Monday, March 31, 2014

11810: Elite Eight Is Enough.


He’s all-Ivy — accepted to all 8 Ivy League colleges

By Greg Toppo, USATODAY

In the next month, Kwasi Enin must make a tough decision: Which of the eight Ivy League universities should he attend this fall?

A first-generation American from Shirley, N.Y., the 17-year-old violist and aspiring physician applied to all eight, from Brown to Yale.

The responses began rolling in over the past few months, and by late last week when he opened an e-mail from Harvard, he found he’d been accepted to every one. School district officials provided scanned copies of acceptance letters from all eight on Monday. Yale confirmed that it was holding a spot for Enin.

The feat is extremely rare, say college counselors — few students even apply to all eight, because each seeks different qualities in their freshman class. Almost none are invited to attend them all. The Ivy League colleges are among the nation’s most elite.

“My heart skipped a beat when he told me he was applying to all eight,” says Nancy Winkler, a guidance counselor at William Floyd High School, where Enin attends class. In 29 years as a counselor, she says, she’s never seen anything like this. “It’s a big deal when we have students apply to one or two Ivies. To get into one or two is huge. It was extraordinary.”

For most of the eight schools, acceptance comes rarely, even among the USA’s top students. At the top end, Cornell University admitted only 14% of applicants. Harvard accepted just 5.9%.

But Enin has “a lot of things in his favor,” says college admissions expert Katherine Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise, a New York-based consulting firm.

For one thing, he’s a young man. “Colleges are looking for great boys,” Cohen says. Application pools these days skew heavily toward girls: The U.S. Department of Education estimates that females comprised 57% of college students in degree-granting institutions last year. Colleges — especially elite ones — are struggling to keep male/female ratios even, so admitting academically gifted young men like Enin gives them an advantage.

He ranks No. 11 in a class of 647 at William Floyd, a large public school on Long Island’s south shore. That puts him in the top 2% of his class. His SAT score, at 2,250 out of 2,400 points, puts him in the 99th percentile for African-American students.

He will also have taken 11 Advanced Placement courses by the time he graduates this spring. He’s a musician who sings in the school’s a capella group and volunteers at Stony Brook University Hospital’s radiology department. Enin plans to study medicine, as did both of his parents. They emigrated to New York from Ghana in the 1980s and studied at public colleges nearby. Both are nurses.

Being a first-generation American from Ghana also helps him stand out, Cohen says. “He’s not a typical African-American kid.”

Enin says he got the idea to apply to all eight in 10th or 11th grade, discovering that each has “their own sense of school spirit” and other qualities he liked. He also applied to three State University of New York campuses and Duke — and yes, they have all accepted him.

In a phone interview, Enin said Princeton so far has offered the most generous aid package. But he has yet to get offers from Columbia, Cornell or Harvard. Either way, he’ll need to accept a place in the class of 2018 somewhere by May 1. He wants to pursue both music and medicine.

Cohen says he’s “sitting in a very good place right now — I think he can negotiate the very best financial aid package he can get” at his top-choice school. “Almost any of them would do anything for this type of candidate,” Cohen says.

She advises that Enin call or write each of the eight and let them know that he’s got a slot in each other’s freshman class. They’ll compete to get him to show up in the fall.

Once he decides, she says, he should write letters to the seven runners-up saying he’s “honored to have been admitted.” After all, he’s got to keep his options open for graduate school.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

11809: Flying High As The Falcon.

From The New York Daily News…

Anthony Mackie talks about his role as Falcon in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ opening late Thursday

The 35-year-old actor describes a failed stunt and feelings about playing a superhero of color on the big screen. Marvel’s ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’ starring Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans opens late Thursday. By Ethan Sacks

Strapped to a four-point harness and suspended 15 feet off the ground, actor Anthony Mackie briefly felt like he was flying on the set of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — costumed as the heroic Falcon.

But that feeling was quickly replaced by panic as the stunt crew hoisted him up 70 feet and let go.

“I was supposed to land next to Chris Evans and take three steps before I ran into a parked van,” Mackie told the Daily News from the stable perch of an eighth-floor balcony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “I’m coming in and I’m looking at Chris and he’s looking at me like ‘Dude, you’re going to die.’ The fear in his eyes made me freak out. … I couldn’t stop. I knocked Chris over and just smashed into this van.”

The 35-year-old product of the Juilliard School may not have stuck that particular landing, but he’s in rarefied air as a major milestone in the superhero genre.

While Wesley Snipes’ “Blade” and Michael Jai White’s “Spawn” have roots in the pages of comic books, Falcon is the first true costumed crusader of color on the big screen.

Mackie’s team had been campaigning directly to Marvel since “Iron Man” blasted off in 2008.

“We would call and write letters after ‘The Hurt Locker,’ saying we would love to be a part of the Marvel Universe,” says Mackie, who pitched another hero, the Black Panther.

“I thought it was a no-brainer for there to be a black superhero movie in the time of superhero movies. And it got to the point where we harassed them so much, they went, ‘Don’t call us anymore, we’ll call you.’”

Marvel Studios kept its word. The next thing he knew, he was being fitted for that cursed harness that left him with a pinched nerve in his back. Now, the moment is here — the action flick opens late Thursday.

Mackie’s older brother is a comic-book nerd who briefed the actor on the importance of the character introduced by Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan in 1969 as a bridge to the civil rights movement for the relatively vanilla Captain America.

And if Mackie didn’t appreciate the history, co-star Samuel L. Jackson could remind him.

“I was a product of segregation and I just knew that’s how the world was in my mind,” says Jackson. “The idea if it was going to be a superperson, he wasn’t going to be a person of color. They didn’t even have black villains in the books.

“When ‘Star Wars’ happened, I realized how important it was to my friends and their kids,” added Jackson of his own role as a barrier-breaking Jedi in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”

“Then I started to understand more about what the necessity was to have characters like that in the films that would make people feel better.”

Now that he’s fully healed, Mackie, who splits his time between homes in Brooklyn and New Orleans, is campaigning to join the cast of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

This time, he’s holding out for a Falcon jet.

“I feel like Batman is the luckiest rich kid in the world,” he says, laughing. “Flying without a jet is not for the faint of heart.”

11808: Old White Guys And Tech.

From The New York Post…

Hey, Marc, listen up to the ol’ guys

By Jonathan Trugman

So what is it about “Old White Men” that has Silicon Valley’s senior hoodie in a knot? I mean, I guess being old and white and a man does make you stand out in Silicon Valley, but that’s no reason for hard feelings or snide comments.

What if — despite being old, white and male — you were also brilliant and worth oh, say, $24 billion or $63 billion, making you one of the 25 richest people in the world?

Surely that would engender a healthy degree of respect, if nothing else, from the Silicon Valley crowd.

Two weeks ago, Marc Andreessen— the browser bad boy — criticized New York’s own 78-year-old Carl Icahn, who had the nerve to point out that several of eBay’s board members, including Andreessen, have way too many conflicts and self-dealings.

Last week, the cranky 42-year-old Andreessen, successful and worth $700 million himself, moved up the Forbes list to swipe at the 83-year-old Warren Buffett who has repeatedly criticized bitcoin, an Andreessen investment and obsession.

Whether you believe bitcoin is a fad, a hackers cult or even a “crypto-virtual currency,” there is no need to attack some of the best minds in the world just because they are older and see things differently from the way you do.

That said, when Buffett — who knows a thing or two about currencies — calls bitcoin a “mirage,” no one can dismiss his assessment, not even Andreessen.

So when Andreessen tees off on Buffett with, “Track record of old white men who don’t understand tech — crapping on tech they don’t understand — still at 100 percent.”

The thing is, last week the IRS declared bitcoin was not a currency but a property.

So Buffett was right.

In the meantime, bitcoin has fallen below $500, 60 percent down from its mythical January high.

With age comes wisdom. Show some respect.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

11807: Selfie Silliness.

Not sure who’s really being targeted in this Brazilian ad. After all, it seems like men get into more trouble by sending selfies.

From Ads of the World.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

11805: Fouling The Crazy Ones.

Once again, the NCAA blocked CBS series The Crazy Ones. If only there were more rounds in the tournament.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

11801: Managing Microaggressions.

From The New York Times…

Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microaggressions’

By Tanzina Vega

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A tone-deaf inquiry into an Asian-American’s ethnic origin. Cringe-inducing praise for how articulate a black student is. An unwanted conversation about a Latino’s ability to speak English without an accent.

This is not exactly the language of traditional racism, but in an avalanche of blogs, student discourse, campus theater and academic papers, they all reflect the murky terrain of the social justice word du jour — microaggressions — used to describe the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture. What is less clear is how much is truly aggressive and how much is pretty micro — whether the issues raised are a useful way of bringing to light often elusive slights in a world where overt prejudice is seldom tolerated, or a new form of divisive hypersensitivity, in which casual remarks are blown out of proportion.

The word itself is not new — it was first used by Dr. Chester M. Pierce, a professor of education and psychiatry at Harvard University, in the 1970s. Until recently it was considered academic talk for race theorists and sociologists.

The recent surge in popularity for the term can be attributed, in part, to an academic article Derald W. Sue, a psychology professor at Columbia University, published in 2007 in which he broke down microaggressions into microassaults, microinsults and microinvalidations. Dr. Sue, who has literally written the book on the subject, called “Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation,” attributed the increased use of the term to the rapidly changing demographics in which minorities are expected to outnumber whites in the United States by 2042. “As more and more of us are around, we talk to each other and we know we’re not crazy,” Dr. Sue said. Once, he said, minorities kept silent about perceived slights. “I feel like people of color are less inclined to do that now,” he said.

Some say challenges to affirmative action in recent years have worked to stir racial tensions and resentments on college campuses. At least in part as a result of a blog started by two Columbia University students four years ago called The Microaggressions Project, the word made the leap from the academic world to the free-for-all on the web. Vivian Lu, the co-creator of the site, said she has received more than 15,000 submissions since she began the project.

To date, the site has had 2.5 million page views from 40 countries. Ms. Lu attributed the growing popularity of the term to its value in helping to give people a way to name something that may not be so obvious. “It gives people the vocabulary to talk about these everyday incidents that are quite difficult to put your finger on,” she said.

To Serena Rabie, 22, a paralegal who graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013, “This is racism 2.0.” She added: “It comes with undertones, it comes with preconceived notions. You hire the Asian computer programmer because you think he’s going to be a good programmer because he’s Asian.” Drawing attention to microaggressions, whether they are intentional or not, is part of eliminating such stereotypes, Ms. Rabie said.

On the other hand, John McWhorter, a linguistics professor at Columbia University, said many of his students casually use the word when they talk about race, but he cautioned against lumping all types of off-key language together. Assuming a black student was accepted to an elite university purely because of affirmative action? “That’s abuse,” Dr. McWhorter said. “That’s a slur.” Being offended when a white person claims to be colorblind — a claim often derided by minorities who say it willfully ignores the reality of race? Not so fast.

“I think that’s taking it too far,” he said. Whites do not have the same freedom to talk about race that nonwhites do, Dr. McWhorter said. If it is socially unacceptable for whites to consider blacks as “different in any way” then it is unfair to force whites to acknowledge racial differences, he said.

On a Facebook page called “Brown University Micro/Aggressions” a “dark-skinned black person” describes feeling alienated from conversations about racism on campus. A digital photo project run by a Fordham University student about “racial microaggressions” features minority students holding up signs with comments like “You’re really pretty … for a dark-skin girl.” The “St. Olaf Microaggressions” blog includes a letter asking David R. Anderson, the college’s president, to address “all of the incidents and microaggressions that go unreported on a daily basis.”

Even when young people do not use the term overtly, examples of perceived microaggressions abound.

When students at Harvard performed a play this month based on a multimedia project, “I, Too, Am Harvard,” that grew out of interviews with minority students, an entire segment highlighted microaggressions.

In one scene, students recite phrases they have been told, presumably by nonblack students, including “You only got in because you’re black” and “The government feels bad for you.” In another scene, a black student dressed in a tuxedo and a red bow tie describes being at a formal university function and being confused for a waiter.

Tsega Tamene, 20, a history and science major, and a producer for the play, said microaggressions were an everyday part of student life. “It’s almost scary the way that this disguised racism can affect you, hindering your success and the very psyche of going to class,” she said.

Outside of college campuses, microaggressions have been picked apart in popular Web videos including a two-part video poking fun at things white girls say to black girls (“It’s almost like you’re not black”) and another video called “What Kind of Asian Are You?” (“Where are you from? Your English is perfect”).

But the trend has its critics. A skeptical article in the conservative National Review carried the arch headline “You Could Be a Racist and Not Even Know It.”

Harry Stein, a contributing editor to City Journal, said in an email that while most people feel unjustly treated at times, “most such supposed insults are slight or inadvertent, and even most of those that aren’t might be readily shrugged off.” Mr. Stein took issue with the term “microaggressions,” saying that its use “suggests a more serious problem: the impulse to exaggerate the meaning of such encounters in the interest of perpetually seeing oneself as a victim.”

The comments on recent articles about microaggressions have been a mix of empathetic and critical. One commenter on a BuzzFeed article on the “I, Too, Am Harvard” project wrote: “Make up your mind, do you want to be seen the same as everyone because you’re a human being, or do you want to be seen as a ‘colored’ girl, since not being seen as a ‘colored’ person is obviously offensive?” Another wrote, “I don’t get bent out of shape if a white person asks me are you, like, Hindu or something? I just correct them.”

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor and author, said the public airing of racial microaggressions should not be limited to minorities, but should be open to whites as well. “That’s the only way that you can produce a multicultural, ethnically diverse environment,” he said.

“We’re talking about people in close contact who are experiencing the painful intersections of intimacy,” he said. “The next part of that is communication, and this is a new form of communication.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

11799: The Crazy Ones Timeout.

NCAA March Madness bounced CBS series The Crazy Ones from its regular timeslot. Awesome, baby!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

11796: White Women Whining.

Campaign celebrated International Women’s Day by interviewing White adwomen on the dearth of dames in U.K. advertising agencies.

Women in adland: more to do

International Women’s Day took place last Saturday. Louise Ridley presents highlights from Campaign’s interviews on gender in adland.

Cheryl Giovannoni Chief executive, Ogilvy & Mather

Only 26 per cent of people in leadership roles in advertising are women (IPA Agency Census 2013). Is this enough?

That is a woeful statistic and needs to be addressed urgently. Women are increasingly influential decision-makers across most categories and, if there are not enough women running the organisations responsible for producing communications that appeal to women, then everyone misses out.

Is work/life balance an issue at agencies?

Work/life balance is always a challenge, particularly in the tough, competitive world we live and work in. I try to be 100 per cent in the moment — whether I am working or spending time with my family. It doesn’t always work but, then, having a demanding career is a contract you sign up to. If work/life balance is your main priority, then you should probably not work in an agency. There are lots of rewarding, less demanding jobs that you can do.

Are women portrayed positively in advertising campaigns?

Not always. My biggest issue is the obsession with celebrity and how this is shaping the aspirations of so many young women. The glamorous images thrust upon them feed female insecurities and take up too much media space. Creating more positive role models by focusing on women whose success is based on hard work, talent and achievement will really help.

What are your top three tips for women getting into the advertising business?

Make sure it’s something you feel truly passionate about. If it doesn’t excite you, there really is no point. It will wear you down quickly. Don’t play the politics or rely on anything but talent and huge amounts of effort. There are no shortcuts, and you will be found out really quickly. Work hard to make yourself invaluable. Always try to bring something interesting/insightful/surprising to the table. You will earn a reputation and everyone will want you on their team.

Mel Cruickshank Chief executive, Wunderman

Only 26 per cent of people in leadership roles in advertising are women (IPA Agency Census 2013). Is this enough?

Absolutely not. However, it took the British monarchy more than 300 years to put women at an equal footing when succession laws changed. In comparison, we are doing rather well and our industry does have a very strong female voice.

Is work/life balance an issue at agencies?

Yes, it is tough having it all — particularly as a female. You have to learn to chip away at the hurdles and work through it. Delegation is a big part of it, I guess, as you can’t have your finger in every pie, but having people around whom you trust is really key to making things happen. I hate not being in control but, sometimes, to get that healthy work/life balance, that’s what you need to do.

Are women portrayed positively in advertising campaigns?

I think it’s getting better, but we’re not there yet. I think, as a physical representation, it’s not too terrible in campaigns today. It’s more subliminal in the targeting of those ads, so not obviously discriminating but they can often show the lack of shift.

What are your top three tips for women getting into the advertising business?

It’s never easy to plan these things, but think hard about when you envisage having children. If it’s fairly early on in your career, it could be much harder financially to then come back to work. Ensure you are super-organised. Having a family to look after, ensuring school work is done on time, managing a busy workplace and the added social lifestyle take super organisational skills. Don’t moan, just do. And grasp opportunities not just by asking but by demanding them.

Caitlin Ryan Executive creative director, Karmarama

Only 26 per cent of people in leadership roles in advertising are women (IPA Agency Census 2013). Is this enough?

No. It is up to those of us in leadership positions to make sure the pipeline is full and the blocks to staying in the industry are removed. Having a wife at home was once seen as a prerequisite to a man being promoted. It meant he could focus on the “job at hand”. We need to enable our male and female talent to also focus on family, life, other interests. The hairy unanswered question is: in a service industry like ours, is it possible?

Is work/life balance an issue at agencies?

Yes, but I think it is changing. In most cases, childcare seems to still be the responsibility of the mother. I am constantly picking up on guys when they say they are going home to babysit their kids: "No, you’re not — you are taking your turn to look after your children." Until that mindset changes, it will be difficult for women with children to move up the agency ladder and compete for that next promotion. And it is difficult for men in our industry who want to do their share at home.

Are women portrayed positively in advertising campaigns?

No, not always. Not even most of the time. But the exciting thing is that, when women are portrayed positively in advertising, it cuts through and connects in a way that will surely pave the way for other brands to follow.

What are your top three tips for women getting into the advertising business?

Be interested in people and behaviour, not just ideas. Choose an agency that invests in and promotes women. Don’t be fooled by them telling you they do — look for evidence of it. Don’t hide your skirt under a pair of trousers.

Sue Unerman Chief strategy officer, MediaCom

Only 26 per cent of people in leadership roles in advertising are women (IPA Agency Census 2013). Is this enough?

No, and it isn’t changing fast enough. Gender diversity is good for business. When I started out, there were only a few women bosses, but we were sure that was going to change. It hasn’t changed enough. I have a feeling that it will only improve if businesses focus on changing the situation and work hard to create a culture where it is normal for women to rise through management.

Is work/life balance an issue at agencies?

Work/life balance is an issue if you do not create firm boundaries. This isn’t particularly a gender issue — although, when you have young children and you’re the mum, I think you’re essentially doing two full-time jobs. You can’t do everything; the key is to choose what you can do and do it well.

Are women portrayed positively in advertising campaigns?

Some are and some aren’t. Same as men. I think women are portrayed positively in good advertising campaigns, which doesn’t mean most advertising campaigns.

What are your top three tips for women getting into the advertising business?

If you agree to do something, then deliver it a bit better and a bit earlier than expected. Understand that you must promote your good work as well as do good work. Don’t expect to be managed. Understand that you must manage yourself as well as people up, across and down.

11795: Coloring Books.

From The New York Times…

Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?

By Walter Dean Myers

Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin.

Reading came early to me, but I didn’t think of the words as anything special. I don’t think my stepmom thought of what she was doing as more than spending time with me in our small Harlem apartment. From my comfortable perch on her lap I watched as she moved her finger slowly across the page. She probably read at about the third grade level, but that was good enough for the True Romance magazines she read. I didn’t understand what the stories were about, what “bosom” meant or how someone’s heart could be “broken.” To me it was just the comfort of leaning against Mama and imagining the characters and what they were doing.

Later, when my sisters brought home comic books, I got Mama to read them to me, too. The magazines and comics pushed me along the road of the imaginative process. When I got my first books — “The Little Engine That Could,” “Bible Stories for Every Day,” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” — I used them on the same journeys. In the landscape of my mind I labored as hard as I could to get up the hill. I stood on the plain next to David as he fought Goliath, and tasted the porridge with Goldilocks.

As a teenager I romped the forests with Robin Hood, and trembled to the sound of gunfire with Henry in “The Red Badge of Courage.” Later, when Mama’s problems began to overwhelm her, I wrestled with the demons of dealing with one’s mother with Stephen Dedalus in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” But by then I was beginning the quest for my own identity. To an extent I found who I was in the books I read. I was a person who felt the drama of great pain and greater joys, whose emotions could soar within the five-act structure of a Shakespearean play, or find quiet comfort in the poems of Gabriela Mistral. Every book was a landscape upon which I was free to wander.

In the dark times, when my uncle was murdered, when my family became dysfunctional with alcohol and grief, or when I realized that our economics would not allow me to go to college, I began to despair. I read voraciously, spending days in Central Park reading when I should have been going to school.

But there was something missing. I needed more than the characters in the Bible to identify with, or even the characters in Arthur Miller’s plays or my beloved Balzac. As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine. I didn’t want to become the “black” representative, or some shining example of diversity. What I wanted, needed really, was to become an integral and valued part of the mosaic that I saw around me.

Books did not become my enemies. They were more like friends with whom I no longer felt comfortable. I stopped reading. I stopped going to school. On my 17th birthday, I joined the Army. In retrospect I see that I had lost the potential person I would become — an odd idea that I could not have articulated at the time, but that seems so clear today.

My post-Army days became dreadful, a drunken stumble through life, with me holding on just enough to survive. Fueled by the shortest and most meaningful conversation I had ever had in a school hallway, with the one English teacher in my high school, Stuyvesant, who knew I was going to drop out, I began to write short columns for a local tabloid, and racy stories for men’s magazines. Seeing my name in print helped. A little.

Then I read a story by James Baldwin: “Sonny’s Blues.” I didn’t love the story, but I was lifted by it, for it took place in Harlem, and it was a story concerned with black people like those I knew. By humanizing the people who were like me, Baldwin’s story also humanized me. The story gave me a permission that I didn’t know I needed, the permission to write about my own landscape, my own map.

During my only meeting with Baldwin, at City College, I blurted out to him what his story had done for me. “I know exactly what you mean,” he said. “I had to leave Harlem and the United States to search for who I was. Isn’t that a shame?”

When I left Baldwin that day I felt elated that I had met a writer I had so admired, and that we had had a shared experience. But later I realized how much more meaningful it would have been to have known Baldwin’s story at 15, or at 14. Perhaps even younger, before I had started my subconscious quest for identity.

TODAY I am a writer, but I also see myself as something of a landscape artist. I paint pictures of scenes for inner-city youth that are familiar, and I people the scenes with brothers and aunts and friends they all have met. Thousands of young people have come to me saying that they love my books for some reason or the other, but I strongly suspect that what they have found in my pages is the same thing I found in “Sonny’s Blues.” They have been struck by the recognition of themselves in the story, a validation of their existence as human beings, an acknowledgment of their value by someone who understands who they are. It is the shock of recognition at its highest level.

I’ve reached an age at which I find myself not only examining and weighing my life’s work, but thinking about how I will pass the baton so that those things I find important will continue. In 1969, when I first entered the world of writing children’s literature, the field was nearly empty. Children of color were not represented, nor were children from the lower economic classes. Today, when about 40 percent of public school students nationwide are black and Latino, the disparity of representation is even more egregious. In the middle of the night I ask myself if anyone really cares.

When I was doing research for my book “Monster,” I approached a white lawyer doing pro bono work in the courts defending poor clients. I said that it must be difficult to get witnesses to court to testify on behalf of an inner-city client, and he replied that getting witnesses was not as difficult as it sometimes appeared on television. “The trouble,” he said, “is to humanize my clients in the eyes of a jury. To make them think of this defendant as a human being and not just one of ‘them.’”

I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do when I wrote about poor inner-city children — to make them human in the eyes of readers and, especially, in their own eyes. I need to make them feel as if they are part of America’s dream, that all the rhetoric is meant for them, and that they are wanted in this country.

Years ago, I worked in the personnel office for a transformer firm. We needed to hire a chemist, and two candidates stood out, in my mind, for the position. One was a young white man with a degree from St. John’s University and the other an equally qualified black man from Grambling College (now Grambling State University) in Louisiana. I proposed to the department head that we send them both to the lab and let the chief chemist make the final decision. He looked at me as if I had said something so remarkable that he was having a hard time understanding me. “You’re kidding me,” he said. “That black guy’s no chemist.”

I pointed out the degrees on the résumé that suggested otherwise, and the tension between us soared. When I confronted my superior and demanded to know what about the candidate from Grambling made him not a chemist, he grumbled something under his breath, and reluctantly sent both candidates for an interview with the chief chemist.

Simple racism, I thought. On reflection, though, I understood that I was wrong. It was racism, but not simple racism. My white co-worker had simply never encountered a black chemist before. Or a black engineer. Or a black doctor. I realized that we hired people not so much on their résumés, but rather on our preconceived notions of what the successful candidate should be like. And where was my boss going to get the notion that a chemist should be black?

Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?

And what are the books that are being published about blacks? Joe Morton, the actor who starred in “The Brother From Another Planet,” has said that all but a few motion pictures being made about blacks are about blacks as victims. In them, we are always struggling to overcome either slavery or racism. Book publishing is little better. Black history is usually depicted as folklore about slavery, and then a fast-forward to the civil rights movement. Then I’m told that black children, and boys in particular, don’t read. Small wonder.

There is work to be done.

Walter Dean Myers is an author of books for children and young adults including “Monster,” and the previous Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

11793: March Mad Men.

The latest episode of CBS series The Crazy Ones—titled “March Madness”—focused on St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday hated by recovering alcoholic Simon Roberts. This show is so miserable, there ought to be a 12-Step program to help viewers cope after having watched it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

11791: Blackface Is In Vogue.

From DiversityInc…

Vogue Publishes Blackface Spread

By Chris Hoenig

The fashion industry’s ignorance of the fact that Blackface is offensive continues, with Vogue’s Italian edition publishing a spread featuring a model in Blackface.

The series of photos in Vogue Italia, titled “Abracadabra,” features model Saskia de Brauw in a variety of ethnic costumes and face-paint colors, including orange and black.

The photo spread continues a disturbing trend among fashion magazines, which ignore the offensive nature of Blackface. Vogue has published at least two spreads that feature models with painted faces, including a spread last year in its magazine in the Netherlands and a 2009 shoot in its French edition. Blackface models were also featured in spreads last year in Numero and Metal magazines. Jeanne Deroo, beauty editor at ELLE France, also posted a picture of herself in Blackface to her Instagram account late last year, and later said she didn’t realize her “costume” was offensive.

“I did not realize the seriousness of my act when I went last Saturday night to a private party with the theme ‘Icons,’ and where I chose to embody Solange Knowles, of whom I am a fan,” she said in a translated apology via Twitter. “I am deeply sorry and would like to offer my apologies. I would also like to indicate that this photo published in a private setting has nothing to do with the editing of ELLE magazine, and I regret the harm it has caused the magazine for which I work.”

Such a statement from a fashion-industry exec is rare, and why editors insist on continuing with such an offensive tradition instead of hiring Black models remains a mystery (though the fashion industry doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to Black models either, often lightening their skin).

The fashion industry’s ignorance turns a blind eye to the history of Blackface—originally used in theater by white actors to portray and mischaracterize Blacks—and has given many the belief that dressing in such a way is acceptable. Last year alone, multiple colleges faced the fallout from student parties that included offensive Blackface costumes. Actress Julianne Hough also publicly apologized for dressing in Blackface for a Halloween party. A Volkswagen commercial that aired during the 2013 Super Bowl also featured an actor in Blackface.

A YouGov poll released last November shows just how little many Americans know about the offensive nature of Blackface. More than 40 percent of those polled think the practice is acceptable, but the numbers show a clear disconnect between Blacks (68 percent say it’s unacceptable) and whites (32 percent say it’s unacceptable, 46 percent say it’s okay). Blacks (76 percent) and Democrats (58 percent) both think it’s unacceptable to portray any racial or ethnic stereotype in a Halloween costume, while more whites (44 percent versus 35 percent) and Republicans (59 percent versus 31 percent) actually think it’s more acceptable than offensive.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

11790: Banking On Omnicom.

Adweek reported Wells Fargo shifted its creative business from Omnicom shop DDB to Omnicom shop BBDO. Contenders also included Omnicom shop TBWA\Chiat\Day. A Wells Fargo official gushed, “BBDO is a great fit for where we want to take the brand next.” Guess Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Fathom Communications weren’t available.

BBDO Wins Big Pitch for Wells Fargo

Bank shifts its creative account after 18+ years with DDB

By Andrew McMains

Wells Fargo has found a new lead creative agency.

After more than 18 years with DDB, the bank has hired BBDO in San Francisco to lead its creative business, Wells Fargo confirmed. Account revenue is estimated at $10-12 million.

“BBDO is a great fit for where we want to take the brand next,” said Michael Lacorazza, svp of integrated marketing at the bank. “We aspire for Wells Fargo to be not just a strong brand in the banking category, but to be a brand that people love and respect around the world beyond our category. And it’s not an easy challenge, especially considering the space that the banking brands play in these days (after the financial crisis).”

Given the bank’s goal of distinguishing itself more broadly, BBDO’s experience with brands like AT&T and Starbucks was as relevant as its past work for former client Bank of America. In particular, Lacorazza was impressed with the shop’s ability to distinguish AT&T in a parity category and to understand Starbucks from a “big, 40,000-foot strategic brand level all the way down to, well, how are we going to drive sales?”

Wells Fargo, which is based in San Francisco, spends about $130 million in media annually, according to Nielsen.

The creative search began in October. Wells Fargo marketing executives—including Lacorazza and chief marketing officer Jamie Moldafsky—subsequently met with a half dozen shops months before narrowing the field to four. The other finalists were TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., Mullen in San Francisco and JWT in New York.

The contenders got two assignments, according to Lacorazza. One assignment revolved around how to evolve the bank’s current “Conversation” campaign and the other sought ideas on where to take the brand if starting from scratch. Beyond strategic thoughts and creative ideas, bank executives wanted to see how the agencies worked, albeit in a compressed period of about 30 days, Lacorazza explained.

Final presentations took place early last month at Wells Fargo.

Media responsibilities were not in play and remain at OMD (traditional) and UM (digital). Other Wells Fargo shops include MRM (digital marketing) and multicultural players Muse, DAE and Acento. Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., managed the search.

Monday, March 10, 2014

11788: Isms On The Crazy Ones.

Only bothered to watch the first ten minutes of the latest episode of CBS series The Crazy Ones. The show continues to reflect the real advertising industry in painfully unfunny ways. Simon Roberts hired the live-in boyfriend of daughter Sydney Roberts. At this agency—like most agencies—nepotism and cronyism are siblings.

11787: FCB Cuts Draft (From Logo).

Adweek reported Draftfcb is moving ahead with its rebranding, reintroducing a stodgy old name with a shitty new logo. FCB features a diagonal cut in the final initial, perhaps to symbolize the regular cuts in staff. Plus, the colored letters represent “the palette of flags in FCB’s 90 operating countries.” Of course, there’s not a Black to be found.

Draftfcb Is Unveiling Its Rebranding

Emphasizes its positioning as an integrated shop

By Noreen O'Leary

This may be the most public course correction in modern agency branding: Draftfcb, formed by the combination of two Interpublic shops in 2006, is unveiling its new identity as FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding). It’s an unexpected reversal from when direct marketer Draft effectively took over FCB in a shift touted as a new behavioral-driven model supplanting the influence of one of the industry’s storied ad agencies.

The change has been rumored since the September arrival of Draftfcb’s new global CEO Carter Murray, who said that after eight years the merged entity, with its single P&L, needs one brand positioning. “We had two very iconic names with different heritages, different pasts,” said Murray. “It didn’t fully reflect our integrated nature.”

Additionally, Murray said the agency has fewer global clients than its peers: “We are intrinsically local, and this celebrates local creativity and local spirit.”

Case in point: New York now becomes FCB Garfinkel, reflecting the January arrival of creative executive Lee Garfinkel as CEO. “When I say I’m putting creativity into the center of this company, I’m not messing around,” New York-based Murray added.

Which leads back to FCB’s 140 year-plus pedigree—a shop once run by Albert Lasker, known as “The Father of Modern Advertising”—that includes branding oranges as Sunkist; asking “Does she or doesn’t she?” for Clairol; and producing groundbreaking Levi’s 501 Blues work. Post-merger, most Foote Cone executives were excluded in top management ranks; “Draft” fronted the logo and “fcb” followed in lowercase type.

“The reason we put my name on the door was we wanted to make it clear this was not direct marketing being subsumed by an agency,” recalled executive chairman Howard Draft. “When I was more active in the agency, it made sense. My brand connotes more direct, digital, retail, but now we’re fully integrated.”

That was the original intent. But in the last few rocky years as Draftfcb lost big accounts like S.C. Johnson, Kraft and MillerCoors, the perception of the agency was that it had swung too far in the direction of Draft’s CRM practice and lost FCB’s creative understanding of consumers and narrative advertising.

The new identity, designed by FCB International CCO Luis Silva Dias, incorporates local elements that visually follow a diagonal cut in FCB’s “B.” Those details may include an operating city or the name of an acquired company because of its local equity or a specific expertise, like FCB Health. In New York, where the agency is predominately a health practice, that distinction differentiates those operations from the agency bearing Garfinkel’s name. While he is the first to become part of an office rebranding, other creative execs may follow. (Those names disappear when the individual exits.)

The logo’s colors represent the palette of flags in FCB’s 90 operating countries and the typeface is Code Pro Light, which Murray describes as a bar code font reflecting Draft’s digital heritage.

11786: Honey Maid Made Controversy.


Diversity reaches new levels in Honey Maid ads

By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY

America’s biggest brands are at an advertising crossroads, and the new diversity that their ads project has suddenly emerged as one of society’s most visual — if not incendiary — flash points.

And it’s about to explode.

It began with several recent, high-profile diverse TV spots from two multibillion-dollar brands: a Cheerios spot staring a biracial girl with white mom and black dad; and a Coca-Cola spot featuring minorities singing America the Beautiful in their native languages. Both went viral and left trails of social media venom in their wake.

On Monday, Honey Maid will jump on the diversity bandwagon with a far-reaching campaign by the 90-year-old graham cracker brand that raises the use of diversity in mainstream ads to a whole new level.

In one 30-second Honey Maid ad, viewers will see everything from a same-sex couple bottle-feeding their son to an interracial couple and their three kids holding hands. The ad also features a Hispanic mother and an African-American father with their three mixed-race children. And there’s even a father covered in body tattoos. This is not some shockvertisement for Benetton. It’s an ad for one of America’s oldest and most familiar brands. The people in it are not actors, but real families. The message of the ad: These are wholesome families enjoying wholesome snacks.

It’s a brand new, multicolored, multisexual world of advertising. Major mainstream brands are plowing ahead and all but ignoring the expected social media blow-back, with one eye on demographics and another on survival. “The big brands are coming to the conclusion that diversity in America is inevitable,” says Andrew Erlich, a cross-cultural psychologist, consultant and author. “This horse has left the barn.”

Nor will that horse return any time soon. Some 37% of Americans are minorities and will likely reach the 50% mark by 2044, says demographer Cheryl Russell. Marketers are simply responding to the math, she says. “I call it the one-third rule,” she says. “When you exceed one-third of the population, you have political and economic power that far exceeds that level because you can make coalitions with a majority.”

Advertisers are simply reading the demographic numbers — and reacting. Whatever a traditional family used to be, it is no longer. One in 12 married couples in the U.S. are interracial. American women now make up 40% of primary family breadwinners. And only 62% of children live with their two biological parents.

“As a brand, you don’t really care who buys your product,” says Jo Muse, chairman of Muse Communications, one of the nation’s first multicultural agencies. “You just want them happy — and you want them to know that you see them.”

For the Honey Maid brand, which is owned by Mondelez, maker of Oreos, Ritz and Chips Ahoy, it’s about an almost century-old brand of graham crackers trying to reinvent itself as a product with both cultural and snacking relevance. For a generation of Millennials, who, unlike Boomers, were not raised on graham crackers, it’s an attempt to give the brand some cultural cred.

“This is a recognition that the family dynamic in America is evolving and has evolved,” says Gary Osifchin, senior marketing director of biscuits for U.S. Mondelez. “We’ve evolved, too.”

That evolution began in 2011, when executives took a long, hard look at the brand. A decision was made to move well beyond boxed graham crackers and make the brand far more relevant for snacking. So the brand created Honey Made Grahamfuls — graham cracker sandwiches filled with yummy stuff. That’s also about the time it stopped using high-fructose corn syrup — and began to promote that change.

Then, it brought Teddy Grahams under its label and started making the Teddy Bear-shaped treats with real fruit.

After years of stagnation, sales grew double-digit for the past two years, and now the brand is approaching $500 million in sales and even has eyes on ultimately becoming a $1 billion brand, says Osifchin.

Now, it’s all about appealing to a new generation that looks and acts different. All of this demographic change, the new Honey Maid ad implies, is just as wholesome as the brand itself.

“No matter how things change,” says an off-camera narrator in the ad, created by the agency Droga5, “what makes wholesome never will.” The camera then shows quick images of the gay couple with their infant and the mixed-race family out walking while holding hands. It also shows images of the folks eating Honey Maid crackers. The narrator then continues: “Honey Maid everyday wholesome snacks. For every wholesome family.”

No matter what their skin color or sexual orientation, “these families that we portray all have wonderful parent and child connections,” says Osifchin.

Clearly, mainstream brands are adapting to a new demographic reality. Executives at Coca-Cola declined to comment for this story. But General Mills executives say the reason for the mixed-race casting in their recent ads is simple. “We wanted these Cheerios ads to represent today’s families,” says Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios.

Now, Honey Maid is doing the same. “We want to be a brand that is current,” says Osifchin. “No matter how things out there in the world have changed, the enduring value of wholesome connections between parent and child have endured.”

Sunday, March 09, 2014

11785: From BHM To AHFGFM.

Lowell Thompson announced:

Now that Black History Month is over, it’s time for American History For Grown Folks Month.

Your first assignment? Click on the link below to my new ebook, “RaceMan Answers: America’s Toughest Questions on Race, Inequality & More”

It’s now available on Amazon:

Click here now