Saturday, February 28, 2009

6493: BHM 2009.

Must admit, did not love these ads at first. It’s a standard practice to commission Black artists for BHM. Will Kadir Nelson and Musiq Soulchild get work from Coke later in the year on a non-BHM assignment?

Anyway, Craig Brimm of Kiss My Black Ads made poignant and provocative comments on the series. Plus, check out this interview with Nelson.

And somebody please hire the artists for non-BHM assignments.

Friday, February 27, 2009

6492: Early Exits.

Throwing eggs with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Mayor of Los Alamitos in California (pictured above) is resigning after taking heat for emailing a racist message about President Barack Obama. The email depicted watermelons on the White House lawn and a headline reading, “No Easter egg hunt this year.” The mayor insisted he had no idea connecting Black people and watermelons constituted a racial stereotype. Which means the moron will probably land a job in the advertising industry.

• Reports indicate Michael Vick will serve the remainder of his jail sentence from home starting in May, as there are no vacancies at a halfway house. The former NFL star pleaded guilty in 2007 to running a dog-fighting operation. Vick won’t be allowed to leave his home without approval from a probation officer; plus, he’ll wear an electronic monitoring device. The device should be fashioned to resemble a dog collar.

6491: BHM 2009.

Not sure if this is a BHM or diversity ad. Pretty sure it’s patronizing pap.

6490: Delete “Agency Culture” From Ad Lexicon.

The story below appeared at, written by a consultant specializing in agency reviews and searches. Scan through it and check out the brief MultiCultClassics commentary immediately following.

The Importance of Agency Culture

By Lorraine Rojek

In stressed economic times, an agency might think an assessment of its organizational culture is inconsequential. It is, after all, a bit of a soft topic. Yet there are four reasons why an understanding of organizational culture is an imperative if shops wish to survive and even thrive.

1. A distinctive culture is probably the most powerful way in which an agency can establish “chemistry” and display a real point of difference.

As advertisers seek potential partners, they look for agencies that stand out from the pack and offer a good fit between client and agency teams. Many clients consider “chemistry” to be essential.

How well an agency can articulate its organizational culture is a source of competitive advantage. How well the agency is positioned vis-à-vis its competitive set—with a clear communication of its value proposition—is essential when wooing prospective clients. An agency’s true points of differentiation are often grounded in its vision, service standards, creativity and other behaviors that are reinforced either formally or informally within the shop itself.

Knowing who you are and what is important to you is a fundamental step before an agency of any size or discipline can effectively solicit new business in the marketplace.

2. “Culture” is part of the promise that an agency makes to its clients. If that culture is not clearly understood internally, agency employees will not be able to fulfill that promise.

Articulating an agency’s culture and value system for the benefit of employees is critical. Beyond platitudes, agency leaders should define the specific behaviors that are of value to the organization and those that are not—with clear definition of values like risk-taking, innovation, responsiveness, collaboration, taking initiative and teamwork.

Cultural fit is an effective screening criteria for new hires and a training mandate for others. Individuals who align within their own respective organizational cultures are likely to be more productive and successful.

3. Clients admire shops with clear cultures. Having a dialog from the outset about cultural differences between client and agency sets expectations, creates alignment and helps to avoid problems down the road.

For clients, it’s a big deal to entrust the right agency to bring its brand to life externally in a strategically insightful and creatively compelling way. That requires the agency to work effectively within the client organization. Often, the pair must work together to build the case for the investment in advertising or to pursue a new strategic direction, creative idea or altered media mix.

For agencies, working with each of their client’s unique corporate cultures is essential to fulfill expectations, smooth out difficult relationship issues and stabilize the agency’s current base of business.

4. Agencies should evaluate prospective clients and new business opportunities through a cultural lens.

Despite a desire to be active in a specific category or engaged with a marquee brand, agencies should target clients with which they have some degree of cultural compatibility, based in part on their understanding of their own sweet spot and value proposition.

The simple truth is that people seek comfort and find solace in their harmonious relationships with others when the world at large seems brutal. And conversely, people are incrementally stressed by relationships that do not work.

Lorraine Rojek is president and founder of the Rojek Consulting Group.

This perspective actually makes a lot of sense. For any other business besides ours.

Holding companies have sucked the uniqueness out of most shops. Sister agencies appear to be, well, sisters. Bottom lines trump taglines. If you sense sameness in the work, it’s primarily because all agencies look alike. And think alike. And act alike. The industry that used to transform parity products via positioning and USPs has become generic itself. Swirl in a tradition of White men hiring White men and everything becomes vanilla.

In the world of advertising, agency culture is an oxymoron.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

6489: Flunking Out.

Not sure what the hell Uncle Phil is doing in this spot. But the message doesn’t deserve a passing grade.

6488: Sorry Statements.

Apologies not being accepted in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Rev. Al Sharpton refuses to accept New York Post Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s apology for the infamous monkey cartoon. Now Sharpton is attacking Murdoch’s News Corp., targeting federal waivers that permit Murdoch to own two New York TV stations along with the New York Post. Sharpton met with Federal Communications Commission officials to discuss the matter. Any potential investigation should be run by Lancelot Link.

• JPMorgan Chase & Company is poised to dump 12,000 people as it swallows Washington Mutual. Whoo-Hoo!

6487: Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 9.

Question: During my gazillion decades in the business, I have never witnessed a single instance of racism. People are hired for their talent. Period. How can you possibly accuse me of being a racist?

Answer: On Madison Avenue, racism is such a polarizing concept. And it seems as if calling someone a racist is the offensive equivalent of using the N-word.

Yet most veteran adfolks insisting they’ve not seen one example of discrimination also admit they’ve not seen one minority in an executive position. There’s something screwy going on here.

We could split hairs by opting for terms like exclusionary or culturally clueless. Additionally, you could read MultiCultClassics’ inaugural essay to identify the various types of bias. Some might argue the global dilemma is not race-related at all; rather, it involves outdated and limited recruitment practices. But ultimately, whether the mess is rooted in faulty processes or blissful ignorance or hardcore hatred, the end result remains the same. Everyone recognizes the dearth of diversity. Plus, liberals and bigots alike are quick to admit, “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

So get to work. Put aside the CSI equipment and quit worrying about the causes. Stop labeling each other with nasty presumptions. Move beyond obsessing over the mistakes that got us to this place.

Focus on generating and executing solutions instead. It’s time to realize creating diversity demands, well, diversity. Everyone must collectively commit to laboring together.

Change and progress should not be so difficult to achieve. Unless, of course, you’re a stone-cold racist.

Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

6486: BHM 2009.

Um, does Wachovia really have a long-term future?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

6485: Trust Me, The Typical Adman Is Pathetic.

The truth is, the problem with TNT series Trust Me has nothing to do with the cultural cluelessness of its creators. Or their limited imagination and subpar writing skills.

No, the core issue is the lack of inherent drama in the advertising business. Think about it. The few successful TV programs set in adland environments made the industry secondary—or even tertiary—to the main stories. Thirtysomething and Mad Men have spotlighted human conflict and emotion well ahead of hatching campaigns. Hell, Bewitched realized hocus-pocus hijinks trump commercial productions. Haven’t most of us watched focus groups that were more compelling than this dreck?

Trust Me clings to the delusional belief that audiences will be interested in our craft. It doesn’t help that the main characters are mediocre adpeople, and their agency is ordinary at best. Focusing on a dull job and hackneyed executives leads to a boring viewing experience.

Reports indicate ratings are tumbling like, well, the advertising industry. And like the advertising industry, the only hope for Trust Me involves executing radical changes. If the show’s creators hold true to their professional backgrounds—and White male arrogance—don’t bet on seeing any attempt to improve.

In the end, Trust Me remains painfully accurate on so many levels.

6484: Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 8.

Question: Why should I get involved—Isn’t diversity the responsibility of Human Resources Directors and Chief Diversity Officers?

Answer: Bringing diversity to the advertising industry is a monumental endeavor, and success demands that everyone actively participates in the process.

Let’s be honest. HR Directors and CDOs have never made the final calls on new employees. These professionals certainly play critical roles in the drama, but the rest of us probably have greater responsibilities.

Ad executives with hiring authority must ensure that all searches push for candidates beyond the standard talent pool. Don’t fall back on routine submissions from the same headhunters. Stop limiting the quest to individuals from specific schools or agencies. Resist the urge to recruit clones.

HR Directors and CDOs can aid in the effort. However, the people with the last word should be the first to fight for inclusion.

Passing the buck is just plain irresponsible. Cowardly too.

Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

6483: BHM 2009.

Do all BHM ads look alike?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

6482: Cartoons, Cameras And Coins.

Evening News in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• New York Post Chairman Rupert Murdoch posted an apology for the infamous monkey cartoon. Proclaiming “the buck stops with me,” Murdoch called the publishing of the cartoon “a mistake.” He went on to say, “We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such.” Then the paper went back to its routine insults of Michael Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and all rap artists.

• Ritz Camera has filed for bankruptcy. Hey, the joint’s advertising has been creatively bankrupt for years.

• Jazz icon Duke Ellington is the first Black person to appear on a coin from the U.S. mint. Ellington’s image will be on the latest line of state-themed quarters. Pocket change has come to America.

6481: Life’s Not Fair—At A Diversity Job Fair.


Job Fair Gone Bad
Why the Ad Industry Still Has a Long Way to Go in Being Truly Diverse

By Mansi Trivedi

Diversity. I have always struggled with embracing this term because it is very often used too loosely and used to fulfill a need. “We are an equal-opportunity company.” No, you are not. You favor cupcakes over capabilities. You pamper already bloated egos. You love the self-promoters.

So don’t talk about diversity and look toward African-Americans or Asians. Talk about diversity like it is a great thing and like it means you’d be getting cultural galore from people who have actually lived it.

The Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference did everything they shouldn’t have. The panelists were smart and came from “diverse” backgrounds, but recommended having a blog, using Twitter and avoiding sending friend requests to random people on Facebook. And unfortunately, this was my biggest and only takeaway. And I yawned.

Desperation our only weapon
After the long panel discussion ended, the gray-suited advertising aspirants flocked toward the booths. I stood in line for half an hour only to be told by an agency to apply online. The agency representative could not pronounce my name, and did not even try to. She looked at my papers and the other people around while I talked to her about New York weather and the industry. “Oh, we get so many of these, times have changed now, so apply online,” she said. I walked over to another long line of unfriendly applicants. I smiled and tried to strike a conversation on the current market scenario with one woman and she just smirked and looked away. While I queued to talk to another agency, the girl behind me tried to memorize my resume by leaning forward to peek at it. I offered her a copy and she made a face.

The mild discomfort had begun and it was only getting worse. Hundreds of graduates hunting for their paradise, with desperation as their weapons. I walked out with another experience of a job fair gone bad because it wasn’t about diversity or talent. Having panelists of color talking about advertising did not mean this industry was forward-thinking or culturally rich. Sadly, they’re all in denial and still print “diversity” as an accreditation.

Oh, advertising industry, you have a long way to go.

Mansi Trivedi is a graduate of VCU Brandcenter. She formerly was a strategic planner at Campbell-Ewald, Detroit.

6480: Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 7.

Question: My agency is headquartered in Whiteville, USA. How can I be expected to hire colored people where none exist?

Answer: This seemingly legitimate question surfaces often. Additionally, even advertising executives in diverse, metropolitan areas recite a similar and related statement: I simply don’t see many and/or any minority candidates.

The truth is, adfolks in Whiteville, USA must pretty much do the same things as those in places like New York.

The answers are partly tied to Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 6. Take a moment to review it.

First, it’s imperative that we rethink the traditional recruitment strategies. The search cannot always begin and end with our own Rolodexes and personal cultural comfort zones. Venturing outside of our time zones is possible too, as the lousy economy is encouraging everyone to consider moving. Location, location, location is no longer an excuse, excuse, excuse.

Forget where you land in Rand McNally. Determine where you’re positioned on the Darwinian chart. That is, how evolved is your corporate culture? Is your shop progressive and inviting? Do you encourage a variety of perspectives and experiences? Have you created an environment that thrives on the diversity of ideas—and the idea of diversity? Stop blaming your address and start addressing the necessary renovations to prepare your enterprise for life in the 21st century.

The candidates are out there. You just need to completely open your eyes, your minds and your agency’s doors.

Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

6479: BHM 2009.

How tacky. Walmart repurposed last year’s BHM message, replacing the photo in Grandma’s frame. Can’t wait to see how the retailer revises the image for Juneteenth and Kwanzaa.

Monday, February 23, 2009

6478: Trust Me, This Show Is Clueless.

The latest episode of TNT series Trust Me momentarily spotlighted Account Director Gordon, the only Black person in the fictional RGM agency. Seems Gordon opted to leave the shop, claiming he was “pursuing other opportunities.”

When Gordon announced his departure, inviting Mason and Conner to join him for a slice of farewell cake, Conner quipped, “Chocolate?” Conner waited for Gordon to exit before muttering in paranoia, insisting the comment was not racial.

Later, as the rest of Mason’s team learned of Gordon’s decision, one of the Young Turks joked about “the last bastion for diversity.”

In another subplot, Mason and Conner went on a commercial shoot in L.A. The two finished a spot without client or agency approval. Or a pre-pro meeting. Or a final casting session. Or a tech scout. Or a producer. Yet what was the most unbelievable part in the scenario? They filmed with a Black director.

But wait, things get even more unbelievable. It was ultimately revealed that Gordon took a job with Leo Burnett. Note the next-to-last paragraph in an earlier post on Trust Me.

6477: BHM 2009.

The Marines salute themselves for BHM.

6476: Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 6.

Question: Isn’t it possible that Blacks simply aren’t interested in pursuing an advertising career?

Answer: This question often arises when people try to explain the dearth of dark-skinned professionals on Madison Avenue. The rationale includes suggesting the industry’s low entry-level salaries turn off Blacks, steering them towards more lucrative fields. You know, like rap music and the NBA.

Sorry, the basic premise just doesn’t compute. Let’s realize that U.S. Blacks continue to lag behind Whites in annual income. So if Blacks are indeed hunting for flashier gigs, well, they’re failing miserably.

Then again, if you consider Adland’s meager starting paychecks—and combine the findings of the Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc. report that revealed Blacks in advertising receive 20 percent less loot than Whites—then a higher-paying position even awaits at Mickey D’s. Perhaps that explains everything. The majority of potential Black ad executives chose Big Macs over Big Ideas. Quick, somebody tell Messrs. Moore and Mehri they’ve made a massive mistake.

All jokes aside, the original question is akin to asking, “Which came first, the chicken with its ass plucked clean or the egg?” Did the dearth precede the discrimination or vice versa? In this case, let’s admit it’s a no-brainer. The lack of Blacks isn’t the result of alternative opportunities; but rather, unattractive opportunities on Madison Avenue rooted in exclusivity.

At this point, the industry needs to completely overhaul its traditional recruitment tactics. Don’t count on Blacks staging The Great Migration to Mad Ave. Now we must find ways to persuade the historically rejected to buy our brand of business careers.

Titanium Lions and Gold Pencils await the adfolks capable of creating such a campaign.

Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

6475: NAACP Not Monkeying Around.


NAACP head wants N.Y. Post editor, cartoonist axed

NEW YORK — The head of the NAACP on Saturday urged readers to boycott the New York Post, calling a cartoon that the newspaper published an invitation to assassinate President Obama.

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called on the tabloid to remove editor-in-chief Col Allan, as well as longtime cartoonist Sean Delonas.

Earlier this week, the newspaper apologized to anyone who might have been offended by the image printed Wednesday, which some say likens Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police in Connecticut.

Jealous said the cartoon was “an invitation to assassination.”

On Thursday, after protests by notable figures including director Spike Lee, the paper posted an editorial on its website saying the cartoon was meant to mock the federal economic stimulus bill, but “to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.”

A spokeswoman for the newspaper referred the Associated Press to the paper’s editorial when asked Saturday about the proposed NAACP boycott.

Jealous called the editorial “a half of an apology, without elaboration.”

The drawing, he said, “picks off the scabs of all the racial wounds.”

He spoke as the NAACP gathered for its annual meeting in New York, where it was founded a century ago.

NAACP officials said that if the Post does not take “serious disciplinary action,” they would reach out to organizations across the country to join them in their efforts against the tabloid.

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called the publication of the cartoon “thoughtlessness taken to the extreme. … Anyone who is not offended by it does not have any sensitivity.”

6474: Muse’s Musings On Diversity.


How to Win the Diversity Battle
If You Want Results, Reinvent Yourself and Spend Time Out of Your Comfort Zone

By Jo Muse

Make no bones about it: Advertising is a career for the strong of mind and spirit, and for those who think winning should occur swiftly and without great ceremony. I learned what it takes to be successful in this crazy business from my teenage years in Southwest Detroit. At least, that’s where I learned what it took to act hard, fight dirty, and win street fights with death blows and large doses of bravado. But with the problems multinational-holding-company executives are facing, it seems the masters of the advertising universe, and everything that’s sweet in it, are getting punked by some crafty New York street fighters.

Being an adman, I would like to see my guys emerge victorious. To do that will take shifting their perspective and relearning how to fight like they mean it. So in the spirit of winning the diversity war, here are five things advertising-agency-holding-company CEOs can do to handle this diversity business overnight.

Well, not really. Just your tendencies. Reinvent yourself as a man of courage and great conviction. If your shareholders had a CEO who really got that treating diversity as a business issue is the right approach, some of the insane internal pressures to fix the situation would be eliminated.

If you have a good eye for global populations, national race and ethnicity concentrations, and consumer-market indices, you could wake up tomorrow and say something like, “I love the smell of diversity in the morning.” Then grab your general’s helmet and head to the office with a new sense of accountability and personal responsibility. Your staff would rise to the occasion, because the general gave the order. And if your agency won or saved an account because of some brilliant, yet darker-skinned idea maven, the business case for diversity in your business would have his name in the byline. That is an instant change any CEO can make. It just takes a commitment to action, and taking credit for something everyone knows is right: employment fairness. And having a deeper value for the idea that diversity of thought leads to creative brilliance anyway.

No doubt doing what I’m suggesting seems unnatural and perhaps too liberal, but I’m sure that during your finest hour, you, too, had learned more from stepping out beyond your comfort zone than staying inside it. Today’s world requires more than the insulated environment you’ve grown used to. It requires stepping into a fight instead of walking away from it.

Doesn’t it seem just a little odd to you that one woman, Nancy Hill, president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, stood up for you at the latest hearing, and the tone and texture of the problem seemed to shift. You, in your current moral and spiritual composition, are a poor match for the courage, nerve and passion of a New York City Council. Get off it. Now is the time to find in yourself the moral fortitude to match up with those who stand against you. Step away from the safety of the crowd you now stand in. Approach the accusers with the power of your conviction and the will to make change where you stand.

It may not be Global Holding Company CEO 101, but it is what’s wanted and needed for your organization and the industry.

At least don’t be so pathetic about it. Clients like to see courage, too. I haven’t met one yet who didn’t want his agency to make him look like the great innovator. You know, that kind of corporate greatness that causes promotions or creates distinction in the executive suite. Oftentimes they don’t know how you did it. You just have to actually show some leadership—instead of waiting for the opportunity to serve them by just taking orders. What if a senior executive for a multinational holding company told a client that diversity was good for the business—not based on some sort of Harvard Business Review case study, but because he felt in his personal experience it was the right thing to do.

You should also have a pretty focused plan for how the agency would go about doing it—without lowering standards or doing less-than-excellent work. It bothers me a lot that some of us think that skin color (or where someone went to school) determines great effort and accomplishment. Nonsense. A great idea has never cared what color its parents were. And the guy who says this first and means it is going to see his stock price rise exponentially. Tell your clients what you stand for.


The mistake many CEOs make is not recognizing that what the Human Rights Commission is looking for is a little accountability. That’s why Nancy Hill did us all a huge “solid” by showing up at the hearing and speaking honestly and passionately about inclusion and the opportunity we all have to make a difference.

If a few of you invested some skin in this game of advocacy and stood up for accountability in open court, the world you live in would change around you. Top-notch CEOs at some world-class companies have done just that and turned things around. Terrance Lanni of MGM Mirage stood up and said things would change. Rick Kovacevich of Wells Fargo said his company would commit to supplier diversity. Lee Iacocca stood up for the New Chrysler. All these men took a stand, and things changed. Be the man, and your world will step up to your promise. And your clients will admire your gumption and courage.

I know the country’s nice. And the uptown flat is even better. But it helps determine the kind of culture you manifest in your workplace at large. Do agency executives live in a corporate culture that values diversity? Of course not! Most of you guys who run ad agencies don’t live among the average, multicultural consumer. You live largely isolated from people of color. And you bring that isolationism to work every day.

Spend more time out of the executive dining room and more time at the deli counter looking, feeling, and, yes, smelling some of the customers that help pay for those million-dollar cribs on the hill.

If you really want diversity in the company to be valued, you’ve got to bring that value in. The culture of most advertising agencies is already bent against it. There are wonderful ways to show cultural respect and multicultural intelligence and still be a fine advertising agency. Just ask somebody in any shade of black, brown or yellow—preferably someone who isn’t already in advertising. They’ll have lots to say. Write it down and work on a response and plan to change the culture of your organization.

I suggest doing this before the agency starts hiring a bunch of underqualified black people, and then watches them fail just to prove that they shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.

Is it possible this is what got you into trouble from the start? Someone told you it was good to hire more minorities, and it just felt wrong—unfair to people who aren’t minorities. I bet that’s how it began. In many urban centers in America, non-minorities are fast becoming the minority. What I mean is that the quest for qualified talent is not about race, ethnicity or being a minority. It’s about talent, pure and simple. Not only are qualified people of color out there, they are available and looking for opportunities to excel in the advertising business. To discover people of color, all we have to do is stop seeing differences and look for commonalities. I suspect someone told you guys that it’s hard to find qualified minorities. They were just making excuses for not looking in the right places. Try looking for qualified and passionate people, wherever you can find them. I run one of the most multicultural advertising agencies in the business, and I haven’t looked for a minority yet. Well, maybe a few white males from Ivy League schools on occasion.

Not to the boardroom or shareholder meetings. I’m suggesting you go back to your chosen profession before you made the big time. Was it media? Creative? Account management?

Try going back to the basics of the business and experiencing what makes the business one of the coolest places to work on the planet.

Once you’re back in touch with the brilliance of the business, take a trip to a historically black college or university or an urban college and give a speech for the Advertising Education Fund. You’ll learn something. Jerry Della Femina once said that being in advertising was the most fun you can have with your clothes on. He’s right. We have to do a better job of letting students in on the secret. Don’t worry about the fact that your skin color will probably be in contrast with that of the student body. Watch their faces. They will be looking at you with all the wonderment and excitement that comes from a student when he or she meets an inspired professional. Most CEOs give talks to shareholders and look almost dead doing it. These talks should be invigorating.

You can make a difference in diversity of employment immediately, one school, one student at a time. Have your agency’s senior executives do more campus visits as well.

Find the right advocate for diversity in your organization—and not a black woman. For goodness’ sake, choose an executive from the boys’ club who not only knows what must be done but knows how to speak the language of those who have not taken to the notion of diversity. The conversion must flourish within the white-male ad community, not outside it.

Those are my five things a CEO can do to instantly change the ad business as we know it. It isn’t hard stuff. It just takes a manner of conviction and action that currently isn’t being commanded in the executive suites of some of the finest advertising organizations in the world. Shame on you for letting a few slick, passionate politicians get the drop on you in a dark alley. I thought you guys were better than that. This game of persuasion is about walking the walk, talking with moral authority, and then throwing a chair or two in the mouth of the charging crowd. When they spread, run like hell.

Jo Muse is chairman-CEO of Muse Communications.

6473: BHM 2009.

Mike Conley still holds the U.S. indoor triple jump record. So why does the photo show an outdoor jump?

6472: A Freebie For Chief Diversity Officers.

From the Winter 2009 issue of The Black EOE Journal.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

6471: Saab Jets To Bankruptcy.

The news that Saab filed for bankruptcy jogged MultiCultClassics’ memory, leading back to a 2005 post. Be sure to check out the classic AdPulp post and thread too—with prophetic and hilarious commentary from David Burn, Danny G and HighJive.

6470: Patronizing Pap From Marriott.

Um, how about: You can’t bring diversity to Madison Avenue.

6469: Marching Over Monkeys.

Weekend update with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Spike Lee joined the protestors calling for a boycott on the New York Post for its infamous monkey cartoon. Lee even asked celebrities and sports figures to stop dealing with the publication. No word yet from Michael Jackson and Bubbles.

• Saab has filed for bankruptcy, leading to predictions that the brand will be spun off or sold by parent corporation General Motors. Wonder if GM will offer employee discount prices to anyone interested in buying Saab.

• Mining company Anglo American announced plans to cut 19,000 workers. A name change would be nice too.

• Early estimates show Girl Scout cookies sales may be down 19 percent in certain areas. No word yet if officials foresee Girl Scouts layoffs.

6468: Incontinent And Incompetent.

Kiss My Black Ads shits on a JWT diaper commercial. Check it out.

6467: This And That From DDB.

Superspy of Agency Spy posted a perspective on the diversity initiatives at DDB (Note: The link doesn’t seem to work—visit Agency Spy and scroll to Thursday, February 19). It’s definitely deserving of a chuckle. Also worth noting is a PowerPoint presentation defining the DDB commitment to inclusive living. One bullet reads:

DDB creates communications that represent the society we live in on behalf of our client partners. As communicators, it is our job to represent all cultures appropriately without reinforcing stereotypes or cultural boundaries.

Okey-doke. So what’s the explanation for this, this and this? And if you open the Omnicom umbrella, you’ll see this, this, this, this, and this. Imagine that.

6466: BHM 2009.

Colgate-Palmolive deserves kudos for at least connecting with a worthy charity.

UPDATE: Oops. May have typed too quickly. Came across the Latino ad below, hyping the same charity with no BHM reference. Did Colgate-Palmolive simply attach BHM sentiments to its regular charity work to woo Black audiences? Is the presumption that BHM holds no interest to Latino audiences? Is there a White version out there with zero BHM or Latino elements? It’s all starting to feel a little too segregated—and tacky.

6465: Monkeys And CEOs. Is There A Difference?

Sorry statements in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The New York Post published a bizarre acknowledgment that its infamous monkey cartoon could be offensive. The paper wrote:

That Cartoon

Wednesday's Page Six cartoon—caricaturing Monday’s police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut—has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp’s body: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.


But it has been taken as something else—as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past—and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon—even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

Um, sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon—and sometimes culturally clueless racism is just culturally clueless racism.

• Lowe’s reported 4Q profits dropped 60 percent. The company’s CEO said, “The economic pressures on consumers intensified in the fourth quarter, resulting in a further decline in consumer confidence and dramatic reductions in consumer spending. As a result, our comparable store sales for the quarter remained weak and fell at the low end of our expectations.” At this point, it seems like all CEOs are reading from the same cue card.

• J.C. Penney reported 4Q profits dropped 51 percent. “Throughout the year, we took steps to significantly reduce our inventories and operating expenses in order to withstand the impact of the economic conditions,’ said the company’s chairman and chief executive. “At the same time, we stepped up the style we offer and focused on effectively communicating the newness, excitement and value in our merchandise.” Stepped up the style for J.C. Penney means they probably hired another washed-up 1970s celebrity to design a line of cheap apparel.

• Even Walmart reported 4Q profit losses, which fell 7.4 percent for the retailer. At least the CEO didn’t claim the place stepped up the style.

Friday, February 20, 2009

6464: BHM 2009.

Chicago’s Navy Pier presents an exhibit featuring prominent Blacks including—surprise!—President Barack Obama.

6463: Chimps Ahoy!

Drawing out the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The New York Post monkey cartoon is prompting protests, including an effort to fire the editor who approved its publication. The newspaper continues to gain publicity by also reporting on the weird relationship between the monkey that allegedly inspired the cartoon and its owner. There’s gotta be an infinite monkey theorem joke here.

• Sprint Nextel reported a 4Q loss of $1.6 billion. “In tough economic times, we’re generating substantial cash and reducing costs to ensure we remain financially sound,” said Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse. Let’s hope the cost-cutting plans include replacing Hesse in commercials with a wild chimp.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

6462: A Nation Of Cowards.

From The Chicago Tribune…

U.S. a ‘nation of cowards’ on race, 1st black attorney general says

Holder’s speech signals more active Justice Department on civil rights issues

By Josh Meyer

WASHINGTON — For the past eight years, the Justice Department and the Bush administration were relatively quiet on the issue of race and its place within the social fabric of America and the enforcement of civil rights and justice.

But on Wednesday, Eric Holder, newly confirmed as the nation’s first black attorney general, issued a call to action to Americans in and out of government, saying the United States is “a nation of cowards” on race relations that needs to finally—and urgently—begin confronting the issue before it polarizes the country even further.

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said in a Black History Month speech to hundreds of Justice Department employees.

“It is an issue we have never been at ease with, and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable,” Holder said. “And yet, if we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.”

Civil rights activists welcomed the speech as an encouraging sign that the Justice Department under Holder and the man who appointed him, President Barack Obama, will be active on issues they said were largely neglected under President George W. Bush, such as voting rights and workplace discrimination.

Some conservatives, however, said Holder’s rhetoric was overly confrontational.

Mary Frances Berry, the former chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said: “When I heard it, I called over there and told them to tell Eric that I thought it was a gutsy speech, a timely speech.”

Holder implied he plans to address issues such as race and social justice as the top law-enforcement official. Holder told his Justice Department subordinates that the nation “must do more, and we in this room bear a special responsibility.”

Joe Hicks, a black Republican and the former executive director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission, called Holder’s comments incendiary and an inaccurate portrayal of a nation.

“Here’s the first black attorney general appointed by the first black American president, and he’s espousing views that appear to be almost ultraleft in their approach to race in America, that blacks are victims and whites are intolerant and accepting of quasi-racist views,” Hicks said.

6461: BHM 2009.

Child Reaching For The Stars
Gospel Choir
Scratching DJ
Multigenerational Family
Graffiti Artist
Singer and/or Spoken Word Artist
Jazz Musician
Cute Baby
Copy Referencing Marches, Elections, Traditions, etc.

Mickey D’s covers the most BHM clichés in a single page.

6460: Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 5.

Question: How can I hire minorities without lowering my standards?

Answer: First of all, the question displays incredible ignorance—on an infinite number of levels. In order to keep this post shorter than Tolstoy’s War and Peace, we’ll only hit the major points.

No one has been asked to even consider hiring inferior talent. Ever. Rather, the goal is to broaden employers’ perspectives. To encourage managers to look beyond the same tired, limited, monochromatic pool of usual suspects. It’s about finding the best possible person for the job. Period.

To presume that minorities are inadequate in any way, shape or form is biased, bigoted bullshit. If you have asked this question—or just thought it in your miniscule mind—you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. You are directly responsible for the exclusivity and discrimination so prevalent in our industry.

Regarding the mythical standards so many profess to embrace, try surveying the landscape at your current shop. How many employees landed their roles by meeting or exceeding exacting prerequisites versus slipping under the radar thanks to nepotism, cronyism, favoritism and other assorted isms?

Hackneyed entertainment vehicles reflecting the ad agency world openly expose the recruiting tactics commonly executed. Who’s zooming who?

In closing, you’re cordially invited to review a classic rant on the subject.

Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

6459: Monkey Business.

Drawing wild conclusions in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The New York Post sparked controversy by publishing the cartoon above, which some believe demeans President Barack Obama. Rev. Al Sharpton said, “The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that ‘Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.’ Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?” The Post fired back, “The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.” Um, the New York Post should not accuse others of being publicity opportunists.

• Goodyear reported 4Q sales flattened 21 percent, prompting the decision to cut 5,000 jobs. At least they didn’t blame it on a raging chimpanzee.

• Michael Jackson is poised to auction off thousands of personal items, including his iconic white glove. When Bubbles finds out, he’s gonna go ape-shit.

6458: BHM 2009.

Wondered who would show up with the annual cliché of spotlighting Black inventors. Congratulations to the Ad Council.

6457: Dear Adweek, You Suck.

Adweek is pathetic.

After a recent story resulted in 200+ comments—many ripping two New York ECDs—the publication presented the poll above. Adweek followed through with a lame editorial, announcing they will be more diligent in moderating comments.

What planet are these fools from?

For starters, it’s their responsibility to moderate online remarks. Advertising Age is quite explicit in stating that comments personally attacking people will be deleted. Not sure why Adweek didn’t create a similar position sooner.

One Adweek editor claimed they did indeed remove select comments, “like ones that referred to Paul Tilley (a Chicago ECD who committed suicide last year).” Um, it’s swell to show respect for the deceased—but what about the living? Why is it obscene to mention a dead person, but OK to shit on people who are still alive?

Certain folks noted commentators referred to as a blog. Well, if you’re going to let all hell break loose via threads, the confusion is understandable. Additionally, Adweek’s own blog, AdFreak, is hardly a stranger to rude comments. That blog, some might recall, initiated the hate fest for Draftfcb by being the first to snicker at the infamous “Cannes Fucking Lions” ad. And now Adweek regularly reruns content from AdFreak in the magazine and at

Seems like Adweek wants to have its cake and crass comments too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

6456: Trust Me, These Guys Are AWMs.

Didn’t watch the entire latest episode of TNT series Trust Me, but saw enough to continue the contention that the show’s creators are culturally clueless White men. Indeed, they are most likely AWMs.

The program is a tad too comfortable presenting a White male viewpoint, with all the paranoia and silliness usually associated with a standard midlife crisis.

This week, audiences were treated to Mason and Conner facing ageism.

Oh, the humanity.

These poor, pathetic victims felt threatened for being considered outdated and irrelevant. The truth is, they are. The allegedly creative duo consistently freestyles in client meetings, admittedly pulling ideas out of their asses. Are they the only ones who don’t realize such acts result in, well, shit? If you are seeking to position yourself as a youth expert after conducting an in-home focus group on your teenage daughter, you deserve to get called out. Instead, Trust Me paints these assholes as heroes who merit pity. Mason and Conner are whiny bitches who feel entitled, despite having failed to demonstrate they’ve ever earned their positions.

Leave it to White admen to devise such perspectives and pass it off as entertainment.

6455: Overreaction Of The Week.

Why does LifeLock® depict potential identity thieves with minorities, but all the potential victims are Whites?