Saturday, May 31, 2008

5535: Where’s There’s Smoke…

Facing the heat in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Long Island home of 50 Cent was destroyed by fire, and authorities suspect arson. An ex-companion of Fiddy lived at the home, although the rapper allegedly was seeking to throw her out, along with their son. Six people were treated for smoke inhalation. “[50 Cent] tried to kill me and his own child!” declared Fiddy’s ex. “Who do I think did it? Curtis Jackson. He threatened me on Monday that he was going to have someone visit me. My kids are in the house. Who would try to kill your own kids? He’s supposed to be all about being a gangster … That’s not a gangster, that’s a coward.” Hey, what does one get a gangster coward for Father’s Day?

• The Los Angeles Fire Department is making progress in dealing with harassment and discrimination, according to an audit released on Friday. The city has paid millions in lawsuits in the past years. “There is still a lot more work to do,” said Fire Chief Douglas L. Barry. Maybe they should seek input from 50 Cent.

5534: Is Michelle Malkin A Hate-Mongering Moron?

Another perspective on Dunkin’ Donuts—from The Chicago Tribune…

The blogger, the chef and the terrorist

By Ahmed M. Rehab

How could a chirpy TV host with such edible title credits as “30 Minute Meals” and “Tasty Travels” one day awaken to find herself in the middle of a terrorism-related media blitz -- all because of a Dunkin’ Donuts ad, no less?

It’s a tough recipe to cook up, but here are the ingredients:

• One paisley scarf that somewhat resembles the checkered pattern of a Palestinian national garment called the “keffiyeh,” --a scarf that could be bought at Macy’s

• One right-wing blogger who lacks any sense of cultural nuance

• A public opinion climate ripe with paranoia

• A slow news day for the media

Directions: Briefly expose the scarf to the blogger, scatter over the climate, let simmer on a slow news day, and voila!

Can you hear the world’s laughter?

The blogger is Michelle Malkin, author of the universally ridiculed book, “In Defense of Internment.”

One of many to find fame and fortune in the post 9/11 hullabaloo, Malkin has a strange but simple job: to whip up controversy. If she succeeds, she gets attention. If she gets attention, she gets paid. She is her own brand, and like any brand, hers must deliver on expectations to remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market.

Malkin continuously scours the world’s hot button issues hoping to raise the heat. On Thursday, she hit the jackpot with the most unlikely of subjects.

Enter Rachael Ray, who also has a straightforward job: to whip up meals. She shows TV audiences how to find bliss through the art of food. Sound controversial yet? Patience.

Ray happens to do an iced coffee ad for Dunkin’ Donuts. She dons a paisley scarf selected by the stylist for the spot.

OK, that’s the end of the buildup.

No, really, that’s it.

Presented with that ad, most people may wonder if the iced coffee is any good. None is likely to wonder whether Dunkin’ Donuts and Rachael Ray were promoting terrorism.

Malkin is a notable exception. She has a hungry career to feed.

And so, Malkin’s pattern-recognition sensors kick in: Palestinians!

According to her, if Ray’s scarf looks like a keffiyeh, the traditional scarf worn by Palestinians, then it must be a keffiyeh.

So what if it were?

Well, she further argues that, unbeknownst to the world, keffiyehs are actually a symbol of terrorism, hence her insinuation that the ad promotes terrorism.

Malkin then proceeds to educate the world about Palestinian keffiyehs, when they are worn, by whom, and why.

Not surprisingly, she gets it all wrong: In reality, the average Palestinian is much more likely to wear a keffiyeh than a terrorist.

Think about it: would the keffiyeh really be your preferred disguise if you were a terrorist and wished to walk incognito into a Tel Aviv bus or pizza parlor?

Probably not.

It is, however, your likely choice if you are an average Palestinian going to the mall, farming your land, walking to school, or -- yes -- hurling stones at an Israeli tank in the streets of your occupied hometown: hardly acts of terrorism.

So how does Malkin manage to discombobulate the facts? How does she find no shame in writing off a people’s national dress as “a symbol of terrorism”?

There can only be one explanation: For Malkin, every Palestinian is a terrorist. To sell that point, she resorts to sensationalism, minimalism and obscene sweeping statements.

Sadly, this reductive approach is an old and tired trick when it comes to public discourse on the Middle-East, or Muslims.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Malkin’s anti-Palestinian message, by itself, is not newsworthy. It is only effective when coupled with a climate that is highly receptive to fear-mongering. Only then can it wreak havoc. After all, it is only because of the perception of a public backlash that Dunkin’ Donuts, with curiously weak knees, felt pressure to yank the ad off the Internet.

Luckily most Americans know better than to drink Malkin’s Kool-Aid. They will likely remember this tale only as one of 2008’s silliest. Nonetheless, I am certain Malkin is gloating over the few prized conformists her antics were able to mobilize.

Come to think of it, I think I will wear a keffiyeh on my way to work tomorrow -- as I sip my iced Caribou coffee.

Ahmed M. Rehab is the executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

5533: Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?

Ambulance chasing crosses all cultures…

5532: Problems With Someone’s Skin.

From The New York Times…

Treasures of a Nation, Not Fodder for an Ad


MEXICO CITY — Eager to bolster tourism, Hidalgo State came up with a novel idea: an advertising campaign featuring a well-known actress wearing Hidalgo’s most eye-popping sites on her flesh.

“Hidalgo, under my skin” was the catch phrase for the ads, which featured the soap opera actress Irán Castillo covered with computer-generated images of mountains, waterfalls and monuments.

But federal officials were unimpressed. They did not object to Ms. Castillo’s lying seminude on the grass with hot-air balloons displayed on her body or lounging in a forest with images of rock faces on her flank or even sprawled on a beautiful mosaic wearing nothing but a beautiful mosaic. “We’re not moralistic,” insisted Benito Taibo, an executive with Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History. “We don’t have an issue with her. She’s a pretty girl.”

But the institute did have an issue with Ms. Castillo’s wearing Mexico’s patrimony on her curvaceous form. Whether it was the stone Atlantes in Tula de Allende or the old aqueduct in Padre Tembleque or the former convent in San Nicolás Tolentino, imprinting one of Mexico’s treasures on a soap opera star was deemed a violation of the law.

The last time Ms. Castillo’s skin caused such a fuss was when she posed seminude for a men’s magazine last summer.

The country’s anthropology institute, based in Mexico City, does more than just serve as Mexico’s monument police. It oversees a vast collection of pyramids, shrines and other attractions, all more than a century old. With 800 researchers, the institute churns out academic treatises that seek to make sense of the country’s past. It also rejects anything seen as exploiting a historical artifact’s dignity.

That means that when a paint company recently asked if it could feature artifacts in a commercial, the institute said no.

The current crop of requests in a thick binder in Mr. Taibo’s office also includes one from the BBC seeking to film a documentary at a pyramid (Sí), another from a university professor seeking to do research at a site (Sí) and a third from a real estate developer who wanted to publish photographs of pyramids in his ads (No).

The institute’s staff pores over a movie script when a production company asks permission to film at a historical site to determine whether the story line is objectionable. “Apocalypto,” Mel Gibson’s 2006 film on the decline of Mayan civilization, received a no.

“We said, ‘You can film anywhere except in our historical zones,’” said Mr. Taibo, who is also a published poet. “It was a film loosely based on history, but it was a particularly bloody interpretation of our past.”

The institute is barraged with all kinds of requests. Many famous Mexicans request permission to hold their weddings atop pyramids or to pose on them for photo sessions.

“Our pyramids are not churches or chapels or clerk’s offices,” Mr. Taibo said of the wedding requests, which are rejected no matter the couple’s star power. “It’s a distorted idea of our patrimony.”

As for the rejection letters, Mr. Taibo said: “We are very polite and we are very kind, but…”

His voice trailed off and he rolled his eyes.

[Read the full story here.]

5531: Backing The Voting Rights Act.

From The Associated Press…

Court: Voting Rights Act provision constitutional

By Associated Press

A federal court ruled Friday that a key component of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional, rejecting a challenge from a city utility board in Texas.

Under the landmark law, which Congress extended in 2006 for another 25 years, states and towns with histories of racial discrimination must get Justice Department or court approval before making any changes to the way elections are conducted. The law was intended to keep state and local governments from passing laws making it harder for minorities to vote.

Shortly after Congress extended the law, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One, a government board formed to provide local services to about 3,500 people, sued. The board asked the court to exempt it from the law and said Congress had no constitutional right to pass a bill that tried to remedy past discrimination.

A three-judge panel in Washington rejected the case. The court ruled that the utility board didn’t qualify as a “political subdivision” and could not be exempted from the law. It also ruled that racial discrimination in voting persists and that Congress acted appropriately when it extended the law.

Under the law, challenges go before a single court made up of district and appellate judges. Any appeal would go directly to the Supreme Court.

5530: Coffee And Keffiyehs Don’t Mix.

Another Dunkin’ Donuts viewpoint—from The Chicago Sun-Times…

Dunkin’ Donuts gives in to racist fears


Right-wing pundits would sooner choke Rachael Ray with a keffiyeh scarf than leave her alone to drown herself in all that extra virgin olive oil she likes to splash on her so-called 30-minute TV meals.

Ray, the affable, pleasantly ordinary-looking TV chef and eponymous magazine maven, was blasted recently when she showed up in a Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee ad wearing what looked like a keffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress. Dunkin Donuts yanked the ad Saturday after the likes of blogger/commentator Michelle Malkin wrote that the keffiyeh “has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities and left-wing icons.”

Too bad Dunkin’ Donuts had to give in to the racists out there who deem anything emanating from Arab culture as evil -- even a scarf. These are the same people who insist Barack Obama is Muslim (yep, they’re still doing it), as if being Muslim, which he clearly is not, is such a horrible thing.

Yes, America is still coming to terms with the horror of 9/11, carried out by Islamic terrorists. But the continued demonizing of everyday people of Arab descent and those who practice Islam in response to that terror is xenophobic.

“It seems like anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bigoted expression is the last frontier of accepted bigotry,” said Ahmed Rehab, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “There is still racism against African Americans, Latinos and other ethnicities, but the average person would think twice about making their racist feelings public. Not so with Muslims and Arabs. We need to move beyond that.”

The reality is that Ray’s scarf featured a paisley pattern, which differs from the diamond pattern of typical keffiyehs. The keffiyeh stands for many things and Palestinian solidarity can be one of them. It also cools the heads of people who live in the desert -- go figure. Finally, it’s a fashion trend. The French, who have strong Arab cultural links, have been wearing them for years. And when I traveled to Barcelona a few years back, colorful scarves were de rigueur. Keffiyeh lovers include Kanye West, Meghan McCain, Lupe Fiasco and Lauren Bush. But its sartorial value in hipster circles is debatable since the trend is so, like, over before it’s gotten started among us regular folks.

I can’t blame Dunkin’ Donuts for quashing this controversy by pulling the ad. People can and do have legitimate reactions to cultural symbols, such as the appropriate use of a cross. On, a blog targeting young Jews, retailer Urban Outfitters was criticized for selling keffiyehs.

“In fashion, you have to understand the codes,” says Jada Russell, a Chicago-based fashion consultant. “If there’s a group of people who say that offends me culturally, it has to be taken seriously. Americans are looked upon as a group of people who don’t really respect cultures outside our own. We have to respond to voices around the word.”

The motivation around Ray’s “keffiyeh kerfuffle,” as it’s being called in the blogosphere, stirs suspicion. After all, Rachael Ray is one of us, which is why she has such a wide appeal. Her haircut is plain, her stomach bulges over her belt, she eats too much while cooking … you get the drift. To jump to the conclusion that she knowingly or unknowingly supports extremism with her fashion choice is reductive thinking. When her stylist handed her the scarf, she likely accepted it because, like many of us, she probably liked the idea of making her humdrum outfit look a little hipper.

Ray’s only crime here is being behind the fashion times.

5529: Adweek Discovers Asian Americans.

Let’s close out Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with a contribution from the ever-culturally-clueless Adweek. The trade news source spotlighted a story titled, “Marketing to Asian Americans.”

Did Adweek reporters show case studies of targeted campaigns? No.

Did they interview any executives producing specialized, segmented work? Uh-uh.

Did Adweek staffers collect insights from advertisers wooing the diverse audience? Nope.

Adweek essentially shat out what looks like a PowerPoint presentation of U.S. Census-style factoids. It’s essentially the basic setup material an Asian American advertising agency might present to a new client. Certainly nothing that couldn’t be acquired via a standard Google search.

Another lackadaisical, lazy effort from the publication calling itself, “The Best Advertising Resource for Advertisers.”

5528: Raise A Glass To Retouching.

The retoucher who clumsily inserted all the logos on the beer glasses probably needs glasses.

Friday, May 30, 2008

5527: Dunkin’ Donuts And Do Nots.

Hadn’t intended to comment on the Rachael Ray-Dunkin’ Donuts fiasco, as it’s been discussed to death already. For anyone who didn’t hear, hyperreactive bloggers set off a firestorm, flipping over a digital advertisement where Ray was sporting what appeared to be a keffiyeh—a traditional headdress worn by Arab men that some connect with terrorists. Hoping to avoid controversy, Dunkin’ Donuts yanked the work. Unfortunately, the move sparked the type of publicity the advertiser sought to squelch.

The advertising community—via its own blogs and online forums—presented some peculiar perspectives. Of course, the majority slammed the initiating bloggers for their asinine ravings and Republican leanings. But it seemed just as many complained about Dunkin’ Donuts, criticizing the Munchkins® maker for “caving in” to the pressure.


This is not an issue of politics or professionalism. It’s all about bias and racism. It’s about being perceived as having allegiance with a group and culture that lots of Americans hate (to be clear, we’re not talking about terrorists). When you’re dealing with bias and racism, people see what they want to see. The truth doesn’t matter. In these situations, appealing to common sense rarely succeeds.

On the one hand, the irresponsible bloggers should be condemned for playing the “keffiyeh card.” But it would have been foolish for Dunkin’ Donuts to push back—or it certainly wasn’t worth drawing things out. There’s little for an advertiser to “win” in these instances. It’s not like when Ford dismissed the protests of conservative groups complaining about the automaker’s advertising targeting GLBT audiences.

Think of the idiots who went wild over photos of Senator Barack Obama in Somali garb, or the cretins continuing to see satanic images in Procter & Gamble’s logo. Even offers of free coffee and crullers would not transform the lunatic fringe in society.

Yet it’s difficult to understand why some adpeople argued that Dunkin’ Donuts should have stood firm. Are we that clueless about the negative power of bias and racism? Or is it a reflection of the industry’s own staunch resistance to accusations of bias and racism in its ranks?

5526: Time To Backtrack.

Marking time in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• There’s a mole in the R. Kelly child pornography trial. Actually, it’s a mole on the back of the recording artist. The defense had argued the man in the infamous video is not Kelly, because he doesn’t have a mole on his back, while the artist does. But yesterday, an expert pointed out a dark spot on the video man’s back that corresponds to Kelly’s mole. The expert also insisted the video could not have been digitally altered, as it would have taken a professional 44 years to manipulate each frame. Then again, it took about that much time to get the case to trial…

• Sharon Stone issued an apology for her remarks about China. The apology was actually presented through Christian Dior, which dropped its Chinese advertisements starring Stone. The apology read, “Due to my inappropriate words and acts during the interview, I feel deeply sorry and sad about hurting Chinese people. I am willing to take part in the relief work of China’s earthquake, and wholly devote myself to helping affected Chinese people.” Hmmm. A stupid comment leads to having your ads pulled, prompting an apology and offer to help victims. Is that karma?

5525: Bye, Spy.

Super Spy of Agency Spy posted her bye-bye. MultiCultClassics appreciated her work—as well as her support—during the prolific run. All the best.

5524: Diversity In Dentisty…?

Lee J. Harris must feel like the main character from Where’s Waldo?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

5523: Stone And Assorted Rockheads.

Causing tremors in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Actress Sharon Stone is catching heat for a remark she made last week. “I’m not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don’t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else,” said the actress. “And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you’re not nice that bad things happen to you?” The head of China’s biggest movie theatre chain vowed to ban Stone’s films. Not that anyone was planning to see the washed-up actress’ work anyway.

• Senator Larry Craig is reportedly writing a book about his infamous arrest in an airport toilet stall. Sounds like bathroom reading for sure.

• The R. Kelly child pornography trial was delayed again, just as a woman was set to testify she engaged in a threesome with Kelly and the alleged female victim in the infamous video. A new witness was introduced by the defense, and the guy claims to have information that disputes the contentions of the threesome witness. By the time this is all over, Kelly’s potential involvement with the under-aged female will probably seem tame.

• Naomi Campbell was hit with six charges stemming from her April 3 battle with security at London’s Heathrow Airport. The charges cover assaulting a constable, using threatening, abusive words or behavior to the cabin crew and disorderly conduct. At this point, those statements are part of Campbell’s résumé.

5522: Six Flags Of Our Fathers.

OK, MultiCultClassics was way late to call out the Six Flags Asian character. Hadji Williams commented on the guy back in April. Many others have already offered perspectives too. But Angry Asian Man posted a truly revealing story from an actor claiming to have auditioned for the commercial role. The person wrote:

Recently there has been a Six Flags commercial where they show an Asian man randomly speaking in a stereotypical Engrish accent. I, in fact, did go to the audition for that a few months ago. The casting call said nothing about speaking in a fobby accent. When I got there, the casting guy said stuff like, “Think about those Charlie Chan movies…talk like your grandfather.” My grandfather was born in the United States! I was so disgusted that I left midway.

Let’s hope Six Flags’ advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, doesn’t plan to do spots targeting Blacks and Latinos. Otherwise, there will be casting agents referencing Amos ‘N Andy and The Cisco Kid. You don’t need Charlie Chan to figure out the crimes of cultural cluelessness coming from Madison Avenue.

5521: Live Long And Prosper From One Role.

Um, what film has George Takei been in lately?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

5520: Not Above Pushing Paranoia.

You almost expect to hear, “I’m John McCain. And I approved this message.”

5519: The Tipping (Scales) Point.

Childish remarks in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Figures show child obesity is “leveling off” in the U.S. Which probably only means that kids could not possibly get any fatter than they are right now.

• Kool-Aid is hyping its lower-sugar versions. A company executive declared, “We’re firmly committed to providing moms and kids with products that combine better-for-you beverage options to help support a healthier lifestyle.” The better-for-you beverage option would simply involve drinking water straight.

• Six Flags is cutting back admission prices to lure people during the summer months. Some parks are dropping the entrance fees by up to $10. However, a pitcher of Kool-Aid and slice of pizza from the dining area will still set you back about $85.

• At the R. Kelly child pornography trial, another person—a former personal assistant to Kelly—identified the participants in the infamous video as being the recording artist and alleged female victim. Remember, Kelly’s defense is the video figures are somebody else. You’d think the real couple would have surfaced by now. Maybe they’re hanging with Nicole Brown Simpson’s real killers.

5518: This Is Only A Test.

According to the body copy, the LAPD celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by conducting a recruitment seminar and written test. Nice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

5517: Trying To Buy Coolness.

Why is Sears teaming up with LL Cool J? Um, because Kool Moe Dee wasn’t available…? The article below appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times…

Report: Sears teams with LL Cool J for new brand


Sears is expected to launch a new hip-hop clothing label in partnership with rapper LL Cool J, according to a report in Tuesday’s Women’s Wear Daily trade magazine.

The casualwear brand, called LL Cool J for Sears, will include girls and boys, juniors and young men’s wear, according to the publication.

The collection is slated to start appearing in 450 of Sears’ 900 stores in September, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

The collection is expected to expand into accessories and be in as many as 600 stores for the winter holiday season, according to the report.

This won’t be the first time that Sears has launched a celebrity brand or made efforts to appeal to its African-American shopper base.

Sears previously launched 97 multicultural concept stores in its stores, and has offered African-American-themed items in its catalogs. It also has sold labels by Latin TV star Lucy Pereda, as well as well-known designers Liz Claiborne and BCBG’s Max Azria.

Meanwhile, analysts expect another dismal quarter at Sears when the Hoffman Estates-based retailer reports earnings on Thursday.

Analyst Bill Dreher at Deutsche Bank Securities is predicting Sears will report a profit decline of 92 percent on a sales decline of 5.7 percent, to $11.03 billion for the fiscal first quarter. Sears had to impose drastic markdowns on unsold goods, and is in the midst of a reorganization that calls on unit leaders to be accountable for their business’ strategy and success.

5516: Poor Excuses.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Poverty gets the blame, not racism

By Leonard Pitts

I keep thinking I should be mad at West Virginia.

Not because Barack Obama was recently beaten like a red-headed stepchild—to use my father’s expression—in that state’s primary. No, I’m thinking I should be upset about “why” he was beaten. According to exit polls, 2 out of every 10 voters said race was a major factor in how they cast their ballots.

Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” ran a clip of a white woman who explained her refusal to vote for Obama thusly: “I guess because he is another race. I’m sort of scared of the other race ‘cause we have so much conflict with ‘em.”

It’s disappointing to see bigotry in Appalachia so vividly displayed. Yet I find it doesn’t make me angry. I feel sorry for them. If that sounds patronizing, I apologize. That’s not how it’s meant.

It’s just that, if the headline here is that Obama was rejected by whites on the basis of race, I submit that’s not the whole truth. Pollsters say he was rejected on the basis of race by whites who lack college degrees and whose household income is less than $50,000 a year. In other words, he was rejected by the poor and the less educated.

Which is a description that fits many in Appalachia—and also a vast swath of black America. So for me, the story here isn’t simply the old, familiar tale of the nation’s stark racial divide, but also another tale, of how the white poor and the black poor have long been kept at one another’s throats as a means of keeping them from looking too clearly at the ways both are manipulated by the forces of money and power.

And here, let me tell you what I am not saying. I’m not saying all bigots are poor or all the poor are bigots. I’m not saying everyone in Appalachia is poor, or less educated, or atavistic about race.

But I am saying this: The white poor have been victims of a con job going back at least as far as the Civil War, when poor white men were used as cannon fodder for the right of rich white men—I repeat: “rich” white men—to keep slaves. They were told they fought for state’s rights.

My point is that race has often been used as a means of distracting and diverting the white poor. They had little in life, but the one thing they did have—or so the con went—was whiteness itself. Which meant they had someone to be better than.

There are those in positions of political power who can and should be held to answer for the meanness and narrowness of poor people’s lives. But they can’t and won’t so long as those who should be standing together to demand those answers are kept busy fighting one another over superficialities of color and culture.

Over the years, many of us have figured that out.

In West Virginia, at least, 2 in 10 of us have not.

Leonard Pitts is a syndicated columnist based in Washington.

5515: The Clueless Call Out The Clueless.

The perspective below appeared at It’s another observation about the industry’s overall cluelessness. Most amusing is the authors’ use of “The Talented Tenth”—a reference coined by W.E.B. Du Bois to describe certain Blacks. Given the dearth of diversity in the industry, it seems pretty inappropriate to integrate the phrase. Perhaps the authors criticizing cluelessness ought to look in the mirror themselves. That said, the column is worth reading.

The Talented 10th—er, 15th

By Brad Nierenberg and Charlie Jones

Here’s a little something to chew on: The agency universe is suffering a rapidly declining population of managers who get it. In fact, on average, we submit that only 15% of all agency people actually get it. Think about how low that number is.

If 15% of baseball players got it, you’d only have a pitcher (plus a fraction of a catcher) on the field who truly understood the game. The rest would be fan gazing, spitting tobacco or scratching. Wait—come to think of it, that’s partly true already. Well, anyway, 15% isn’t much.

Yes, we know: We sound like snobs. But our hearts are in the right place. Honest. We’re not calling out specific agencies, here, and we’re not trying to rustle up some business. We simply want to increase the get-it population, perhaps build a colony somewhere. Why? Because get-it people get things done. They make great teachers and future leaders. They solve problems. They make people money.

So, what is a get-it person? Because, regrettably, there’s no official ID card for certified members, the task falls to brands to pick them out. It’s actually not that difficult. Use our handy guide and start right now. Fifteen percenters add value to strategic and creative discussion, but also translate creative thinking into business constructs. Fifteen percenters work effortlessly with a mix of ideas that are both highly logical and analytical (business analytics, quantitative), and talk about more abstract ideas (customers emotional need states, creative voicing).

Now: Apply just this initial description to everyone around you. Suddenly that 15% figure actually sounds generous, doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more.

Brands need agency reps with talent, creativity and expertise that can build business, not marketing valets who monitor processes. Does your account manager ask about brand favorability, sales data and other evidence of success? If he were a 15 percenter, he would. Ever notice how account reps only talk about your account? What good does constantly ping-ponging around in that bubble do? A 15 percenter sports in-depth knowledge of industry shakeups; he can predict trends. Try asking your account rep about his or her favorite industry campaign—a competitor’s campaign. Oh, wait, he can’t call one to mind? A 15 percenter could.

Today’s 15 percenters are sponges and nonlinear learners. They’ll likely have a diverse reading list including serious fiction, trade mags, history and business books. Fifteen percenters are the sort who take classes—ones not related to work. They blog. Ask them about Digg or Second Life or Mollypixie and they’ll know what’s up.

Fifteen percenters have creative pursuits, pursuits that build well-rounded human beings who, by the way, are those best suited to creating innovative branding campaigns. Fifteen percenters are the sort who keep a speckled notebook for their random observations, can play at least one power chord or have something framed that they created themselves.

Fifteen percenters recognize behavior, patterns and anomalies. They take note of things, and possess a driving need to know more, to understand. They’re the sort who notice that you just got a new haircut, a shoeshine, that you’re not feeling well. A good way to know if your account manager is a 15 percenter is to note how many questions they ask you—about anything.

For those in the 85th percentile who collect paychecks because of a bell curve, iconography like this probably doesn’t make much sense. And if it doesn’t happen to make much sense to you, well, it’s time to hide this essay from your boss. But if you are the boss, ask yourself: Is my account manager—heck, are my own people—15 percenters? If not, it’s time to look for them.

And by the way, Mollypixie is a made-up term. But the 15 percenters already did a quick Web search and told you as much.

[Brad Nierenberg is the president of Alexandria, Va.-based RedPeg Marketing and Charlie Jones serves as president of the Brand Intersection Group in Glen Echo, Md.]

5514: Insert Asian Americans Here.

MultiCultClassics already noted the lame State Farm ad depicted above. Now check out the alternate version below. The lower one apparently targets Filipinos, and it uses the exact same location and props. Is that the same baby too?

Monday, May 26, 2008

5513: Marian Salzman In The House.

Marian Salzman, the Queen of Obvious, presented another pointless perspective at This time, Salzman turned her dubious expertise on the subprime mortgage crisis. The first four paragraphs are basic information undoubtedly culled from a two-minute Google search. In the fifth paragraph, Salzman revealed the inspiration for her interest:

“I myself am a victim of the mortgage meltdown. My home has lost roughly 20 percent of its value since I purchased it 24 months ago, putting down 10 percent, which means I have negative equity in a house that now feels like a barn/big black hole (it’s both!).”

Ah, Salzman’s personal money problems now make her a financial futurist.

It’s amazing how the woman manages to perpetuate the illusion that she’s some sort of thought leader or culture guru. Even a casual reader of newspaper business sections could have cobbled together Salzman’s column, including the predictions for marketing decisions in the coming months.

Salzman tapped her protégé, JWT director of trendspotting Ann Mack, for additional insight. “During this time of uncertainty, look for marketers to ramp up their interactive spending more than ever before, as it’s extremely accountable and the results can be virtually immediate,” proclaimed Mack. “This is a significant difference from the post-9/11, dot-bust downturn, when marketers withdrew what little investment they had in the then-nascent Net.”

You think?

Porter Novelli chief marketing officer Salzman closed by stressing the growing importance of public relations. “When times are tough, communication is more critical than ever,” said Porter Novelli managing director Jean Wyllie. “If companies don’t communicate at a difficult time, it leaves a vacuum to be filled by speculation.”

Porter Novelli, of course, is a public relations firm. So it’s fair to speculate Salzman’s entire column is a blatant sell for her own services.

Hey, the woman has house bills to pay.

5512: Diversity Of Idiocy At Taco Bell.

Taco Bell continues to show confusion about its own racial and ethnic identity. It’s bad enough the fast feeder sells wannabe Mexican food that Mexicans refuse to eat. Yet Taco Bell compounds the problem by consistently displaying cultural cluelessness. During the Super Bowl, the fast feeder aired an inane mariachi band commercial. Now they’re running messages with White guys rapping. Plus, the website features the Taco Fu game, replete with a multicultural mash-up of Asian, Latino and White stereotypical imagery. Native Americans probably feel offended over being excluded from Taco Bell advertising.

5511: This Bud’s For Yu.

Sex is the ultimate crossover concept.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

5510: Raising A Red Flag. Six, In Fact.

Advertiser showing insensitivity to Asian Americans: Six Flags!

Not sure why Six Flags and its advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, believe this character is acceptable. Then again, this video taken at an actual Six Flags theme park presents a performance with another questionable Asian depiction. Perhaps Six Flags will also introduce The Chinese Water Torture ride.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

5509: Begging Your Pardon.

Passing judgments in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• New York Governor David Paterson granted a full and unconditional pardon to Slick Rick. The rap icon had been facing the threat of deportation. “[Slick Rick] has fully served the sentence imposed upon him for his convictions, had an exemplary disciplinary record while in prison and on parole, and has been living without incident in the community for more than 10 years,” said Paterson. “I urge federal immigration officials to once again grant Mr. Walters relief from deportation, so that he is not separated from his many family members who are United States citizens, including his two teenage children.” No word if Paterson will also pardon Slick Eliot Spitzer.

• Lawyers for R. Kelly are allegedly seeking to have witnesses charged with crimes. The details are fuzzy, but speculations include wanting to charge anyone who possessed a copy of the infamous tape with child pornography—which would include a Chicago Sun-Times reporter who received a copy anonymously in 2002 and turned it over to police. The defense will also probably ask New York Governor David Paterson for a full and unconditional pardon.

5508: Progressive Presbyterian.


Presbyterians pick first black seminary leader

RICHMOND, Va. — For the first time in its 196-year history, one of the nation’s oldest Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries will be led by a black pastor, a triumph for African-Americans who hope he’ll use his position to nurture the next generation of minority pastors.

Brian Blount, the head of Richmond’s Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, is positioned to shape everything from recruitment to curriculum for the institution.

Supporters hope Blount’s high-profile position will inspire black students to attend the school; later, as pastors, those students could draw a more diverse group of parishioners desired by this shrinking 2.3-million-member denomination, which is 92% white.

Blount, 51, embraced the challenge at a May 7 inauguration ceremony.

“Are we ready to be more diverse?” Blount asked, to applause. “If we’re going to transform a multicultural world, we must be a multicultural seminary.”

He takes on the role in the former capital of the Confederacy, at a seminary where one Civil War-era professor boldly spoke in favor of slavery.

“It is a historic moment,” said the Rev. Gregory Bentley, head of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus in Charlotte “The symbolism of it, I think, is powerful in that it points the way to the possibility of an inclusive and diverse future.”

[Read the full story here.]

5507: Clinton Shoots Herself In Foot. Again.

From The New York Daily News…

Hillary Clinton’s colossal blunder simply the last straw

By Michael Goodwin

SICK. Disgusting. And yet revealing. Hillary Clinton is staying in the race in the event some nut kills Barack Obama.

It could happen, but what definitely has happened is that Clinton has killed her own chances of being vice president. She doesn’t deserve to be elected dog catcher anywhere now.

Her shocking comment to a South Dakota newspaper might qualify as the dumbest thing ever said in American politics.

Her lame explanation that she brought up the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy because his brother Ted’s illness was on her mind doesn’t cut it. Not even close.

We have seen an X-ray of a very dark soul. One consumed by raw ambition to where the possible assassination of an opponent is something to ponder in a strategic way. Otherwise, why is murder on her mind?

It’s like Tonya Harding’s kneecapping has come to politics. Only the senator from New York has more lethal fantasies than that nutty skater.

We could have seen it coming, if only we had realized Clinton’s thinking could be so cold. She has grown increasingly wild in her imagery lately, invoking everything from slavery to the political killings in Zimbabwe in making her argument for the Florida and Michigan delegations. She claimed to be the victim of sexism, despite winning the votes of white men.

But none of it was moving the nomination needle, with Obama, despite recent dents, still on course to be the victor.

So she kept digging deeper, looking for the magic button. Instead, she pushed the eject button, lifting herself right out of consideration.

Giving voice to such a vile thought is all the more horrible because fears Obama would be killed have been an undercurrent to his astonishing rise. Republican Mike Huckabee made a stupid joke about it recently. Many black Americans have talked of it, reflecting their assumption that racists would never tolerate a black President and that Obama would be taken from them.

Clinton has now fed that fear. She needs a very long vacation. And we need one from her.

Say good night, Hillary. And go away.

5506: Translators Must Be Expensive.

Not sure why this ad ran the headline in one language but presented the body copy in English.

Friday, May 23, 2008

5505: No Need To Debate The Lack Of Progress.

At’s The Big Tent, Tiffany R. Warren presents an odd perspective on the potential ramifications of Barack Obama becoming President of the United States. Some are apparently concerned such an event would threaten diversity initiatives, as people might believe the notion of President Obama signals “the false impression that America has gotten over its racial issues.”

Actually, a different argument ought to be made. That is, the United States is primed to elect a Black man for President, so why do industries like advertising still lag so far behind with diversity? Why is Madison Avenue—the place boasting to be on the leading edge of culture—trailing the general population in such a glaringly pathetic way?

5504: Keep Your Eyes On Your Pies.

Switching schedules with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Mickey D’s CEO Jim Skinner told shareholders that the fast food joint’s fries are no longer cooked in trans-fat oils. The official swap was allegedly made months ago, although the company opted not to advertise the change. “While we don’t plan to advertise these changes, we wanted [shareholders] to be the first to know that we have followed through on our commitment while keeping the same great taste that our customers expect from McDonald’s,” said Skinner. However, Mickey D’s is still working on removing trans fats from its cookies and pies. Because, by golly, it’s imperative that they keep the same great lack of taste that customers expect from those items too.

• A federal judge ruled that Wesley Snipes won’t have to report to jail on June 3 as scheduled, and can remain free pending his appeal. Which means the actor still has time to enjoy Mickey D’s cookies and pies before the products change.

5503: Bite Size Bland.

From a copy and conceptual standpoint, this ad lacks flavor.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

5502: Cutting Mullets And More.

Making cuts in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Four people testified in the R. Kelly trial, identifying the female in the infamous tape. “I know her like the back of my hand,” said one witness. “We got our hair cut the same way together. It’s a mullet. Short at the top, long at the back.” If the mullet fits, you mustn’t acquit.

• American Airlines announced plans to cut domestic flights and workers. Plus, the airline will charge passengers $15 for the first checked bag. Earlier this month, American said it would also bill $25 for the second checked bag. No word how much they’ll charge for losing both bags.

5501: Deceptive Recruitment Advertising.

This is technically not an actual job listing; however, it was assembled from the content of real recruitment ads…

At Agency X, a Director is a relationship guru—an inspirational leader and mentor. This person works with counterparts to foster and define a vision and leads team members toward this vision. He/she will work in our brand new Austin location and be a part of the agency that is on the radar of every marketing and communications company on the planet. Agency X, launched in 2006, focuses on coming up with ideas first without the distinction between disciplines and job titles, resulting in the highest Return on Ideas for clients. A Director is a connected player with his/her multi-functional teams, peers, the creative youth and our clients. He/she manages needs of team members to maximize learning and productivity while minimizing turnover. This person is a talented storyteller who is capable across multiple disciplines, such as digital, copywriting, design, interactive, CRM, promotional campaigns and environment/experiential. People that have experience with innovative direct marketing campaigns will be given high priority in our search for the best. The ideal candidate will be an outstanding strategic and conceptual thinker and persuasive communicator. Plus, he/she will be enthusiastic about business beyond marketing aspects. If you are up for the challenge, send your résumé, portfolio and cover letter explaining why your experience will help us take brands to immortal levels.

The true prospective employers are Project DaVinci, Saatchi & Saatchi X and Draftfcb. One agency has not yet done shit, and the other two have done nothing but. Here they are, nonetheless, hyping themselves like industry trendsetters. Too bad trophies aren’t awarded for breakthrough creativity in classified copywriting.

5500: Mood Poisoning.

Here’s a pretty odd way to advertise a restaurant. Hopefully, the young woman isn’t feeling ill after dining at the place.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

5499: Dollar Discrimination.

From nationwide news sources…

Paper Money Discriminates Against Blind?

WASHINGTON — The U.S. discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish among the bills’ varying values, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The ruling upholds a decision by a lower court in 2006. It could force the Treasury Department to redesign its money. Suggested changes have ranged from making bills different sizes to printing them with raised markings.

The American Council for the Blind sued for such changes but the Treasury Department has been fighting the case for about six years.

“I don’t think we should have to rely on people to tell us what our money is,” said Mitch Pomerantz, the council’s president.

The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills.

The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there’s no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.

Courts can’t decide how to design the currency, since that’s up to the Treasury Department. But the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.

Pomerantz says it could take years to change the look of money and until then, he expects that similar-looking money will continue to get printed and spent. But since blindness becomes more common with age, people in the 30s and 40s should know that, when they get older, “they will be able to identify their $1 bills from their fives, tens and twenties,” he said.

Officials at the Treasury Department and the department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints the nation’s currency, had no immediate comment on the ruling. The government could appeal to the Supreme Court.

While the government has been fighting to overturn the lower court ruling, it has been taking some steps toward modifying U.S. currency for the visually impaired.

The most recent currency redesign of the $5 bill introduced in March features a giant “5” printed in purple on one side of the bill to help those with vision problems distinguish the bill.

The appeals court also ruled that the U.S. failed to explain why changing the money would be an undue burden. The Treasury Department has redesigned its currency several times in recent years, and adding features to aid the blind would come at a relatively small cost, the court said.

Other countries have added such features, the court said, and the U.S. never explained what made its situation so unique.

5498: Obesity Bias.


Weight discrimination could be as common as racial bias

By Svetlana Shkolnikova, USA TODAY

Weight discrimination, especially against women, is increasing in U.S. society and is almost as common as racial discrimination, two studies suggest.

Reported discrimination based on weight has increased 66% in the past decade, up from about 7% to 12% of U.S. adults, says one study, in the journal Obesity. The other study, in the International Journal of Obesity, says such discrimination is common in both institutional and interpersonal situations — and in some cases is even more prevalent than rates of discrimination based on gender and race. (About 17% of men and 9% of women reported race discrimination.)

Among severely obese people, about 28% of men and 45% of women said they have experienced discrimination because of their weight.

“Weight discrimination is a very serious social problem that we need to pay attention to,” says Rebecca Puhl of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, a co-author of both studies.

The research, based on surveys of more than 2,000 U.S. adults in 1995-96 and 2004-06, is the first to compare rates of weight discrimination with other forms of discrimination, Puhl says.

Institutional discrimination involved health care, education or workplace situations, such as cases in which people said they were fired, denied a job or a promotion because of their weight. Interpersonal discrimination focused on insults, abuse and harassment from others.

Lynn McAfee, director of medical advocacy at the non-profit Council on Size and Weight Discrimination in Mt. Marion, N.Y., is not surprised by the findings.

“Until we clean up language like ‘war on obesity’ and have authorities speak out about it, discrimination will continue to increase,” she says.

Puhl agrees weight discrimination will not decrease until attitudes change and laws begin addressing it.

No federal laws against weight discrimination exist, although some cities, including Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, have banned discrimination locally. The Massachusetts Legislature had hearings last month on a proposed law.

Peggy Howell says she will never forget the day her boss told her she either had to lose weight or lose her job. She weighed 280 pounds at the time and was working as a librarian. Feeling as if she had no choice but to comply, Howell joined Weight Watchers.

Howell volunteers for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, a non-profit organization in Oakland.

After shedding 120 pounds in a year and a half, she quit her library job and started an online business selling items that portray people of size in a positive light.

She says she now knows she has the right to challenge stereotypes, and she wants to “help people to see the beauty in themselves, no matter what their size.”

5497: Keep Your Lies On Your Fries.

Article above from the May 19, 2008 issue of Crain’s Chicago Business…

Why does a fast food joint that built its reputation on speedy service need years to rid the menu of deadly trans-fat oil? Looks like the boys running Mickey D’s are slick and slippery—and they’re playing the public for clowns.

5496: Good Neighbor, Not Very Good Ad.

This auto + home insurance ad could use some life.

5495: Arnold Seeks To Diversify.

The story below appeared at MultiCultClassics comments immediately follow…

Arnold Hires Multicultural Marketing Chief
Osborne joins Havas shop from Novartis

By Adweek Staff

BOSTON Havas’ Arnold said it has hired Reginald Osborne as svp, group director of multicultural marketing.

Reporting to evp Jon Tracosas, he will focus mainly on the shop’s McDonald’s business. The long-range goal, per Arnold, is to create an integrated capability for diversity marketing across all agency accounts.

“I am excited to be at an agency like Arnold that believes diversity is important culturally and as a resource to better serve clients and consumers in a multi-cultural marketing and communications world,” Osborne said in a statement.

Added Fran Kelly, Arnold’s CEO: “The world we live in and market in is growing increasingly diverse. He will be an enormous asset to Arnold and to our clients.”

Osborne joins from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where he most recently served as associate director of multicultural marketing. Prior to Novartis, he was at Spike DDB, where he worked on clients such as Jaguar, ExxonMobil, Foxwoods and State Farm Insurance. Other agency stops include Grey and Ted Bates.

Arnold has championed multiculturalism in the workplace. The Ad Club of Boston’s Arnold Rosoff Awards celebrating industry diversity are named for one of the agency’s founders.

The move is in keeping with industry trends, as agencies large and small have heightened their diversity efforts in the wake of continued criticism from some quarters that the ad business is too white and male-centric.

This story is unique on a few fronts.

First, it’s extraordinarily rare for Adweek to report on anything non-White. Although the byline seems to indicate it took the entire staff to figure out the brief news item.

Agency Spy’s superspy—who will soon leave that blog and probably take all interest with her—seemed perplexed over certain points. She observed, “…according to Adweek, [Osborne’s] goal will be to ‘create an integrated capability for diversity marketing across all agency accounts.’ So, what Arnold really means is they’re going to try and talk to people of color. Why they just can’t say that, I’ll never know. Never. According to Ad Age’s Report Cards, Arnold isn’t listed among the top 50 multicultural agencies in either the Hispanic, African American or Asian markets. Better get cracking, mister.”

Well, superspy, it’s unlikely Arnold will crack the top 50 anytime soon. If you closely inspect the Ad Age lists you referenced, you’ll see the overwhelming majority are minority-owned enterprises. Even the places “bought” by holding companies still keep minority-ownership status by retaining the necessary 51 percent share. This maneuver avoids upsetting clients who employ multicultural agencies to satisfy corporate diversity goals—that is, multicultural shops are viewed as minority vendors. It also means Arnold will have difficulty realizing its goals, especially if the Bostonians ever compete for business with typical multicultural shops.

Additionally, one could debate if the true objectives of diversity are being addressed when a general market agency hires minorities to focus on segregated initiatives. Or you could question why general market shops might be eligible to pursue multicultural assignments when multicultural shops are rarely allowed to pitch general market work. But those are the topics of future posts.

For now, let’s extend congratulations and best wishes to Reginald Osborne.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

5494: The Camera Never Lies. The Subject Matter, Well…

Lights, camera, action and a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• At last, the R. Kelly child-pornography trial began with opening statements today. The key players are depicted above: Prosecuter Shauna Boliker (left); R. Kelly (center); Defense Attorney Sam Adam Jr. (right). The defense’s contention is that the man in the infamous tape is not Kelly. Plus, the female in the tape is not the alleged victim. “Robert Kelly is not on that tape,” said Adam in court. “I stand before you on May 20, 2008, to tell you [the alleged victim] is not on that tape.” Or maybe it took so long to get to trial that the players completely forgot being a part of it all.

• An actress who appeared in a jewelry commercial where she writhed and moaned in a bed is suing the producers. She claims she was told the ad would be humorous, and she was shocked to discover it became a racy message. So far, a judge has allowed the $5 million lawsuit to move forward. R. Kelly insists he was nowhere near the filming of this one.

5493: Shades Of Whiteness.

From The Chicago Tribune…

The white vs. off-white election

By Meghan Daum

If you’re white and you like stuff, maybe you’ve bookmarked the Internet blog Stuff White People Like. The creation of Christian Lander, a 29-year-old Culver City, Calif., copywriter, it’s an ever-growing list of the kind of privileged preoccupations that traditionally are coded “white.”

Examples include not having a TV (“The No.1 reason why white people like not having a TV is so that they can tell you that they don’t have a TV.”), indie music (“To a white person, being a fan of a band before they get popular is one of the most important things they [sic] can do with their life.”) and, a bit abstrusely, awareness (“White people … firmly believe that all of the world’s problems can be solved through ‘awareness.’”).

To date, there are 99 items on Stuff White People Like.

Barack Obama, at No. 8, was among the first entries. Guess who is not on the list?

Somehow, Hillary Clinton, whose campaign now coasts on the fumes of a particular variety of white voter (the fuming kind), has failed to meet the rigorous standards of Stuff White People Like.

The reason, of course, is the same reason clichés such as mayonnaise and square dancing don’t make the cut either. The one thing Clinton has over Obama, which she has clumsily described as “hardworking Americans, white Americans,” is that certain white people like her more. But, to borrow a phrase from Lander and company, they are “the wrong kind of white people.” Could that mean they’re barely “white” at all?

Clinton’s white voters lack the salient feature of the white experience—privilege. As Stuff White People Like suggests, privilege now functions as a rarefied club that excludes people based not on their skin color but on their economic status, personal tastes and aesthetic sensibilities. The Web site tips toward progressive emblems of privilege (public radio), but because plenty of Republicans like iPods and farmers markets, it’s safe to say the actual cohort is bigger than that (or at least could support a sister site about white love for McMansions, mega-churches and golf). Yes, this club is still called “white,” but as time goes on, that whiteness becomes more conceptual than literal. You don’t have to be white to be white. You just need enough disposable income and the desire to buy the lifestyle accessories and adopt the points of view that were once exclusively associated with it.

So where does that leave Clinton’s last-ditch voting bloc? Barred from this new whiteness (and apparently unwilling or unable to make common cause with others who are also outside the pale), the people who handed Clinton a decisive victory in West Virginia have been stripped of so much social currency over the last few decades that you wonder if a new racial category—called “off-white” perhaps?—is about to emerge.

How else to explain the air of irrelevance that swirled around the primary? Granted, no one expected a nailbiter, but watching the media coverage, most notably the news clips in which one voter admitted to being “sort of scared of the other race” and another cavalierly insisted Obama was a Muslim, was to feel like the whole state had been written off as one big trailer park through which Clinton would take a final joy ride.

Some of that dismissiveness may be the result of the near-impossibility of Clinton getting the nomination. But it also may be a reflection of the way that, in the last 50 years, white people without college educations have gone from being the most dominant segment of American society to the most ignored.

A recent Brookings Institution paper on the decline of the white working class points out that in 1940, whites without a four-year college degree represented 86 percent of the over-25 population. Last year, they accounted for less than half. Moreover, in 1947, 86 percent of American families were white and earning (in 2005 dollars) less than $60,000 a year. By 2005, such families comprised only 33 percent.

But in addition to their dwindling demographic presence and their diminished status, these people constantly battle another head wind: culturally sanctioned mockery. Unprotected by the political correctness that makes deriding other minorities unacceptable or at least uncool, poor whites are often regarded not as people but as mullet-sporting, mobile-home-dwelling vessels of kitsch.

West Virginia had too few delegates at stake to matter much. Still, it’s been easy to get the feeling that some people, particularly those in the Stuff White People Like demographic, have concluded that the place is so backward it doesn’t matter at all.

The problem is, voters like those in West Virginia don’t see it that way. They may represent a shrinking demographic, but, as all the campaigns know, there are still enough of them that they can’t be ignored. The catch is that in an election in which race plays such a prominent role, the greatest tension may not be between black and white but white and off-white.

Meghan Daum is an essayist and novelist in Los Angeles.

5492: Boone On Board.

WPP’s Project Da Vinci finally lived up to its “new kind of marketing organization” hype by passing on the usual suspects—old White guys, that is—when selecting the CEO. Given all the criticism the enterprise has already received, the man will definitely have his hands full. At least no one can blame him for the potential agency name of Synarchy. Congratulations and good luck to Torrence Boone. Here’s what reported…

WPP Names CEO for Dell Shop
Former Digitas President Torrence Boone Will Head New Global Agency

By Rupal Parekh

NEW YORK -- After months of speculation, WPP said today it has named Torrence Boone, former president of Digitas, Boston, CEO of the global agency it is building from the ground up to service its first client, Dell.

“The opportunity to play a leadership role in the creation of a new agency, built to spec, with an ambition to redefine the client-agency relationship, comes along perhaps once in a lifetime,” Mr. Boone said in a statement. “I’m thoroughly excited about Project Da Vinci’s prospects and look forward to working with an exceptionally talented team to tackle the marketing challenges of Dell and other clients in today's dramatically changed media, marketing and customer landscape.”

Mr. Boone, 38, who declined to grant an interview today, comes to the start-up venture after several years at Digitas, which he joined in 2001. He previously served as VP-general manager at interactive shop Avenue A. Earlier, Mr. Boone, who holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, was a senior manager at Bain & Co., where he focused on the health-care/pharmaceuticals and consumer-products areas.

He will officially take the reigns in early June, will be based in the agency’s New York headquarters and will report directly to WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell.

‘A new kind of marketing organization’
“The goal from the start was to design and build a new kind of marketing organization that not only provides unique solutions for Dell, but meets other clients’ marketing needs and does so using developments in technology to guide and measure its marketing decisions,” Mr. Sorrell said in a statement. “Torrence is ideally suited to this critically important leadership role. His deep experience across multiple marketing disciplines and his reputation as a developer of innovative marketing programs make him uniquely qualified to lead Project Da Vinci as we focus on reinventing the approach for integrated marketing services. We believe that Project Da Vinci will provide a template for other clients with similar desires.”

Mr. Boone’s appointment is long-awaited; it has been nearly five months since WPP was handed Dell’s three-year, $4.5 billion marketing contract, with the understanding that the holding company would build it a custom-made global agency network.

In his new role, Mr. Boone will be responsible for an agency with hubs in four U.S. cities, as well as London, Beijing, Singapore and Sao Paolo, and a staff of 1,000 or more staff globally. He will also have the help of a leadership team assembled ahead of his arrival. It includes Valerie Hausladen, managing director, Austin office; Kelly McGinnis, chief corporate communications officer; Matt Rayner, chief media officer; Jack Reynolds, chief talent officer; John Roulston-Bates, chief technology officer; Joe Scangamor, chief operating officer and chief financial officer; Ken Segall, chief creative officer; Stephen Sonnenfeld, president, consumer-solutions group; and Jeffrey Wilks, president, business-solutions group.

With a CEO in place, Da Vinci will focus on, among other things, establishing a new name and identity, which it expects to introduce soon.