Sunday, November 30, 2008

6200: Trained Spokesman.

Does anyone really believe James Brown rides Amtrak? More importantly, does anyone really care?

6199: Designed To Make You Think.

The Advertising Concept Book by Pete Barry is pretty old school in its basic premise: Think Now, Design Later.

At first blush, MultiCultClassics figured the book was playing off outdated notions. After all, in today’s hyper-speed industry, we’re often forced to design ads while thinking things out. With disciplines like digital, where the project schedules are even more accelerated, creative teams are usually designing before thinking. So it appeared as if Barry was applying 20th century reasoning to 21st century realities.

But the author ultimately shows that he knows his shit. Barry spent much of his advertising career at Ogilvy London, and currently teaches at Syracuse University. His book reflects his exceptional skills as an adman and teacher.

For veterans, the book will probably force you to reexamine your methods and rededicate your efforts. For students, you’ll discover one of the best presentations of the creative process available.

The Advertising Concept Book displays tons of classic ads. However, rather than simply depict the work, Barry literally penciled each layout—hammering the point that the thinking behind a concept must precede the design.

What’s more, the chapter covering digital demonstrates an understanding of “new media” that few traditional adpeople seem to grasp.

Yes, Barry is stuck on the fundamentals of the business. But he’s also clearly cognizant of the contemporary challenges. The Advertising Concept Book demands to be read right now.

Learn more about The Advertising Concept Book by Pete Barry here.

6198: Disgruntled Unemployed Adfolks Wanted.

Check out the actual craigslist listing below. Just what the advertising industry needs—another online haven for unemployed creatives to vent.

Bloggers with Bad Stories to Tell About Creative Recruiters (USA Only)

Reply to:

Date: 2008-11-30, 5:57PM CST

Are you a Writer, Art Director, Creative Director, Web Designer or other creative professional with a bad story to tell about a creative staffing agency? If so, you’re not alone.

We’re looking for people who have worked through creative staffing agencies in Chicago and elsewhere to lend their voices to a new Blog that is dedicated to exposing the negative side of the creative staffing business.

Please send short bio about yourself and what your story concerns. All inquiries will be considered confidential unless you are Ok with publishing your information.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

6197: Overreaction Of The Week.

Ad Age reported Unilever is considering cost-cutting measures that involve reducing the number of colors in its packaging.

No big surprise. This is the corporation whose Dove brand plays off White beauty standards. Plus, Unilever pushes Fair & Lovely skin lightening products in places like India.

Why, Unilever probably wants to turn all of its packaging pure White—just like the staffs of its Madison Avenue advertising agencies.

6196: Making The Call.

Sales pitches in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Barack Obama is poised to name Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State. Wonder if anyone will mention Rodham Clinton’s readiness to handle a 3am call.

The Washington Post reported that Circuit City has a challenge to convince potential customers that the company is not completely going out of business. Seems the bigger challenge is convincing potential customers Circuit City doesn’t completely suck.

6195: Verizon Wireless Blows It Again…?

Given the seemingly annual tragedies surrounding Black Friday and holiday shoppers rioting for limited bargain items, it’s worth noting that a new Verizon Wireless commercial appears to tap into the negative aspects of gift-hunting—all for cheap laughs. Can’t find an online posting of the spot, but will provide a link if it becomes available.

In the commercial, two girlfriends are discussing the possibility of going to the Verizon Wireless store and finding only one particular phone model left for sale. To avoid a potential showdown, one woman uses a blowgun to shoot a poison dart into her pal’s neck. Ha-ha. So much more sophisticated than trampling or dueling with firearms.

Verizon Wireless has generated recent controversies with messages offensive to fathers and pit bull fans. Guess the company wants to extend the insensitive traditions. Maybe it’s time to examine Verizon’s advertising agency network.

6194: Expect Mo’ Motrin-Like Messes.

Yes, everyone and their blogger mommy have already weighed in on the Motrin Mess. MultiCultClassics had a busy month in the real world, prohibiting a quicker perspective. For one of the better—albeit stereotypical—examples of the online discussions, view the Tom Martin post and accompanying comments at

Why do so many people feel qualified to analyze and prescribe solutions in these scenarios? The Monday Morning Marketing Quarterbacks appear to disregard—or maybe fail to comprehend—a few key points.

The “Mommy Blogger Minority” did not overreact. As always, nobody has the right to decide if others should or shouldn’t be offended by something. Let’s stop questioning the alleged over-sensitivity of the protestors and consider the over-insensitivity of the creators. It’s hardly the first time Madison Avenue has displayed ignorance on the very audience being targeted.

It’s impossible to determine what percentage of the public was represented by the irate, Twittering bloggers. Back in the day—pre-World Wide Web—major corporations like Procter & Gamble had formulas for complaint letters. That is, they theorized a single complaint letter actually equaled a specific, far larger number of unhappy customers. The Internet has introduced an undiscovered country in the complaints department. Until some genius invents an equation to measure exact and potential damages, it’s better to cut your losses and take cover. But also take notes and learn from the experience.

Motrin and parent conglomerate Johnson & Johnson acted appropriately by retreating pronto. Critics love to call clients cowardly in such situations. Have the bold analysts ever serviced Fortune 100 accounts? Like it or not, these behemoths can’t move with the required speed and smarts. Ditto their advertising agencies. There are too many committees and legal dweebs to consult. Indeed, it makes one wonder if big advertisers should even be anywhere near the Web with Motrin-style messages. Besides, the agencies are the bona fide cowards, as they’ll never assume responsibility for the final results—especially when the results are bad. Ad shops are as conservative as clients, particularly in the current economy where billable hours trump integrity and conviction.

Contrary to popular postings, the Motrin Mess is not about clients’ lack of social media savvy. No, it’s rooted in a basic problem that clients and agencies constantly refuse to address: cultural cluelessness. Motrin and ad agency Taxi launched the ugliness by producing a message without respecting or understanding their audience (and reports indicate the message to moms was hatched by a male creative team). It didn’t matter if the media vehicle was digital or traditional. The communication was irrelevant and insulting.

Online pundits are howling that Motrin missed an opportunity by not engaging in a conversation with the complainers. Please. Motrin and its agency need to hold a conversation surrounding their own collective incompetence. They blew it and they knew it. Don’t blame the “Mommy Blogger Minority” for calling them out.

Denying the truth—or hiding behind social media arguments—only inspires greater offense.

6193: Screaming For Ice Cream Franchisees?

Häagen-Dazs, have we got the perfect candidate for you.

6192: Translating Hispanic Marketing.

Books about marketing to minorities remain, well, in the minority—at least when compared to White marketing books. Hell, it seems like Seth Godin alone has released more titles than all minority authors combined. Regardless, the growing trend toward targeting Hispanics has resulted in a mini-surge of publishing, with a number of prominent experts sharing knowledge on the exploding segment.

Hispanic Marketing: A Cultural Perspective by Felipe Korzenny and Betty Ann Korzenny is an exceptional resource that should be required reading for everyone. Technically, this is not a new book, as it was released in 2005. But the Hispanic Marketing content continues to be completely relevant and current—and the book will probably attain classic status in the long run.

For professionals already creating Hispanic consumer messages, Korzenny and Korzenny offer a top-flight refresher course, along with strategies to enhance and sell the work.

Yet the rest of us comprise the bigger audience that could benefit from owning a copy.

The authors do a great job of breaking things down in easy-to-digest chapters, which were originally lectures and presentations to marketing professionals. Rest assured, it’s not a collection of boring PowerPoint slides. Korzenny and Korzenny combine research, insights, guidance and illustrated case studies in concise and compelling style.

Hispanic Marketing examines a wide range of topics. Korzenny and Korzenny discuss how the audience is clearly not monolithic, and how it constantly evolves in unique and multiple ways. A section on the art of translation shows it’s rarely enough to simply turn English into Spanish. Anyone who can’t define enculturation, acculturation and assimilation definitely should check out the details here. Of course, there’s much more to discover in the 330+ pages.

To quote the back cover, “This book is not about repeating well-known statistics, but about the Hispanic market as a cultural target. It takes a profound look at the values, beliefs, and emotions of U.S. Hispanics that impact consumer behavior.”

Will reading Hispanic Marketing transform you into a bona fide multicultural guru? It’s pretty doubtful. But as the country becomes increasingly diverse—and marketing programs become increasingly integrated—it will be imperative that we develop a heightened awareness and sensitivity for the new mass market and the people who define it.

In today’s industry, cultural cluelessness cannot be an option or excuse. Hispanic Marketing: A Cultural Perspective by Felipe Korzenny and Betty Ann Korzenny helps lead the change.

To learn more about the book and its authors, visit now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

6191: Obama Stimulates Economy With Cookies.

From nationwide news sources…

Sales sizzling for cafe’s ‘1st cookie’
Iowa | Obamas’ fondness for them stirs up demand

By Amy Lorentzen

DES MOINES, Iowa—Want an example of the change Barack Obama is bringing to the country?

Check out cookie sales at Baby Boomers Cafe in Des Moines.

Ever since word spread about the president-elect and his family’s fondness for Baby Boomers’ chocolate chunk cookies, the small downtown restaurant can’t bake them fast enough.

“Two months ago, I was giving these cookies away,” said co-owner Rodney Maxfield. “Now, it’s like, ‘I need two dozen cookies. I need four dozen cookies.’”

The Obamas were frequent visitors to the cafe in summer 2007, when the Illinois senator devoted much of his time to Iowa. Obama’s main office was next door to Boomers, and his staff made the cafe a second home.

His daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, would stop by with their mother, Michelle, and Maxfield said they loved the cookies. During a stop in Iowa last month, Obama’s staff ordered about a dozen cookies for the family. That’s when word got out about their affection for the confection.

Suddenly, sales of 400 cookies in a good week soared to more than 1,000 a week. Alas, the price is going up, from 50 cents to 75 cents a cookie, to make up for the time it takes to make more each day.

“I think everybody just … thought, ‘Oh, great cookie, great president—the world is a happy place. Barack’s going to fix all the problems, and if I have a bite of this cookie, it’s going to make me feel good,’” Maxfield said.

6190: Ho! Ho! Hooters!

Wonder how the Black Friday crowds behaved here.

6189: Only 26 Shooting Days Till Christmas.

This story from the Miami Herald reports Toys R Us is counting on heavy discounts to lure customers. Um, heavy security would be nice too.

Toy giant counting on heavy discounts
Anticipating weak Christmas sales, Toys R Us is relying on promotions and deep discounts to lure customers to its stores.

By Heather Burke, Bloomberg News

Toys R Us, the largest U.S. toy-store chain, is putting very aggressive promotions in place this holiday season to draw in shoppers facing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

“We know that value is very important in this economic situation, and we’re determined to be aggressive throughout the holiday season in offering that value,” CEO Gerald Storch said Friday. “We knew that the economy was going to be soft. Obviously, no one had a crystal ball to know that we have a financial crisis like we’ve had.”

U.S. retailers may post the smallest holiday gain in six years amid declining consumer confidence, the highest unemployment rate in 14 years and a recession. Barbie-doll maker Mattel and Hasbro generated at least 40 percent of their 2007 profit during the fourth-quarter holiday season.

Toys R Us is offering 50 percent more promotions earlier this year than last, Storch said. It is selling a High School Musical 2 three-pack of dolls for $15.99, down from $39.99, and half off the Little Tikes Cook n Learn Kitchen. Toys R Us, which runs 586 toy stores in the United States, also advertised during its biggest two-day sale ever half off various Lego AS construction play sets and Mattel’s Barbie Princess two-pack dolls.

Toys R Us faces competition this weekend from other retailers, including Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. toy seller.

Holiday toy sales this year may fall 3 percent more than in 2007, according to Gerrick Johnson, a toy analyst at BMO Capital Markets in New York. Thirty-five percent of consumers polled expect to spend less on toys this season, according to a survey conducted Nov. 6 to 8 by Americas Research Group.

Half of annual toy sales occur in the fourth quarter, said NPD Group Inc., a Port Washington, New York-based research firm. In 2007, toy sales dropped 2 percent to $22.3 billion.

“In good times and bad, the last thing parents cut from their budget is a Christmas present for their children,” Storch said. “What they want are the hot toys.”

Storch, a former Target executive, was hired in February 2006 to head Toys R Us. He closed unprofitable stores, spruced up locations and added exclusive products to win back market share from Wal-Mart.

6188: Know Where You Stand—On Shaky Ground.

Somebody needs to pull these Wachovia ads already. You’ll confidently move forward with Wachovia—straight into Wells Fargo. Or maybe not.

6187: Bringing New Meanings To First Lady.

Via Newsweek, Allison Samuels presents a provocative perspective on future First Lady Michelle Obama…

What Michelle Means to Us

We’ve never had a First Lady quite like Michelle Obama. How she’ll change the world’s image of African-American women—and the way we see ourselves.

By Allison Samuels

At a recent Sunday brunch after church, my “sista friends” and I sat on the patio of a Los Angeles restaurant gabbing about the election of Barack Obama. Sure, we were caught up in the history of the moment. Most of us never thought we’d see an African-American president. But as a group of six black women in our 30s and 40s, we were equally excited by who is coming along with Obama to the White House—his wife, Michelle, and their two young daughters. We all praised—OK, maybe even envied—Michelle’s double Ivy League pedigree, her style, her cool but friendly demeanor. And yet we’re all aware of how much we have riding on her. At 44, Michelle Obama will be the youngest First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy. And many are expecting her to usher in a similarly glamorous era in Washington. (“Bamelot,” as some are already calling it.) But Michelle’s influence could go far beyond the superficial. When her husband raises his hand to take the oath of office, Michelle will become the world’s most visible African-American woman. The new First Lady will have the chance to knock down ugly stereotypes about black women and educate the world about American black culture more generally. But perhaps more important—even apart from what her husband can do—Michelle has the power to change the way African-Americans see ourselves, our lives and our possibilities.

It’s an amazing opportunity—and a huge responsibility. “I think she’s always going to be classy, because she knows she’s not just representing herself,” said my friend Gertrude Justin, 40, a nurse from Houston. “She knows she’s fighting stereotypes of black people that have been around for decades and that her every move will be watched. I’m sure she’s been just as insulted by the lack of true depictions of African-American women as any other black woman.” Michelle will be a daily reminder that we’re not all hotheaded, foaming-at-the-mouth drug addicts, always ready with a quick one-liner and a roll of the eyes.

Like many African-American women I know, Michelle has had a lot of practice at the delicate tap dance of getting along in the mainstream white world. During all those years in boardrooms and a topnotch law firm—not to mention the exclusive clubs of Princeton and Harvard Law School—she’s had to learn to blend in. Now she’ll have to go even further in convincing two very different constituencies—African-Americans and everyone else—that they can trust her as their First Lady. And she’ll have to do it all while remaining true to her authentic self.

Michelle has already shown she understands how universal her appeal must be. Early on in the primaries, after she was labeled too forward and too loud, Michelle demonstrated self-restraint and discipline by dialing back. She stopped making harmless jokes about Obama’s morning breath and other breaches of hygiene. Her remark about being “proud of my country” for the first time was another rare misstep. But she quickly learned to play the adoring and uncontroversial wife, talking up her husband on shows like “The View.”

She showed she could calibrate her remarks for predominantly black audiences too, opening up a bit more about what Obama’s election would mean for them—and what it would also mean for her, referring to herself as “the little black girl from the South Side of Chicago.” Yet when The New Yorker caricatured the Obamas in July doing a “terrorist fist bump” in the Oval Office, the image stung. It was Michelle who came across as the domineering one—the angry black woman. She toned it down and took to wearing pearls and reassuring J.Crew cardigans.

Will that softer side win out now that she’s headed to the East Wing? When I met Michelle earlier this year for an interview in Atlanta, I was taken by her warmth and eagerness to chat about everything—fashion designers she’d like to wear, her girls’ taste in clothes, even dogs. (On a follow-up phone call, she greeted me with “Hey, girlfriend,” like she was a long-lost sorority sister.) There was no pretense—no second-guessing her next word or move the way she seemed to do after the campaign became a mudfest.

I personally hope that she will let more of that true, colorful personality seep through. There are some good hints she might. Her daring election-night red-speckled dress, designed by Narciso Rodriguez, was hardly a cautious choice. It wasn’t altogether flattering, but it showed that Michelle is searching for her own style. Other clues come from her winning, if still demure, performance during the recent “60 Minutes” interview. Looking chic and relaxed—and genuinely affectionate with her husband—she poked fun at the president-elect’s professed affinity for doing the dishes and told him she wouldn’t accompany him on a walk on a cold Chicago day.

That easy warmth between the Obamas as a couple was another thing that my girlfriends and I fixated on at our brunch. Nearly 50 percent of all African-American women are single. And, “The Cosby Show” aside, there are still woefully few public examples of solid, stable black marriages. What can this handsome first couple do for the future of the black family, we wondered? “I want my son to see first-hand what two people can do when they work together and respect each other,” said Janese Sinclair, an executive assistant and 34-year-old single mother of a 12-year-old son. “His father and I divorced when he was 2—so he never had the chance to see the way a relationship works. Many of his friends have single moms too, so the Obamas are going to teach us that love and happiness is not just for others but us too. It’s easy to forget when you look at TV or movies.”

Making her young daughters, Malia and Sasha, her top priority is heartfelt, but it could also help Michelle broaden her appeal. Taking lessons from the Carters and the Clintons—Amy was 9 and Chelsea was 12 when their fathers took office—Michelle is creating a protective cordon around the girls. What parent can’t relate to wanting to shield young children from the glare of the national spotlight?

But Michelle’s declaration that she plans to be the “Mom in Chief” has already ignited a minor flare-up in the ongoing white mommy wars between stay-at-home mothers and working women. (Don’t all moms put their kids first, even if they’re working? Is such an accomplished woman going to be content with Mom in Chief?) Still, most African-American women I know are thrilled she’s in a position to make that choice. The average African-American family can’t survive without two incomes—the poverty level among black families hovers above 30 percent, according to 2006 U.S. Census figures. And for single moms, that can mean working two jobs, leaving precious little time with the children. Michelle has already survived the working-mom juggling act, getting her law degree and working in government and administration before leaving during Obama’s campaign.

I’m hoping the whole Mom in Chief role will leave plenty of room for Michelle to tackle significant, meaty issues even if she’s not clamoring for a West Wing office. That’s a tricky balancing act for any First Lady—think Hillary Clinton and health-care reform. Most follow the path of Laura Bush in choosing non controversial interests like literacy. So far, Michelle has listed popular causes—military families and the struggles of working parents—that are hard to find fault with. But she’ll have another dimension to worry about: if she focuses on the black community—helping urban schools, say—will her interests be viewed as too parochial? And while every First Lady—and plenty of professional women—walk the line between being confident and seeming like a bitch, African-American women are especially wary that being called “strong” is just another word for “angry.”

Appearance could be another minefield for Michelle. First Ladies are always scrutinized—how else did Hillary end up in those black pant-suits? Though Michelle has shown a penchant for sleek hair and form-fitting dresses, her style is still evolving and wide-ranging. She’s gone from $148 off-the-rack outfits to Dolce & Gabbana. When she showed up for her first tour of the White House wearing a striking red dress, she indicated she’s willing to be daring. But will she retreat if critics slam her for bad hair days or talk too intimately about her shape?

She has one advantage over many of her predecessors—she’s got the lean, tall build of an athlete. That could have serious implications far beyond the style pages. A self-proclaimed fitness junkie who works out every morning, Michelle could actually encourage women of color to take better care of themselves. African-American women face alarmingly high rates of high blood pressure and obesity. And like everyone else, we have plenty of excuses for being sedentary, including the always-present fear of messing up our carefully done hair. “I look at her and think, I have two kids and she has two kids,” said my friend Tamara Rhodes, a 37-year-old public-safety officer in Long Beach, Calif. “If she can find time in the day to do her thing to look good—why can’t I? She looks good and in a way that I can see myself looking—not a size zero—but really healthy.”

As my brunch friends and I continued talking about Michelle, our conversation wandered into one area we seldom discuss, even among our families and closest confidantes. Michelle is not only African-American, but brown. Real brown. In an era when beauty is often defined on television, in magazines and in movies as fair or white skin, long straight hair and keen features, Michelle looks nothing like the supermodels who rule the catwalks or the porcelain-faced actresses who hawk must-have cosmetics. Yet now she’s going to grace the March cover of Vogue magazine—the ultimate affirmation of beauty.

Who and what is beautiful has long been a source of pain, anger and frustration in the African-American community. In too many cases, beauty for black women (and even black men) has meant fair skin, “good hair” and dainty facial features. Over the years, African-American icons like Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry and Beyoncé—while beautiful and talented—haven’t exactly represented the diversity of complexions and features of most black women in this country.

That limited scope has had a profound effect on the self-esteem of many African-American women, including me. “When I see Michelle Obama on the cover of magazines and on TV shows, I think, Wow, look at her and her brown skin,” said Charisse Hollands, a 30-year-old mail carrier from Inglewood, Calif., with flawless ebony skin. “And I don’t mean any disrespect to my sisters who aren’t dark brown, but gee, it’s nice to see a brown girl get some attention and be called beautiful by the world. That just doesn’t happen a lot, and our little girls need to see that—my little girl needs to see it.”

In Africa, skin-lightening creams are all the rage even though the chemical they contain, hydroquinone, has been shown to cause harm in high doses. Visit any beauty-supply shop in an American inner city and you’ll find an entire aisle dedicated to less-potent forms of these products. “It’s a truth that’s long been with us,” says comic and television host Whoopi Goldberg, who came to fame with a one-woman stage show featuring her longing for straight blond hair and blue eyes. “In society and in the black community, the lighter you are and the more European your features, the more you are desired. Now many of us want to deny that’s true or say it’s changed, but it hasn’t. The darker you are makes you less than ideal. Plain and simple. And that messes with your mind something awful.”

If you’re an actress, it can also keep you from appearing in a hip-hop video or getting the juiciest movie role. But it affects regular girls and women too. On a recent episode of the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” the host asked listeners if the president-elect’s choice of a wife and her look had in any way influenced their vote. The answer was a resounding yes, followed by comments like “She’s a regular sister,” and “I love the fact that she looks like the woman next door or like my cousin or niece.”

Michelle has accomplished so much even before moving into the White House. Imagine what she can do if she decides to tackle substantive problems—perhaps even just a single one she’s mused about, like helping the local Washington, D.C., community. Now that’s the kind of influence that could reach far beyond my friends at the brunch table.

Friday, November 28, 2008

6186: Semi-Belated Black Friday Suggestions.

Or Early Cyber Monday Suggestions.

Madison Avenue And The Color Line by Jason Chambers

What’s Black About It? by Pepper Miller and Herb Kemp

Knock The Hustle by Hadji Williams

Barack Obama Commemorative Collector Plate

6185: Don’t Click Here.

Um, you might want to think twice before applying…

6184: Census Cuts May Hurt Ad Minorities Too.

The Washington Post reported the Census Bureau is cutting its ad spending for the 2010 effort. Draftfcb has been bragging about nabbing the account for months, claiming the win demonstrates the BDA’s breakthrough business model. The story below probably means Draftfcb will ultimately shortchange its partner minority agencies.

Census Spending Cuts Raise Concerns on Count

By N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer

The Census Bureau plans to cut spending on advertising and community outreach for the 2010 census by at least a fourth compared with the 2000 census, provoking concern among congressional overseers that historically difficult-to-count groups such as minorities and illegal immigrants will not be accurately tallied.

Although the reduction was part of the fiscal 2009 budget proposed to Congress by the administration in February and was reflected in a stopgap budget resolution adopted by Congress last month, several members of Congress said they did not become aware of the change until two weeks ago, when their staffers asked Census Bureau employees to brief them on details of the marketing plan.

The news adds to congressional dismay over the bureau’s decision in the spring to scrap a plan to use wireless handheld devices to collect information from people who do not mail back their census forms. Technical problems with the devices forced the agency to switch back to its original pencil-and-paper-based system, adding between $2.2 billion and $3 billion to the $11.5 billion cost.

“It makes no sense that we are spending less than [in] 2000 on marketing the census when the challenges we face in 2010 are even greater,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the Census Bureau. “I would have liked to have said [my response] was shock, but given what the Bush administration has done to the census, it is regrettably not surprising.”

Despite such concerns, congressional staffers said increasing the bureau’s marketing budget would prove a tall order in the current economic climate.

During the 2000 count, the Census Bureau launched an aggressive, multimillion-dollar marketing campaign featuring professionally produced television and radio spots as well as partnerships with 140,000 community advocates, religious leaders, local governments, educational institutions and other groups. The effort was credited with helping to reverse four decades of declining response rates.

Boosting the mail-back rate generated substantial savings by cutting the number of costly follow-up visits that census workers needed to make to households that had not returned their forms. It also gave those workers more time to visit minorities, immigrants and the poor—who are more likely to lack fixed addresses or to find census forms confusing and therefore be less likely to mail them back.

Census workers could face even more difficulties in 2010 because of increased fears of identity theft and the rapid rise in the minority and immigrant populations over the past decade, said William A. Ramos, director of the Washington office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

“With all the discussion of immigration reform, and the negativity in particular with respect to Latinos, there’s especially going to be a lot of trepidation about filling out a government document,” said Ramos, whose group sits on the Census Bureau’s advisory council for the 2010 census.

So Ramos and others said they assumed the bureau would spend at least the same amount, if not more, on the marketing campaign for 2010. Instead, the total budget of $213 million represents about 76 percent of the 2000 amount in inflation-adjusted dollars. The $93 million paid-media component is about 57 percent of the 2000 expenditure, while a widely regarded schools outreach program will get only a third of the 2000 funding level.

Arnold Jackson, associate director for the decennial census, said his agency “would obviously like to have more money, and if we get an opportunity we’ll certainly ask for more. However, we think we have a very effective and robust program with the resources we have in hand.”

In particular, Jackson said, the advertising effort is being coordinated much more closely with the bureau’s community partners than it was in 2000. In addition, for the first time the bureau will be sending bilingual Spanish-English questionnaires as well as a second mailing to households that do not respond to the first one—a measure that testing suggests can increase mail-back rates by as much as 8 percent.

6183: Thank God It’s Black Friday.

All the best—no matter what line you’re in.

6182: Will Volunteer For Food.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, another sign that the Apocalypse is upon the economy. Organizations are no longer capable of even maintaining volunteer efforts.

Culture shock: Center’s volunteers canned

For the past two months, since moving to Chicago, I have been volunteering regularly at the Chicago Cultural Center alongside other dedicated volunteers, many of whom have been involved there for years. I look forward to going downtown, walking into that gorgeous, old building and interacting with a vast array of Chicagoans and visitors from all over the world.

The Volunteer Department has been around for 12 years, organizing a force of more than 150 people willing to give their time and energy to make public programs happen, such as weekly concerts, weddings, annual holiday events, not to mention all the office tasks and mailings that have been expedited by these helping hands. You can imagine my surprise when I went into the volunteer office recently and found out that, come the end of November, it will be no longer. The director and the department—gone.

I was stunned. Of all things to cut—the hub, the person who has not only built this program from the ground up, but also motivates, manages and maintains hundreds of people willing to give their time and knowledge and energy free of charge.

This cut seems like it will lead to an inevitable dissolution of many of the cultural programs that characterize this wonderful city. How disheartening.

I wanted to run over to Mayor Daley’s office, knock on his door and say, “Wait, please don’t do this!” but I couldn’t. He was in Istanbul meeting with the European Olympic Committee.

Melissa Marquardt
Logan Square

Thursday, November 27, 2008

6181: Thanksgiving Leftovers.

A little dessert in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• After granting pardons to assorted criminals earlier in the week, President Bush pardoned a turkey. But honestly, what crime had the bird committed?

• Over a million people converged in New York for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And probably none of them purchased anything from the struggling department store.

6180: Holiday Clichés.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

6179: Spam And Other Food-Like Substances.

Eating profits in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Despite contentions that Spam is doing good business, parent company Hormel reported 4Q profits dropped 33 percent. Wonder if company honchos will be forced to eat Spam in the coming months.

• Mickey D’s Double Cheeseburger will be leaving the Dollar Menu, as the fast feeder plans to raise its price to $1.19 in January. Wonder if cash-strapped customers will be forced to eat Spam in the coming months.

• Nothing runs like a Deere accountant. The company reported 4Q profits dropped 18 percent.

6178: The Economy Runs On Cheap Batteries.

When the gold standard brand positions itself as efficient and good enough, well, we could all use a creative bailout.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

6177: Jobs To Put You In A Bad Mood.

Here’s another actual job listing that demonstrates the messed up nature of our industry. An agency needs a creative to produce mood boards pronto. And they need you to come in tomorrow—the day before Thanksgiving. At up to $35 per hour, the assignment sounds like a real turkey.

Tomorrow!! Branding Designer—Mood Boards—Opportunity from Creative Circle

Position: Branding Designer—Mood Boards
Location: Other Areas
Status: Freelance
Estimated Duration: Days
Starts: As soon as 11/26/08
Rate: Up to $25-$35/hr. Offsite Please send samples!!

Job Description:
Our Client is looking for someone who has extensive experience creating moodboards/adlobs. Essentially, they are looking for someone that can do some really cool branding boards.

They would hand off an “experience” brief and then would want to see 2-3 translations of that into something that evokes the brand and inspires the client.

We would love to see your samples and availability!

6176: Culturally Biased Reporting From Adweek?

On the one hand, it’s nice to see the typically culturally clueless Adweek providing such in-depth reporting on the conflicts between Arbitron and the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. Then again, is Adweek truly interested in the affair, or is the Nielsen-owned publication simply taking advantage of the situation to spank rival Arbitron?

AHAA Slams Arbitron

By Steve McClellan

NEW YORK The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies wrote to Arbitron on behalf of its member shops late last week chastising the radio ratings company for ignoring concerns it spelled out more than two months ago about the composition of the listener panels in markets where it deploys the portable people meter.

The agency trade group charged that Arbitron continues to offer PPM ratings based on samples that generally underrepresent Hispanic listening audiences. Within the Hispanic sample segments, AHAA, said, the ratings company does not break out income data or country of origin data and relies on recruitment methods that skew toward English-dominant persons.

The panels also omit ZIP code information that was available in diary reports and which is very important for retail clients, the letter stated. Also missing: listener loyalty metrics. Other deficiencies were also spelled out in the missive.

“As Hispanic-specialized agencies, we have a responsibility to our clients to maximize their budgets, and deliver sales and results,” wrote AHAA chairman Jose Lopez-Varela. “With PPM, we are unable to do our jobs effectively and our clients will suffer. When a research sample is inaccurate, the research is invalid. The PPM sample is wrong.”

Lopez-Valera wrote of his “great disappointment” at not hearing back from Arbitron after he wrote on Sept. 11 outlining similar concerns. “AHAA has tried in good faith to work with Arbitron and communicate our reservations clearly and concisely,” he wrote in his follow-up letter, dated Nov. 20 that was addressed to Arbitron vp Rich Tunkel and office of multicultural business affairs director Stacie de Armas. “However, you and other company representatives have been indifferent and refuse to acknowledge the severity of the consequences that PPM in its current state poses to the Spanish-language radio industry and the U.S. Latino communities.”

Groups representing the interests of other minority groups have also complained about inadequate representation in the Arbitron PPM samples, as have numerous broadcasters, focused on both minority and mainstream audiences. The AHAA letter was sent two days after FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein urged the full commission to investigate complaints that the PPM underrepresents minority listening. New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is also investigating.

The AHAA letter also followed by just a few days word that Nielsen Media Research (like Adweek, owned by the Nielsen Co.) was entering the radio ratings business and would compete with Arbitron in the space, after winning contracts from both Cumulus Radio and Clear Channel Radio.

An Arbitron rep could not be immediately reached for comment.

6175: What Them Girls Like.

The gay ad above has been presented here before. Now check out the lesbian version.

Monday, November 24, 2008

6174: Just Another Manic Monday.

More reasons to hate Mondays in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Officials in West Virginia are pissed off at R.J. Reynolds for test-marketing its new smokeless product, Camel Snus, in college towns. To appease the officials, R.J. Reynolds will probably reintroduce Joe Camel as a college professor.

• Michael Jackson settled a lawsuit with a Bahraini sheik who said the pop star owed him $7 million after breaking promises to produce new music and an autobiography. Jacko’s lawyers had been arguing the loot was a gift. Right. Let’s see how they’d respond if Jackson deems their legal services a gift.

• General Motors will cease its 9-year spokesman relationship with Tiger Woods at the end of the 2008. Woods probably wanted a contract extension that would have required additional federal bailout money.

6173: Another Study Uncovers The Obvious.

The Association of National Advertisers presented a study on multicultural marketing, and ultimately discovered the segregated efforts receive insufficient funding, inadequate commitment and inferior performance measurement resources. Wow, they needed to conduct research to reach those common-knowledge conclusions? Anyway, here’s the ANA press release:

Multicultural Marketing Programs Continue To Grow But Marketers Cite Frustration According To ANA Study

Challenges Include Lack of Funding, C-level Support and Adequate Metrics

New York, NY, November 13, 2008 – A new survey of members of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) indicates that multicultural marketing (MCM) continues to grow as a strategic platform for driving brand and business performance. As the marketplace becomes more diverse, multicultural initiatives have become increasingly crucial for all categories of business. A substantial majority of survey participants (77 percent) have multicultural marketing initiatives, while 66 percent indicate that their company’s efforts have increased over the past few years.

Despite the continued growth and strategic emphasis, frustration among marketers remains high. Only 45 percent expressed satisfaction with the results of their MCM initiatives, with 26 percent somewhat or very dissatisfied.

Conducted by the ANA in partnership with marketing services firm ‘mktg,’ the 2008 multicultural marketing survey is the third edition of the study, following earlier versions in 2002 and 2003. Seventy-four marketers from member companies responded to this August’s survey.

“A focused multicultural marketing strategy is vital to building brands and driving business growth,” said Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA. “Our research shows that multicultural marketing programs are growing and will continue to do so in the future. However, marketers are frustrated and concerned about program quality, with less than half expressing satisfaction with their firms’ efforts to date. There is substantial upside opportunity that can be tapped with the right investment strategies and with well-structured integrated marketing and accountability programs.”

Illustrating marketers’ frustration with multicultural marketing, participants noted a range of barriers and issues:

Only 22 percent of survey respondents said their firm had a high degree of knowledge and disciplined best practices. This includes the inability to consistently integrate MCM programs into the overall marketing mix.
58 percent cited lack of adequate funding
45 percent pointed to insufficient internal support
34 percent noted inconsistent top management support
45 percent of respondents cited a lack of relevant metrics to measure performance

Strategic approaches to multicultural marketing varied. More than half (57 percent) defined MCM as “narrowcasting” – creating separate messaging for distinct market segments and communicating via media that reaches multicultural consumers. This percentage is down from the last survey when 78 percent chose the narrowcasting definition. Other definitions include “mainstreaming,” which repurposes general advertising approaches to appeal to MCM segments (11 percent), and the “translation” approach (10 percent), which simply translates general market materials for outlets catering to multicultural audiences.

In executing MCM campaigns, most respondents (55 percent) said they preferred a multicultural-specific agency for creative development, with about one quarter of firms relying on their general agency of record. However, using a specialized agency was considered the “best practice” based on satisfaction scores.

There are wide ranges of metrics employed for measuring MCM effectiveness. Brand tracking studies (55 percent) and sales growth/volume (54 percent) are used most often. Other measures include market share (41 percent), advertising research (38 percent) and brand equity measures (38 percent). Only one-in-four firms analyze ROI.

The 2008 survey also showed a substantial improvement over the previous survey in identifying market segments targeted by MCM programs:

Hispanic American – 95 percent (vs. 86 percent in 2003)
African American – 76 percent (vs. 60 percent in 2003)
Asian American – 38 percent (vs. 35 percent in 2003)
GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) – 24 percent (no data available for 2003 as this was the first year the survey polled marketers on this community)

“With multicultural consumers making up two-thirds of the millennial population and Hispanics representing one-sixth of the U.S. population by 2010, the multicultural market is an increasingly sizable and influential segment,” said Frank Dudley, CMO of ‘mktg.’ “Globalization has reduced the pressure on ethnic communities to assimilate, hence making an insightful understanding of these sub-cultures critical to any effective market strategy. And still, this study’s data suggests marketers have yet to establish standardized best practices.”

As in the 2003 survey, print continues to be the most favored media vehicle for reaching multicultural audiences (65 percent), followed closely by TV (61 percent), sponsorships (54 percent), public relations (54 percent), targeted radio (53 percent), in-store marketing (51 percent) and events (51 percent). Surprisingly, online advertising placed lowest (49 percent).

The survey was fielded in preparation for the ANA’s annual Multicultural Marketing Conference. Now in its tenth year, Multicultural Marketing Conference takes place from November 16-18 at The Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Florida. The ANA’s Multicultural Marketing Committee, established in 1998, helps ANA members share knowledge and best practices in marketing to America’s burgeoning ethnic markets. For more information on the conference or to obtain a complete agenda, please visit

6172: Not 100% Honest.

Now made with 100% all natural ingredients? So what the hell was it made with before now?

6171: Tom Messner Knocks The Hustle.

Hadji Williams interviewed Tom Messner at—hey, Williams respects a few White admen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

6170: Awards For Stupidity.

Chopping the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The University of Illinois and Northwestern University will cease a rivalry tradition that included imagery insensitive to Native Americans—a trophy called the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk. The schools have been using the award since 1945, after the original trophy—a life-sized wooden Indian—had been stolen. “Out of tremendous respect for the Native-American community, the two universities have decided this would be the last year we play for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy,” said a school official, adding that a new trophy will debut next year. Hey, isn’t the University of Illinois’ Chief Illiniwek looking for work?

• Mickey D’s is facing a lawsuit after a customer in Arkansas left his cell phone in the restaurant, and the crew promised to hold it for him. Seems the phone had nude pictures of the guy’s wife, which managed to find their way onto the Web. Maybe it was just part of the fast feeder’s claim of billions and billions served.

• A mailman in North Carolina was reprimanded for failing to deliver junk mail to the customers on his route for about seven years. However, he received nothing but praise from the customers. The Direct Marketing Association is not amused. However, it’s interesting that no one ever wondered why the response rates were less than zero in the area for years. So much for direct marketers being thorough in their recording and analysis of results.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

6169: New Agency Model Or Old Segregation?

Contrasting Nina DiSesa in the Special Anniversary Issue of Adweek is Robert Greenberg of R/GA, who presents a new agency model for the 21st century. Anyone who has ever worked in a contemporary digital shop will realize Greenberg essentially unveils his own current structure, so the piece is slightly self-promotional. At the same time, Greenberg is a smart guy, with a clear view of today’s industry—as well as a vision for the future. Places like Enfatico and Draftfcb insist they’ve invented the breakthrough enterprise, but neither has yet realized the dream. In fact, Draftfcb actually appears to desire becoming a traditional BDA versus something else. Is Greenberg truly defining a fresh agency model, or is it nothing more than a segregated silo for digital? Time will tell.

6168: DiSesa DiSenseless.

The Special Anniversary Issue commemorating 30 years of Adweek features an opinion column by McCann Erickson Chairman Nina DiSesa, wherein the woman inadvertently displays a lot of the issues with today’s industry leaders.

DiSesa has gone on record with her disdain for critical blogs; hence, she’ll probably spit on the following observations as well—provided she even stumbles across our humble URL. Whatever. This honestly isn’t directed at her, so much as the attitudes she symbolizes.

For starters, DiSesa literally spends nearly 70 percent of the perspective focusing on her favorite topic: herself. How typical of Madison Avenue honchos to believe the universe revolves around them. Forget wasting precious time debating concepts or creating new visions. Let me tell you about me. And my illustrious career. And the hijinks-heavy anecdotes that are totally irrelevant in the current marketplace.

Then DiSesa writes a comment that continues to confuse after multiple readings. Please feel free to interpret the excerpt:

When I was entering this profession, a twentysomething creative person was tolerated until he or she did successful TV. Now, I am discovering that entry-level people are more fascinating to me than I am. These young people understand the Internet, digital technology and other young people. They don’t know what barriers are, and their ideas about communication are dazzling.

“Now, I am discovering that entry-level people are more fascinating to me than I am.” What the hell does that mean? Is she admitting to self-absorbed narcissism? Plus, phrases like, “These young people understand the Internet…” make DiSesa sound like a dinosaur. Besides, she really should choose her words more carefully, especially given that McCann Erickson is still facing an age discrimination lawsuit.

Ultimately, DiSesa’s essay doesn’t provide any substantial insight. It’s just a bag of air. Unless one squints between the lines and realizes it completely represents the ad world’s aristocracy.

McCann Erickson’s slogan is, “Truth Well Told.” There’s definitely truth to be found in the Adweek column. Not too sure, however, that it’s very well told.

6167: Is It The Shoes?

This tire concept is a bit flat.

Friday, November 21, 2008

6166: Too Much TV And Talking.

Sad state of affairs in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• A new study shows there may be a connection between unhappiness and the amount of TV you watch. “People who are happy are more likely to engage in certain types of activities, like socializing with friends, having sex, reading newspapers,” said the lead researcher. “When we asked people who say they are unhappy how many hours of TV per day they watch, they were reporting 4, 5 and even 10 hours a day.” The totally despondent folks likely tend to watch lots of episodes of Mad Men.

• A bunch of Verizon wireless employees have been reprimanded for allegedly peeking at the cellphone records of Barack Obama. “We were notified yesterday that employees had accessed the records of an old cellphone no longer in use,” said an Obama aide. “No voice or e-mails were listened to or read.” Too bad. There were probably concession voice mails from Clinton, Palin and McCain.

6165: Superior Drinkability. Inferior Concept.

This ad has superior stinkability.

6164: Anti-Freakouts.

Freaky Friday in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• As part of a lawsuit settlement, Burger King restaurants in California are posting signs warning customers that grilled chicken menu items contain a dangerous carcinogen. The lawsuit accused a bunch of restaurant chains of knowingly exposing folks to cancer-inducing compound PhIP. Interestingly enough, there were zero reports of any freakouts.

• Earlier this month, one day before Barack Obama won the presidential race, the Duval County School Board in Florida voted to keep the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, despite controversy and complaints. The school is named for a Confederate war figure, slave owner and early leader in the Ku Klux Klan. One board member who elected in favor of the name argued the students had been polled and didn’t want to change things. Oh please. Most high school students would agree to name their school after Homer Simpson or Hitler.

6163: Sleep Is Tired.

Please put the phrase “Don’t Sleep” to rest already.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

6162: Burgers And Brainwashing.

A mouthful of MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Burger King announced plans to limit the amount of sodium in its kids’ meals, allegedly hoping to create the illusion they care about children’s health. The chain will probably compensate by quadrupling the amount of sugar, cholesterol, lead and rodent droppings. Mickey D’s sought to woo moms in Baltimore by inviting a few to its Quality Correspondents program, allegedly hoping to create the illusion they also care about children’s health. What’s next—the Michael Jackson Young Boys Daycare Center?

6161: Typographical Car Wreck.

This layout is neither stylish nor intelligent.

6160: And The Multicultural Winner Is…

Ad Age reported on the Association of National Advertisers’ Multicultural Excellence Awards, and the headlining honoree was a general market spot for McDonald’s. But wait, it gets better. The commercial was created by DDB of the Omnicom network. Gotta admit, the conglomerate has cultural cojones. The place that holds the worst diversity hiring record, exhibits blatant racism, is a repeat homophobic offender, plays politics to steal minority assignments, and accepts a dubious humanitarian tribute now nabs a multicultural ad show trophy. What’s next—an NAACP Image Award?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

6159: Jacko’s Backo.

Dulling the senses with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Michael Jackson is back in the news, facing a lawsuit from an Arab monarch. Seems Jacko took $7 million from the guy, promising to produce music and an autobiography. Look for yet another request to the feds for a bailout.

• New reports show Citigroup may now dump 53,000 workers. The corporation is apparently applying credit card interest rate concepts to its firing procedures. By the end of the week, the amount will increase by at least 18 percent.

• Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Macy’s all reported 3Q profit losses. Did anyone even notice—or care?

6158: Show Your Good Health—And Bad Design.

New Crest Pro-Health could benefit from pro art direction.