Wednesday, November 30, 2011

9565: Power To The Little People.

Did the art director and photographer stage this shot—and did the rigging involve duct tape or a hot glue gun?

9564: RadioShack Seeks New ShitShack.

Advertising Age reported the RadioShack account is going into review. The client has hired a search consultancy to focus on “identifying world-class agencies capable of delivering transformational creative concepts in a highly competitive retail landscape.” Um, right—time to jump through hoops for a third-world gadget store that has failed to transform itself for at least a quarter of a century.

RadioShack Launches a Creative Review

Incumbent Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners Will Defend

By Rupal Parekh

After two and a half years of working with Sausalito, Calif.-based indie shop Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, RadioShack is scouring adland for a new creative shop.

According to a statement issued by the retailer today, the search, which is being conducted by Santa Monica, Calif.-based consultancy Select Resources International, will focus on “identifying world-class agencies capable of delivering transformational creative concepts in a highly competitive retail landscape.” RadioShack previously used SRI for a search in which Butler Shine emerged the winner, beating Omnicom Group’s DDB, Chicago; Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Deutsch, Los Angeles; and now-defunct indie shop Modernista.

Butler Shine was responsible for developing “The Shack” platform for the electronics retailer in a play to help modernize the brand. According to a company spokesman, “The Shack” branding “will continue to be part of the conversation.”

Said Lee D. Applbaum, executive VP-chief marketing officer for RadioShack Corp., in a statement: “We are tremendously proud of the progress we’ve made in collaboration with our partners at BSSP, energizing our iconic retail brand and igniting fresh conversations with consumers about RadioShack and mobility. Although our brand transformation is far from complete, the needs of the business and demands of the competitive and macroeconomic landscape require a different approach to our creative strategy and execution. Consequently, we must ensure that we are aligned with a partner who can develop and execute retail-centric creative focused ultimately on driving consideration and traffic.”

RadioShack’s overall ad expenses last year were more than $200 million. It remains to be seen whether RadioShack, which has 7,300 locations, will continue to invest the same level in advertising. The retailer had a tough third quarter, reporting that net income plummeted to less than $1 million from $46 million last year.

RadioShack said the winning agency will be responsible for strategic and creative development across all marketing channels, including digital, social, mobile, broadcast and print media. Media-buying and planning duties, which are handled by WPP’s Mindshare, are not in review. The company plans to complete the review process by March 2012 and Butler Shine is expected to defend the business.

Contributing: Natalie Zmuda

9563: Converting Health Club Members.

Jesus, these Gold’s Gym ads from Guatemala are God-awful garbage.

From Ads of the World.

9562: Cain Draws A Map And A Blank.

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain unveiled a new map to expose his vision for foreign policy and national security. A number of countries—including Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Israel and Japan—were labeled as “friends” on the illustration. For example, Mexico is identified as a friend in need. Which means it could expect to enjoy a 13-year affair with the United States under Cain’s leadership. Ironically, the graphic is titled, “My Assessment of Our Key Country Relations,” presented as the politician is reportedly “reassessing” his campaign in light of news of alleged improper relations. The next map from the Cain crew should diagram an exit strategy. Dancing With The Stars awaits.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

9561: Contextual Disconnect.

Adweek reported on AT&T’s failed attempt to acquire wireless carrier T-Mobile—alongside a banner ad hyping mobile marketing solutions from AT&T.

9560: Occupying Contextual Advertising.

A story on Occupy Long Beach is under a banner ad from JPMorgan Chase—proclaiming the financial institution can “make real progress happen” all across America.

9559: The Herman Cain Affair.

Can things get any worse for Herman Cain? Ginger White of Atlanta claims she had a 13-year affair with Cain while he served as the president of the National Restaurant Association—which looks like the last presidential position he’ll ever hold.

Of course, Cain is in full denial mode, issuing a public announcement on CNN where he described the relationship as “trying to help a friend” because of White “not having a job etcetera and this sort of thing.” Sounds like friends with benefits. And a pattern seems to be emerging regarding Cain “trying to help” women in need of employment opportunities. Maybe he can somehow leverage the experiences into a jobs program for America. Hey, cheating on your spouse isn’t necessarily a political career killer, as evidenced by Newt Gingrich’s candidacy. But suffering brain freezes when asked about foreign affairs and extramarital affairs won’t help the polling numbers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

9558: Win A PhD From Dr Pepper.

AdPulp spotlighted the Dr Pepper $1,000,000 Tuition Giveaway, and the ad blog remarked, “‘Dr Pepper is changing lives’ is not the kind of promotional come-on we’re used to hearing from a large packaged goods brand.” Um, it’s actually an extraordinarily common phrase uttered by nearly every large packaged goods brand, although usually to target minorities. From Coke to Pepsi, Mickey D’s to Burger King, Verizon to AT&T, State Farm to Allstate, GM to Ford, Procter & Gamble to Johnson & Johnson and more, doling out scholarship loot is a seemingly annual affair for multicultural marketers. Guess skyrocketing student debt means White kids are looking for financial assistance too. Plus, it all makes for a natural tie-in to Dr Pepper’s sponsorship of collegiate football. Ironically, AdPulp featured four videos of female tuition recipients. The irony comes when considering the recent launch of Dr Pepper Ten, hyped with a tagline that reads, “It’s Not For Women.”

9557: Draftfcb Talent Officer Talks Shop.

Adweek interviewed Draftfcb’s new global chief talent officer. Honestly, has anyone ever known a chief talent officer who actually influenced hiring decisions? Plus, the Draftfcb executive admits to having zero experience in advertising agencies. This is perfect, as key leaders at the enterprise appear to be clueless about the industry too. Finally, the new global chief talent officer managed to discuss diversity without using the term at all.

First Mover: Cynthia Augustine
Draftfcb’s new global chief talent officer on attracting—and retaining—top creatives

Coming from Scholastic do you have much in the way of agency experience?
I don’t. Before Scholastic I was at Time Warner. Before that I was at The New York Times, where I also ran a broadcast division besides the HR. I have a lot of experience on the other side. I went to the upfronts and worked with the advertising and marketing people there. You know, throughout my career I have worked in industries that have advertising. Scholastic would be one of the exceptions, but I think the other vein that has run through that is working with a lot of creative people.

Has there been much of a learning curve since you’ve been there?
I would say a little, but a lot of it feels very familiar.

What are you looking for in talent when it comes to Draftfcb?
We are looking for people who can create an idea that builds a business and builds a brand. We look for someone who understands all the different communication channels and can use them in an integrated way. I think we really are about contemporary culture, so somebody who likes that and can understand it and reflect that back to programs that build brands, build businesses, but connect to what matters. People need to be collaborative, I think, in all creative fields, in all divisions.

How do you compete with Google or Facebook who are tapping into that creative culture in a new way?
I would agree 100 percent we are now beginning to draw from the same talent pool of the Googles and Facebooks. Just as competitive with them are the smaller shops and sometimes even more competitive, because you get a better experience or a different kind of experience because they are still small. I think the difference is when you come to a place like ours you are building a whole platform and building a brand. I believe that’s what really happens with a Google and Facebook.

How do you keep them there?
That’s a good question. No matter where you are, whether you are in the entertainment industry, keeping creative people fresh and engaged is important everywhere. I think here, what is engaging about the environment is that it is collaborative. People at a relatively young age can come in and make a difference here by creating a great idea and being able to push it through the organization. We have a thing we call a creative or strategic rumble: we bring people together, they can work on different brands, across industries. But it’s everybody’s struggle to make sure they keep the employees engaged.

Do you have a favorite ad or campaign?
Maybe because I’m a mom who traveled a lot when my kids were young, the Oreo Skype commercial, where the father and the son are dipping their Oreo cookies together and one is in the morning and the other is in the night. That struck home for me because I have had those moments when I’m on the phone with my kids with many, many hours difference and it would have been nice to see their faces.

What else is important, what are you thinking about?
It is enormously important to ensure that we have people with various viewpoints and experiences around the table. Contemporary culture is being made up of a lot of different demographic groups, a lot of different ages, a lot of different people in our country, a lot of different tastes, and we want to make sure we know what that is.

9556: Filet-O-Goldfish.

What the hell is going on at Mickey D’s in Saudi Arabia? This ad seems to communicate the Filet-O-Fish is comprised of a patty made from a goldfish (how the hell did this get past the legal department?); plus, eating the sandwich leaves your stomach feeling as if you’ve ingested shattered glass. Not sure what the punishment is in Saudi Arabia for producing shitty advertising. But the folks responsible for this idea could be in big trouble.

From Ads of the World.

9555: Hating Cyber Mondays.

It’s Cyber Monday. Will anyone get trampled by crazily surfing shoppers? Will women wielding pepper spray assault online customers? Will Web buyers face deadly gunfire? If people collapse at their keyboards, will other e-consumers ignore them? Perhaps the special sales day inspires Internet obscenities—like emailing viruses, hacking personal accounts, sending lewd pics, tweeting threats or bullying on Facebook walls.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

9554: Allstate Mayhem Extends Losing Streak.

Here’s yet another reason to hate the Allstate Mayhem campaign: A sports-related commercial glorifying mob violence directed at referees. Nice. Anyone who has ever produced advertising with the NFL or NCAA knows it’s forbidden to denigrate the officials. Additionally, coaches and players who criticize the refs can expect to face league reprimands, penalties and fines. So why is Allstate allowed to run this shitty spot during game broadcasts?

9553: Sampling Gluttony.

Actual Black Friday Sighting: These Whitman’s Samplers—with 40 oz. boxes measuring 14” X 23” (Gary Coleman image added to indicate true scale)—make perfect stocking stuffers for the morbidly obese on your holiday gift list.

9552: Celebrating Misfortune.

Hunger Celebrates The Holidays, Too…? Feeding America® should ask Santa for a new copywriter.

9551: Taking Shots At Ashton Kutcher.

It’s only a matter of time before Nikon-created adultery porn appears on the Web.

9550: Caballero Translates Latino Market.

From Advertising Age…

Ad Pioneer Eduardo Caballero on the Intricacies and Potential of the Hispanic Market

Advertising Hall-of-Famer Talks About the Past Struggles and Future Ahead

By Rance Crain

Advertisers, ignoring “the reality of this country,” hoped at one time that the Hispanic market would disappear.

“They had had some experience with the Jewish market, with the Italian market, and they thought it would happen the same with the Spanish market.”

That’s the view of Eduardo Caballero, founder of Caballero Radio & Television, from his perch as operator of the nation’s only unwired network of independent TV stations aimed at the Hispanic market.

Advertisers kept the faith that Hispanics would assimilate into the general population, as Jews and Italians did, Eduardo told me in a video interview on the occasion of his induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

What advertisers failed to realize, Eduardo explained, was that with Hispanics, “it was not only a matter of language, it was a matter of culture, and it was a matter of music, and it was a matter of food.” For his efforts to persuade advertisers to buy time on his TV stations, “it was very, very difficult.”

And even today, he said, “we find some advertisers that are not inclined to do anything in the Spanish market. And many of those who are doing something in the Spanish market are not doing it to the extent they should. Sometimes I consider that to be tokenism.”

Now that the Hispanic advertising and media market has grown into a $5 billion business, Eduardo’s efforts are gaining more attention, but he added that “the obstacle we still have to overcome” is the resistance of some young people running Hispanic divisions. He said they are often not attuned to the cultural differences of the Hispanic consumer.

What it all boils down to, Eduardo told me, is that “it’s not a matter of reaching people. It’s a matter of selling to people. So they are not selling to me. They are not selling me the product when they are talking to John Doe. They are not talking to Eduardo Caballero.”

Among his accomplishments—he also started a Spanish-TV music video and entertainment network—Eduardo was the driving force behind the formation of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.

The late Bob Goldstein, once the head marketing guy at Procter & Gamble, called him a couple of weeks before he died in a white-water rafting accident. Bob needed Eduardo’s help putting together a group of Hispanic ad agencies to work with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

The Hispanic agencies came together for a good cause and after that, Eduardo said he “realized that they were not that reluctant to get together.” He decided that he was going to try to do something so they’d work as a group, rather than one against the other. “There was a cannibalism as to what existed rather than to go and try to expand the market.”

When the Hispanic ad group was formed there were about 40 such agencies; now there are 70—not that many more. The reason, Eduardo explained, is that the agencies “made a mistake. And it was against my advice.” They used Nielsen and Arbitron numbers on Hispanic audiences, but “there is an aspect that goes beyond numbers, and that is the culture aspect.” What happened, he said, is that the buying of Spanish-language media fell into the hands of general-market agencies.

“Some of them are doing a good job. Most of them are not doing a good job. They don’t have the infrastructure. They don’t have the resources to do a good job.

“And I say that with all respect, because they have tried. But one thing is trying and another thing is being able to accomplish it.” What the general-market agencies were able to do was cut their rates so the Hispanic agencies had a hard time competing with them.

Eduardo pointed out that the Hispanic population in the U.S. is the second-youngest in the world (Mexico is the youngest). Advertisers, he said, should start cultivating the young Hispanic people here not only in Spanish but also in English. “And they should do it in a way that will be acceptable to both the young and the older.”

9549: Fill-In-The-Minority-Blank.

Is Cargill presenting a template for all supplier diversity ads? Simply add royalty-free minority stock image.

9548: Bachmann A Cryin’ Ass Bleep.

The New York Daily News reported Michele Bachmann is still whining over the “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” event. The politician is upset that the official NBC apology came from a vice president versus the network’s president. Um, come back when you’re even a legitimate vice-presidential candidate. Bachmann also compared her situation to the Don Imus fiasco. Right. Shouldn’t the conservative nutcase be defending the band’s freedom of speech? If Bachmann can’t handle late-night talk show heat, she needs to get out of the kitchen. The woman is clearly more suited for Dancing With The Stars.

Michele Bachmann, 2012 GOPer, disappointed in NBC’s apology after Jimmy Fallon song mishap

But the Minnesota Congressman wasn’t pleased the apology—which she asked for—didn’t come from the president of NBC

By Aliyah Shahid, New York Daily News

Sometimes saying sorry doesn’t cut it.

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann expressed disappointment in how NBC delivered its apology after the network played a profane song during her recent appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Doug Vaughn, NBC’s senior vice president for special programs, wrote Bachmann a personal letter on Wednesday. He called the show’s choice to play a snippet of Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as she walked on the show both “unfortunate” and “unacceptable.”

But the Minnesota Congressman wasn’t pleased the apology—which she asked for—didn’t come from the top.

“Of course I accept the apology but my guess is that it would have been the president of the NBC that would have been apologizing not a senior vice president,” had a liberal, like Michelle Obama been the guest, she told KLIF radio in Dallas on Friday.

In the letter, Vaughn offered his apologies and said the band had been “severely reprimanded.”

Fallon also apologized via his Twitter account.

When asked if the bandleader should be fired, Bachmann said she didn’t want to see another American lose their job, but called the band “disingenuous.”

“The comment from the band is that it was a spontaneous act,” the Tea Party darling said.

“Clearly it wasn’t. It was premeditated. [The bandleader] had tweeted twice before the show what his intentions were. And his Twitter account is 1.7 million people. So, it’s just, again, it comes down to the fact that if a Don Imus or someone does something that’s questionable, they are thrown off the air. But when something is done to a conservative, it’s just passed off and forgotten.”

Bachmann continued, “I’m a serious candidate for the presidency of the United States, but I’m a conservative Republican woman. That’s the double standard.”

9547: The New Anthrax…?

Not convinced anyone would appreciate receiving an envelope full of sand and an oyster.

9546: Delayed WTF 16—Adweek Reloads.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Adweek named Lisa Granatstein as its Managing Editor, apparently replacing Michael Wolff—who is still identified as the publication’s leader at the website. Granatstein toiled at Mediaweek for a decade before a stint at Mochila. Did Mediaweek historically draw more readers than Adweek? Not sure why the wonks in charge keep hiring people with media experience to run an enterprise allegedly devoted to the ad industry. Adweek Executive Editor Jim Cooper gushed, “[Granatstein’s] wealth of experience in the media, and across platforms, will be a significant component to our commitment to top-level, comprehensive industry analysis.” Note the lack of references to advertising in Cooper’s hype. Hopefully, Granatstein will at least stop publishing perspectives on carpet campaigns.

9545: Small Businesses Can Make A Killing.

Exactly what small business opportunity is being depicted by the fully-armed assault squad?

9544: The Post-Racial, Post-Cosby Era…?

From The Los Angeles Times…

After ‘Cosby,’ less sitcom diversity

BET’s family comedy ‘Reed Between the Lines’ is one of the few TV shows featuring families of color.

By Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times

In most respects, BET’s “Reed Between the Lines” fits snugly within the safe cookie-cutter mold of the traditional family sitcom — successful, attractive parents with adorable kids tackle the daily challenges of life and resolve them in less than 30 minutes.

The upbeat comedy, starring Tracee Ellis Ross (“Girlfriends”) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (“The Cosby Show”) as the heads of a loving family, recalls the subject matter and tone of “The Cosby Show” — the 1980s program also built around an African American family that helped revive the sitcom genre 25 years ago with a smart and gentle mix of humor and poignancy. (Jamal-Warner starred as Theo, Bill Cosby’s son, in the Emmy-winning series, which ran for eight seasons on NBC.)

But “Reed Between the Lines” is also an unexpected pioneer these days — it is one of a handful of prime-time shows centered on a family of color. Despite hundreds of new TV channels and the popularity of “The Cosby Show,” and subsequent series featuring minority families such as “My Wife and Kids,” “George Lopez” and “Ugly Betty,” ethnic families are still a rarity on the small screen today.

Family comedies once dominated the networks decades ago, but now these programs have had been a tougher time breaking into prime time as audiences have gravitated toward edgier fare with more mature content. Of course, there are still family comedies on the air, but of those almost all of them focus primarily on white families — “The Middle, “Up All Night,” “Raising Hope” and “Last Man Standing,” for example. TBS’ “Are We There Yet?” and Fox’s animated “The Cleveland Show” are the only other family-oriented comedies starring African American families. And mixed-race or ethnic families, such as on ABC’s “Modern Family,” are also scarce.

“I’ve seen this movie before,” Bill Cosby said in a recent interview. “How is it that there are people of color who are CEOs of companies, that are presidents of universities, but there is no reflection of that on the networks? It is arrogance and it is narcissism. Even the commercials have more black people than the programs.”

Network honchos, particularly at the four major networks, continue to stress they consider diversity to be a priority both in front of and behind the camera. But progress has been slow in both places. A survey conducted by the Directors Guild of America of more than 2,600 television episodes from 170 scripted TV series for the 2010-11 season found that white males directed 77% of all episodes, and white females directed 11% of all episodes. Minority males directed 11% of all episodes and minority females directed just 1% of the shows, according to the DGA survey.

“Look at the huge number of comedies. There is no black presence,” said Doug Alligood, a senior vice president at BBDO, a New York-based ad agency. “We’re back to where we were in the ‘80s.”

The new slate of mid-season shows and next year’s development season seems to hold the promise of more diversity, according to media analyst Brad Adgate. NBC said it was moving ahead with a pilot for a family comedy starring rapper Snoop Dogg. Meanwhile, CBS announced earlier this month that the comedy “¡ROB!,” starring Rob Schneider as a lifelong bachelor who marries into a tight-knit Mexican American family, will air in early 2012.

“I really do think that the absence of minority comedies is cyclical,” Adgate said. “It’s so hard to get a hit comedy no matter what, and ethnicity doesn’t really matter as opposed to how good the casts are.”

But, depending on their ultimate content, the shows with Schneider and Snoop Dogg have the potential of raising more concerns if they are bogged down by old stereotypes. Schneider, the star of movies like “The Hot Chick” and “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” is famous for broad comedy, not nuanced character studies. And Snoop Dogg, whose music career has glamorized violence and drug use, appears to be an awkward fit with NBC’s stable of well-scrubbed stars like Tina Fey, Christina Applegate, Whitney Cummings and Will Arnett.

The creative team at “Reed Between the Lines” hopes to emulate “The Cosby Show” in its positive depiction of a family of color. And despite being on a channel that targets a primarily African American audience, they want to reach a mainstream audience with their message.

“We were clear that there had not been a show like ‘Cosby’ since ‘Cosby,’” Warner said. “We are in no way looking to re-create that show, but we did want to re-create that universality and positive family values that ‘Cosby’ represented. Neither Tracee or I were interested in a ‘black show.’ We are telling family stories as opposed to black stories.”

9543: Delayed WTF 15—IPG = No New Taxes.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Earlier this month, global news sources reported on a study revealing 30 big and greedy U.S. corporations that paid zero taxes in 2008 through 2010. On the list is Interpublic Group, parent company of advertising agencies like McCann Erickson, Lowe + Partners and Draftfcb. IPG brags about values including integrity and transparency—as well as corporate governance grounded in accountability. Yet explaining the tax dodging would require seriously twisting McCann’s classic line, Truth Well Told. Who knew there are tax incentives for inept leadership, account mismanagement, offensive advertising and mass layoffs? Perhaps IPG will become a case study for the Institute of Advertising Ethics. Or a target for the Occupy movement.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

9542: City For Sale.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Emanuel looks to attract more advertising

City offers marketers space on trash cans, website, water bills

By Kristen Mack, Chicago Tribune reporter

Mayor Rahm Emanuel not only wants to sell ad space on bridge houses and trash cans, he’s looking at stuffing corporate fliers in water bills, selling exclusive vending rights at city facilities and allowing promotional sponsorships of public programs.

As part of the mayor’s 2012 budget plan to raise $25 million from marketing the city, the Emanuel administration put out a call for marketing firms to help the city identify opportunities and negotiate contracts with potential advertisers.

The goal is “generating the maximum value for the City’s corporate fund operating budget while limiting the social impacts of such advertising activities, including visual pollution, and preserving the continuity and integrity of the City’s image,” according to the request for proposals posted on the city’s website last week.

That website, by the way, is among the public spots where people may one day find advertisers competing for their attention. So are street sweepers, snowplows, buildings, overpasses and traffic control boxes on sidewalks.

All of which worries observers who were upset at Emanuel’s first try at generating ad revenue earlier this month by leasing space on the historic Wabash Avenue bridge houses over the Chicago River.

The result was red, white and blue signs for Bank of America stuck on to the limestone walls, where they will remain through Dec. 12. The city says it made $4,500 from the deal, but critics said it was an assault on Chicago’s architectural heritage.

The lack of standards suggests that “anything is fair game,” said Jean Follett, interim executive director of Landmarks Illinois.

”Whatever you ask we’ll negotiate it,” Follett said. “We’ve put ourselves in a corner; what you get instead of tax increases is fees and ads in your public spaces and in your water bills.”

The city solicitation, which is only the initial step in the marketing plans, breaks public assets into six categories, including physical property, vending and product licensing, mail and the city’s website. It offers little guidance on how to differentiate between the value of a trash can and public landmarks.

”The Mayor and his administration are exploring any and all innovative options that will bring new revenue into the City to avoid reductions in services the City delivers and any additional financial strains on Chicago taxpayers,” Lois Scott, the city’s chief financial officer, said in a statement responding to questions about the plans. “The city has numerous, diverse places and things to market, and we’re ready to work together under the right set of guidelines to market what Chicago has to offer.”

Former Mayor Richard Daley first proposed the idea of allowing corporate ads on bridge houses. The head of the company that won the resulting contract to market the bridge houses — leading to the recent bank ad — said the city can make money while protecting its landmarks.

”The overall impact of the concept in the long run needs to be sensitive to the needs of the city and maintain its architectural integrity,” said Phillip Lynch, president and owner of Lincolnshire-based Fresh Picked Media. “There’s pop art type executions that don’t have to be as direct as advertising and are clever and add a theme.”

Companies that sell breath fresheners could erect ads outside of restaurants, Lynch said, and gray traffic light boxes could be turned into gift boxes for the holidays.

9541: Atlanta Is The Black Hollywood…?

From The New York Times…

Stars Flock to Atlanta, Reshaping a Center of Black Culture

By Kim Severson

ATLANTA — Cynthia Bailey, arguably the most glamorous of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” shivered in a sleeveless red shift, microphone in hand.

It was oddly cold, but the intrepid model carried on. She had a job to do: interviewing the talent that swaggered down the red carpet for the Soul Train Awards.

All along the police barriers that closed down Peachtree Street, fans screamed and elbowed one another for a better view. Those lucky enough to have tickets slipped into the Fox Theater, all glittery and prepared to party.

This was celebrity black Atlanta at its best.

A few years ago, the city probably would not have been able to pull off such a show. But fueled by a generous entertainment tax credit, the migration of affluent African-Americans from the North and the surprising fact that even celebrities appreciate the lower cost of living here, this capital of the Deep South is emerging as an epicenter of the black glitterati.

“It’s so ripe with African-American flavor and talent,” said Stephen Hill, an executive vice president for Black Entertainment Television, which will show the awards Sunday night.

“Atlanta is home to our core audience,” he said. “I’m trying not to make it a racial thing, but Atlanta is our New York, our L.A.”

To be sure, Atlanta has long had a high concentration of well-connected, affluent blacks. But the Atlanta area is now home to such a critical mass of successful actors, rappers and entertainment executives that few would argue its position as the center of black culture. Tyler Perry and his movie and television empire are based here. Sean Combs has a house in a suburb north of the city. The musicians Cee Lo Green, Ludacris and members of OutKast call it home. So does the music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri.

Gladys Knight, an Atlanta native who was honored at the awards, which were taped Nov. 17, runs a chicken and waffle restaurant here. And it is not unusual to spot Usher at one of the city’s better restaurants.

“It seems like everything is happening here now,” said Dave Hollister, an R&B singer who spends a lot of time in Atlanta. “It feels like New York used to feel with a little more nicety.”

Atlanta’s A-list evolution was driven in part by the state’s 2008 Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which gives qualified productions a 20 percent tax break, said Warrington Hudlin, president of the Black Filmmaker Foundation, which is based in New York.

Producers who embed a Georgia promotional logo in the titles or credits can take another 10 percent off the tax bill. In the last fiscal year, $683.5 million worth of production — music videos, television shows and movies — was staged here.

“Atlanta is really becoming the black Hollywood,” Mr. Hudlin said. Because many black filmmakers are working on tighter budgets than white filmmakers, they need to save money and Georgia helps them do that, he said.

And producers of films and shows like the Soul Train Awards can find a variety of people to fill sets and seats. “This is one of our strengths, the diversity of people in Atlanta,” said Lee Thomas, director of the state’s Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office. “It’s something we have over, say, Canada.”

The growth has also been fed by a decade of migration of blacks from the North. Nearly a quarter of a million blacks moved to the greater Atlanta area from outside the South between 2005 and 2010, making it the metro area with the largest number of black residents after New York.

More than a third of the new migrant households made more than $50,000 a year. One of the newcomers is Jasmine Guy, the actress whose most famous role was Whitley Gilbert on the sitcom “A Different World.” She was raised in Atlanta but spent 30 years in New York and Los Angeles.

She moved back three years ago, largely because she finds Atlanta offers an easier, gentler life for her family.

“At first I thought, how am I going to work?” she said. “But I have not stopped working since.”

In addition to acting, she directs and teaches younger actors. Like others in Atlanta’s black elite, she likes the fact that she finds herself among the majority at art museums and sophisticated restaurants.

And an added bonus? Paparazzi activity is at a minimum, but stars still get to feel like stars.

“They get the love and attention here like they wouldn’t get in New York,” said Kelley Carter, a pop culture journalist who has worked her share of rope lines and writes for publications like Ebony and Jet. She recently moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles herself.

It also doesn’t hurt that real estate here costs much less than in New York or Los Angeles.

“You can stretch a dollar more here,” said Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played Theo in “The Cosby Show” and has been in Atlanta shooting a new sitcom, “Reed Between the Lines,” for BET.

“Atlanta affords you a different kind of vibe,” he said. “A little more warmth.”

But like several people interviewed, he’s not ready to say that Atlanta can best New York or Los Angeles.

Lance Gross is a star in the Tyler Perry constellation who spends part of his time in Atlanta. “A lot of people come through here,” he said, “but I can’t give it to Atlanta yet.”

Ms. Bailey, the “Housewives” star, still takes monthly trips to New York for what she calls a culture fix.

But she is investing in Atlanta, and recently opened the Bailey Agency — School of Fashion to help connect Atlanta’s most promising models with power players in the fashion world.

“Atlanta in two or three years is going to be perfect,” she said.

Maybe. The comedian Cedric the Entertainer, who hosted the Soul Train Awards, said Atlanta had always been a black mecca and continues to be one. He used to travel to the city when he was growing up in St. Louis. The city just keeps improving, he said. The talent pool gets bigger every day, which makes it easy to stage shows here.

“You can make some quick calls and say, ‘I had a fall-out. Let’s see if Ludacris can stop by,’” he said. “You have the real down-home love and you have a lot of transplants who give it a real sexy, young progressive energy.”

But, he said, Georgia will always be Georgia.

“It’s serious business down here but at the same time they’re still country,” he said. “I mean, sweet tea don’t go with everything.”

Robbie Brown contributed reporting.

Friday, November 25, 2011

9540: AT&T-Mobile Not Happening…?

Adweek reported AT&T is close to conceding defeat in its attempt to acquire T-Mobile. Guess Carly Foulkes won’t play the Helen of Troy role in this telecommunications battle.

AT&T All But Gives up on T-Mobile Merger

Last ditch effort to focus on DOJ court case

By Katy Bachman

AT&T looks like it might be ready to give up on its $39 billion proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. Staggering from the Federal Communications Commission’s likely rejection of the deal, AT&T announced on Thanksgiving Day that it has withdrawn its application with the agency. AT&T also said it would take a $4 billion pretax accounting charge, which covers the $3 billion-negotiated break up fee with T-Mobile.

On Tuesday, FCC senior officials said the combination of the two companies would significantly diminish competition and “would result in a massive loss of U.S. jobs and investment.” Unable to approve the merger, the FCC’s review was headed for an administrative law hearing, a lengthy legal process that would have dragged out the approval procedures beyond the drop-dead date to close the deal with T-Mobile.

AT&T isn’t entirely giving up on the deal. In a last ditch effort, AT&T said it would continue to defend the $39 billion merger in court, brought by the Department of Justice. That case begins Feb. 13.

“AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG are continuing to pursue the sale of Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. wireless assets to AT&T and are taking this step to facilitate the consideration of all options at the FCC and to focus their continuing efforts on obtaining antitrust clearance for the transaction from the Department of Justice either through the litigation pending before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Case No. 1:11-cv-01560 (ESH) or alternate means. As soon as practical, AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG intend to seek the necessary FCC approval,” the company said in a press release.

Public interest groups, which pushed for the death of the merger, called AT&T’s move “an act of desperation.”

“It is time for vainglorious managers at AT&T to accept that there is no way that this deal can obtain approval of the FCC and the courts,” said Andrew Schwartzman, senior vp and policy director for the Media Access Project.

Analysts agree is time for AT&T to stick a fork in it. “All in all, we view this as a step towards concession,” said a Bernstein Research Report.

9539: Wigging Out With Bing.

Bing celebrates The Annual Flaunting of the Wigs—yet aren’t most folks using the search engine to find Afro wigs for Blackface parties?

9538: Bachmann’s A Crazy Ass Bleep.

Don’t understand the fuss surrounding the “Michele Bachmann Lyin’ Ass Bitch” scenario. The politician visited a late-night talk show to direct scripted insults at fellow GOP presidential wannabes and President Obama. Can’t take a joke, Congresswoman? Besides, a conservative fringe lunatic shouldn’t appear on a liberal show like Jimmy Fallon’s and expect a friendly audience. Bachmann later whined, “This is clearly a form of bias on the part of the Hollywood entertainment elite.” Hey, if you don’t like it, stick with the Hollywood entertainment elite posing as journalistic figures at FOX News. Bias broadcasts both ways, Ms. Bachmann. BTW, it’s even more disturbing to see Fallon blatantly endorsing advertisers that keep citizens and the country deep in debt.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

9537: Accurately Depicting Target Audience…?

Anybody else think these images feel like portraits of alcoholics?

From Ads of the World.

9536: Mickey D’s Fish Stories.

This new Mickey D’s commercial appears to be another variation on a theme for the fast feeder, as evidenced by past spots from Germany and the U.S.

9535: Insuring Clichés And Crappiness.

Allstate and State Farm must really be suffering, as the insurance companies’ campaigns are all over the map. From Dennis Haysbert mimicking Progressive’s Flo to big-budget bullshit, the advertising smacks of corporate desperation. This new State Farm commercial features high-priced production values and copyrighted music. But does using the theme song of 1980s sitcom Cheers make the brand contemporary or outdated?

9534: Bachmann’s Not With The Band.

From national news sources…

NBC apologizes to Michele Bachmann for Fallon song

Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann received an apology from an NBC executive after an off-color song was played during her appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Night,” her spokeswoman said late Wednesday.

The Minnesota congresswoman received a personal letter from NBC’s vice president for late night programming, Doug Vaughan, a day after she appeared on the show. As Bachmann walked onstage, the show’s band had played a snippet of a 1985 Fishbone song entitled “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.”

Vaughan wrote that the incident was “not only unfortunate but also unacceptable,” Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart told The Associated Press. She said Vaughn offered his sincerest apologies and said the band had been “severely reprimanded.”

Fallon also apologized to Bachmann when they spoke earlier Wednesday, she said. He’d tweeted earlier, saying he was “so sorry about the intro mess.”

“He was extremely nice and friendly and offered his apology, and she accepted it,” Stewart said, adding that the comedian said he was unaware the band planned to play the song. “It’s just unfortunate that someone had to do something so disrespectful.”

Bachmann lashed out earlier Wednesday at NBC for not apologizing or taking immediate disciplinary action. In her first comments on the flap, Bachmann said on the Fox News Channel that the Fallon show band displayed sexism and bias by playing the song.

“This is clearly a form of bias on the part of the Hollywood entertainment elite,” Bachmann said. She added, “This wouldn’t be tolerated if this was Michelle Obama. It shouldn’t be tolerated if it’s a conservative woman either.”

She went further on a national radio conservative radio show hosted by Michael Medved, calling the incident “inappropriate, outrageous and disrespectful.”

On Fox, Bachmann expressed surprise that she’s heard nothing from the TV network. She suggested that discipline for the show’s band, The Roots, was in order. She said she believed Fallon’s comments to be sincere.

One of Bachmann’s congressional colleagues, New York Democrat Nita Lowey, had called on NBC to apologize for its “insulting and inappropriate” treatment of its guest.

An NBC spokeswoman didn’t return a phone message from The Associated Press.

The Roots’ bandleader, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, has said the song was a “tongue-in-cheek and spur-of-the-moment decision.”

Bachmann, who is lagging in presidential polls, has spent the week promoting her new autobiography in national television interviews.

9533: Belated Brazilian Celebration.

From Ads of the World.