Tuesday, May 31, 2011

8841: One More Defense Of Naomi Campbell.

Mostly due to her diva—and criminal—tendencies, it’s hard to rally behind Naomi Campbell in her dispute with Cadbury. Nonetheless, MultiCultClassics will momentarily play diva advocate to offer chocolate food for thought.

First, everyone insisting the Cadbury campaign is not offensive should know this blog continues to believe that no individual may decide for others whether or not someone/something is racist. People draw their own conclusions in such matters based on personal perspectives and experiences.

Try to consider the situation via Campbell’s primarily British point-of-view, especially since the Cadbury campaign appeared in the U.K. From a pure numbers angle, Blacks are more of a minority in Britain versus the U.S.—with many sources indicating the British Black population to be as low as 2-3 percent. Even Campbell’s critics grudgingly admit, “Chances are Naomi Campbell suffered a similar experience to many other Black children growing up in Britain—being teased in school about her skin looking like chocolate.”

Additionally, this is not the first time Campbell has objected to being associated with chocolate. In the other instance, she was literally labeled a “chocolate soldier,” yet her position was the same: White people and corporations should not be calling colored people chocolate. Hell, it can be a problem when Black people refer to Black people with the word, as evidenced by former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s “Chocolate City” remark.

Finally, it doesn’t help that the advertising industry has a history of exclusivity and insensitivity. Plus, Cadbury has been guilty of displaying racial ignorance in the past—and the candy company is minimally guilty of using Campbell’s name without her permission. It’s absolutely possible that the message is another example of cultural cluelessness brought to you by White adpeople and clients.

Granted, this spectacle is about chocolate rather than, say, Black jelly beans. That should not, however, diminish Campbell’s right to feel insulted.

But just to complicate matters further, the image illustrating this post came from Consumption by David LaChapelle—a series of photographs addressing the excesses and overindulgence of modern society. The title of the piece? Naomi Campbell: Chocolate Playmate.

8840: Campbell-Cadbury An Example Of Racist Ads.

From NewsOne…

Why Campbell Should Throw Her Proverbial Cell Phone At Cadbury

Written by Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Some think the Naomi Campbell controversy over Cadbury comparing the deep-hued beauty to a chocolate bar is silly. After all, this woman abuses maids and cavorts with a married man. There are more serious problems in the world, and Naomi Campbell is the cause of some of them; but, personality flaws aside, one can be both a perpetrator and a victim. In the looming case of Cadbury versus Naomi, Ms. Campbell makes a compelling argument for racism in advertising that has a documented history. Naomi Campbell might sue Cadbury for calling her “chocolate” in a recent ad — but if she does, she will be giving advertisers what they deserve. Taking a needed stand against their willful perpetuation of stereotypes could redeem for Naomi Campbell’s own sordid history.

Racism in ads began with the advent of the popular press and continued openly through the mid-20th century. An extremely popular theme for soap advertising of the older era promoted the idea that washing black skin white was a testimony to a product’s power. Fast forward to today — a recent ad for Dove body wash illustrated the same idea in an understated fashion. By featuring a black model in the “before” area of the ad in front of crusty brown skin, and a white woman “after” using Dove in front of a creamy dermis, the advertiser recreated the old story line: Dove soap is so good, it will wash a black girl white!

How did this happen? Even if this was not the intention, it was read that way by so many people, it spurred Internet-wide rage. Dove’s claim? Ignorance.

Or take the Duncan Hines Hip-Hop cupcakes fiasco. This cake company was truly shocked that black people would find the beat-boxing, Sambo confections (goggled-eyed, thick-lipped and dripping with cocoa brown “skin”) anything but entertaining. Anyone with two shreds of cultural awareness would not have put this ad together — let alone promoted it to millions as a wholesome statement from a popular family brand. And yet it was done, by people who — again — “didn’t know.”

Unconscious race complexes continue to live on as iconic black stereotypes in advertising, because ad creators won’t own up to their ignorance. Thus we have the repetition of offensive images, and the confusion about why they are so bad. The only antidote to this process is sensitivity, awareness and knowledge. Ignorance of the racist past and the way ads make people of color feel (because WE remember racism’s history) can no longer be an acceptable excuse. Today there are too many remedies.

And in this case, Cadbury knew. British publication The Guardian reports that this is in fact the THIRD TIME this candy company has come under fire for offending the black community. “We didn’t know” in Cadbury’s case really means they just don’t care about previous accusations — and it is this type of conscious blindness that advertisers must immediately stop.

These image makers need to take responsibility for how they depict black skin for their financial advantage. And Naomi Campbell is the woman to make them take it.

Some think Naomi Campbell should not use her cultural clout to combat racism in advertising, saving her power to fight more concrete issues affecting blacks in her country. I don’t agree. No one will make these image creators get the racial education they obviously need if they are not faced with consequences. There are plenty of courses on race and the media, lots of examples of old racist advertising online, and many other ways the “we just didn’t know” problem could have been buried as dead long ago. But these problems still exist. Why? Let’s get real about it.

Advertising is one of the most discriminatory industries in the United States, with studies showing it to be 40% more difficult for blacks to achieve success in this field than in general business. Based on Cadbury’s horrible legacy, the same might be true for England. There must be a correlation between this fact and the “lack of knowledge” blamed for recurrent racism in ads. Within the industry, and through the images it projects, advertisers’ lack of responsibility for racial ignorance creates real social and emotional problems blacks.

Naomi has a chance to use her fiery personality to fight a real enemy — this time becoming a warrior for advertising equality. I hope she leads the charge.

8839: Equinox Advertising Really Sucks.

Wonder if Equinox recommends special stretching exercises to gain such agility.

8838: Naomi Campbell Calls Cadbury Racist.

The New York Daily News reported on Naomi Campbell’s latest rant involving Cadbury’s use of her name in a print ad. Campbell insists the message is racist. It’s actually not the first time Campbell has objected to being referred to as chocolate, so at least she’s consistent. Not sure how she’d react to the Cadbury Gorilla video.

Naomi Campbell may sue Cadbury for using her name in ‘racist’ chocolate ads

By Lindsay Goldwert, Daily News Staff Writer

Supermodel Naomi Campbell has some not-so-sweet words for Cadbury – You are racist.

The 39 year-old supermodel is furious and offended that the chocolate company used her name in an ad for their Dairy Milk Bliss bar.

“Move over, Naomi, there’s a new diva in town,” the ad copy reads. “I’m the world’s most pampered bar.”

“I am shocked. It’s upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me, but for all black women and black people,” she said, according to the Independent. “I do not find any humor in this. It is insulting and hurtful.”

Campbell is reportedly considering “every option available” after Cadbury, owned by the US giant Kraft, refused to pull the ad campaign, which ran in newspapers last week.

Activist groups in the U.K. are calling on people to boycott the brand.

Simon Woolley of the group Operation Black Vote told the Independent that he has written to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in the U.S. “I want them to know what their parent company is doing in Europe. I’ve asked them to support us.”

Woolley said that ads like Cadbury’s are even more galling in light of President Barack Obama’s visit to the U.K. last week.

“It’s particularly galling because we’ve just had a week that saw the establishment fall over themselves to be close to the Obamas and yet black people are being derided in such an insulting and negative way,” he said.

A spokesperson for Cadbury insisted that while the ad campaign was “a light-hearted take on the social pretensions of Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss,” the campaign was “no longer in circulation.”

The ad was likely referencing Campbell’s infamous anger issues.

The model pleaded guilty to assaulting a pair of police officers in 2008 at Heathrow Airport in London. A year earlier, Campbell pleaded guilty to hitting her housekeeper with a crystal-studded BlackBerry. She was also accused of slapping and beating her assistant with a cell phone in 2005 and pleaded guilty in 1998 to assaulting another assistant with a telephone.

Still, Woolley thinks the company should be ashamed of itself.

“Racism in the playground starts with black children being called ‘chocolate bar’. At best, this is insensitive, and at worst it demonstrates Cadbury’s utter disregard for causing offence,” he said. “Its lack of apology just adds insult to injury. The Eurocentric joke is not funny to black people.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

8837: Recognition Overdue.

From The Washington Post…

Memorial Day parade includes tribute to the only all-black Ranger unit in Army history

By Susan Kinzie

Just before he jumped out of the plane over North Korea, Herculano Dias’s commander told him that he and his unit were about to make history: The first Army Rangers to parachute in behind enemy lines, and the first Ranger unit made up entirely of black men.

At that moment, Dias was mostly just hoping to land without getting shot and once on the ground, to help take the highest hill in the area.

They were successful that day 60 years ago, seizing critical ground back from the enemy. History was made. And then, largely, forgotten.

The Korean War, sandwiched between two conflicts that defined generations, is often called the Forgotten Victory. And this elite unit, the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne), was never well known. But on Monday, Dias and five other local men were honored at the National Memorial Day Parade, riding a float fluttering with red, white and blue streamers high above a crowd cheering for them.

“It’s beautiful,” said Winston (better known as Action) Jackson, 83, of the District, to finally get recognition. “It’s unbelievable.”

The surviving members are all in their 80s, some with hearing aids, some with trembling hands — and one who was recently told he had just one month to live. But they remember: Dias remembers stepping off the train at Fort Bragg and seeing segregation for the first time in his life, with signs for “colored” and “white.” Donald Allen remembers eating rattlesnake during the grueling Ranger training, and watching the snow turn red as another soldier bled to death after a guerilla attack. Paul Lyles remembers picking up something and his buddy in the foxhole yelled at him to throw it away fast— it was a grenade. Jackson remembers that the first time he saw a parachute was the first time he jumped. Allen remembers a soldier dying in his arms just days after they got to Korea, and the prayer he said for him.

“We’ve been trying for years to tell our story,” Dias said, gathering memories into a book and knowing time was running out as they kept going to more funerals.

He joined the U.S. Army like many men of his generation, because although he had good enough grades to go to college, his parents didn’t have enough money to pay tuition. They were immigrants from the Cape Verde Islands and didn’t know about scholarships or options other than working in the factories or joining the service.

But Dias liked the Army right away — with eight brothers and sisters, he said with a laugh, it was the first time he got to sleep in his own bed. And he did well, volunteering for and advancing to the elite unit.

The training was brutal; some men died before they ever went overseas. They learned to parachute at night, shelter in their ponchos, sleep in snow. “It was tough, tough training, and of course our commander did not want us to fail,” he said.

Dias didn’t get angry about segregation until he was on his way to Korea. The ship stopped in Hawaii and the soldiers, white and black, went on shore leave to drink and have some fun but some of them were blocked from entering certain establishments.

“They say, ‘You guys can go in. You guys can’t.’ Our white brothers could go in,” Dias said. He started to argue with the police officer who had stopped them, and the officer then raised a billy club, he said, but his men stepped in and they went back to the ship. Dias said he was so angry he was in tears. “Here we are volunteering to go fight in Korea, and we can’t even go in a lousy dime-a-dance joint.”

Almost as soon as they got to the war zone they lost a soldier in a guerilla attack. And just days afterward, they had one of their bloodiest battles, trying to fight their way out of an ambush.

They were hungry, and cold; they got frostbite. Then they were told they were going to jump behind enemy lines.

It was March 23, 1951, when they jumped at the 38th parallel, and fought their way to the top of the hill in a couple of hours. “We felt great, because it was a historical day, and our mission was a success.”

They lost one man that day. He was Dias’s good friend.

And so every Memorial Day, Dias, who now lives in Savage, remembers that victory, and remembers that loss. He visits his friend’s grave. For years, he helped organize small-town parades, riling up his fellow veterans to march. “It’s important to remind people of the guys that didn’t come back,” he said.

On Monday, he said, “All veterans are thinking about the guys that are getting killed in Afghanistan right now. But especially the guys that we knew that we left behind.”

So he and the five men from his unit donned their uniforms Monday despite the blazing heat and lifted their Ranger caps from time to time to wipe off the sweat, drank Ga¬tor¬ade, and shared old memories — and a few laughs.

“Did you ever see a man sleep with his eyes open?” Jackson said, jabbing Lyles. “This one does!”

“He tried to ‘borrow’ $50 from me,” Lyles deadpanned. “I never closed my eyes again.”

On the float, as high-school girls twirled flags, tubas glinted in the sun, and troops in camo marched, the six men looked at the crowds of people sitting on curbs or craning for a better view, waving small flags. Dias snapped a photo of the Washington Monument.

Regina Burkett, 43, who was visiting from Washington state, flashed them a huge smile and waved to them as the float rolled by. She said she hadn’t heard of their unit but would look it up as soon as she got home. “That’s our history right there.”

Learn more about the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) here.

8836: Oh, Baby, Gerber Spots Are Yucky.

It looks like these Gerber Generation commercials were executed by, well, toddlers. The boy playing the spoons almost works because of the quick cuts. But the juggling girl is so poorly animated, she’s not cutesy—she’s creepy.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

8835: Golden Corral Gets A Golden Shower.

Golden Corral has produced behind-the-scenes videos of their commercial productions. The restaurant chain declared, “You love the ads, so we are granting you behind-the-scenes access to our latest Seafood Lover’s Paradise commercial shoot…” Um, don’t recall ever professing affection for the spots. In fact, here’s a sampling of comments left at YouTube for various versions:

God he’s such a douche with all of his lame puns.

Golden Corral…please stop this set of advertisements. They’re not funny, and everyone hates that guy. Plus, there aren’t even Golden Corrals near me, so I hate these commercials even more.

That man has to be the ugliest-looking person in human history.

I wish that Golden Corral waiter would get mauled by a rabid dog. He’s so smug and annoying.

Does anybody else find this offensive? I’m sorry, but I feel like this commercial is mocking white people and traditional American food. You might as well have a white family asking for some “soul food.”

Wow, all of you are fucking annoying, and that one guy that says those stupid lines is the biggest [douche] of you all. I hope you all die and rot in hell!

8834: Laurel Cutler Cuts to The Chase.

From Advertising Age…

Laurel Cutler on How to Win in a Future With No Mass Market

Advertising Hall of Fame Inductee and Futurist on why Marketers Need to Be ‘Intensely Pleasing’ the Few

By Rance Crain

Laurel Cutler is a futurist, and she doesn’t like what she sees on the horizon and further out.

I was talking with Laurel at her Park Avenue apartment for a video interview on the occasion of her induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame, and I brought up something she said some years ago about consumers searching for “the deep that unites us.” But, she said back then, “we’re too occupied with what divides us and the differences that separate us.”

I said to Laurel that her words describe the current political landscape. She replied that they’re more true now than when she said them.

“I think we are so divided we are absolutely paralyzed now. I don’t know how to get out of it. I’m terribly discouraged. We all should be. Division ain’t gonna get us anywhere.

“You know, it took me a long time to understand that a group of medium intelligent people could outthink one genius. But it’s true. If you do it together and you collaborate, you can do extraordinary things. But we’re not together and we don’t collaborate, and we’re not getting anything done.”

Laurel contended that the most serious problem in the country “is the fact that the gap between the rich and the poor is so enormous, and the middle class has lost its footing. I think that is horrifying and tragic.”

Laurel has said that if the ‘80s were the Me Decade, the ‘90s were the Re Decade, as consumers renewed, restructured, reengineered and reprioritized “to regain a sense of control and simplify their lives.” So, I asked her, where are we now? She paused a moment and answered: “The No Decade.”

Laurel got into the futurist business by way of marketing planning. She was working for the ad agency Leber Katz Partners (which later merged with Foote, Cone & Belding), and she was the first person to bring marketing planning to the U.S. “I didn’t invent marketing planning. It was being done all over the U.K., and being done particularly well by JWT in the U.K. I stole it. I absolutely stole it. I said, ‘Why aren’t we doing that in the United States? It’s a very good way to do advertising, and it would be new and revolutionary in the United States.’” The name, she said was Stanley Katz’s. “I hated the name. I would have called it planning. Marketing planning has always struck me as a terrible name. But Stan was usually right, and he was my boss.”

Stan Katz also played a big role in making Laurel one of the most prominent futurists in the industry. “He said to me one day, ‘Sit down and tell me what’s going to happen to the tobacco market in five years’ time.’ I said ‘How in the hell do I know?’ He said, ‘Figure it out.’ So he locked me in an office for 20 days, and I figured it out.”

Laurel said she has never been very popular with the research crowd “because I think research is after the fact, and what we did was before the fact. And I don’t think there is any available research on the future. You have to use your head and your thinking and history and guesswork. It’s really elaborate guesswork.”

Laurel also believes that now and in the future there is no mass market. “Delight the few, attract the many” is her mantra.

“You are a lot better off intensely pleasing a niche that can grow than you are boring most people. And if they’re not … intensely involved, they’re not going to buy it anyway. And we worry too much about offending the people who don’t care about the proposition to begin with.” Laurel has worked for General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, and she says the car companies “didn’t even think about the market they were dealing with. They didn’t acknowledge consumers. … When I was in Detroit they thought their customer was the dealer.”

Laurel maintains that the car guy’s job is to develop products that consumers either love or hate, rather than vehicles that everybody likes a little.

“That’s where mass businesses are. Nobody cares a hell of a lot, but nobody dislikes it enough to kill it. That’s the wrong proposition. The right proposition is marvelous. Only two people think so. [Then] there will be 10. There will be 40. There will be 100. There will be 1,000. There will be a business.”

8833: Broad View Of Women To Watch.

Advertising Age presented its annual special report titled, “Women to Watch,” and this year’s list featured a handful of minorities including Priscilla Brown, Candace Matthews, Lisa Price, Janet Rolle, Desiree Rogers, Bonita Stewart and Annie Young-Scrivner—although the majority of the minorities are not from advertising agencies.

8832: Evolving Multicultural Targeting.

From Advertising Age…

Where Does Multicultural Targeting Fit in a Diverse World?

Race, Ethnicity Important in Reaching Socially Savvy Consumers, but Not as Much as You Might Think

By Matt Carmichael

Advertisers on Facebook can single out profiles of married men who love cats, but what they can’t target is Hispanics. Or blacks. Or Asians.

That’s not to say social networks can’t still arrive at certain conclusions.

When Andrew Speyer got engaged, he and his fiancee didn’t change their relationship statuses on Facebook. But after friends started congratulating them with wall posts, ads began popping up offering the services of rabbis that perform interfaith ceremonies. Somehow, Facebook discerned that, unlike him, his fiancee was Jewish, although that wasn’t explicit in her profile.

Mr. Speyer, VP-head of strategy at Wing, a Hispanic marketing agency owned by Grey Advertising, feels his experience isn’t uncommon. Mention a brand in a status update and watch it appear as a page you might “like.” Facebook enables marketers to reach huge population swaths or a segment of fewer than 50 profiles—about 0.000008% of Facebook users. All planners have to do is toggle through a list of demographic and behavioral variables and watch the pie slice get thinner.

But think about this for a moment: An ad platform created by a millennial originally for other millennials—the most diverse U.S. generation ever—accounts for nearly one in three online ad impressions and spans all demographics, but it doesn’t ask for your race or ethnicity on your profile. It therefore can’t explicitly target in this key way. Nor can MySpace, or LinkedIn or Twitter.

While that might suggest race and ethnicity are no longer important when it comes to targeting a young, socially savvy consumer, that’s not exactly true.

But demographic targeting in general is under renewed assault from several directions. Nielsen and CBS recently partnered on a research project aiming to replace age and gender targeting for TV, claiming higher correlation of purchasing intent using behavioral data.

Meanwhile, JD Power and Associates just released a white paper formalizing an opinion it had held for years: that targeting based on buyer profiles of its 28 vehicle segments was more effective than targeting the demographic profile most likely to buy a certain type of car.

So do demographics still fit into the marketing landscape?

“The delivering of a message about a product or a service is best done when the advertiser understands the lens through which a consumer is viewing both the culture they’re in … and how their own experiences map onto it,” said U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves.

While behavioral targeting can be critical, the more data you have on the consumer, the better picture you can draw. “We tend to want to simplify and specify and people are outstanding at having simultaneous identities,” said Wing’s Mr. Speyer.

In addition, the younger consumers don’t necessarily use the same identity frameworks marketers are used to dealing with. Multiracial children are the fastest-growing youth demographic according to the 2010 Census. “The need to look at demographics might be growing instead of shrinking,” said Kevin Brockenbrough, VP-associate director of account planning at African-American-focused agency Burrell, Chicago. “Unless you look at what’s motivating behavior, I’m not sure you’re taking full advantage of it. And what motivates it might be tied back to demographics.”

So it can be short-sighted to ignore large demographic cohorts. “There’s often a gap between the share of the population and the share held by a brand,” said Gustavo Razzetti, chief strategy and engagement officer at Grupo Gallegos. “If you want to grow your brand, [Hispanics are] the market that is growing.”

But it’s also dangerous to overgeneralize. “Grouping Hispanics together and making statements about them ignores a huge variation on all sorts of attributes,” said Mr. Groves.

8831: Dead Fish From Long John Silver’s.

The last recalled news about Long John Silver’s appeared in January 2011, when Advertising Age reported Yum! Brands sought to sell off the fish food chain, along with A&W. Before that story ran, in July 2007 Adweek reported the creative duties for Long John Silver’s had been won by Northlich—and the Cincinnati-based agency features fishy commercials on its website. Not sure if Northlich is responsible for the spots currently running, but the work is worse than awful.

Why is a gleeful lunatic bursting uninvited into a family’s kitchen—as well as on the front porch—with LJS food?

And the grinning sidekick presenting the seafood feast justifies use of the R-Word.

8830: Madison Avenue Avoids Diversity Fairs.

Diversity Career Fairs are being held nationwide, and the list of attending employers includes many prominent advertisers—and zero advertising agencies.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

8829: The Air Force Flies Economy Coach.

The Air Force declares, “We only hire one kind of person. The best.”

However, the best only warrants royalty-free stock photography.

8828: Glee Is A Four-Letter Word.

Go check out Jim Edwards at BNET, as he examines the Glee PSA that seeks to persuade everyone to stop using the word “retard” by depicting people uttering a slew of slurs. “The R-Word is the same as every minority slur,” declares Jane Lynch. “Treat it that way, and don’t use it.” Ugh. This sort of shock tactic is never really impressive—and likely not effective. Besides, Lynch’s willingness to prostitute herself for any advertiser that comes knocking weakens her credibility in this instance; in fact, it’s almost insulting to watch the woman here. Then again, MultiCultClassics is no Glee fan. Or Lynch groupie.

8827: Death Race 2011.

A commercial hyping the Indianapolis 500 has been running a lot on ABC and ESPN, although MultiCultClassics can’t find it online. The spot essentially glorifies the potential to witness deadly crashes, as a speeding car literally flips through the air—via perfect slow-motion effects—and disintegrates in a fiery explosion. Guess Indy 500 promoters know what their audience wants to see.

Also, check out the image below from the official Indy 500 website. Were they trying to create a sense of diversity by finding a shot with a few Black dudes in the crowd?

8826: Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011).


Musician Gil Scott-Heron dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Musician Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” but saw his brilliance undermined by a years-long drug addiction, died Friday at age 62.

A friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for his Manhattan recording company, said he died in the afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a trip to Europe.

“We’re all sort of shattered,” she said.

Scott-Heron was known for work that reflected the fury of black America in the post-civil rights era and also spoke to the social and political disparities in the country. His songs often had incendiary titles — “Home is Where the Hatred Is,” or “Whitey on the Moon,” and through spoken word and song, he tapped the frustration of the masses.

Yet much of his life was also defined by his battle with crack cocaine, which also led to time in jail. In a 2008 interview with New York magazine, he said he had been living with HIV for years, but he still continued to perform and put out music; his last album, which came out this year, was a collaboration with artist Jamie xx, “We’re Still Here,” a reworking of Scott-Heron’s acclaimed “I’m New Here,” which was released in 2010.

He was also still smoking crack, as detailed in a New Yorker article last year.

“Ten to fifteen minutes of this, I don’t have pain,” he said. “I could have had an operation a few years ago, but there was an 8 percent chance of paralysis. I tried the painkillers, but after a couple of weeks I felt like a piece of furniture. It makes you feel like you don’t want to do anything. This I can quit anytime I’m ready.”

Scott-Heron’s influence on rap was such that he sometimes was referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected.

“If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating ‘hooks,’ which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion,” he wrote in the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, “Now and Then.”

He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But then he said it was simply “black music or black American music.”

“Because black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we’ve come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us,” he wrote.

Nevertheless, his influence on generations of rappers has been demonstrated through sampling of his recordings by artists, including Kanye West, who closes out the last track of his latest album with a long excerpt of Scott-Heron’s “Who Will Survive in America.”

Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which critiqued mass media, for the album “125th and Lenox” in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was “I’m New Here,” which he began recording in 2007 and was released in 2010.

Throughout his musical career, he took on political issues of his time, including apartheid in South Africa and nuclear arms. He had been shaped by the politics of the 1960s and black literature, especially the Harlem Renaissance.

Scott-Heron was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tenn., and in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Before turning to music, he was a novelist, at age 19, with the publication of “The Vulture,” a murder mystery.

He also was the author of “The Nigger Factory,” a social satire.

8825: C’MON WHITE MAN! Episode 9.

(MultiCultClassics credits ESPN’s C’MON MAN! for sparking this semi-regular blog series.)

Two stories emerged in the past week with similarities worth spotlighting:

Advertising Age published the details of Ogilvy New York CCO Lars Bastholm reaching a “mutual decision” with his bosses to leave the agency after a two-year run.

Adweek published the details of former StrawberryFrog New York CSO Ilana Bryant launching a legal battle with her ex-employer.

In both cases, the agencies originally pursued and wooed the executives, hired them with great fanfare and quickly promoted them—only to decide Bastholm and Bryant were not a good fit and a divisive, negative force, respectively.

There’s an old management rule that reads, “Hire slow, fire fast.” Looks like the aforementioned agencies did the exact opposite, and ultimately wrote a new tenet that rambles, “Hire fast, promote faster, realize the errors slowly, let the situation deteriorate more slowly, seek an exit strategy via ‘mutual decision’ or ‘voluntary resignation’ at a turtle’s pace, make a clumsy announcement with the speed of a crippled snail and draw out the painful affair interminably.” Hell, David Ogilvy probably wants to rise from the grave and bash his disciples’ skulls with a Magic Lantern, while someone should force-feed StrawberryFrog CEO Scott Goodson a strawberry poison-dart frog.

Of course, Ogilvy North American Chairman John Seifert, Ogilvy North American CCO Steve Simpson and Goodson will walk away from the ugly scenarios they created scot-free—as agency staffers ride out the impending political storms and/or lose their jobs.

Seifert once admitted the industry is “not exactly leading the way” in regards to diversity and inclusion. Yet the douchebag clearly demonstrates he can’t even handle hiring White men. On the flipside, Goodson’s antics may succeed in persuading humans of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, disabilities and other cultural categories to avoid the field altogether.


Friday, May 27, 2011

8824: More Commentary On StrawberryFrog.

A slow day at the office led to the following “perspective” created by comments left for Adweek and AgencySpy stories involving the latest StrawberryFrog fiasco. It all demonstrates the stupidity and arrogance of airing dirty laundry in the digital press.

Let me get this straight: [CEO Scott] Goodson gave [former CSO Ilana Bryant] a promotion AND a raise AND a bonus because she was clearly doing a great job. But now Goodson is suing [Bryant] to get back the bonus he gave her because she wasn’t a good employee—in fact, she was SUCH a bad employee that it drove HER to resign? Interesting theory.

Did the other six department heads that recently left also suffer from this similar bizarre phenomenon, where they suddenly became so ineffectual at their jobs that they took it upon themselves to voluntarily depart?

Bryant is an amazing talent—I have worked with her on many occasions and she is as classy and honest as they come. I REALLY hope this woman gets what she has coming. And I hope Goodson gets what he has coming—a gang raping. Go die, Goodson.

I used to work at the Goodson agency. He sabotaged pitches, client relationships and internal decisions. Everyone who works there is smart and dedicated to the work. He does not deserve them. In reality, he’s the liar who blames all of his shortcomings on others. Nothing is ever his fault including layoffs, poor management decisions, senseless hires, poor creative decisions and lost pitches. He lies to your face in order not to accept responsibility. Some leader. Bryant should be excited that she no longer works there. He really is going to run it into the ground. I hope everyone at the agency knows it’s time to get a new job. If he did it to her and everyone else, Goodson will do it to you too.

Oh, we all know Goodson is a wonderful liar. Goodson hires people, promises them the world, assigns them ‘equity’ and generous commissions, etc. When they win him business, he suddenly doesn’t want to pay out, so he undermines them and tries to force them out, hoping they go quietly. How many times has he pulled this shit with his senior people? I’m counting six I can think of right now.

Fuck. Can any of you actually name their clients? Go on. Think about it. Think hard. Guessing Goodson hasn’t been able to sell the cultural movement dream in a long, long time. Brands are wising up to this two-faced hack’s bullshit. They’ll be out of business in a year. Diaper ads. They make very expensive diaper ads.

I never understood why agencies figure that they can get away with robbery. In the long run, it's always easier and better just to pay someone what they’re owed.

Goodson, the shiftiest person in advertising. That karma’s coming for you, dude—and it will be glorious in its might.

8823: Offensive Karma In The NBA Finals.

The NBA Playoffs have been affected by a new phenomenon that bettors and bookies should note: Offensive Karma.

Offensive Karma is defined by a team’s display of offensiveness in the form of words or actions rooted in bigotry, discrimination and ignorance—which then leads to the team’s ultimate demise in the championship tourney.

For example, Kobe Bryant showed offensiveness by hurling an anti-gay slur at a referee, earning a $150,000 fine from the league. The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the Western Conference series.

LeBron James showed offensiveness with his “retarded” remark. However, James was trumped by Joakim Noah, who directed an anti-gay slur at a rude fan, earning a $50,000 fine. The Chicago Bulls fell to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

At this point, James’ offense now rises to the top. So place your money on the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Championship.

Unless Dirk Nowitzki suddenly reveals his closet allegiance to Nazism.

8822: Y&R&WTF.

Ads Of The World posted a peculiar campaign for Millward Brown from Y&R Brazil.

Even more peculiar is the 2009 print ad below from Y&R South Africa.

8821: Brainless On Madison Avenue.

The New York Times reported on the recent Nielsen acquisition: NeuroFocus, a firm specializing in studying brain wave activity for marketing purposes. Ironically, the advertising agencies most likely interested in the service would register zero brain wave activity among senior-level executives.

A Nielsen Acquisition Focused on Brain Waves

By Stuart Elliott

The Nielsen Company has acquired the rest of a company, NeuroFocus, that specializes in the nascent realm of researching whether neuroscience can be applied to advertising.

Nielsen said on Thursday that it now owned 100 percent of NeuroFocus; Nielsen bought a 30 percent stake in the company in 2008. The financial terms were not disclosed.

NeuroFocus specializes in measuring brain wave activity. It is among several companies seeking to delve into the motivation behind consumer behavior.

Those research efforts have generated some controversy over how such research ought to proceed — and whether it is worth pursuing.

The deal was announced three days after Mediapost said it was going to be made. At that time, Nielsen declined to comment on Mediapost’s report.

NeuroFocus, which is based in Berkeley, Calif., will become part of the Nielsen product innovation practice, Nielsen said, and would continue to be led by its chief executive, A.K. Pradeep.

Mr. Pradeep was at the center of a recent dispute with the Advertising Research Foundation. The foundation had worked with neuroscience researchers to come up with its first standards for neuromarketing and asked NeuroFocus to participate.

Not only did NeuroFocus decline to participate, it issued its own separate neuromarketing standards.

Mediapost reported that the decision by Nielsen to buy the remaining 70 percent of NeuroFocus that it did not own came after WPP tried to buy NeuroFocus.

WPP, in addition to owning advertising agencies like Grey and Ogilvy & Mather, also has extensive holdings in advertising and marketing research like Kantar and TNS.

8820: GEICO Calls In Colored Extra.

Why do these GEICO commercials—where the Gecko is taking caller questions at a radio station—feature the Robin Quivers-like character? She never does anything besides appear to be a token extra.

8819: Unilever And Dove Uglier Than Ever.

Quickly scan the PR Daily story below. A MultiCultClassics perspective immediately follows…

Anatomy of a PR crisis: Dove forced to defend allegedly ‘racist’ ad

By Michael Sebastian

PR crises can happen in a flash. One day you’re thinking about your long-weekend plans, the next you’re responding to claims of racism.

Such is the case this week for Unilever-owned Dove brand.

On Monday, the blog Copyranter shared the ad (shown above) from Dove under the headline: “Dove body wash turns Black women into Latino women into White women.” The blog called the ad “stupid” and suggested it was a fake. It wasn’t.

Should Dove have responded to the blog immediately? There’s little need to ask that question because hours later a much larger website, Gawker, picked up the story, calling it “the most (unintentionally) racist skin care ad in about … 10 months.” One day later the blog Styleite asked the question: “Is Dove’s Newest Body Wash Ad Racist?”

Today, The Huffington Post, BNet, several newspapers and TV station websites, and countless blogs are asking the same question: Is this ad racist?

In just three days, a 54-word blog post has sparked a PR storm for Dove.

Dove’s PR firm, Edelman, offered Gawker this response:

“We believe that real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and ages and are committed to featuring realistic and attainable images of beauty in all our advertising. We are also dedicated to educating and encouraging all women and girls to build a positive relationship with beauty, to help raise self-esteem and to enable them to realize their full potential.

“The ad is intended to illustrate the benefits of using Dove VisibleCare Body Wash, by making skin visibly more beautiful in just one week. All three women are intended to demonstrate the ‘after’ product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.”

Meanwhile, Twitter users are chattering about the ad, with some people—including this PR pro—giving it the (predictable) “fail” label. Dove’s Facebook page is relatively quiet today, with one commenter defending the company.

Dove has won accolades for its Self-Esteem Fund (from Oprah, no less), encouraging women to “believe your own unique beauty and guide your daughter to believe in hers.” At the same time, Unilever has taken flak for a Facebook app that helps Indian women lighten their skin.

MultiCultClassics originally viewed the Dove dreck in March—thanks to a tip from Harry Webber—and later learned that the friendly folks at Sociological Images examined the ad about a week earlier (check out the SI post, as it features provocative comments). Having grown tired of ripping the consistent crap generated by Dove over the years, this blog opted to forgo critiquing the latest mess. The “PR crisis,” however, inspires a few observations.

The Edelman statement is especially obscene.

First, why is Unilever using Edelman as its mouthpiece? As always, the responsible advertising agency avoids the heat. But bringing in the sinister sleazebags behind the recent Facebook fiasco adds ugliness to Dove’s Real Beauty bullshit. Liars conspiring with con artists is just plain pathetic.

Not sure how Unilever can say, “We believe that real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and ages and are committed to featuring realistic and attainable images of beauty in all our advertising,” with a straight face. The Latina and White woman in this ad clearly exhibit Eurocentric ideal model features from head to toe (in contrast to the Black woman who physically resembles a pre-Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson). Additionally, the overall brand has abandoned Real Beauty with its campaigns for Dove Damage Therapy, Dove Clinical Protection Deodorant and Dove Men+Care—not to mention the infamous Dove casting call. The commitment to “featuring realistic and attainable images of beauty” has never been a bigger falsehood. And MultiCultClassics has believed it’s been exclusive malarkey from the beginning.

(MultiCultClassics will pass on spotlighting Unilever’s hypocrisy in promoting Vaseline with sexy stewardesses, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise with sexy secretaries, AXE with ultra-sexy sexism and Fair & Lovely skin lightening.)

The fresh gripe here involves the actual item being advertised. Dove VisibleCare Body Wash hypes “making skin visibly more beautiful in just one week.” OK, but skincare is a big deal for Black women in particular. Products with extra moisturizers like cocoa butter hold tremendous appeal to the specific audience. It seems as if Unilever and Dove think that one formula will work equally well across all segments. Forget the many real and perceived insults in the controversial layout. Unilever doesn’t even understand the basics of multicultural marketing.

Is the Dove VisibleCare Body Wash ad offensive? Yes, but for lots of reasons beyond the publicized complaints. It’s merely a single blemish on a devious, disgusting and disfigured campaign—brought to you by culturally clueless advertisers and White advertising agencies.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

8818: News & Nonsense.

Entertaining stupidity in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Disney opted to drop its SEAL TEAM 6 trademark application after the U.S. Navy filed an application as well. News sources indicated Disney withdrew its application “out of deference to the Navy.” Plus, Disney probably realized it was not smart to mess with the guys who put a bullet in Osama Bin Laden’s head.

• Former NFL player Tiki Barber compared himself to Holocaust victim Anne Frank in a Sports Illustrated article. Barber was discussing moving with his girlfriend into the attic of his agent’s home. “[My agent is] Jewish,” said Barber, “and it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing.” The major difference being Frank’s diary has been read worldwide, while Barber’s literary efforts usually head straight to the bookstore remainder bin.

• MSNBC personality Ed Schultz was suspended for one week without pay for calling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham a slut. “I used vile and inappropriate language,” said Schultz. “I am deeply sorry, and I apologize. It was wrong, uncalled for, and I recognize the severity of what I said. … I have embarrassed my family, I have embarrassed this company… I have been in this business since 1978 and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. This is the lowest of low for me.” The man is such a media and attention whore.

8817: StrawberryFrog Is StrawberryFucked.

Adweek published yet another story on the StrawberryFrog soap opera. According to the trade journal, the agency plans to file a countersuit against former CSO Ilana Bryant. Plus, CEO Scott Goodson released a statement that included, “Ilana Bryant was a valued employee whose job performance decreased over time. She became a divisive, negative force in the StrawberryFrog New York office and her relationships deteriorated resulting in her voluntarily resigning from her employment. … StrawberryFrog will not simply pay money to make Ilana Bryant happy. It is sad and disturbing that she has chosen to distort the facts and attack the agency and its people, essentially blaming everyone else for her own professional failings.” Wow, Goodson must be co-writing this stuff with Heather LeFevre. The agency’s Director of Human Resources better have plenty of documentation to support Goodson’s claims—otherwise, Bryant will be adding libel charges to her lawsuit.

One can only wonder what is rattling around in Goodson’s head. Does he think his public rants are benefiting the agency? He ought to consider the fact that the two sources providing the most coverage of this fiasco—Adweek and AgencySpy—are arguably the least credible advertising publications on Earth. The duo is the digital equivalent of The Jerry Springer Show. Hell, even AdFreak won’t touch this mess.

8816: Cracker Barrel’s Table Manners.

Cracker Barrel values what everyone brings to the table—even though most people are bringing lawsuits, more lawsuits, hate crimes, more lawsuits, suspicion, discrimination charges from Chris Rock’s mother and accusations of retaliation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

8815: StrawberryFrog Makes Froggy Look Smart.

Adweek reported on the StrawberryFrog fiasco, offering more dim-witted details. Participants and plaintiffs are volleying barbs:

“This is a contract dispute with a former employee with the firm and it’s totally false and baseless,” said Ramesh Rajan, a partner in the company. “This disgruntled former employee left the firm two months ago and is lashing out at everyone else.”

In the suit, [former CSO Ilana Bryant] describes [CEO Scott Goodson] as an “incompetent and emotionally unstable boss” whose “erratic and dictatorial behavior” have made it impossible to work there.

Okey-doke. It appears that Goodson’s memo to the troops was designed to offer preliminary damage control. Regardless, there are simply better and more professional ways to handle matters. When Adweek reporters called, StrawberryFrog officials could have said, “No comment.” Even a standard line such as, “It is not the company’s policy to discuss personnel matters with the press,” would have done the trick. Instead, the agency wonks took a Heather LeFevre approach and opted to engage in a public pissing match that ultimately makes StrawberryFrog look like it’s run by, well, toads.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

8814: Playing The Dozens.

This Taco Bell® Taco 12 Pack commercial sucks for 12 reasons:

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8813: StrawberryFrog Hops Into Shitter Again.

AgencySpy posted on the latest fiasco at StrawberryFrog involving a dispute with a former employee. A memo allegedly sent by agency honcho Scott Goodson read:

Dear Frogs: a former employee, Ilana Bryant, left our agency couple of months back and now she is in a contractual dispute with the agency. She is saying really negative things about the agency. These are false and baseless. She is trying to get as much as she can from us. This should not be a reflection on the success we have achieved and the hard work we have all put into our work. This company has been a success since its founding twelve years ago. We have very strong and continued relations with many clients and we remain committed to our future success and the growth of a great agency.

Wow. The top frogs at StrawberryFrog are fucking idiots. Last November, MultiCultClassics commented on another StrawberryFrog debacle, whereby a Director of Planning launched an online smear campaign against someone she had apparently hired. At the time, MultiCultClassics declared the woman’s rant was wildly unprofessional and potentially unlawful. Now it appears she was only following the lead of Goodson. Is there not a Director of Human Resources at StrawberryFrog? Isn’t the standard operating procedure to keep stuff like this confidential? Honestly, what is the benefit of openly sharing the sordid details?

Goodson wrote, “[The former employee] is saying really negative things about the agency.” Somebody tell the man that such public displays by senior management say really negative things about the agency too.

8812: Beefy Bullshit From Taco Bell.

Does anyone else think this Taco Bell commercial—aside from being incredibly lame and awful—depicts borderline sexual harassment on the job? Dude, let the woman prepare her Beefy Melt Burrito without you hitting on her.

8811: Running For Cover.

Dodging bullets in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Former President George W. Bush had to dodge a foul ball while watching a Texas Rangers game in Arlington. Um, alert Secret Service agents should have thrown themselves between Bush and the projectile, no?

• Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 by the NBA for hurling an anti-gay slur at an unruly fan. Noah apologized and said he thought the fine was fairy, er, fair.

8810: The Burger King Minority Report.

Adweek reported on the Burger King pitch, spotlighting dark horse CHI & Partners. The relatively unknown New York shop boasts 60 employees toiling mostly on U.K. accounts. Yep, a virtual startup agency has a better shot at winning the $300 million account than a minority agency. Hell, it’s not even clear if Burger King will hire minority agencies to handle minority assignments—unless the assignments involve running a grill.

Upstart Chases Burger King’s Business

CHI & Partners duels with giants in $300 million review

By Andrew McMains

CHI & Partners is a welterweight in a heavyweight fight: the pitch for Burger King’s $300 million, massively high-profile U.S. creative business.

The 60-person New York shop is facing two global behemoths (McCann Erickson and Saatchi & Saatchi) and a big national player (mcgarrybowen). Even agency co-founder Johnny Hornby knows that his shop is an underdog. Still, with a sugar daddy like WPP Group (which owns 49 percent of CHI), Hornby enters this week’s final presentations with deep resources and royal ambitions.

Indeed, in the meeting that CHI had with BK to reach the finals, it had backup from other WPP agency executives, including Ogilvy & Mather and BK roster shops Wunderman (field marketing) and MindShare (media). Media and field marketing aren’t in play; the leaders of those shops simply presented a united front.

The pivotal question facing CHI is whether BK’s new Brazilian owners, 3G Capital—who didn’t gel with irreverent outgoing shop Crispin Porter + Bogusky—will embrace an upstart in the U.S. that lives mainly on business from U.K. accounts. Also, how will the chain’s American franchisees—a breed not particularly known for risk taking—respond to a relative unknown?

“In a franchisee/client situation, it’s more likely they will play it safe and go with one of the big shops,” says Avi Dan of Avidan Strategies in New York. “I think the days of risk are over at BK.”

Hornby, a Brit and half-brother of writer Nick Hornby, opened modestly in New York four years ago to service Best Buy Mobile—a joint venture between Best Buy and The Carphone Warehouse, a founding account in London. At the time, Hornby soft-pedaled his plans, describing New York as a service offering.

A friend scoffed at such modesty, however, noting that Hornby is wildly ambitious. A BK win would obviously put CHI and Hornby, who declined to comment for this story, on the map. Beyond Best Buy Mobile, CHI New York works on Samsung—another London account—and recently added The Body Shop and a new product assignment from Virgin.

CHI’s New York staff occupies two floors of an open loft space in SoHo, across the street from Balthazar and around the corner from the Crosby Street Hotel. Spray painted graffiti-style on one wall is the sentiment, or perhaps rallying cry: “Work hard and be nice to people”—the obvious product of creatives toiling away after-hours. To service an account like BK, CHI would need at least another 50 staffers, including some on the ground in the restaurant’s Miami home base.

Oh yeah, and playing “nice” is probably not going to cut it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

8809: Potty Mouths And Shitheads.

Monday mumblings in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah allegedly used the same anti-gay slur as Kobe Bryant, although Noah directed the word at a jeering fan. Perhaps the NBA will name an All-Star bigot team—starring Noah, Bryant, LeBron James and more. Unfortunately for Chicago fans, while Noah matched Bryant and James in the offensive game, he can’t mimic the superstars’ basketball skills.

• Donald Trump said he would consider re-entering the run for the presidency. “I can’t rule out anything,” said Trump, adding that it’s “vital” for Republicans to nominate the right candidate to face President Barack Obama in 2012. “I don’t see that person. … The ones that have announced, I just don’t see it. At this point in time, they’re not going to be beating Obama.” Maybe Trump should introduce a GOP Candidate Apprentice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

8808: Revisionist Flashbacks.

Procter & Gamble presents Fabric Care Flashbacks! Wonder if the celebration will include the gems below.

8807: A McMoral Dilemma.

Growing weary of the critics blasting the latest anti-Ronald McDonald movement as an attack on citizen’s rights and democracy. A particularly annoying response involves labeling Mickey D’s foes as “food moralists.” The term smacks of the covert handiwork of lobbyists and PR hacks bankrolled by the fast food industry. The recent Facebook/Edelman team-up was amateurish compared to the shady media manipulation routinely generated for clients like Mickey Ds.

Why is it wrong to question Ronald McDonald? Advertising icons that suffered quick deaths for targeting children with unhealthy products include Spuds MacKenzie and Joe Camel—and the majority of Americans approved the critters’ executions. The childhood obesity epidemic poses real dangers that may not be fully realized for decades. Is Ronald any different than Spuds and Joe?

Sure, it’s difficult to turn on a figure that has been beloved and trusted for generations. And the clown is certainly associated with positive initiatives such as charities and other philanthropic sponsorships. But it’s hardly unprecedented to see a familiar product or service proven to actually be dangerous; and as a result, take the necessary steps to eliminate the threat. It’s called progress.

Regarding the “food moralists” nonsense, a few points must be made. First, the stuff being hawked by characters like Ronald McDonald barely qualifies as food. Second, and more importantly, the situation would not require moralists if the fast food industry wasn’t regularly engaging in immoral behavior.

“Food moralists” is a huckster-created term ultimately used by morons. On the flipside, “fast food moralists” would constitute an oxymoron.