Monday, December 31, 2007

Essay 4919

The final 2007 MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Adweek reported that Suzuki is seeking street cred for its sport bikes. So the brand bought some rappers. Wow, that’s unexpected. Might have been easier to ride with any upcoming sequels for The Fast and the Furious or Biker Boyz. The co-president of Questus, the agency behind the online and outdoor campaign, declared, “This is a different sort of branding effort for Suzuki.” Too bad it’s not different for any other advertiser targeting young Blacks and Latinos. Read more here.

• Justice is blind, but apparently not colorblind. A lawsuit charges the Judge Judy television show avoids Black litigants. The suit, filed by an ex-producer insisting he was axed for complaining about the alleged discrimination, claims another senior producer told staffers, “We’re not doing any more Black shows,” and “I don’t want to hear Black people arguing.” Producers were instructed to send Blacks to the Judge Joe Brown show. It would be great to let Judge Mathis deal with this case.

Essay 4918

For the advertising industry, 2007 presented plenty of cultural cluelessness, insensitivity, stupidity and more—punctuated with a few signs of progress. See if you can tell which is which. The New York City Commission on Human Rights unveiled the minority hiring goals for Madison Avenue shops that pledged to improve. The figures are confusing and inconsistent, with no universal definition of what constitutes a minority. The agencies were scheduled to submit report cards at the end of the year, but no one has gone public with results so far. Wonder if they’ll grade on a Bell Curve. In January, Tim Arnold wrote an inane Adweek viewpoint on diversity and blues music, earning the title of Patented Purveyor of Passive Bias. In August, he played an encore performance with another blues-inspired editorial. Tim the One Trick Pony is giving us the blues. While agencies plotted tactics for minority recruiting, McCann Erickson appointed three executives to spearhead the agency’s efforts. Given the account losses at McCann, it’ll be amazing if the trio survives. Should the agency fail to keep IHOP, maybe it can pick up pancake maven Aunt Jemima and count her toward the minority quota. Snickers aired a homophobic spot on the Super Bowl, making GLAAD mad. General Motors followed through with its suicidal robot spot, probably making The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention contemplate homicide. Advertising Age upset folks with a story criticizing the AAF Most Promising Minority Students Program. Burrell Communications Group justified its clichéd Black History Month advertising with a study on Blacks’ attitudes about Black History Month. A 4As conference in Las Vegas held a diversity panel, but the audience wasn’t very diverse—or interested. Dads spanked Arnold for its Fidelity campaign. Former Marketing y Medios leader Laura Martinez launched a new blog, while former controversial icon Uncle Ben was relaunched as a company chairman. Edward F. Boyd, the Pepsi adman who broke color barriers via one of the original marketing campaigns projecting positive Black lifestyles, passed away on April 30. Don Imus sparked a debate at Advertising Age, and the shock jock received backing from General Motors and Jerry Della Femina. From the wonderful trend-spotting guru who gave you wiggers, Marian Salzman identified Muslim Americans as a potential revenue generator for advertisers. The AdColor Awards were a potential goodwill generator for advertisers and agencies (but MultiCultClassics questions the judges passing on Hadji Williams in favor of Magic Johnson). Frank L. White, the man who portrayed Cream of Wheat icon Rastus, got a grave marker nearly 70 years after his death.’s Small Agency Diary displayed small-minded thinking, as Hadji Williams staged back-to-back bouts with Bart Cleveland and Marc Brownstein. Brownstein, incidentally, was classified as a culturally clueless critter in 2006. The stereotypical arguments regarding minority hiring prompted a stereotypical MultiCultClassics rant. IPG boosted its minority percentages by buying Steve Stoute’s Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging. Asians weren’t buying the idiotic imagery from Stride Gum and Hot Pockets. Intel bowed to public outrage and apologized for its bowing Black men. The exclusivity on Madison Avenue was exposed via the excruciatingly dull AMC series Mad Men. Levi’s went both ways by editing two versions of the same commercial, one for general audiences and one for the GLBT market. Mickey D’s made Twista go away, cutting the rapper from its McDonald’s Live Tour. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that the government has been doing a lousy job of awarding advertising and public relations contracts to small and minority firms. Senator John Kerry declared, “This report shines a spotlight on the federal government’s failure to make equal opportunity a reality, not just rhetoric.” The 4As shined a spotlight on the largest graduating class for its Multicultural Advertising Intern Program. Advertising Age spotlighted a variety of issues under The Big Tent, a blog starring a slew of provocative and spirited thought leaders. Just For Men colored its campaign with the paranoia rooted in ageism. AAF President-CEO Wally Snyder and 4As President-CEO O. Burtch Drake retired, and the duo delivered similar bullshit on industry diversity. A consumer group accused Unilever of hypocrisy for the contradicting themes behind Dove and Axe. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown, but The Franklin Blog kicks ass. After spotting an actual diversity recruitment ad from JWT, MultiCultClassics belched out a bunch of parody messages. Telenovela drama ensued when the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies blasted blogger Laura Martinez. Marketing y Medios was discontinued as an occasional insert in Brandweek, Mediaweek and Adweek—and Adweek may soon follow, confirming plans to print on a bi-weekly basis. Creative director Steve Biegel revealed the rampant sexual discrimination in the business by suing his ex-employers at Dentsu for forcing him to patronize a whorehouse. Plus, Biegel supplemented the sex charges with anti-Semitism. The revamped Uncle Ben required a redo when consumer reactions included eye-rolling rejection. Kahlúa’s curious caricatures of Mexican natives invited savage complaints. Irish Americans were irked when Arby’s choreographed chimps executing a traditional Irish step dance. BBDO’s pro-bono campaign to raise awareness of children’s mental and neurological disorders wound up causing anguish and distress for the parents being targeted. Sanford Moore, the man who ignited the latest New York City Commission on Human Rights investigation, chipped in his two cents twice. Cliff Franklin of FUSE Advertising also mounted a soapbox. Omnicom essentially admitted spending its first year officially tackling diversity by assembling a special committee to tackle diversity. Yet General Motors is the biggest loser for 2007, experiencing a PR pileup involving the suicidal robot, supportive words for Don Imus and multicultural agency shifts gone horribly awry—thanks to alleged misreporting by the media that roused Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. In closing, MultiCultClassics salutes everyone who contributed to the listed events and expresses sincere gratitude to all visitors and friends. Let’s hope for a prosperous and progressive 2008.

Essay 4917

The photo kinda contradicts the copy point that reads, “Convenient Virtually Unbreakable Packaging.”

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Essay 4916

Is Just For Men coloring its campaign with the paranoia rooted in ageism? MultiCultClassics originally pointed this out in Essay 4401, but now the commercial can be viewed online. Check it out here.

Essay 4915

From The Chicago Tribune. For more, click here.

Essay 4914

Seems like the Dove Real Beauty campaign doesn’t apply to the shampoo line. The brand even appeals to the female longing for better hair. Guess it’s an ad woman’s prerogative to change her mind—and marketing.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Essay 4913

Time for a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Looks like it might be Hammer Time after all. Stanley Burrell—a.k.a. MC Hammer—is launching a Web site called The site will let visitors share and watch dance videos. Burrell will act as co-founder and chief strategy officer. “There is no high-tech lingo or business strategy that you can talk that is above my head,” said Burrell. “I breathe this stuff.” He’s too legit to quit.

• The New York KFC restaurant that gained notoriety when a video showed rats scurrying about the place has been replaced by a T-Mobile store. No word if customers can add a rodent to their Fave 5.

• Supporters of presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich are pissed off at Pizza Hut for a commercial that includes the Democrat making a comment about UFOs. Kucinich received unwanted publicity when he revealed he once saw a UFO. “I am going to encourage all Kucinich supporters to boycott your restaurant until you change your ‘debate’ advertising,” wrote an online supporter. “That was a low blow to a viable, electable presidential candidate. Consider the word OUT! I also think Pizza Hut should publicly apologize to the Congressman!” Anyone who believes Kucinich is an electable candidate must be from another planet.

Essay 4912

The official kitchen utensils of Cirque du Soleil?

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4911

From The Los Angeles Times…


Black firefighter awarded $1.17 million
Carter Stephens says harassment complaints to superiors in the Pasadena department only led to retaliation.

By Hector Becerra, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

A jury awarded $1.17 million Friday to a black former Pasadena firefighter who said he was forced to retire after complaining for five years about other firefighters leaving blood, urine and feces in his bedding and scrawling a swastika on his equipment.

The penalty was just the latest case of a black firefighter alleging discrimination against a fire department in Los Angeles and surrounding communities.

According to Carter Stephens’ suit, supervisors and co-workers also put mucus on his uniform and a captain referred to him by the “N” word.

Stephens, 55, said he felt vindicated after enduring racially-motivated attacks for five years.

“The general thought was, ‘You just have go ahead and take a beating. Maybe it’ll stop,’” he said. “That’s what I tried to do. But it wouldn’t stop.”

[To read the full story, click here.]

Friday, December 28, 2007

Essay 4910

This ad is missing something: a decent concept.

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4909

From The Chicago Tribune…


Is nothing sacred? A seasonal kvetch

Jews getting crowded out of a Christmas Eve tradition

By Barbara Brotman, Tribune staff reporter

How can I put this in a way that does not cause offense?

What are all you non-Jewish people doing at the movies on Christmas Eve?

I mean no disrespect or hostility. But Christmas Eve is approaching, and with it our family’s annual tradition of the Christmas Eve movie. It is a tradition we share with many of our fellow Jews. It is part of the classic Jewish response to the holiday we do not celebrate--Chinese food and a movie.

Christmas Eve at the movies was a beautiful tradition. We would show up at the theater seconds before the show was to begin. We would saunter up to the window and buy a ticket from the poor, bored schlub who had drawn Christmas Eve duty.

We would go to the snack bar, where as the sole customers we would enjoy personal, if depressed, service. Then we would take our seats--really, any seats, since we were often the only people in the theater, unless there was a smattering of other Jews. Then we would stretch out and enjoy the movie, our Christmas Eve tradition observed and thoroughly enjoyed.

But in recent years a dismaying trend has appeared. Movie theaters are now packed on Christmas Eve. We have been reduced to buying our tickets in advance.

Maybe some of the crowding is due to an influx of Hindus or Buddhists. But most of the movie-goers appear to be Christian; some are even wearing Christmas sweaters.

And so I ask my Christian friends and neighbors, as they stream into the multiplex on Christmas Eve: What are you doing here?

Aren’t you supposed to be home in the bosom of your families? Shouldn’t you be trimming trees, roasting chestnuts and singing carols? This beautiful holiday celebrated amid home and family--why are you spending it at the 21-screen?

It seems so wrong. Christmas is a time of tradition. You who observe it decorate your homes, wrap gifts and attend religious services. We who don’t eat cashew chicken and go to see the current equivalent of “Die Hard.” Each group enjoys its special heritage, and we coexist in a spirit of mutual respect.

It doesn’t bother me to be excluded from Christmas, any more than it would bother me to be excluded from a neighbor’s family reunion. It’s just not my party. That’s why I make my own, complete with coming attractions and Jujubes.

But now my party is being crashed. We Jews go to the movies because we have nothing else to do. But you who have plenty of other things to do are now coming to the movies too.

Is this invasion fair? We don’t turn the tables and try to horn in on your traditions. You don’t see us hogging spots on Santa’s knee or buying up all the Christmas lights for our back yards, do you? We respect your rituals. Why not respect ours?

OK, maybe you need a break from wrapping gifts. Maybe you need a break from your families. I can understand. Sometimes we need a break from our families too. Still, you don’t see us skipping High Holiday dinners and crashing your end-of-summer barbecues instead.

And so, a Christmas Eve plea:

Go home, people. Be with your families, and not in the same row in Theater 2. Put your stockings on the mantel, not your drink cup in the holder. A very Merry Christmas to you. And for us, extra salt on the popcorn.

Essay 4908

From The New York Times…


Essence Editor Is Leaving Magazine


Susan L. Taylor, the longtime editor and driving force behind Essence, the magazine aimed at black women, is leaving the publication after 37 years to devote more time to an organization she founded to help troubled children.

Ms. Taylor, 61, joined Essence in 1970, the year it was first published, as a freelance fashion and beauty editor after founding her own company, Nequai Cosmetics. She became editor in chief in 1981, a post she held until 2000, when she was promoted to publications director.

She has most recently been the magazine’s editorial director and author of its In the Spirit column, which dispenses inspirational words about things like finance and prayer.

Although Essence, which is owned by the Time Inc. division of Time Warner, did not make an official announcement, Ms. Taylor chose to send out word of the change via e-mail.

“I am taking a break in South Africa and will have little access to e-mail,” she wrote in an automated out-of-office message this month. “When I come back to the states in mid-January, I will be leaving Essence to do what at this juncture in my life has become a larger work for me — building the National Cares Mentoring Movement, which I founded as Essence Cares and today is my deepest passion.”

Essence Cares encourages black adults to serve as mentors for at-risk young people. According to the program’s Web site, “Essence Cares is a call to action for every able black adult to take under wing a vulnerable young person, which costs nothing.”

While Ms. Taylor rose to the top of the magazine world — in 1999 she became the first black woman to receive the Henry Johnson Fisher Award from the Magazine Publishers of America, one of the industry’s top honors — she used her position to highlight civic causes. As an advocate for children and improving education, she once calling failing schools “the pipelines to prison.”

This year she appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to promote the National Cares Mentoring Movement, which she founded in 2006 with the goal of signing up more than one million people to become mentors. The organization is a coalition of advocacy groups, including the National Urban League, 100 Black Men in America and the Y.W.C.A.

“It’s a burning desire to use whatever resources she has to help our young people,” said Terrie Williams, a longtime friend of Ms. Taylor’s and a former communications executive at Essence who runs a public relations firm in New York. “She lives and breathes it.”

Ms. Williams said that Ms. Taylor “takes young people with her to most of the events she goes to. She’s put kids through college. She’s made calls to get kids in distressed situations in to college. She really is an icon in the black community.”

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Ms. Taylor used Essence as a platform to keep the plight of New Orleans, where the magazine had long held an annual music festival, in the nation’s consciousness. She was appointed by Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to the Louisiana Recovery Authority, a panel that advised the governor on rebuilding efforts.

In July, an article in The Times-Picayune of New Orleans described her as a “traveling saleswoman for New Orleans and other hurricane-battered regions of the state.”

Ms. Taylor’s fourth book, “All About Love,” a collection of her columns, will be published in February.

Essence, a monthly publication, has a circulation of about 1 million. On Dec. 18, Michelle Ebanks, the president of Essence, sent a memo to the magazine’s staff, saying of Ms. Taylor, “it is not often that you have the chance to work with a living legend, and we are all lucky to have had this extraordinary privilege.”

Essay 4907

Essay 4906

Taking yourself a little too seriously, Post Selects?

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4905

From The Chicago Tribune…


Illiniwek fans insist story of Chief isn’t over

By Eric Zorn

My original idea for today, in the spirit of those year-end, gone-but-not-forgotten roundups, was to kick the last bit of ceremonial dirt into the grave of Chief Illiniwek.

Illiniwek, 80, was pronounced dead 10 months ago in Champaign.

One of the few remaining costumed American Indian figures to dance around at big-time sporting events, the fictional Chief succumbed to a long illness that some diagnosed as chronic political correctness but that looked to me and others more like malignant cultural insensitivity.

Either way, University of Illinois trustees, weary after two decades of controversy and under pressure from NCAA officials who had deemed the symbol “hostile and abusive” in imposing sanctions on the school, ordered that Illiniwek’s Feb. 21 appearance at a home basketball game be his last.

A large media contingent gathered for the send-off. It included tearful lamentations and cries of “Save the Chief!” from those whose attachment to the symbol looked more like defiance than reverence; more like a desire to save their own prerogatives rather than a desire to honor native peoples.

Time tends to kill such sentiment. Once a controversial nickname, mascot or symbol goes away, fans ultimately realize that the school or the team is not only still standing, but stronger -- more unified, less riven by controversy and poisoned by ill-will and misunderstanding. When I went to update the Illiniwek story, at first it appeared that the U. of I. community had moved on quickly, in time for the Fighting Illini’s appearance in next week’s Rose Bowl: The Web sites of the Chief Illiniwek Educational Foundation, Students for Chief Illiniwek and Honor the Chief Society were inactive or outright dead. There wasn’t even anything new since spring at the Internet home of “Retire the Chief.”

“The Honor the Chief Society and Students for Chief Illiniwek still exist, but we don’t hear much if anything from them,” wrote U. of I. spokesman Tom Hardy in response to my request for news. And the threat that alumni would withhold financial support in protest never materialized. In fact “donations are up in the past year,” he wrote.

So … closure? No. “A lot of Chief apparel is seen on campus and at Memorial Stadium or Assembly Hall on game days,” Hardy wrote. “At halftime when the Marching Illini perform the three-in-one medley [of school songs], fans offer a rousing ‘Chief!’ cheer at the conclusion, as if they have just witnessed the Chief dance.”

There was also a flurry of indignation and counter-indignation in October when the university, citing students’ rights to free expression, allowed Illiniwek imagery to appear in the school’s homecoming parade.

Paul Schmitt, the U. of I. junior who heads up Students for Chief Illiniwek, told me not to be fooled by the lack of protests or Web activism.

“We’ve been trying to stay under the radar,” he said. “We’re getting ready for our big push.”

Nearly 100 supporters attend meetings, Schmitt said, and they’re planning to use “the element of surprise” in upcoming efforts (about which he would not be specific) to “bring back the Chief and restore his legacy as one of honor, not shame.”

Honor the Chief Society co-founder Roger Huddleston, a retired businessman, was similarly emphatic but not as coy in describing the “far from dead” campaign to bring back the tradition that was born at halftime of a football game in 1926.

He said his group has come to believe that pressuring U. of I. administrators is ineffective, and that the best strategy will be to work to change state law so that university trustees will be elected rather than politically appointed.

Huddleston cited opinion polls showing overwhelming popular support for the symbol as a reason to believe voters would choose pro-Chief candidates to undo the work of the current board.

“This is not just bluster, not just rah-rah,” he said. “People think we’ll get over it and go away. But we’re not over it, and we’re not going away.”

This determination and hope look like denial to me, but it causes me to stay my foot at the side of the open grave. The Chief Illiniwek story is neither gone nor forgotten.

Not yet.

Essay 4904

Absolut High Octane…?

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Essay 4903

Evading controversy with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Wesley Snipes’ tax-evasion trial will take place next month in Ocala, despite the actor’s attempts to evade the Florida city. Snipes and his lawyers argued racism would prevent a fair trial, while federal prosecutors previously stated the arguments had “no basis in reality.” You be the judge. (Thanks to Jetpacks for the Ocala story.)

• At least one Jewish group is backing off from criticizing Will Smith for his Hitler remark (see Essay 4892). The national director of the US Anti-Defamation League said, “We welcome and accept Will Smith’s statement that Hitler was a ‘vicious killer’ and that he did not mean for his remarks about the Nazi leader to be mistaken as praise.” It’s just as well, given that the boycott of Smith’s latest flick doesn’t appear to be working.

Essay 4902

No, the moon is not made of green cheese; rather, it’s highly absorbent diaper material.

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4901

Essay 4900

Did Anheuser-Busch deliberately make this underage-drinking message laughably bad?

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Essay 4899

From The Chicago Tribune…



No black-and-white answers

Several months after racial injustices were exposed, some wounds have begun to heal. And some have festered.

By Howard Witt, Tribune senior correspondent

Plotted on a map, the towns of Paris, Linden and Jena line up neatly along a 300-mile diagonal that falls across the Texas-Louisiana border.

But to many African-Americans, that line looks more like a gash across the beneficent face that the New South tries to present to the rest of the nation.

In each of those three mostly white towns, local incidents of perceived discrimination against blacks drew national outrage and civil rights protests after the Tribune wrote stories about them, thrusting their long-obscured racial tensions into the open during a tumultuous year.

Now, Tribune senior correspondent Howard Witt has returned to discover whether the fundamental racial dynamics of Linden, Paris and Jena were altered in any meaningful way after the TV cameras departed and the headlines faded away.

The answer in Linden appears to be yes. In Paris, not much. And in Jena, it’s too soon to tell.

As spotlight dims, shadows remain

The stories read to many like harrowing echoes from the worst days of the Jim Crow South.

[To read the full story, click here.]

Essay 4898

From The Miami Herald…


Exhibit traces comic industry’s Jewish origins


It was 1940 and the Jews were dying. Shot down on cobblestone streets, starved in barbed-wire enclosures, frozen in winter snows, racked with disease. All seemed lost.

Then, from up in the sky, like a bird, like a plane, came Superman. With ridiculous ease, he captured the tyrants Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. “I’d like to land a strictly non-Aryan sock on your jaw,” the Man of Steel told the Führer. He settled for delivering both men to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

It did not happen, of course, except in the pages of a short comic-book story in Look magazine in 1940. In real life, Hitler and Stalin lived for years more and consumed millions of lives. But hey, a kid can dream, can’t he?

Visit the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach between now and April and you will find that Superman tale in an exhibition honoring the dreams of those kids. Of course, they’re not kids anymore. They are men long ago grown old or dead. But in the years of war and rumors of war, they were young men and boys who daydreamed. In the process, they dreamt up an icon as fully expressive of American values as baseball, jazz and a cheeseburger, side of fries, with a large Coke.

He was the superhero. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. And Jewish, too.

Indeed, the first superhero, the aforementioned Superman, first published in 1938, was created by two Jewish boys from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Batman followed in 1939, brought to life by two Jewish men, Bob Kane (born Robert Kahn) and Bill Finger. Captain America, born in 1940, was the brainchild of two Jewish artists: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg). In the early 1960s, Kirby, along with writer Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) reinvented the superhero genre with the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Thor, the Hulk and (with a non-Jewish artist named Steve Ditko) Spider-Man. And so on. In fact, one could argue that had there been no Jews, there might have been no superheroes.

Marcia Jo Zerivitz, founder, executive director, and chief curator of the Jewish Museum, says that pioneering role was news to her when she happened to see Zap! Pow! Bam! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books 1938-1950, at The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta a few years ago. “When I saw it,” she says, “I fell in love with it. First of all, I didn’t know that these [characters] were created by Jews. I figured if I didn’t know, a lot of other people aren’t going to know.” So she arranged to bring it to South Florida.

[To read the full story, click here.]

Essay 4897

Check out this General Motors ad running in the latest issue of Black Enterprise.

The opening line of copy makes an interesting statement:

By purchasing a vehicle from a GM minority-owned dealership, you are not only supporting a minority-owned business, but you are investing in our communities and the future of people that look like you.

Um, OK.

GM clearly supports minority-owned dealerships. So let’s see if the commitment extends to minority-owned advertising agency partners.

As the ad’s tagline declares, “Our Future is Your Future…”

Essay 4896

Essay 4895

The “bad air” is bad. And what’s with the bug-eyed Black guy in the back?

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4894

Callie Herd is a woman dedicated to helping minority students find information on college scholarships and more.

Herd said, “What I’m doing is trying to educate them. It’s not that Blacks and Latinos don’t want to go to college or need scholarship money; they just don’t know what is going on. At the advice of my son, I started a blog to get past writing individual letters. That just about wore me out. But the blog reaches so many.”

“It is located at There are millions of dollars available, just waiting for those who know how to ask for them. … It’s all about knowing, and that’s all I’m trying to provide. Well-used knowledge is part of the solution.”

Deadlines are fast approaching for many scholarships, internships, fellowships and summer programs. Get moving and spread the word to others.

Essay 4893

The budget for this ad was wasted. Completely wasted.

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Essay 4892

Goodwill and cheer in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Will Smith sparked controversy by referring to Hitler during an interview. Smith was explaining his belief that everyone is basically good and said, “Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘Let me do the most evil thing I can do today.’ … I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good.’ … Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.” The Jewish Defense League believes the actor labeled Hitler as “good,” and the group called for a boycott of Smith’s latest flick. Celebrity gossip Web sites also posted criticism for Smith. However, the actor was quick to angrily respond. “It is an awful and disgusting lie,” said Smith in a statement. “It speaks to the dangerous power of an ignorant person with a pen. I am incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such ludicrous misinterpretation. … Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet.” Hitler is also known as a “comedy killer,” as Smith unfortunately discovered.

• Rev. Al Sharpton received a holiday gift from federal authorities—a three-week extension to provide financial paperwork for a mysterious investigation (see Essay 4837). Note to Sharpton: Avoid referring to federal authorities as Nazi-like.

• Jay-Z announced he’ll step down from his role as president of Def Jam Records. “It’s time for me to take on new challenges,” said Jay-Z in a written statement. “I am pleased to have had the opportunity to build upon the Def Jam legacy, helping to move the company into a new era of artistic success.” Jay-Z is rumored to be plotting an advertising-related venture with Steve Stoute. Wish these guys could create ads as good as Jay-Z’s music.

• A new study shows parents may be in denial over their kids’ obesity issues. One expert speculated the study indicates parents falsely think kids will outgrow obesity. Or maybe the parents aren’t noticing the problem because they’re too busy stuffing their own faces. Pass the Christmas turkey and gravy!

Essay 4891


Essay 4890

Essay 4889

If you weren’t clinically depressed already, you will be after reading all the disclaimers here.

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Monday, December 24, 2007

Essay 4888

From The Associated Press…


Drunk Santas go on rampage in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A gang of about 50 apparently drunken Santas invaded a New Zealand cinema complex at the weekend — frightening customers, damaging property and swearing, the cinema’s manager said Monday.

Police believe the Santas were a group of university students dressed in Santa suits who ran amok for 20 seconds through Hoyts Cinema complex in the South Island city of Christchurch on Saturday, manager Derek Rive said.

“As they ran through the complex they wrecked everything they could, the Christmas tree — they bowled everything over ... (they were) just absolute fools,” he told the Associated Press.

He said the “hooligans” abused patrons, chanted obscenities, ripped down posters and knocked over cardboard figures advertising films.

“How often do a bunch of Santas just go and wreak havoc?” Rive said. “It was a random act of stupidity” that upset moviegoers.

Security cameras caught the action, but Rive said with their hats, white beards and suits, the rampaging Santas cannot be identified.

Cinema patron Kate Gorman, 35, was waiting to see the movie “Enchanted” with her two children when the group arrived.

“At least 50 drunk idiots dressed up like Santa came in through the main door,” she told local paper the Christchurch Press.

“They were kicking things over, ripping down posters and smashing everything in sight,” Gorman said. “They were all dressed as Santa and shouting ‘Ho (expletive) ho.’”

Her children, Gabriella, 6, and Jackson, 7, had been confused by the incident.

“They asked me, ‘Are they Santa’s helpers gone crazy?’ and I said ‘No, they are just idiots,’” she was reported saying.

As they left, the Santas triggered a fire alarm, forcing several hundred patrons to evacuate the complex for half an hour.

Essay 4887

Um, does anyone else sense a hint of bestiality in this message?

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4886

AdPulp’s Danny G remarked on Essay 4873, making observations worth discussing further.

G wrote: “Agencies who spout off about brands using the web to have an ersatz ‘two-way dialogue’ with consumers need to wake up and realize that yes, they are brands too, and the dialogue about the agency itself is fair game.”

For the most part, today’s advertising agencies are lousy brands.

Agencies are quick to convince (accent on con) clients that the standard marketing and advertising tactics are required for successful brands. Yet the typical agency seldom self-prescribes its own advice. The better shops take a “let-the-work-speak-for-itself” approach, essentially relying on word-of-mouth. Of course, no agency would ever suggest this course of action for clients. At least not without charging them for the plan.

On rare occasions, an agency will attempt to produce its own advertising and branding campaign. The efforts usually demonstrate that in addition to being lousy brands, agencies are lousy clients. Just ask any creative team that has ever been assigned to such a task. (Note to agencies: You don’t recommend that clients keep stuff in-house, so you shouldn’t either. Doctors won’t perform surgery on themselves, the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, etc. If you want a breakthrough campaign for your shop, hire Wieden + Kennedy or Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to execute it.)

Self-promotion aside, today’s advertising agencies are lousy brands for more reasons. Moronic management, mergers and buyouts are the major culprits, and they’re often intertwined. When viewed through a branding lens, it’s easy to understand the problems.

Having morons at the helm is the equivalent of having a shitty product or service. If your product or service is inherently shitty, then your brand will ultimately stink too. No rocket science there. It’s just the way things are. To compound issues, moronic management tends to be out of touch with the current marketplace. If a brand fails to evolve with society and becomes outdated and irrelevant, well, you get the picture.

Mergers and buyouts are killing advertising agency brands. The size of the holding company is directly proportionate to the awfulness of the merging murder. Back in the day, great advertising agencies had distinct personalities and images. You’d be hard-pressed to attach positive brand characteristics to IPG, WPP, Havas, Omnicom and Publicis—or any characteristics, for that matter.

Mergers and buyouts accelerate management shifts, as leaders jockey for power positions. The result is a rollercoaster ride of altering objectives and corporate vision revisions. The latest regime promises to invent “The Agency of the Future,” despite the fact that the architects are likely old school hacks incapable of coping in the present.

Plus, mergers and buyouts lead to constant name changes, exacerbating brand fuzziness. Imagine if McDonald’s or Coca-Cola altered their labels as frequently as agencies. The new monikers sound and look bad. The reprinting for business cards and letterheads can’t be cheap.

In BDAs (George Parker’s favorite abbreviation for Big Dumb Agencies), employees aren’t even clear on their employer’s official name. Need proof? If you’re a BDA drone, sign up for LinkedIn. Every week, you’ll receive a bunch of contacts that weren’t on your original connections list. Why? Because they identified your common agency by a different name than you did. Acme. Acme Worldwide. Acme Communications. The Acme Group. Acme RSCG. A.C.M.E. Publicis Acme. AcmeFCB. Whatever.

If agency folks don’t know their company’s brand, what must the clients be thinking?

If advertising agencies fuck up their own brands, why should they be entrusted with a client’s brand?

Essay 4885

For pharmaceutical advertising, breakthrough concepts involve having fun with legal disclaimers.

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4884

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Essay 4883

This ad is real. Dumb.

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Essay 4882

Special treatment in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s office of independent review reported Mel Gibson may have received special treatment when arrested for drunk driving last year. A supervisor apparently tried to censor the arrest report—which detailed the star’s anti-Semitic rants—but a captain overruled the attempt. Meanwhile, it was decided that Paris Hilton received no special treatment when she was jailed for a probation violation. Of course, Gibson and Hilton technically received special treatment in warranting these special reports, as regular people arrested in Los Angeles probably don’t see such concern from officials.

• The Miami Herald interviewed GM CEO Rick Wagoner, who expressed guarded optimism about the year ahead. “We look forward to the sunny days, but realistically we can’t plan on it for next year,” said Wagoner. “We’ve got the best car in the segment [with the 2008 Chevy Malibu]. It will be a very good test case to see how far we can, how quickly we can, begin to change not only image but then consideration of the purchase.” The automaker will need to do better than the forgettable “It’s the car you can’t ignore” campaign.

Essay 4881

Most dog foods contain animal by-products and things you’d never feed your family. Um, you’re not supposed to feed your family dog food.

[MultiCultClassics often critiques questionable work created by multicultural advertising agencies. But the truth is, in terms of volume, percentages and any other measuring standard, the majority of lousy ideas are produced by White agencies. In the spirit of inclusion, this week MultiCultClassics spotlights some White ad trash.]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Essay 4880

In concert with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• R. Kelly isn’t going to jail for missing a Wednesday court date. However, the trial date has been set for May 9. Additionally, the singer must cancel a Virginia concert date on January 13 to ensure he makes a January 14 court date. The judge didn’t completely forbid Kelly from touring, claiming it would adversely affect show workers and folks who bought tickets. Sounds like the judge has tickets.

• The friend allegedly shot by Remy Ma filed an $80 million lawsuit against the artist. The suit charges the shooting was part of a “pattern of harassment, threats, intimidation, physical violence and illegal acts” by Remy Ma that record labels encouraged to “promote the ‘Remy Ma’ persona.” Wow, if this suit works, there will be trouble for lots of record labels.

• Circuit City saw 3Q losses balloon to $207.3 million. “Clearly we are very dissatisfied,” said the retailer’s chief executive. Maybe Circuit City should change its tagline from “Simplicity Guaranteed” to “Bankruptcy Guaranteed.”

Essay 4879

From The New York Times, a follow-up to an item in Essay 4844…


Ransom-Note Ads About Children’s Health Are Canceled


The Child Study Center at New York University said on Wednesday that it would halt an advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness of children’s mental and neurological disorders after the effort drew a strongly negative reaction.

The two-week-old campaign, created pro bono by the advertising agency BBDO, used the device of ransom notes to deliver ominous messages concerning disorders like autism, depression, bulimia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The note about autism, for example, read: “We have your son. We will make sure he will no longer be able to care for himself or interact socially as long as he lives.”

Advocates for children with autism and for other special-needs children said the ads reinforced negative stereotypes.

“While many individuals spoke to us about the need to continue the campaign, inadvertently we offended others,” said Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, the Child Study Center’s founder and director, who estimated that he had received 3,000 e-mail messages and phone calls. Thirty percent of those praised the initiative, he said, and 70 percent expressed anger and hurt.

“One woman was crying to me on the phone that she felt alone and ashamed about her child and thanking me because the campaign captured how she felt,” he said. “But we also heard from some parents who are working day and night to help their children, and the way they read the ransom messages was that they weren’t doing enough.”

Ultimately, Dr. Koplewicz said, “I was concerned about the focus of the debate being on the ads rather than on the children.”

Kristina Chew, founder of the blog Autism Vox and the mother of a 10-year-old son with autism, praised the decision. “I’m very glad the campaign is over,” she said.

Dr. Koplewicz said he had “started conversations” with critics of the ransom-note ads. “They said they felt our intentions were good and they wanted to help, so we want to hear their voices as we start to plan the next ads with BBDO.” The goal is to introduce a new campaign in the next three months.

He said that the decision was made by the Child Study Center with no pressure from N.Y.U., and he maintained that, despite the negative publicity, no ground had been lost.

“It’s the first time that the issue of children’s mental health has gotten national attention without being precipitated by a shooting at a high school or college,” he said.

Essay 4878

(A new parody ad in response to the latest GM recall.)

Essay 4877

This ad lacks power.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Essay 4876

Didn’t want to finish the week without one more jab at General Motors.

While scanning past posts for the upcoming MultiCultClassics Year In Review, we stumbled upon Essay 2017.

Last April, shortly after the Don Imus fiasco, Adweek published a story stating certain corporations would definitely consider advertising with the shock jock if he returned to the airwaves.

The story’s spotlighted corporation? Why, GM, of course.

According to Adweek, “After GM initially pulled its ads last Wednesday, the automaker noted that because Imus had apologized and promised to make changes in his program, it was ‘monitoring’ the situation. Asked for clarification, company spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said, ‘I think that would indicate that we were open to revisiting at some point down the road’ returning to the broadcast. Carney said that if Imus does land somewhere else in radio land, and ‘if an opportunity is presented to us [to advertise], we would assess it just like we do all the other opportunities that come our way.’”

Carney, incidentally, is the GM spokeswoman extensively quoted in the recent alleged misreporting by sources including Black Enterprise.

In April, MultiCultClassics wrote a line that’s proven to be downright prophetic: “It’s clear that General Motors loves minorities—but only when doing so meets profit objectives.”

Which leads to the latest parody ad…

Essay 4875

There’s an interesting perspective on diversity at Marketing Conversation, a blog on New Marketing and Social Media by Abraham Harrison LLC—a firm specializing in interactive marketing based in Washington, D.C. Writer Jonathan Trenn presents honest and provocative observations worth checking out. You may view the post here.

Essay 4874

Friday rap-up in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• R. Kelly missed his court date on Wednesday because his tour bus was stopped by police in Utah. Now a judge may stop the singer’s tour by putting him in jail as punishment for the Wednesday no-show. “These are extraordinary matters to have these breaks given to you and then nobody shows up,” said the judge. “I don’t know what I am going to do. I have to consider it.” Better consider the potential courthouse protests if the scheduled Friday concert in Chicago is canceled.

• Remy Ma was denied the opportunity to perform at concerts in Europe. A judge refused to return the rapper’s passport. Remy Ma is facing charges of shooting a friend at a New York nightclub. The judge declared, “Given the circumstances and the seriousness of the charges, and the fact that she has pending intimidation charges, I’m not prepared to let the defendant travel out of the country.” Maybe she can replace R. Kelly on Friday in Chicago.

Essay 4873

A recent post at Agency Spy speculated on the state of affairs at Nicholson Kovac, intimately detailing management shifts and high-level departures. While scanning the insider scoops, one can’t help but wonder, “Who the fuck is Nicholson Kovac?”

In case you’re interested—and you really shouldn’t be—the 25-year-old Kansas City agency boasts integrated services for a handful of nondescript clients. (That’s co-founder Pete Kovac pictured above.) With all due respect, it’s doubtful anyone outside of the Kansas City metro area has ever heard of the joint. Hell, it’s safe to bet the majority of lifelong KC residents couldn’t identify the shop.

But there it is, taking an online beating for the entire ad universe to witness. A Nicholson Kovac executive even went so far as to tell Agency Spy, “The false rumors and allegations you reference appear to be the work of someone attempting to use your blog as a means of settling some personal score. Whomever is circulating these falsehoods may well be subject to legal action, and we would advise Agency Spy not to become party to this obvious attempt to malign NK.”

Yikes. And yawn.

Yet behind the overblown drama is a semi-disturbing trend: The Revenge of the Disgruntled Ad Employee. Or in most cases, Ex-Employee.

The terminated are becoming the terminators. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take this anymore. So they’re going postal with posts, broadcasting the dysfunctional, irresponsible and allegedly criminal transgressions of former bosses. Why, there’s more dirty laundry than a Tide with Bleach convention.

The bombed agencies probably have themselves to blame for the mean-spirited mudslinging. Incompetent leaders ultimately rally armies of enemies. Plus, as industry-wide downsizing continues, layoffs are bungled with increased insensitivity. Axed employees grudgingly sign separation agreements and collect minimal severances, seething to see senior honchos still enjoying the traditional perks.

Blogs like Agency Spy and Adrants routinely feature threads packed with personal attacks and angry exposés. AdScam has essentially become a menagerie of canned IPG staffers ready to rip the inept company’s management 24/7.

There’s a lesson to be learned, although it’s unlikely the offending agencies will catch on. Hence, here’s the idiot-proof lowdown. If you shit on your workers, expect to get excrement tossed back in your direction. And if you don’t want your ignorant, immoral and illegal acts published on the World Wide Web, well, stop committing ignorant, immoral and illegal acts.

Just a thought.