Friday, February 29, 2008

5176: What Is Sexy?

A sexy MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• I’m too sexy for my brand. At least the chief executive for Victoria’s Secret seems to think so. “We’ve so much gotten off our heritage … too sexy, and we use the word sexy a lot and really have forgotten the ultra feminine,” said Sharen Turney. “I feel so strongly about us getting back to our heritage and really thinking in terms of ultra feminine and not just the word sexy and becoming much more relevant to our customer.” Yeah, right. Look for a cross-promotional event between Victoria’s Secret and Dove Real Beauty.

• I’m too sexy for my job. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is taking heat, as a City Council committee passed a resolution requesting his resignation. The mayor is facing possible perjury charges stemming from his role in a whistle-blower lawsuit, where he denied under oath to having an affair with a staff member. Lurid text messages between the mayor and the former associate appeared to dispute his original contentions. So far, Kilpatrick is refusing to budge. He has probably not responded to text message requests for a statement.

• I’m too sexy for my cell. The number of Americans in prison is at an all-time high, with one of every 100 adults behind bars. “For some groups, the incarceration numbers are especially startling,” stated the report. “While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for Black males in that age group the figure is one in nine.” This is not good news for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

5175: Black History Month 2008.

Life comes at you fast®—but progress is another story.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

5174: Mo’ Mobile Marketing.


Urban Pioneers
How hip-hop is transforming the mobile marketing space

By Shahnaz Mahmud

NEW YORK In his hit song, “People Like Myself,” hip-hop artist Timbaland writes that people like him “only hang with self cause that’s the way to go.” But Timbaland found another way to go: He struck a precedent-setting deal with Verizon Wireless to distribute a collection of songs directly to the carrier’s V Cast subscribers, and to create content such as behind-the-scenes video footage of his recordings. Timbaland’s marketing effort helps Verizon as well, as the carrier aims to be a destination for young urbanites attuned to cutting-edge music and culture.

Timbaland is just one of several hip-hop artists and producers who are pioneering the mobile media space. And in transforming it into a major marketing platform, they can serve as models for brands ranging from packaged goods to autos trying to reach consumers on the move while leveraging new technologies.

Hip-Hop History

Hip-hop, born three decades ago at a Bronx block party when a DJ scratched a record to create the break-beat sound, has exploded into a culture that thrives on, and influences, music, fashion and art. It is the epicenter of cool for the young people driven to wear the newest styles and own the latest gadgets. It makes sense, then, that hip-hop artists more than those in any other genre have embraced the mobile medium as a tool for maximum audience reach.

“Hip-hop artists have done a tremendous job of tapping into the mind-set of who their consumer is,” said Kerry Perse, director of digital relationship marketing at Horizon Media’s interactive division.

Another recording artist using the mobile space is Rapper Murs (Making Underground Raw Shit), who is creating mobisodes (to be distributed across all carriers) to promote his new album, Murs for President. And fellow rapper Snoop Dogg -- both he and Murs work with The Cashmere Agency -- will launch a mobile video campaign this summer, for his new album, The Blue Carpet Treatment.

Additionally, late last year QD3 Entertainment, an independent production company led by Quincy Jones III that produces urban-focused content (e.g., documentary films), launched a QD3-branded channel on Helio.

“Hip-hop has been a viral phenomenon from day one,” noted QD3’s Jones, chairman, CEO and CCO. “I think that mobile and the Internet platforms provide an arena where they can do their own thing. I think it’s the empowerment of it that’s big as well. Like doing your own thing and being in charge of your destiny.”

[Read the full story here.]

5173: Collateral Smearing.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Missed point on faith

By Ahmed M. Rehab

OK, we get the point. Barack Obama is not a Muslim. He has made that clear, time and again.

As well he should: The rumors are baseless, maliciously spun by political adversaries with the intention of taking votes away from Obama’s promising presidential campaign run.

Obama is entitled to set the record straight. But that’s not the end of the story.

The broader issue is: What does this attempt to smear Obama say about our society?

More personally, what does it say about my newborn nephew’s standing in society? Is he entitled to the dreams of his Muslim father that the boy could grow up to be president if he works as hard as Obama and is as ambitious?

Obama has not gone far enough to challenge the notion that religious affiliation could disqualify Americans from serving their nation. Nor has Mitt Romney, a Mormon, Mike Huckabee, a Baptist, or any other candidate.

It’s time for all of them to be quizzed on the meaning of citizenship as preached and practiced in this great democracy. As a voter, I would much rather know their stance on equal employment policies than which church they attend.

Whenever I address young Muslim audiences that may be struggling with identity issues, I remind them that this is their country, too. I tell them they should observe their civic duties, vote and, if it behooves them, run for public office and help bring about the positive reform they often passively expect of others.

It goes against all that I advocate that the mere rumor of a person being a Muslim -- let alone actually being one -- could be a tool to destroy political aspirations. This in a nation that prides itself on being the heart of the free world.

When it comes to Muslims, the divisive rhetoric coming out of this year’s elections ranges from the exclusionary to the just plain bigoted.

[Read the full perspective here.]

5172: Mea Culpa Runneth Over.

Sorry state of affairs in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Now Congress is considering issuing an apology over slavery. “We’ve seen states step forward on this,” said Sen. Tom Harkin. “I’m really shocked, just shocked” that the federal government hasn’t said it’s sorry. “It’s time to do so.” Trying to score some early points with potential Commander-In-Chief Barack Obama?

• The producer of the Oscars telecast said he’ll apologize to Whoopi Goldberg for excluding her from a montage depicting past hosts. “No harm was intended, and I feel very, very badly that she was left out,” said Gil Cates. “I’m going to call her and tell her that.” No word yet if Congress will join him.

• As part of the baristas retraining, Starbucks encouraged its employees to spend more time chatting with customers. Maybe they can also express heartfelt apologies for the long lines and high prices.

• Sprint recorded a $29.5 billion loss for 4Q 2007. “We plan to share some of our initiatives for improving the customer experience and operations next quarter,” said CEO Dan Hesse. “Strategic assessments and changes may take longer to complete.” So much for moving at the speed of light.

• Michael Jackson managed to avoid seeing his Neverland Ranch go up for auction. The King of Pop secured a loan to deal with the $24.5 million he owes on the property. Maybe he can sell Thriller ringtones to Sprint.

• Sears Chairman Edward Lampert thinks he and his team are like the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Based on 4Q profits that plunged 47 percent, he’s probably closer to the New York Knicks.

• Manhattan prosecutors want a DNA sample from rapper Ja Rule in order to connect him with a handgun seized from his ride. If you don’t get spit, you must acquit.

5171: Oh No, Mr. Bill!

Fox News Jackass Bill O’Reilly made another stupid comment, inspiring the following open letter from Star Jones Reynolds.

I’m sick to death of people like Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly, and his ilk thinking that he can use a racial slur against a black woman who could be the next First Lady of the United States, give a half-assed apology and not be taken to task and called on his crap.

This week O’Reilly gave the following response to a caller on his radio show who was making unsubstantiated negative charges against presidential candidate Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle Obama:

“And I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels -- that is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that’s legit. We’ll track it down.”

What the hell? If it’s “legit,” you’re going to “track it down?” And then what do you plan to do?

How dare this white man with a microphone and the trust of the public think that in 2008, he can still put the words “lynch” and “party” together in the same sentence with reference to a black woman; in this case, Michelle Obama? I don’t care how you “spin it” in the “no spin zone,” that statement in and of itself is racist, unacceptable and inappropriate on every level.

O’Reilly claims his comments were taken out of context. Please don’t insult my intelligence while you’re insulting me. I’ve read the comments and heard them delivered in O’Reilly’s own voice; and there is no right context that exists. So, his insincere apology and “out-of-context” excuse is not going to cut it with me.

And just so we’re clear, this has nothing to do with the 2008 presidential election, me being a Democrat, him claiming to be Independent while talking Republican, the liberal media or a conservative point of view. To the contrary, this is about crossing a line in the sand that needs to be drawn based on history, dignity, taste and truth.

Bill, I’m not sure of where you come from, but let me tell you what the phrase “lynching party” conjures up to me, a black woman born in North Carolina. Those words depict the image of a group of white men who are angry with the state of the own lives getting together, drinking more than they need to drink, lamenting how some black person has moved forward (usually ahead of them in stature or dignity), and had the audacity to think that they are equal. These same men for years, instead of looking at what changes, should and could make in their own lives that might remove that bitterness born of perceived privilege, these white men take all of that resentment and anger and decide to get together and drag the closest black person near them to their death by hanging them from a tree -- usually after violent beating, torturing and violating their human dignity. Check your history books, because you don’t need a masters or a law degree from Harvard to know that is what constitutes a “lynching party.”

Imagine, Michelle and Barack Obama having the audacity to think that they have the right to the American dream, hopes, and ideals. O’Reilly must think to himself: how dare they have the arrogance to think they can stand in a front of this nation, challenge the status quo and express the frustration of millions? When this happens, the first thing that comes to mind for O’Reilly and people like him is: “it’s time for a party.”

Not so fast…don’t order the rope just yet.

Would O’Reilly ever in a million years use this phrase with reference to Elizabeth Edwards, Cindy McCain or Judi Nathan? I mean, in all of the statements and criticisms that were made about Judi Nathan, the one-time mistress turned missus, of former presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, I never heard any talk of forming a lynch party because of something she said or did.

So why is it that when you’re referring to someone who’s African-American you must dig to a historical place of pain, agony and death to symbolize your feelings? Lynching is not a joke to off-handedly throw around and it is not a metaphor that has a place in political commentary; provocative or otherwise. I admit that I come from a place of personal outrage here having buried my 90-year-old grandfather last year. This proud, amazing African-American man raised his family and lived through the time when he had to use separate water fountains, ride in the back of a bus, take his wife on a date to the “colored section” of a movie theater, and avert his eyes when a white woman walked down the street for fear of what a white man and his cronies might do if they felt the urge to “party”; don’t tell me that the phrase you chose, Mr. O’Reilly, was taken out of context.

To add insult to injury, O’Reilly tried to “clarify” his statements, by using the excuse that his comments were reminiscent of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ use of the term “high-tech lynching” during his confirmation hearing. I reject that analogy. You see Justice Thomas did mean to bring up the image of lynching in its racist context. He was saying that politics and the media were using a new technology to do to him what had been done to black men for many years -- hang him. Regardless of if you agreed with Justice Thomas’ premise or not, if in fact -- Bill O’Reilly was referencing it -- the context becomes even clearer.

What annoys me more than anything is that I get the feeling that one of the reasons Bill O’Reilly made this statement, thinking he could get away with it in the first place, and then followed it up with a lame apology in a half-hearted attempt to smooth any ruffled feathers, is because he doesn’t think that black women will come out and go after him when he goes after us. Well, he’s dead wrong. Be clear Bill O’Reilly: there will be no lynch party for that black woman. And this black woman assures you that if you come for her, you come for all of us.

Star Jones Reynolds

5170: Black History Month 2008.

Wal-Mart, you’re so vein.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

5169: Basic Black.

From The New York Times. Hat tip to Tangerine Toad.

Go Back to Black



I’M black again. I was black in Mississippi in the 1970s but sometime in the 1980s I became African-American, with a brief pause at Afro-American. Someone, I think it was Jesse Jackson, in the days when he had that kind of clout, managed to convince America that I preferred being African-American. I don’t.

Now I live in Britain where I’m black again. Blacks in Britain come from all over, although many are from the former colonies. According to the last census, about half of the British people who identify as black say they are black Caribbean, about 40 percent consider themselves black African, and the rest just feel plain old black. Black Brits are further divided by ancestral country of origin, yet they are united under the term black British — often expanded to include British Asians from the Indian subcontinent.

The term African-American was contrived to give black Americans a sense of having a historical link to Africa, since one of slavery’s many unhappy legacies is that most black Americans don’t know particulars about their origins. Black Americans whose ancestors arrived after slavery and who can pinpoint their country of origin are excluded from the definition — which is why, early in his campaign, people said Barack Obama wasn’t really African-American. Yet, since he has one parent from the African continent and one from the American continent, he is explicitly African-American.

Distinguishing between American black people based on their ancestors’ arrival date ignores the continuum of experience that transcends borders and individual genealogies and unites black people all over the world. Yes, scientists have shown that black means nothing as a biological description, but it remains an important signal in social interaction. Everywhere I travel, from North Africa to Europe to Asia, dark-skinned people approach me and, usually gently but sometimes aggressively, establish a bond.

When, early on in the race for the Democratic nomination, people wondered if black Americans would vote for Mr. Obama, I never doubted. During the last two years I’ve learned to decipher his name in almost any pronunciation, because on finding out that I’m an American, all other black people I meet, whether they are Arabic-speaking Moroccans in Casablanca, French-speaking African mobile-phone-store clerks in the outer boroughs of Paris, or thickly accented Jamaican black Brits, ask me eagerly about him. Black people all over the world feel a sense of pride in his accomplishment.

It’s hard to understand why black Americans ever tried to use the term African-American to exclude people. The black American community’s social and political power derives from its inclusiveness. Everyone who identifies as black has traditionally been welcomed, no matter their skin color or date of arrival. In Britain, in contrast, dark-skinned people who trace their relatives to particular former colonies can be cliquish. Beyond the fact that blacks make up a smaller share of the population here, this regional identity may be a reason that the British black community isn’t as powerful a social and political force.

I’ve never minded not knowing who my ancestors are beyond a few generations. My partner is an Englishman whose family tree is the sort that professional genealogists post on the Internet because it can be traced back to the first king of England in the 11th century. To me, it’s more comforting to know that, through me, our children will be black, with all of the privileges and pains.

On Mr. Obama’s behalf, American blacks have set aside their exclusive label. Polls show that about 80 percent of blacks who have voted in the Democratic primaries have chosen him. And all of the black people in the mountains of Morocco, the poor suburbs of Paris, the little villages in Kenya and the streets of London are cheering Mr. Obama’s victories because they see him as one of their own.

Black Americans should honor that. It’s time to retire the term African-American and go back to black.

K. A. Dilday is a columnist for the online magazine Open Democracy.

5168: On The House.

IOUs in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• If Michael Jackson fails to cough up $24 million in a month, his Neverland Ranch will go up for auction. Operators at eBay are standing by.

• After the much-publicized retraining of baristas, Starbuck has a new promise: “Your drink should be perfect, every time. If not, let us know and we’ll make it right.” Um, isn’t that a given when you’re charging so much and making customers stand in long lines? Time to retrain the company promise writers.

5167: MC KFC.

Didn’t realize the tune presented yesterday is actually part of a collection: The KFC Pride 360 Hitmaker 2007 Compilation CD. It’s the musical equivalent of a KFC Famous Bowl.

5166: Black History Month 2008.

Celebrate Black History all year with a magazine that only publishes on a quarterly basis.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

5165: Coffee, Tea Or Lipitor.

Expert advice in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Starbucks will close from 5:30-8:30 pm today to retrain baristas. “We will close all of our US company-operated stores to teach, educate and share our love of coffee and the art of espresso,” said CEO Howard Schultz. Nice to know customers have been paying high prices and waiting in long lines to receive products poured by uneducated Starbucks staffers.

• Drug maker Pfizer is pulling Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the artificial heart, from its ads for Lipitor. “When consumers see and hear a doctor endorsing a medication, they expect the doctor is a credible individual with requisite knowledge of the drug,” said Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, who was among the politicians criticizing the ads. Jarvik will probably be replaced with additional legal disclaimers and unknowledgeable Starbucks baristas.

5164: Until The Boomers Die 2.

The Advertising Age online poll spotlighted last week inevitably yielded expected results. visitors were asked, “Do you think special consideration must be made for Millennials entering the workplace?” As the chart above indicates, 20 percent said yes, while 80 percent voted no.

Of course, it’s impossible to draw real conclusions, as it’s unclear who actually responded. Nonetheless, the final tally doesn’t speak favorably for an industry attempting to create diversity.

As MultiCultClassics has sought to recognize, multiculturalism goes beyond race and ethnicity. Recent events have shown growing micro-segmentation based on gender, sexual orientation, faith, location, age and more. Additionally, professional insiders have admitted successful diversity tactics must include hiring and retention.

Unfortunately, Madison Avenue continues to plod along with its outdated attitudes and practices. It’s almost as if people resist the notion that a contemporary workforce demands radical change—or at least radical for old-school managers. Leaders in the 21st century must find ways to keep a variety of staffers motivated and happy. The Borg-like belief that assimilation is the way to go—and resistance is futile—simply doesn’t fly.

It’s bad enough that agencies have failed to retain minorities. Can we afford to lose the coming generations of Whites too?

It’s just another issue to consider until the Boomers die.

MultiCultClassics presents a new feature that will appear here regularly (based on visitors’ and editors’ interest): Until The Boomers Die.

Until The Boomers Die will explore events and issues relevant to the multiple generations currently inhabiting the advertising industry.

Contrary to the title implications, this is not necessarily a rant on Baby Boomers. Rather, we recognize that Boomers still maintain a great deal of control in the field. And since most of them are decades away from retirement, it’s inevitable that they must be dealt with daily.

The essays comprising the series will explore ways for all the generations to “get along” in our ever-evolving industry.

5163: Black History Month 2008.

There’s something odd about a whitening product celebrating Black History Month.

5162: Let’s Have A Party, Chicken Lovers!

The lovely dnyree was kind enough to send a 165-second KFC tune that runs about 2.75 minutes too long. Amazingly, the piece was produced in this century—to run this year, in fact. dnyree also has a cool blog worth checking out. So grab a bucket of KFC and get on down.

Monday, February 25, 2008

5161: You Da Man.

Remember the hardest-working man in Black advertising? Well, he’s still going strong.

In fact, he discovered his family roots.

Plus, he’s available via Getty images to connect with other families.

He’ll play the stereotypical barbecue role.

Of course, the man is a devoted husband.

Why, he’ll even dabble in interracial romance.

5160: Black History Month 2008.

The Illinois Lottery hits the jackpot with patronizing pap.

5159: And The Winners Are…

During the Oscars telecast, Mickey D’s earned awards for outstandingly annoying achievements involving hip-hop imagery.

The first recipient can be viewed here.

The second one can be viewed here.

Thanks to Make The Logo Bigger for finding the link for the second spot.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

5158: Marketers Clueless On Multiculturalism?


Marketers: We Don’t Get How to Do Diversity
Survey Suggests There’s Still a Good Deal of Confusion About Multicultural Market

By Beth Snyder Bulik

YORK, Pa. -- Marketers are hiring more talent and spending more money than ever to chase multicultural consumers, yet they are divided on how to reach them -- and unsure they’re getting good returns on their investments.

While 84% of the marketers believe multicultural marketing is “critical to my business,” almost 40% said they don’t know the financial value of multicultural groups to their companies, according to a study for executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles by Brandiosity.

They also had a variety of opinions on which agencies to hire to reach the Hispanic, African-American and Asian groups. Of the 60 companies that were surveyed on which shops they use for multicultural-marketing services, 58% said they tap general-market-research firms; 51% said they use multicultural agencies; 42% use general-market agencies; and 35% use multicultural-research firms.

‘Same stuff’ as 20 years ago
In fact the overall picture painted by the survey suggests there’s still a good deal of confusion about the multicultural market. Pepper Miller, president of Miller Hunter Group, a market-research and planning group in Chicago, said marketers really don’t understand it any better than they did 20 years ago. “I entered the business in 1985. The other day I found a paper I wrote back then, and I read it and I thought, ‘Man, this is the same stuff we’re saying now!’”

More than two-thirds of the respondents were chief marketing officers or senior VPs of marketing. Another 14% were VPs, managers or directors. They represented a wide variety of industries including retail, consumer package goods, telecom, financial services, fast food and apparel.

Carla Palazio, partner at Heidrick & Struggles, said the recruiting firm commissioned the study to discover what companies need -- particularly what sort of talent they’re looking for -- to target multicultural segments, specifically through the eyes of the CMO. What it found was a disconnect: Multicultural marketing is perceived as very important -- but there are still a lot of companies that lack a real companywide strategy to address it. “The root of this is the lack of awareness at the organization. While the CMO understands it well, they almost have to evangelize [the value of multicultural marketing] to the rest of the company,” Ms. Palazio said.

Indeed, among the 20 biggest challenges executives expressed, almost half could be categorized as problems proving merit inside the company. They listed roadblocks such as “explaining to management their importance,” “getting buy-in and support from company leadership,” and “getting senior level marketers to understand that the world is changing.”

[Read the full story here.]

5157: Black History Month 2008.

Southwest flies with a relevant and respectful message.

5156: Johnnie Carr (1912-2008).

From The Associated Press…

Civil Rights Icon Johnnie Carr, 97, Dies


MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Johnnie Carr, who joined childhood friend Rosa Parks in the historic Montgomery bus boycott and kept a busy schedule of civil rights activism up to her final days, has died. She was 97.

Carr died Friday night, said Baptist Health hospital spokeswoman Melody Ragland. She had been hospitalized after a stroke Feb. 11.

Carr succeeded the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association in 1967, a post she held at her death. It was the newly formed association that led the boycott of city buses in the Alabama capital in 1955 after Parks, a black seamstress, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to whites on a crowded bus.

A year later the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial segregation on public transportation.

“Johnnie Carr is one of the three major icons of the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. King, Rosa Parks and Johnnie Carr,” said Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “I think ultimately, when the final history books are written, she’ll be one of the few people remembered for that terrific movement.”

As the Improvement Association’s president, Carr helped lead several initiatives to improve race relations and conditions for blacks. She was involved in a lawsuit to desegregate Montgomery schools, with her then-13-year-old son, Arlam, the named plaintiff.

“She hadn’t been sick up until she had the stroke,” Arlam Carr said Saturday. “It was such a massive stroke that she never was able to recover from it. She was still very active — going around and speaking — but it was just one of those things.”

She played a prominent role in 2005 on the 50th anniversary of Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat, speaking to thousands of schoolchildren who marched to the Capitol.

“Look back, but march forward,” Carr urged the huge crowd of young people.

She also traveled to memorial services in Washington, where her eulogy of Parks was “really the most dynamic” moment, recalled Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“There were many people who spoke who were much better known … but she carried the day,” said Bond, who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Just days before her stroke, Carr participated in King Day ceremonies in Montgomery, speaking after a parade. Admirers marveled at her energy and commitment into her 90s.

“She was always an encourager and not a divider,” Mayor Bobby Bright told the Montgomery Advertiser. “She was just a loving person. She was truly the mother figure that we all so desperately needed in Montgomery during a very trying period of our history.”

In a statement, Gov. Bob Riley said Carr was a “remarkable woman and will be deeply missed.”

She was a true inspiration, Riley said, and “leaves behind a lasting legacy of pride, determination, and perseverance.”

The family said funeral arrangements would be announced later.

Arlam Carr said that his mother’s 97th birthday was last month, but that the only place her age showed was on paper.

“She was still driving her own car. How many 97-year-olds are still driving and you feel comfortable with their driving?” he said. “She has lived a very active life. If there’s one thing about it, we all know we’re going to leave here one day and this was just the time the Lord wanted her to ‘come on.’”

Dees said he, too, was impressed with Carr’s vigor and amazed that “she never showed the strain of age. Her voice was strong and her spirit was always cheerful.”

“One of the things I respect her for is she did not have the rancor and anger that so many local African-Americans of the civil rights movement had,” he said. “She was very willing to build bridges. Montgomery’s always been very divisive, and she showed an example of reaching across racial lines.”

In recent decades, civil rights landmarks, including the site where Parks was arrested, have become historic points of interest for tourists.

“When we first started, we weren’t thinking about history,” Carr told The Associated Press in an interview in 2003. “We were thinking about the conditions and the discrimination.”

Bond called Carr a “spark plug” and “one of the remaining links we had to the Montgomery bus boycott.”

“She was remarkable to have had such a long career and to have held concern for justice in the forefront for all this time,” he said. “It’s a great tragedy that she’s gone, and those of us who knew her are blessed to have that experience.”

5155: Black History Month 2008.

Colgate gets credit for creating a thoughtful and relevant promotion.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

5154: Say What?

Offensive remarks in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Will Smith wound up suing and beating an entertainment newswire service in London for creating the drama surrounding remarks the star made in reference to Adolf Hitler. The newswire service apologized and paid an undisclosed amount of money to be donated to a charity. After the mess originally broke, the newswire service had retracted the story and issued a correction and apology; however, Smith’s lawyer argued no one picked up the responses. A lawyer for the newswire service said, “[The newswire service] offers its apologies to [Smith] for any distress and embarrassment caused by this article. [It] accepts that the allegations concerning [him] were misleading and published in error.” Maybe Smith was actually discussing Hitch, not Hitler.

• IKEA is taking heat from Denmark, as officials are accusing the furniture company of naming products of lesser value with Danish titles. “It seems to be an example of cultural imperialism,” noted a Danish scholar. “IKEA has chosen the objects with the lowest value and given them Danish names.” IKEA officials are probably tossing Denmark’s complaints into a cheap Danish waste bucket.

• Lowe’s is pulling its advertising from CBS reality series Big Brother after a contestant referred to people with autism as “retards.” CBS issued the stereotypical disclaimer that read, “Big Brother is a reality show about watching a group of people who have no privacy 24/7 -- and seeing every moment of their lives. At times, the Houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone. Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by a Houseguest appearing on Big Brother, either on any live feed from the House or the broadcast, are those of the individual(s) speaking and do not represent the views or opinions of CBS or the producers of the program.” Now that’s a pretty retarded response.

5153: Black History Month 2008.

“Looking back” and “future” seem to be prerequisites for all Black History Month headlines.

Friday, February 22, 2008

5152: Coffee. Pot.

Grinding out the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Starbucks drained 600 jobs from its workforce of over 170,000. “We realize that we are operating in an intensely challenging environment, one in which our customers and (employees) have extremely high expectations of Starbucks,” wrote honcho Howrad Schultz in an email. “And we have to step up to the challenge of being strategic as well as nimble as our business evolves. Unfortunately, we have not been organized in a manner that allowed us to have a laser focus on the customer.” As if these job cuts will reduce customers’ wait in line for an over-priced latte.

• JC Penney reported a nearly 10 percent drop in profits for 4Q 2007, although officials blamed it on the poor economy. The retailer probably argues JC Penney can still clothe a family of four for less than a cup of latte at Starbucks.

• Snoop Dogg was busted for smoking marijuana again. “He did not get arrested. He received a ticket for possession of marijuana,” said Dogg’s lawyer. “We are contesting the ticket.” What is this lawyer smoking?

5151: Black History Month 2008.

During Black History Month, advertisers salute strong, Black women with weak, white-bread messages.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

5150: Perception Versus Reality TV.

Pushing reality in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Dog the Bounty Hunter is heading back to reality TV, as A&E has decided to forgive the man for his infamous N-word tirade. “Over the last few months, Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman has taken and continues to take the appropriate steps in reaching out to several African American organizations in an effort to make amends for his private comments to his son which were released publicly,” said a statement from A&E. Look for the cable channel to also introduce The Michael Richards Show and Queer Eye starring Isaiah Washington.

• The trial of Rep. William Jefferson, charged with accepting bribes including $90,000 found in the man’s freezer, has been delayed pending an appeal. Jefferson’s attorneys argued that his status as a congressman shields him from prosecution. So A&E will have to postpone any plans to turn the man’s story into a reality TV series.

5149: Black History Month 2008.

Grandma looks like she’s in pain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

5148: Assorted Holdups.

Unfriendly service in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Wal-Mart apologized to a Muslim woman in Nevada who was mocked by a cashier because of her face veil. The cashier told the woman, “Please don’t stick me up.” Low prices. Low humor. Always Wal-Mart.

• The San Diego Minutemen continue to gripe over efforts to relocate them from an Adopt-A-Highway area near a Border Patrol checkpoint. The group filed a federal lawsuit seeking to return to the original site, plus collect payment of legal fees and $50,000. So much for the spirit of volunteerism.

• Amtrak announced plans to introduce a new process to randomly check passengers’ carry-on bags. “Given that terrorists have chosen passenger rail as one of their targets of choice, provided this doesn’t slow things down or require additional longer lines and waits, this plan is certainly worth trying,” said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. Sounds like another opportunity for Minutemen involvement.

5147: Black History Month 2008.

Celebrating a strong past and a healthy future—with affordable health care options, of course!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

5146: Diff’rent Strikes.

Based on the newlyweds’ quotes, expect a short marriage.

From Newsweek, February 25, 2008.

5145: Wonder Casting.

Does anyone else think Lee’s multicultural casting is consistently, um, White-bread?

5144: Until The Boomers Die.

MultiCultClassics presents a new feature that will appear here regularly (based on visitors’ and editors’ interest): Until The Boomers Die.

Until The Boomers Die will explore events and issues relevant to the multiple generations currently inhabiting the advertising industry.

Contrary to the title implications, this is not necessarily a rant on Baby Boomers. Rather, we recognize that Boomers still maintain a great deal of control in the field. And since most of them are decades away from retirement, it’s inevitable that they must be dealt with daily.

The essays comprising the series will explore ways for all the generations to “get along” in our ever-evolving industry.

The weekly Advertising Age online poll asks, “Do you think special consideration must be made for Millennials entering the workplace?”

The question likely surfaced from a recent Ad Age article by Carol Phillips, president of BrandAmplitude and a marketing instructor at the University of Notre Dame. Phillips offered tips on managing Millennials. It should be noted that Phillips’ perspective was hardly new, as other experts have published similar advice.

Anyway, one can’t help but see the Boomer biases rooted in the Ad Age poll question.

For starters, the question demonstrates a certain cluelessness. To ask, “Do you think special consideration must be made for Millennials entering the workplace?” is like asking, “Do you think special consideration must be made for new media in marketing plans?” The point is, Millennials are already here—they are a significant part of the total workforce. To wonder if special consideration is necessary shows the arrogance so prevalent in our business.

Industry leaders continue to believe in Nazi-like assimilation, where all participants should gleefully conform to exclusive habits and outdated standards of performance. The mindset, incidentally, may be a primary reason why Madison Avenue has struggled and failed with diversity.

It’s also important to read the lessons presented by Phillips. She is not suggesting anything outlandish or even difficult. In fact, the observations reflect basic professional courtesy and respect. Then again, the industry has struggled with those things too.

It should be interesting to view the results of the Ad Age online poll. The answers will clearly display the generation(s) represented by the publication’s readership. Let’s hope someone actually interprets the findings in a meaningful style—and the exercise sparks healthy discussions.

In the meantime, everyone—especially Boomers—ought to consider a simple notion: Millennials and their work-related attitudes and behaviors were ultimately influenced by the generations preceding them. To truly understand the differences, take a long, hard look in the mirror. Or pick up a copy of Millennials Rising by William Strauss and Neil Howe (the book has been around since 2000).

Guess it’s just another subject to ponder until the Boomers die.

5143: Black History Month 2008.

Come clap your hands, stomp your feet, nourish your soul and repurpose last year’s BHM ad.

Monday, February 18, 2008

5142: Can Ad Industry Add Inclusiveness?


Agencies Need to Do Better Job of Retaining Black Talent

An Ad Age Editorial

We’re a month and a half into the New Year and halfway through another Black History Month. For the first time in U.S. history, an African-American man stands a very good chance of being elected to the highest office in the land. And ad agencies haven’t been publicly smacked around by the New York City Commission on Human Rights. So all must be good, right?

Hardly. One of the most striking things gleaned from early reviews of Jason Chambers’ “Madison Avenue and the Color Line” is how some of the issues involving race and the ad world have seemed intractable from the start.

But there are some issues that can be addressed on a daily basis. The most important of these is the hiring and retention of black talent by general-market agencies. Strides have been made, but a walk down the halls of any major general-market ad agency will remind you what a white world the industry is.

Both agencies and prospective employees have their work cut out for them. As Big Tent blogger Tiffany Warren pointed out in a recent post, the general-market agency world still needs pioneers. Young African-Americans who feel isolated, who feel the urge to cut and run from the general-market realm to take up freelancing or work at an African-American shop have to tough it out, build relationships, mentor those coming in after them and lay the groundwork for a future generation. And no, there’s no bonus pay for that.

But agencies have the bigger responsibility. There are more and more African-American candidates trying to get a break every day. Perhaps money would be better spent hiring them than paying millions of dollars to the same consultants and hip-hop stars (yes, we’re looking at you, Interpublic, Steve Stoute and Jay-Z).

And agencies have to do a better job retaining talent once they find it. That entails everything from outreach to mentoring to, most importantly, promoting those talented individuals who do tough it out. Ms. Warren recently wrote another blog post detailing the frustrations of African-American creatives who have the portfolio and who have stuck it out, but never seem to make it to creative director.

Is there a quick fix for boosting the number of African-Americans in general-market shops? Not necessarily. But putting a laserlike focus on retention is probably the best way to make substantial gains in a short amount of time.

5141: Trouble In Diversity Paradise…?

From The Washington Post…

Fannie Mae Reacts To Concerns Over Office Diversity

By Anita Huslin, Washington Post Staff Writer

Throughout the tumult of the past several years, there was one aspect of Fannie Mae culture that seemed to hold steady.

Even as its chief executive stepped down, and the mortgage finance giant restated earnings, overhauled its organization and laid off hundreds of employees, the diversity of its workforce remained strong. Fannie Mae continued to rack up awards and accolades for its hiring of minorities and its creation of an equal-opportunity, inclusive work environment.

In 2005, Fannie was one of the 30 best companies for African Americans, according to Black Enterprise magazine. In 2006, it scored a 100 rating on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “Corporate Equality Index.” In 2007 it was among America’s top 50 corporations for multicultural business opportunities, ranked by

But a pair of anonymous letters sent to Fannie Mae chief executive Daniel H. Mudd and board chairman Stephen B. Ashley asserted that minorities were growing increasingly frustrated during that period.

“For far too long African-Americans have struggled at Fannie Mae,” one letter stated.

“As more and more African-Americans leave … hope is leaving the building as well,” read another letter sent last month.

Fannie Mae officials responded quickly after receiving the first letter, calling meetings with groups of African American and Hispanic employees to get their take on the climate. Stacey D. Stewart, former head of the Fannie Mae Foundation, who joined the company after the unit was shut down last year, set out to update the company’s diversity program. The plan is scheduled to go to the board this week.

Mudd said a number of factors may have contributed to employee unhappiness -- an accounting scandal, subsequent regulatory action and turmoil in the economy and housing market. “We had other things to pay attention to, and I think we kind of took our eye off the ball,” Mudd said in a recent meeting with Post editors and reporters. “I was disappointed that we sort of lost that.”

But Mudd added that Fannie Mae’s diversity numbers “held up pretty well and increased in a lot of areas.” Last year, nearly half of its employees were minorities, a level that has risen steadily. The proportion of mid-level minority employees rose from 49 percent to 52 percent over the past three years.

One-fourth of Fannie Mae’s high-level officers and directors are minorities. That’s 10 percentage points above the average among U.S. financial services companies, as reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“If you look at any [senior management team] of a financial service firm and what their demographics look like, we are on the order of two to three times more diverse than any other organization,” Mudd said.

Mudd took over after an accounting scandal in 2004 forced out then-chief executive Franklin D. Raines. To help clean up the accounting mess, the company brought in an army of consultants and other new staff while others were let go.

By 2006, the work was largely done, and the company needed to shift workers again, cutting back on the consultant force and reorganizing operations generally. It didn’t help when the credit crunch hit in 2007.

Some employees grew uneasy as desks went empty. Gone were a number of “highly visible minorities that people were attached to,” said Leah Malcolm Skrine, a director in the company’s audit division who heads a networking group for African American employees.

“The company changed,” Malcolm Skrine said. “The frustrations were not limited to diversity. … Everyone was feeling stress, anxiety, frustration, uncertainty.”

The anonymous letter sent last month listed current Fannie Mae employees and others who left during the reorganization, and urged Mudd and Ashley to speak to them. Several who were contacted by The Post declined to discuss the matter, and those who did said they did not want to be identified for fear of legal action against them.

Mudd said he read the letter but thought it inappropriate to contact the individuals. Instead, he spoke with chief business officer Robert J. Levin, who reached out to people like Stewart and Malcolm Skrine to gather groups to discuss the subject.

“You never hit perfect,” Malcolm Levin said. “There will always be people who gripe, and it’s not fair. There will always be people who raise issues, and it’s fair. We’ve worked very hard to have a culture where people speak and people get heard.”