Sunday, April 30, 2023

16234: Crashing At The Intersection Of Sustainability & Credibility.

 

Adweek/Commerceweek will feature a session titled, “Accessible Sustainability For Small Businesses”—including a speaker from Uber Eats. Um, why is an enterprise that delivers junk food with drivers’ personal vehicles qualified to pontificate on sustainability?

Saturday, April 29, 2023

16233: Overreaction Of The Week.

 

Jasper delivers AI-generated copy fast. And based on the logo, Jasper is a White robot. In this case, maybe AI stands for Anglo Intelligence.

Friday, April 28, 2023

16232: Award-Worthy Cultural Cluelessness From Adland.

Here are more New York Festivals promotions with questionable content.

 

Does Adland really need more evidence of sexism and #MeToo issues—as well as insensitivity for social justice and activism? (Or could the lower image also be displaying insensitivity for gun violence?)

 

16231: Sustaining Employment Through Sustainability.

 

Noticed this a tad tardily, but Adweek posted a CMO Moves episode starring “three sustainability trailblazers”—including Brad Jakeman. So, it looks like Jakeman has pivoted from DE&I defender to sustainability savior, mirroring the slick moves that Adland executed as a deliberate diversion from addressing racial and ethnic equality. Interestingly enough, Kendall Jenner is involved with 818 Tequila, a brand promoting a sustainability platform. Maybe Jakeman and Jenner will reunite…?

 

CMO Moves: The Future of Sustainable Shopping

 

How these green champions are steering their companies and clients toward climate-friendly policies that consumers will support

 

By Jenny Rooney

 

In this episode of CMO Moves, three sustainability trailblazers discuss their efforts with Adweek CXO Jenny Rooney to bring awareness to The Future Is Mainstream Green action plan.

 

The CMO Sustainability Accelerator (CSA) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) created the report to highlight the work CMOs must do to drive sustainable practices in their businesses. CSA is a new industry-wide collaboration led by Adweek, ANA and Sustainable Brands, and powered by BCG that brings CMOs and sustainability leaders together to advance the growth agenda inside their organizations, supply chains and beyond.

 

Check out their bios below to learn more about them, and tune in to learn about key sustainability practices and best practices for leaders behind these initiatives.

 

More about our guests:

 

Lauren Taylor is a lead member of BCG’s marketing, sales and pricing, and consumer practices, and has led efforts on growth strategy as well as organization and turnaround. She is currently the global leader for customer-centric sustainability at BCG and is passionate about helping companies better understand market demand and the most important aspects of sustainability, the innovation needed to remove barriers, and how to influence customer behavior to drive sustainability while generating business value.

 

Brad Jakeman is a senior adviser at the Boston Consulting Group, one of the world’s leading management consultancies. At BCG he advises clients on all aspects of marketing, business restructuring, digital transformation and sustainability. In addition to his role at BCG, Jakeman is co-founder and managing partner of Rethink Food, which identifies, invests in and helps scale businesses that are digitally disrupting the legacy food system to make it more equitable and sustainable. Prior to co-founding Rethink Food, Jakeman spent almost 10 years as president of PepsiCo’s Global Beverage Group.

 

Jose “Pepe” Gorbea is the global head of brands, agencies and sustainability innovation at HP. Gorbea grew up in the suburbs of Mexico City, led the marketing agenda of multiple brands at Bimbo, Kraft Foods, Nestle and Mondelez across the globe, and is an alumnus of Google’s Marketing Academy. For him, bringing to life the voice of the consumer and their communities through the power of co-creation has helped him enable his clients to produce “better marketing,” from the likes of Hershey’s #HerShe and Nescafe’s “New Year’s Resolutions” to Dettol’s “Covid Warriors” and Smirnoff’s “Love Wins,” just to name a few.

 

Achieving Mainstream Green is key to a more sustainable economy. Read the new report on the CMO Sustainability Accelerator hub to learn more and take action.

 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

16230: FYI ESG WTF.

 

Advertising Age published a lengthy report on how ESG—environmental, social, and governance—has increasingly appeared in pitch processes. That is, prospective clients are seeking to implement ESG rating systems to assess White advertising agencies; in turn, White advertising agencies are responding with heat shield initiatives and outright lies to present the illusion of corporate responsibility.

 

All the performative propaganda for DE&I and sustainability covers up a deliberate conservation of systemic racism.

 

In Adland, ESG is BS.

 

ESG And Ad Agency Reviews—How DE&I And Sustainability Are Showing Up In Pitches

 

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) has become a standard part of ad agency reviews but some argue it seems brands are only trying to check a box

 

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

 

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) has become a standard part of ad agency reviews, but it’s unclear whether these efforts are yet leading to any meaningful change as it relates to sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion, or are more performative.

 

To be sure, clients are increasingly asking ad agencies in reviews to be certified with certain business sustainability firms such as EcoVadis and Sedex, according to one consultant who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as they are not authorized to speak publicly about the reviews they oversee.

 

And when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion—which falls under the social aspect of ESG—more companies are bringing in experts to assess agencies on the makeup of their teams and what commitments they’ve made to improve DE&I internally, the consultant said.

 

But most brands are still at the early stages of these efforts and are unsure how exactly to apply them to their businesses.

 

One agency executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they personally have been a part of creative pitches that brought in an external DE&I consultant and found those consultants weren’t sure what they were supposed to be asking or what their role was supposed to be in the review.

 

Some brands are also only including a few basic questions on sustainability, the consultant said.

 

“I don’t know if it’s clients being progressive or them covering their asses,” the consultant said. “It’s embarrassing. It’s greenwashing; DE&I washing, if that’s a term.”

 

Lauren Tucker, founder and CEO of inclusion management consultancy Do What Matters, which advises top ad shops such as TRG and The Martin Agency, said, unfortunately, “checking boxes is an old trope and continues to take center stage as marketers try to hold their agencies to a higher standard than they maintain themselves.”

 

“The evidence is in the massive number of layoffs of DE&I and ESG teams in the past year,” Tucker said. “Marketers must stop trying to ‘fix’ DEI and ESG with checklists and start living the principles that will make their brands more attractive to consumers and talent who want to see real, authentic change on these issues.”

 

The impact of the tech layoffs specifically on DE&I teams has been widely reported. Twitter and a popular ride-sharing app were among the tech companies that made big cuts to their DE&I divisions, Bloomberg reported.

 

Tucker also argued that new business reviews are not the time to start evaluating agencies on ESG, because shops will too easily “bluff their way through [the] pitch and bedazzle participants in the process.” That work should be done beforehand, she said.

 

“If they are truly committed to what ESG stands for, they should only invite agencies to reviews with a proven track record of proactively expressing ESG in their work for their clients,” Tucker said.

 

Meanwhile, overshadowing ESG initiatives in reviews right now is flexibility and efficiency, said Pat Lafferty, chief operating officer, Acceleration Community of Companies, an ad network. That, of course, is due largely to the shaky economy.

 

“Being able to move things around, whether it’s to delay or change dates for a campaign for various reasons. We have a lot more of that,” he explained.

 

But Lafferty said “ESG has and will continue to be important to clients” and it will rise to the top of the list of priorities again “when economic things dissipate.”

 

Here’s how ESG is showing up in pitches

 

Since the 2020 murder of Geroge Floyd and the subsequent rise in the Black Lives Matter movement, brands and agencies have been called on to prove how they are working to diversify their staffs, which still remain predominantly white and male.

 

That area of ESG remains a priority, even amid the slowing economy, Lafferty said. “First and foremost, clients are making sure our teams are representative of the population they are looking to communicate with,” he said.

 

Marketers have been slower to adopt environmental assessments in new business pitches. But companies, mainly in Europe, have started including such assessments in new business pitches because they realize customers are demanding more transparency there.

 

Consumers are increasingly choosing to buy from brands that are more eco-friendly. And movements such as Clean Creatives, which asks agencies to refuse business from fossil fuel companies and brands not to work with agencies that have contracts with such companies, are starting to take off.

 

“Agencies, like it or not, form part of a global brand’s supply chain,” said Adrienne Little, co-founder, And Rising, a creative ventures firm. “It’s one way global brands can refract risk onto others and away from themselves. Meanwhile, movements like Clean Creatives are severing agency ties with any brand directly involved in fossil fuels. Each is looking outside themselves for solutions. It’s shareholder, not stakeholder thinking. A blame game.”

 

Little said procurement is asking agencies questions such as: “Do you carbon offset? Do you vet production suppliers for environmental standards? Can you confirm your policies regarding recycling?”

 

Potential clients in the experiential space will want to, for example, know that the network’s agencies reuse certain materials in the events they create, ACC’s Lafferty added, “The reusability of things we will be creating for them is a common thing.” 

 

Allbirds, which has begun making its shoes with more eco-friendly and natural materials in its efforts to be greener, said it assesses its potential agency partners equally on expertise, creativity, team synergy and their values.

 

“Sustainability isn’t a corporate buzzword for us, it’s a core value that’s deeply embedded in every part of our business—product design, logistics and, of course, marketing,” Allbirds Chief Brand and Product Officer Kate Ridley said. “Our north star is reversing climate change through better business. So the first filter for any potential partnership, including agencies, is an organization’s approach and commitment to sustainability.”

 

Ridley said, specifically, Allbirds asks agencies to share their past ESG-related projects and experience with purpose-driven clients.

 

“But equally as important, we also want to know what they’ve achieved internally,” Ridley said. “So we’ll ask about their long-term commitments, their achievements to date, and what’s on the horizon for their organization. For us, ESG commitments are table stakes. We appreciate that every business is in a different stage of the journey, and also understand that we’re not perfect, either, but the intent and, importantly, action has to be there.”

 

Some brands are requiring agencies to be certified with certain firms including EcoVadis and Sedex. EcoVadis and Sedex did not return requests for comment about their role in reviews.

 

Greg Taylor, director of business development for WPP’s VMLY&R, said the agency has had to show EcoVadis certification in a few global pitches, typically for brands that are Europe-based.

 

“That’s where we really start to see EcoVadis, is in large global pitches,” Taylor said. “So, at a holding company level, WPP fills out those EcoVadis forms and gets certified. And then we pass [it] along, showing that we are certified through EcoVadis as a sustainable company.”

 

EcoVadis essentially charges companies an annual subscription service to evaluate and provide guidance on sustainability. For a company of WPP’s size of 1,000 or more employees, plans range between $2,199 a year and $9,899 a year, according to pricing information on the firm’s website.

 

EcoVadis’ most affordable “basic” plan includes a carbon scorecard, improvement tools, sustainability how-to guides and an industry risk profile. On the most expensive plan, agencies are assigned a point person to guide the company through steps, including online learning courses.

 

“From a WPP perspective, we respond to their questionnaire annually,” a WPP spokesperson said. “The response process is managed by the sustainability team but with support from other business functions, for example procurement and legal.”

 

WPP’s EcoVadis certification process is handled by a sustainability team, which is focused on internal versus client work. According to its 2022 sustainability report, the team focuses on areas including making progress toward the holding company’s goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain by 2030 and shifting to 100% renewable electricity. While the sustainability team isn’t client-facing, the work it’s doing is being evaluated by clients.

 

As brands are also increasingly being called out for greenwashing and, ahead of the Federal Trade Commission’s updates to its green marketing guidelines, they are looking to their agency partners to advise them on how to talk about their sustainability efforts. So, they need to know their potential agency partners are properly equipped to handle that task.

 

Still, only 4% of ads over the last three years contain sustainability messaging, supported by an 8% in media spend, and the number of ads containing sustainability messaging decreased 47% at the beginning of 2023 from 2022, according to recent research from CreativeX, a creative data platform that works with brands including NestlĂ©, Heineken and Unilever.

 

U.S. brands are being extra cautious about what they share on their environmental progress before the FTC’s guidelines come in, said Caitlin Hicks, sustainability manager of Nuevo, a sustainability-focused creative agency that’s made green marketing its specialty.

 

Hicks said for now, Nuevo advises clients to be very honest about what they’ve accomplished and what they haven’t, while also being careful about using the word “sustainable” because there is no clear definition for what is a “sustainable product.”

 

“What we always recommend to clients is to be very careful of that word; say instead ‘we’re on a sustainability journey,’” Hicks said.

 

Jim Misener, principal and president of independent brand consultancy 50,000feet, said he’s seeing clients increasingly in industries, including manufacturing and health care, prioritizing sustainability in new business pitches. “ESG-related certifications and reporting methodologies are becoming required and standardized” in those industries, he said.

 

“50,000feet has helped clients shape their ESG narrative at all levels of the organization, from corporate sustainability reports and landing pages to talent acquisition campaigns and video series,” Misener said. “Our partners’ prospective team members, customers and shareholders are asking how each organization is growing its culture of DE&I, helping to protect the planet and giving back to communities.”

 

Whether or not brands are prioritizing ESG as much as they should be right now, ACC’s Lafferty argued eventually they all will have to because customers are demanding it.

 

He said consumers care about how companies do business and who they do business with and “they will find out what you’re doing. So, behaving and showing up authentically and truthfully is going to be the thing that continues to drive brands and their behaviors.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

16229: Been There. Seen That. SMH.

 

This New York Festivals promotion underscores what Bill Bernbach said:

 

“Be provocative. But be sure your provocativeness stems from your product. You are not right if in your ad you stand a man on his head just to get attention. You are right if you have him on his head to show how your product keeps things from falling out of his pockets.”

 

The posting also underscores the peculiar paradox of advertising award shows being promoted with campaigns that are anything but award-winning ideas.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

16228: Harry Belafonte (1927-2023).

 

From The New York Times

 

Harry Belafonte, 96, Dies; Barrier-Breaking Singer, Actor and Activist

 

In the 1950s, when segregation was still widespread, his ascent to the upper echelon of show business was historic. But his primary focus was civil rights.

 

By Peter Keepnews

 

Harry Belafonte, who stormed the pop charts and smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his highly personal brand of folk music, and who went on to become a dynamic force in the civil rights movement, died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 96.

 

The cause was congestive heart failure, said Ken Sunshine, his longtime spokesman.

 

At a time when segregation was still widespread and Black faces were still a rarity on screens large and small, Mr. Belafonte’s ascent to the upper echelon of show business was historic. He was not the first Black entertainer to transcend racial boundaries; Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and others had achieved stardom before him. But none had made as much of a splash as he did, and for a while no one in music, Black or white, was bigger.

 

Born in Harlem to West Indian immigrants, he almost single-handedly ignited a craze for Caribbean music with hit records like “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.” His album “Calypso,” which included both those songs, reached the top of the Billboard album chart shortly after its release in 1956 and stayed there for 31 weeks. Coming just before the breakthrough of Elvis Presley, it was said to be the first album by a single artist to sell more than a million copies.

 

Mr. Belafonte was equally successful as a concert attraction: Handsome and charismatic, he held audiences spellbound with dramatic interpretations of a repertoire that encompassed folk traditions from all over the world — rollicking calypsos like “Matilda,” work songs like “Lead Man Holler,” tender ballads like “Scarlet Ribbons.” By 1959 he was the most highly paid Black performer in history, with fat contracts for appearances in Las Vegas, at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and at the Palace in New York.

 

Success as a singer led to movie offers, and Mr. Belafonte soon became the first Black actor to achieve major success in Hollywood as a leading man. His movie stardom was short-lived, though, and it was his friendly rival Sidney Poitier, not Mr. Belafonte, who became the first bona fide Black matinee idol.

 

But making movies was never Mr. Belafonte’s priority, and after a while neither was making music. He continued to perform into the 21st century, and to appear in movies as well (although he had two long hiatuses from the screen), but his primary focus from the late 1950s on was civil rights.

 

Early in his career, he befriended the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and became not just a lifelong friend but also an ardent supporter of Dr. King and the quest for racial equality he personified. He put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

 

He provided money to bail Dr. King and other civil rights activists out of jail. He took part in the March on Washington in 1963. His spacious apartment on West End Avenue in Manhattan became Dr. King’s home away from home. And he quietly maintained an insurance policy on Dr. King’s life, with the King family as the beneficiary, and donated his own money to make sure that the family was taken care of after Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.

 

(Nonetheless, in 2013 he sued Dr. King’s three surviving children in a dispute over documents that Mr. Belafonte said were his property and that the children said belonged to the King estate. The suit was settled the next year, with Mr. Belafonte retaining possession.)

 

In an interview with The Washington Post a few months after Dr. King’s death, Mr. Belafonte expressed ambivalence about his high profile in the civil rights movement. He would like to “be able to stop answering questions as though I were a spokesman for my people,” he said, adding, “I hate marching, and getting called at 3 a.m. to bail some cats out of jail.” But, he said, he accepted his role.

 

The Challenge of Racism

 

In the same interview, he noted ruefully that although he sang music with “roots in the Black culture of American Negroes, Africa and the West Indies,” most of his fans were white. As frustrating as that may have been, he was much more upset by the racism that he confronted even at the height of his fame.

 

His role in the 1957 movie “Island in the Sun,” which contained the suggestion of a romance between his character and a white woman played by Joan Fontaine, generated outrage in the South; a bill was even introduced in the South Carolina Legislature that would have fined any theater showing the film. In Atlanta for a benefit concert for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1962, Mr. Belafonte was twice refused service in the same restaurant. Television appearances with white female singers — Petula Clark in 1968, Julie Andrews in 1969 — angered many viewers and, in the case of Ms. Clark, threatened to cost him a sponsor.

 

He sometimes drew criticism from Black people, including the suggestion early in his career that he owed his success to the lightness of his skin (his paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother were white). When he divorced his wife in 1957 and married Julie Robinson, who had been the only white member of Katherine Dunham’s dance troupe, The Amsterdam News wrote, “Many Negroes are wondering why a man who has waved the flag of justice for his race should turn from a Negro wife to a white wife.”

 

When RCA Victor, his record company, promoted him as the “King of Calypso,” Mr. Belafonte was denounced as a pretender in Trinidad, the acknowledged birthplace of that highly rhythmic music, where an annual competition is held to choose a calypso king.

 

He himself never claimed to be a purist when it came to calypso or any of the other traditional styles he embraced, let alone the king of calypso. He and his songwriting collaborators loved folk music, he said, but saw nothing wrong with shaping it to their own ends.

 

“Purism is the best cover-up for mediocrity,” he told The New York Times in 1959. “If there is no change we might just as well go back to the first ‘ugh,’ which must have been the first song.”

 

Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. was born on March 1, 1927, in Harlem. His father, who was born in Martinique (and later changed the family name), worked occasionally as a chef on merchant ships and was often away; his mother, Melvine (Love) Bellanfanti, born in Jamaica, was a domestic.

 

In 1936, Harry, his mother and his younger brother, Dennis, moved to Jamaica. Unable to find work there, his mother soon returned to New York, leaving him and his brother to be looked after by relatives who, he later recalled, were either “unemployed or above the law.” They rejoined her in Harlem in 1940.

 

Awakening to Black History

 

Mr. Belafonte dropped out of George Washington High School in Upper Manhattan in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy, where he was assigned to load munitions aboard ships. Black shipmates introduced him to the works of W.E.B. Du Bois and other African American authors and urged him to study Black history.

 

He received further encouragement from Marguerite Byrd, the daughter of a middle-class Washington family, whom he met while he was stationed in Virginia and she was studying psychology at the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University). They married in 1948.

 

He and Ms. Byrd had two children, Adrienne Biesemeyer and Shari Belafonte, who survive him, as do his two children by Ms. Robinson, Gina Belafonte and David; and eight grandchildren. He and Ms. Robinson divorced in 2004, and he married Pamela Frank, a photographer, in 2008, and she survives him, too, along with a stepdaughter, Sarah Frank; a stepson, Lindsey Frank; and three step-grandchildren.

 

Back in New York after his discharge, Mr. Belafonte became interested in acting and enrolled under the G.I. Bill at Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop, where his classmates included Marlon Brando and Tony Curtis. He first took the stage at the American Negro Theater in Manhattan, where he worked as a stagehand and where he began his lifelong friendship with a fellow theatrical novice, Sidney Poitier.

 

Finding anything other than what he called “Uncle Tom” roles proved difficult, and even though singing was little more than a hobby, it was as a singer and not an actor that Mr. Belafonte found an audience.

 

Early in 1949, he was given the chance to perform during intermissions for two weeks at the Royal Roost, a popular Midtown jazz nightclub. He was an immediate hit, and the two weeks became five months.

 

Finding Folk Music

 

After enjoying some success but little creative satisfaction as a jazz-oriented pop singer, Mr. Belafonte looked elsewhere for inspiration. With the guitarist Millard Thomas, who would become his accompanist, and the playwright and novelist William Attaway, who would collaborate on many of his songs, he immersed himself in the study of folk music. (The calypso singer and songwriter Irving Burgie later supplied much of his repertoire, including “Day-O” and “Jamaica Farewell.”)

 

His manager, Jack Rollins, helped him develop an act that emphasized his acting ability and his striking good looks as much as a voice that was husky and expressive but, as Mr. Belafonte admitted, not very powerful.

 

A triumphant 1951 engagement at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village led to an even more successful one at the Blue Angel, the Vanguard’s upscale sister room on the Upper East Side. That in turn led to a recording contract with RCA and a role on Broadway in the 1953 revue “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac.”

 

Performing a repertoire that included the calypso standard “Hold ’em Joe” and his arrangement of the folk song “Mark Twain,” Mr. Belafonte won enthusiastic reviews, television bookings and a Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical. He also caught the eye of the Hollywood producer and director Otto Preminger, who cast him in the 1954 movie version of “Carmen Jones,” an all-Black update of Bizet’s opera “Carmen” with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, which had been a hit on Broadway a decade earlier.

 

Mr. Belafonte’s co-star was Dorothy Dandridge, with whom he had also appeared the year before in his first movie, the little-seen low-budget drama “Bright Road.” Although they were both accomplished vocalists, their singing voices in “Carmen Jones” were dubbed by opera singers.

 

Mr. Belafonte also made news for a movie he turned down, citing what he called its negative racial stereotypes: the 1959 screen version of “Porgy and Bess,” also a Preminger film. The role of Porgy was offered instead to his old friend Mr. Poitier, whom he criticized publicly for accepting it.

 

Stepping Away From Film

 

In the 1960s, as Mr. Poitier became a major box-office attraction, Mr. Belafonte made no movies at all: Hollywood, he said, was not interested in the socially conscious films he wanted to make, and he was not interested in the roles he was offered. He did, however, become a familiar presence — and an occasional source of controversy — on television.

 

His special “Tonight With Belafonte” won an Emmy in 1960 (a first for a Black performer), but a deal to do five more specials for that show’s sponsor, the cosmetics company Revlon, fell apart after one more was broadcast; according to Mr. Belafonte, Revlon asked him not to feature Black and white performers together. The taping of a 1968 special with Petula Clark was interrupted when Ms. Clark touched Mr. Belafonte’s arm, and a representative of the sponsor, Chrysler-Plymouth, demanded a retake. (The producer refused, and the sponsor’s representative later apologized, although Mr. Belafonte said the apology came “one hundred years too late.”)

 

When Mr. Belafonte returned to film as both producer and co-star, with Zero Mostel, of “The Angel Levine” (1970), based on a story by Bernard Malamud, the project had a sociopolitical edge: His Harry Belafonte Enterprises, with a grant from the Ford Foundation, hired 15 Black and Hispanic apprentices to learn filmmaking by working on the crew. One of them, Drake Walker, wrote the story for Mr. Belafonte’s next movie, “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), a gritty western that also starred Mr. Poitier.

 

But after appearing as a mob boss (a parody of Marlon Brando’s character in “The Godfather”) with Mr. Poitier and Bill Cosby in the hit 1974 comedy “Uptown Saturday Night” — directed, as “Buck and the Preacher” had been, by Mr. Poitier — Mr. Belafonte was once again absent from the big screen, this time until 1992, when he played himself in Robert Altman’s Hollywood satire “The Player.”

 

He appeared onscreen only sporadically after that, most notably as a gangster in Mr. Altman’s “Kansas City” (1996), for which Mr. Belafonte won a New York Film Critics Circle Award. His final film role was in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” in 2018.

 

Political Activism

 

Mr. Belafonte continued to give concerts in the years when he was off the screen, but he concentrated on political activism and charitable work. In the 1980s, he helped organize a cultural boycott of South Africa as well as the Live Aid concert and the all-star recording “We Are the World,” both of which raised money to fight famine in Africa. In 1986, encouraged by some New York State Democratic Party leaders, he briefly considered running for the United States Senate. In 1987, he replaced Danny Kaye as UNICEF’s good-will ambassador.

 

Never shy about expressing his opinion, he became increasingly outspoken during the George W. Bush administration. In 2002, he accused Secretary of State Colin L. Powell of abandoning his principles to “come into the house of the master.” Four years later he called Mr. Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world.”

 

Mr. Belafonte was equally outspoken in the 2013 New York mayoral election, in which he campaigned for the Democratic candidate and eventual winner, Bill de Blasio. During the campaign he referred to the Koch brothers, the wealthy industrialists known for their support of conservative causes, as “white supremacists” and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan. (Mr. de Blasio quickly distanced himself from that comment.)

 

Such statements made Mr. Belafonte a frequent target of criticism, but no one disputed his artistry. Among the many honors he received in his later years were a Kennedy Center Honor in 1989, the National Medal of Arts in 1994 and a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2000.

 

In 2011, he was the subject of a documentary film, “Sing Your Song,” and published his autobiography, “My Song.”

 

In 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in recognition of his lifelong fight for civil rights and other causes. The honor, he told The Times, gave him “a strong sense of reward.”

 

He remained politically active to the end. On Election Day 2016, The Times published an opinion article by Mr. Belafonte urging people not to vote for Donald J. Trump, whom he called “feckless and immature.”

 

“Mr. Trump asks us what we have to lose,” he wrote, referring to African American voters, “and we must answer: Only the dream, only everything.”

 

Four years later, he returned to the opinion pages with a similar message: “We have learned exactly how much we had to lose — a lesson that has been inflicted upon Black people again and again in our history — and we will not be bought off by the empty promises of the flimflam man.”

 

Looking back on his life and career, Mr. Belafonte was proud but far from complacent. “About my own life, I have no complaints,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Yet the problems faced by most Americans of color seem as dire and entrenched as they were half a century ago.”

 

Richard Severo and Alex Traub contributed reporting.

 

16227: Anti-Ageism Ale…?

 

Beck’s launched a limited-edition beer for “mature” drinkers—ie, old people. Wonder how many Old White Guys and Gals served on the creative team behind the campaign…