Wednesday, December 31, 2008
6300: 2008—A MultiCultClassics Odyssey.
The past year featured a cornucopia of cultural cluelessness.
Studies showed most adpeople have never studied what multicultural marketing experts have been studying forever. OMD Worldwide conducted a study concluding it’s important to be culturally relevant when targeting multicultural audiences, which warrants the response, “OMG OMD WTF.” Starcom MediaVest discovered Blacks, unveiling a segmentation study that essentially regurgitated everything every Black advertising agency has realized since at least 1930. Brandiosity ran a study for recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles, learning marketers still admit to lots of confusion about multicultural marketing. A study from the Association of National Advertisers revealed multicultural marketing receives insufficient funding, inadequate commitment and inferior performance measurement resources—insights that could have been acquired by simply asking any multicultural shop. Somebody should launch a study to determine what the typical adperson actually does know.
Cultural cluelessness continued in creative communications. SalesGenie was super offensive on the Super Bowl. The New York State Lottery faced mobs of angry Italian Americans for its “Ba Da Bling” campaign. Absolut vodka started a border war with a Mexican print ad. Hanes aired dirty laundry in India. Media-watchdog group Fathers and Husbands blasted Madison Avenue’s disparaging portrayals of fathers and husbands. Pit Bull-watchdog groups barked at Verizon. Bob Garfield wrote a “Dear John” letter to Omnicom’s CEO over homophobic commercials. Six Flags deserved penalty flags for the hollering Asian guy. Quiznos got a mouthful of complaints after broadcasting an Asian Laundromat owner eating a $5 bill. Subway went the wrong way by animating a $5 bill. Rachael Ray and Dunkin’ Donuts were accused of promoting terrorism and iced lattes. L’Oréal was charged with whitewashing Beyoncé. Unilever advertised whitewashing with pride. Protestors gave the evil eye to Spain’s Olympic Men’s Basketball Team and Argentina’s Olympic Women’s Soccer Team. Burger King sacrificed sensitivity with Whopper Virgins. Mommy bloggers spanked Motrin. And suicidal Pepsi Max cans were killed in Germany.
The Madison Avenue Diversity Drama dragged on. Advertising Age initially described the progress as cloudy, despite most of the agencies making good on their promises. However, Omnicom shops recorded the worst results, with Merkley + Partners scoring a fat zero. The 4As Leadership Conference unveiled a “major new initiative” and strong words from President-CEO Nancy Hill. MultiCultClassics followed through with an Open Letter to Nancy Hill, who ultimately elaborated on the press releases. Next came the infamous July 7 meeting. Ad Age editor Ken Wheaton blew a gasket, reprimanding the no-show agency representatives. Bill Green of Make The Logo Bigger attended the event, adding his two cents. But the VIP visitor was famed civil-rights attorney Cyrus Mehri, a man expected to ignite serious moves. The September hearing in New York City blossomed into a love fest, starring Patricia Gatling of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Councilman Larry Seabrook and numerous industry figures. Yet questions and concerns linger. And Omnicom is still having a devil of a time.
A crop of cultural clueless cases defied categorization. Bob Garfield predicted Barack Obama would win the hardened racist vote. Drawing on its aging staff, Adweek examined ageism. Then Adweek printed “The Minority Report,” essentially repeating reports from Advertising Age. Nina DiSesa hustled her book, and tangled with Knock The Hustle’s Hadji Williams. DiSesa later attempted to praise Millennials, yet wound up looking outdated. Marian Salzman wrote on Millennials too, and the trendspotter spouted information that the rest of us spotted generations ago. Bob Jeffrey pushed his idea racism concept. The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies argued Arbitron would miscount minority audiences. Marketing y Medios said adios to existence. Steve Biegel appeared to break his settlement agreement with Dentsu via verbal judo in an Ad Age interview. The ageism discrimination lawsuit against Universal McCann grew older. Another McCann unit announced plans to profit from the poor. An Ad Age fluff piece hyping General Motors’ commitment to multicultural marketing disclosed the automaker dumped its Asian American agency—plus, GM seemingly lied about handing Black assignments to White shops. Mercedes-Benz took a peculiar route with its minority partners. Nissan took a familiar route with its multicultural marketing review. All of which drove MultiCultClassics to publish a recommendation.
MultiCultClassics had a little fun with the happenings. The Madison Avenue Mea Culpa was one sorry act. Blog Action Day pinpointed the poverty in our industry. A fresh batch of diversity ad parodies supplemented the 2007 series, and included a Diversity Job Fair version. Tired excuses were highlighted with the Diversity Best Protestations collection. The 15-part Tagging Diversity Ads slammed advertisers. When Adweek wondered about ageism, MultiCultClassics pondered racism. And the Madison Avenue Diversity Best Practices Webinar delivered a final click.
The year certainly had bright moments, both definite and dubious. Steve Stoute and Jay-Z kicked off a new agency. Jermaine Dupri was tagged by Procter & Gamble. The High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media opened in Brooklyn. David Brown schooled students in Philadelphia. The One Club introduced Adversity. Arnold hired a Multicultural Marketing Chief. DDB hired a Diversity Chief. Enfatico hired Chief Executive Officer Torrence Boone. Jason Chambers wrote the book on Blacks and Madison Avenue. Hadji Williams said, “We Want Our Kids Back, Too.” Craig Brimm said, “Kiss My Black Ads.” Renetta McCann said, “I’m taking a break.” Advergirl had her say on sexism. Sociological Images kept saying lots of provocative stuff. The hardest-working man in Black advertising remained employed. And oh yeah, a Black dude was elected President of the United States, utilizing compelling communications strategies that inspired the industry—and nabbed Marketer of the Year honors.
6299: A New Way.
Feeling good in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• The block behind the Apollo Theater in Harlem will be officially co-named “James Brown Way,” honoring the iconic Godfather of Soul. Here’s what Brown would probably say about it.
• Freakonomics author Steven Levitt disputed the recent study by James Alan Fox claiming murder rates are rising among Black teens. Noting Fox called for more crime control and prevention funding, Levitt wrote, “While I suspect that directing federal money toward crime control would be a better use of funds than continued bailouts, I would argue that it is time to experiment with something more radical that would actually save the government an enormous amount of money: ending the war on drugs.” The bailed-out banks and automakers will probably accuse Levitt of being on drugs.
• A new study shows the height gap between Black women and White women is expanding, as Black women are getting shorter. “The only reasonable explanation we can come up with is diet and the obesity epidemic among Black women,” said an economist and historian researching human height. No word yet from Freakonomics author Levitt.
6298: All Durapon 70 Is Not Created Equal.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
6297: Free Rides.
Driving along with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• P. Diddy and Ciroc premium vodka are joining the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission to give away free cab rides on New Year’s Eve. “New York is the world’s most iconic New Year’s Eve city, so let’s lead by example and show everyone that a sophisticated holiday celebration doesn’t just end when the ball drops, but when everyone gets home safely,” said Diddy. This is actually another indicator of the slumping economy, as past years might have seen Diddy offering limo or jet rides.
• Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is reportedly planning to name former state Comptroller and Attorney General Roland Burris to take Barack Obama’s vacant Senate position. No word as to how much reporters will be charged for seats at the press conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Monday, December 29, 2008
6296: The Courage Of Kitt.
From The Chicago Tribune…
Eartha Kitt: The patriot who was right all along
By John Nichols
Forty years ago, America’s cultural icons expressed the frustration of the American people with the failure of President Lyndon Johnson to end this country’s undeclared war in Vietnam by boldly demanding peace.
The nation’s most respected newsman, CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, explained to a national television audience after the Tet Offensive that the war had gone horribly awry.
Singer Johnny Cash, whose music and style had made him a hero of blue-collar Americans, described himself as “a dove with claws” and began singing the anti-war song “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream.”
But the most direct and powerful anti-war statement of the period was delivered by singer Eartha Kitt at the height of her celebrity.
Kitt, the sultry singer of hits such as “Santa Baby” who died at 81 on Christmas, was, in 1968, an internationally acclaimed music star who had begun making major stage and screen appearances.
So it came as no great surprise when she was invited to a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson. But the first lady was surprised when she asked Kitt about the Vietnam War. “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed,” the singer told the first lady and the 50 other women at the luncheon. “They rebel in the street. They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.”
The first lady reportedly burst into tears. The president was furious. Kitt was blacklisted. She was investigated by the FBI and the CIA and ended up on the “enemies list” of Johnson’s successor, Richard Nixon.
Kitt spent the next decade performing mostly in Europe until, in 1978—after a triumphal return to Broadway in the musical “Timbuktu!”—she was invited back to the White House by the great healing executive of the postwar era, Jimmy Carter.
Years later, Kitt recalled her White House visit in an interview with Esquire magazine, saying, “The thing that hurts, that became anger, was when I realized that if you tell the truth—in a country that says you’re entitled to tell the truth—you get your face slapped and you get put out of work.”
It was a painful lesson.
But we remember Kitt as one of those remarkable Americans who was patriotic enough to speak truth to power. And she spoke in such a remarkable voice that it will linger far longer in our memory than those foolish politicians and misguided media moguls who were wrong about Vietnam—and wrong about Kitt.
John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine.
6295: Study Shows Another Need For Change.
From The New York Times…
Murders by Black Teenagers Rise, Bucking a Trend
By Erik Eckholm
The murder rate among black teenagers has climbed since 2000 even as murders by young whites have scarcely grown or declined in some places, according to a new report.
The celebrated reduction in murder rates nationally has concealed a “worrisome divergence,” said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University who wrote the report, to be released Monday, with Marc L. Swatt. And there are signs, they said, that the racial gap will grow without countermeasures like restoring police officers in the streets and creating social programs for poor youths.
The main racial difference involves juveniles ages 14 to 17. In 2000, 539 white and 851 black juveniles committed murder, according to an analysis of federal data by the authors. In 2007, the number for whites, 547, had barely changed, while that for blacks was 1,142, up 34 percent.
The increase coincided with a rise in the number of murders involving guns, Dr. Fox said. The number of young blacks who were victims of murder also rose in this period.
Murder rates around the country are far below the record highs of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when a crack epidemic spawned violent turf battles.
“Regrettably, as the nation celebrated the successful fight against violent crime in the 1990s, we grew complacent and eased up on our crime-fighting efforts,” the authors said.
The report primarily blames cutbacks in federal support for community policing and juvenile crime prevention, reduced support for after-school and other social programs, and a weakening of gun laws. Cuts in these areas have been felt most deeply in poor, black urban areas, helping to explain the growing racial disparity in violent crime, Dr. Fox said.
But Bruce Western, a sociologist at Harvard, cautioned that the change in murder rates was not large and did not yet show a clear trend. Dr. Western also said that the impact of the reduction in government spending on crime control would have to be studied on a city-by-city basis, and that many other changes, including a sagging economy, could have affected murder rates.
Conservative criminologists place greater emphasis on the breakdown of black families, rather than cuts in government programs, in explaining the travails of black youths.
Much of the increase, experts say, is a product of gang activity, in midsize and large cities.
“The aggregate national murder rate since 2000 has been impressively flat — not to say there haven’t been fluctuations in individual cities,” said Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University. “But when you see a spike in a city,” he said, as in Chicago recently, “it very often involves young black males shooting other young black males.”
Dr. Blumstein said that while federal cuts might have contributed to the rise in murders by black teenagers, “I think there are much more endemic problems going on.”
“In the inner city, you have large numbers of kids with no future, hanging out together with a great emphasis on their street credibility,” he said. “They’ll go to great lengths to avenge an insult.” Many of these teenagers do not stay in school, let alone join the Boys Clubs or other after-school programs.
The heightened attention to security after the 9/11 attacks might, paradoxically, have contributed to a decline in crime-fighting.
“One problem we faced was a disinvestment in policing in the post-2001 environment,” said Chief Edward A. Flynn of the Milwaukee police, who served from 2003 to 2006 as secretary of public safety in Massachusetts. “I witnessed homeland security become the monster that ate criminal justice,” Chief Flynn said, as money went to security equipment and communications and the number of police officers fell.
To fight violent crime, Chief Flynn said, the police must be a visible presence in neighborhoods with high crime rates.
From 2000 to 2007, according to the report, murders in Milwaukee by whites ages 14 to 24 rose by 4 percent, while those by blacks rose by 62 percent.
This year, Chief Flynn’s first leading the department, he deployed new teams of officers to the most violent neighborhoods, having them patrol on foot and bicycles, while federal agencies helped bring down some large gangs. The number of murders this year — 70 as of last Friday — is down one-third from last year and is the lowest since 1985.
Still, Chief Flynn said, “any improvements will be temporary unless there’s more investment in the futures of our young people.”
6294: Wipe Tripe.
Help wipe away holiday debt with 75 cents worth of coupons? Hey, you can save even more by simply using this ad to wipe your ass.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
6293: Movies And Music Review.
Quick shots in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• A Philadelphia theatre turned into an action drama when a man was shot for making too much noise during the movie. The shooter will probably be hailed as a hero.
• Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. Duncan proclaimed he was “shocked and appalled” that a potential successor gave fellow members a CD this Christmas including the parody song “Barack the Magic Negro.” Duncan is probably pissed off because he wasn’t on the recipients list.
6292: Cheap Ghostwriters Are Scary.
This actual craigslist ad shows why the quality of writing in the blogosphere continues to suck. Why, you can earn up to $35 per day—$7 per post!—as a blog ghostwriter. Spooky.
Ghostwriters Needed For Blog
Reply to: email@example.com
Date: 2008-12-27, 10:19AM CST
I need a couple of freelance writers to ghostwrite blog posts. Blog posts can range from 200 words to 400 words per post. You must be able to write on any topic. Please note that these are ghost written blogs so we have full rights to all blog articles. We’re looking for someone who can write many articles on a weekly basis (5 or more articles per day). We pay $7 per blog post. We pay through PayPal promptly every 15th of the month.
6291: Slim Pickings.
Lee seems to have a slim view on multicultural casting.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
6290: Wrong Planet, Wrong Answer.
Hairy situations in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich continues to insist he’s innocent, disputing the charges that he sought to exchange Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat for money and political favors. Blagojevich argued he was hired to fight for Illinois citizens, and that’s what he’ll continue to do. “If somehow that’s impeachable,” said Blagojevich, “then I’m on the wrong planet and I’m living in the wrong place.” Um, that hairdo is pretty alien.
• History fanatics are protesting Walmart for planning to build a new store near the Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia, where an historic Civil War skirmish took place. “The Wilderness is an indelible part of our history, its very ground hallowed by the American blood spilled there, and it cannot be moved,” read a protest letter. “Surely Walmart can identify a site that would meet its needs without changing the very character of the battlefield.” But once the Civil War buffs realize Walmart sells firearms at everyday low prices, they’ll probably change their minds.
• The Washington Post reported the U.S. has wooed warlords in Afghanistan with goods and services including Viagra. “You’re trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th Century and people coming in from the 21st Century,” said a CIA veteran. “So you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere.” Can hardly wait to see the Viva Viagra! commercial inspired by this scenario.
• BET and TV One plan to offer extensive coverage of the presidential inauguration, with TV One slated to follow the action for 21 hours straight. Then both networks will immediately return to airing nonstop reruns of Girlfriends and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
6289: The King Of Lies.
These kinds of efforts ultimately sabotage the Web 2.0 revolution. Bait-and-switch tactics. Shrouded intentions. Hidden creators. The advertisers backing this stuff are king-sized assholes too.
6288: Any Given Sundae.
Friday, December 26, 2008
6287: O Christmas Tree Sale.
6286: Comedic Recalls.
Foreign affairs in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Jewish groups blasted a Belgian public broadcaster for airing a show featuring a comedian joking about the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust. It was actually the third time in two months that Jewish groups protested against the broadcaster for its apparent insensitivity. Last October, the broadcaster scrapped a show about Adolf Hitler’s supposed favorite dish in a series on famous people’s favorite foods. In the latest scenario, a comedian criticized Jews in Belgium for overreacting to the Hitler food show. “What are they going to do if there is a big gas leak in Antwerp?” asked the comedian, in reference to the Belgian port city, which has a large Jewish community. “Take the city to court for provocation? Preemptively file charges against anyone who dares joke about that?” The comic also insisted the Holocaust could not occur again because “Jews are much smarter now. … They have spread across the world. Try rounding them up! Most are in America so you cannot send them by train to Germany” to die in gas chambers. Um, Belgium is clearly not known for its comedy. Or tolerance.
• Toyota recalled over 120,000 vehicles in China, citing a steering defect as the cause. Looks like the Big 3 aren’t the only automakers veering out of control.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
6285: Eartha Kitt (1927-2008).
From The New York Times…
Eartha Kitt, a Seducer of Audiences, Dies at 81
By Rob Hoerberger
Eartha Kitt, who purred and pounced her way across Broadway stages, recording studios and movie and television screens in a show-business career that lasted more than six decades, died on Thursday. She was 81 and lived in Connecticut.
The cause was colon cancer, said her longtime publicist, Andrew E. Freedman.
Ms. Kitt, who began performing in the late ’40s as a dancer in New York, went on to achieve success and acclaim in a variety of mediums long before other entertainment multitaskers like Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler.
With her curvaceous frame and unabashed vocal come-ons, she was also, along with Lena Horne, among the first widely known African-American sex symbols. Orson Welles famously proclaimed her “the most exciting woman alive” in the early ’50s, apparently just after that excitement prompted him to bite her onstage during a performance of “Time Runs,” an adaptation of “Faust” in which Ms. Kitt played Helen of Troy.
Ms. Kitt’s career-long persona, that of the seen-it-all sybarite, was set when she performed in Paris cabarets in her early 20s, singing songs that became her signatures, like “C’est Si Bon” and “Love for Sale.”
Returning to New York, she was cast on Broadway in “New Faces of 1952” and added another jewel to her vocal crown, “Monotonous” (“Traffic has been known to stop for me/Prices even rise and drop for me/Harry S. Truman plays bop for me/Monotonous, monotone-ous”). Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times in May 1952, “Eartha Kitt not only looks incendiary, but she can make a song burst into flame.”
Shortly after that run, Ms. Kitt had her first best-selling albums and recorded her biggest hit, “Santa Baby,” whose precise, come-hither diction and vaguely foreign inflections (Ms. Kitt, a native of South Carolina, spoke four languages and sang in seven) proved that a vocal sizzle could be just as powerful as a bonfire. Though her record sales fell after the rise of rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll in the mid- and late ’50s, her singing style would later be the template for other singers with pillow-talky voices like Diana Ross (who has said she patterned her Supremes sound and look largely after Ms. Kitt), Janet Jackson and Madonna (who recorded a cover version of “Santa Baby” in 1987).
Ms. Kitt would later call herself “the original material girl,” a reference not only to her stage creation and to Madonna but also to her string of romances with rich or famous men, including Welles, the cosmetics magnate Charles Revson and the banking heir John Barry Ryan 3rd. She was married to her one husband, Bill McDonald, a real-estate developer, from 1960 to 1965; their daughter, Kitt Shapiro, survives her, as do two grandchildren.
From practically the beginning of her career, as critics gushed over Ms. Kitt, they also began to describe her in every feline term imaginable: her voice “purred” or “was like catnip”; she was a “sex kitten” who “slinked” or was “on the prowl” across the stage, sometimes “flashing her claws.” Her career has often been said to have had “nine lives.” Appropriately, she was tapped to play Catwoman in the 1960s TV series “Batman,” taking over the role from the leggier, lynxlike Julie Newmar and bringing to it a more feral, compact energy.
Yet for all the camp appeal and sexually charged hauteur of Ms. Kitt’s cabaret act, she also played serious roles, appearing in the films “The Mark of the Hawk” with Sidney Poitier (1957) and “Anna Lucasta” (1959) with Sammy Davis Jr. She made numerous television appearances, including a guest spot on “I Spy” in 1965, which brought her her first Emmy nomination.
For these performances Ms. Kitt likely drew on the hardship of her early life. She was born Eartha Mae Keith in North, S.C., on Jan. 17, 1927, a date she did not know until about 10 years ago, when she challenged students at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., to find her birth certificate, and they did. She was the illegitimate child of a black Cherokee sharecropper mother and a white man about whom Ms. Kitt knew little. She worked in cotton fields and lived with a black family who, she said, abused her because she looked too white. “They called me yella gal,” Ms. Kitt said.
At 8 she was sent to live in Harlem with an aunt, Marnie Kitt, who Ms. Kitt came to believe was really her biological mother. Though she was given piano and dance lessons, a pattern of abuse developed there as well: Ms. Kitt would be beaten, she would run away and then she would return. By her early teenage years she was working in a factory and sleeping in subways and on the roofs of unlocked buildings. (She would later become an advocate, through Unicef, on behalf of homeless children.)
Her show-business break came on a lark, when a friend dared her to audition for the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. She passed the audition and permanently escaped the cycle of poverty and abuse that defined her life till then.
But she took the steeliness with her, in a willful, outspoken manner that mostly served her career, except once. In 1968 she was invited to a White House luncheon and was asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War. She replied: “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.” The remark reportedly caused Mrs. Johnson to burst into tears and led to a derailment in Ms. Kitt’s career.
As bookings dried up, she was exiled in Europe for almost a decade. But President Jimmy Carter invited her back to the White House in 1978, and that year she earned her first Tony nomination for her work in “Timbuktu!,” an all-black remake of “Kismet.”
By now a diva and legend, Ms. Kitt did what many other divas and legends — Shirley Bassey and Ethel Merman among them — did: she dabbled in dance music, scoring her biggest hit in 30 years with “Where Is My Man” in 1984, the same year she was roundly criticized for touring South Africa. Ms. Kitt was typically unapologetic; the tour, she said, played to integrated audiences and helped build schools for black children.
The third of her three autobiographies, “I’m Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten,” was published in 1989, and she earned a Grammy nomination for “Back in Business,” a collection of cabaret songs released in 1994.
As Ms. Kitt began the sixth decade of her career, she was still active. In 2000 she received her second Tony nomination, for best featured actress in a musical in “The Wild Party.” Branching out into children’s programming, she won two Daytime Emmy Awards, this year and in 2007, as outstanding performer in an animated program for her role as the scheming empress-wannabe Yzma in “The Emperor’s New School.”
All the while she remained a fixture on the cabaret circuit, having maintained her voice and shapely figure through a vigorous fitness regimen that included daily running and weight lifting. Even after discovering in 2006 that she had colon cancer, she triumphantly opened the newly renovated Café Carlyle in New York in September 2007. Stephen Holden, writing in The Times, said that Ms. Kitt’s voice was “in full growl.”
But though Ms. Kitt still seemed to have men of all ages wrapped around her finger (she would often toy with younger worshipers at her shows by suggesting they introduce her to their fathers), the years had given her perspective. “I’m a dirt person,” she told Ebony magazine in 1993. “I trust the dirt. I don’t trust diamonds and gold.”
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
6283: Message Not Pure + Clear.
6282: Stripping Branches Of The Family Tree.
Is this really the best way to attract genealogy enthusiasts?
6281: Mobilize The Troops.
Credo Mobile presents a revolutionary twist, positioning itself as a green enterprise holding strong political views. It’s an intriguing proposition, yet one wonders if the offering is really relevant to the category and customers. After all, most people are primarily focused on reliable, affordable service and cool phones. It’s not about social change, but social exchange. Plus, cheap family plans and unlimited text messages.
6280: Buy Now, Immigrants!
From The Los Angeles Times…
Retailers catch on to the buying power of immigrants
With sales wilting, big-box stores are starting to cater to shoppers whose primary language is not English.
By Tiffany Hsu
Delfino Turan remembers his first trip to a Best Buy store, but not very fondly. Turan, at the time a recent immigrant from Mexico, said he could barely understand what salespeople were saying. What’s more, he couldn’t afford to pay for the purchases he wanted upfront, and the store didn’t offer to extend credit. So Turan now shops for electronics at the La Curacao department store near downtown, where he went the other day to replace the broken TV in the lunch truck he operates. “Here they understand Spanish, and they understand people like us,” he said after signing off on a down payment. “They treat you really well, they give easy credit, and they don’t ever say no.” Catering to immigrant customers has long been the stock in trade of ethnic-focused stores such as La Curacao Famsa, which caters to Spanish-speaking customers, and Kim’s Home Center, a favorite of Korean immigrants. But as electronics sales wilt in the tough market and immigrants’ buying power blooms, major big-box retailers such as Best Buy Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are catching on and catching up.
Many are using bilingual websites to turn online browsers into in-store clients, while others are hiring staffers with language skills and updating in-store signs and displays to appeal to immigrants.
“The Famsas and La Curacaos of this country have had those clients to themselves for a long time,” said Juan Tornoe, an independent consultant who has worked with companies such as Domino’s Pizza and Budweiser on Latino-targeted advertising. “Stores are looking for customers, and the wise ones are reaching out to immigrants through multiple channels.”
Wal-Mart activated its Spanish-language website in September to coincide with Hispanic Heritage month and has special holiday sites in Chinese and Vietnamese.
Last year Best Buy launched a bilingual website with a Spanish-language option after some customers complained that they couldn’t research products. Activity on the Spanish site has since far exceeded that of the original site, executives said. The company also recently signed Mexican soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco as a brand ambassador and has put up bilingual signage at 350 of its more than 1,000 stores, said Jeff Weness, director of Hispanic initiatives.
One reason for the initiatives is buying power. Latinos alone spend more than $870 billion on consumer products. By 2015, the amount is expected to boom to $1.3 trillion, or 12% of total U.S. purchasing power, according to Hispanic Business Inc. At the entrance to the Best Buy in West Hollywood, a sign boasts that employees speak 15 languages (including Russian, Bengali and the Nigerian languages Ibo and Ogba). In the last six years, the store has hired a burst of young, second-generation immigrants, said manager Margie Kenney.
And when staff run into translation problems during a complex sale, they just hop on the new website and consult one of the bilingual videos posted there.
“When you’re making big purchases, you need to ask intricate questions, and you feel more comfortable doing it in your own language,” Kenney said. “Having employees that are a mixture of all the communities makes shopping a more comfortable experience.”
At one point, only two Korean speakers worked at the store, just a few miles from Koreatown. Korean immigrants were avoiding the Best Buy, Kenney said, so she tripled the number of Korean speakers and put a coupon in a Korean-language newspaper.
Employees also noticed that on weekends, Latino customers made shopping a family event. So Kenney offered special deals on weekends and brought in popcorn, balloons and actors dressed as SpongeBob SquarePants to occupy children while their parents shopped.
Retailers who cater to immigrant populations say they are well aware of the rising competition, and they are adding to their arsenal of tactics to lure customers.
Kim’s Home Center in Koreatown, for example, stocks its electronics department with products from Korean companies such as Samsung and LG. Also, “we have an advantage over other dealers because we mainly speak Korean in our store,” said Si Youn, vice president of the 20,000-square-foot store.
At La Curacao, the 10 stores operate under the motto “Un poco de su país” (A little bit of your country), hoping that aisles hung with Brazilian and Spanish soccer jerseys and walls drenched in Mayan and Aztec symbolism can draw customers through the sheer force of nostalgia and homesickness.
Still, with the economy in a rut, immigrants are penny-pinching like any other consumer, shopping and spending less, defaulting on their store credit cards.
“It hasn’t been easy,” said Mauricio Fux, executive vice president of La Curacao, whose headquarters are in Los Angeles.
To stay competitive with the big chains, La Curacao tries to demystify the electronics it sells to its customers.
For example, La Curacao offers to send staffers to the homes of first-time computer buyers for two hours of in-home training in Spanish if they buy a warranty package. (Prices on these vary, but an optional four-year warranty on an $800 Sony Vaio laptop costs about $200.)
In stores, signs in Spanish—such as one hawking a remote control that reads “No se complique la vida—Todo en un solo control universal” (Don’t complicate your life—everything in one universal control) -- are scattered across the sales floor.
They also recognize that many of their customers don’t have established credit or hefty checking accounts, and will work with them on payment terms.
La Curacao can’t always compete on prices with the chain stores, but that kind of flexibility on payments helps the store compete, Fux said.
When buying his TV, Turan opted to pay $99 each month over nine months instead of $77 each month for 12 months. To be approved for the loan, he was required to produce only an ID from the Mexican consulate, not a California driver’s license.
That flexibility makes buying expensive electronics more appealing to immigrants in tough times, said Turan, who has gone to La Curacao in the past to buy an Xbox for his son, a laptop and a computer that he sent to his sister in Mexico.
“We try to offer things that are relevant,” Fux said. “If we did not evolve and just provided the same tired thing, people would stop coming.”
6279: Plush And Flush.
What’s the message here—Quilted Northern is the preferred alternative to wiping your ass with a towel?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
6278: Unclear On The Media Choice.
Um, if your vision falls into the blurry/wavy and blind spot categories, are you really going to be able to read this print ad? Or the magazine where it ran?
6277: Let Them Beat Cake.
Monday, December 22, 2008
6276: Instant Gratification Is Grating.
Here’s another classic spot for Ritz Camera. Is this asshole into instant gratification—or just into himself?
6275: Falling Profits, Pop Stars & Presidents.
Failing health in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• A federal judge gave Circuit City final approval for $1.1 billion in financing while the retailer is under protection from bankruptcy. Does it seem like corporations get more money while failing versus succeeding?
• Walgreen reported its fiscal 1Q profits dropped over 10 percent, citing the costs of opening new stores. Maybe things will even out if Walgreen accountants and shareholders visit the new stores to fill their Cymbalta® prescriptions.
• Michael Jackson’s biographer says the star is dying, claiming the King of Pop thinks he won’t live another six months. But another Jackson associate disputes the statements and says, “He’s in great spirits. He seems very normal.” When Jacko seems “very normal,” it’s time for the rest of us to leave this life.
• President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, delivered coats for the needy, encouraging people to volunteer during the holiday season. No word if anyone threw galoshes at them.
6274: Pure Gold Or Pure Bullshit?
Check out the detail in this JCPenney ad. Given the state of the economy—as well as the true spirit of the holiday season—it seems pretty insensitive to declare, “Only Gold Demands Worship.”
Sunday, December 21, 2008
6273: (Inter)National Basketball Association.
East meets West—at least in terms of NBA Conferences—with this multicultural promotion from the New Jersey Nets.
6272: Please Show The Average 98.2 Degrees.
Today is the first day of winter, with the nation recording unusually frigid conditions. Things are equally chilly in the advertising industry. Shops are cutting employees during the holidays. Holding companies are predicting more layoffs—and demanding more hours from workers. Blogs are digitally documenting the downsizings. And jobseekers are discovering discourtesy to be common from HR, headhunters, placement firms and others.
We could all benefit from reducing corporate coldness, and displaying a little human warmth.
6271: Perfessional Wanted By Amichur.
This actual craigslist ad seeks a perfessional agent-lawyer to work with a budding screenwriter. Given that the person can’t even spell author or possible, it’s a safe bet the screenplay won’t be landing in Steven Spielberg’s lap anytime soon. Oh, and the compensation is no pay—otherwise, you would be a professional.
looking for a perfessional agent
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2008-12-19, 1:19PM CST
I am looking for a perfessional AGENT and ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER that is skilled and licensed to do the job. I am in the process of writing the screenplay for an arthur who is putting production to his book. Please email as soon as possibile. Thank you.
• Location: chgo
• It’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
• Compensation: no pay
Saturday, December 20, 2008
6270: Not A Big Idea.
The size of your idea does matter. This spot doesn’t measure up.
Friday, December 19, 2008
6269: Out On Bail.
Advertising Age reported President Bush approved the automaker bailout. So far, no car czar. Plus, Chrysler dumped its CMO star. And the CEOs can smoke a cigar. With caviar. Although they have to raise the bar. While workers stash money in a jar. How bizarre.
Bush OKs $17.4B Detroit Rescue Plan
Bailout Funds Contingent on Big 3 Making Big Changes
By Jean Halliday
DETROIT -- Declaring that an auto-industry collapse would “deal an unacceptably painful blow to hardworking Americans far beyond the auto industry,” President Bush this morning announced a rescue plan for automakers. The president said the federal government will dip into the Troubled Assets Relief Program to grant Detroit’s three car makers an immediate $13.4 billion in loans.
At a press conference, the president said “meaningful concessions” would have to come from many parties, including labor, dealers and bond holders. The government will make an additional $4 billion available to the car makers in a couple of months if they develop viable plans for survival. The plan is similar to one approved by the House but rejected by the Senate.
‘Much work in front of us’
If the car companies don’t come up with viable plans by March 31, they will be required to pay back the loans. Mr. Bush said, “The financial crisis brought the auto companies to the brink of bankruptcy much faster than they could have anticipated. And they have not made the legal and financial preparations necessary to carry out an orderly bankruptcy proceeding that could lead to a successful restructuring.” He said it was “too great a risk” not to help the domestic automakers, which, if they landed in bankruptcy, “could send our economy into a deeper and longer recession.” He added, “Letting them collapse is not a responsible course of action.”
Ford Motor Co. has said it doesn’t need a federal bridge loan, but General Motors Corp. and Chrysler wasted no time issuing statements thanking the administration. GM said: “We know we have much work in front of us to accomplish our plan. It is our intention to continue to be transparent as we execute our plan, and we will provide regular updates on our progress.”
No car czar
Chrysler Chairman-CEO Bob Nardelli said the automaker “would remain focused on its challenge, and this initial injection of working capital would help bridge the liquidity crisis the industry is facing and assist in helping return Chrysler to profitability.”
Now the automakers must make the tough moves to meet the requirements of the funding. GM CEO Rick Wagoner told Congress earlier this month the automaker would focus on just four of its eight vehicle brands as part of its restructuring plan.
The Bush plan at least for the moment abandons the creation of an auto czar. Instead, during the Bush administration, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will be in charge of overseeing the rescue. Joel Kaplan, deputy White House chief of staff for policy, said that with the coming change in administrations it didn’t seem logical to create a separate post.
Contributing: Ira Teinowitz
6268: Slaving In The Kitchen.
Has Aunt Jemima really evolved much over the years—or is she merely less prominent in the messaging?
6267: HDTV = Hardly Diverse TV.
From The Associated Press…
NAACP report find TV networks lagging in diversity
By Lynn Elber
LOS ANGELES – Nearly a decade after the NAACP condemned a “virtual whiteout” in broadcast TV, the civil rights group said major networks have stalled in their efforts to further ethnic diversity on-screen and off.
Television shows of the future could be even less inclusive because of a failure to cultivate young minority stars and to bring minorities into decision-making positions, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said.
The effect on the country could be profound, Jealous said.
“This is America: So goes TV, so goes reality. We don’t think it’s any accident that before we had a black president in reality, we had a black president on TV,” he said, referring to the chief executive portrayed by Dennis Haysbert on Fox’s “24.”
A “critical lack of programming by, for or about people of color” can be traced in part to the lack of minorities who have the power to approve new series or make final creative decisions, said Vicangelo Bulluck, executive director of NAACP’s Hollywood bureau.
In a report due to be released Thursday, the NAACP calls on networks to revisit a 2000 agreement to diversify the ranks of actors, writers, directors and executives. It also seeks to establish a task force with network executives, the NAACP and other civil rights groups.
The report raises the possibility of political action if progress is lacking, including a boycott against an unspecified network and its major advertisers or class-action litigation against the networks and parent companies.
Particularly disturbing, Jealous said, is the course charted by the CW, born of the defunct UPN and WB networks that had featured a number of black-oriented series including “Moesha” and “The Steve Harvey Show.”
“Those two networks provided an opportunity for young talent of color in this town. ... They merged into a network which appears to have systematically cut programming targeted to communities of color,” Jealous said.
CW’s lineup includes white-oriented shows “Gossip Girl” and “90210,” although it also airs the black sitcoms “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Game.”
A movie star such as Will Smith emerged because he could gain early exposure in the TV comedy “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Jealous said.
CW declined comment on the report, as did ABC, NBC and Fox. CBS received a request for comment late Wednesday and did not immediately respond.
On the heels of the 1999-2000 fall lineup of new shows that lacked any minority actors in lead roles — then-NAACP head Kweisi Mfume called it a “virtual whiteout” — the NAACP and Asian-American, Hispanic and Indian civil rights groups formed a coalition to lobby networks.
Broadcasters agreed to create minority recruitment and training programs and to chart minority hiring among actors, writers, directors and managers.
The coalition groups have charted their progress with annual reports, although the NAACP has not always participated, often finding sharp underrepresentation of minorities in front of and behind the camera.
The four major broadcast networks have made “important strides” in increasing diversity, the new NAACP report said, including filling lead roles with actors such as Haysbert, starring in CBS’ “The Unit,” and Laurence Fishburne, now on CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
However, using figures compiled by the networks and industry guilds, the NAACP found a less rosy picture overall.
The number of minority actors in prime-time shows has remained flat or even dipped in recent years, decreasing from 333 in the 2002-03 season to 307 in 2006-07, according to the report. The number of minority writers working during the 2006-07 season was 173, a drop from the 206 employed during the previous season, the report said.
Reality programming has dampened employment prospects for minority actors and writers, as it has for whites, but shows like “Survivor” and “American Idol” do offer a benefit: They are likely to be more diverse in casting than most scripted series, the NAACP noted, providing a truer national portrait.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
6266: Plants And Vegetables.
Shut down and shut up with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Chrysler announced plans to shut down all North American plants for at least a month. Ford will shut down 10 North American plants for an extra week in January. General Motors put the brakes on plans to create a new plant. At this point, the automakers can't be relied on to keep houseplants.
• Advertising Age reported Omnicom is poised to cut 3,500 jobs, speculating ad agency BBDO could be in trouble because of its ties to an ailing Chrysler. Wonder if agencies would ever consider shutting down for a month. Would anyone even notice?
• Senator Arlen Specter said he was sorry for telling Polish jokes while recently addressing a GOP group. Specter apparently asked if anyone in the audience was Polish, but when about ten people responded they were, the senator proceeded with his schtick anyway. Talk about being a dumb Pola… um, Politician.
6265: Patriotic Or Patronizing?
Budweiser ties its Great Kings and Queens of Africa campaign to Barack Obama’s historic achievement. Wish the beer company would have simply said, “Barack, this Bud’s for you.”
6264: Adland Shows Who Rules The Land.
Adland by Mark Tungate touts itself as being the first book to present a global history of advertising; in fact, the subtitle says exactly that.
It’s an ambitious goal, especially to cover with less than 270 pages.
WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell labeled the work, “Immensely readable.” Sir Alan Parker gushed, “A terrific book: intelligently written and thoroughly researched. A must read for anyone interested in advertising.” Meanwhile, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts called it, “A great story: full of character, fun and life.” And W/Brasil President Washington Olivetto swooned, “The story of the best advertising, told with the accuracy of the best journalism and with the style of the best literature.”
That’s pretty impressive praise from prominent figures in the field. Although it should be noted the four men were interviewed for Adland. Guess Tungate picked up a few basics on hype and promotion over the course of his studies.
Dust jacket puffery aside, Tungate does deliver lots of information in an “immensely readable” style. Adland is almost a Reader’s Digest version of every advertising classic ever published—a mashup of the best books on the business. Just scan the list of references at the back, and you’ll see. Indeed, true ad aficionados will already be familiar with nearly 90 percent of the content in Adland.
The disturbing part about Adland, whether deliberate or not, is the absolute supremacy of White men. In many respects, it’s certainly an accurate depiction of the dearth of diversity in our industry. But aside from an obligatory nod to Mary Wells Lawrence, Tungate presents a total, international, color-free Boys Club.
To be fair, multiculturalism and racism do appear in a brief examination of Oliviero Toscani’s iconic Benetton campaign. And culture is discussed in the areas involving mergers, albeit from a corporate perspective.
Sure, there’s an entire chapter devoted to Dentsu and a handful of other Japanese shops. Yet you can’t help but notice Dentsu the Gigantor agency is segregated on infinite levels. Tungate also touches on Spanish advertising, with a mostly South America-Barcelona-Madrid flavor. And Adland offers a few pages on a TBWA satellite agency in South Africa. Toward the end, the author ponders the emerging Asian markets too. But overall, the Adland spotlight shines on the White Mad Men.
Adland by Mark Tungate is a global history of advertising—plus a snapshot of White male global dominance.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
6263: It’s Not Sonic Good®
How come Sonic TV spots are pretty funny, but the print ads are so… sensible?
6262: Happy Belated Birthday, Mein Führer!
Having cake and eating it too in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Controversy erupted when a New Jersey ShopRite refused to customize a birthday cake with a two-year-old kid’s name. The name? Adolf Hitler Campbell. The child’s father, an admitted Nazi fan, argues his son is being subjected to discrimination. “I think people need to take their heads out of the cloud they’ve been in and start focusing on the future and not on the past,” said the father. “There’s a new president and he says it’s time for a change. Well, then it’s time for a change. They need to accept a name. A name’s a name. The kid isn’t going to grow up and do what [Hitler] did.” Forget the cake. Somebody needs to shove a pie in dad’s face.
• Newly released census data shows the number of two-parent Black families continues to grow, currently at about 40 percent. The increase may be partly attributed to an expanding Black middle class. No word regarding the number of Black parents naming their children Adolf Hitler.
• Cooper Tire & Rubber Company announced plans to close a factory in Georgia, cutting 1,400 workers. Executives should expect to get their tires slashed in the company parking lot.
6261: Your Guess Is As Good As Ours.
Jessica never would have guessed popcorn this good could be 94% fat free. The rest of us never would have guessed why anyone thought this ad was a good idea.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
6260: Delivering Bad News. Sometimes.
Holiday reductions in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Fiat shut down most of its Italian plants for a month, effectively putting over 48,000 people out of work during the holidays. So Lexus won’t be the only car company talking about a December To Remember.
• Two daily newspapers in Detroit, seeking to cut costs and survive, are dropping home delivery to 3 days per week. The papers hope people will opt to read the online editions. However, if your paperboy drives a Fiat, you’re really screwed.
6259: Madison Avenue vs. Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Associated Press reported that Barack Obama renewed a commitment to diversity in his administration. Technically, President George W. Bush also created a diverse staff, as did most presidents in recent history. Funny, these scenarios never inspire reactions or excuses like the ones produced by Madison Avenue whenever the topic surfaces. No President ever whined about having to lower their standards. No Commander-In-Chief complained about a lack of qualified candidates. No Leader of the Free World was accused of being too politically correct. Guess Madison Avenue honchos view themselves as being above the highest office in the nation.
Obama Renews Pledge of Diversity
By The Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) -- President-elect Barack Obama says he still plans to lead an administration that’s diverse not just ethnically, but also politically.
He was asked at a Chicago news conference about his pledge to include Republicans among his Cabinet appointments.
Obama said there are still more appointments to make -- and that in the end, he believes people will feel he’s followed through on his commitment to a diverse administration. He says that will include diversity in the life experience of the people he appoints.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is the only known Republican in Obama’s Cabinet, though there are members of his foreign policy team who have not publicly declared their party affiliation.
6258: Partnership For Prosperity…?
6257: King-Sized Clichés.
What’s with the kingdom of kings for appealing to Black audiences? Budweiser has hyped the Kings of Africa for decades. Crown Royal and Paul Masson talk about being kings—and Crown Royal even extends the message with a contrived jazz musician spot. Diddy’s latest campaign and fragrance proclaims, “I Am King.” Wonder what these fools will do for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Probably launch a promotion with B.B. King.
Monday, December 15, 2008
6256: Have Your Brain Trust Examined.
Adweek presented a study that claims clients’ top reason for choosing an advertising agency involves “having an understanding of their marketplace.” Well, if the targeted marketplace is exclusively comprised of White men, it’s all good. Otherwise, the typical agency is as clueless as can be.
New Study Reveals What a Client Wants in an Agency
A thorough understanding of the marketplace leads the wish list
By Andrew McMains
NEW YORK Clients said “having an understanding of their marketplace” was the most important criteria for selecting an agency, according to a new survey that probes how clients view agencies from consultancy Reardon Smith Whittaker.
Grasping the company’s strategic direction as well as the creative work presented were tied for the second-most important factors cited in the report titled, “A Client’s View of Agency Performance.” This was followed by “offering something fresh and new.”
This year the Cincinnati-based company polled 184 client marketing and brand executives from the likes of AT&T, Dunkin’ Brands, Merck, MetLife and Revlon via an online questionnaire that was distributed in November.
“Simply popping out the monthly newsletter or the fun, quirky e-mail blast isn’t going to work anymore,” said Mark Schneider, managing director at Reardon Smith Whittaker. “Given the challenges clients are facing in light of the economy, they need agencies that can get up to speed quickly, add smart value-added thinking and are a trustworthy lot.”
As in past years, Reardon Smith Whittaker, a consultancy that coaches agencies on new business development, focused on why clients seek new agencies, what they look for and how satisfied they are with the results.
The top-ranked reasons the respondents cited for launching reviews were unhappiness with their agency’s thinking (46 percent), followed by dissatisfaction with creative work (40 percent) and not being proactive enough (38 percent).
The execs had mixed feelings about agency searches. They find the process to be time-consuming (42 percent) and 28 percent agree that “you’re told so many things that you’re not sure what to believe,” yet 37 percent said reviews were “exciting” and 22 percent “look forward to it.”
As for the tactics they’re most interested in, the respondents pointed to online marketing (69 percent), buzz marketing (58 percent), experiential efforts (53 percent), search engine marketing (52 percent) and mobile marketing (25 percent).
6255: Impaired Visions.
Political commentary in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• New York Governor David Paterson took offense to a Saturday Night Live skit that made light of his blindness. “I can take a joke,” said Paterson to reporters. But he called the piece a “third-grade depiction of people and the way they look” that could lead people to think that “disability goes hand-in-hand with an inability to run a government or business.” Oh, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich seem to demonstrate quite clearly that an inability to run a government rarely stems from disability.
• A Georgia state senator ignited controversy by introducing a plan to merge historically Black colleges with predominately White institutions. Senator Seth Harp initially suggested the move for financial reasons, but added, “We really need to close the chapter of segregated schools and create a unified system.” Wonder how this guy would respond to the segregated agencies in the advertising industry.
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