Tag Archives: advertising

Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 4

by Guest Contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

    Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

Question: Isn’t Cyrus Mehri just another opportunistic bottom feeder in the Jesse Jackson / Al Sharpton tradition?

Answer: It’s always interesting—yet never surprising—to see individuals who protest injustices branded as bottom feeders. Then again, facing off with Madison Avenue on these issues does require lowering yourself to nasty depths.

Regardless, it’s important to recognize key differences between Mehri and Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton.

Despite occasional forays into advertising industry affairs, Jackson and Sharpton are ultra-outsiders. (Although rumors claim Black-owned agency executives told Jackson to back off when he offered to wage battles in the past.) While the two clearly understand things like exclusion and discrimination, they’re corporately clueless, at least when it comes to the ad agency business. In contrast, Mehri has done his homework. The Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc. report is nearly flawless in its examination of the inner dealings on Madison Avenue. The AAF and 4A’s couldn’t have produced a more factual, accurate document.

Additionally, the tactics employed by Jackson and Sharpton have possibly lost effectiveness over the years. One could argue that Jackson especially often resorted to intimidation that played on White guilt. Mehri, on the other hand, seeks to intimidate by proving Whites are guilty.

Advantage Mehri.

As for being opportunistic, well, let’s really consider the term. Remember, this battle has been plodding along since the 1930s. Madison Avenue has had plenty of opportunities to address matters for about 80 years. It’s not as if Mehri seized upon the moment, catching people unaware. The truth is, industry leaders have been opportunistic by perpetuating the problems via apathy and worse. Maybe we should all see this as an opportunity to create positive change.

If Mehri manages to take this drama to a courtroom, we can’t wait to learn whom Madison Avenue will call upon to defend. Even Denny Crane would take a pass on it.

Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 3

by Guest Contributor Highjive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

    Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, [The MultiCultClassics] blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

Question: Doesn’t President Barack Obama prove we don’t have to pursue this diversity stuff anymore?

Answer: Why do certain individuals view President Barack Obama as some form of reparations—as if his election pays off the bar tab of bias Madison Avenue has amassed over the years?

President Obama symbolizes a major milestone in racial progress. Madison Avenue represents a serious setback in cultural evolution.

President Obama assembles a staff reflecting the vibrant variety of brilliance in America. Madison Avenue collects excuses like, “We can’t find qualified minority candidates.”

President Obama signs his first bill in support of equal pay. Madison Avenue signs diversity pacts and is exposed for paying Blacks 20 percent less than Whites.

President Obama proves change is possible. Madison Avenue shows resistance to change is possible.

By all means, let’s hold up President Obama as the one to revere. But let’s also recognize Madison Avenue as the one to reform.

Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 2

by Guest Contributor Highjive, originally published at MultiCultClassics


    Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, [The MultiCultClassics] blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

Question: Given the tanking economy and widespread advertising agency layoffs, isn’t this the absolute worst possible time imaginable to wage a diversity war?

Answer: Oh, there are worse timings one could imagine. Like during a supernova, or at the moment of Armageddon. Try to keep matters in perspective. As noted on numerous posts, the battle first erupted in the 1930s. Madison Avenue has seen lots of catastrophic occurrences over that period. We shouldn’t let the probability of a total economic collapse prevent progress.

Besides, it’s actually easier to ignore the issues in good times. When jobs are plentiful and the corporate coffers overflow, advertising executives feel less obligated to make diversity a priority. But when your shop is teetering on financial ruin, well, the prospect of Cyrus Mehri seizing gobs of cash certainly grabs your attention.

Other considerations loom large too. The ad business is experiencing seismic shifts right now. The old ways are being abandoned. The old hierarchies are being redrafted. The old business models are being shattered. The grizzled cynics proclaim, “The ad biz as we know it is OVER.” The seasoned veterans are in the process of Reinventing Advertising. Everyone foresees a brand new day. Even the culturally clueless aren’t completely clueless.

So while Madison Avenue is undergoing an extreme makeover, why not fight to ensure diversity becomes a part of the foundation? This could be the absolute best possible time imaginable.

Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 1

by Guest Contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

Question: Why do all the diversity discussions focus on Blacks—what about Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, People With Disabilities, Gays, Lesbians, Women, Veterans, Older Employees, Pit Bull Lovers, Mutants and The Rest Of Us?

Answer: Get in line. Unfortunately, the deeper you dig into Madison Avenue’s corporate closet, the more skeletons you’ll find. Recent years have seen work and deeds demeaning everyone listed above, including a Jewish creative director allegedly sexually harassed by a neo-Japanese warlord. Continue reading

L’Oréal, Beyoncé And Cultural Cluéléssnéss

by Guest Contributor Highjive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

Hadn’t planned to examine the L’Oréal/Beyoncé drama, as others have already addressed it with better perspective, better emotion and better boycotting. Besides, it’s always best to avoid touching a Black woman’s hair—even as a blog topic—unless you really know what you’re doing. Hey, this subject is so combustible, it managed to draw comments at the typically ignored Agency Spy. Anyway, here are a few thoughts from a primarily advertising-related viewpoint.

Contrary to popular protests, it’s unlikely that L’Oréal deliberately lightened Beyoncé’s skin or messed with her nose and other items. The company officially insisted, “It is categorically untrue that L’Oréal Paris altered Ms. Knowles’ features or skin tone in the campaign for Féria hair color.” The company is probably right. However, they’re still probably wrong. Bear with us for a bit.

Technically, it’s a safe bet L’Oréal did not covertly tamper with the superstar. Anyone who has ever produced fashion advertising or fashion photography will attest that lighting plays a key role. When filming hair, incredibly strong lamps are used to make each strand visible and shiny. For example, commercials for Pantene and Clairol often show the backs of women’s heads for two reasons: 1) to display every glistening follicle and; 2) to avoid having the person’s face completely “blown out” (or whitewashed) by the spotlights. Given that L’Oréal is selling a haircolor and highlights product, they undoubtedly employed a ton of lights. Think supernova.

This is not a case of L’Oréal manipulating Beyoncé via Photoshop (at least not beyond the normal ultra-retouching done for fashion shots). Quite the opposite. L’Oréal should have used Photoshop—to restore the natural skin tone removed by the lighting. Continue reading

Have You Seen the Thirsty Black Boy?

by Latoya Peterson

I recently came across the above campaign, produced by Mortierbrigade Brussel, an ad agency in Belgium.

MediaBistro notes:

To attract attention for the cause, a young boy dressed in shorts and a tank top could be seen running into prime time TV shows (live programs, with hosts) only to drink the water that sat in front of the hosts, or their guests. The boy chugged the water and ran off.

In three days, the boy had been on enough programs that a stir was created. In just six days, people donated the equivalent of $5.24 million dollars. Considering the relatively small size of Belgium, that’s no small feat.

The viral piece was meant to highlight the disparaging situation for the 1.1 billion people that don’t have clean water, and the fact a child dies every 15 seconds from a lack of clean water. The agency’s client ‘Music for Life’ and their partner, The Red Cross, did more for clean water in a week than anyone could have imagined.

(It is also interesting to note that Media Bistro took the word “Black” out of the title when reporting the piece.)

Here is the video:

What do you think readers? (Particularly interested in the international perspective.)

Fair and Lovely Ad: Lighter Skin = Better Job Prospects

by Latoya Peterson

Deesha sent in these two ads for the skin-lightening product Fair and Lovely. Targeted to the Indian market, the ads promise job advancement (and the perception of beauty) after you lighten your skin by a few shades.

This ad is in English:

Notice, when the actress mentions that four is her lucky number, they show her skin lightening by four shades.

This ad is not in English, but the meaning is clear enough:

Not only does the ad show the model lightening six shades, but the emphasis in this commercial is working with a “modern beauty company.” So modern beauty equates to fair skin? Fascinating.

I am also amused by Fair and Lovely’s marketing to women in Indonesia:

Inspiring women

Since 1993 until today, we have been committed to transforming and inspiring the lives of women through beauty. We also believe in the economic empowerment of women to improve standards of living and contribute positively to the quality of life of all Malaysians.

What we offer

The products we offer are dedicated to the beauty of women everywhere. Our range comprises Fair & Lovely Fairness Cream, Fair & Lovely Herbal Cream, Fair & Lovely Facial Facewash, Fair & Lovely Under Eye Cream, Fair & Lovely Fairness Soap and Fair & Lovely Fairness Body Lotion. Our Multi-Vitamin Fairness Cream is yet another innovation to make your skin naturally fairer and radiant in a mere 4 weeks – harnessing the goodness of 4 essential vitamins, namely Vitamin B3, C, A and E.

How noble.