Monday, December 31, 2012

10878: Talented Ten For 2012.

Pepper Miller STILL matters.

Harry Webber’s Obama SuperPac is superb.

Christopher Boulton is Rebranding Diversity.

Steve Stoute breaks barriers with beer.

Mark Robinson provides classic color commentary.

Jimmy Smith expands Amusement Park.

Tiffany Edwards club hops for change.

Lowell Thompson is write on.

Lincoln Stephens propels The Marcus Graham Project.

commonground deserves an uncommon honor.

10877: MultiCultClassics Moments For 2012.

Kickin’ It Old School. Advertising Age named mcgarrybowen as Agency of the Year, praising the shop’s old-school style. MultiCultClassics also acknowledged the agency’s outdated ways, especially in regards to diversity and nepotism. Ironically, as if to underscore the ultimate ineffectiveness of doing business via the Mad Men method, mcgarrybowen wound up winning and losing the Bud Light account within months—and rumors indicated the agency failed to deliver on digital tactics. Plus, the business went to Translation, a Black-owned shop with virtually zero AOR experience.


Old News. When it comes to discrimination on Madison Avenue, Old White Guys is the new Black, as evidenced by an Advertising Age story titled, “Aging in Adland: The Gray-Hair Phobia That’s Hindering Older Execs.” A follow-up companion piece by TBWA Worldwide Director of Talent Nancee Martin offered “Six Tips for Older Job Hunters”—which arguably displayed blatant bias from a top executive charged with hiring people.


Fresh BHM Stereotypes. MultiCultClassics celebrated Black History Month with fake Madison Avenue Ads and More Madison Avenue Ads from White advertising agencies.


Boschetto Bullshitto. Draftfcb President and CEO Laurence Boschetto proclaimed that by 2014 his agency “will be an organization that no longer uses the term ‘diversity and inclusion.’” The jury is still out regarding whether or not Draftfcb will be around in 2014, with strong predictions that Boschetto will definitely be history before the colorblind deadline arrives. Additionally, Draftfcb couldn’t even prevent the phrase from appearing in its own ADCOLOR® congratulatory ad.


Omnicompliance…? The Biggest Under-Reported Story of the Year: New York City’s Office of the Comptroller asked Omnicom, IPG, WPP and Publicis Groupe to disclose the diversity of their workforces—and Omnicom refused to comply. Too busy engaging in Corporate Cultural Collusion and Corporate Multicultural Collusion?


Suit Up. In April, IPG was hit with a $50 million racial discrimination lawsuit. Then another one emerged in August. A judge tossed the first suit, but the accuser re-filed charges later in the year. Of course, IPG insists the claims in the case “remain without merit.” On the flip side, IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth and Draftfcb President and CEO Laurence Boschetto admit the industry has struggled with diversity and discrimination. On Madison Avenue, there will almost always be merit to any claim of unfair employment practices.


Keeping It Real. AMC reality series The Pitch exposed some not-so-pretty realities about the advertising industry. When the show pitted Bozell (a White agency) against Muse Communications (a minority agency), Jo Muse sought to seize the opportunity and reveal the inequities that non-Whites face in the industry. Alas, Muse’s on-air performance led to charges of racism and ultimately inspired cultural cluelessness from the Bozell team. So what’s the lesson to be learned? Adpeople holding aspirations of appearing on TV series should confine their participation to programs like “The Price Is Right” or “The Biggest Loser.”


To Sir, Without Love. Sir John Hegarty had the hypocritical audacity to pontificate on the importance of inclusive workplaces, seemingly ignorant to his own agency’s utter lack of commitment to diversity. The pompous douche bag is only interested in anything Black or White if it involves D&AD Pencils.


The Great White Dope. After writing a couple of inane columns on race as depicted by AMC series Mad Men, Tanner Colby displayed his true ignorance through publishing and promoting his book—Some of My Best Friends Are Black. Colby somehow managed to later position himself as an authority on multicultural marketing, securing appearances at the annual Where Are All The Black People? and Multicultural Health National. In short, an idiot who admits to cultural cluelessness can still become an industry thought leader on diversity. Only in America.


The Great White Hope. Tanner Colby’s stupidity contrasted the intellectual efforts of Dr. Christopher Boulton, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Tampa, whose “Rebranding Diversity” presentation provided a blueprint for ending the exclusivity on Madison Avenue. But is it possible to disassemble the existing power structure via PowerPoint?


From Whassup To WTF. As previously mentioned, Steve Stoute and his agency, Translation, made advertising history by winning AOR status for Bud Light. The shop has yet to produce a decent commercial for the brand; however, previous incumbent agency mcgarrybowen never managed to birth a competent spot either. Stoute did allow Anheuser-Busch InBev U.S. Marketing VP Paul Chibe to serve as an executive producer for the Jay-Z “Made in America” film documentary. A couple of photo-ops with Beyoncé should secure the business for the time being.


An Adwoman’s Prerogative. Digiday published the “Confessions of a Female Ad Exec”—who later confessed to being Socialistic CEO Colleen Decourcy—to broadcast the struggles women face in advertising. Leo Burnett CCO Susan Credle admitted she never thought advertising was tough for a woman. Deutsch NY CEO Val DiFebo explained why she didn’t think of herself as a woman. And The 3% Conference piqued less than zero percent of MultiCultClassics’ interest.


Mark LaNeve Still Sucks.


Conservatively Speaking. Carl Warner elected to declare a dearth of political conservatives in the advertising industry. His argument, however, was countered by conservative commentary from Jim Ferguson, Vinny Minchillo and Jerry Della Femina. Plus, “lapsed” Republican Jeff Goodby produced a pro-Obama video that was so embarrassingly awful, it got pulled down faster than Mitt Romney’s dreams of becoming president.


All U.S. and U.K. Admen Look Alike. The dearth of diversity in the U.S. advertising industry is not unique after all, as an identical dilemma is present in the U.K. too. The “solutions” appear to be similar as well, with agency honchos on two continents insisting minorities must be recruited and educated about the field at an early age. Plus, U.K. and U.S. trade publications seemingly shower the same White men with praise and accolades. Look for ADCOLOR® to launch in Britain as ADCOLOUR® soon.


Livin’ La Vida Loca. For Latino advertising agencies, 2012 demonstrated the craziness of marketing to minorities. Following up on a promise to “blow up” the multicultural budget in 2011, Walmart officials appeared at the annual ANA Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference to provide a status report. Walmart Senior VP-Brand Marketing and Advertising Tony Rogers gushed, “One hundred percent of the growth [in sales] is going to come from multicultural customers. … Our spending against multicultural customers will grow by at least 100%.” Of course, no actual numbers were offered—after all, 100% more crumbs is still just a bunch of crumbs. Meanwhile, Quaker Oats announced it was unveiling the brand’s first integrated campaign targeting Latinos. It must be noted, however, that Latino agency Alma is likely playing a subservient role to White agency Energy BBDO, and both shops are in the Omnicom network. Also, given that Quaker Oats has been around for over 130 years, it’s pretty appalling that the first integrated campaign is just starting now. Heineken completed the trifecta by dismissing The Vidal Partnership and handing its Latino business to White agency Wieden + Kennedy. Heineken VP-marketing Colin Westcott-Pitt explained the move by saying, “There’s a shift in what consumers are interested in what they believe in and value in life. It trumps where they happen to be from or what their ethnic group is.” A few months earlier, Westcott-Pitt was gleefully discussing exclusively sponsoring a branded entertainment vehicle on the Discovery en Español channel. And does the man really think commercials starring pseudo-debonair White guys with exotic hotties in foreign lands will translate across cultures? ¡Ay, Caramba!

10876: Political Diversity.

From The New York Post…

Congress Diversity

By Gerry Shields

WASHINGTON — The new Congress to be sworn in Thursday will be the most diverse in the nation’s history — with the help of two new minority members from New York.

Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Queens) will be the first Asian-American to represent the state in Congress.

She will be one of five new Asian-Americans in the House in a Congress that will have 11 members of Asian Pacific heritage.

She also joins 24 new women in the House and Senate, bringing that total to its highest level, with 101.

“That makes me hopeful that the leadership will appreciate the diversity of our backgrounds,” said Meng, 37.

The biggest gains came among Latinos. Ten new Latinos were elected to Congress, increasing their caucus to 28.

Also, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) will be one of four new African-Americans in the House.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

10873: Roadside Racism.

From The New York Daily News…

Kentucky man defends his racist roadside effigy of a watermelon-holding Obama

Danny Hafley of Casey County put the display up around Election Day said earlier this week that he doesn’t plan to take it down anytime soon.


A Kentucky man is defending his roadside display of a watermelon-holding mannequin wearing a President Obama mask, saying the First Amendment protects the offensive spectacle.

“The way I look at it, it’s freedom of speech,” Danny Hafley of Casey County told Lex 18 News. “I don’t know how other people will take it.”

Hafley said he gave the watermelon to the racially charged effigy he calls his “buddy” because it “might get hungry standing out here.”

“He don’t talk. Don’t make no smart comments,” he said. “If I had a dollar for everyone who stopped and took a picture of it, I’d be a millionaire.”

Hafley put the display up around Election Day and told the television station earlier this week that he doesn’t plan to take it down anytime soon. At least one neighbor wasn’t happy about it.

“We don’t have black people in this community, but I’m sure they travel this road like everybody else does,” the anonymous woman told Lex 18. “They could be offended. I don’t agree with it.”

She also said the display initially included a sign that suggests Obama may destroy the country.

10872: Hearting Hip Hop.

As this spot shows, Indonesians love hip hop too.

From Ads of the World.

Friday, December 28, 2012

10871: Black Voters Showing Up.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Black voter turnout may have surpassed whites for the first time

By David Lauter

Despite often-voiced concerns about the effect of voter identification laws, black voter turnout remained high in 2012 and, for the first time, may have topped the rate for whites, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Four years ago, the rate of black voter turnout almost equaled that of whites, continuing a trend of a steady increase in black turnout rates that began in 1996. This year, with white turnout appearing to have dropped, black turnout seems very likely to have exceeded the white level, although definitive figures won’t be available until the Census Bureau reports in a few months.

A higher turnout rate among blacks than whites would mark an historic milestone given America’s long history of disenfranchising blacks. Blacks were effectively barred from polls in many states until after passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965.

In the run-up to this year’s presidential election, a number of states with Republican-majority legislatures passed laws limiting voting hours, curtailing voter registration efforts or requiring voters to show identification. Many black leaders said those laws would disproportionately hurt elderly, poor and minority voters and accused Republicans of running a campaign of “voter suppression.”

Republicans said the measures were needed to combat voter fraud. In a few states, Republican legislative leaders explicitly said they hoped the measures would hurt Democratic candidates or reduce the “urban” vote.

Courts blocked some of those laws, and in the end they may have backfired as black organizations used “voter suppression” as a rallying cry. The perception that “people don’t want you to vote” motivated many blacks, particularly young people, to turn out, said Chanelle Hardy, executive director of the National Urban League. “It was huge,” she said during a recent panel discussion.

Overall, about 60% of the Americans eligible to register actually voted in 2012, according to data compiled by Michael McDonald of George Mason University. That would be about three points below the 2008 turnout, with much of the decline coming among white voters. The precise final number won’t be known until New York state completes its vote count, which has been slowed by the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy.

The number of voters from minority groups rose in November’s election, a key factor in President Obama’s reelection. But those numbers went up for disparate reasons. Among Latinos and Asians, population growth has steadily driven up the number of voters. Turnout rates also have gone up, but remain significantly lower than those of the population as a whole. The nation’s black population, by contrast, has remained steady, but the number of black voters has continued to go up because of higher turnout rates. Blacks make up about 12% of the U.S. population but were 13% of the voter turnout, according to exit polling. Whites made up about 71% of the voter-eligible population and 72% of the turnout, the exit poll indicated.

The large black turnout was critical to Obama’s victory in several swing states, according to a recent analysis by Ruy Texeira and John Halpin of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank. Their analysis pointed to Ohio, in particular, as a state in which an increase in the black share of the vote proved decisive.

10870: Diversity On Wall Street.


Ariel’s John Rogers Talks Diversity on Wall Street and Beating Michael Jordan One-on-One

By Beecher Tuttle

“The state of diversity in the finance industry is appalling,” said John Rogers, founder and chief executive of Chicago-based Ariel Investments, one of the nation’s largest minority-run mutual fund firms. “Ninety-nine percent of leaders talk a big game (about promoting diversity), but in places like Chicago, we have gone backwards. We’re just not fighting hard enough,” Rogers said recently during an informal speech at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) in New York.

Rogers is quite literally putting his money where his mouth is, and has been doing so for the better part of two decades. Among numerous other efforts to promote diversity, Rogers in 1996 helped launch the Ariel Community Academy, a public school located on the south side of Chicago with 98% of the student body being African-American, the majority of whom receive subsidized lunches. Since 2005, the Academy has outperformed all schools in its district and remains one of the top public schools in Chicago.

One of Rogers’ legacies is the Ariel Nuveen Investment Program, a self-perpetuating program at the school that gives students access to a financial world that may otherwise be foreign to them. Each first grade class receives $20,000, which is managed for them for the first half of their schooling life. Students become more active in making investment decisions until the sixth grade, when a board of student directors begins making all the investment decisions.

After graduation, half the profits are given back to the school in the form of a gift. The other half is distributed amongst the graduates in the form of cash, or a 529 college savings program with a $1,000 match from Ariel. The principle goes back to the next group of first graders.

The program is Rogers’ crown jewel, and one of his many efforts to bring more diversity to Wall Street and board rooms around the U.S.

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, how did you become interested in finance, and at what age?

My father bought stocks for every one of my birthdays after the age of 12, rather than giving me toys. I got to keep the dividend checks. I would read the quarterly reports that came in mail, and, eventually, my father introduced me to his stockbroker, Stacy Adams (one of the first African American brokers in Chicago). I would spend every moment in the summer working with him, watching the ticker tape.

Who was the biggest influence in your career?

Stacy was a clear role model. He helped me get an interview at [Chicago investment bank] William Blair, where I met former chairman Ned Jannotta, a fellow Princeton alum. Blair had everything: trading, investment banking, mutual funds. I got to learn everything about finance. Blair is where I began to understand that working with smaller companies is a great business decision.

I also read everything from Warren Buffett and John Templeton. I didn’t know them, but they had great influence on my career.

Tell me about the Ariel Community Academy and the Investment Program?

It’s born from my father’s concept. The kids watch us invest the money for the first six years, and then they take the reins. We make finance real for them, giving them real money to invest. It gets kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access thinking about financial careers.

We’ll expose them to analysts, have Ariel employees come to the school and even take them to a McDonald’s annual meeting to see how the world of business works. This is the first year to have kids graduate from college. We’ve got some real success stories. One of the kids is at the University of Chicago, already working part-time at Morningstar.

How would you describe the state of diversity in finance?

It’s unfortunate. One of the most lucrative parts of the economy; it’s so dynamic, offering so much wealth, and people of color have not participated. Here in Chicago, at major funds and banks, you can count the number of black partners on one hand. That is just the reality of it. It’s something that needs to be addressed. People aren’t demanding that industries reflect the society in which they live.

What needs to be done?

Public schools must have more robust financial literacy programs. They need to introduce students to industries that can help them thrive, personally and financially.

We also need to encourage what some of our nation’s greatest mayors have done in the past: insist that companies that are headquartered in our cities reflect the communities that they’re in.

We must also have business leaders who demand diversity, not only within their own company but also from their suppliers and business partners. We must ask: Where is the diversity?

I’m on an endowment board that partnered with an investment bank. There was nobody of any color on their team. I raised my hand and asked why. By the next meeting, the firm had hired their first African American investment banker.

What advice do you have for young adults who are considering getting into finance?

I absolutely recommend people getting into finance. It’s one of the most dynamic fields there is. To get started, people need to work outside their normal thinking. Take a look at major mutual fund companies, or think about careers in the endowment world. It’s a great way to help society, maybe help your alma mater, and learn about the investment world. People always want to work for biggest banks, but there are a lot of opportunities outside of those areas.

What are your thoughts on the fiscal cliff?

It’s not as big a deal as people think. We have a way of resolving these issues; our democracy is too resilient. As a long term investor, you can’t get caught up in the short term noise. Eventually, America will come to the right solution.

Is it true you were the first person at Michael Jordan’s camp to beat him in a game of one-on-one?

Haha. He played about 20 campers by the time he got to me. No one had beaten him in first seven years. I was helped by a combination of overconfidence, fatigue and luck. If you listen to him at the end of the video, you can hear him say ‘oh no’ when the last shot was in the air.

10869: Jacob Zuma’s Pet Peeves…?

From The New York Daily News…

South African President says pet ownership is part of ‘white culture’

President Jacob Zuma thinks members of ‘the previously oppressed African majority’ who love dogs have a ‘lack of humanity’ and that some people are trying in vain to ‘emulate whiteness.’


JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president says a dog should not be man’s best friend.

President Jacob Zuma made critical remarks about pet care that touch on sensitive race relations in South Africa, which was dominated by whites until apartheid was dismantled almost two decades ago, The Star newspaper reported Thursday.

The newspaper cited Zuma as saying in a speech Wednesday that the idea of having a pet is part of “white culture” and that people should focus on family welfare. The president’s office sought to clarify his remarks, saying he was encouraging “the previously oppressed African majority” to uphold its own culture. It also suggested the way in which the comments were reported, rather than the comments themselves, was divisive.

The backdrop to the dog debate is the legacy of Western colonialism in Africa, as well as the bitter struggle against apartheid in South Africa that culminated in the first democratic elections in 1994. Nelson Mandela, now 94 years old and ailing, became the country’s first black president as well as a symbol of reconciliation among all South Africans, though poverty and economic imbalances remain a source of deep strain in the nation of 50 million.

During his speech to an appreciative crowd in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province, the president said people who love dogs more than people have a “lack of humanity” and that some people are trying in vain to “emulate whiteness,” The Star reported.

“Even if you apply any kind of lotion and straighten your hair, you will never be white,” he reportedly said.

In a statement, the South African presidency said Zuma was trying to convince Africans to take pride in their heritage and not feel pressure to adopt customs of minority cultures. Animals can be cared for, was the message, but not at the expense of people.

Zuma “referred to what people should guard against, such as loving animals more than other human beings,” the statement said. “He made the well-known example of people who sit with their dogs in front in a van or truck with a worker at the back in pouring rain or extremely cold weather. Others do not hesitate to rush their dogs to veterinary surgeons for medical care when they are sick while they ignore workers or relatives who are also sick in the same households.”

Zuma has often said he seeks to protect South Africa’s diversity and unify its disparate groups, but he has occasionally stirred controversy. In 2006, as deputy president, he said same-sex marriages, which are today protected under South African law, were “a disgrace to the nation and to God.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

10868: New Discrimination Charges For IPG.

For IPG, “Joy Noel” is a totally different form of holiday greeting. Specifically, IPG legal staffer Joy Noel presented her employer with a re-filed discrimination lawsuit. MediaPost News reported Noel submitted a new complaint after a judge tossed her original $50 million legal action. IPG insists the claims in the case “remain without merit.” At the same time, IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth and Draftfcb President and CEO Laurence Boschetto admit the industry has struggled with diversity and discrimination, so there will almost always be merit to any claim of wrongdoing pertaining to unfair employment practices.

IPG Staffer Refiles Discrimination Suit

By Steve McClellan

Interpublic Group legal staffer Joy Noel has re-filed her racial discrimination lawsuit against the holding company and two of its former executives with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The re-filing was submitted about three weeks after Judge Harold Baer Jr. threw out her original complaint, calling her charges “a variety of broad but meatless allegations, including lesser salaries and fewer benefits for blacks as opposed to less-qualified Caucasian and light-skinned employees.”

However, Baer offered Noel the opportunity to re-file, focusing on a retaliation claim and an allegation that the holding company unlawfully passed her over for promotion.

In the new complaint, Noel is seeking unspecified damages. By contrast, in the complaint that Baer tossed out Noel sought $50 million. Also, she is suing two fewer people this time around; those left out of the second complaint include IPG CEO Michael Roth and IPG Human Resources Director Carolyn Harding. The remaining defendants include IPG and two former legal department executives, including former general counsel Nicholas Camera and former associate general counsel Marjorie Hoey.

Noel claims she was unlawfully passed over for the position of executive assistant to Camera when the position became available in March 2011. She also alleged that it was Hoey’s decision to pass her over and that Hoey, described in the suit as a “Caucasian female,” has “never promoted [Noel] or any other person of color to a front office position.

Noel also alleged that the person who was selected for the job, Theresa Muller, was “not qualified for the position because of her past poor performance as an employee.” The complaint does not describe in detail Muller's lack of qualifications, but does note that she didn’t last long in the position and that she was replaced by an African-American female not named in the suit. Noel is Trinidadian, per her complaint.

Noel also alleged that when she complained about being passed over, her workload was reduced and she was re-assigned to a lower-ranking attorney within the IPG legal department. In addition, she was “isolated in such a manner that other employees do not interact with her out of fear of losing their jobs.”

After the initial complaint was dismissed, IPG said that “the claims in this case remain without merit.”

10867: Asinine Alzheimer’s Ad.

McCann in Turkey makes fun of grandma’s dementia. Nice.

From Ads of the World.

10866: Chrishell Stubbs Stuns.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

10865: Target Targets Latinos.

Advertising Age reported Target named LatinWorks as its Latino agency after a shootout that narrowed down to the winner and sister Omnicom shop Dieste. Wow, the network notorious for Corporate Cultural Collusion has added a multicultural twist. Wanted to accuse Omnicom of thinking all Latino agencies looked alike, but the holding company has been positioning its White shops as interchangeable too. According to Ad Age, the “pitch” was essentially handled by Target’s procurement team and without the services of a search consultant. Are there even any search consultancies with multicultural experience?

Also worth noting: Last October, Target Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Jones declared, “This brand has the right to work with the best creative agencies in the world. … When I look at the breadth of our business—in one hour of one day we’re thinking about healthcare reform and b-to-b marketing for our pharmacy business, in the next hour we’re launching an exclusive artist relationship with Pink and in the next we’re worrying about fashion and style and thinking about our partnership with Neiman Marcus, [and] at the holidays we talk about toys—the breadth of the business doesn’t set up well to have one agency that’s extraordinary at all facets of what we have to do.” In other words, Jones doesn’t believe a single White agency is equipped to handle his mainstream business, but uno Latino shop can cover the non-White customers.

Finally, Ad Age stated LatinWorks might have to drop its current client, Marshalls, which likely represents a conflict of interest with Target. However, the CEO of runner-up Dieste ran the group that won Marshalls in his former stint as LatinWorks’ managing director. So Omnicom has covered all bases. ¡Feliz Navidad!

Target Hires LatinWorks After Hispanic Agency Review

Pitch Pitted Shop Against Omnicom Sibling Dieste

By Laurel Wentz

Target is awarding its U.S. Hispanic account to LatinWorks after a three-month review that also included sibling Omnicom Group shop Dieste.

“LatinWorks has been selected and will be our primary strategic partner for Hispanic marketing,” said Katie Boylan, senior group manager of public relations at Target.

Target doesn’t make specific agency of record assignments, she said. The account does not include media planning and buying. Grupo Gallegos, an independent U.S. Hispanic shop, previously handled much of Target’s Hispanic work, often on a project basis. LatinWorks referred calls to Target.

Target ranks No. 29 among the 50 largest advertisers in Hispanic media, spending $45.6 million in 2011, according to Ad Age’s Hispanic Fact Pack.

The pitch, largely handled by Target’s procurement team, started with about half a dozen Hispanic shops then narrowed to finalists LatinWorks and Dieste. No consultant was used.

LatinWorks faces a potential conflict with another retail client, the TJX Companies’ Marshalls. It’s unclear whether the agency will be able to handle Hispanic work for both retailers or will have to resign the Marshalls business.

If Marshalls were to leave LatinWorks, Dieste’s CEO Greg Knipp led the team that won Marshalls in his previous job as managing director of LatinWorks. Dieste previously handled JC Penney, but lost that business in 2008; Grupo Gallegos now handles.

10864: On The First Day Of Kwanzaa…

From The Atlantic…

Awesome Kwanzaa: A Made-Up Holiday for a Made-Up Country

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Over at Slate Melonyce McAfee defends the holiday which, like the people for which it was founded, seems ever under attack:

Still, I’m not ready to join the naysayers who mock Kwanzaa as a pseudo holiday, created to annoy white people and kept alive to peddle cards and kente cloth. “No one is quite sure just what Kwanzaa is,” Jonathan Safran Foer deadpans in a New York Times op-ed this morning. Debra Dickerson called the holiday a “cop out” in a Times op-ed from 2003 because it sidesteps the traditions hard-built by African-Americans over the last centuries. “Insofar as Kwanzaa negates the quintessential Americanness of the slave-descended, it is an affront to the heroism and enunciated goals of our oppressed ancestors,” she wrote.

But what’s more American than tweaking an institution to suit your needs? Some folks who don’t go to church pine for more than the dancing black Santa from Wal-Mart. Plus, Kwanzaa and Christmas are not mutually exclusive—‘tis the season of peaceful co-existence. A rule of Kwanzaa states that one “should not mix the Kwanzaa holiday or its symbols, values and practice with any other culture.” But Kwanzaa starts the day after Christmas, so until Dec. 26, you can drink eggnog out of a gourd shell.

I don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. I only celebrate Christmas because of my wife and son. I generally don’t like holidays. And while I come from a family of black radicals, my Dad generally derided Kwanzaa as “fake Christmas.” The holiday season in the Coates house generally meant more time for work. (Sadly, it’s becoming that in my household, too.)

With that said, Kwanzaa-hating has always struck me as the most bougie and snobbish of holiday traditions. It’s that cool that Jonathan Safran Foer thinks that “no one is quite sure what Kwanzaa is,” but I’m not sure “what Hanukkah is.” And for most of my life, no one I knew was quite sure either. I’m only barely sure “what Christmas is.” (Celebrating the birth of your savior with an orgy of consumption?)

It’s just seems bizarre in America, of all places, to stand on vintage. Has there ever been a more mongrel, more made-up, country that this one? Have there ever been two more “made up people” then the “white race” and the “black race?” This country is a mongrel mess—and its traditions are, too. That’s the whole charm of the thing. No one who takes the Easter Bunny seriously should mock Kwanzaa. This is about equality. Black people have right to make shit up, just as white people have the right to make shit up.

10863: Mickey DJ’s.

MediaPost News reported Mickey D’s has selected the finalists for its Flavor Battle national DJ competition. Gee, what a breakthrough idea. The folks behind the promotion were probably debating between staging a contest between DJs, gospel choirs, stepping enthusiasts, spoken word artists, breakdancers or marching bands. Look for the winner to appear in a Chicken McNuggets® commercial.

McDonald’s Flavor Battle Unveils Finalists

By Tanya Irwin

McDonald’s has announced the finalists in its Flavor Battle, a national disc jockey (DJ) competition featuring some of America’s hottest up-and-coming mix-masters.

DJ Arty J of St. Louis, Mo., DJ Element of Brooklyn, N.Y. and DJ Jena Red of Pasadena, Calif. beat 21 other DJs from across the nation and advanced to the final round of the competition.

The finalists will now scratch, mix and battle live in Miami on Feb. 7 before a panel of celebrity judges and crowd of young, hip audiophiles for a $10,000 grand prize and bragging rights as the 2013 Flavor Battle champion.

The competition began online at in early November with 24 DJs each representing a U.S. region and a McDonald’s burger: the Angus Third Pounder (East Coast), Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (Central region) and Big Mac (West Coast).

A star-studded party in Times Square that included several music and entertainment celebrities, including hip-hop artist/television host/actor Bow Wow, DJ/television correspondent Amanda Seales, hip-hop artist/reality TV star The Astronomical Kid, aka Astro, and renowned celebrity blogger Necole Bitchie, helped kick off the national competition.

DJ Arty J, DJ Element and DJ Jena Red garnered the most votes in the online competition in which thousands of music and burger lovers from across the nation listened to a custom music mix from each DJ on and voted daily for their favorite flavor master in each region.

Sprite Spin-Off is a new addition to this year’s competition. Fifteen DJs who garnered a high number of votes, but did not advance to the final round, received a second shot at winning a trip to Miami. DJ Kue of St. Louis, Mo. climbed his way to the top of the Sprite Spin-Off and will spin during the finale’s exclusive pre-event party.

“McDonald’s Flavor Battle gives some of the most creative, emerging DJs a national platform to showcase their skillful talent and connect with audiences through a universal vehicle—music,” said Rob Jackson, McDonald’s U.S. marketing director, in a release. “Music is an integral part of culture and communities, and as a brand, we’re proud to continue supporting a program that shines a spotlight on the unparalleled art form of deejaying.”

Conducted with men’s style and lifestyle network Complex Media, Flavor Battle launched in 2009 as an extension of McDonald’s 365Black initiative. McDonald’s 365Black platform was created to celebrate the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year round.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

10862: Mayan Mayhem.

From The New York Daily News…

Mayan temple damaged in tourist ‘apocalypse’ frenzy

Tourists flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archeological site and urban center of the Mayan civilization.


Tourists flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archeological site and urban center of the Mayan civilization.

“Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage,” said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, which is located some 340 miles north of Guatemala City.

“We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site,” he told local media.

Gomez did not specify what was done, although he did say it was forbidden to climb the stairs at the site and indicated that the damage was irreparable.

Temple II, which is about 125 feet high and faces the central Tikal plaza, is one of the site’s best known structures.

Friday marked the end of an era that lasted 5,200 years, according to the Mayan “Long Count” calendar. Some believed the date also marked the end of the world as foretold by Mayan hieroglyphs.

More than 7,000 people visited Tikal on Friday to see native Mayan priests hold a colorful ceremony and light fires as the sun emerged to mark the new era.

Critics complained that the event was really for tourists and had little to do with the Mayans. About 42 percent of Guatemala’s 14.3 million residents are native Mayans, and most live in poverty and endure discrimination.

The ancient Mayans reached their peak of power in Central America between the years 250 and 900 AD.

UNESCO declared Tikal a World Heritage Site in 1979.

10861: Mickey Mouse’s Multicultural Move.


Disney celebrates Hispanic heritage on Three Kings Day

By Beth J. Harpaz, Associated Press

NEW YORK—Disneyland is marking Three Kings Day in a big way this season, another milestone in the mainstreaming of a holiday that is beloved in Latin America and other cultures around the world.

The Christian holiday - also known as Twelfth Night or Feast of the Epiphany - takes place Jan. 6, ending the 12 days of Christmas. Many Hispanic communities in the U.S. celebrate Three Kings Day with parades and performances depicting the Biblical story of three kings following a star to find the baby Jesus, bringing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.

Disneyland spokeswoman Michele Himmelberg said the theme park in Anaheim, Calif., “launched the Three Kings Day celebration last year as a test. It was a big success, particularly with the Hispanic community, and we’re expanding it this year to a larger area.”

The park will host Three Kings Day on Jan. 4 to 6 at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree in Disneyland’s Frontierland. There will be Mexican folklorico dancing, mariachi musicians, photo ops with Disney characters and bilingual hosts offering face painting, crown making and other children’s activities. Food carts will serve sweet corn tamales, chimichangas, Mexican hot chocolate and king cake, which is a round, sweet, doughy cake called rosca de reyes (king’s ring).

“I love the fact that Disney is doing this,” said Evette Rios, a correspondent with ABC’s “The Chew,” who grew up celebrating Three Kings Day with her Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, N.Y. “It means a lot. This is the changing face of America. We are becoming more open to different holidays and traditions. I don’t have a homogenous view of what America is and I’m glad Disney doesn’t either.”

As a child, Rios said, she’d leave a dish of water under her bed for the three kings’ camels — “actually for the horses because there were no camels in Puerto Rico” — along with grass to represent hay. The next morning, she’d find small toys hidden in her shoes, gifts left by the kings.

Rios still celebrates the holiday by attending a parade in East Harlem in Manhattan organized by El Museo del Barrio, a museum devoted to Latin American and Caribbean culture. The colorful parade, in its 36th year, includes costumed actors, floats, bands and real camels. It’s always held on a weekday - this year Jan. 4 - so schools can participate.

In Miami, three kings of basketball — Heat superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — are grand marshals of the 43rd annual Three Kings parade in the Cuban-American neighborhood of Little Havana. The parade is scheduled for Jan. 20 along Southwest Eighth Street.

The holiday has a French accent in New Orleans, where Twelfth Night kicks off carnival season, culminating in Mardi Gras. Each Jan. 6, the mayor and leaders of top Mardi Gras krewes — organizations that host carnival parades and balls — meet at historic Gallier Hall to serve king cake, which in New Orleans is called galette des rois and is iced in purple, green and gold, the colors of Mardi Gras.

Both the French and Mexican cakes have a toy baby representing the Christ child baked inside, but Mexican king cakes are usually topped in Christmas colors of red and green, colors also found in the Mexican flag.

Ricardo Cervantes, co-owner of La Monarca bakeries in Southern California, says they sell thousands of king cakes from their stores in East Los Angeles and the largely Hispanic city of Huntington Park. But surprisingly, sales are also strong at a Santa Monica location “in more of an Anglo neighborhood. People who are not Mexican, they are intrigued,” he said. “We also get a lot of people now bringing a cake into the office.” A new La Monarca opening this month in Pasadena will also carry king cake.

Huntington Park hosts a large Three Kings celebration, as does Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, a block-long historic attraction showcasing Mexican culture where a candlelight procession takes place each year.

Other Three Kings Day celebrations around the country include a parade in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago; a bilingual performance of the Biblical story that’s been staged for more than three decades at the GALA Theatre in Washington D.C., and festivities at the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas and The Children’s Museum of Houston. Schools in Hartford, Conn., which has a large Hispanic population, close when the holiday falls on a weekday.

New Mexico’s tribal communities, called pueblos, host ceremonial dances on Three Kings Day in a tradition that dates back centuries to the influence of Catholic missionaries in the Spanish colonial era. Jan. 6 is also when new tribal officials are installed in a ceremony called the blessing of canes or transfer of canes. In Santa Fe, N.M., a play about the three kings has been performed annually for more than 50 years by the Caballeros de Vargas, a Catholic service organization.

In Tarpon Springs, Fla., home to a large Greek-American population, the Feast of the Epiphany is marked with a Jan. 6 event called the Cross Dive, where teenage boys dive into a bayou to retrieve a wooden cross. At Disney World near Orlando, Fla., actors portray the three kings at Epcot Center’s Mexico Pavilion as part of the theme park’s “Holidays Around the World” event through Dec. 30.

Cervantes, the bakery owner, says that traditionally, the person who gets the cake slice with the toy baby must throw a party — “tamales and hot chocolate” for all. La Monarca puts two babies in a medium size cake, three in a large, so the cost of the party isn’t borne by one person.

In New Orleans, the burden is a little lighter: Get the slice with the baby, you buy the next king cake.

10860: Happy Holidays.

May Your Holidays be Filled with Good Cheer and Good Times.

10859: Jerry Della Femina Is Mad, Man.

The New York Post printed a rant from Jerry Della Femina, where the iconic adman whined about having to sell his Hamptons estate and pay higher taxes because of President Barack Obama. Looks like yet another political conservative has emerged to dispute Carl Warner’s contentions. However, Della Femina has displayed his Republican leanings before this latest complaint. In 2007, he defended Don Imus with a culturally clueless perspective. In 2008, Della Femina apologized for a racist column (not written by Della Femina) on Obama that appeared in a newspaper he published. Grumbling about unloading a $25 million home completes the trilogy of stupidity.

Ad guru reveals why he sold Hamptons estate

I’m paying unfair price for working hard

By Jerry Della Femina

Jerry Della Femina was a poor kid from Brooklyn who went on to create one of the world’s most famous advertising agencies, Della Femina Travisano & Partners. He recently sold his 8,000-square-foot oceanfront Hamptons estate for $25 million, just in time to avoid next year’s rise in capital-gains taxes. He estimates he would have had to pay an additional 8.6 percent — for a total capital-gains tax bill of $3.7 million — if he had sold it after Jan. 1.

I’m happy to pay my fair share — which is whatever the tax is right now.

The thing about capital gains is, I made the investment. I put in the original money. The house cost $3 million and then I put in an additional $6 million because the house was in terrible shape. We added rooms, sections, areas, and basically it was my investment.

When I bought that house I think Obama was in high school, and I certainly have paid taxes ever since.

I don’t come from a lot of money. In fact, I don’t come from any money.

So I literally started with zero. I worked very hard. And I’ve been very good to the people who worked for me. At one point I had over 800 employees, and I always paid all health care for my people — including a man who was my assistant who got HIV. I wound up paying his medical bills, which went into the hundreds of thousands. I’m not making myself out to be a saint. I did the right thing.

Now I’m being told the right thing is to do more. And because I can afford it, I have to pay more.

At this stage of my life, I want to have money to leave to my five kids and seven grandkids. Why would I want to give that additional 8 percent from capital gains to Obama instead?

God knows how that money would be spent.

I made the investment while Obama might have been in high school or smoking dope in college or whatever he was doing. He didn’t make the investment; I did. He didn’t take the risk; I did. He didn’t improve the house; I did. And then in the end, he’s saying I must pay him more.

I always was happy to pay my fair share of taxes. I’m careful to pay every single penny on my taxes. I don’t have any money offshore. But the fact is that at this stage the general feeling in the country is, “You have it, give it to us.”

And I worked too hard to get it. I spent too much time, working too hard, to get it. Where was President Obama when I was working until 1, 2 in the morning and basically not spending as much time with my kids as I would have liked to? Where was he when I worked on Saturdays and Sundays?

Well, he’s here now. And what he’s saying is: “OK, you made the money, now you have to pay your fair share.”

I think my fair share can be what it’s been all along.

I work hard and I pay my taxes. No matter what the administration.

This is an administration that is spending more money than any administration in history. To spend more money, they need more money.

That’s where I object.

It’s a case of a president who really wants to redistribute wealth.

Monday, December 24, 2012

10858: Tots & Tribal Rights.

From The New York Times…

Case Pits Adoptive Parents Against Tribal Rights

By Adam Liptak

WASHINGTON — “What has been the toughest decision for you?” Charlie Rose asked Justice Antonin Scalia in a television interview a few weeks ago. He meant the most personally wrenching.

Justice Scalia has served on the Supreme Court for more than a quarter of a century, and he has seen his share of difficult cases. But one stuck out.

“It was pretty early on in my time on this court,” he said. “We had a case in which a very wealthy rancher and his wife had adopted a child of a young man and woman on an Indian reservation who had had the child out of wedlock. And they gave the child to the rancher to raise.”

A state court in Mississippi had approved the arrangement. But a federal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, required tribal courts rather than state ones to decide.

“The kid was, I think, 5 years old or so” by the time the case reached the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia recalled. “And we had to turn that child over to the tribal council. I found that very hard. But that’s what the law said, without a doubt.”

Justice Scalia’s recollection of the case, from 1989, was understandably a little hazy. It involved 3-year-old twins, and their adoptive father had died by the time the case was decided.

But he had the main point right. In various ways, the 1978 law he cited makes it hard to remove American Indian children from their parents, their tribes and their heritage.

The case that troubled Justice Scalia now has a sequel, and at their private conference next week, the justices will consider whether to hear it.

The new case involves a South Carolina couple who were ordered to turn over a 27-month-old girl they had cared for since birth to her biological father, an Indian, whom the little girl had never met.

The South Carolina Supreme Court, saying it did so “with a heavy heart,” ruled for the father even as it acknowledged that the adoptive couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, were “ideal parents who have exhibited the ability to provide a loving family environment.” He works as a technician at Boeing; she has a doctorate in developmental psychology.

Under South Carolina law, the child, Veronica, would have stayed with the Capobiancos. Under the federal law, she was sent to live with her biological father, Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation.

The federal law was a reaction to a dark history of abusive child welfare practices involving Indian children and was sensitive to distinctive aspects of Native American culture. But the Capobiancos and their supporters say the law may have gone too far, by intruding on domestic decisions traditionally governed by state law and by putting a thumb on the legal scale based on the race of one of the parties.

The central question for the justices, the Capobiancos say, is whether an absent father should have the right to thwart a mother’s wishes about the fate of her child simply because he happens to be an Indian. The vote in the State Supreme Court was 3 to 2, and the dissenters were not impressed with Mr. Brown. According to one dissenting judge, Mr. Brown had “turned his back on the joys and responsibilities of fatherhood at every turn.” Another said Mr. Brown’s “vanishing act triggered the adoption in the first instance.”

Here is a piece of evidence that may color your view of Mr. Brown: before his daughter was born, he renounced his parental rights by text message. In fairness, the child’s mother also used text messages to break off their engagement and to ask for child support.

Mr. Brown changed his mind when he heard that his former fiancée, who is not an Indian, had put their daughter up for adoption. He invoked the 1978 law, and he has so far succeeded in blocking the adoption, despite opposition not only from the Capobiancos but also from the girl’s biological mother and the girl’s court-appointed guardian.

Family courts ordinarily base their decisions on the best interests of the child before them. But the 1978 law says other factors must be considered. “The tribe has an interest in the child which is distinct from but on a parity with the interest of the parents,” Justice William J. Brennan Jr., writing for himself, Justice Scalia and four other justices, explained in the 1989 decision, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield. This was, Justice Brennan added, “a relationship that many non-Indians find difficult to understand.”

Justice Brennan recognized that the law sometimes produced heartbreak. “Three years’ development of family ties cannot be undone,” he wrote, “and a separation at this point would doubtless cause considerable pain.” But the 1978 law, he said, required that the tribal court make the decision.

The questions in the new case, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, No. 12-399, concern other parts of the law. But the larger issue is similar, and how it is answered could affect thousands of adoptions every year.

In the 1989 case that Justice Scalia discussed with Mr. Rose, there was, though the justice did not seem to know it, something of a happy ending. The tribal court allowed the children to remain with their adoptive family, saying that “it would have been cruel to take them from the only mother they knew.” At the same time, the court ordered that the children stay in contact with their extended family and tribe.

There does not seem to be such a middle ground in the new case, and it is not clear whether the justices will want to take on the burden of a decision with the potential to weigh on them for decades.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

10857: U.K. Ad Diversity Is Forgettable.

Campaign published “Top 10 things to forget” for 2012, including the BBC’s ‘Savilegate’ omnishambles, the ‘Shicklegate’ resignation, Rupert Murdoch and controversial media judging at Cannes. Whatever. Not on the list is the U.K. advertising industry’s appalling dearth of diversity—which shall surely be ignored and forgotten like the identical dilemma in the U.S. Why, diversity champion Sir John Hegarty has probably already forgotten his patronizing, lame and hypocritical support for inclusive reform.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

10856: Report From FTC Is BS.

Adweek spotlighted the FTC report showing food marketing to kids dropped 19.5% from 2006 to 2009. Um, it’s a few days shy of 2013. Where’s the latest big data? Regardless, there are at least three points to consider about the findings:

First, the advertising reduction did not ignite an equal result for childhood obesity—i.e., fewer ads did not lead to more healthy kids.

Second, it appears that the sly marketers simply shifted tactics from national TV commercials to digital and promotions. Let’s be honest. A regulated TV spot will not outperform tie-ins with video games, recording artists and movies.

Third, the food marketers are executing the same maneuvers as Big Tobacco. Specifically, they know that getting kids hooked on cigarettes/Big Macs starts by getting parents hooked. So rather than aim messages directly at youngsters, the food companies increase advertising with adults. Just survey the growing number of grown-up campaigns for fast food, slow food, soft drinks, etc. Ronald McDonald is the new Marlboro Man.

FTC Reports Food Marketing to Children Down 19.5%

Commission urges holdout companies and media to self-regulate

By Katy Bachman

Nutrition watchdogs should be pleased. Food companies are spending less money marketing to children and youth, a new Federal Trade Commission report found. Compared to 2006, food marketing targeting 2- to 17-year-olds dropped 19.5 percent to $1.79 billion in 2009.

Most of the decrease came from fewer ads on TV. At the same time, food companies increased by 50 percent spending in new media, such as online, mobile and viral marketing, which are cheaper than TV. Companies have also stepped up integrated marketing and cross-promotion campaigns that combine traditional media with other platforms, from digital to movies to packaging to toy premiums.

For the first time, the report, released today, also analyzed the nutritional profile of foods marketed to youth, finding that self-regulation by the food industry has resulted in “modest nutritional improvements,” particularly in heavily-marketed categories such as cereals, drinks and fast-food kids’ meals.

The FTC’s follow-up report, “A Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents,” was anticipated for the better part of a year, but the controversy over the federal government’s attempt to establish voluntary food guidelines for marketing to children may have sidelined the update. By the end of next year, the 16 member companies of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative—which represents 90 percent of all food marketing to children—committed to stricter nutrition guidelines for children under 12.

“More companies have joined, hundreds of foods have been improved or newly created to meet science-based nutrition criteria, and the CFBAI itself has expanded and become even more rigorous,” said Elaine Kolish, director and vp of the CFBAI, which operates under the Better Business Bureau.

While FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz gave due recognition to the food industry’s efforts to help reduce the nation’s obesity epidemic, he noted that there were still a few food company holdouts and media companies that need to step up.

“The encouraging news is that we’re seeing promising signs that food companies are reformulating their products and marketing more nutritious foods to kids, especially among companies participating in industry self-regulatory efforts. But there is still room for improvement. We will look for continued progress by the food industry and greater participation by the entertainment industry,” Leibowitz said in a statement.

Some of the food companies that have not joined the CFBAI include Chuck E. Cheese’s, Topps Candy, and IHOP. Among media companies, Disney, for example, won accolades for its commitment to adopt strict in-house nutritional standards for children’s ads, but Viacom has yet to adopt a similar policy and has often faced criticism from nutrition watchdogs.

Nutrition advocates are still left with plenty to advocate, especially since self-regulation fails to cover the full range of marketing strategies, like packaging and toy giveaways.

“Self-regulation as its currently structured isn’t working yet. The CFBAI still doesn’t cover packaging and that’s the biggest spending category after TV or the toy,” said Margo Wootan, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The Center for Digital Democracy, alarmed at marketing shift towards new digital techniques, such as peer-to-peer viral campaigns and neuromarketing, suggested the FTC convene stakeholders to develop “fair digital marketing practices for children and teens.”

Even with a generally positive report, advertisers are bracing for a fight. “This will bring attention back onto the food advertising issue, adding new fuel to the fire for 2013,” said Dan Jaffe, evp of the Association of National Advertisers. “The advertising and media community have done more than any other sector to respond to the obesity issue. The question is, what is enough?”

At least one advertising attorney believes the FTC is on shaky ground as it tries to nudge the food and beverage industry to do more. “It’s policy-making masquerading as exercising enforcement authority…. Companies should not be led to believe that further compromise and cut back on spending and marketing will satisfy the FTC or the food industry critics,” said John Feldman, a partner with Reed Smith, in a statement. “They will not be satisfied until there is a ban on kids advertising altogether.”

The kids food fight heats up even as there is emerging evidence suggesting that the nation has begun to slowly turn the corner on the nation’s childhood obesity problem. A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that a number of places, including Philadelphia, New York, Mississippi and California, are showing small declines in childhood obesity rates.