madden, wherein the executive opined, “You Don’t Have to Say Yes to Every Favor Called In.” Madden was referring to the practice of meeting with “every ex-client’s third cousin’s friend” seeking advice and/or a job in advertising, and he admitted to no longer obliging each request. The resulting comment thread featured a fair amount of critics blasting Madden for his perceived arrogance and selfishness.

Not sure Madden deserves the derision. After all, how many of these huddles with somebody’s neighbor’s ex-wife’s dog walker ever uncovered exceptional talent? On the flipside, if you managed to originally land in the business after first receiving informational interviews and free discussions via such connections, well, there’s an unwritten agreement to pay it forward forever.

Regardless, Madden’s perspective inadvertently spotlights the cronyism and buddy system that has thrived in the ad game—and ultimately continues to squash attempts at building diversity.

So here’s a quick thought for anyone with hiring authority or the influence to recommend a potential employee. This year, make an effort to meet at least one non-White person who doesn’t have a backstage pass in your network. Grant a total stranger the opportunity to invade your personal and professional space in order to learn about the wondrous field of advertising.

If it turns out to be a complete waste of time, at least you’ve momentarily avoided perpetuating the exclusivity that has messed up Madison Avenue for too long.

8745: When The Conversation Turns To Shit.

Signing up for this lame service would actually give JoeBlog another legitimate reason to talk _ _ _ _ about you.

8744: Empire Carpet Man (1922-2011).

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

‘Empire Carpet Man’ Elmer Lynn Hauldren dead at age 89

By Mark Konkol

(NORTHLAKE) Elmer Lynn Hauldren, known to millions as the voice for the Empire Man character, has died at age 89, the company announced Wednesday.

Hauldren was the central character of Empire Today’s advertising since the 1970s, providing the voice for the famous character known as Empire’s mascot. He continued to work with the company until his death.

In the 1970s, Hauldren was one of the advertising forces behind the Empire brand. The company’s owner during the time requested that Hauldren, an ad copywriter at the time, serve as the on-air talent for the spots after unsuccessfully auditioning several other people, a release from Empire Today said.

That choice launched him into pop culture stardom, with his signature “588-2300” line becoming one of the nation’s most popular jingles.

“Lynn was truly passionate about the Empire brand,” said Steve Silvers, company CEO. “He has made an indelible mark on advertising history with his creativity and warmth. Lynn will always have a special place in the hearts of many.”

Hauldren was a decorated World War II veteran who continued to lend his voiceover talent to Empire’s commercials until his passing. In addition, he was known as a key singer in the barbershop quartet arena, recording several albums with the quartet Chordiac Arrest.

He also appeared in local theater and short videos.

8743: Not Thinking About Diversity In 2011.

Advertising Age published a piece by Gilbert & Davis Chairman Ron Urbach titled, “Seven Legal Issues That Agencies Should Be Thinking About in 2011.” The list included:

1. Should the government, the industry or the market decide how the new economy uses and protects data?

2. Should the First Amendment protections of traditional media apply to today’s new media and tomorrow’s future media?

3. Read my lips: no new taxes—except on advertising. Should we care?

4. Personal responsibility or government nanny: What role should consumer protection take?

5. Should consumer protection be driven by government budget gaps or consumer need?

6. Contracts, indemnification and insurance—is it my force field or an illusion?

7. You hated science in school, so why should you care about patents?

Nowhere on the list: Should adpeople be worrying about potential courtroom consequences for failing at diversity?

Anyone heard from Cyrus Mehri lately?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

8742: Clowning Around.

A midweek MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• 50 Cent is launching a comedy site, with proceeds going to Japan’s relief fund. Um, is this an apology for his “comedic response” to the disaster in Japan?

• The White House released a copy of President Obama’s birth certificate. In a press conference, President Obama said, “I know there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out this issue will not be put to rest. But I am speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do.” Donald Trump offered this silly response: “I am really honored and I am really proud, that I was able to do something that nobody else could do.” Apparently, not everyone has better stuff to do.

• A new poll showed Baby Boomers do not have major age-related problems in the workplace. According to the poll, 61 percent say their age is not an issue at work, and 25 percent think it is an asset. The figures do not apply at all to the advertising industry.

8741: Laurel Richie Got Game.

From Advertising Age…

Girl Scouts’ Richie Suits Up as WNBA President

Executive Brings Wealth of Packaged-Goods Experience to League

By Rich Thomaselli

Does experience with Huggies diapers and Campbell’s soup translate to basketball? We’re about to find out as a former agency executive with a wealth of packaged-goods experience takes a whack at leading a professional sports league.

Laurel Richie, who has spent the better part of her career as an agency exec with Ogilvy & Mather and Leo Burnett Worldwide, has been named the new president of the Women’s National Basketball Association, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced today.

Ms. Richie will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the WNBA, which tips off its 15th season this summer. She assumes her new role on May 16, replacing Donna Orender, who resigned in December to launch her own marketing, media and strategy company. Ms. Richie will report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver.

In a statement, Mr. Stern said, “Laurel combines extraordinary marketing and brand management skills, with a tremendous enthusiasm to help evolve young women into leaders. She joins the WNBA at such an exciting time in its history and we know her expertise will be key to continuing the growth and success of the league.”

Ms. Richie is stepping down as senior VP-CMO of the Girl Scouts of the USA to join the WNBA. In her three-year stint with the Girl Scouts, Ms. Richie is generally credited for moving the organization away from its cookies, craft and camping reputation by rebranding the Girl Scouts as being more forward thinking, including activities such as robotics, fashion design, space camps and more.

Prior to the Girl Scouts, Ms. Richie made her mark on the agency side. She worked at Leo Burnett, Chicago, from 1981-1983, handling a host of Procter & Gamble brands. In 1984, she moved to Ogilvy, where she spent more than two decades building brands for clients such as American Express, Pepperidge Farm, Oscar Mayer, the Partnership for a Drug Free America and Unilever, among others. During her tenure at Ogilvy, she led the team that helped Huggies become a multibillion-dollar brand.

Whether her marketing and brand management skills translate to the WNBA remains to be seen. Ms. Orender, who served as president for five years, was instrumental in both negotiating an eight-year extension of the league’s TV rights deal with ABC and ESPN2, as well as a six-year extension of the labor agreement with the WNBA’s players.

“The WNBA is comprised of the best female basketball players in the world and I’m looking forward to working with these talented women as they strive to achieve their professional goals both on and off the court,” Ms. Richie said in a statement. “I am fortunate to have worked with an organization as inspiring as Girl Scouts, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to build upon the successes of the WNBA and help grow this league into a world-class business.”

The most recent agency executive to make the move to running a league did not have a happy ending. Carolyn Bivens, the former president-chief operating officer of Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Initiative Media North America, as well as the former worldwide advertising operations chief for USA Today and USA Today’s international edition, became the commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Tour in 2005. Her tenure was marked by controversy.

Seven LPGA executives serving under Ms. Bivens quit in her first eight months on the job, frustrated by her management style. Her “English-only” speaking policy rankled players on a tour where the majority of golfers are from foreign countries, and the LPGA quickly backed off after the resulting public relations disaster.

The players were also critical when Ms. Bivens was quoted in a Bloomberg story as saying she wanted the players to tweet during tournament play. After 15 high-ranking players signed a letter in July 2009 demanding her ouster, Ms. Bivens resigned.

8740: Delayed WTF 14—Why Draftfcb Sucks.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Advertising Age reported on a panel at the 4As 2011 Transformation Conference that featured a gaggle of agency wonks including Draftfcb Chairman Howard Draft. During the discussion, Draft made a series of comments that clarify why his agency sucks:

• If Draft were to launch an agency today, he said it would be a digital shop that would never exceed 50 staffers and would charge clients at least $1 million per month.

• “You can’t be great with 10,500 people on a regular basis,” declared Draft. “Size does matter on controlling the product you put out, if I’m looking to make money.”

• When a panelist wondered if agencies were keeping pace with change in the industry, Draft whined, “Why are you blaming the agencies? I would blame the clients. … Everybody talks about procurement, but fuck procurement. … I don’t think the clients are structured in such a way today to work with the agencies. … Just like we built siloed agencies … they have all these different departments that work with different agencies that don’t communicate with each other. The agencies are willing to change, but are clients going to change fast enough to do what’s right for them?”

• Draft estimated that only 20 percent of the stuff coming out of his agency is great creative.

Mr. Draft is a lost soul, and his weak leadership appears to have drained his agency of its soul.

For starters, his statements reveal an obsession with monetary profit. Being in the game for the primary purpose of collecting dinero makes for an uninspiring mission statement. Don’t take this the wrong way. A business must minimally remain solvent, and earning gobs of loot should always be a goal. But when the pursuit of dollars becomes the goal, something’s dreadfully wrong. Be about the work. Or the company’s culture. Or the craft. Or even serving clients to increase their quarterly numbers. Don’t let money be your key motivator. It actually cheapens the place and demoralizes the troops.

Next, Draft’s dreams of hatching a digital agency—as well as his growling over silos and agencies’ willingness to change—sound peculiar coming from a man who proclaimed the global Draftfcb an “Agency of the Future” that boasts true integration. Guess the final result is not revolutionary or interesting enough to keep Draft from wishing he could oversee a siloed digital boutique instead. And for Draftfcb drones, it sure is nice to know your boss would rather be somewhere else.

Finally, Draft’s admission that merely 20 percent of his agency’s total creative output deserves to be labeled as great puts an exclamation point on his failure. Attempting to excuse it by noting a roster of 10,500 people is lame. He insulted the employees behind 80 percent of the company’s product. Then again, the original direct marketing Draft Worldwide was not a creatively-driven enterprise. So for Draft, 20 percent could be progress. For the rest of us, it’s pathetic.

In the end, Howard Draft is pathetic too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

8739: Pabst Not Having A Blast.

The Boombox reported that Pabst Brewing Company is under fire for its new Colt 45 Blast being hawked by Snoop Dogg. Shocking. So far, attorney generals in 17 states are asking that the malt liquor manufacturer reduce the alcohol content of the drink. Reduce the alcohol content? Do these guys understand the basic concept behind malt liquor?

Regardless, Pabst Brewing Company is displaying its cultural cluelessness—both in having created the product and in reacting to the protests. “It’s not like our distributors are putting it in the soda section, and these are clearly designated as an alcoholic product,” insisted Pabst owner Daren Metropoulos. “We’re not going to be showing up and selling this at schools or anything like that.” Note to Metropoulos: Being sarcastic in this scenario makes you look like an insensitive racist. Just saying.


By Theo Bark

Snoop Dogg is once again under fire for Blast by Colt 45, a new alcoholic beverage he endorses.

According to reports, the attorney generals in 17 states are asking that parent company Pabst Brewing Company reduce the alcohol content of the drink, which they claim promotes misuse by underage drinkers, and binge drinking, due to its colorful packaging and endorsement by Snoop.

“Alcohol abuse among young people is a serious and alarming epidemic,” explained Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “A product like this only serves to glamorize alcohol abuse and promote binge drinking, threatening the safety of those consuming it.”

Blast has been referred to as a “binge-in-a-can” by Madigan’s office, and compared to similarly controversial caffeine and malt liquor drink Four Loko.

Available in a variety of fruit flavors, Blast contains 12 percent alcohol and is sold in a 23.5 ounce can with eye-catching labels said to look like bubble gum wrappers. Snoop has also been criticized by “alcohol industry watchdog” the Marin Institute for his endorsement of the drink.

“It’s not like our distributors are putting it in the soda section, and these are clearly designated as an alcoholic product,” Pabst owner Daren Metropoulos said, defending his new brand. “We’re not going to be showing up and selling this at schools or anything like that.”

Snoop has yet to comment on the latest round of criticism.

Monday, April 25, 2011

8738: Keeping Abreast Of Logo Designs.

This Tous logo looks like, well, a titty bear.

8737: Where Are All The White People?

The One Club posted the following announcement on its website:

Where Are All The Black People?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A frank, no-holds-barred conversation about diversity--and the dearth of people of color--in the advertising industry, and what we’re doing to change it.

With Jeff Goodby, co-founder of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Jimmy Smith, Group Creative Director of TBWA\Chiat\Day/Los Angeles, and a panel of industry notables.

Venue: 82 Mercer
Between Broome and Spring St, New York City

Discussion: 6 pm - 8 pm

Seating is Limited


Okey-doke, where to begin?

First, The One Club asking, “Where Are All The Black People?” is like the Minuteman Project wondering, “Where Are All The Mexicans?” That is, the organization as a whole doesn’t really care about locating any non-Whites, as evidenced by the abysmal lack of color in its roster of honorees. The One Club has traditionally been an exclusive club, despite the recent clichéd moves to delegate diversity and launch minority youth outreach programs.

Second, the event appears to be part of The One Club’s Creative Week being held May 9-15 in New York. In fact, the schedule of activities indicates “Where Are All The Black People?” is dovetailing with The One Show Student Award ceremony. Guess which affair will probably draw a bigger crowd.

Third, it should be interesting to hear Jeff Goodby weigh in. The man has been noticeably silent on the topic. If he parrots his powerhouse peers, expect Goodby to deliver one of these lines:

“Our industry has to do a better job.”
“We have a long way to go.”
“My agency is starting a minority internship program.”
“Afro-Americans aren’t aware of the opportunities.”
“Let’s assemble a Diversity Committee.”
“I’m pledging $$$ to UNCF.”
“Some of my best friends are ADCOLOR® Award winners.”
“I’m just an Old White Guy.”
“Now that’s fucked up!”

Fourth, if the true intent is to stage “a frank, no-holds-barred conversation,” the “panel of industry notables” should definitely include Hadji Williams, Harry Webber, Sanford Moore, Roy Eaton and Cyrus Mehri—and absolutely exclude Chief Diversity Officers.

Fifth, the discrimination dearth of minorities can only be addressed by asking, “Where Are All The White People?” That is, until there is bona fide commitment and active involvement from the current majority, nothing will change.

Ironically, if the event does turn out to be a transformational experience, it might qualify for a White Pencil.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

8736: Delayed WTF 13—Kotex Kontest.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Advertising Age recently reported on the Kotex contest that invites young women to embellish pads for prizes.

Bloody hell! As if anyone needed another reason to hate crowdsourcing.

To compound the craziness, Kotex recruited a celebrity stylist—Patricia Field—to participate in the extravaganza. Not sure why a probably post-menopausal woman is involved with this effort. Hey, maybe Bravo will introduce a spinoff to Project Runway, with Heidi Klum critiquing padesigners and Tim Gunn serving as an awkward mentor.

“We, too, were a bit skeptical that girls would want to design pads,” said a Kotex spokesperson. “What we found was a massive level of interest not just around a contest to design a pad but this approach of getting these girls inspired to change the future of fem-care.”

This is an example of a client lacking the common sense and self-respect necessary to reject focus group results.

Sure, there have been instances of unexpected style trends, like Madonna persuading her generation of fans to wear their underwear as outerwear, or hip hop artists proudly exposing their drawers. But even if Lady Gaga started flashing her pad during performances, let’s pray that a civilized society would have enough dignity to reject the fashion statement.

The U By Kotex website is trying so hard to be hip, it’s laughable. And the Ban the Bland Design Challenge is kinda lame, as the tool is preloaded with contrived art patterns. Regardless, MultiCultClassics proudly presents pad pics:

The iPad Pad—thinner and lighter, with built-in apps.

The Kiss Pad—I Was Made For Lovin’ You!

The Bachelor Pad—oh, let him pick me!

The Justin Pad—it’s Bieber beaver protection!

The McRib® Pad—only available for a limited time of the month.

8735: Flavor Flav Flies From Fried Chicken.

From The New York Daily News…

Flavor Flav pulling name from Flav’s Fried Chicken joint after less than a year in business

By Nina Mandell, Daily News Staff Writer

Flavor Flav is getting out of the fried chicken business.

The Public Enemy rapper is pulling his name from Flav’s Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa, claiming his business partner, Nick Cimino, “mismanaged” the joint, TMZ reports.

“Let me be straight up with you, I went inside there on April 2 and I found potato salad that expired on February 28,” Flav told the gossip site. “And it’s then when I realized I can’t do business with this man and I really hope no one ate those potatoes.”

The restaurant, which opened next to a KFC in January, has had problems greater than spoiled potato salad.

Employees claimed earlier this month that their paychecks were bouncing. At the time, Cimino blamed the woes on a “credit card glitch” and said the claims were just those of disgruntled ex-staff members.

“Maybe these are people that’s just jealous of me being here and probably want to see me out,” Flav told TMZ at the time.

The restaurant made the onetime rapper a favorite face in the small town of Clinton, where he reportedly pitched a reality show that would have documented him as he pursued a degree at the local high school, The Clinton Herald reported in February.

The local school board, however, nixed that idea.

Before the falling out with Cimino, the reality star often spoke about spreading his chicken business across the country.

“I’m trying to start a franchise, so this is just the beginning of it,” he said at the restaurant opening, the Herald reported at the time. “And I just want to say you guys are a part of it.”

The restaurant received fairly positive reviews on, with many commenters praising the experience – and the fried chicken.

“At first I was doubtful,” one wrote. “A Chicken Shack opened by a Reality TV Star/Rapper …? But I was blown away. The chicken was well seasoned and very tender and juicy.”

8734: Raising Red Flags.

From FOX News…

Georgia County Votes to Keep Confederate Battle Flag Flying

A Georgia county’s board of commissioners has voted to keep the Confederate flag flying at the local courthouse, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

While the Dixie battle cross was removed from the state flag in 2003, it has continued to fly at the Dodge County courthouse in Eastman, Ga., as part of a memorial to Confederate war dead.

The NAACP chapter in Eastman, which is 50 miles southeast of Macon, says the flag was to fly only once a year, but it has stayed at the courthouse despite the civil rights group’s complaints. The NAACP is ready to mount a legal challenge to have the flag taken down, according to the paper.

“It’s a symbol of racism and hatred,” John Battle, president of the Dodge County NAACP, told the Journal-Constitution. After trying for years to resolve the matter and getting nowhere, the NAACP retained an attorney who sent a letter last week to the board of commissioners asking them to stand by the original resolution, passed in 2002, allowing the annual display.

On Monday, the board met in a closed session and decided, in a vote taken at their public meeting afterward, to keep the flag up 365 days a year.

Commissioner William Howell, Jr., who cast one of three votes in favor of displaying the flag, said the commission’s hands were tied.

“We’re probably going to be involved in a lawsuit either way,” Howell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The Sons of Confederate Veterans is going to sue us if we take it down and the NAACP will sue us if we leave it up.”

According to the paper, Howell cited a state law that he said prohibits the commissioners from removing appropriate items from publicly owned memorials.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

8733: Honda Civic Driving Stereotypes.

Not too sure about the new 2012 Honda Civic campaign. The lead commercial makes a diversity message of sorts by proclaiming, “We’re all different…”—and there’s a Honda Civic for everyone. But the minority characters are cultural stereotypes. The (presumed) Latino character is a Mexican wrestler and the Asian character is a ninja who actually hollers, “Hai-Ya!”

8732: New Adweek Content Not Most Popular.

Don’t mean to hate on Adweek, as the revamped publication is obviously still working the bugs out of the new system. But check out the Most Popular stories list. The majority of the entries are for AdFreak posts. And the #10 position is held by a story dated February 4, 2010.

8731: Gun-Rights Group Goes On Offensive.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Gun-rights group’s Holocaust analogy appallingly offensive

This may rack up as one of the biggest stretches in logic of all times.

As well as one of the most offensive.

A Downstate gun-rights group this month compared an effort to publish the names of gun owners in Illinois with the tyrannical and fateful Nazi decision during World War II to force Jews to wear a gold Star of David, identifying them by their religion.

The analogy by the gun-rights group was prompted by a recent ruling by Attorney General Lisa Madigan that the names of residents with Firearm Owner ID cards must be made public.

“The slippery slope for the Jews in Germany began first with their identification, then disarmament then annihilation,” the group, Guns Save Life, wrote. “Under Madigan’s plan, Illinois gun owners will be identified publicly and will stand on the precipice of their own slippery slope towards ends unknown.”

Guns Save Life printed a picture of an Israeli Jewish star with the word “Armed” above it. Over the gold Star of David, it reads “Disarmed.”

The group’s twisted logic lays bare a profound disregard for historical truth. It was not the identification of Jews, or the loss of their firearms, that led to their deaths in the gas chambers. It was a maniacal government, supported by powerful cultural forces, that led to mass Jewish deaths.

To liken that march toward death to the simple naming of people who applied for a government ID card in Illinois is absurd.

There are legitimate arguments against releasing the names of gun owners, arguments that have been articulated by thoughtful gun-rights advocates.

But nobody has dared to resort to this kind of craven and offensive twisting of history — until now.

8730: Hate Crime? Not Lovin’ It.

The New York Daily News reported on an ugly incident that instantly erases any good feelings Mickey D’s hoped to inspire by its recent recruitment event. See the video here.

McDonald’s beating video: Victim is transgender, Maryland attack is hate crime, says advocacy group

By Aliyah Shahid, Daily News Staff Writer

The victim of a vicious beating at a Maryland McDonald’s is a transgendered woman, according to a LGBT advocacy group that’s calling for authorities to investigate the case as a hate crime.

The shocking video, which went viral on the Internet this week, shows the woman being kicked in the head by two girls at the Rosedale fast food chain as some of the staff stood by laughing.

At one point the attackers grab the victims’ hair and dragged her across the floor. Responding officers who responded to Monday’s attack found the 22-year-old woman apparently having a seizure.

The video was taken by McDonald’s employee Vernon Hackett, according to the Smoking Gun.

A 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile in connection with the attack and charges are pending against an 18-year-old.

“It does appear that the victim was a transgender woman, and she was brutalized while people stood by and watched,” Lisa Polyak, vice president of the board of directors for Equality Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun.

“There’s no excuse for that violence under any circumstances, but we would encourage police to investigate as a hate crime.”

The police report does not give a motive for the beating, but quotes one of the alleged attackers as saying the fight was “over using a bathroom.”

McDonald’s condemned the attack in a statement calling it “unacceptable, disturbing and troubling.” The company said it was working with local authorities to investigate the incident.

With News Wire Services

8729: Top 100 Features Advertisers, Not Agencies.

Savoy magazine presented the 2011 Top 100 Companies To Work For. Selection methodology included scoring companies on their diversity outreach efforts. The list features scores of prominent advertisers—and zero advertising agencies. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Friday, April 22, 2011

8728: Mel Gibson Is Mad To The Max.

The New York Daily News reported Mel Gibson insisted he’s “never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality—period.” Wow, this guy must be smoking whatever the racist Republican is enjoying.

Mel Gibson: ‘I’ve never treated anyone badly’ based on their gender, race, religion, or sexuality

By Shari Weiss, Daily News Staff Writer

Even though his legal problems are far from over, Mel Gibson is finally opening up about his tumultuous 2010.

“I was angry at me,” Gibson told contributor Allison Hope Weiner about the infamous tapes leaked via last year featuring the actor making racist, obscene and threatening comments to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.

While the 55-year-old said he “of course” regrets his comments, he stressed that his words need to be put “in the proper context of being in an irrationally, heated discussion at the height of a breakdown, trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship.”

“It’s one terribly, awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day,” he explained, “and doesn’t represent what I truly believe or how I’ve treated people my entire life.”

Gibson, who has repeatedly been accused of anti-Semitism, added that he’s “never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality — period.”

“I don’t blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited,” he said.

And, confirming reports that the movie star had no idea he was being recorded by his former love, Gibson asked, “Who could anticipate such a personal betrayal?”

“The main thing is that it was terribly humiliating and painful for my family, all my kids,” Gibson, a father of eight, added later.

The actor, who also admitted he’s become quite uncomfortable with the level of his fame, clammed up when asked specifically about keeping his relationship with Grigorieva a secret initially (after he split from his wife Robyn in 2006 after 26 years of marriage).

“It’s nobody’s business, my separation, my divorce, any of that stuff. It’s out there, okay, so it happened,” he added later in the interview. “As to the details, I have precious little to keep to myself. And if I can even hold on to even painful things for myself, so be it.”

And when prodded for specifics about the leaked phone conversations, Gibson repeatedly stated that he couldn’t discuss it since “there are all sorts of legal things pending.”

Still, he pointed out, “Everybody has a dog in the fight but me, oddly enough.”

“I haven’t got a lawsuit out on anyone because I think it’s extremely … You have to think about your children,” he said, adding “There are a lot of delicate and sensitive issues and I don’t want to be the cause of grief to any of my children or to friends or family or associates on either side because it’s a matter that should be dealt with.”

But the “Bravehart” star did address his March no contest plea to a misdemeanor battery charge for allegedly striking Grigorieva while she held their daughter. Gibson was sentenced to three years probation, a year of mandatory counseling, 16 hours of community service and fines.

“I was allowed to end the case and still maintain my innocence. It’s called a West plea and it’s not something that prosecutors normally allow. But in my case, the prosecutors and the judge agreed that it was the right thing to do,” he said.

“I could have continued to fight this for years and it probably would have come out fine. But I ended it for my children and my family,” he continued. “This was going to be such a circus. You don’t drag other people in your life through this sewer needlessly, so I’ll take the hit and move on.”

Lucia has remained “blissfully unaware” of the traumatic events of the last year, Gibson said, but admitted he realizes he may have to “address” it with her when she’s older.

Gibson said he’s particularly grateful to have such a young child at his age.

“The whole journey of discovery again and having a different perspective now. It’s different. You learn,” he said. “I mean, I have a daughter who is 30 and I have a daughter who is 18 months. And the 18 month is getting 30 years of benefit.”

8727: Bad News On Good Friday.

Denying reality with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• No, the photo above is not Donald Rumsfeld in drag. Rather, it’s the racist Republican who continues to insist she’s not racist, despite sending racist emails featuring President Obama as a chimp. “I think it’s only racist when the intent in my heart is to make it that way,” said the racist. She added, “And that was not the intent in my heart.” Um, what about what was in your racist head? Sorry, racists don’t get to decide if they’re racist.

• A new poll shows Americans are more pessimistic about the economy than at any time since President Obama’s first two months in the White House. However, racist citizens are more convinced they are not racists than at any time since Obama took office.

• Adman Luke Sullivan is leaving GSD&M to become the advertising department chairman at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Wonder if the Old White Guy will create an internship program for minority students. Hey, that would be original.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

8726: Kobe Bryant Makes PSAmends.

Kobe Bryant and Lakers teammates taped a psa calling for inclusion. Wow, this thing is dripping with sincerity. Bryant declared, “Words can be hurtful. Replace them with understanding, compassion and acceptance.” And $100,000.

8725: U.K. Ad Industry Culturally Clueless Too.

From Advertising Age…

Only 5.3% of Actors in U.K. TV Commercials Are Minorities, Study Finds

In Another IPA Survey, 90% of Staffers at Member Agencies Are White

By Emma Hall

The U.K.’s ad agency association, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, is trying to encourage ethnic diversity in British advertising, in a bid to avoid the controversy over the under-representation of minorities in advertising that dogs the U.S. ad industry.

An IPA study released today shows that people from black, Asian or other minority ethnic groups appeared in only 5.3% of U.K. TV commercials over the last year, even though they make up 13% of the population.

“It’s a less contentious issue here than in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we don’t care,” said Hamish Pringle, the IPA’s director general. “We hope that by grasping the nettle and being up front about this, those decisions that are taken a hundred times a day in this industry can be widened and broadened.”

He said that the U.K. ad industry is not inherently racist, but that it is a mature business and people get into a certain way of doing things and need to be given a jolt.

“We’re not doing this to be politically correct,” Mr. Pringle said. “We’re doing it because if U.K. agencies are to keep up with the pace globally, we have to trade on the competitive advantage we have—there are 400 different languages spoken in London, and our time zone is in the fantastic position of allowing us to communicate with both East and West during our working day.”

Data from Clearcast, a government-related group that approves all U.K. commercials for broadcast, shows that of the 34,499 commercials it cleared to air last year, only 1,845 contained actors who were black, Asian or from other minority ethnic groups, commonly referred to as BAME. Of those 1,845 spots, only 537 have BAME actors in both featured and walk-on parts, while 178 have BAME actors in walk-on parts only.

There were significant differences between product categories. Household goods, online retail, property, entertainment and pharmaceuticals featured more BAME actors than average, while food, cars, mail order, retail, travel, telecommunications and clothing featured the fewest.

Even government advertising sets a poor example on diversity. Although the government ranked highly for BAME actors, almost all appeared in merely walk-on parts.

Saad Saraf, CEO of Mediareach and chairman of the IPA’s ethnic diversity group, said, “I have spent 23 years marketing to diverse audiences and what this experience has shown is that people react better to advertising when they see themselves reflected in it. Advertisers are missing out on an important and rapidly growing revenue stream.”

Universal McCann set up a joint venture diversity unit two years ago with a cross-cultural marketing specialist, but growth has been slow, said Mark Middlemas, UM managing partner, business development. The division targets ethnic minority groups, and has worked with major advertisers including supermarket chain Tesco. “Of course there could be more diversity, and it’s the job of the industry to make it front of mind,” Mr. Middlemas said. “Things are changing, but slowly. We are expecting the new government census to be a real pile driver, and this IPA report is helping to build momentum ahead of the census results.”

Ethnic diversity within ad agencies is also an issue. In January, 90% of employees at IPA-member agencies were white, down only slightly from 91.1% in the last survey, conducted in January 2009.

“There is a slow but steady improvement,” Mr. Pringle said. Two years ago he helped introduce the IPA’s Diagonal Thinking Self-Assessment psychometric tool, designed to identify employees who are both excellent linear and lateral thinkers. Mr. Pringle said he believes that this test helps to foster diversity and provide wider access to the agency business, because it does not rely on a prestigious academic background for success. He is currently in discussions to open up the test to agencies outside the U.K.

Although retail ads aren’t generally good at casting minorities, Marks & Spencer’s popular and long-running campaign by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R features people, often well known, from a range of ethnic backgrounds and different nationalities. In the latest spot, they cavort in exotic locales wearing M&S spring fashions.

8724: Holiday Preaching From Reverend Al.

From The Huffington Post…

Passover and Easter

By Rev. Al Sharpton

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this week is one of the holiest times of the year. Christians commemorate the resurrection and sacrifice of Jesus Christ; Jews honor the Israelites’ exodus to freedom from slavery. Rooted in persecution, oblation, humility and eventual triumph, both religious holidays have an underlying common theme: no matter what the calamity, you will rise again to victory. It is precisely this social interpretation of these defining events that each and every one of us should take to heart during challenging times.

Earlier in the week, I attended President Obama’s second annual Easter prayer breakfast along with other prominent clergy from around the country. Stressing the importance of amazing grace and salvation, the President reminded us to keep things in perspective in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. As families of the Jewish faith also gather this week to recall the story of the angel of death ‘passing over’ their homes, and the steps that ultimately led to their freedom from bondage, they too remember the sacrifice of those before them.

In the fast-paced reality of our times, it’s often easy to lose sight of the many advantages we enjoy because of the literal blood, sweat and tears of others. Many African Americans, Latinos, women and other minorities today sit in positions of authority in government, business and other industries because of the selfless acts of those who preceded them. Whether it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights struggle, or Gandhi’s nonviolent push, we have been spared because these brave individuals and others like them gave their lives for a larger cause. We should never forget those that opened the door for us to transcend into a virtual new land of opportunity away from the shackles of yesterday.

No one is denying the fact that we have a long way to go before reaching that proverbial mountaintop, but we shouldn’t easily dismiss the fact that we are seeing and experiencing things that those that bled for us never saw. As we recall the legacy of and Moses, we should never forget that we too have been spared. And during this time of reflection, we must remember why we were spared.

At a very early age as a boy preacher, I was always drawn to the story of Jesus and the resurrection. As a minister, I of course deal with the religious aspect of this event, but the larger social message is what continues to resonate for everyone today—Jesus may have died on the cross, but three days later, he rose again. It’s an interpretation that we all can relate to, no matter what our religious denomination. Despite what difficulties we face, what tragedies we encounter or what obstacles life throws at us, we can rise again. Out of pain comes gain, and out of sorrow comes strength. Even if we are persecuted or crucified in life, we can prevail past our crucifixion. We must know that there is an Easter Sunday after every difficulty.

In my own life, I have faced many transgressions and challenges—some that were easy to overcome, and others that I still deal with today. But as we gather with our loved ones this weekend, whether it’s retelling the story of the resurrection, or of the exodus to freedom, we cannot undervalue the significance of the literal blood that was shed before us, nor of the liberties we enjoy as a result of it. And with enough patience, strength and faith we can surpass any tribulation and stand tall once again.

8723: White Male Still Strong On Mad Ave.

The cover story headline for the latest issue of Newsweek reads: The Beached White Male. He Had a Big Job, a Big Office, a Big Bonus. Now He’s All Washed Up and Doesn’t Have a Freakin’ Prayer. Um, unless he’s working on Madison Avenue.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

8722: Drowsy Driving While Black.

As a follow-up to the previous post, check out Mercedes-Benz’s attempt at diversity. The old White guy in the extended commercial was replaced by an old Black guy in the re-edited version. It’s sorta the opposite of what Microsoft pulled in Poland.

8721: Drowsy Driving Dipshits.

Need another reason to hate the arrogant prick who drives around in a fancy Mercedes? As this commercial shows, the asshole tends to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

8720: Erasing Bad Discredit.

If this firm placed its banner at AgencySpy, the click rates would skyrocket.

8719: Critics Blast Blast By Colt 45.

From The New York Times…

A Line of Brews Draws a Star Endorser, and Critics

By Andrew Adam Newman

SINCE the 1980s, the actor Billy Dee Williams has appeared intermittently in advertising for Colt 45 malt liquor, often with a beautiful woman on his arm and accompanied by the slogan, “Works every time.” Now, to celebrate the introduction of a new product, Blast by Colt 45, a potent fruit-flavored beverage, the brand has a new pitchman, the rapper Snoop Dogg.

In a promotional video on YouTube, Snoop Dogg, a white fur coat over his shoulders and surrounded by models in skimpy dresses, poses for the photographer Estevan Oriol while holding cans of Blast and the original Colt 45. The photos will be used for promotional purposes, like making 7-foot cardboard cutouts featuring the rapper for in-store displays, and for delivery truck decals.

Blast initially is focusing on “viral campaigns with Twitter, Facebook and blogs,” said Evan Metropoulos, who with his brother, Daren, runs Colt 45 as an owner of the Pabst Brewing Company, the brand’s parent company. Pabst was bought in 2010 by Metropoulos & Company, an investment firm started by their father, Dean.

Snoop Dogg has mentioned Blast repeatedly on Facebook, where he has more than eight million followers, and on Twitter, where he has more than 3.1 million. In “Boom,” a single on his new album, “Doggumentary,” he mentions Colt 45 in the lyrics.

“That’s just him being a true partner and saying I’m not just an endorser,” said Daren Metropoulos. “Whether he’s putting it in his songs or having his posse drinking it, it’s part of his lifestyle.”

Available in four flavors — grape, raspberry watermelon, blueberry pomegranate and strawberry lemonade — Blast joins the rapidly growing category of sweetened alcoholic beverages that go by many names, including flavored malt beverages and progressive adult beverages.

But critics, who believe the soda-like flavors and colorful labels appeal to underage drinkers, have their own term: alcopops.

“We have always considered them cocktails on training wheels,” said Michael J. Scippa, public affairs director of the Marin Institute, an alcohol industry watchdog. “It’s a way to bridge young consumers’ fondness for juices and sodas to alcohol.”

The group, which had criticized caffeinated alcoholic brands including Four Loko before they were required by the Food and Drug Administration to remove caffeine from their formulas recently, started an online petition opposing Blast, which in two weeks has been signed by about 1,000 people.

Like Four Loko, Blast is 12 percent alcohol by volume, more than twice most major beer brands, and is sold in 23.5-ounce cans, meaning drinking one (suggested retail price: $2.49) is the equivalent alcohol intake of more than four 12-ounce bottles of beer.

While most alcohol brands follow industry guidelines to advertise only in media outlets where no more than 30 percent of their audience is under 21, Mr. Scippa said that social networks like Facebook and Twitter “are for the most part unrestricted.” As for Snoop Dogg promoting Blast through those networks, and on YouTube, Mr. Scippa said that a “huge segment” of his fans were underage.

Tom Burrell, a former advertising executive and author of “Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority,” faulted the company for introducing Blast under the umbrella of Colt 45 and hiring the rapper.

“What is happening here is an obvious attempt to foist this stuff on young African-American men,” Mr. Burrell said. “Colt 45 has invested in the black consumer market for years, and if they weren’t looking for an African-American audience they wouldn’t be using Snoop Dogg.”

In a survey of malt liquor drinkers by Mintel, the market research firm, Colt 45 was the most popular over all, with 25 percent of whites and 34 percent of blacks drinking it. The second and third most popular brands found more favor among whites, with 25 percent drinking Mickey’s compared with 16 percent of blacks, and 22 percent drinking Olde English 800 compared with 17 percent of blacks.

Robert Jackson, a member of the New York City Council, wrote a letter in March to the state liquor board requesting that restrictions be imposed on Blast.

“Blast comes in very colorful cans and bottles and clearly is marketed to kids, just like Four Loko,” said Martin Collins, an aide to Mr. Jackson.

The flavored malt beverage category totaled $967.7 million for the 52 weeks that ended March 20, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the prior year, according to the SymphonyIRI Group, the market data firm whose totals do not include Wal-Mart or liquor stores. (Like beer, the beverages are sold largely in supermarkets and convenience stores.)

The Mike’s Hard Lemonade Company, with other flavors including limeade, leads the category with a 37.1 percent share, followed by Smirnoff Ice varieties, with a 22.7 percent share.

Fruit-flavored alcohol finds more favor with female drinkers, with 62 percent liking it compared with 48 percent of men, according to Mintel. As for age preferences, Mintel polled only legal imbibers, finding the drinks to be most popular among those 21 to 24, with 73 percent approving, and popularity waning steadily with age: 39 percent of those 55 to 64 liked the beverages, and 26 percent of those over 65.

According to American Medical Association findings, 82 percent of teenage girls who have tried the beverages prefer them to beer or other alcoholic drinks, while one-third incorrectly believe they contain less alcohol than beer.

Evan Metropoulos said Blast was formulated partly to appeal to the palates of women, who “wanted an alternative to lager and beer flavors,” and that seven-ounce bottles, sold in six-packs for about $7, will appeal to women more than 23.5-ounce cans, and reflects a commitment to provide smaller sizes to encourage moderation.

The company expects Blast to appeal primarily to consumers in their late 20s or early 30s, he said.

“All we were doing was putting together flavors that were appealing to people that definitely are over the legal age,” said Evan Metropoulos, responding to criticism of Blast. “We’re going to do our very best to hammer home the message of responsible drinking.”

“It’s not like our distributors are putting it in the soda section, and these are clearly designated as an alcoholic product,” added Daren Metropoulos. “We’re not going to be showing up and selling this at schools or anything like that.”

Correction: April 19, 2011
Because of an editing error, the headline on a capsule summary of the Advertising column on Monday, about new promotional videos starring the rapper Snoop Dogg, described incorrectly the product being promoted, Blast by Colt 45. Blast is a fruit-flavored malt beverage; it is not a beer.

8718: Fast Food & Fast Talkers.

Food, Folks and Funk in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The lawsuit challenging the beef content in Taco Bell menu items has been dropped. The Alabama law firm behind the charges claimed that the fast feeder ultimately revised its marketing and product disclosures. “From the inception of this case, we stated that if Taco Bell would make certain changes regarding disclosure and marketing of its ‘seasoned beef’ product, the case could be dismissed,” said a lawyer. Next, the law firm will probably challenge the Taco Bell name, as there appear to be no actual bells in the restaurants.

• Mickey D’s is launching its big McJobs push today, hoping to add 50,000 workers. Place your bets that the recruitment event draws fewer crowds than the last McRib® promotion.

• Potential presidential candidate Donald Trump made a statement regarding publicly releasing his tax information. “Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate…I’d love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns into Obama’s birth certificate,” declared Trump. President Obama will probably counter by asking Trump to prove that his hair is real.

8717: iPad Am Somebody!

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. rants about the iPad. Dude, get a Dell. BTW, the presentation would have been more impressive delivered on an iPad versus the old-school poster board.

8716: The New Adweek Seems Ad Weak.

Back in 2008, MultiCultClassics wrote an obituary for Marketing y Medios, an Adweek sister publication focused on Latino marketing. Its ultimate death was actually preceded by a 2006 corporate decision to fold the cultural content into various White titles from the publishing portfolio of VNU (later renamed Nielsen Company). The Nielsen Company then sold the magazines to e5 Global Media, which changed its name to Prometheus. Now Prometheus has eliminated White publications Brandweek and Mediaweek, merging everything under the Adweek masthead. Set your watches to mark the inevitable croaking of the franchise.

Others have already posted insightful perspectives on the state of affairs at Adweek. So MultiCultClassics will simply examine the new site launched on Monday.

Adweek—The Voice of Media—kicked off with headline stories on the advertising industry. But by the end of the day, the items that rose to the top of the home page included a poll on the struggles of paywallers, a piece on the Pulitzer Prize and an interview with returning IAB leader Randall Rothenberg. In recent years, Adweek has been shedding its traditional reporters, editors and columnists. And in recent weeks, the content has seemingly abandoned Madison Avenue, presenting groundbreaking tidbits including the closing of the Condé Nast cafeteria and the ill-timed demise of Elizabeth Taylor. Anyone still foolish enough to hold a paid subscription must be asking what the hell is going on. Even the header menu positions Advertising & Marketing after The Press, Television and Technology links.

Sure, one could argue that the industry has changed and fragmented, inspiring a different direction for the iconic publication. Yet at the moment, the only ad-centric component is Adfreak. Ironically, Adweek is now a bigger “ad freak” than the irreverent sister blog.

Editorial Director Michael Wolff proclaimed the rejiggered Adweek is “not your father’s trade magazine.” Unintended nod to the industry’s exclusively male makeup aside, the site is designed in the style of a print magazine versus a Web source. The large-type headers and intros are clumsy, and having to click through over 3 pages to peruse a story is cumbersome. Mirroring the majority of advertising agencies, Adweek appears to be clueless about creating in the digital space.

News from Our Partners features newser, The Week, and BuzzFeed, and the site footer lists affiliates Billboard, Back Stage and The Hollywood Reporter. Geez, it’s as if Don Draper were suddenly hanging out with Mick Jagger, Julie Andrews and John Wayne.

To be fair, Wolff sounds sincere in his efforts, reminiscing about his adman father. But while family ties can get you into the ad game, you must ultimately prove yourself worthy of sticking around. Then again, that’s not true, based on the countless talentless offspring infesting shops nationwide. Let’s hope Wolff doesn’t fall into that category.

At the same time, one can’t help but wonder if Wolff possesses the key quality for success in this endeavor: a love for advertising. If so, the man deserves an opportunity to show his skills. If not, somebody should shut down Adweek like the Condé Nast cafeteria and declare it dead like a certain violet-eyed movie star.

8715: Going Into Overtime With Kobe Bryant.

Did anyone else watch Kobe Bryant take a nasty tumble in the opening NBA Playoff game and think it was karma and/or Higher Power payback for his anti-gay slur? After bashing his noggin on a courtside chair or spectator’s knee, did the Lakers guard bark bigoted names at the team trainer or fan? Probably not—and that’s the main problem with Bryant’s earlier disgusting and discriminatory display.

As often happens during these types of fiascos, people snarled that the Kobe haters were overly sensitive, politically-correct liberals. Or worse. Of course, these condemning critics never consider the possibility that they may be revealing insensitivity, political incorrectness and Tea Party tendencies. Or worse.

Bryant entered the league in 1996. He is a professional athlete—accent on professional—who should completely understand that lots of cameras are recording his every move and mouth-off while in the stadium. What was Bryant attempting to do by hollering at the referee to begin with? Does he believe he is so entitled that officials ought to halt a game and contemplate his opinion on anything?

Remember, the arrogant All-Star didn’t merely utter an anti-gay slur. It was preceded by the F-bomb, which Bryant should also know is a big no-no during broadcasts. Please don’t insist that the proposed penalty is too excessive. As the man earns about $25,806,250 per season—and tons more in endorsements—the $100,000 fine is like Joe Public dropping a few dollars into the company swear jar.

Bryant is fluent in multiple languages. Plus, he is extraordinarily articulate for an athlete. He picks his words carefully. The superstar has joked about cussing at refs in Serbian. He had a wide variety of naughty phrases at his disposal, yet his ultimate selection mirrored the eruptions of Michael Richards, Don Imus and Mel Gibson.

Yes, Bryant has a reputation for arguing with officials. But no one has ever suggested he attend anger management training like, say, teammate Ron Artest. The presumption is that Bryant is in control. He’s aware of what he does and says.

Bryant responded in ridiculous fashion after causing the initial stir. He said, “The comment that I made, even though it wasn’t meant in the way it was perceived to be, is nonetheless wrong, so it’s important to own that.” However, he’s appealing the $100k fine.

Bryant added, “The concern that I have is for those that follow what I say and are inspired by how I play or look to me as a role model or whatever it is, for them not to take what is said as a message of hate or a license to degrade or embarrass or tease. That’s something I don’t want to see happen.” Um, hurling vulgar slurs at an official is disrespect—which could fall into the same category as degradation, embarrassment or teasing.

And like it or not, with his choice of curses, Bryant appeared to show latent homophobia. You don’t need a referee to call it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

8714: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Brainwash.

From Advertising Age…

Tom Burrell on Marketing and Black ‘Inferiority’

Ad Legend Outlines Past Propaganda, Sees Hope for Future Voices

By Rance Crain

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, in which more than 600,000 soldiers were killed. By the end of the war four years later, 4 million slaves were freed.

The economic impact on the South was devastating. The South depended on agriculture for its well being and it depended on slaves to harvest its bounty. As the Economist stated, the South’s wealth was concentrated in land and slaves. “The war destroyed that wealth.”

But the southern economy, 150 years later, is now almost on par with the North.

Slavery’s effect on black people, however, is still a powerful disruptive influence, according to Tom Burrell, founder of the advertising agency in Chicago bearing his name.

In his book “Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority ” Mr. Burrell asserts that “one of the greatest propaganda campaigns of all time was the masterful marketing of the myth of black inferiority to justify slavery within a democracy.”

Mr. Burrell admits that while “on a personal level I’m revolted, yet as a marketing man I find it to be an audacious and ingenious strategy. It’s as if,” he says, “the original colonial elites hired a PR agency to sell the concept that Africans were innately inferior and it was indeed completely justifiable to treat them as subhuman beasts. The last several centuries still haunt us, and hinder our advancement and achievement.”

Although he says black progress is more visible today than ever before, Mr. Burrell contends that “the unwritten, audacious promotion of white superiority and black inferiority was (and still is) the most effective and successful marketing/propaganda campaign in the history of the world.”

In a chapter on “Why can’t we stop shopping?” Mr. Burrell notes the good news/bad news character of the U.S. black economy. The good news is that black buying power is almost $800 billion a year. “The bad news? Because of our undisciplined, indiscriminate buying habits, African-Americans are America’s poorest group.”

Modern advertising pounds away at all groups, but blacks are most susceptible, Mr. Burrell maintains. “The buy buy, now now sales pitches are all around. We are flooded with offers to purchase every day and every minute. Messages are in magazines, and on billboards, radio, TV, the internet, bus kiosks, T-shirts, taxi roofs, tote bags, blimps, and stuffed in envelopes with the bills for the stuff we’ve already bought.

“It’s difficult for any American to resist the relentless marketing barrage and gain a modicum of a financial foothold. But I believe the cues to incessantly buy resonate differently with a race that had to secure the right to be treated as humans and force white businesses to treat them like any other American consumer.”

During slavery, blacks had little control over their lives. Families were ripped apart, and men were stripped of their traditional duties while women were often given servant jobs in their white owners’ households.

“In caricature, even after slavery ended, black men were depicted as vile, buffoonish loafers who thrived in neighborhoods filled with corruption and vice. Juxtaposed against this were images of black women happily separated from these men enjoying safety and privilege in the sanctity of calm, well-ordered, clean, and wholesome white environments,” Mr. Burrell observed. And these conflicting roles bred mutual disrespect, he added.

Because their lives were so uncertain and at the same time dependent, “this seeded a sense of ‘living in the now’ in our psyches. In a society where rank is determined by material wealth, we are still seeking to buy lost status, only this time through mindless, unbridled consumption,” Mr. Burrell said.

Humor in ads helps blacks cope with their feelings of unworthiness—and loosens up their pocketbooks, he explained. For 45 years he said he was engaged in the field of “systematic persuasion, convincing people through mass communications to buy—buy a product, buy a service, buy an idea. In almost all cases, the means by which people are convinced to buy rarely has anything to do with reason or logic, and humor is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of persuasive communication.”

But what’s needed, Mr. Burrell opined, is that “we must learn to incorporate critical thinking when dealing with ourselves, our hang-ups and habits, and when dealing with the world we live in. Then we will be better able to laugh through our problems.”

As founder of the Resolution Project, a nonprofit organization to create “stop the brainwash” campaigns, Mr. Burrell sees the new media as the way out of the black inferiority cycle he describes. “With technology, we have the opportunity to institute a new communication model, elevate cultural dialogue and reward positive thinking.” Using blogs and websites, the “new black brains,” as he calls them, can counter negative propaganda and create new success stories.

“Branding got us into this mess. Branding can get us out. Only this time we’re branding ourselves,” Mr. Burrell concludes.

8713: Jacko Junk.

Michael Jackson’s music videos are among the most creative and innovative in history. So why is this Kinect commercial fucking lame?

8712: Stuff White People Text.

The annoying White rapper—aka Witness—in this T-Mobile Sidekick 4G commercial deserves a kick upside his head.