Thursday, July 31, 2008

5766: Playing The Presidential Race Card…?


McCain camp: Obama playing race card

From NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro

Earlier this morning, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis released this one-sentence statement: “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.”

The statement refers to this Obama line yesterday: “So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making.”

Obama’s remark yesterday seemed innocuous. In fact, it’s similar to what he has said many times before. “I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city,” Obama noted in last week’s speech in Berlin.

Perhaps more important, Obama’s remarks wouldn’t have been seen as playing the race card if Davis hadn’t issued this release. After all, the best way to play the race card sometimes is to accuse the other side of playing it.

But Obama’s remarks yesterday seemed like an obvious observation; Obama was very subtle. Davis, though, decided to use a sledgehammer.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton issued this statement: “This is a race about big challenges -- a slumping economy, a broken foreign policy, and an energy crisis for everyone but the oil companies. Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue, but he does believe they’re using the same old low-road politics to distract voters from the real issues in this campaign, and those are the issues he’ll continue to talk about.”

“Well, I think it goes well beyond that,” Davis said. “First of all, that was one of three instances yesterday that Barack Obama said the same thing in three different locations in Missouri. Secondarily, his campaign actively has been feeding to journalists all night last night and all day today, the notion that somehow something we have done in our campaign -- of which I could not identify for you today -- was somehow, had racial overtones. Third, liberal blogs all around the country were actively pursuing this this morning, which I can only assume didn’t come out of the blue. And so, I just wanted to make it clear. And to be honest, I don’t know how else you explain the quote that you just played other than to believe that somehow Barack Obama was calling something we’d done racist or something we had done with racial overtones. Otherwise I don’t know what else he was talking about.”

5765: Seeking Simian Version Of Shackleton.

This actual job listing for WPP-Dell enterprise Enfatico demonstrates the startup’s Herculean challenge of recruiting candidates. Like the iconic classified advertisement attributed to Ernest Shackleton, the message lures thrill-seekers. Applicants are only offered a “competitive compensation package” for the possibility of producing “great work for terrific clients”—although the plural form of clientele is currently a pipe dream—alongside “a talented team” still being assembled. In the end, the job specs tell the true tale: Enfatico needs a trained monkey to run the computer maker’s catalog conveyor belt.


We are looking for people who love a challenge and want to get in on the ground floor of an amazing new venture—the founding of a new WPP company that has initially partnered with Dell Computers. Play a role in the creation of a global entity. We offer a competitive compensation package and the opportunity to do great work for terrific clients with a talented team.

We are currently seeking an Associate Creative Director to oversee the creative team that is responsible for the B2B and catalog advertising for Dell. This individual will be responsible for leading our creative teams in best practices and helping maximize sales and profitability of Dell’s catalog channel and B2B, domestically and internationally. The Associate Creative Director functions as the lead creative contact on accounts under his or her supervision. He/She reports to the Creative Director who supervises his/her creative responsibilities. The ACD formulates concepts and leads staff engaged in executing designs and copy.

• Produce intelligent and on strategy creative solutions that reflect brand personality.
• Train and supervise assigned staff of designers and other creative personnel.
• Oversee the execution of all creative efforts to insure they are on strategy, on budget, and on schedule.
• Participate in account team and client planning sessions regarding campaign strategy and the approach to any significant project.
• Lead certain creative projects and team members with a hands-on supervisory approach while facilitating a collaborative team environment.
• Maintain quality of the agency’s advertising, as well as the quality and operation of assigned personnel within the Creative Department. By example and direction, the ACD fosters a departmental reputation for creative excellence.
• Maintain an effective departmental structure, and help create and maintain a high energy level throughout the Creative Department.
• Participate in and contribute to the new business activities of the agency.
• Provide clear/objective critiques of creative work during development.
• Make presentations internally and /or with senior level clients.
• Remain current and communicate industry trends and techniques.
• Keeps Creative Director informed about the creative work progress for clients, and about the ways in which those projects are being produced.

• 4-7 years of creative team leadership experience.
• Knowledge and experience in performing a variety of advertising assignments is required.
• The ability to think strategically and work autonomously.
• The ability to handle and prioritize multiple projects and multiple creative teams to adjust to changes in timelines, deadlines, and project goals.
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills and organizational skills.
• Ability to train and mentor creative staff.

5764: Coffee Breakdown.

Grande problems in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Starbucks’ struggles are escalating, with fiscal 3Q net losses at $6.7 million—versus a $158 million profit a year ago. “We continue to battle the perfect storm of this economy,” said CEO Howard Schultz. “Until the economy significantly improves, we’re just trying to do what we can to get through this storm.” Hey, maybe they should open Starbucks at unemployment offices, where people are already used to waiting in long lines.

• General Motors plans to cut 5,100 jobs by November, equaling 15 percent of its U.S. and Canadian salaried workers. Note to exiting workers with entrepreneurial spirits: Don’t open a Starbucks.

5763: Tagging Diversity Ads, Part 6.

Corporations love producing diversity ads to hype commitment to an inclusive workforce. Yet these advertisers seem unconcerned about partnering with advertising agencies where diversity is almost viewed with adversity. Granted, many companies compensate by mixing up their AOR rosters with minority-owned shops. But does such a move really negate the contradictions of associating with agencies that have steadfastly resisted moving beyond predominately White work environments?

This week, MultiCultClassics presents actual corporate diversity ads that have been “tagged” with special messages to highlight the hypocrisy.

Click on the ads and read closely.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

5762: Apologies In Da House.

From The Associated Press…

House formally apologizes to black Americans for slavery, Jim Crow era

By Jim Abrams | Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Tuesday issued an unprecedented apology to black Americans for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow segregation laws.

“Today represents a milestone in our nation’s efforts to remedy the ills of our past,” said Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The resolution, passed by voice vote, was the work of Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen, the only white lawmaker to represent a majority black district. Cohen faces a formidable black challenger in a primary face-off next week.

Congress has issued apologies before — to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II and to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. In 2005, the Senate apologized for failing to pass anti-lynching laws.

Five states have issued apologies for slavery, but past proposals in Congress have stalled, partly over concerns that an apology would lead to demands for reparations — payment for damages.

The Cohen resolution does not mention reparations. It does commit the House to rectifying “the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow.”

It says that Africans forced into slavery “were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage” and that black Americans today continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws that fostered discrimination and segregation.

The House “apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow.”

“Slavery and Jim Crow are stains upon what is the greatest nation on the face of the earth,” Cohen said. Part of forming a more perfect union, he said, “is such a resolution as we have before us today where we face up to our mistakes and apologize as anyone should apologize for things that were done in the past that were wrong.”

Cohen became the first white to represent the 60 percent black district in Memphis in more than three decades when he captured a 2006 primary where a dozen black candidates split the vote. He has sought to reach out to his black constituents, and early in his term showed interest in joining the Congressional Black Caucus until learning that was against caucus rules.

Another of his first acts as a freshman congressman in early 2007 was to introduce the slavery apology resolution. His office said that the House resolution was brought to the floor only after learning that the Senate would be unable to join in a joint resolution.

More than a dozen of the 42 Congressional Black Caucus members in the House were original co-sponsors of the measure. The caucus has not endorsed either Cohen or his chief rival, attorney Nikki Tinker, in the Memphis primary, although Cohen is backed by several senior members, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Tinker is the former campaign manager of Harold Ford, Jr., who held Cohen’s seat until he stepped down in an unsuccessful run for the Senate in 2006.

5761: Bad Business As Usual.

Midweek MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Delta Airlines announced increased fees for fliers, including doubling the charge for a second checked bag. The airline can also guarantee doubling the chance that they will lose the second bag.

• Ex-Sprint customers in California received a treat when a court ruled the wireless phone company was wrong to charge people early contract termination fees. The company now owes consumers about $73 million. Hopefully, the payments won’t be handled by Sprint’s inept customer service representatives.

• Comcast reported 2Q profits rose 8 percent. Guess Bob Garfield’s Comcast Must Die efforts weren’t so successful after all. Wonder if the veteran ad critic will be judging his own failed marketing endeavors.

• Dunkin’ Donuts will add healthier items to its menu. Look for broccoli-filled éclairs and deep-fried soy fritters soon.

• Comic legend Jerry Lewis was caught packing a firearm in his luggage at the Las Vegas airport. Did anyone else hear this news and think, “I thought Jerry Lewis was dead”?

• New York City high schools have officially sanctioned double-dutching as a sport. Count it as one more athletic event where Blacks will excel over all competitors.

5760: Tagging Diversity Ads, Part 5.

Corporations love producing diversity ads to hype commitment to an inclusive workforce. Yet these advertisers seem unconcerned about partnering with advertising agencies where diversity is almost viewed with adversity. Granted, many companies compensate by mixing up their AOR rosters with minority-owned shops. But does such a move really negate the contradictions of associating with agencies that have steadfastly resisted moving beyond predominately White work environments?

This week, MultiCultClassics presents actual corporate diversity ads that have been “tagged” with special messages to highlight the hypocrisy.

Click on the ads and read closely.

5759: Mad Men Is A Period Piece—For 2008.

The season’s first episode of AMC series Mad Men featured the standard Sterling Cooper stereotypes:

Admen disrespecting their female counterparts.

Cultural cluelessness when creating ads for Mohawk Airlines.

Blatant displays of ageism and cronyism.

Foreigners portrayed as potentially ignorant.

Minority roles for minorities (maintenance men and maids).

If not for the wardrobes, you’d think it was Madison Avenue 2008.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

5758: When The Offended Become Offensive.

Last week, MultiCultClassics spent too many posts examining people offended by the offended. Now let’s waste time discussing what happens when the offended become offensive.

Bob Garfield ignited spirited debate by condemning Omnicom for its infamous Snickers commercial featuring Mr. T shooting at a seemingly gay speedwalker. On certain levels, Garfield had a valid point. Yet the columnist arguably took things too far, as he compared the commercial with the Matthew Shepard killing and Nazi propaganda.

Today, Garfield connected the Snickers spot with the murderous Tennessee gunman who allegedly opened fire in a church because he hated liberals and gays. Garfield even blasted Adrants’ Steve Hall with his trademark condescending tone. The staffers at Advertising Age ought to be on the lookout for Garfield to show up donning camouflage fatigues and packing a stuffed duffle bag. Before this is all over, Mr. T will be accused of having fatally stabbed O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife.

Garfield might have warranted a teeny sliver of respect for his conviction. Until you realize the man once declared a jihad on Comcast and saw racist undertones when American Idol’s Randy Jackson starred in a campaign for Oreo cookies.

5757: MultiCultClassics Rerun.

Hey, TV networks play reruns. So do blogs. Given all the recent offensive ads in the news, it seems appropriate to review a post from 2007.

5756: Tagging Diversity Ads, Part 4.

Corporations love producing diversity ads to hype commitment to an inclusive workforce. Yet these advertisers seem unconcerned about partnering with advertising agencies where diversity is almost viewed with adversity. Granted, many companies compensate by mixing up their AOR rosters with minority-owned shops. But does such a move really negate the contradictions of associating with agencies that have steadfastly resisted moving beyond predominately White work environments?

This week, MultiCultClassics presents actual corporate diversity ads that have been “tagged” with special messages to highlight the hypocrisy.

Click on the ads and read closely.

5755: Ultra-Lie…?

Guess the Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift® results didn’t impress Matthew.

5754: Tagging Diversity Ads, Part 3.

Corporations love producing diversity ads to hype commitment to an inclusive workforce. Yet these advertisers seem unconcerned about partnering with advertising agencies where diversity is almost viewed with adversity. Granted, many companies compensate by mixing up their AOR rosters with minority-owned shops. But does such a move really negate the contradictions of associating with agencies that have steadfastly resisted moving beyond predominately White work environments?

This week, MultiCultClassics presents actual corporate diversity ads that have been “tagged” with special messages to highlight the hypocrisy.

Click on the ads and read closely.

5753: Change Agents Give Same Old Same Old.

The New York Post presented a roundtable discussion with corporate diversity wonks, including Ogilvy & Mather Chief Diversity Officer Donna Pedro. There’s a nice take on it all at The Brief.

Monday, July 28, 2008

5752: Tagging Diversity Ads, Part 2.

Corporations love producing diversity ads to hype commitment to an inclusive workforce. Yet these advertisers seem unconcerned about partnering with advertising agencies where diversity is almost viewed with adversity. Granted, many companies compensate by mixing up their AOR rosters with minority-owned shops. But does such a move really negate the contradictions of associating with agencies that have steadfastly resisted moving beyond predominately White work environments?

This week, MultiCultClassics presents actual corporate diversity ads that have been “tagged” with special messages to highlight the hypocrisy.

Click on the ads and read closely.

5751: Saving The Children…?

OK, Walmart, these ads show you’ll help people Save Money. But stuffing children with junk food doesn’t exactly deliver on the second half of your tagline to help people Live Better.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

5750: Tagging Diversity Ads, Part 1.

Corporations love producing diversity ads to hype commitment to an inclusive workforce. Yet these advertisers seem unconcerned about partnering with advertising agencies where diversity is almost viewed with adversity. Granted, many companies compensate by mixing up their AOR rosters with minority-owned shops. But does such a move really negate the contradictions of associating with agencies that have steadfastly resisted moving beyond predominately White work environments?

This week, MultiCultClassics presents actual corporate diversity ads that have been “tagged” with special messages to highlight the hypocrisy.

Click on the ads and read closely.

5749: Offended By The Offended?

During incidents like the ones involving Nike, Snickers, Verizon, Six Flags, Intel and more, it’s somewhat disturbing to witness the people offended by the offended. There’s always an angry mob arguing the offended are too PC or too oversensitive. Some individuals go so far as to insist the offended should not be offended.

Attempting to dictate other people’s emotional responses seems to display arrogance and ignorance of the highest order. But perhaps it’s to be expected from advertising people, as our professional efforts are tied to persuading and triggering emotional responses.

Regardless, here’s food for thought for the angry mobs.

Industry icon Bill Bernbach was said to carry a slip of paper in his pocket that read, “They may be right.” It was Bernbach’s reminder to consider the client’s alternative view, rather than immediately dismiss them as idiots.

We could all benefit from applying Bernbach’s technique. When confronted by the offended, spend a moment and honestly attempt to see the situation from another perspective.

Don’t just wonder why the offended are being so sensitive. Try asking why you are potentially being so insensitive. Take a hard look in the mirror.

5748: Slightly Off On Offenses.

Advertising Age Editor Jonah Bloom presents an attempt at levity over the recent spate of offensive advertising. However, Bloom technically makes an error in his perspective. Advertising agency executives rarely receive direct criticism for their insensitivity; rather, the advertisers take the heat for Madison Avenue’s ignorance.

Dear Sir: I Write to Inform You That I’ve Taken Offense …
It’s Been One of Those Weeks

By Jonah Bloom

This week everyone was offended. Bob Garfield and some gay lobbyists found a gay-bashing agenda in a juvenile Snickers ad; animal-rights activists railed against the portrayal of pit bulls as aggressive in a Verizon spot; others bemoaned an appeals court’s decision not to uphold the FCC’s fine against CBS for accidentally letting the public see a bit of breast. I thought I’d reassure the people fighting against such offenses today they’re not alone, so I looked back through the archive (in my head) and found these:

Dear Mr. Ogilvy,
Your esotericism has got the better of you. While you and your cronies on Madison Avenue may think there’s something cute about employing an eye patch for the purpose of selling Hathaway shirts, the sight-impaired among us can still see enough to know that this is nothing but a cheap, offensive stunt and that it is you, sir, who lacks vision.

The only possible interpretation of your decision is that you are the kind of man who rides roughshod over people less physically able than yourself, deeming them suitable targets for mimicry and even mockery. Do you shove people from their wheelchairs too?

Your despicable approach will win you no friends among the many-million-strong blind lobby and our friends, and we intend to urge Hathaway to dismiss your agency immediately. This is no way to sell shirts.

Dear Mr. Bernbach,
Since when was it OK to stigmatize a defenseless fruit? I suppose as long as you’re hawking strange little German autos, it doesn’t matter to you that you’re destroying not only the great American car-manufacturing business, but also those of us who feed our children by engaging in the honest and humble profession of lemon growing.

There is nothing imperfect about lemons, and my colleagues and I deeply resent the implication that our lovingly cultivated crop is somehow flawed. I suppose you yourself have never quaffed a refreshing glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day, nor asked the bartender for a lemon drop martini on one of your many trips to a Mad Ave cocktail establishment.

You’ll never get anywhere with this kind of crude humor, Mr. Bernbach, and I can tell you that the fruit farmers among us will not be ditching our U.S.-made vehicles anytime soon.

Dear Mr. Clow,
I don’t know where to start with the inexplicable aberration that aired in the recent Super Bowl.

If you had suffered as my family has suffered, perhaps you would not have been so quick to show a sledgehammer handled in such an irresponsible manner. Three years ago my husband temporarily lost the use of his left thumb in an atrocious nailing incident. A trip to the hospital and several weeks of missed work later, he was still unable to hammer anything without reopening the psychological scar. Since this time we’ve embarked on a mission to educate the public about the risks of pounding one object with another designed for that purpose.

For you to show a hammer—and not just a ball-peen or framing, but a sledge—being used so recklessly not only undoes our work, but jeopardizes the safety of millions by encouraging such misuse of heavy objects. Should there be a hammer-related death next year, it will be on your conscience.

(Incidentally I have also written to the FCC to demand it fine you for the reckless act of featuring a scantily clad lady in indecently tight shorts. If people want that sort of filth, they need only visit the Hooters restaurant chain; the rest of us would like to preserve our children’s innocence.)

Clean up your act, Clow—you’re helping neither yourself nor Apple.

5747: Mad Ave Never Fails To Offend.


How to Cut Through but Not Offend? Verizon, Snickers Latest to Fail Test
Furor Over Ads Is a Reminder of How Easily a Blowup Can Occur

By Matthew Creamer and Rupal Parekh

NEW YORK -- Late last week, an important bit of marketing news about Mars Inc. was delivered to the world through an unusual channel: a press release from a gay-rights organization that had pressured the candy giant to pull one of its ads. The U.K. spot features a scene where Mr. T machine-guns Snickers bars at an effeminate man and culminates with the tagline “Snickers. Get Some Nuts.” The Human Rights Campaign, summing up the sentiment of many in the blogosphere, said the bit condones violence against gays.

Meanwhile, a no-less-intense furor was brewing over an entirely different perceived offense against a totally different group of, um, life forms. Dog owners and canine organizations foamed over a Verizon Wireless commercial featuring a pair of snarling pit bulls that leap to devour a guy but fall short because of their chains. (Across the pond, another canine ad scandal formed around Churchill Insurance when its loveable spokesdog was accused of adding a barely audible obscene coda to his catchphrase.)

By week’s end, both Verizon and Mars had caved under the pressure, showing that this, apparently, is no time for ads that risk offense -- not particularly good news for brands. With the sheer volume of commercial messages swelling, consumers are harder to reach than ever. A tried and true way of slicing through the noise is to prick or even jab at their sensibilities, an approach that may not lead directly to sales but may get a brand some much-needed attention. As a Verizon spokeswoman told “These are fictional ads, designed to be over-the-top, to break through the clutter and get our message across.”

Mars pulled its Snickers ads, while Verizon put on what appeared to be a brave face and said it was keeping its ad in circulation. However, at least one version of the ad on You Tube had been pulled by week’s end. In its place was a note that it had been removed after a “copyright claim” from McCann Erickson, which happens to be Verizon’s agency.

Whether you view the uproars and reactions as political correctness gone wild or a legitimate response to offensive messaging, this sort of thing is nothing new, nor is it limited to the ad world. Last week also saw shock jock Michael Savage enrage parents of children with autism when he called the condition “a fraud, a racket.” But it is a reminder of how easily a blowup can occur.

[Read the full story here.]

5746: Offending Consumers Is Rarely Profitable.

From Letters To The Editor at…

Offending gays no way to win share

RE: “An Open Letter to Omnicom President-CEO John Wren.” Kudos to Bob Garfield for bringing up the need for greater awareness in the ad industry about the questionable effectiveness of gay stereotypes and homophobia for predictable punch lines.

While many like to fall back on the idea that gay stereotypes and homophobia will automatically sell, this is not borne out in research. To the contrary, the world is rapidly changing -- a generation of youth have now been raised by gay-friendly MTV (plus “Will & Grace,” “Queer Eye,” “The L Word,” etc.), 94% of the Fortune 500 protects gay employees from discrimination, and same-sex couples can become legally bound in 11 states and 22 countries.

Advertising humor is different than stand-up comedy; its job is to make as many friends (also known as sales) for the brand as it can. Gay and lesbian jokes affect more than just an estimated 7% of the population; they also will bring negative responses from their family, friends and colleagues.

Agencies and clients will do much better by raising their awareness on these matters and seeking out best practices. Gays and lesbians are more than just a punch line, they’re the bottom line.

Michael Wilke
Executive Director
Commercial Closet Association
New York

5745: Just Don’t Do It.

From nationwide news sources…

Nike pulls ads criticized for homophobia
‘THAT AIN’T RIGHT’ | Hyperdunk spots not meant to offend, company insists

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Nike said Friday it would pull its ads for its Hyperdunk basketball shoes, responding to criticism that they fed homophobic views.

Nike previously defended the ads but said it would withdraw them as quickly as possible “to underline our ongoing commitment to supporting diversity in sport and the workplace,” the Oregonian newspaper reported.

The ads were created by Portland’s Wieden+Kennedy agency and titled “That Ain’t Right,” “Isn’t That Cute,” and “Punks Jump Up.”

One ad showed a basketball player dunking over another. The crotch of the player dunking was planted firmly in the other player’s face. The ad sported a large tag line: “That Ain’t Right.”

Earlier, Nike had said the ads were “based purely upon a common insight from within the game of basketball—the athletic feat of dunking on the opposition—and is not intended to be offensive.”

Nike also reiterated its “history of supporting athletes regardless of their sexual orientation.” Nike has been praised by gay-rights advocates for supporting a 2007 Oregon law banning discrimination against gays in work, housing and public places.

An after-hours call to Nike corporate communications rang unanswered Friday.

5744: Tuning In Obama.

From The New York Times…

Black Radio on Obama Is Left’s Answer to Limbaugh

By Jim Rutenberg

ATLANTA — Warren Ballentine, one of black talk radio’s new stars, was on a tear against Senator John McCain as he broadcast from the Greenbriar Mall here last week, blithely dismissing Mr. McCain’s kind words about Senator Barack Obama at the recent N.A.A.C.P. national convention.

“He came out talking about how good of a race Barack Obama was running, and how proud he was of Barack,” Mr. Ballentine said. “You know he went back home and said, ‘I can’t believe I spoke in front of all those Negroes today!’”

“He was pandering to the crowd, talking about how he felt when Martin Luther King Jr. died,” Mr. Ballentine went on. “However, he didn’t vote for the holiday of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Rush Limbaugh, meet your black liberal counterprogramming. Mr. Ballentine is one of the many African-American radio hosts and commentators who are aggressively advocating for Mr. Obama’s election on black-oriented radio stations daily.

Since Mr. Limbaugh first flexed his tonsils two decades ago, Democrats have publicly worried about their lack of an answer to him and his imitators, who have proven so adept at motivating conservative Republicans to go to the polls, especially for President Bush.

Now it is Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, who has a harmonious chorus of broadcast supporters addressing a vital part of his coalition, feeding and reflecting the excitement blacks have for his candidacy in general. Mr. Obama is getting support from white liberal talk radio hosts as well, but the backing he is getting from black radio hosts could be especially helpful to his campaign’s efforts to increase black turnout and raise historically low voter registration enough to change the math of presidential elections in battlegrounds and traditionally Republican states like this one.

“Urban stations can be in ’08 what Rush Limbaugh delivered for conservatives a generation ago,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has a two-year-old radio program that is now syndicated on stations throughout the country, including in states like Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. “If you look at the political map of where our shows are, it matches the gap of unregistered voters.”

[Read the full story here.]

5743: Will Work For Porn.

This actual job listing seeks porn reviewers. A top critic could score up to $25 per review—or keep the DVD in lieu of payment. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper of “At The Movies” fame will soon be available. One can only imagine how they might put a spin on the iconic “thumbs up” review system.

Pay per review—Adult movie reviewers wanted (mature-audience)

We run an adult movie archive (adult movies = mature-audience/explicit material) and currently have hundreds of DVDs and more arriving weekly from all the top studios that need to be reviewed ASAP.

We’ll pay you a guaranteed $4-$10 (average is about $7) for every DVD that we mail to you (discretely) and you review for us plus an additional excellent financial incentive if your reviews help our web site generate a larger readership.

In total, if you do a great job, you could earn about $10-$25 or more per review.

We’ll mail you the DVDs (at no cost to you) and pay you when you return them to us (we’ll also pay for the return shipping, of course). Or, if you prefer you can just keep the DVDs you like (valued at $20-$40 each) as your form of payment.

If you’re interested, please contact us and we’ll provide you with all the exciting details.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

5742: Snickering At Progress…?

Let’s close out the week with random thoughts on the story filling too many entries at this blog.

Bob Garfield posted additional notes, engaging directly with visitors at An Open Letter To Omnicom President-CEO John Wren. When one person questioned Garfield’s argument that the scenario was “not about gay or not gay,” the columnist snapped:

Sigh. This is so simple. You don’t have to be gay to be the target of macho aggression. If you are slight, or weak, or meek or odd. If you don’t like football or groove on Liza. If you read books. If you drive a Neon. If for any reason you don’t fulfill the masculinity expectations of the bully, you are therefore a faggot and: ridiculed, berated, laughed at, marginalized, stuffed into a locker, beaten up, murdered. Ass-wiggling speedwalker = faggot. It’s code. Likewise sweater-draped poodle walkers who squeal “oooooooh!” This kind of ad, which normalizes and even incites contempt or worse for the supposed faggots, is therefore homophobic whether the runner is gay or not. QED.
(BTW, sorry about dropping the N. Yours, Bo) —Bob Garfield, Anytown

After expressing such outrage over the offenses presented in the Snickers spot, it’s disconcerting to see Garfield toss around a slur with reckless abandon—although he’ll undoubtedly have some defense for his use of the word. Whatever. When the person being schooled by Garfield complained, “…There really is no need for the patronizing ‘Sigh. This is so simple,’” the columnist shot back:

I reject your characterization. It was NOT patronizing. It was condescending.

Sorry about that; it’s frustrating when the point I feel I made so clearly in the original text doesn’t register with, or make sense to, the entire world.

Alas, I think your Nazi propaganda example -- as I mentioned earlier in this thread -- is not so hyperbolic after all. The business of caricaturing an “other” is a slippery slope whose natural bottom is violence. Hence the Matthew Shepard analogy. Shooting candy bars at a sissy speedwalker is different from bludgeoning an effeminate college student only in degree. —Bob Garfield, Anytown

Well, yeah, the scenarios are different only in degree—first-degree murder. Does Garfield really believe the Omnicom creative team behind the Snickers spot deserves being compared to hate-crime killers? This is indeed a slippery slope, like when people accuse others of resembling Hitler. Garfield sorta did that too.

Garfield confessed to displaying condescension, as well as frustration when his points weren’t making sense to the entire world. Heaven forbid the man might consider the possibility that he’s unclear.

An offline commentator wondered about MultiCultClassics relating Garfield to Jesse Jackson in an earlier post. It’s admittedly a winding stretch, prompted by a recent perspective from syndicated columnist Clarence Page. Responding to Jackson’s infamous gripe that Barack Obama was “talking down” to Blacks, Page disagreed with the statement. He contended Obama and the critical Bill Cosby are successful because “they don’t talk down to their audiences. They enlist their audiences as partners.” Garfield could benefit from trying to do likewise.

While Garfield exchanged online volleys with assorted characters, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation took its case straight to Snickers parent company Mars Inc., and the candy maker decided to pull the commercial. While the outcome is hardly unexpected, it leaves unresolved and peculiar elements too.

For starters, Garfield’s original rant remains unanswered. That is, Omnicom and John Wren appear to walk away scot-free. The company’s worst-case scenario would be losing the Snickers account. Or watching Garfield launch an Omnicom Must Die blog.

Additionally, the stereotypical angry mob that assembled to shoot down Garfield’s basic premise likely still harbors animosity over the entire incident. Do these people represent the industry’s majority? It’s tough to tell. But they certainly provide ammunition for those seeking proof that our industry has a long way to go on the journey toward progress.

Finally, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation revealed that after the homophobic Super Bowl Snickers commercial aired in 2007, “HRC began a constructive dialogue with Mars on workplace inclusion for GLBT employees.” Somebody tell HRC they missed the real target: the advertising industry creating offensive messages and pooh-poohing diversity. It would be interesting to see Madison Avenue face another organization with Human Rights in its title.

5741: The Right To Remain Stupid.

Fighting The Man in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• California has become the first state to ban trans fats in restaurants, a move that will affect about 88,000 places. A new bill signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calls for trans fats to be removed from restaurant by 2010, and from retail baked goods by 2011. Of course, online protestors are typing out with comments like, “Am I living in America or the Third Reich? What happened to freedom of choice? I’m not a child, I can make this decision without the intervention of the government.” Of course, it should be noted that this fatty freedom fighter is probably nothing more than a PR hack or lobbyist on fast feeders’ payrolls.

• California can’t ban the Minutemen, who took back their Adopt-A-Highway position in San Diego after being initially relocated. “We are all thrilled to see our Adopt-a-Highway recognition sign back up, standing more proudly than ever,” said the anti-illegal immigration group’s founder. “The U.S. Constitution has thankfully trumped the lies and coercion of the illegal alien activists. … Thank you to Americans nationwide who helped us win this critical legal fight for our rights and to have our message heard by all America!” OK, guys, now please go back to picking up the garbage along the highway.

• A detective seeking to serve a subpoena to people in the court hearings involving embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick ran into an unexpected obstacle: Kwame Kilpatrick. The detective said Kilpatrick assaulted him while hurling expletives. Kilpatrick was reprimanded by a judge for his actions and ordered to post $7,500 and undergo drug testing. “I don’t know what was going on in defendant Kilpatrick’s life that he exploded, for want of a better term,” said the judge. “This is ridiculous.” Next time, Kilpatrick should just text his expletives.

• Know those hilarious commercials with Coke Zero enthusiasts trying to sue Coke? Well, advertising fiction is becoming reality, as a Chicago businessman has filed a lawsuit charging Coke with stealing his idea for Coke Zero. Talk about a persuasive advertising campaign.

Friday, July 25, 2008

5740: Mr. T Gunned Down.

From The Human Rights Campaign Foundation…

After Discussions with Human Rights Campaign, Mars Inc. Pulls Controversial Ad

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, learned today that Mars Inc. will pull a controversial television advertisement for Snickers following communication between the HRC Workplace Project and Mars, the parent company. The ad features a man whose appearance and actions – speed walking in an exaggerated manner – conjure up stereotypes of gay men. The man is then ridiculed by Mr. T who appears shooting Snickers bars out of a gun and admonishing the jogger to be a “real man.”

Statement from HRC Workplace Director Daryl Herrschaft:

“Following conversations between the Human Rights Campaign and senior Mars representatives, the company has agreed to pull its most recent ad using stereotypes of gay men to sell its Snickers product line. HRC applauds Mars for taking swift and appropriate action.

In 2007, another distasteful Snickers advertisement was aired during Super Bowl XLI. The company subsequently pulled the ad. Following that, HRC began a constructive dialogue with Mars on workplace inclusion for GLBT employees. We were of course surprised to see the company return to the same practice it had just recently rejected.

These kinds of ads perpetuate the notion that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a group of second class citizens and that violence against GLBT people is not only acceptable, but humorous.

We are hopeful that Mars will make the necessary changes in their organization to ensure this does not happen yet again.”

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

5739: Is Garfield Nuttier Than A Snickers Bar?

Bob Garfield posted another comment on the thread for An Open Letter To Omnicom President-CEO John Wren. Here it is:

To Julia Cohen (and many others),

As the piece makes very clear (notwithstanding the slightly-too-narrow subheadline, which I did not write) it’s not about gay or not gay; it’s about the license to ridicule, demean and target a class of people by virtue of being not prototypically masculine enough.

You don’t wish to go into whether the ad is good or bad or offensive? Allow me: it IS bad. It IS offensive. It IS wrong. It IS insulting. It IS juvenile. It IS bullying. It IS hate speech. It IS bad conduct. It IS bad business. —Bob Garfield, Anytown

Garfield is really unraveling, which is unfortunate, as his original position had validity. In many respects, he’s demonstrating the difficulty of arguing about culture-based offenses with the culturally clueless. Now he has a tiny sense of how New York City’s Commission on Human Rights or Sanford Moore must feel at times.

One problem involves his overreaction on points. For example, is the Snickers spot hate speech? Here’s the Wikipedia entry:

Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, moral or political views, socioeconomic class, occupation or appearance (such as height, weight, and hair color), mental capacity and any other distinction-liability. The term covers written as well as oral communication and some forms of behaviors in a public setting. It is also sometimes called antilocution and is the first point on Allport’s scale which measures prejudice in a society.

Hate speech seems to require active bias and deliberately evil intent. Let’s hope the Omnicom shop responsible for the commercial isn’t so awful. Besides, most network censors would never allow hate speech to air in primetime. No, this is more likely a case of passive bias—culturally clueless types unwittingly showing insensitivity. Granted, it’s a pretty pathetic exhibit of passive bias. But to categorize it as hate speech would be a signal that the Apocalypse is indeed upon us.

Garfield is also being too politically correct in his positions. To say, “it’s not about gay or not gay; it’s about the license to ridicule, demean and target a class of people by virtue of being not prototypically masculine enough” is complicating the matter. Bob, just admit it is about anti-gay sentiments. You’re confusing the mob.

Finally, Garfield is being ultra aggressive. He’s coming off like Jesse Jackson. And we all know how Madison Avenue views Jackson. If Garfield wants to get back on course, he ought to watch this.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

5738: Cover-To-Cover Stupidity.

Covering the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Vanity Fair decided to fight satire with satire, producing a parody of the infamous New Yorker Obamas cover featuring the McCains. Look for Ebony to create a Cynthia McKinney Green Party cover, with the former Congresswoman sticking her fist into a U.S. Capitol cop’s face.

• NYPD officials are investigating an incident where the head of a Black doll was stuck on the radio antenna of an unmarked police car carrying a couple of White cops. Maybe the cops were showing support for Cynthia McKinney.

• Max Mosley won his lawsuit against a tabloid that exposed his S&M orgy with hookers. The News of the World claimed it was a Nazi party, but Mosley denied a political theme and will collect $120,000. Which should pay for a few more non-Nazi orgies.

• Ford posted 2Q losses at $8.7 billion, while Chrysler announced plans to dump 1,000 salaried positions. The New York Times 2Q earnings dropped 82 percent. You know things are bad when major corporations are doing worse than old dudes staging S&M orgies.

5737: Domo Arigato, Mr. Biegeloto!

It sure would be nice for Steve Biegel to just go away. Given the secretive nature of his settlement with former employer Dentsu—plus the retraction of all public statements by both parties—one might think nothing more could be said for legal reasons. Instead, Biegel delivered an interview with Advertising Age. Biegel’s remarks included:

There are many “boys club” situations that go on in the industry, but there is a line that I assume is understood that is not crossed in those situations. In plain English, there’s a lot of “entertainment” in the industry and that’s not an issue, but there’s a line that one shouldn’t be pushed over, and that’s what one shouldn’t stand for—being pushed over that line.

I feel like I was a victim who sought justice and was within my rights as an American citizen to stand up to that injustice, and people can form their own opinions about it.

I can look at myself in the mirror without any problems. I can talk to my son honestly about standing up to bullies. I honor my father from him teaching me how to stand up for myself. And people can think what they want to think. As long as I’m truthful and true to myself, then it was worth it.

Guess he had to replenish the retracted public statements. Biegel appears to be blasting Dentsu with accusations like “being pushed over that line” and “standing up to bullies.” Plus, the references to “plain English” and “rights as an American citizen” continue the cultural jabs that tainted the tussle.

Of course, an “anonymous” posted comment shows love for Biegel:

Kudo’s [sic] to Biegel. Thanks for maintaining your integrity and holding others accountable. He might just have saved someone else the dilemma of being in that position and feeling like they had to conform. It’s good to get reminders that we need to tighten up a little. —Norfolk, VA

Ah, yes. Steve Biegel has saved us all from future attacks at Eastern European brothels and Japanese bathhouses. Domo arigato!

5736: Stereotype Standard.

Stereotype resistant? Um, let’s withhold comments until viewing the companion campaigns from Infiniti’s minority advertising agencies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

5735: Wednesday Evening News.

Headlines and pick-up lines in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric declared sexism is more common and tolerated than racism. Couric said, “I find myself in the last bastion of male dominance, and realizing what Hillary Clinton might have realized not long ago: Sexism in the American society is more common than racism, and certainly more acceptable or forgivable.” The last bastion of male dominance? Hasn’t the women ever heard of Madison Avenue?

• Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is now facing charges of exchanging romantic text messages with more women—besides his wife and former chief of staff. Wonder if Katie Couric is in his Fave 5.

• After federal charges surrounding his finances were dropped, Rev. Al Sharpton declared, “I have learned that everybody is not necessarily out to get you. And, I hope [prosecutors] have learned that everybody who questions the system is not trying to beat the system.” None of those lessons apply to Kwame Kilpatrick.

• A former Georgia state employee filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was axed because she announced she would come to work dressed as a female in preparation for a sex-change procedure to transform from man to woman. Sounds like a case of “He Said, She Said.”

• United Airlines announced plans to dump 7,000 employees and cut flights. Yahoo’s 2Q profits dropped 18 percent. Boeing’s 2Q profits fell 19 percent. Mickey D’s 2Q revenue jumped 4 percent. Pepsi poured a 9 percent 2Q profit boost. AT&T’s 2Q profits soared 30 percent. Look for United, Boeing and Yahoo to offer iPhones to every customer.

5734: The Education Of Bob Garfield.

As expected, Bob Garfield’s rant on Omnicom’s homophobic spots has inspired comments. As expected, it’s the stereotypical collection of opinions. But somewhat unexpectedly, Garfield himself presented a rebuttal to the responses. As expected, it appears the man has not yet come to see the big picture—to grasp the real issue at hand. Expect a potential follow-up column or even the launch of an Omnicom Must Die blog. Then expect it all to be forgotten within a few days. Unless someone airs a commercial demeaning Black, suicidal, homosexual pit bulls. In the meantime, here’s Garfield’s rebuttal…

“C’mon. It’s TV.”

How often [have I] seen that comment over the years, as a rationale -- or rationalization -- for advertising’s excesses? Likewise its rationalization cousin: “It’s only an ad. Lighten up!”

Both observations are phenomenally ignorant, revealing a fundamental inability to understand what advertising is. It surely isn’t TV. It’s ON television, but it’s not content that anybody has voted for in any way, shape or form. It just shows up, uninvited, and as such has not just a responsibility for decorum, but a special responsibility. This is NOT a generational issue. It’s a basic ethics issue -- not to mention basic common sense. For God’s sake, an advertiser is putting its multibilliondollar brand behind it: shouldn’t the joke, at a minimum, not resemble hate speech?

Another common refrain: “just more PC oversensitivity.” Wow. That’s really clueless, too. Any who thinks objecting to the depiction of violence (however absurd) for the crime of being too effeminate has ANYTHING to do with Political Correctness either a) doesn’t know what PC is, b) cannot reason beyond some reflexive, defensive sloganeering, c) is a bigot himself.

Those who contend [we] have so lost our sense of humor that we can’t joke about ANYTHING…well, the mind simply reels. For one thing, we CAN joke about everything…or at least everything I can think of…in the right time and place. Even the mass media are awash in hilarious, edgy material. But dehumanizing entire classes of people can be (and certainly is in Snickers’ case) a cruel and ugly enterprise. The commenter who found a parallel in anti-Semitic propaganda -- Ha ha! Look at these greedy jews and their big hooked noses! -- understood the phenomenon exactly.

I was amazed and appalled that one holding company could be responsible for so many sissy-bashing commercials. I am even more amazed and appalled that this mean and juvenile crap has so many defenders. —Bob Garfield

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

5733: Ads By Google Are So Gay.

Here’s another peculiar example of Ads by Google. Adrants posted a dismissal of Bob Garfield’s rant on Omnicom’s homophobic commercials—alongside a banner ad to meet a gay jock.

5732: Seeking Jackass-Of-All-Trades.

This job listing actually runs about three times longer than what’s depicted. It demonstrates how “New Media” has created new standards, new expectations and new title definitions. A Senior Creative Director is expected to literally do all the creative work, generate timelines and write briefs. Plus, you’ll handle web design, sales materials, presentations, video production, animation, interactive design and print work. This is not a manager position—unless you call your subordinates me, myself and I. Oh, and you can expect to be paid $30-45 per hour. Welcome to the New Job Market.

Senior Creative Director

Symplified, a fast growing, well financed Internet startup, is looking for an extremely talented, completely hands-on, timeline loving, entrepreneurial, Art Directing, Web Designer.

You will be working concept through completion to create new and update existing websites, design banners and other online collateral. You must have an exquisite design sense, as you will be working with world-class companies. You have to be able to analyze client needs, suggest technological ways to make it happen, and jump in and do the work. You will be creating timelines and creative briefs as well.

As Senior Creative Director, you will bring your years of hands-on expertise to manage and implement the Company’s in-house design efforts, which encompasses a broad range of graphic design including web design, sales materials, presentations, video production, animation, interactive design and print work.

You must be proficient in PhotoShop, InDesign, Illustrator, HTML, Flash, and JavaScript. Knowledge of Action Script, motion graphics a must. Mac environment.

This is a fast-paced environment so you must be able to work on tight deadlines and multitask. Tons of room for growth with Symplified, as you would be helping to grow the entire interactive department.

This is a production position not a manager position.

5731: Heading South.

Losses and wins in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Wachovia reported 2Q losses at $8.86 billion and plans to cut 6,350 jobs. “These bottom-line results are disappointing and unacceptable,” said the chairman. “While to some degree they reflect industry headwinds and weaker macroeconomic conditions, they also reflect performance for which we at Wachovia accept responsibility.” And they’ll undoubtedly pass the financial responsibility to customers.

• Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who sparked controversy by proposing unconstitutional ordinances to punish businesses and landlords working with illegal immigrants, has been named Pennsylvania’s Mayor of the Year. The award should include a vacation package to Mexico.

5730: Garfield Barks At Verizon And McCann…?

Advertising Age reported another instance of offensive messaging from Madison Avenue: The unfair depiction of pit bulls in a Verizon commercial created by McCann Erickson. Since Bob Garfield is probably too busy ranting against homophobic Snickers spots, MultiCultClassics graciously drafted the following for our culture-crusading compatriot…

An Open Letter to Verizon and McCann Erickson
You Have Produced a Pit Bullphobic Spot. Doggone It!

By Bob Garfield (sort of)

Dear Verizon and McCann Erickson:

Verizon has aired commercials making dads look dumb, prompting official protests. McCann Erickson has been accused of ageism by veteran employees. So it’s no surprise that two bigoted enterprises should team up to heap bias and discrimination on innocent pit bulls.

This despicable spot is explicitly malevolent and beyond the pale. So unseemly, so perverse, so beneath you. This dog shit is enough to make me consider dumping Verizon for Comcast.

This is from Verizon’s own statement on corporate diversity (McCann Erickson doesn’t appear to have a statement on corporate diversity, which explains a lot): “It is Verizon Wireless’ policy that threatening, insubordinate, violent or obscene behavior by any employee will not be tolerated. Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to, derogatory remarks, discriminatory slurs and harassing jokes.” Is that so? My guess is that the pit bulls abused and destroyed by Michael Vick would take a different view. Because your commercial is just a cartoonish stereotype of family-friendly pets that are occasionally used for illegal dogfighting.

How could you be so insensitive, how could you be so shallow, and how could you be so mean as a Chihuahua?

This letter is to you, but it is equally to your hound-hating colleagues throughout the industry. Are you so bereft, of ideas and simple animal humaneness, that you must be reduced to stereotyping and pit bullying? That you must identify a “bitch” to ridicule, or worse? That you must build a brand on the backs of canines who have harmed no one save for, well, countless incidents of vicious mauling and death?

Stop the dehumanizing stereotypes—even for non-humans. Stop the rabid violence. There is no place in advertising for cruelty (except to minorities). Pull the commercial. Do it now. Then tell your people how to behave—plus how to sit, roll over and beg. Or else you might get hit in the snout with a rolled-up newspaper.

Monday, July 21, 2008

5729: Fashion Exposé.

From the July 28, 2008 issue of Newsweek.

5728: Good Is The Enemy Of Great.

From The Miami Herald…

Overcome stereotypes by excelling

By Richard Pachter

Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals. Keith R. Wyche. Portfolio. 256 pages.

Can we begin by stipulating that racism is a form of stupidity, of ignorance? Clearly, one’s aptitude and behavior are unrelated to ethnicity, yet racism persists despite best intentions and efforts. It seems odd, perhaps, to write about these things when a man of color is running for president and a woman nearly succeeded in becoming her party’s candidate for that high position. Yet there are plenty of companies where women and minority employees somehow are absent from the ranks of management.

The modern workplace is increasingly diverse, especially in melting-pot communities like South Florida and other urban areas, though there’s still a “glass ceiling” for women, and what author Wyche calls a “concrete ceiling” for ethnic minorities that often blocks advancement to senior management positions. It also impedes advancement at subordinate levels, too.

Although Wyche, a veteran corporate executive, speaker and advisor, primarily directs his message to African Americans, his text also offers guidance to Asians, Latinos and women -- anyone other than white guys. That’s perfectly all right, since nearly everything he says is of value and will benefit almost everyone seeking success in a corporate environment, regardless of the concentration of melanin in his or her skin.

He recommends having a plan, being attentive to detail, striving to become a good communicator and working hard. It’s not enough to be a super salesperson or highly popular with customers if you turn around and are a nuisance to the company’s support staff. No, Wyche admonishes, it’s equally important to do a complete and thorough job, which will create value for the company and foster respect from your co-workers. By doing that, you also build value for yourself and become a powerful asset to the company, which usually ensures commensurate compensation and promotion.

You also have to take the long view when planning a career. Your goal may be to be a unit manager, for example, but if you are offered the position and not completely prepared, your failure may delay or block future opportunities. You might also be asked to transfer to a city that seems like a step in the wrong direction, but the experience and exposure you would gain from the move could shift your career to a higher gear. How can you find out if it’s well worth doing or a must to avoid? Wyche recommends developing at least one mentor, and preferably a network of people who take an interest in your career and are able to serve as a source of collective wisdom. He also suggests engaging the services of a trainer, if necessary, to objectively assess attributes and correct any shortcomings.

Throughout, he cautions, it’s also important to behave and perform in an exemplary manner. If you hold yourself to a higher standard, you’ll render almost anyone’s prejudice and low expectations moot.

Though racism is still a sad fact of life, it’s difficult to imagine anyone who takes Keith Wyche’s sagacious and practical advice to heart ever becoming a failure or not being “good enough” at any endeavor.

5727: Garfield Discovers Cultural Cluelessness…?

It’s no secret MultiCultClassics is not a great fan of Advertising Age critic Bob Garfield. But this week, Garfield came dangerously close to making a valid point. However, he failed to see the actual issue and ultimately even showed he’s part of the global dilemma.

An Open Letter to Omnicom President-CEO John Wren is Garfield’s protest against homophobic commercials Omnicom agencies have produced in recent years: A Dodge Caliber spot from BBDO Detroit and two Snickers spots from TBWA\Chiat\Day New York and AMV BBDO London.

Garfield rightly blasted Wren for allowing his shops to create and run the thoughtless work. The columnist went so far as to wave the Omnicom corporate responsibility statement in Wren’s face: “As a leader in the communications industry, Omnicom Group is committed to ensuring that we use our position to promote socially responsible policies and practices and that we make positive contributions to society across all of our operations.” It’s a nice extra spanking.

Then the wheels wobbled off the Garfield rant-wagon.

First, the critic drew comparisons between the Snickers spot starring Mr. T harassing a speed walker and a real-life homicide. Garfield wrote, “My guess is that the parents of Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming college student beaten to death for being too effeminate to suit his killers, would take a different view. Because your commercial is just a cartoonish recapitulation of their son’s brutal murder.” Yikes. Talk about fighting insensitivity with insensitivity.

Yet Garfield totally missed the big picture with his next ravings. He wrote, “Since you are the executive ultimately in charge of both TBWA and BBDO, I ask you: How could you be so insensitive, how could you be so shallow, and how could you be so mean?

“This letter is to you, but it is equally to your colleagues throughout the industry. Are you so bereft, of ideas and simple humanity, that you must be reduced to stereotyping and bullying? That you must identify an ‘other’ to ridicule, or worse? That you must build a brand on the backs of people who have harmed no one save for challenging a high-school locker-room standard of masculinity?”

Um, has Garfield been paying attention to the industry he’s covered for the past few decades? Surely he realizes the answer to his three questions in the preceding paragraph is a resounding yes. Then again, maybe he doesn’t. So let’s break it down for Mr. G.

Garfield appears oblivious to the cultural cluelessness that has thrived on Madison Avenue since, well, forever. The three commercials highlighted are just a tiny example of the stereotypes, bias and discrimination prevalent in our business and our creative product. Of course, no one wants to consider that a diverse workforce might reduce the awful messages. Is it a coincidence that when Madison Avenue agencies reported their diversity hiring progress to New York City’s Commission on Human Rights, Omnicom shops had the lousiest records?

Garfield doesn’t completely smell the shit he stepped on. Reprimanding Wren is a waste of time—the President-CEO is a key turd in the pile. The spots weren’t invented in a dark closet. Teams of ignorant, clueless types conspired to excrete the messiness.

The Good Old Boys will potentially receive a ruler-whack on the knuckles and be sent to bed without dessert. The worst-case scenario involves yanking the controversial spot. But solve—or just acknowledge—the root problem? Don’t bet on it. Like Garfield, the majority of adfolks won’t catch the true implications.

In the end, Garfield kinda demonstrated he’s a reflection of the overall dilemma. He concluded by writing, “Stop the dehumanizing stereotypes. Stop the jokey violence. There is no place in advertising for cruelty. Pull the campaign. Do it now. Then tell your agencies how to behave. Or else.”

There’s a certain cluelessness behind demanding the culturally clueless gain enlightenment. But more disturbing is the threat, “Or else.” Gee, Bob, it’s not as if Wren is a Comcast technician. The tactics of aggression and intimidation are so stereotypical of the White men who continue to rule the industry—and generate campaigns irrelevant and offensive to the new general market.