Tuesday, June 30, 2009
From The New York Times…
Vibe Magazine To Close Down Immediately
By Richard Perez-Pena
Vibe, one of the nation’s leading popular music magazines, is closing immediately, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Word was broken early this afternoon by the Web site dailyfinance.com and spread to other music and media news sites. The spokeswoman, Tracy Nguyen, said the Vibe staff would be formally notified in a meeting at 2 p.m. She said she did not know how many people would be laid off as a result of the closure.
Vibe’s closure leaves just one large-circulation magazine, The Source, focusing on hip-hop and R&B. The Source has had its own troubles, going through a bankruptcy and emerging under new ownership last year. A rock-focused magazine, Blender, folded last year.
In a memo to the staff announcing the closure, Steve Aaron, CEO of Vibe Media Group, wrote that for months, the company tried in vain to either find new investors or “to restructure the huge debt on our small company.”
“The print advertising collapse hit Vibe hard, especially as key ad categories like automotive and fashion, which represented the bulk of our top 10 advertisers, have stopped advertising or gone out of business,” he wrote.
The musician Quincy Jones and the company then called Time Warner created Vibe in 1992. The Wicks Group, a private equity firm, bought it in 2006. Vibe reported circulation of 818,000 in the second half of last year, a healthy figure, but like most magazines it suffered from falling advertising. It announced in February that in July, it would cut its rate base — the circulation promised to advertisers — from 800,000 to 600,000.
Voluntarily separating with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Nothing runs like a Deere—except Deere employees presented with voluntary separation packages. About 800 salaried employees agreed to leave with the program, which will apparently save the company $75 million.
• Restaurant chain Benihana reported its net income dropped in the fiscal 4Q, citing charges related to the retirement of its CEO. Somebody should have called the Deere accountants for advice.
• Sears will introduce a buyer’s protection program to help customers who lose their jobs. The program applies to sales of appliances that exceed $399, purchased with a Sears credit card. Not sure if it includes Deere lawn mowers.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Court jesting in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• France recorded a first: A huge corporation has received a guilty verdict for systematic race discrimination. L’Oréal was found guilty of racial discrimination for recruiting White women only during a shampoo promotion in 2000. The ruling included a monetary fine and a three-month suspended jail sentence for company officials. Three-month suspended jail sentence? Damn, rap artists and supermodels have done more time for throwing cell phones. And it took nine years to decide the beauty company showed bias? However, let’s not be too quick to connect this ruling to the Beyoncé ”whitewashing” ad. That one probably belongs to the culturally clueless advertising agency versus the client.
• The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of White firefighters in Connecticut who qualified for promotions by receiving good grades on a test that the city later tossed out because Black firefighters did not do well. The case had added significance because Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor originally ruled against the firefighters, and critics are using that fact to question her qualifications. “In reviewing the [firefighters] case, I am concerned that Judge Sotomayor may have lost sight of [the distinction between personal views and the law],” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “As we consider this nomination, I will continue to examine her record to see if personal or political views have influenced her judgment.” Hey, douchebag, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4. Will you be examining the existing Supreme Court Justices too?
From The New York Times…
In Jackson’s Death, Black Ambivalence Fades
By Marcus Mabry
Jamie Foxx, the host of the Black Entertainment Television music awards, was unequivocal on Sunday night.
“We want to celebrate this black man,” Mr. Foxx said of Michael Jackson. “He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else.”
Around the world, Mr. Jackson was celebrated Sunday, but there was a special fervor in black neighborhoods and churches.
At the First African Methodist Episcopal church in South Los Angeles, the 10 a.m. service opened with the strains of “I’ll be There” by the Jackson 5, over a video tribute to Mr. Jackson. The congregation clapped and cheered.
“He may not be the king of kings,” the Rev. Carolyn Herron said, “but he’s the King of Pop.” He was, Ms. Herron said, “a gift from God.”
Mr. Jackson was to music what Michael Jordan was to sports and Barack Obama to politics — a towering figure with crossover appeal, even if in life some of Mr. Jackson’s black fans wondered if he was as proud of his race as his race was of him.
But since his death on Thursday, many African-Americans have embraced Mr. Jackson without ambivalence. In scores of interviews across the country over the weekend, few expressed the kind of resentment some once had for his strangeness, his changing appearance, his distance from the cherubic Michael of the Jackson 5.
Darrell Smith, 40, a filmmaker in Brooklyn, recalled that “when his skin started getting lighter,” many black people said Mr. Jackson did not want to be black.
Now, he said: “I honestly feel like I lost a brother. It’s a pain inside me.”
Some African-Americans said those most determined to discuss Mr. Jackson’s failings were white.
“The system likes to take black men down,” said Stan Jamison, a 61-year-old house painter, leaning against a fence on Sunday outside the old Jackson home in Gary, Ind. “They did it to Ali. They did it to Tyson.”
When Mr. Jackson was accused of child molesting, many African-Americans leaped to his defense because they felt he was being persecuted.
But even some blacks acknowledged that Mr. Jackson, like many African-Americans, had issues with his identity.
Gerald L. Early, a professor of African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, pointed to Mr. Jackson’s self-image as an adolescent who hated the fact that he had a broad nose. In some reports, his father was said to have told Mr. Jackson he was ugly.
“If blacks were not, in some degree, emotionally and psychologically scarred from their oppression,” Professor Early said in an e-mail message, “they would hardly have needed the Black Power and the Black is Beautiful movements of the 1960s, efforts to restore their mental health.”
“Jackson reminds me of Sammy Davis, Jr.,” he added. “Davis was a singer and dancer, like Jackson, and a man who felt inferior about his looks and who wanted to fit in with the white Hollywood environment in which he found himself.”
Still, it was Mr. Jackson’s changeability that, in part, allowed him to resonate with millions of people around the world.
“His race was very blurry,” said Ning Liu, 28, an electrical engineer who moved to the Chicago suburbs from China four years ago.
Mr. Liu, who went to Gary to place flowers outside Mr. Jackson’s childhood home, said: “His voice, his look, the way he did things — it didn’t fit the stereotype people had of black people. People were not afraid of him.”
Amy Whitlock, 38, and her husband, Dave, 42, who are white, drove 100 miles to Gary to pay their respects to the pop star. They described how a young Mr. Jackson had transformed the way white children saw race.
“I was from a small town in Illinois where there weren’t any black people,” Ms. Whitlock said, tears splashing down her cheeks. “There was prejudice in our town.
“The older people, they saw just some black guy dancing. But we saw someone who was extraordinary, someone who made us want to dance. Michael was for unity. And he made people my age want to be for unity.”
Meighan Maheffey, 27, who is white and grew up in North Carolina, said the Jackson 5 was the only black group her grandmother allowed her mother to listen to. “It was very nonthreatening to her,” Ms. Maheffey said.
But Mr. Jackson also staked out new terrain for black performers.
“He dubbed himself the King of Pop, which was a pretty daring act,” Professor Early said. “Previously in our culture, the King of Jazz was Paul Whiteman and the King of Swing Benny Goodman and the King of Rock and Roll was Elvis Presley, all white men.
“This, in a way, radically redefined the black performer’s relation to music, made Jackson an auteur. In this way, Jackson may have paved the way for Obama in the sense of black man as auteur and self-mythmaker.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has been acting as a family spokesman in the past few days, said Mr. Jackson — like Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, James Brown and Josephine Baker — had redrawn the boundaries of black possibility by showing whites, and blacks, that the race was capable of more than had been previously acknowledged.
“The light cast by these luminaries was great and shined on the whole race, even when they did not intend to be ‘political,’ ” Mr. Jackson said.
The Black Entertainment Television music awards were not originally intended to be a tribute to Michael Jackson, whose hits dried up long ago. But plans were rushed through to change the program once he died. Over the course of the evening, Mr. Foxx wore different costumes from Mr. Jackson’s long career.
On Saturday, at the Malcolm X Blvd Pizzeria in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of New York, an impromptu dance party and memorial service for Mr. Jackson was set up. Just steps away from the oven, two dozen or so people danced to the blaring Michael Jackson marathon on the sidewalk outside, holding black, white and red balloons, some clutching candles and wiping away tears. Some wore T-shirts with Mr. Jackson’s face.
Eric Smith, 50, a social worker, snapped his fingers and stepped back and forth to the beat. “He was more than a musician,” Mr. Smith said. “He was a worldwide ambassador for love and peace.”
But Mr. Jackson may have helped bring about a world of multiracial acceptance that no longer understands his own obsession with his skin color.
The night that news of Mr. Jackson’s death came, Ingrid Deabreu, 49, a patient care and dialysis technician from Guyana who lives in Brooklyn, stayed up watching a marathon of his videos with her 7-year-old daughter Kimberly.
When the video of Mr. Jackson’s “Black and White” came on, her daughter turned to Ms. Deabreu and asked: “Mommy, he said it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white. So why’s he trying to make his skin white?”
Reporting was contributed by Ana Facio Contreras from Los Angeles; Jon Caramanica and Karen Zraick from New York; Malcolm Gay from St. Louis; Dirk Johnson from Gary, Ind.; and Janie Lorber and Ariel Sabar from Washington.
Others have likely made this comparison before, but MultiCultClassics will present it anyway.
Integrated Marketing is the new Tower of Babel.
Contrary to the
In this case, however, the confounding confusion cannot be attributed to God. Rather, it’s solely the responsibility—or irresponsibility—of men unwilling to listen, learn and collaborate.
The 2009 Cannes International Advertising Festival, it should be noted, handed the Titanium & Integrated Lions to the Obama/Biden Presidential Campaign. There were no BDAs listed in the creative credits for the winning entry.
Not surprisingly, the advertising industry’s inability to integrate practices mirrors the inability to integrate people. It’s yet another diversity dream deferred.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
From FOX News…
‘Infomercial King’ Billy Mays Found Dead in Home
Television pitchman Billy Mays — who built his fame by appearing on commercials and infomercials promoting household products and gadgets — died Sunday.
Mays, 50, was found unresponsive by his wife inside his Tampa, Fla., home at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Police said there were no signs of forced entry to Mays’ residence and foul play is not suspected. Authorities said an autopsy should be complete by Monday afternoon.
“Although Billy lived a public life, we don’t anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days. Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times,” Mays wife, Deborah, said in a statement on Sunday.
Mays was well known for his numerous television promotions of such products as Orange Glo and OxiClean. He was also featured on the reality TV show “Pitchmen” on the Discovery Channel, which followed Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs.
Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other “as seen on TV” gadgets on Atlantic City’s boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.
After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network.
Commercials and infomercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it’s done while tossing out kitschy phrases like, “Long live your laundry!”
Recently he’s been seen on commercials for a wide variety of products and is featured on the reality TV show “Pitchmen” on the Discovery Channel, which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs. He’s also been seen in ESPN ads.
His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans. People line up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stop him in airports to chat about the products.
“I enjoy what I do,” Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. “I think it shows.”
Mays was on board a US Airways flight that blew out its front tires as it landed at a Tampa airport on Saturday, MyFOXTampa.com reported.
US Airways spokesman Jim Olson said that none of the 138 passengers and five crew members were injured in the incident, but several passengers reported having bumps and bruises, according to the station.
Authorities have not said whether Mays’ death was related to the incident.
Discovery Channel spokeswoman Elizabeth Hillman released a statement Sunday extending sympathy to the Mays family.
“Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth,” Hillman’s statement said. “Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend.”
Um, why is Jesse Jackson suddenly the official Michael Jackson spokesperson? He didn’t step in to address the mystery surrounding David Carradine’s death. Can we expect Al Sharpton to speak out for Farrah Fawcett? Seems like he emulated her hairdo back in the day.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Sporting news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Emilio and Gloria Estefan became minority owners of the Miami Dolphins, a move that some hope will spike fan interest among Latino audiences. Gloria is slated to perform a duet with Hank Williams of the iconic Monday Night Football theme song, “Are You Ready For Some Football?” Um, we’re not ready for that.
• Qantas canceled orders for 15 Boeing 787 planes, citing bad market conditions. Boeing will probably join the iconic koala bear in declaring hate for the airline.
• PETA and Angelica Huston convinced Sprint Nextel to stop using chimpanzees in its commercials. Wish the agreement included ending the use of monkey-boy Sprint CEO Dan Hesse.
Jar Jar again? 2 Transformers raise race issues
‘We’re just putting more personality in,’ director says of Skids and Mudflap
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” introduces some 40 new mechanized characters of all shapes, sizes and even sexes — but it’s a pair of jive-talking ’bots that critics are singling out as more than just harmless comic relief.
Skids and Mudflap, twin robots disguised as compact Chevys, constantly brawl and bicker in rap-inspired street slang. They’re forced to acknowledge that they can’t read. One has a gold tooth.
As good guys, they fight alongside the Autobots and are intended to provide comic relief. But the traits they’re ascribed raise the specter of stereotypes most notably seen when Jar Jar Binks, the clumsy, broken-English speaking alien from “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” was criticized as a racial caricature.
Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern described Binks in 1999 as a “Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit,” a reference to a black character from the 1920s and ’30s that exploited negative stereotypes for comic effect. Extending that metaphor to the “Transformers” sequel was AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire, who calls Skids and Mudflap “Jar Jar Binks in car form.”
And Manohla Dargis, film critic for The New York Times, takes it a step further, writing that the “Transformers” characters were given “conspicuously cartoonish, so-called black voices that indicate that minstrelsy remains as much in fashion in Hollywood as when, well, Jar Jar Binks was set loose by George Lucas.”
Director Michael Bay insists that the bumbling ’bots are just good clean fun.
“We’re just putting more personality in,” Bay said. “I don’t know if it’s stereotypes — they are robots, by the way. These are the voice actors. This is kind of the direction they were taking the characters and we went with it.”
TV actor Reno Wilson, who is black, voices Mudflap. Tom Kenny, the white actor behind SpongeBob SquarePants, voices Skids. Neither immediately responded to interview requests for this story.
Bay said the twins’ parts “were kind of written but not really written, so the voice actors is when we started to really kind of come up with their characters.”
“I purely did it for kids,” the director said. “Young kids love these robots, because it makes it more accessible to them.”
Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman said they followed Bay’s lead in creating the twins. Still, the characters serve no real purpose in the story, and when the action gets serious, they disappear entirely, notes Tasha Robinson, associate entertainment editor at The Onion.
“They don’t really have any positive effect on the film,” she said. “They only exist to talk in bad ebonics, beat each other up and talk about how stupid each other is.”
Hollywood has a track record of using negative stereotypes of black characters for comic relief, said Todd Boyd, a professor of popular culture at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, who has not seen the “Transformers” sequel.
“There’s a history of people getting laughs at the expense of African-Americans and African-American culture,” Boyd said. “These images are not completely divorced from history even though it’s a new movie and even though they’re robots and not humans.”
American cinema also has a tendency to deal with race indirectly, said Allyson Nadia Field, an assistant professor of cinema and media studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“There’s a persistent dehumanization of African-Americans throughout Hollywood that displaces issues of race onto non-human entities,” said Field, who also hasn’t seen the film. “It’s not about skin color or robot color. It’s about how their actions and language are coded racially.”
If these characters weren’t animated and instead played by real black actors, “then you might have to admit that it’s racist,” Robinson said. “But stick it into a robot’s mouth, and it’s just a robot, it’s OK.”
But if they’re alien robots, she continued, “why do they talk like bad black stereotypes?”
Bay brushes off any whiff of controversy.
“Listen, you’re going to have your naysayers on anything,” he said. “It’s like is everything going to be melba toast? It takes all forms and shapes and sizes.”
Tip to Kiss My Black Ads.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
Michael Jackson was real American thriller
Say what you will about Michael Jackson — and everything will be said in the next few days — he was an American thriller, one of the most brilliant talents of our times.
It is easy to forget this now. It is even easier, if one is young, to never have known. It is easy to see Michael Jackson only in the disturbing images of his last two decades — the freakish plastic surgery, the children he covered with paper bags, the alarming stories that leaked from his secretive California ranch, the unsettling Neverland.
But there was a moment — Michael’s moment. And a sound — Michael’s sound. And a way of moving — Michael’s way.
And nobody could do it better.
We watched Michael Jackson grow older, if not really grow up. He was the stunning child singer who fronted the Jackson 5 — the family singing group from Gary, Ind.
The group played “The Ed Sullivan Show” for the first time one Sunday night in 1969, and afterward Ed offered his crooked smile to this 11-year-old kid with the big Afro who had just twirled and sung like he’d been working the stage for 20 years.
Ed could see what we all could see — a natural-born star. Could the kid handle it?
In his art, Michael Jackson swallowed whole everything good in America. His music was funk and rock, black and white, power chords and ballads. And utterly infectious.
But in his personal life, he was America gone too far. He was the train wreck of a celebrity culture gone off the rails. He was America’s belief in reinvention taken to a grotesque extreme.
No matter. Not today.
Michael Jackson is dead, and all we really want to remember is how we danced to “ABC,” how we thrilled to “Thriller,” how we scraped across the floor trying to copy that moonwalk.
We couldn’t do it. Nobody could.
There was only one Michael Jackson.
At The Big Tent, Rochelle Newman-Carrasco presents a pretty sobering perspective on hiring practices at Latino advertising agencies. Newman-Carrasco reveals that Latino candidates face discrimination from their own, being judged by their skin color, social status and accents. The majority of comments left at the blog support her contentions. Hey, if Latinos battle bias amongst themselves, imagine what they encounter when arriving at the White shops.
Oddly enough, from MultiCultClassics’ viewpoint, most Latinos with heavy accents have turned out to be among the most gifted art directors, designers and writers ever. On the flip side, it seems like every White guy with a British accent is ultimately exposed as a clueless and talent-deficient hack—yet they always rise to high levels in the business. Go figure.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
From The New York Daily News…
Chris Brown plea deal in Rihanna beating sends bad message, say domestic abuse experts
By Carrie Melago
Daily News Staff Writer
Singer Chris Brown might have avoided jail time in his vicious attack on Rihanna, but domestic violence experts aren’t letting him off the hook so easily.
Advocates fear Brown’s plea deal, which gave him five years’ probation and community labor, is so cushy that it sends the wrong message to young men and victims.
“It sets a very poor example,” Roslyn Muraskin, director of the Long Island Women’s Institute, said Tuesday.
“This is a person who attacks a woman for no reason whatsoever and now gets away with the attack.”
Brown, 20, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of felony assault in the February attack on Rihanna after the couple left a Grammy party and fought over a text message.
After seeing pictures of Rihanna’s bruised and battered face, many initially figured Brown wouldn’t be able to avoid jail.
And now that he’s been spared from prison, experts fear other boys will expect leniency for abuse.
“Even Paris Hilton got more jail time!” National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy said in a statement.
“Young girls and boys watching this unfold on TV will see than men who commit violence against women practically go scot-free.”
Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Brown’s sentence is typical for first offenders — a problem since it might not be harsh enough to stop future attacks.
“I don’t think it’s enough of a consequence,” she said. “If we give them a break, we give them a shorter sentence or less consequence, it basically just says this wasn’t such a big deal.”
Advocates are particularly troubled about the impact of the sentence on the many middle and high school students who look up to Brown and Rihanna.
But Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence, thinks Brown should get some credit for owning up to the crime.
“I think there was something refreshing about seeing a celebrity admit guilt. We don’t see that often,” she said.
Advertising Age allowed two wonks from McCann Erickson New York—Leslie Long and Chris Cutone—to blather about their cutting-edge hiring practices. The column reads like the agency lawyers served as editors. The dim-witted duo admits that the shop is most actively seeking individuals offering immediate payoff. Which probably means you must have ties to a major account. Or you’re a cheap interactive developer with Flash skills.
Why, there’s even diversity-related gobbledygook:
We are also working on our diversity and inclusion efforts across every agency discipline and at every level of employment. Following the philosophy of Lori Senecal, president of our office, we believe we should be an innovator and leader in diversity, not only for the social good but also because diversity empirically has been shown to increase creativity.
Of course, they’re not sharing their innovative leadership schemes. And how can they declare that “diversity empirically has been shown to increase creativity” when the industry—and McCann Erickson New York—has no way to prove it, given the abject lack of diversity? Brilliant, ladies. Now would you please go back to your cubicles and focus on reducing employee health insurance benefits and eliminating employer 401(k) contributions?
MultiCultClassics recently discussed the following with Danny G and Hadji Williams via Twitter, then spotted a related Miami Herald story. Ad agency Cramer-Krasselt produced a ”Cultural Dictionary” that ultimately demonstrates the lack of culture in our industry and beyond. The Miami Herald headline read, “Fresh dictionary for a phresh age.” Hey, it’s phat, homies. Def too. The challenge of collecting slang is that the compilation is usually tired about six months before publication, if not sooner. Once phrases reach the point of appearing in a Bud Light or Mickey D’s commercial, you know things are closer to being out than in. When an ad agency submits a list, well, it’s like watching a balding divorcee chase college coeds. Or Karl Rove rap. Besides, sources such as Urban Dictionary have been around forever. It’s odd, as C-K is a great shop that would never write a headline featuring any of the dictionary entries. “We do the dictionary primarily to educate our clients about our consumer behavior research,” claimed C-K’s senior vice president and assistant director of brand planning. “And to make ourselves as relevant as possible.” Oops. Next time, run it past the dudes in the mailroom.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Carmen Van Kerckhove of New Demographic is offering a FREE Teleseminar Event. Here are the details:
Love and Sex:
What’s Race Got to Do With It?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
1:00 pm EST
Carmen will spend the hour discussing Interracial Relationships.
What is it about the combination of race and sex that makes it so explosive? How is race getting in the way of your relationships without you even knowing it? What racial dynamics are driving the unconscious choices you’re making when it comes to your relationships?
Learn the answers and more. Lines are limited, so register now!
Get the details and sign up here.
Facing the news with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• The Miami Herald presented a report on the increase in Botox treatments and plastic surgery for older workers seeking to remain competitive in the job market. “Youth is becoming more and more emphasized in the workplace,” said Dr. Steven Pearlman. “The seasoned experts, once pictured in ads with lots of wrinkles, have been replaced by young go-getters with multiple degrees and the appearance of boundless energy.” Especially in Just For Men advertisements.
• In Illinois, Walgreens is putting booze back on the shelves. The drugstore chain had stopped selling liquor about 20 years ago, claiming it wasn’t profitable. Given that Walgreens recently reported significant profit drops, the place can at least expect big booze sales with their own accountants.
• Chris Brown copped a plea deal to stay out of jail for beating up Rihanna. Foxy Brown, Naomi Campbell and T.I. are all thinking, “WTF?”
From The Chicago Tribune…
Supreme Court narrows but preserves Voting Rights Act
The justices leave Section 5 safeguards intact while allowing municipalities with a clean record to ‘bail out.’ Clarence Thomas dissents, saying he would strike down the provision.
By David G. Savage
Reporting from Washington
The historic Voting Rights Act—the 1965 law that ended a century of racial discrimination at the ballot box and gave blacks a political voice across the South—survived a strong challenge at the Supreme Court on Monday as justices pulled back from a widely anticipated decision to strike down a key part of the law as outdated and unfair to today’s South.
Instead, the justices agreed to narrow the law’s impact by allowing municipalities with a clean record to seek an exemption.
Though the court sided with the Texas water district that brought the case, its 8-1 decision preserved the core of the Voting Rights Act, including its special scrutiny for any changes in election rules by Southern states.
The ruling also protected the Roberts court from charges of conservative “judicial activism” in its refusal to tamper with an act of Congress, a often sensitive procedure fraught with political risk.
Monday’s decision, considered among the most important of the term, came as a surprise and a relief to civil rights advocates.
“This is a Pyrrhic victory for those who were behind bringing this case,” said Jon Greenbaum, legal director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We are glad that … the Voting Rights Act remains intact to protect the rights of voters.”
Civil rights lawyers and liberal activists were prepared to denounce Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s conservatives had they struck down one of the landmark laws of the civil rights era.
Read the full story here.
Wanted to spend a minute revisiting the recent revelations involving New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook. The man who has been a key figure in the Madison Avenue diversity drama is suddenly generating headlines for lots of lousy reasons.
In April, The New York Times reported the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board and the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee were investigating Seabrook’s role in helping his sister land a job with Omnicom’s diversity committee. This month, Seabrook is under the microscope for allegedly running shady rental schemes.
So far, the councilman is as quiet as, well, advertising executives ditching a special diversity hearing. Madison Avenue honchos are probably snickering behind closed doors, hatching plenty of chicken-ass-related jokes.
It just goes to the global problem of the industry’s diversity battles being waged by outsiders. After all, Seabrook’s supposed indiscretions only confirm the fact that he’s a stereotypical big city politician. Nepotism, cronyism and real estate scandals are common occurrences in Seabrook’s world.
Does it disqualify the accomplishments Seabrook has made to bring inclusiveness to the industry? Are the statements he uttered and the injustices he exposed any less valid? Should his apparent bad acts negate the deliberate inequities that have infested Madison Avenue for generations?
Hey, nobody has denied the charges against the industry. Au contraire, Dan Wieden admits things are “fucked up,” 4As President and CEO Nancy Hill acknowledges the “dearth of African Americans in middle and senior ranks,” and 4As members declare, “We suck at [diversity].” Nope, Seabrook remains credible and even supported on his Madison Avenue positions.
Would it be better to have a more upstanding citizen on the starting squad? Perhaps. But until the multicultural messiah arrives, we’re forced to back the head huckster.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Project MC Talks, Hopes for Action
New initiative will be supported by a social network and plans to approach the ANA
By Andrew McMains
NEW YORK Jo Muse expected a few hours of venting at the launch meeting of Project MC, an initiative designed to define the role and importance of agencies that specialize in marketing to African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics. Instead, said Muse, lead organizer of the initiative, he got a full day’s worth of gripes related to such shops feeling marginalized by clients and general-marketing agencies.
Also, opinions varied among the 23 participants at the spring meeting on key issues such as whether minority shops should regularly compete for general-market assignments. To weigh issues and opinions—and foster a greater sense of community within the group—Project MC is turning to social networking for help. In mid-July, it will start a social-networking group on Ning.com that will feature a blog and enable executives from minority shops to share knowledge, find talent and debate hot-button issues.
“This community that we’re creating is going to be an opportunity for the founders [of Project MC] to articulate points of view, [identify] resources and opportunities and [open things up] to a broader view of people,” said Muse, CEO of Muse Communications, a multicultural shop in Hollywood, Calif.
Social networking “is a good idea,” said Vicky Wong, president of Dae Advertising, an Asian-American shop in San Francisco and a Project MC participant. “How much time people have to engage in that, we’ll have to see.”
In addition, Project MC hopes to meet with executives from the Association of National Advertisers soon to express ongoing concerns about clients cutting back on minority-targeted efforts and general-market shops treading on speciality shop turf.
Project MC includes CEOs from African-American agencies such as UniWorld Group, Carol H. Williams Advertising and Burrell Communications Group; Hispanic shops like The Vidal Partnership and La Agencia de Orci & Asociados; and Asian-American shops such as PanCom International. The group also includes leaders from the American Association of Advertising Agencies and general-market shops Wieden + Kennedy and Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners.
The initiative comes against the backdrop of a minority population surge in America—at the end of 2007, minorities represented 34 percent of the U.S population, up from 30 percent in 2000. Also, the ad industry again finds itself under scrutiny for its relative paucity of African-Americans, this time via civil rights attorney Cyrus Mehri and the NAACP.
A major topic of conversation within Project MC revolves around the pitfalls of being a specialist among generalists and whether specialists should regularly vie for general-market work. Some participants favor the latter, while others argue that you can’t have it both ways, even if general-market shops encroach on minority-market ground.
That said, minority agencies have created work—albeit from minority-market briefs—that has become mainstream. In 2006, for example, Hispanic shop Conill Advertising produced a spot for Toyota that ran on the Super Bowl. Also, spirits marketers from time to time employ minority shops as lead agencies. But those instances are relatively rare.
“If anything, the exceptions suggest that there is a common ground and that [it] isn’t exploited to the degree it could be,” said Muse.
Project MC’s short-term goal is to produce a guide for multicultural shops to most effectively operate in this economy that will be presented at the ANA’s Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference in October. Long term, Muse hopes the effort will attract more participants and ignite a dialog that will continue within the Ning.com group.
The bigger challenge, of course, is turning dialog into action. “It’s a good start and I do hope to see some meaningful tactics or actions,” said Wong. “Otherwise, it’s just talk. I don’t think that’s productive. We can always talk at parties. There’s a group together, [so] you want to achieve something.”
Yes We Cannes with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• USA TODAY reported attendance at Cannes is down about 40 percent this year, and entries are off by 20 percent. Hey, if President Obama displayed outrage over CEO bonuses, what will he think about ad honchos lounging in France—especially the wonks hoping to make General Motors’ “critical vendors” list?
• The FTC is preparing to target bloggers who receive compensation for reviews, creating new guidelines to follow. “If you walk into a department store, you know the (sales) clerk is a clerk,” said and FTC official. “Online, if you think that somebody is providing you with independent advice and … they have an economic motive for what they’re saying, that’s information a consumer should know.” In the meantime, everyone feel free to send money and swag to MultiCultClassics.
• Drugstore chain Walgreen reported fiscal 3Q profits dropped 9 percent. Note to Walgreen accountants: Cymbalta® can help.
• A new study shows great white sharks display many of the same traits as human serial killers. However, the Black sharks will still probably receive harsher sentences.
From The Los Angeles Times…
L.A. museum honors the Tuskegee Airmen
A long-overdue tribute to pioneering black military pilots features photographs, uniforms and documentaries on the historic WWII unit. It runs at the California African American Museum through Nov. 1.
By Corina Knoll
Flight was always on his mind.
As he plowed soybean fields and chopped cotton in his tiny hometown of Heth, Ark., Jerry Hodges passed the time by imagining himself streaking across the sky in the cockpit of a Navy plane. As a teenager growing up in the 1930s, it seemed an impossible dream. There was no such thing as a black fighter pilot and the Navy was not about to accept its first.
But on Sunday, a gray-haired Hodges regaled a small audience with tales of flying bombers during World War II. The slim 83-year-old earned his wings in 1944 with the U.S. Army Air Corps’ all-black combat unit, known as the Tuskegee Airmen. And now those history-making pilots are featured in the California African American Museum’s latest exhibit, “Tuskegee: The Journey to Flight.”
Running until Nov. 1, the exhibit at the museum in Exposition Park will be supplemented by question-and-answer sessions with members of the Tuskegee Airmen, a paper airplane workshop, a theatrical performance and other programs.
Gathering the artifacts to display proved to be a challenge, said Tiffini Bowers, who curated the exhibit along with Dr. Christopher Jimenez Y West. Pilots have passed away and their belongings have been lost; items that are now coveted were not valued in the era of segregation.
“That’s because of the time period it took place,” Bowers said. “People were not of the mind-set that, ‘We need to save this, and this is historic and should be in a museum.’ Some of the Tuskegee Airmen’s efforts were underappreciated.”
Among the relics on display are olive-drab uniforms, giant replicas of squadron badges, pilot logs yellowed with age, and a royal-blue flight simulation plane, known among airmen as “the Blue Box.” Also on hand are original letters between pilot Cecil Peterson and Eleanor Roosevelt, who had been a supporter of the program. “Your letters and gifts have been very inspiring and have prompted me to try to be a better soldier,” Peterson wrote in green ink to the first lady on July 7, 1942.
Museum visitors Yvonne Pope, 37, and Michael Lockett, 36, said they were inspired after seeing the stories of the thousands who trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The couple, on a weekend getaway from Sacramento, had stopped by the museum and browsed the exhibit for an hour before starting the drive back home.
Pope said the displays made her proud of her African American heritage and noted that the Tuskegee Airmen were not in her history books.
“It’s really profound,” she said. “You never see these pictures and it’s not spoken of that often.”
Lockett added, “It’s like the hidden truth.”
When 2nd Lt. Hodges entered the dimly lit room—decades after he had first dreamed of becoming a pilot—he leaned heavily on his cane and surveyed the model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, the giant black-and-white photos on the walls and the flat-screen TVs continuously playing documentaries.
“This is rather nice,” he said, slowly making his way to a photo of a group of pilots who received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest expression of national appreciation awarded by Congress.
Now a Los Angeles resident with 16 great-grandchildren, Hodges has outlived many of his comrades. Such a tribute, he said, was long overdue.
Did the NBC “We The People” series on Latino culture cover Moco de Gorila® hair styling products? Made in Mexico, the “gorilla snot” provides a powerful hold. It makes “There’s Something About Mary” seem almost tame.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
This actual craigslist ad offers employment opportunities in a recession-proof industry. Not so fast, Mr. Facts Fluffer. Reports indicate that profits are going limp in the adult marketplace too. Plus, Advertising Age cited a study showing brand loyalty is eroding during the economic crisis. Will consumers also proceed to purchase generic lubricants, dildos and butt plugs? It’s only a matter of time, good citizens.
Opportunity Knocking With Adult Wholesale Company
Reply to: email@example.com
Date: 2009-06-21, 8:28AM CDT
We have been providing online retailers, home party reps and brick-and-mortar businesses with an amazing selection of products for the past 7 years. Each year has been better than the past and this year promises to be another successful one! If you are interested in becoming part of a recession-proof industry with exploding growth potential, you found the right company!
At The Big Tent, Laura Martinez wonders about the recent NBC “We The People” series that focused on Latino culture in the United States. The program presented many of the usual suspects—from Ricky Ricardo to Gloria Estefan to Shakira to Dora the Explorer—to show how Latinos are “changing the face of America.” Technically, Dora is changing the cartoon face of America. Wonder if the series paid homage to Terminator’s “Hasta la vista, baby,” or Bart Simpson’s “¡Ay, caramba!” Madison Avenue has certainly chipped in cultural contributions with the Frito Bandito and Taco Bell’s Mariachi Band—the former created by FCB and the latter by Draftfcb. Anyway, check out Martinez’s perspective here.
Kicking it with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• A California cop initially gained semi-positive notoriety when videotaped kicking a gang member in the head after a high-speed chase. Then it was revealed that the officer also runs a business on the side—selling “authentic jailhouse wear” online. The clothing includes t-shirts with gang symbols. Maybe he was kicking the banger after he failed to pay for some gear.
• Um, haven’t the fast feeders learned their lessons regarding free food giveaways?
From The Los Angeles Times...
All the colors that make blue
Police Academy graduation spotlights changes in the department since the arrival of Chief William J. Bratton.
By Sandy Banks
It had the hallmarks of a typical graduation ceremony—awards, speeches and hordes of excited families.
But these graduates were not in caps and gowns. They wore blue uniforms, white gloves and holstered guns.
And from my vantage point on the Police Academy lawn, the 44 cadets who graduated into the Los Angeles Police Department on Friday looked impressively tough—and impossibly young.
At the morning ceremony, I was invited to join the procession of officials passing down the row of cadets, checking the “function and lubrication” of each graduate’s gun. But I looked past the Glocks and into their eyes, studying the name tags pinned to their chests.
Sosa and Singh, Doherty and DelGado, Maynard, Moya and Vaidhayakul.
I heard accents that tied some to foreign countries. And saw a hint of street swagger in some of their marches.
There were veterans with military ribbons. And diminutive women, hair tucked under their caps, with “Sharpshooter” badges.
Some came to the LAPD straight out of college. Others left careers to join: accountant, musician, locomotive conductor. One—the wife of a cop—was 34. A young man from Florida had just turned 21.
And for all we joke dismissively about the “melting pot,” it was a pleasure to see, through their ranks, what our city—and our police force—has become.
Read the full story here…
From The New York Times…
Music in the (White) House
By Rush & Molloy
White House social secretary Desirée Rogers is firing back at critics who think the Obamas are letting pop culture cheapen the presidential residence.
The administration took some heat when it recently let Mariah Carey’s husband, Nick Cannon, use the North Lawn to tout “America’s Got Talent.” But Rogers tells us, “The President wants the White House to be a stage.
“We want Americans feeling they’re part of the house,” the stylish Rogers told us at a gathering of the Creative Coalition this week.
The Obamas’ populism — and this woeful economy — explain why they’ve chosen to host fewer grand state dinners and more public events where children are invited.
“It’s great to see a performance there,” she said. “It is more than great when you’re also teaching.”
On Monday, Wynton Marsalis was there teaching jazz. On July 21, the subject will be country music.
The Obamas dig country?
“They like all kinds of music,” said Rogers, who promised classical and Latin will follow.
And, since the White House screening room has only 42 seats, she said, “We might have a big screen on the lawn.”
Rogers, who schmoozed with a Coalition crowd that included Dana Delany, Tim Daly, Rocco Landesman and designer Nanette Lepore, said she was told the black-tie crowd at state dinners would never dance.
“So we got Earth, Wind and Fire,” said Rogers, the first African-American to hold the job. “And by the end, they were doing a conga line.”
Don’t expect Jim Edwards of BNET to get invited to Bermuda anytime soon. Ditto Southfield, Michigan, the home of Globalhue. Edwards continues to report on the alleged scandals surrounding Globalhue and the Bermuda Tourism account. In the latest news, Bermuda’s former auditor declared it’s a “fact” that Globalhue overbilled the client, and he hinted at “possible criminal activity.” Let’s hope it doesn’t involve New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Digesting the news with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Mickey D’s is primed to launch its
• Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, seeking to end the controversy ignited by Republicans, ended her membership with a women’s club. Let’s hope Sotomayor was never a Girl Scout. Regardless, the move should accelerate her admission into the Supreme Boy’s Club.
This actual craigslist ad seeks Free Lance Artists. Volunteer knights with jousting skills are encouraged to apply.
Free Lance Artists (Illinois)
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2009-06-19, 10:19AM CDT
Free Lance artist we are a textile print shop in Northern Illinois seeking creative graphics related to the motorcycle (biker) market place. We are looking to market creative V twin, biker, motorcycle, Gothic-related designs. Designs should be creative and able to print in one or two colors either full back with a left chest or a full front. Designs can be related to appeal to one or either sex. We need designs for women and others that would be considered unisex and also those directed towards men. We are willing to purchase the art. All design MUST be original concepts. Vectored art in CS2 is preferred or more detailed art in Photoshop can also be used. If you have a really kick-ass design we want to talk to you. We plan to run several designs in the next month—why not make some money with us? Thanks for looking. If interested send me a sample of your work or a letter of interest and we can discuss your work.
Here’s another reason why there’s a growing hate for AT&T. USA TODAY presented a story on the recent Senate panel exploring the impact of the exclusivity deals like AT&T’s iPhone monopoly.
But when visitors click on the headline for the full story, they are first greeted with an annoying ad brought to you by—you guessed it—AT&T.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Aging gracefully with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• The Supreme Court made it more difficult to succeed with age-bias lawsuits after overturning a jury award originally won by a 54-year-old employee who was demoted. The court ruling declared employees bear the full burden of proving that age was the deciding reason for dismissal or demotion. Better break out the Just For Men hair dye, guys.
• KFC is facing a lawsuit over the grilled chicken promotion gone awry, with angry customers charging the fast feeder with false advertising, fraud, unfair business practices and more. In the United States, it’s easier to get away with ageism than bungled free chicken dinners.
• Miami is about to name its first Black Fire Chief. Maurice Kemp, who has been the deputy chief since 1999, is a 24-year department veteran who worked his way up the ranks. Hey, how come Tubbs never got promoted after all his years of service on Miami Vice?
From The New York Daily News…
U.S. Senate apologizes for slavery
By Michael Mcauliff
Daily News Washington Bureau
Washington — The U.S. Congress is saying sorry for slavery.
The Senate voted unanimously Thursday for a resolution acknowledging “the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws,” which authorized the segregation that followed the Civil War.
If the House passes a similar measure next week, as expected, it would mark the highest official mea culpa for the hundreds of years of discrimination that had been enshrined by the Constitution and courts.
“Slavery and Jim Crow, and their continuing consequences, are not the historical baggage of one state, one region or one company,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the resolution’s sponsor. “They are an enduring national shame.”
Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had both expressed remorse for slavery. And Congress has recognized other injustices, such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
“No one pretends that a mere apology — or any words — can right the wrongs of the past,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “But it represents our recognition of that past and our commitment to more fully live up to our nation’s promise.”
The measure does have one caveat. It says it doesn’t imply support for paying reparations.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Jamming with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• J.M. Smucker reported fiscal 4Q profits more than doubled, citing the 2008 acquisition of Folgers coffee. Or maybe the lousy economy has more Americans drinking cheap joe and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
• The Brooksville City Council in Florida passed a new employee dress code mandating that city workers wear underwear and use deodorant. The measure also prohibits exposed underwear, clothing featuring foul language and piercings anywhere except the ears. Not sure how the rules will be enforced, and don’t really want to know.
Great. The New York Times is reporting that New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook—a key figure in the diversity drama with Madison Avenue advertising agencies—is now being investigated for shady rental schemes. Let’s hope he’s not involved with the new Ogilvy headquarters.
Subpoenas Issued to Landlords Who Rented to Councilman
By Ray Rivera
Federal investigators have begun issuing subpoenas to landlords who leased space to City Councilman Larry B. Seabrook and several nonprofit groups closely linked to him after a published report last week that the groups had billed New York City more than $100,000 in inflated rent payments.
At least one of the landlords confirmed receiving a subpoena this week from the Justice Department but said he was instructed not to discuss it.
“I got it, that’s all I can say,” said Herb Brooks, who leases a building at 3687 White Plains Road in the Bronx and sublets it to Mr. Seabrook for his City Council district office and for nonprofit groups linked to him.
The New York Times reported last week that in at least two cases, Mr. Seabrook rented buildings from landlords at one price and struck side deals with the landlords to share the space, for an additional fee, with a nonprofit organization he founded. The organization, the African-American Bronx Unity Day Parade Inc., then sublet the space at far higher rates to three other nonprofit groups that were run by the councilman’s associates and funded through his Council discretionary funds, city records and interviews showed. Two of the nonprofit groups also billed the city for a building they did not occupy.
From July 2004 through March 2007, the city paid more than $156,900 in rent reimbursements for space that cost the parade organization only $40,000 to rent, The Times found.
Mr. Brooks, for example, said Mr. Seabrook personally arranged a deal with him in 2005 to rent part of the building at $30,000 a year for his district office to be paid directly by the City Council, and to use the remaining space for nonprofit groups for an additional $10,000 a year.
But city records show that two nonprofit groups, the Northeast Bronx Redevelopment Corporation and the African-American Legal and Civic Hall of Fame, submitted invoices to the city indicating they had paid $72,000 a year, on top of the $30,000 paid by the Council. The invoices listed the African-American Bronx Unity Day Parade as the landlord. Mr. Brooks said he had nothing to do with the city billings and only received the $40,000 he billed directly to Mr. Seabrook.
A lawyer for another landlord said he could not discuss whether his client had been subpoenaed. A third landlord said she had not yet been contacted by the authorities.
The subpoenas appear to be an expansion of an investigation underway by the city’s Department of Investigation and the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which have been looking into the spending practices of nonprofit groups that receive money through the City Council and other government agencies. The inquiry has led to the arrests of two Council aides and two nonprofit officials, but has not implicated any council member. Both agencies declined comment on Wednesday, and calls to Mr. Seabrook’s office were not returned.
Russ Buettner contributed reporting.