Friday, April 30, 2010

7640: The Obama Effect.

From The New York Daily News…

Poll finds black students are more optimistic than their peers, possibly due to ‘Obama effect’

The Associated Press

CHICAGO - Bria Fleming has been through a lot in the last year, including her mother’s hospitalization and job loss and a fire in their home. It’d be enough to get most 18-year-olds down.

But the black high school student is surprisingly optimistic about the future and her chances for a better life — an attitude common among her African-American peers, according to a new nationwide survey of high school students.

“I know kids who’ve been through less and maybe they can’t handle it,” said Fleming, who will head to Florida A&M University in the fall in hopes of eventually becoming a veterinarian. “But my mom always tells me, ‘Work hard, stay positive and you’ll make it.’”

A poll released Thursday by Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., found that 70 percent of black students ages 15 to 18 thought their standard of living would be better than their parents, compared with just 36 percent of white students.

Overall, 39 percent of respondents thought they would have a higher living standard.

Those numbers and the level of optimism among black students appeared to be closely tied to their enthusiasm for President Barack Obama, making for what some called the “Obama effect.”

Asked about the president’s performance, more than two-thirds of black students rated his performance as “good” or “very good,” compared with 23 percent of white students. Overall, about a quarter of the students who were surveyed rated the president highly.

DeQuan Foster, a 15-year-old high school sophomore in Newark, N.J., agreed that having someone who looks like him leading the country has strongly influenced his belief in the future and what he can personally achieve.

“You’re always told anything is possible — but when you see it, you believe it. It makes me want to try twice as hard,” said Foster, who’s active in the theater and his local Boys & Girls Club and hopes to start his own entertainment company after college.

It’s an attitude that mirrored the findings of a recent Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 18- to 29-year-olds, and that could have ramifications on November’s midterm elections, said John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director.

“Young African Americans have this serious afterglow that is not as strong with whites and Hispanics,” Della Volpe said. “And that’s despite (African American youth) having more serious economic concerns.”

The Hamilton College survey involved 818 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from across the country who were surveyed last month. The poll, funded by the school’s Levitt Center for Public Affairs, has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.

Stephen Wu, the Hamilton economist who oversaw the poll, said he was surprised by the stark difference in optimism among races and that black students’ attitudes appeared to be so tied to their view of the president.

But many students — even in Chicago, the Obama family’s home outside Washington — said they witness the divide all the time.

“It always comes back to Obama,” said Deja Bailey, a 15-year-old African American student who attends the city’s prestigious Walter Payton High School. Even her own friends can’t agree. She said one of them carries a scrapbook about the president and frequently argues with others who say he’s doing a “horrible” job.

The latter attitude also frustrates Foster, the black teen in New Jersey, who wishes his peers had more patience — and more hope.

“Everyone isn’t going to support every decision the man makes. That’s life,” he said. “It’s the same with parents. You may not agree with everything they do, but they have your best interest at heart.”

But others, such as Harry Tsang, a 19-year-old college freshman in Orlando, Fla., said they’re done being patient. Worried about the deficit and government involvement in matters such as health care, the former Obama supporter has started volunteering for Florida Republican Marco Rubio, who’s running for the U.S. Senate.

Tsang, a native of Hong Kong, acknowledges that he was once drawn to the president’s charisma and his message of change.

“It was more about him than the issues. It turns out, it’s not the way I think,” said Tsang, who also joined the Florida Federation of Teenage Republicans, which has seen its membership double to 800 students since Obama was elected.

Harnessing youthful energy was an Obama tactic that led young voters to support him by a 2-to-1 margin.

“Whoever gets that volunteer energy is likely to prevail in the midterm election,” said Paul Loeb, author of the newly updated book “Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times,” which looks at young people’s political engagement.

Of course, a number of Obama’s young white supporters have remained loyal.

Matthew Bischoff, a high school senior from Gilroy, Calif., still has a newspaper from the day after Obama’s election pinned to his bedroom wall, though even he’s not so sure about his level of optimism.

“If I were to wrap this answer simply, I’d have to give an unhelpful, ‘I cannot say,’” Bischoff said. “I find the future that stares me in the face as I prepare to graduate and move onto college too veiled behind change to give a solid answer.”

Bischoff, who turns 18 in September, does plan to vote in the November midterm election.

But he may be among the minority.

The Harvard Institute of Politics survey released last month found that among 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed, a third of whites and just 18 percent of Hispanics planned to vote in the midterm election.

That compares with 41 percent of African Americans who said the same.

“So I think they become an even more important cohort than they were, frankly, in 2008,” said Della Volpe, the Harvard polling director.

That’s as young voters. When it comes to their future, and their standard of living, others hope the optimism truly will equate to a better life for young African Americans.

Among them is Dr. William McDade, a surgeon and an associate dean at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine who recruits and retains minority students.

“My hope is that this optimism can turn to realism,” he said, “so that students can learn how to overcome the barriers they might encounter.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

7639: MetroPCS Not PC.

At The Big Tent, Bill Imada criticized the culturally clueless commercials created for MetroPCS. Surprisingly, most of the racists readers commenting essentially called Imada an oversensitive race-baiter. The morons are clearly employees of MetroPCS and/or its White advertising agency—and their responses are as stereotypical as the characters they’re defending.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

7638: Covering The News.

A Midweek MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Was Sandra Bullock inspired by her role in The Blind Side…?

• The Census Bureau announced that 72 percent of Americans sent their 2010 census forms, matching the rate in 2000. Guess Draftfcb can now declare that it’s possible to generate decent responses with really, really shitty advertising.

• Ritz-Carlton issued an apology after an employee filed a lawsuit charging the hotel complied with guests’ request to not be served by people of color or people with foreign accents. Ritz-Carlton properties in Arizona thought the apology was completely unnecessary.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

7637: Borderline Nutcases.

Talking trash in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Reverend Al Sharpton declared he would fight the new Arizona immigration law. Wow, bet the folks in Arizona are shaking now.

• In Alabama, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James is running an ad that declares the state’s driver’s license exam should only be given in English (it’s currently offered in 12 languages). In the message, James says, “This is Alabama; we speak English.” Um, not exactly.

• Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates recently set off another debate on slavery reparations. Gates believes President Obama, “the child of an African and an American,” is “uniquely positioned” to address the subject. Hey, don’t count on another invitation to share a beer at the White House.

7636: Rappers Packing Magnums.

From The New York Times…

A Hip-Hop Contest to Promote a Brand

By Andrew Adam Newman

MAGNUM, the Trojan subbrand of large condoms, has climbed steadily from a 4.6 percent share of the condom market in 2001 to an 18.8 percent share today, according to the SymphonyIRI Group, a research firm whose data does not include Wal-Mart. What may strike some on Madison Avenue as more remarkable than that growth, however, is that although Trojan has been widely advertised, parent company Church & Dwight has never advertised Magnum specifically.

But the brand has been given an unsolicited lift by hip-hop artists, with dozens, including Ludacris, Kid Rock, Lil Wayne and Eminem, mentioning Magnum in lyrics.

Now Magnum is undertaking its first advertising campaign, a print, online and radio effort called the Magnum Live Large Project, which features Ludacris. Print ads will have their premieres in the May issues of Vibe and XXL, and in the June issue of The Source.

At the center of the campaign is a contest, where participants go to to download base tracks, then record their own Magnum-themed lyrics and upload their entries. Visitors to the site will vote for their favorites, with the winner receiving $5,000 and a trip to Birthday Bash, a hip-hop festival on June 19 in Atlanta. At the show, the winner will be brought onstage by Ludacris and congratulated.

“We’re not looking for jingles, or for people to make a commercial for Magnum,” said Julian Long, a consultant for Colangelo Synergy Marketing in Darien, Conn., which created the ads and contest. “We want to give core consumers the opportunity to be involved.”

While rappers usually evoke the large condoms to imply a physical attribute, Mr. Long said that was not the point of the contest. “We’re looking for songs that encompass the Magnum lifestyle and what it means to live large — not just the size of the condom or what it’s put on but what it means to live large across the board,” Mr. Long said. “We’re saying, ‘You know how to handle your business and we want to give you an opportunity to celebrate that level of understanding.’”

In the 52 weeks ending March 21, Magnum garnered $51 million in sales, outselling the entire Durex brand, whose sales totaled $39 million, according to SymphonyIRI.

Trojan, including Magnum, commands 75 percent of the condom market, with No. 2 Durex commanding 14 percent.

The company claims Magnum is the most popular condom among African-Americans, citing internal research that indicates they account for 22 percent of all condom purchases but 40 percent of Magnum purchases.

Jim Daniels, vice president of marketing at Trojan, noted that Ludacris had appeared in public service announcements about AIDS awareness. “Ludacris has been actively involved in using his celebrity and immense talent to really try to advance improvements in sexual health,” Mr. Daniels said.

“The Magnum brand is viewed as a positive lifestyle badge and positive symbol,” Mr. Daniels said. “And people are proud to show they have a Magnum condom — the large size really connotes a sense of ‘above-average prowess,’ let’s call it.”

For all the connotations, however, it turns out that Magnum is not so large. It is the same length as standard condoms, with the same circumference at its base, Mr. Daniels said. “Some people feel more comfortable with that width, but you don’t have to be an overly endowed man to use a Magnum and enjoy it,” he added.

David Vinjamuri, the author of “Accidental Branding” and an adjunct professor of marketing at New York University, said that a product like Magnum that became popular without a big advertising campaign qualified as an “insider brand with a cult following, one that not everyone is aware of but has a strong cachet with a certain audience.”

Mr. Vinjamuri said that “any kind of overt advertising is a risk” with such brands, and that Magnum appeared to be treading carefully.

“They’re smart to run this as a contest rather than straight advertising,” he said. “It’s a consumer-generated viral marketing campaign, with the idea being that consumers tell stories about your brand, and they end up on YouTube or get passed around, and that will just take what is already happening with the brand and expand it.”

A recent study by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, asked male respondents if the last time they used a condom it fit well, and 44.7 percent responded that it did not.

“Typically they report they are more tight-fitting than loose-fitting,” said Dr. William L. Yarber, a senior researcher at the institute and part of its Condom Use Research Team. “And whenever they have ill-fitting problems, they are more likely to report breakage, slippage and problems reaching orgasm for themselves and their female partners.”

Dr. Yarber said his research suggested that if men had more size options, it could increase condom use and help reduce both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

“I think the concept of having more sizes is a step forward for the industry,” Dr. Yarber said. “But you could never market them as small, medium and large, because no one would buy the small.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

7635: New School Leader.


Black woman leads former white boys-only school

By Kathy Matheson, The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — The private boarding school for underprivileged students now led by Autumn Adkins, who describes herself simply as “a black girl from Richmond, Virginia,” would have excluded her in years past.

The one-time white boys-only institution in Philadelphia did not admit its first black student until 1968 and that was only after numerous legal challenges, months of protests, a visit from Martin Luther King Jr. and a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Girls weren’t allowed until 1984.

Girard College which first- through 12th-graders has come a long way since being established by the richest man you never heard of. And as its newest president, the 37-year-old Adkins is determined to take it further, raising the school’s profile by giving its students “a true 21st-century education.”

“I have been really putting a lot of energy around making school exciting,” Adkins said. “It needs to be engaging. I’ve said to several of my administrators, I don’t want teachers wasting kids’ time they’re young. It’s just not fair.”

Stephen Girard, a French-born sea captain, amassed a fortune through shipping, trading and banking after coming to Philadelphia in 1776. He helped the U.S. finance the War of 1812 against Britain and, when he died in 1831, was likely the wealthiest man in America.

Girard left about $6 million (approximately $146 million in today’s money) to the city of Philadelphia, mostly to build and endow a tuition-free school for poor, fatherless white boys. The “college” opened in 1848 and, until now, had been run exclusively by white men. Its first president was Benjamin Franklin’s great-grandson.

The school’s overseers were not looking to make history after the most recent president retired. But they were bowled over by Adkins’ enthusiasm, work ethic, rigorous standards and an impressive resume that includes degrees from the University of Virginia and Columbia University’s Teachers College.

“She is highly intelligent, she is highly driven, she is extremely communicative,” said Peter Shoemaker, chairman of the board of managers. “She has evolved a very clear vision for the school.”

Raised in an upper-middle class Virginia suburb, Adkins’ passion for education was inspired in part by teenage volunteer work in poor neighborhoods. She was struck by the narrow life experiences of the children there, and later wrote in a college application that she dreamed of starting a boarding school for underprivileged students.

Girard is the realization of that dream.

Following high-level posts at the elite Friends Seminary School in New York and Sidwell Friends School in Washington, Adkins arrived last summer at Girard’s 43-acre campus.

The school looks like a slice of New England in rough North Philadelphia: Students in blue and burgundy blazers stroll grassy quads amid stone buildings, playing fields and a soaring chapel. The grandly columned Founder’s Hall the original school building was planned by Thomas Ustick Walter, who designed the dome of the U.S. Capitol.

Yet Girard’s imposing walls and entrance gate became symbols of segregation when trustees refused to admit African-American students. Local activists picketed for months outside the school in 1965; King visited that August, declaring “the walls of segregation would come tumbling down.” In 1968, they did.

Today, most of Girard’s 620 students are black and half are female; all come from low-income families headed by a single parent or guardian. Students are selected based on an assessment test, family interview and, if older than first grade, an academic transcript.

Adkins the descendant of a slave believes Stephen Girard would support diversity and that the restrictions in his will, which she has read, simply reflect the era in which he lived.

The new civil rights struggle, she says, is to make urban education competitive with its suburban peer.

To that end, Adkins plans to broaden the curriculum, modernize the facilities and increase teacher salaries. She also wants to better prepare students for life outside the walls; while nearly all Girard students are accepted to college, less than half get a degree in six years, school officials say.

The school’s $25 million annual budget comes almost entirely from the Girard estate’s securities, real estate and mining investments, which suffered during the recession. Financial records show the trust’s value dropped from $309 million in 2008 to $204 million last year, prompting Adkins to launch aggressive fundraising plans.

“I do have real concerns,” Adkins said. “Will we be able to educate as many children as we should be?”

The new president is a vibrant presence on campus, doling out hugs, handshakes and banter. She hosts small groups of students at the president’s house for “family” meals a chance for Adkins to know them better, and to expose them to sit-down dinners they may not get at home.

“I’ve learned an enormous amount from the students,” Adkins said. “They’re interesting, they’re thoughtful, they’re inquisitive they deserve the kind of education that complements that.”

Sophomore Olayinka Lawal said when she first saw a picture of Adkins last year, she was most struck by the new president being young and female. That Adkins is black was almost an afterthought, Lawal said, coming as it did the same year Barack Obama became the first African-American president.

“It just fit perfectly, it really did,” she said. “It was like, wow, what a mirror!”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

7634: Census Culturally Clueless…?

From The New York Times…

Seeking Cultural Subtlety in 10 Questions

By Fernanda Santos

The Vietnamese version of the 2010 census questionnaire used the words “dieu tra” to describe the population tally — but what the words really conveyed was something like a communist government investigation. On Korean forms, “county” was translated into “nation.” And the Chinese hot line offered information only in Mandarin at first, although elderly Chinese immigrants, who are less likely to be proficient in English, speak Cantonese.

Then there was this: In some questionnaire assistance centers in Queens, where people could get help filling out their forms, census workers instructed countless Bangladeshi to check “Indian” as their ethnicity.

“To have someone identified as something they’re not is not only offensive, but it also drives a misallocation of resources and representation,” said Glenn D. Magpantay, director of the democracy program at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy group based in Manhattan.

So it goes, as the 2010 census tries to count and record New York’s richly and often complexly mixed neighborhoods. There have been mistakes.

Mr. Magpantay and his colleagues were prepared. They wanted to be sure that, among other things, Asians would be counted appropriately — Indians as Indians, Bangladeshi as Bangladeshi, for example — and that the language on the forms matched the nuances of the words used in immigrant households.

The Census Bureau is preparing to send out census takers to households that didn’t return the forms, and they are training the takers to be especially attuned to these cultural differences — and subtle word meanings.

It has tried to hire immigrants as takers and place them in the communities they represent. But the lines and the boundaries aren’t going to be 100 percent clear all the time. Case in point, Mr. Magpantay said, is the Guyanese man who has been assigned to knock on doors in Maspeth, an overwhelmingly white neighborhood in Queens, even though there is a huge Guyanese community in nearby South Richmond Hill.

Lester A. Farthing, New York’s regional census director, said the plan was to match heavily immigrant neighborhoods with census takers who speak the predominant languages there and understand its cultural nuances. That, he said, can go a long way into making people comfortable sharing personal information with the stranger at the door.

Should census takers encounter a person whose language they do not understand, they are to show this person a language card to see whether the language can be identified. Someone who is fluent in that language will contact the home later to finish the job.

Mr. Farthing acknowledged that, with 30,000 questionnaire assistance centers providing help in 60 languages nationwide, mistakes were bound to happen. Still, he took issue with the misinformation given to Bangladeshi in Queens, saying that the centers where the problem happened were staffed by people who receive two days of training at best.

“We tell them that the census is all about self-identification, but there are people who come in and ask, ‘What box do I check here?’” Mr. Farthing said. “The concept of picking a race or an ethnicity for non-American-born folks is not common.”

Mr. Magpantay said that no one knows how many Bangladeshi identified themselves as Indian in the questionnaires, but that the undercount could have meaningful consequences. “If we don’t know the real size of the Bangladeshi population in a neighborhood, how are we going to know if the local hospital needs to have signs in Bangla?” he asked.

He said his organization was exploring legal options to see whether the forms could be tracked and the mistakes corrected. And that they will continue to monitor the operation once the census comes knocking.

7633: Going Strong.

He may be a senior, but the hardest-working man in Black advertising is far from retirement.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

7632: Out Of The Closet And Cage.

Out and about with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The publishers of Archie are planning to introduce the comic series’ first openly gay character—Kevin Keller. The qualifier “openly” is important, as Jughead will continue to remain in the closet.

• T.I. is out of prison, but he has not yet regained the respect he once commanded. The rapper stormed off after being denied access at an ESPN Magazine NFL Pre-Draft party. Let’s hope he didn’t head to the parking lot to grab guns out of his car.

Friday, April 23, 2010

7631: Delayed WTF 6—Early Recruitment.

Over the past few months, MultiCultClassics has been occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occurred without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

The New York Times recently reported on another diversity program designed to lure minority children into the advertising profession. Minneapolis-based BrandLab woos high school students with classroom curricula, internships and scholarships. “We need to attack the challenge at its root cause, lack of knowledge,” said BrandLab advocate John Olson, rather than “responding with the usual bag of tricks like ‘Let’s have an awards show.’” Nice. Bet the folks at ADCOLOR® loved reading that remark. On the other hand, Olson doesn’t seem to realize reaching out to minority youth is hardly an original idea—and could even be categorized as part of the usual bag of tricks. Yes, White adpeople love to play the philanthropic humanitarian role, rescuing at-risk kids by steering them towards Madison Avenue. And the target keeps getting younger and younger. All of which inspired the advertisement below.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

7630: Delayed WTF 5—Diversity Lacks Dollars.

Over the past few months, MultiCultClassics has been occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occurred without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

In March, Advertising Age published a fluff piece on the lack of funding for industry diversity efforts. The insightful revelations were the equivalent of reporting that the sky is blue, the grass is green and Madison Avenue is White.

The story spotlighted a minority mouthpiece from Publicis Groupe who claimed the ad giant “sends dozens of employee women of color, as well as some clients, to a conference to develop leadership skills.” Um, has anyone visited a Publicis-owned shop lately? It’s the White honchos that are in dire need of leadership development. Additionally, Publicis boasts about 44,000 workers worldwide. Sending “dozens of employee women of color” sounds pretty pathetic—unless it’s an admission that there are only a few dozen female minorities among the 44,000.

Why do White adpeople always believe minorities require extra mentoring and training? Honestly, when did the business become rocket science that only Caucasians could master? Walk the halls of any White agency and try to find people with superior intellect or some mystical talent. Most of them are barely qualified to staff the mailroom.

This excerpt is particularly laughable:

At Interpublic, failure to meet diversity objectives on hiring, promotions and retention means cuts in executive incentive pay—and that’s meant real money lost for a number of execs.

OK, but where does that “real money” ultimately go? Does Interpublic funnel it back to hire minorities or even make charitable donations to, say, the United Negro College Fund? Besides, cuts in bonuses don’t hurt highly compensated executives. IPG should cut the managers’ base salary instead—or better yet, terminate them.

Finally, it’s ridiculous to argue that a core problem is a lack of funding. No, the true issue involves a lack of interest, commitment, credibility, etc. As well as a total abundance of exclusionary arrogance, discriminatory practices and outright lies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

7628: Lovable Liars.

Lying around in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• A new poll indicates only 22 percent of Americans trust the government in Washington. These people also trust used car salesmen, lawyers and pathological liars.

• Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty of probation violation, including failure to disclose and surrender tax refunds and gifts from rich people. Kilpatrick is a perfect candidate to work in Washington.

• Oprah Winfrey angrily declared she would not undergo DNA testing to determine if a Mississippi man is her biological father. Which significantly increases the likelihood that the man will appear on The Tyra Show.

7627: Dorothy Height (1912-2010).

From The New York Daily News…

Civil rights leader, former National Council of Negro Women chairwoman Dorothy Height dead at 98

By Rich Schapiro
Daily News Staff Writer

Dorothy Height, the leading female figure of the civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice spanned more than six decades, died Tuesday. She was 98.

Height died from natural causes at Howard University Hospital, the hospital said.

A one-time caseworker for the city’s Welfare Department, Height led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years.

Her influence was pervasive. Height marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and urged President Dwight Eisenhower to desegregate schools.

President Barack Obama called her “the godmother of the civil rights movement” and a hero to Americans.

“Dr. Height devoted her life to those struggling for equality ... and served as the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement — witnessing every march and milestone along the way,” Obama said.

Born in Richmond, Va., in March 1912, Height was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but was denied entrance because the school had already reached its limit of two black students.

She relocated to New York and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University.

While she was still a teenager, Height marched in New York’s Times Square shouting, “Stop the lynching.”

As an activist, Height participated in protests in Harlem and beyond.

In the 1950s and 1960s, she was the leading woman helping King and other activists craft the civil rights movement, regularly urging them to give more responsibility to their female counterparts.

“Having borne witness to discrimination, Dr. Height committed to eradicating intolerance — whether it be against a race, ethnicity, gender, or religion,” Gov. David Paterson said. “She marched with those tired of violence, stood with those ready for change and served for four decades as the leader of the National Council of Negro Women.”

Height became president of the National Council of Negro Women in 1957 and held the post until 1997, when she was 85. She remained chairman of the group.

“I hope not to work this hard all the rest of my life,” she said at the time. “But whether it is the council, whether it is somewhere else, for the rest of my life, I will be working for equality, for justice, to eliminate racism, to build a better life for our families and our children.”

Her tireless activism led to her winning numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

The late activist C. DeLores Tucker once called Height an icon to all African-American women.

“I call Rosa Parks the mother of the civil rights movement,” Tucker said in 1997. “Dorothy Height is the queen.”

7626: Overreaction Of The Week.

The Los Angeles Times reported California is considering easing the rules on black bear hunting. Sure, make it easier to shoot the Black bears.

7625: Delayed WTF 4—The Home Depot Fiasco.

Over the past few months, MultiCultClassics has been occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occurred without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Based on an Advertising Age story from last month, it appears the Richards Group and The Home Depot teamed up to build a Latino advertising agency. And you thought the home improvement retailer was only good for constructing patios, kitchens and bathrooms.

The Home Depot staged a pitch for its Latino advertising chores, setting up competition between major minority shops—including the incumbent Vidal Partnership. But in the end, the $37 million account went to Richards/Lerma, the Latino division of Home Depot’s White agency. To be fair, Richards/Lerma was not created from scratch during the review. According to its website, the sub-agency has been producing work for a few clients. However, nothing on the Richards/Lerma reel would ever make it onto the Richards Group reel—or the Vidal Partnership reel, for that matter. Additionally, the place doesn’t look very busy, as leader Pete Lerma also runs the Richards Group’s digital agency.

Now, this is hardly the first time a White agency has outmaneuvered established minority shops by introducing an enterprise that would be deemed unqualified under any other circumstances. Omnicom pulled a similar stunt when stealing winning multicultural duties on Nissan. Other White agencies like Modernista don’t even bother cobbling together minority ventures when grabbing assignments typically reserved for cultural specialists.

From just about every angle imaginable, these scenarios suck. Clients seem to be saying the premier multicultural shops are not significantly better than a group of relatively unknown folks occupying segregated cubicles within a White agency. On the flipside, White agencies that struggle to diversify their own hallways apparently have no difficulty finding minorities when they need, well, minorities. But if White ad executives are tasked with hiring minorities to handle general market campaigns, there are zero candidates available, and recruiting focuses on inner-city students.

To properly cover up such scandals, simply visit The Home Depot website right here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

7624: Calling Out Cultural Clichés.

Can you stereotype me now? Good.

7623: Delayed WTF 3—Denver Egotist Ignorant.

Over the past few months, MultiCultClassics has been occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occurred without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

MultiCultClassics is not a regular visitor of The Denver Egotist. In fact, the staff of this blog never visits that blog. But a February post by a writer identified as Felix—“So, Are There No Scary Black People Any More?”—warrants a quick response in addition to the current 90+ comments.

To be clear, this isn’t intended to be a direct attack on Felix. Rather, it’s about examining the attitudes and perspectives behind the writing. How many adpeople share Felix’s distorted point of view? Is Felix representing the majority of the industry, or is he simply responding to the affects of high altitude living in Colorado?

The silliness starts with the opening sentence: This could be my most incendiary post to date. As MultiCultClassics has not read any of Felix’s previous posts, it’s difficult to verify the statement. But it’s easy to conclude this could be his most ignorant post to date.

Felix presents a contrived and clichéd rant about perceived political correctness in advertising, yet he serves it up in a politically correct style. He is actually more cautious and defensive than the advertisers he criticizes. While Felix insists he’s being racial versus racist, he fails to see that he’s just culturally clueless—which he’ll likely take as an accusation of being racist. Whatever. Oh, and he also displays stereotypical White male paranoia.

Felix’s use of “facts” is interesting. He believes crime statistics suggest Broadview Security should show greater diversity in its commercial depictions of criminals. Sure, there are disproportionately high numbers of minorities in prisons. But are the majority of minority felons behind bars for failed attempts at breaking into the dwellings of White suburbanites with security systems—while the victims are at home?

Another Felix fact declares, “The actors and models getting the most work these days aren’t white, and they aren’t black. They’re of ‘mixed race,’ meaning that you can’t quite tell what their ethnic background is.” Um, what network is Felix watching? Sorry, you won’t find evidence to support his fact even on SyFy.

In the end, “So, Are There No Scary Black People Any More?” confirms there are plenty of scary stupid White people in the advertising industry. And sadly, too many of them publish blogs.

7622: In Need Of Divine Editing…?

Does this headline look odd to anyone else? Seems like it could have benefited from an extra verb (e.g., Pope has led vigorously on addressing sex abuse).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

7621: Black People Add Flavor.

From The New York Daily News…

Penguin Group Australia forced to reprint ‘Pasta Bible’ over ‘salt and freshly ground black people’

By Soraya Roberts
Daily News Staff Writer

An Australian publishing company must fork over a large amount of cash for a typo that appeared in one of its recently released cookbooks.

Penguin Group Australia had to reprint its “Pasta Bible” last week after one recipe listed “salt and freshly ground black people” instead of pepper, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Penguin had to cook up $18,000 to reprint 7,000 copies of the recipe book.

Head of publishing, Bob Sessions, told the Herald that the “Pasta Bible” would not be recalled as it would be “extremely hard” to do so.

According to Sessions, pepper was spelled correctly every other time it appeared in the book’s 150 recipes. The misprint only occurred once — in a recipe for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto.

“We’ve said to bookstores that if anyone is small minded enough to complain about this very … silly mistake then we will happily replace [the book] for them,” Sessions told the newspaper.

7620: The Colonel Is A Breast Man.

Sorry, but this KFC campaign is patronizing bullshit—plus, it’s filled with potential for lame breast jokes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

7619: NOPD—Rotten Apples Or Rotten Orchard?

From The Times-Picayune…

The New Orleans Police Department’s rotten orchard: An editorial

By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune

Whenever members of the New Orleans Police Department are accused of misconduct or convicted of crimes, Superintendent Warren Riley and police associations have asked New Orleanians not to judge the department based on the actions of “a few bad apples.”

But the recent string of criminal charges and guilty pleas involving police officers, and abominable revelations in some of those cases, demonstrate that the department’s problems are more serious than just having a handful of bad officers. The rotten orchard exposed on the police force has seriously undermined the public’s trust in the department and hurt the many brave and honest men and women on the force who are trying to make the city safer. That’s why prosecutors must complete a thorough cleanup of the department.

This week alone, two officers were accused of committing crimes.

On Thursday, state prosecutors charged Detective Herman Franklin with public payroll fraud for allegedly working private, off-duty details while he was being paid to investigate crimes for the Police Department. Similar abuse by Detective Franklin was first alleged in an internal department investigation revealed last year, which concluded that he had broken state law.

But state prosecutors and top police officials declined to bring criminal charges, instead cutting a secret deal that sent Detective Franklin to a diversion program. That allowed him to keep a clean record and remain on the force.

Detective Franklin’s attorney, Kevin Boshea, said his client has already been sanctioned for the payroll fraud and that the new charges amount to double jeopardy.

Prosecutors said the new charges stem from separate instances of alleged payroll fraud. Filing criminal charges is the right avenue when such abuse is suspected—and it’s good to see prosecutors are doing so now.

Sadly, these were not the most serious criminal allegations made against a police officer this week.

On Friday, federal prosecutors filed charges against Officer Robert Barrios, who was accused of conspiring to obstruct justice in relation to the police shooting at the Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

The charges allege that Officer Barrios conspired with other officers to cover up the shootings, which left two civilians dead and four wounded. He also provided false information to investigators, court documents allege.

The charges appeared in a bill of information, which typically signals the defendant is cooperating with the government and is expected to plead guilty. That would make Officer Barrios the fourth NOPD member to admit to crimes related to the Danziger Bridge incident and the second to do so among the officers who were present during the shootings.

One of those previous guilty pleas, from Officer Michael Hunter last week, described NOPD officers coldly shooting civilians Officer Hunter said were unarmed. The two other officers who also have pleaded guilty in the Danziger probe admitted to being part of a cover up for what they called a “bad shoot” of innocent civilians.

This is the second time Officer Barrios has faced charges in the bridge shootings. In late 2006 a state grand jury charged him with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, for allegedly firing at civilians on the bridge. That case included charges against six other officers as well, but fell apart in 2008 because of prosecutorial misconduct under then-District Attorney Eddie Jordan.

New Orleanians, however, still remember one image from that failed prosecution: The officers charged, included Officer Barrios, wading through a crowd of NOPD members who showed up to embrace the accused as heroes when they reported to Central Lockup on Jan. 2, 2007.

Many officers who demonstrated their support may feel betrayed now that some of their colleagues have admitted to numerous crimes.

Some of the other officers who participated in the Danziger shootings have been identified as targets of the federal probe, though they have not been charged. Their attorneys have said their clients committed no crime, and the officers are entitled to their day in court if they are accused of crimes.

Based on the grotesque corruption described by those who have pleaded guilty so far, New Orleanians expect investigators to aggressively seek justice against anyone who may have committed a crime.

Only then can the department begin removing the stain left by these horrible abuses.

7618: Oprah, Who’s Your Daddy?

From The New York Post…

Mississippi vet claims he’s Oprah’s dad

By Molly Parker Post Correspondent

Kosciusko, Miss.—An ailing, 84-year-old World War II veteran is making a desperate plea to Oprah Winfrey: Please admit I’m your father!

Norh Robinson, a dirt-poor Mississippi farmer now living in a rural VA hospital, wants Oprah to submit to a paternity test that he says would once and for all prove that he sired her in 1954.

Robinson said he dreams of just once speaking with Oprah as father and daughter before he dies—and revealed that, years ago, he tried to reach the talk-show queen to beg her to agree to a DNA test.

“I told her [in a letter], if she wanted, I’d give her one,” Robinson told The Post in an exclusive interview this week.

In the letter, he placed mementos from his life, including his Social Security number and a picture of him from the Navy in World War II, he said.

“I never got no answer,” Robinson told The Post. “I never did get no answer. If I did, it didn’t get to me.”

The vet insisted he wasn’t looking to get his hands on Oprah’s millions.

“I’d like her to call me,” he said.

Oprah’s spokeswoman said the TV host wasn’t available to comment on Robinson’s claims.

Oprah was raised by her mother, Vernita Lee, 75, and Lee’s longtime boyfriend, Vernon Winfrey. She considers Vernon her father but has figured out he isn’t her biological dad.

This week, the National Enquirer reported Robinson’s alleged tie to Oprah.

When reached in Kosciusko—the small town Winfrey ditched a half-century ago—Robinson insisted, “I’m her real father. I haven’t seen her since she was a kid. She was a little bitty thing.”

During a half-hour chat at his hospital, Robinson said that he met Oprah’s mom when they worked in the same part of Kosciusko and that he often drove her to and from work.

“I had to get by her house to get to my daddy’s house because it was on the same road,” he said.

Robinson said he’s looking forward to the day he gets to meet his world-famous daughter.

“She’s taken after her daddy,” he said. “I was a handsome man growing up at that time.”

Additional reporting by David K. Li and Todd Venezia in New York

7617: Black Church History.

From The New York Times…

Call and Response on the State of the Black Church

By Samuel G. Freedman

In the first decade of the American nation, a former slave turned itinerant minister by the name of Richard Allen found himself preaching to a growing number of blacks in Philadelphia. He came to both a religious and organizational revelation. “I saw the necessity,” he later wrote, “of erecting a place of worship for the colored people.”

Allen’s inspiration ultimately took the forms of Bethel African Church, founded in 1794, and the African Methodist Episcopal denomination, established in 1799. As much as it can be dated to anything, the emergence of a formal African-American Christianity can be dated to Allen’s twin creations.

Over more than two centuries since then, the Black Church has become a proper noun, a fixture, a seeming monolith in American society. Its presence is as prevalent as film clips of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering the “I Have a Dream” speech and contestants on “American Idol” indulging in the gospel style of melisma.

In the conventional wisdom that accompanied the popular imagery, the Black Church was regarded by insider and outsider, by ally and opponent, as a fount of progressive politics expressed through the prophetic tradition of Moses, Amos, Isaiah and Jesus.

Now a young scholar has taken a rhetorical wrecking ball to the monolith, and the reverberations are rippling through religious and academic circles of African-Americans. To mix the metaphor, the broader public has been allowed to eavesdrop on the theological equivalent of a black barbershop, a place of glorious disputation that is usually kept out of white earshot.

The debate took off in February when The Huffington Post published an essay by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., a professor of religion at Princeton, under the deliberately provocative headline “The Black Church Is Dead.”

“When I came up with the title, I said, ‘Lord, what am I doing?’ ” Professor Glaude, 41, recalled in a telephone interview this week. “And as I was thinking that, I hit the send key. With the understanding that I would be in the firestorm.”

Early in the obituary, Professor Glaude declared, “The idea of this venerable institution as central to black life and as a repository for the social and moral conscience of the nation has all but disappeared.” He added later, “The idea of a black church standing at the center of all that takes place in a community has long since passed away.”

Professor Glaude argued that many black churches espouse conservative politics, especially on social issues, and have failed to address current liberal causes like health care reform. Ministries devoted to self-help or the so-called health and wealth gospel, some led by whites, draw black followers.

In large measure, Professor Glaude explained in the interview, he wrote the essay in response to two recent developments. The election of Barack Obama, a black Christian, as president has complicated if not blunted the black church’s traditional role of confronting the establishment, “speaking truth to power.” The social conservatism of some black churches meanwhile figured prominently in the ballot measure against same-sex marriage in California and an anti-abortion billboard campaign in the Atlanta area.

There have been internal criticisms of the black church almost as long as there has been a black church. A 19th-century bishop of the A.M.E. denomination scorned call-and-response praise songs as “cornfield ditties.” E. Franklin Frazier, the eminent black sociologist, depicted the church as an obstacle to assimilation. Malcolm X ridiculed Christianity as “the white man’s religion.”

All those precedents notwithstanding, Professor Glaude’s jeremiad brought on the predicted firestorm. A panel of leading scholars of African-American religion published responses on the Religion Dispatches Web site. Professor Glaude debated another one of his peers, Prof. Josef Sorett of Columbia University, on Private e-mail accounts sizzled with contention.

And only some of the criticism dealt with Professor Glaude’s thesis. A fair amount assailed his very right to criticize. As a born Roman Catholic without a church membership presently, and as a faculty member in a privileged university, Professor Glaude was vulnerable to attack from the mainstream of working-class, African-American Protestants.

“I am sick and tired,” went an e-mail message from the Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr., pastor emeritus of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif., “of black academics who are paid by rich, powerful ivy league schools, who have access to the microphone and the ear of the press pontificating about the health of black churches.” The e-mail message continued, “None of these second- or third-generation black academics talk to us in the trenches. They are too elitist to talk to us.”

Lawrence H. Mamiya, a professor of religion at Vassar and co-author of the seminal history “The Black Church in the African American Experience,” levied similar complaints, albeit in less strident language. “Theologians and philosophers like Eddie Glaude don’t go to black churches,” Professor Mamiya said in a telephone interview. “They haven’t been out in the field. And unless you’re in the field, you can’t see what’s happening.” (Professor Glaude’s scholarly specialty is the philosophy of religion; he is not a social scientist regularly engaged in field work.)

Among his own generation of scholars, though, Professor Glaude has received plenty of credit for stirring discussion. “It causes us to complicate how we think about African-American Protestantism,” said Jonathan L. Walton, 36, a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Riverside. “The term ‘black church’ is in so many ways unsubstantiated. So this debate is very healthy.”

One of Professor Glaude’s forebears in criticism, Prof. James H. Cone of Union Theological Seminary in New York, appreciated a certain paradox.

“Eddie Glaude is doing the black church a service,” said Professor Cone, 71, the author of several books of black liberation theology. “By saying it’s dead, he’s challenging the black church to show it’s alive. But the black church, like any institution, does not like criticism from outside the family. It wants to be prophetic against society, but it does not want intellectuals to be prophetic against it.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

7615: Benjamin Hooks (1925-2010).


Former NAACP leader Benjamin Hooks dies

NASHVILLE (AP) — Benjamin L. Hooks, a champion of minorities and the poor who as executive director of the NAACP increased the group’s stature, has died. He was 85.

State Rep. Ulysses Jones, a member of the church where Hooks was pastor, said Hooks died early Thursday at his home, following a long illness.

Hooks became executive director of the NAACP in 1977, taking over a group that was $1 million in debt and shrunk to 200,000 members from nearly a half-million in the 1950s and 1960s. He pledged to increase enrollment and raise money for the organization.

“Black Americans are not defeated,” he told Ebony magazine soon after his induction. “The civil rights movement is not dead. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop agitating, they had better think again. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop litigating, they had better close the courts. If anyone thinks that we are not going to demonstrate and protest, they had better roll up the sidewalks.”

By the time he ended his position as executive director in 1992, the group rebounded, with membership growing by several hundred thousand. Toward this, he created community radiothons to make the public more aware of activities by local NAACP branches and boost membership.

“He came in at a time the NAACP was struggling and gave it a strong foundation. He brought dignity and strong leadership to the organization,” Jones said.

Hooks also created an initiative that expanded employment opportunities for blacks in Major League Baseball and launched a program where corporations participated in economic development projects in black communities.

“The nation best remembers Benjamin Hooks as the leader of the NAACP,” President George W. Bush said in 2007 when he presented Hooks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country’s highest civilian honors. “Dr. Hooks was a calm yet forceful voice for fairness, opportunity and personal responsibility. He never tired or faltered in demanding that our nation live up to its founding ideals of liberty and equality.”

Nearly two decades earlier, Hooks pleaded with Bush’s father, then-President George H.W. Bush, for action on a string of gasoline bomb attacks in the South that killed in December 1989 a federal judge in Alabama and a black civil rights lawyer in Savannah, Ga.

The same month, another bomb was intercepted at an NAACP office in Jacksonville, Fla. and an Atlanta television station received a letter threatening more attacks on judges, attorneys and NAACP leaders.

“We believe that this latest incident is an effort to intimidate our association, to strike fear in our hearts,” he said at the time. “It will not succeed. We intend to go about our business, but we will most certainly be taking precautions.”

Walter Leroy Moody, now 75, was convicted of the killings and other charges in 1997 and remains on Alabama’s death row.

Hooks’ inspiration to fight social injustice and bigotry stemmed from his experience of guarding Italian prisoners of war while serving overseas in the Army during World War II— foreign prisoners were allowed to eat in “for whites only” restaurants while he was barred from them.

When no law school in the South would admit him, he used the GI bill to attend DePaul University in Chicago, where he earned a law degree in 1948. He later opened his own law practice in his hometown of Memphis.

“At that time you were insulted by law clerks, excluded from white bar associations and when I was in court, I was lucky to be called ‘Ben,”’ he once said in an interview with Jet magazine. “Usually it was just ‘boy.”’

In 1965 he was appointed to a newly created seat on the Tennessee Criminal Court, making him the first black judge since Reconstruction in a state trial court anywhere in the South.

“It was a national story for a black in the Deep South to be nominated for a judgeship,” he said years later.

President Richard Nixon nominated Hooks to the Federal Communications Commission in 1972. He was its first black commissioner, serving for five years before resigning to lead the NAACP.

“Hooks’ career as a Federal Communications Commissioner did change the organization,” according to the 1995 book, ‘Commissioners of the FCC.’ “He regarded the minorities and the poor as his constituency.”

At the FCC, he addressed the lack of minority leadership in media and persuaded the commission to propose a new rule requiring TV and radio stations to be offered publicly before they could be sold. Minority employment in broadcasting grew from 3% to 15% during his tenure.

He later was the chairman of the board of directors of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and helped create The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis.

In his last keynote speech to an NAACP national convention in 1992, he urged members who had found financial success to never forget those less fortunate.

“Remember,” he said, “that down in the valley where crime abounds and dope proliferates … where babies are having babies, our brothers and sisters are crying to us, ‘Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?”’

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

7613: Arizona Gets Tough On Immigrants.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Arizona passes strict illegal immigration act
The bill mandates that police determine people’s immigration status if there is a ‘reasonable suspicion’ they are undocumented. Immigrant rights groups say it amounts to a police state.

By Nicholas Riccardi

Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday approved what foes and supporters agree is the toughest measure in the country against undocumented immigrants, making it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in Arizona and allowing local police to determine whether people are in the country legally.

The measure, long sought by opponents of illegal immigration, passed in the state House of Representatives. The state Senate passed a similar measure earlier this year, and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who has not spoken publicly about the issue, is expected to sign the bill.

The bill’s author, State Sen. Russell Pearce, said the law simply “takes the handcuffs off of law enforcement and lets them do their job.”

But police were deeply divided on the matter, with police unions backing it but the state police chief’s association opposed the bill, contending it could erode trust with immigrants who could be potential witnesses.

Immigrant rights groups were horrified, and contended that Arizona had just been transformed into a police state.

“It’s beyond the pale,” said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “It appears to mandate racial profiling.”

The bill prevents any government agency from formulating policies to prevent enforcement of immigration laws and permits citizens to sue if they believe a law enforcement agency is failing to enforce the law.

It requires law enforcement officers who have a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is an illegal immigrant to determine that person’s immigration status “when practicable.” Previously, police who wanted to inquire about immigration status could only do it after stopping people for possibly violating other laws.

A provision in the bill states that race or ethnicity cannot be the sole grounds for asking about immigration status, but civil rights groups note that authorities are not barred from using them along with other factors that raise suspicions.

The measure also makes it illegal to solicit work as a day laborer or to hire day laborers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

7612: International Cultural Clichés…?

Advertising Age published the story below on military recruitment advertising for Afghanistan. The campaign allegedly taps into cultural insights with efforts that include appealing to one’s sense of pride, inspiring feelings of community and honoring family. In other words, it’s a complete mirror of U.S. multicultural clichés efforts.

U.S. Military Goes Native in Afghanistan Ad Push

Former P&G Marketer Lt. Col. Allen McCormick Turns to One of Few Local Agencies Around for a Positive Campaign Built on Cultural Insight

By Laurel Wentz

NEW YORK — Outdoor, TV and radio ads starring cuddly babies and folkloric warriors are spreading across Afghanistan, a country that’s seen so little advertising that finding a local agency was one of the first hurdles of mounting a campaign. But the U.S.-backed push is using insights into traditional Afghan culture to try to encourage a war-ravaged population to help build a more peaceful nation.

The soldier-marketer behind the effort, Lt. Col. Allen McCormick, is deploying the marketing expertise he gained at Procter & Gamble and other U.S. companies to target Afghan citizens.

“The [U.S.] military does two of three things well—they know who they want to reach and what they want to say, but they don’t know how to say it,” said Mr. McCormick, who is chief of information operations and psychological operations (PSYOP) for the U.S.’s combined joint task force in eastern Afghanistan.

Despite the often dismal situation in the country, Mr. McCormick was interested in seeking a more positive alternative to the messaging already being used by the military and other operators in theater.

“A lot of messages are about countering IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and suicide bombers,” McCormick said. “They use images of death and destruction. I don’t need to show people that in ads—they see enough of it. I wanted to show them something beautiful. The last thing they need is a billboard of a guy carrying the bloody body of his son and saying, ‘Don’t support suicide bombers.’”

A partner
But before dealing with the messaging, Mr. McCormick had another challenge: finding a local agency that could develop strategy and ads “with Afghan consumer insight and be true to Afghan culture and norms.”

He found Lapis. “Traveling by helicopter throughout a combat zone in body armor to hear a response to an RFP is a big change from New York, Chicago or L.A.,” Mr. McCormick said.

The Kabul-based agency, owned by Moby Group, was started in 2002 by a family of four siblings who returned to Afghanistan and filled the country’s media gap themselves by opening a wide range of businesses—TV and radio stations, a production company, an ad agency and a record label—in which they had no prior experience but are now the market leaders.

“Our real mission is to develop Afghan capabilities,” said Mr. McCormick, who spends much of his time visiting local villages with the Afghan army.

The ad campaign has three themes, each backed by radio, TV, print and billboards.

The first, called “Guardians,” is intended to improve the image of the Afghan army by forging an almost romantic connection with the country’s long folkloric tradition of warriors who protect their people.

“It creates an emotional and iconic imagery that’s easy to understand, in almost a movie poster format,” said Cyrus Oshidar, the creative lead for the campaign at Lapis. “The warrior concept was researched and found appealing to young Afghan males. In a country ravaged by war, with a certain air of cynicism, they can have a sense of pride and hope.”

Focus groups thought the traditional warrior figure didn’t look strong enough, so the ad was reshot, Mr. McCormick said.

The second theme is governance, illustrated with images of hands holding objects, from bricks to ballots, to help rebuild Afghanistan with the tagline, “The future of Afghanistan is in your hands.”

The third and final part, which involved a widespread casting call for cute babies, is “New Afghan, New Afghanistan.”

Each of six different ads features a baby, with his name, birth date and province, and a welcoming message. The copy makes clear the responsibility to raise children well and the stark choices faced in a war-torn country. One ad, celebrating the birth of Massoud Sanjeer, is headlined: “Suicide Bomber. Or Doctor?”

“It’s a very tribal country, but a common thread is love and passion for children, especially sons,” Mr. McCormick said. One lesson he learned was that in the completely male-dominated Afghan culture, the babies all had to be boys, and the ad copy focused on males.

Ads started breaking in January and all three themes—security, governance and development—will be running by this month and will continue until later in the year, although McCormick returns to the U.S. in May when his one-year tour of duty ends. An active-duty officer earlier in his career, he stayed in the reserves after leaving the military and working as a marketing manager at Revlon, at creative agencies and in game development, and at P&G.

Although it’s too early for formal post-testing, he said initial response to the ads has been favorable, and many vanish from billboards to be put up in peoples’ homes.

For Afghan siblings, an unlikely rise to media moguls
The four Mohseni siblings, founders of Afghanistan’s 700-person Moby Group, didn’t set out to be media moguls back in 2002. After growing up in the West, they planned to return to Afghanistan as venture capitalists, but the businesses they wanted to invest in didn’t exist. So they had to start them.

The Mohsenis—former investment banker Saad, administrator Jahid, lawyer Zaid and their only sister, Wajma, who had worked in marketing—opened radio and TV stations, playing songs that hadn’t been heard during the five years music was banned under Taliban rule until 2001.”We were the only ones playing music,” said Moby Group CEO Jahid Mohseni.

Potential advertisers needed an agency, so the Mohsenis started Lapis, and then a production company that produces 14 hours a day of programming and TV commercials. Few people have internet access, so they opened cyber-café chain AndeshaGah.

“TV ads used to cost $1 for a 30-second commercial,” said Jahid Mohseni. “We’ve created the market, in terms of the ad side.” Ad rates have risen considerably, but discounting is widespread.

Stepping up
Their most daring venture is “Afghan Star,” the “American Idol”-like hit show Moby created five years ago. At first, Afghans found it strange to put people who couldn’t really sing on TV. For many who texted a vote for their favorite performer, it was the first vote they ever cast. (They also learned that if their candidate loses, they’re not supposed to seek revenge.) The first season, contenders who were eliminated lost their tempers—and saw their tirades broadcast on TV. “Contestants are more PR savvy now,” Mr. Mohseni said.

The show airs on Moby’s Tolo TV, and wins up to an 80% audience share. There are no TV ratings in Afghanistan, Mr. Mohseni said, but a show’s popularity can be roughly gauged by how many people are in the street, rather than at home potentially watching TV, which reaches about 60% of the population.

Each season’s finale is an eagerly awaited concert in a country with little entertainment. Last year Moby’s Kaboora Production company co-produced a documentary called “Afghan Star,” focusing on a single season of the show and four young contestants, including a woman who risked her life by dancing on stage.

The documentary was a winner at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, and Saad Mohseni, executive producer of the “Afghan Star” TV show, told Jon Stewart in an interview on “The Daily Show”: “It’s a form of rebellion … this is how you make a stand, by singing.”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

7611: 10 More U.S. Census Questions.

1. The official United States Census 2010 envelope reads: U.S. Census Form Enclosed YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW. So why did they have to run an advertising campaign?

2. Was the U.S. Census’ decision to include the Negro designation approved by its Negro ad agency?

3. What percentage of the total marketing budget actually went to minority ad agencies?

4. Does anyone have the guts to eventually reveal the response rates by audience, demonstrating whether or not the minority ad agencies were more effective than their White counterparts?

5. How much free editorial content was created as a result of GlobalHue’s shakedown tactics?

6. How closely will the racial and ethnic makeup of Madison Avenue match the U.S. Census 2010 results?

7. What was the racial and ethnic makeup of the Draftfcb team responsible for the idiotic Christopher Guest campaign?

8. Why doesn’t Jeff Tarakajian, Leader Team Census 2010 and EVP Draftfcb, continue to defend his work?

9. Will the direct marketing douchebags at Draftfcb insist the 52 percent response rate is awesome by junk mail standards?

10. Does anyone think it’s necessary to send a questionnaire to the public, asking for its opinions on the advertising campaign—or is it safe to presume people thought the work sucked?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

7610: Biased Bow Wow.

From The Chicago Sum-Times…

‘Racist’ dog defended after attack

Gannet News

YONKERS, N.Y.—A dog said to have a tendency to bark at minorities is being called “racist”—a charge its owner, Paul Tocco, denies.

A year ago, the animal, Jenna, bit Andrew Owens, a black handyman at Valley Oil, a heating oil business that Tocco’s family runs.

Recently, the 58-year-old Owens “egged on” the barking dog, which was chained outside the business, police said.

Owens then pulled out a 9-inch folding knife and slashed the dog across the face, through the eye socket, police said.

He admitted to the crime and was charged with felony aggravated cruelty. In explaining the incident, Tocco first told a local reporter that the dog had it in for Owens—and other minorities, for that matter.

“The dog reacts to black people, Hispanics, anyone who is not white,” Tocco said. “She always barked at him [Owens]. He was well aware the dog didn’t like him, and he knew to stay away from her.”

Tocco is now backing off that statement, and several other people who know and love the 4-year-old canine have come to Jenna’s defense, saying she’s no racist and, in fact, has many black and Hispanic friends.

“All of my friends are minorities, and the dog has never attacked any of them,” said Richard Lopez, 20, a Hispanic who once lived with Tocco and helped take care of Jenna. “She wouldn’t harm a fly.”