5-4-1 Aesthetic
Advertising, Race, Sports, Islam, and Oregon all in the same area code!

Sep
18

POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Thursday, September 18, 2008
BY DJC STAFF

Bucking the trend of city transit agencies reducing service due to rising fuel and service costs, the Corvallis Transit System has announced that it will expand its service beginning Sept. 22.

Corvallis city council recently added $180,000 to its transit budget, allowing the transit agency to add new routes, increase route frequency and extend its evening hours on several routes.

Though it will not increase its fares, CTS has coordinated its fares with Philomath Connection, a neighboring transit agency, so that each organization offers its passes, cash fares and coupon books at the same rates. Three CTS routes and the Philomath Connection will also provide direct service to the Oregon State University campus. In addition, the age for honored riders has been reduced from 80 years to 75; honored riders ride for free.

CTS was also recently awarded a grant from the Federal Transit Administration for two new buses. The grant totals $617,048 and will allow CTS to replace two 14-year-old buses.

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Sep
17

An overwhelming 96% of Muslim Arabs are observing the Ramadan fast,

89% view Ramadan as a yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline,

and 71% believe the Holy Month allows them to feel a sense of solidarity and brotherhood with fellow Muslims.

However, as restaurants and hotels region-wide tout their special Ramadan iftar and suhur promotions, a big majority (67%) also feels that Ramadan is becoming a bit too commercial.

These were among the findings of an extensive region-wide survey conducted by Maktoob Research on the attitudes and perceptions of the faithful vis-à-vis Ramadan traditions and practices. The survey, conducted during the month of August, just prior to the beginning of the holy month, canvassed the opinions of 6,128 adult Muslims from across the Arab world. Announcing the findings, Tamara Deprez, Director of Maktoob Research, said, “The study throws light on what Ramadan means today to followers of Islam, and how they perceive the customs and practices associated with the Holy Month. The survey’s findings show that despite the pace of modern life and the changes in people’s lifestyle, the Arab world retains its spiritual essence and remains largely tradition-bound where matters of faith are concerned – more so during the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

The Maktoob Research survey threw up several interesting findings; 62% of respondents were of the view that non-Muslims living in Arab countries should not eat or drink in public during Ramadan, while 52% held that all restaurants should be closed during the day – even to non-Muslims – to respect the observance of Ramadan.

74% of respondents said they read the entire Quran during the month of Ramadan, while – despite the hugely popular Ramadan TV serials — 43% said that overall, they watch television less often during the Holy Month.

In regards to the methodology employed to determine the commencement of the Holy Month, 62% of respondents favored the time-honored tradition of moon-sighting by the naked eye, although alternative techniques such as declaration by scholars and astronomical calculation also found significant approval.

Interestingly, 79% of respondents said they are keen to receive Islamic content on their mobile phones during the month of Ramadan, with Duas, Hadith, prayer timings and Quran verses emerging as the most preferred content choices.

A majority of respondents preferred to celebrate Iftar with family at home, but there were also sizeable enough sections that preferred to break fast alongside friends or by attending a religious ceremony.

In other findings, 83% of respondents said they planned to make a special gesture towards family or friends during the month of Ramadan or during Eid-al-Fitr, a majority of them saying the gesture would likely involve giving away of money (Eidyeh).

Surprisingly, all 760 respondents from Morocco replied in the affirmative when asked if they intend to observe fasting during Ramadan this year, whilst 99% of respondents in Oman, KSA, Qatar and Egypt, and 85% of UAE Muslims, said they would take to fasting during the Holy Month.

Sep
17
Published: September 15, 2008

THE idea of the pop-up has always been popular in advertising and marketing. There are Kleenex tissues, which “pop up one at a time,” as the old slogan goes; pop-up stores, those temporary outlets for retailers like Target; and the snarky cable TV series “Pop-Up Video.”

Jack & Bill, a pop-up agency started by Porter Novelli, gave some younger employees a chance to serve five clients free.

Porter Novelli, a leading public relations agency, is popping up on the list with a short-term, pop-up agency inside its halls, staffed by younger employees who have spent the summer creating campaigns for clients with fledgling businesses to promote.

The entrepreneurial pop-up is named Jack & Bill, after Jack Porter and Bill Novelli, who joined forces in 1972 to found Porter Novelli, an agency now owned by theOmnicom Group with 100 offices in 60 countries.

Eight Porter Novelli account supervisors and account executives — average age, 26 — have been running Jack & Bill on behalf of five clients that are receiving free services.

“We have an agency filled with millennials, with a need to feel empowered,” said Lisa Rosenberg, partner and managing director of the Porter Novelli New York office, referring to the demographic group, also known as Generation Y, born between 1982 and 1994.

“This was an idea they were tremendously excited about,” she added. “And as a senior manager here, it’s exciting to see the strength of our young people.”

Ms. Rosenberg estimated the expense of the Jack & Bill project for Porter Novelli at more than $150,000 — an economical sum for a summer’s worth of publicity generation that generated its own share of publicity.

One goal of Jack & Bill is “showcasing our digital-media expertise,” Ms. Rosenberg said, services “that we may not always get to do for bigger clients.”

So Jack & Bill has a microsite, or special Web site; a blog; and a channel on YouTube. The pop-up agency also has presences on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

A decision was made that Jack & Bill would concentrate on clients in the fashion field because many of the younger Porter Novelli employees worked on accounts in areas like “fashion and style and art and culture,” said Erin Osher, a partner at Jack & Bill who is an account supervisor at Porter Novelli.

“It was really the chance of a lifetime to create an agency with the support and help of a big organization,” said Ms. Osher, who has worked at Porter Novelli for three years.

To give Jack & Bill’s temporary life an appropriate end date, the work to be done by the staff members for their clients culminated with the annual Fashion Week, which took place last week in various venues across Manhattan. The pop-up project was wrapped up with a party on Sept. 8.

Jack & Bill and its clients found one another in a way that turned upside-down — or perhaps pop-up-side-down — the traditional pitching process for selecting a public relations agency. Typically a client calls in several agencies to compete for an account; in this case, the partners of Jack & Bill asked potential clients to audition to win the pop-up’s free services.

“More than 150 people showed up for the casting call” in mid-July, Ms. Osher said, which was chronicled on the Jack & Bill Web site and blog as well as through Twitter and the other digital means of dissemination.

“We were taking photos on iPhones, which were sent to Flickr, and doing live blogging,” she added, “and we invited others like PR Week, Huffington Post and People to live-blog.”

The winners of the free services from Jack & Bill were drawn from several areas of the fashion business.

In women’s apparel, the selection was Aira, a company started by two sisters, Karen and Annie Lin. Kalyn Johnson, a former lawyer, was chosen for her work as a fashion stylist; her company is Style by Kalyn Johnson.

And there is a model, Christopher Fawcett, a 22-year-old from Aurora, Colo., who moved to New York about a year ago.

One fashion item, jewelry, is represented twice: by Dannijo, a line created by two sisters, Danielle and Jodie Snyder, and by Badgley Sneed Designs, a collection from two long-time friends, Lynne Badgley and Jan Sneed.

If the name Badgley rings a bell, it is because Lynne’s son, Penn, is an actor with a lead role in “Gossip Girl,” the buzzed-about series on the CW network. (Ms. Sneed is his godmother.)

Asked to recall the Jack & Bill selection process, Ms. Badgley laughed. “I spent years auditioning with him,” she said, referring to Penn, “and all of a sudden the tables were turned. Now I knew what he felt like.”

Mr. Badgley accompanied his mother and Ms. Sneed to the audition, along with a co-star, Blake Lively, who plays his girlfriend on “Gossip Girl” and, as they say in the gossip columns, is seeing him off-camera, too.

Their presence drew considerable attention for Jack & Bill as well as for Badgley Sneed Designs, which has since added a “Gossip Girl” necklace to its offerings.

“Every other contestant asked: ‘What are they doing here?’ ‘They make jewelry, too?’ ” Mr. Badgley said about his appearance with Ms. Lively.

Ms. Sneed, who is executive vice president for corporate communications at MPG, a media agency owned by Havas, praised the young staff members of Jack & Bill for their work.

“They know what’s out there,” she said, “and how to use it.”

Mr. Fawcett agreed, pointing to coverage he received after working with Jack & Bill that included a fashion blog on the Web site of New York magazine.

“I thought you had to be really famous to have P.R. representation,” Mr. Fawcett said. “They really do make me feel like a star.”

Ms. Osher said it was possible that “Jack & Bill may live on after this,” to assist “emerging talent needing help to get off the ground.”

The Jack & Bill partners, in addition to Ms. Osher, were: Claire Buxton, Alyson Campbell, Erin Crumpacker, Erica Lichtenberger, Richard Small, Lauren Szczerba and Emily Zanovich.

Sep
17

MRI Starch Rates the Most Engaging Magazine Ads

By Michal Galin

Published: September 16, 2008

See why these were the most engaging print ads this summer in this slide show.
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — MRI Starch Communications, a specialist in print-advertising research, has developed an “engagement score” to help identify the best-performing print ads out there. The score combines the percentage of readers who noticed a given ad and the percentage that read at least half of it.

For this look at the Best Ads of Summer 2008, MRI Starch considered 694 one-page and two-page ads with a minimum of 50 words. It then selected the top ads in each of 12 major categories. All selected ads were thoroughly read by over half of those who initially noticed the ad.

See what marketers like Avon, HP, Bayer and Honda did this summer to get people to pay attention to their ads.

~ ~ ~
Michal Galin is senior VP at MRI Starch, part of the GfK Group, which specializes in measuring print-ad effectiveness.

Sep
16

High-End Brands and Retailers Expected to Feel Pinch as Consumers Re-evaluate Spending Habits

By Natalie Zmuda

Published: September 15, 2008
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — With massive layoffs expected in the banking industry and the economy in turmoil, marketers are beginning to fear that consumers of luxury goods will be snapping their wallets shut.

Luxury brands such as Tiffany, as well as other high-end retailers, likely will feel the pinch.
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While the subprime-mortgage crisis hit many lower- and middle-income consumers, this latest financial crisis, analysts said, will have more of an impact on the upper and upper-middle classes. “Certainly the New York market directly and the luxury market generically [will be hurt],” said Michael Niemira, director-research at the International Council of Shopping Centers. “It continues to be problematic for the whole economy, further shifting people away from luxury and more toward value and basics. And it’s deferring potential luxury purchases.”

Under pressure for months
With some luxury brands already starting to see a slowdown in sales, several analysts said, this latest development only stands to make matters worse. Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, noted that even high-end brands have been under pressure for several months, as consumers became jittery.

“The reality is that even at the highest levels of wealth, there is some pullback,” said Mr. Pedraza. “The loss of Wall Street jobs and, more importantly, the effects of a less-liquid market on the economy will mean a few more percentage points of decline in revenues.”

Brands such as Tiffany and Coach, as well as high-end retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, which owns Bergdorf Goodman, likely will feel the pinch.

Part of the cycle
But players in the space still see the downturn as temporary. Mr. Pedraza said the luxury market is cyclical and has experienced downturns before — albeit none as profound as this. “This is deeper,” he said. “It’s not the demise of the luxury market, but it’s a very serious downturn.”

And that will spur a re-evaluation of spending habits. Pam Danziger, founder of Unity Marketing, said consumers today are learning how to resist temptation and are more carefully evaluating their shopping choices. “Once you’ve gotten off the treadmill, why would you get back on? People don’t get rich by spending their money,” she said. “And spending on luxuries isn’t a good place to spend it.”

Focus on Russia, China
As consumers adjust to a new financial reality, so too must luxury marketers. With the U.S. economy in a tailspin, Mr. Pedraza said global luxury brands will further shift their marketing focus toward countries such as Russia, India and China. He also notes that marketing among luxury brands is beginning to focus more on function rather than status.

“[Luxury brands] are focused on marketing the classics — products that have lasting value and heritage,” he said. “In the last few years, because the money was flowing, companies forgot about the functionality of the product and were focusing on the image and status of it.”

Sep
16
photo courtesy of AME Info

photo courtesy of AME Info

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea: LG Electronics Inc. said Tuesday it has marketed a new large-screen plasma display television in the Middle East that allows users to both read and listen to the Quran, the Muslim holy book.

LG said in a release that the TV, which comes in 42 inch and 50 inch versions, is the first of its kind in the world. The company began selling it in conjunction with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started at the beginning of September.

Quranic verses can be read on screen and listened to via software embedded in the TV. All 114 chapters of the holy book are included and up to 10 pages can be bookmarked via remote control, LG said.

LG said it decided to offer the product after learning through a survey that many Muslims listened to the Quran via their home theater systems and that ratings for radio broadcasts of the holy book were high.

“The product resulted from noticing that devout Muslims read and listen to the Quran almost every day,” Park Jong-seok, vice president of LG’s PDP division, said in the release.

The company also said that the TV, which comes with a 160-gigabyte hard disk drive, can record 40 soccer games and 30 movies.

LG spokesman Kim Jik-soo said that the 42-inch TV retails for US$1,376 in Dubai, while the 50-inch one sells for US$2,160 there.

He could not immediately provide a breakdown of all the countries where the TV was being sold, but said it could be purchased in most Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia.

The company recorded US$2 billion in sales during the first half of this year in the Middle East and Africa, a gain of 35 percent over the same period last year.

LG said it is aiming for sales of US$4.3 billion for 2008, increasing the total to US$6 billion in 2010.

Sep
16

 

By Stuart Miller — Multichannel News,09/14/2008

The cable industry has long strived for diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism in the workplace. But executives agree that over the last year and a half — as the nation followed a historic presidential primary race between an African-American and a woman — operators and networks have ramped up their recruitment and career-building efforts.

Scripps Networks is one company that has recently “turned up the intensity,” according to senior vice president of corporate communications Cindy McConkey.

Eighteen months ago, Scripps hired Chris Powell, an African-American from outside the cable industry as executive vice president of human resources. “He brings a new point of view to the executive committee,” she said.

“People see this effort at first and think it’s just the politically correct thing to do but there is a strong and obvious business case to be made,” McConkey added, citing a shift in economic power.

Other companies are stepping up their diversity strategies, as well. “Diversity has long been a priority but it more recently came to the forefront,” said Charter Communications senior vice president of human resources Lynne Ramsey, who pointed out that the company hired director of human resources Cam McCluskey specifically to oversee diversity and inclusion.

“Diversity is really a business strategy, as well as simply the right thing to do,” Ramsey said. “Customers have to perceive us as being able to understand what their needs are.”

ADDING MUSCLE
“We’ve always taken a very aggressive approach, but there is much more linkage now to the business,” Discovery Communications senior executive vice president of human resources Adria Alpert-Romm said. “We’ve put more muscle behind our efforts. For a successful company, diversity is a growth trait.”

That sentiment was echoed by several industry executives, as they discussed the opportunities and challenges faced by their companies — as well as by the organizations with which they partner, such as the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications and Women in Cable & Telecommunications.

“One challenge in getting people to understand diversity is to understand what it means,” McConkey said. “When you ask people to define diversity they get a deer-in-the-headlights look but then everyone has a different answer”

And that definition goes beyond the usual topics, said senior manager of diversity and inclusion for Time Warner Cable Terri Moore. “A lot of times it seems like diversity and inclusion have to do just with race and gender but everybody has diversity aspects of their life that you can bring to the surface,” she said. “If you have a room full of people that all look alike, you will still have more diversity than most people ever thought of.”

BET, for example, is trying to be inclusive by reaching out to veterans organizations, according to vice president of human resources Jocelyn Cooley. As people continue to work later in life, the network is looking for ways to accommodate generational differences.

Most are loath to use words such as affirmative action or quotas that can pin them down in hiring results and alienate employees. Still, McConkey said some specific goals can be helpful—Scripps, for instance, is looking to work with at least one new minority-owned production company this year.

TALENT CRISIS LOOMS
According to Monica Johnson, manager of corporate recruiting at Cox Communications, achieving diversity and inclusion is particularly crucial as Baby Boomers age and more workers retire.

“There will be a shortage of people — the talent crisis is just around the corner,” Johnson said, adding that employers must also provide room for growth if they want to retain employees more interested in moving up the ranks than in long-term stability with one company.

“There is a war for talent,” agreed Cooley, noting that the Internet side of the business is hyper-competitive because every company is seeking people for that field. “It’s important to identify opportunities for the new generation throughout their career, to show them a path where they can achieve.”

For many companies, diversity extends to outside suppliers, as they look to hire vendors that are female or minority-owned. “You tend to reach for the list or pool you have worked with before, you reach into your life’s Rolodex,” McConkey said. “You have to take some chances — not because they won’t be as good but because you have to break your habits.”

Still, the biggest challenges and greatest opportunities for enduring change within the industry are in the areas of staff hiring and executive-level promotion. Progress has been made, says Kathy Johnson, president of NAMIC, at least in terms of hiring. But while the industry is roughly on par with employment patterns in lower and middle-level positions, diversity isn’t as evident near the top.

But much remains to be done: Johnson said Hispanics are still under-represented and that the representation is much slower in coming at the senior management level, especially at senior vice president and above. “That is our concern,” she said.

In 2001, NAMIC started an executive leadership program at UCLA to develop business acumen but also improve social networking skills and to help overcome cultural barriers. Nearly a third of those who have come through have received promotions and greater levels of responsibility, Johnson said.

Johnson acknowledged that one major issue is that there simply aren’t that many top-level positions around and that they tend to have less turnover than lower-level jobs. And, according to Cox director of people services Sheila Stallings, this is an issue facing every industry, not just cable.

Women, by and large, have fared even better than minorities, making gains in traditionally male-dominated positions like chief financial officer — though IT, engineering and other technical jobs still skew heavily male.

“It is a challenge finding enough women in technical areas,” said McCluskey. But Charter has started taking a new approach. Last month, it began targeting returning female veterans, who have the technical training the company is seeking. (Charter is also reaching out to disabled veterans, while Discovery is reaching out to veterans trained in technical jobs as a way of attracting minorities.)

Although most diversity and inclusion efforts these days focus on executive roles, network executives agree that on-screen diversity is crucial. “It helps with recruiting,” McConkey said, since potential employees are “viewers first. That’s our brand—what you see on the air says something about what you’ll see here.”

Marva Smalls, MTV Networks executive vice president of global inclusion strategy, agrees. “Your on-air talent is a chance to showcase how you really feel about diversity,” she said.

Additionally, networks and operators say a strong commitment from the top down is crucial. “It sets a tone of inclusiveness in our culture,” Cooley said.

“Leadership is imperative,” said Smalls, explaining that MTVN CEO Judy McGrath not only says she wants all hiring nets cast wide, but also has the networks’ “best collective brain trust” meeting regularly and chairing committees about diversity.

“It sends a strong signal,” Smalls said. “If you spend the same amount of time on this as you do working on a long-range plan or on your budget, it shows you are putting your time where your mouth is.”

TRAINING IS KEY
Diversity training is also key to establishing a workplace where differences are respected and valued.

At Discovery Networks, Alpert-Romm said 2,000 staffers have already completed the company’s diversity awareness training program and the rest will attend by 2009.

Time Warner Cable’s Diversity Council, which was established in 2004, oversaw three different pilot programs before finding the right one for its large-scale diversity training program. But the corporate council has also created regional councils to bring the issue closer to home for all staffers.

That kind of local touch is important in training (Cox has also set up local diversity councils), as well as in recruiting, said Time Warner Cable vice president of talent acquisition Seth Feit. “It depends on the demographic of the market — there are very different challenges in Los Angeles than in Lincoln, Neb.”

The question of local differences becomes increasingly significant for companies like MTV or Discovery that have a major presence in other countries. “It is very different in Singapore than in London,” said Discovery’s Alpert-Romm.

Executives agree that the goal isn’t to satisfy hiring quotas, but to at least have the outreach and resources to create diverse interview slates. “For every person we hire we want at least one diverse candidate in the interviewing pool,” said Charter’s Ramsay.

But to make that happen, Ramsay says they must constantly make search firms aware of Charter’s commitment to the cause.

“You have to constantly be out there building a list and establishing a database of top diverse talent,” added Alpert-Romm.

According to Debbie Stang, vice president of human resources for Midcontinent Media, every detail counts in the recruitment process — from checking job descriptions to making sure the wording doesn’t inadvertently screen qualified people out, to publicizing the company’s commitment to diversity to relying on the same old sources for hiring.

“We tell our hiring managers to look in places they haven’t looked before,” McConkey said. “Once they get it, they understand that if they work hard to increase diversity there’ll be a value for them and the company.”

Beyond partnerships with NAMIC, WICT and the Emma Bowen Foundation, that might mean internship programs with black colleges (which Scripps and Midcontinent Media cite) or partnerships with the National Hispanic MBAs and the Society of Women Engineers (both Cox partners).

Johnson and Cooley agree that while industry skills and experience come first, companies are now more cognizant of matching skill sets from jobs outside cable. Feit adds: “for jobs like marketing or finance or human resources there are broader, transferable skills.”

MAKING CONNECTIONS
Then there is the importance of making professional connections, even when there’s not a specific job tied to a meeting. “People hire someone they know,” Feit said. “So we really push the exploratory meeting. It’s matchmaking. If not now, then for down the road.”

Once people are hired, the company’s goal shifts to developing its executives’ skills and making sure they want to stay.

“One of the major challenges is retention,” Ramsay said, explaining that in a competitive landscape, a woman or minority candidate with leadership skills and experience is extremely marketable. She added that many prospective hires are not looking just for more money but for career opportunities and increased responsibilities.

Charter has an executive development institute that gives employees a chance to work on major projects with colleagues from around the company. It has also launched a mentoring program, said Ramsay, who is one of the mentors and has found that with retention “it’s amazing what a personal touch does.” But, she added, it is equally valuable for her to hear the voice of the African-American woman she mentors. “She thinks about things differently and brings new ideas to the table.”

Moore said Time Warner — which, like Charter, has set up mentoring partnerships with NAMIC and WICT — also started a formalized mentoring program within the company, giving employees the sense that they were connecting with upper-level executives.

MTV has started a mentoring program specifically for its senior-level African-American executives. That program was started in response to requests from employees, and executives like Smalls cite the value of fostering grassroots employee efforts. MTV has employee affinity groups for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, lesbians and gays, and working parents.

Discovery has set up similar groups, including one for women and one for veterans — some baby boomers, who feel like outsiders at the young-skewing company are considering starting their own group, according to Alpert-Romm. “They’re for employees that want to pull together,” she said.

Looking ahead, NAMIC’s Johnson hopes to see gains in one department where people of color remain largely underrepresented in the cable industry: ad sales. Because many staffers in those departments originally come from ad agencies, Johnson said the problem needs correcting not just in the cable world but on the ad agency side.

“The ad agencies are a feeder,” Discovery’s Alpert-Romm agreed. “If they’re not out there, then we have to make an effort to develop a pipeline.”

Johnson thinks are cablers aware of this issue and that even ad agencies and their clients are becoming increasingly attuned to the necessities of diversity and inclusion, which bodes well for the future.

Still, Johnson says progress takes time and the challenge is making sure companies stay committed — “even when there is a recession or consolidation, we have to make sure it is a priority”

Stang agrees, saying that ultimately it is a business decision. “We have a lot of other commitments that take up our time, but this has to stay in the forefront. We need our leaders out there to show a constant commitment to diversity.”

Sep
16
 
It’s good to be plush

The purchasing power of Affluent African Americans in the US – those with minimum individual annual incomes of $75K – is estimated at $29.8 billion, according to a study by Uptown Magazine and Diversity Affluence – writes MarketingCharts.

The study, which examined behaviors, attitudes, opinions and spending patterns of this wealthy demographic, also found that fashion and luxury brands, targeted advertising and personalized service are increasingly important to affluent African Americans.

Key findings:

  • Affluent African Americans most often read the The New York Times and Wall Street Journal newspapers, as well as magazines BusinessWeek and Newsweek, Jet and The Economist.

uptown-affluent-african-americans-media-consumption-sept-2008.png

  • 50 percent go out for fine dining and more than 25 percent go to clubs/bars at least once a week.
  • More than 20 percent go clothes shopping at least once a week. Men focus their fashion spending on career wear, casual wear and shoes, while women spend on purses and shoes.
  • 75 percent shop in higher-end, specialty department stores, and 66 percent shop in traditional department stores. Outlets and “last chance” stores also are popular destinations, suggesting that even affluent shoppers look for bargains.

uptown-affluent-african-americans-retailer-shopping-sept-2008.png

  • Luxury bottled water and wine (both domestic and imported) are the beverages of choice, though other high-end beverages are frequently consumed.
  • More than 10 percent travel on business at least once a week and about one quarter shop during business travel.
  • More than 70 percent have a passport and have used it on international travel in the past year. About one-third travel internationally at least three times a year and one-tenth travel internationally at least every other month.
  • Nearly 10 percent plan to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next three months, and more than one-quarter more expect to do so in the next year.
  • Luxury sedans are the most common current and future vehicle types preferred. Those who own mid-range and economy vehicles are looking to trade up in their next purchase or lease to a more prestigious option.
  • While more than 60 percent have gym or fitness center memberships and one-third have home gyms, nearly 40 percent wish they were doing more to stay fit.
  • 65 percent participate in cardio exercise and 57 percent participate in resistance/weight training to stay fit. About one-third jog, speed-walk or practice Yoga or Pilates. Another fifth say they run, swim or play tennis on a regular basis.
  • Affluent African Americans are looking for insider information to satisfy their need for new social experiences. They see themselves as resources for friends and colleagues on what’s new and like to treat themselves to the very best and indulge in conveniences.
  • Nearly 30 percent make the majority of their living through entrepreneurial activities, and another 10 percent aspire to do so in the next five years.

“Affluent African Americans are an educated, sizeable and often untapped opportunity for luxury brands,” said Leonard Burnett, co-CEO and group publisher of Uptown Media.

About the study: The research comprised a national online survey and a series of regional focus groups in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, DC from March to July 2008. The respondent mix was 35 percent male and 65 percent female; 68 percent were single and 32 percent were married or committed.

Sep
16

 

KUALA LUMPUR: Nestle (M) Bhd’s commitment to halal products is bearing fruit, with about 24% of its turnover in the second quarter of this year coming from the export business.

Mainly driven by the Middle East market, Nestle Malaysia had also captured a big export segment in Asean countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, managing director Sullivan O’Carroll said.

Nestle Malaysia is currently the biggest halal producer in the Nestle group following its appointment as the Halal Centre of Excellence for Nestle worldwide. He said that given the rising consumption from affluent global Muslim population, Nestle Malaysia would be in a good position to capture growth in the export segment as all its products were certified and endorsed by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

“Our commitment to halal is now starting to benefit not only Nestle in Malaysia in terms of export but also bigger economies of scale in our factories so that we can have more affordable products for our own Malaysian market,” he said after Nestle Malaysia hosted a breaking of fast for Bernama staff last week.

Nestle Malaysia posted a RM1bil turnover in its second quarter ended June 30, 2008, up from RM853.44mil in the same period last year mostly driven by export sales.

On whether the group was experiencing a slowdown in sales following the global economic uncertainties, O’Carroll said Nestle Malaysia had not seen any reduction in basic food consumption such as infant formula, milk products and instant noodles.

“In terms of our total business, Milo is our biggest business and Malaysia is the most successful market for Milo in the Nestle world,” he said. Other brands are Maggi, Nescafe and Kit Kat. On market sentiment, O’Carroll said this year was a relatively difficult year for its consumers due to high inflation and fuel prices, but the market was likely to see some softening in prices of some raw materials next year.

“In terms of our total business, Milo is our biggest business and Malaysia is the most successful market for Milo in the Nestle world,” he said. Other brands are Maggi, Nescafe and Kit Kat.

On market sentiment, O’Carroll said this year was a relatively difficult year for its consumers due to high inflation and fuel prices, but the market was likely to see some softening in prices of some raw materials next year. – Bernama

Sep
16

by Kenny Lim    16-Sep-08, 10:07
JAKARTA – McCann Worldgroup Indonesia has launched a global TVC drive for Coke to connect with youth markets during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. 

Briefed out of Coke’

s Eurasia division, McCann in Indonesia won the right to produce this year’s Ramadan drive, following a selection process with Pars McCann Turkey and Promoseven Middle East, which created 2007’s TV spot.
 
The TVC, dubbed ‘Iftar Street’, is being showcased in 16 markets including Turkey, the Middle East (which includes the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia), North and West Africa and Asia (which includes Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and will run for six weeks until October.
 
For Indonesia, the TVC drive will be further extended to coincide with the Lebaran holiday period – a time of celebration for Indonesians as they conclude their fasting month.
 
Aimed at teens and mothers, the 60-second TV spot sees two male leads being caught in a bad traffic jam. Spotting a Coke delivery truck, the two then begin distributing the soft drink among the rest of the commuters. As the sun sets, the group begins eating and drinking to celebrate the end of the fasting day.

Sep
15

 

by The Oregonian

Monday September 15, 2008, 11:22 AM

The violent crime went up 2.6 percent in Oregon in 2007, the largest increase since Measure 11’s mandatory minimum sentences went into effect in 1995.

Nationally, the violent rate crime dropped 1.4 percent.

Oregon’s property crime rate dropped 4 percent and has dropped a total of 20 percent since 2005, the second largest drop in the country, according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission.

Oregon voters face two November ballot measures that would increase prison sentences for burglars, car thieves and drug dealers.

Ashbel S. Greentonygreen@news.oregonian.com

Sep
15

 

Cable Down 20% From Last Year, While Broadcast Reaps Benefits

Published: September 15, 2008

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Despite popular sentiment to the contrary (e.g., all those designer threads on “Gossip Girl”), product placement has had less airtime on network TV for the first six months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to Nielsen Co. findings released today. 

Overall, product placements in the first half of 2008 fell by almost 15% on prime-time programming when figures for the 11 measured networks on broadcast (ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, MyNetworkTV, NBC) and cable TV (A&E, Bravo, HGTV, MTV and TLC) were combined. 

While prime-time product-placement occurrences on broadcast increased almost 12% during the first and second quarters of 2008 (the top 10 programs featured 21,427 occurrences between January and June of this year vs. 17,370 occurrences in the year-ago period), placements on cable TV declined by 20%. 

There were 204,919 brand occurrences on cable and broadcast networks between January and June of this year, according to Nielsen Product Placement Service. The most prevalent type of placement on broadcast TV was foreground, which represented 30% of all product placements. On cable, wardrobe placements were most common, accounting for 28% of all placements. 

Effects of writers strike 
Nielsen research attributes the increase on broadcast TV chiefly to changes in programming schedules due to the writers strike. NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” (featuring 1,765 occurrences of 24 Hour Fitness) which normally airs each fall, kicked off its fifth season in January, and Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” (featuring 1,308 occurrences Chef Revival) began season five in April instead of its customary June, thereby airing more episodes during the first half of the year. 

During its first-half run, “American Idol,” with 4,636 occurrences, was the top program in terms of the number of placements. Four of the top 10 programs aired on NBC, while Fox and the CW aired another two each. All of the top 10 programs had more than 1,000 placements. 

The top 10 featured brands on prime-time broadcast TV increased by 38%, from 6,848 occurrences in the first half of 2007 to 9,485 for the six months this year. Coca-Cola again ranked No. 1, with 2,990 occurrences for this time period. 

The top-10 cable programs featuring product placements accounted for 85,480 occurrences in the first half, a decrease of 8% from 92,925 occurrences in 2007. 

Nielsen says the decrease in cable occurrences stems from changes in program lineups. Several shows that featured a significant number of product placements — TLC’s “American Chopper” and “Miami Ink”; MTV’s “Run’s House” and “Pimp My Ride”; and A&E’s “Driving Force” and “Dog the Bounty Hunter” — aired less frequently or were removed from prime-time lineups in the first half. 

‘Chopper’ on top again
TLC’s “American Chopper” was again the top program, with 26,794 placements. Four of the programs in the Top 10 air on TLC, and another four air on MTV. Bravo’s “Project Runway” and “Top Chef” held the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively. 

“American Chopper” featured the greatest number of product placements, but placements airing on TLC’s “Trading Spaces” were the most successful: Six of the top 10 best-performing placements during the first half of this year were found in the program, including Home Depot’s April 12 and April 5 placements, which received a 75% positive response from viewers. 

With 26,063 placements, apparel was the No. 1 product placement category on cable during the first half of 2008. The top-three apparel brands include Orange County Choppers apparel (3,706 occurrences), Under Armour (3,068 occurrences) and Big Black (1,843). Nike and Adidas also ranked among the top-five apparel brands. MTV programming surpassed all networks in apparel placement, with four shows accounting for approximately 9,500 occurrences.

Sep
15

Associated Press – September 14, 2008 4:05 PM ET

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A group of Russian judges is visiting Oregon to learn about the state juvenile justice system.

The visit is sponsored by Open World Leadership Center, an exchange program run by Congress.

The center has offered a “rule of law” judicial exchange program for the past eight years to give Russians an inside look at the U.S. judicial system and develop ties with the U.S. judges and lawyers.

In Portland, the Russian delegation will meet representatives from the Multnomah County juvenile justice system – including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers, probation officers, detention officials and others.

Sep
15

Great Britain showed impressive strength from the bench in Liverpool last night to defeat Israel 96-86, and leave qualification for next year’s European Championships in Poland in their own hands.

 
Luo Deng leads Great Britain to victory over Isreal

Inspiration: Luo Deng leads Great Britain to victory over Isreal Photo: PA

Two wins on the road this week against the Czech Republic and Bosnia and Herzegovina and they would definitely qualify, one win and they would almost certainly book their place in Poland next September as well.

In Liverpool, although stand-outs Pops Mensah Bonsu (22) and Luol Deng (20) were a constant threat, it was timely contributions from the likes of Nick George, coming off the bench to net 15 points, and young giant Joel Freeland, with 13 and four rebounds during his stint, that kept Great Britain ticking over against a team that has competed in the finals of every European Championship since 1994.

Great Britain took command in the second and third quarters, building a 20-point and were able to play a containing game in the final quarter to keep the Israelis – pre-tournament favourties to win the pool outright – at arms length.

“We’ve held serve and now we have two chances to get one on the road,” said GB coach Chris Finch.

“I was always happy with our schedule – a tough one on the road to start with in Israel and then three home games to build some momentum and some chemistry. And now we go on the road again and will see how good we really are.

“We had great production from the bench, Nick and Joel were pretty inspirational. Joel’s given us great energy off the bench all campaign.”

George, who also impressed in a cameo performance against the Czech Republic last week, said there was a different mood on the bench in Liverpool as opposed to the Birmingham game in midweek when GB defeated Bosnia & Herzegovina.

He said: “In the last game we didn’t come off the bench with any enthusiasm but Jarret Hart came in and kicked it off tonight, I came in and Richard Midgley came in and I think everybody enjoyed it. That was the most important thing.”

Israel had beaten GB in overtime earlier this month in Tel-Aviv, but have suffered a slump in form since then and the result was rarely in doubt once GB posted their first 20-point lead with a pair of George dunks off sublime floated passes from Deng.

“Luol is an inspiration to everybody and you just want to follow that,” says George. “And Pops is an animal, just a beastly individual. He just fights for everything. Joel was fantastic – he’s a great young talent and he’s going to be special.”

Sep
15
 

Dwight Howard is a long, long way from reaching his lofty goal of being one of the best to ever play the game, but he certainly is pointed in the right direction.

The sky is the limit for Dwight Howard. (Getty Images)  
The sky is the limit for Dwight Howard. (Getty Images)  

At age 22, Howard already is the best center in the NBA as he prepares for his fifth season with the Orlando Magic, who are building their franchise and their future hopes around him.

At a time when his position’s prominence in the game has diminished, Howard has risen to the top with a rare combination of power and athleticism, showing just a hint of how dominating a great center can be.

His breakout season — a league-leading 14.2 rebounds, along with 20.7 points and 2.1 blocks — might be only a preview, merely a tip of his vast potential.

While most of the contenders are banking on perimeter play to carry them, Howard will show that his position has not grown obsolete or insignificant.

Here are the top 20 centers in the NBA, based on players’ projected impact on the 2008-09 season:

1. Dwight Howard, Orlando: Howard still has plenty of room and time to grow as an NBA star. The Superman cape he unveiled last All-Star Weekend might not be too much of a stretch. He should start leaping tall buildings soon, eager to continue expanding his game. The Magic have no excuse if they can’t build a serious contender around this inside force.

2. Yao Ming, Houston: It’s time for Yao to start acting and playing like a former No. 1 pick and lead the Rockets deep into the playoffs. With both Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest alongside him, there should be no reason why Yao can’t get the Rockets past any of the Western contenders.

3. Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers: After missing all the playoff fun last season, Bynum could either disrupt what the Lakers had or put them over the top. Now going into his fourth season (directly from high school), he has shown some enormous talent. His trick will be making it fit on a team that reached the NBA Finals without him.

4. Shaquille O’Neal, Phoenix: Sure, he has slowed considerably. He is not as hungry anymore, but he still is a dominating presence around the basket. He is counting down the days to retirement, but if Shaq takes his conditioning seriously, the Suns will give him a chance to add one more championship ring before he leaves the game. And that could motivate him this season.

5. Marcus Camby, Los Angeles Clippers: It’s hard to ask for anything more than 13.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a game from a center, which still makes Camby valuable, even if Denver didn’t want him anymore. From a fantasy perspective, his value will go down when he has to share the lane with Chris Kaman. Together, they should give the Clips a defensive presence.

6. Rasheed Wallace, Detroit: Yes, he’s a strange dude, but it’s hard to fault his skill set. He can guard the big guys inside, then cause serious matchup problems at the other end with his long-range shooting. He gave Howard and the Magic fits in the playoffs last spring, but he also gives his teammates fits.

7. Jermaine O’Neal, Toronto: Life soured in Indiana, but the move to Toronto should revitalize his career. His presence will allow Chris Bosh to move to power forward, giving the Raptors a nice frontcourt. Remember, O’Neal once averaged 20/10 in back-to-back seasons. And he is only 29 years old, hoping to regain the status he once had.

8. Greg Oden, Portland: He missed all of last season after being the No. 1 pick in the draft, but he will join the league now with a vengeance, making sure his presence is felt. The year off will relieve the pressure of being a No. 1 pick, making his debut season even more impressive.

Fantasy Writer
Fantasy Center Rankings
1. Dwight Howard, ORL
2. Amare Stoudemire, PHO
3. Al Jefferson, MIN
4. Yao Ming, HOU
5. Pau Gasol, LAL
6. Mehmet Okur, UTA
7. Marcus Camby, LAC
8. Andrew Bogut, MIL
9. Emeka Okafor, CHA
10. Brad Miller, SAC
11. Tyson Chandler, NO
12. Zach Randolph, NY
13. Chris Kaman, LAC
14. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, CLE
15. Al Horford, ATL
2008-09 Fantasy Projections

 

9. Emeka Okafor, Charlotte: As long as he understands his role and limitations, he is more than adequate as a center. After a great college career, he came into the league with over-inflated expectations heaped upon him. He is a defender/rebounder who would do well on a better team, but he gets exposed and criticized because he can’t carry a bad team like the Bobcats.

10. Tyson Chandler, New Orleans: Although their point guard gets all the credit, the Hornets would not be a contender without Chandler, who has begun to shine after a slow start in Chicago. He needs to block more shots, but averaging a double-double (11.8 ppg and 11.7 rpg) makes him comfortable in his role. Should score a little more this season.

11. Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers: His role looks a little uncertain with Marcus Camby on the roster, but that doesn’t take away from a career season. Kaman averaged 15.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks with Elton Brand on the sideline. If Baron Davis will pass him the ball, Kaman will score, but it’s unlikely he will get the opportunities he had last season.

12. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland: His toughest assignment is making sure he stays out of the way of LeBron James. Ilgauskas’ skills have eroded, but he still can hit the open jumper, make a good pass and guard the slower centers in the league. He needs lots of help trying to guard the younger centers.

Poll

Who is the NBA’s best center?
Yao Ming
Andrew Bynum
Marcus Camby
Dwight Howard
Shaquille O’Neal

13. Samuel Dalembert, Philadelphia: He doesn’t know it yet, but he will benefit greatly from the addition of Elton Brand, who will garner all the attention around the basket. Dalembert won’t have to worry about scoring, which he doesn’t do well. Instead, he can focus on what he does do well, and that’s rebound and block shots. If he improves his post defense, he can really help turn the 76ers into contenders in the East.

14. Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee: Another former No. 1 pick who has been viewed as a disappointment because expectations were too high. Won’t ever be a star, but he can be more than adequate. Watch for new coach Scott Skiles to ramp him up a notch. If he can raise his intensity level, Bogut can help bring the Bucks back to respectability.

15. Al Horford, Atlanta: A little out of position, but he handles it well, using his youth and athleticism to provide what the Hawks need at this spot. Had a good rookie season, which gave a young team hope for the future. He is a smart player with a good work ethic, and he should improve considerably this season.

16. Brad Miller, Sacramento: Wiley veteran who still has a nice, well-rounded game. Averaged 3.7 assists, which is tops among all centers in the league. Isn’t good enough to carry a team, but he was fine when the Kings were good. On this bad team, some of his talents get wasted. For a guy who never was drafted, he has done well through a 10-year career.

17. Kendrick Perkins, Boston: Virtually invisible while playing in the shadow of the Big Three, but you can’t discount the contributions he made for the NBA champions. He understood his role, and he did it well. He averaged just 6.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, but he also shot 61.5 percent from the field. Will want to spread his wings a little more this season.

Schedule
Date Position
Sept. 15 Centers
Sept. 17 Power forwards
Sept. 19 Small forwards
Sept. 22 Shooting guards
Sept. 24 Point guards
Sept. 24 Top 50

18. Mehmet Okur, Utah: Another one of those unconventional centers who would rather play on the perimeter and shoot the 3-pointers. He does give Carlos Boozer room to work inside. With coach Jerry Sloan riding him, Okur has proved he can play under pressure. Needs to improve defensively to give the Jazz a chance to compete in the West, but he has carved a useful role on an improving team.

19. Andris Biedrins, Golden State: Really isn’t a conventional center, but the Warriors are so unconventional that he fits in well. Coming off his best NBA season — 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds — Biedrins has grown into a nice NBA player. His problem is guarding the other big guys.

20. Brendan Haywood, Washington: Always seems to get blamed for Washington’s failures, but he has given the Wizards some consistency around the basket. He’ll never be anything more than an average center, but the lack of good centers in today’s game actually makes him look respectable.

Sep
15

Addition of $8 billion will prevent crisis, but Federal Highway Trust Fund is still likely to run dry in 2009

POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Monday, September 15, 2008
BY TYLER GRAF

The Federal Highway Trust Fund is saved.

For now, that is.

The United States Congress last week passed legislation shoring up an additional $8 billion for the 52-year-old bridge and highway repair fund. The Department of Transportation had warned that the fund would run dry at the end of the month.

But the $8 billion is merely a stopgap before the fund runs out of money again in 2009.

Locally, the trust fund helps pay for the Sellwood Bridge planning project, an intersection project at Southeast 282nd Avenue and Stone Road, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Viaduct, among many others.

Nationally, thousands of projects rely on the trust fund, and hundreds of thousands of workers rely on the employment supplied by those projects.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America had claimed prior to the legislation’s passage that if the trust fund ran out of money, it would result in the net loss of 380,000 construction jobs nationally, with about 4,500 of those coming from Oregon.

Employees of the Oregon Department of Transportation, however, aren’t so quick to look at the situation in such dire terms.

“Oregon was going to be OK for six to 12 months because of where we are in the budget and with cash flow,” said Patrick Cooney, a spokesman for Oregon Department of Transportation. “So, there would have been no immediate impact.”

That’s not to say the state coffers are overflowing. Steel, oil and asphalt costs have increased exponentially in the last year. Keeping pace with the increased costs has been difficult because Oregonians have begun driving less, thereby decreasing the state’s gas-tax revenue.

But at least there’s no uncertainty in the short term, state and county officials say, and the averted crisis may serve as a teachable moment when the trust fund becomes an issue again in 2009.

According to Jacob Hay – a spokesman for LIUNA, which lobbied on behalf of the federal legislation – the $8 billion will be able to pay for projects that are in the pipeline or that have already begun.

Nonetheless, the future of highway funding appears pockmarked and pothole filled. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that more than

$1 trillion will be required over the next five years to pay for the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

“While applauding the actions to keep the fund from going broke, we are calling for a new comprehensive approach (because) our infrastructure challenges are too big for the patchwork approach of the past,” Hay said.

For Oregon’s trust-fund-subsidized projects, financing is typically split 80 percent federal and 20 percent state. If Oregon Transportation Investment Act money is also being used, then the percentages shift slightly depending on the amount of OTIA money used.

And though predictions are hard to come by, Multnomah County Bridge Services Manager Ian Cannon said if the trust fund does disappear for any considerable amount of time in 2009, then future projects such as the improvements to the Morrison Bridge may get stalled.

“Even with the $8 billion, if gas-tax receipts remain way below historic levels, (the trust fund) will have a tough time meeting its commitments in the slightly longer term,” Cannon said. “But the $8 billion should avert an immediate crisis.”

Sep
14

Man Who Beat Coke and NFL Starts to Study Diversity in Ad Agencies

Published: September 15, 2008

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Cyrus Mehri, one of the nation’s top civil-rights attorneys and a man who has been dubbed one of Washington’s most feared lawyers, has turned his attention to the ad industry’s woeful diversity record. 

Blacks in advertising

Mr. Mehri declined to discuss whether a lawsuit was in the works but said his firm was behind the preliminary results of a study obtained by Ad Age. Any way you look at it, the fact that a top civil-rights attorney has commissioned a survey of diversity in ad agencies does not bode well for the agencies whose ranks are still overwhelmingly white. 

The study, which isn’t complete yet, is being conducted by economist Marc Bendick Jr. on behalf of the firm. According to the summary, Mr. Bendick looked at census data and figures for similar “persuasion” industries (media, law, philanthropy, high-end sales) and came up with benchmark percentages of minorities one could expect in an industry such as advertising. Whereas, according to the benchmarks, African-Americans would be expected to make up 9.5% of the professionals in advertising (a number even lower than the 13% in the general population), it turns out they make up only 5.8%. On the executive and managerial side, African-Americans make up only 3.2% compared with an expected 7.2%. 

That amounts to a 39% shortfall in African-American representation among the industry’s staff and a 56% shortfall among managerial employees. Unlike previous efforts, this study takes into account the entire ad industry, not just a handful of agencies operating out of New York. The figures include employees and managers at African-American-owned shops; Mr. Mehri said he expects the numbers to be even worse when those agencies are not factored in. 

‘Purposeful discrimination’
“If this was 1970 and they had this shortfall, I could be sympathetic,” he said. But, he added, “the preliminary results [of this study] are showing shortfalls that are rare to have in this magnitude in this modern day and indicate purposeful discrimination.” He went on to say that the industry won’t resolve this issue until it stops focusing on a false “supply” argument (not enough African-American candidates) and starts focusing on the people in charge. 

Nancy Hill, president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, declined to comment on the matter. 

Mr. Mehri, a partner at Mehri and Skalet, wouldn’t disclose the firm’s long-term plans in relation to the ad industry, but he made it clear he is not working with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. He did attend a forum held by the commission earlier this year on behalf of ad-industry employees who’d contacted him. 

A look at Mr. Mehri’s case history should worry the industry. His firm was behind suits against Texaco and Coca-Cola Co. that resulted in the largest discrimination settlements in history — $176 million in the Texaco case and $192.5 million in the Coke case — as well as dramatic reforms in both companies’ employment practices. His firm was also behind recent gender-discrimination suits in the financial-services sector. The so-called Women on Wall Street Project has resulted in, among other things, a $46 million settlement against Morgan Stanley and a $33 million settlement from Smith Barney. Even when lawsuits aren’t filed, Mr. Mehri leaves his mark. He, along with Johnnie Cochran, released the report “Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities.” That report, backed up with the threat of a major lawsuit, led to the hiring of numerous African-American coaches. 

“We’re serious players,” Mr. Mehri said. “We’re going to do our homework. We’re going to interview everybody who contacts us. We’re going to build this up step by step. This is a world of difference compared to anything [the industry has] faced before.” 

Economist’s perspective
Mr. Bendick, who’s conducting the study, is an economist who specializes in employment and human-resource management at Bendick and Eagan Economic Consultants. He’s done work for both employers and employees, the departments of Justice and Labor, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Most of his work doesn’t involve litigation. 

Mr. Bendick wouldn’t comment for this story, but in previous studies — such as “Changing Workplace Cultures to Reduce Employment Discrimination” — he’s touched on types of discrimination that may sound familiar to those toiling in the ad world. “They often derive from social relationships that informally limit access to information about job opportunities. They may reflect issues of ‘social comfort’ and personal style that affect whose comments get listened to, who is perceived as competent and who gets credit for accomplishments.” 

On the other hand, he told The Washington Post in January of this year, “If you ask what is the impact of diversity training today, you have to say 75% is junk and will have little impact or no impact or negative impact.” 

According to Mr. Mehri, the study won’t be ready for several weeks. “I want to be clear that our firm has commissioned this study because we do our homework before we come in with guns blazing,” he said. The study is meant to offer raw data, a look at causes behind the lack of diversity and, hopefully, remedies. 

Leadership problem?
While Mr. Mehri wouldn’t disclose what shapes those remedies might take, he was clear that the answer isn’t more internships, scholarship programs and diversity initiatives — which he sees as “rope-a-dope” schemes designed mostly to make it look like the industry is doing something about the problem.

Cyrus Mehri (l.) makes things happen even when there's no lawsuit involved, as he did when he and Johnnie Cochran released a report on the lack of black coaches in the NFL, which led to numerous hires.
Getting the ball rolling: Cyrus Mehri (l.) makes things happen even when there’s no lawsuit involved, as he did when he and Johnnie Cochran released a report on the lack of black coaches in the NFL, which led to numerous hires.

Photo Credit: Amy Sancetta

“It’s not a matter of forming affinity groups among the excluded,” he said. “What needs fixing isn’t the African-Americans; it’s the white guy running the agency. We want to relentlessly focus on not the excluded groups but the excluding groups, the people who control the power and make the decisions. That’s where people are running into barriers. The leadership has to come from the top.” 

He went on: “We know the industry has had various diversity efforts over the years. However, these efforts are going to continue to fall short until they understand they’re operating under a false premise — that the problem is the supply of African-American talent — when the real problem is the lack of leadership at the top and their exclusionary policies and practices.” 

Mr. Mehri countered the argument that the problem is a lack of interest in the industry among African-Americans or a simple lack of candidates. “Supply is important. But you also have to shift the focus to a level playing field. So you can applaud the work that they’re doing, but there’s still going to be this revolving door unless there’s this tenacious focus on a level playing field.” 

~ ~ ~
Contributing: Rupal Parekh

Sep
14

McDonald’s, Sony Pictures, State Farm and Toyota sign on for sponsorships

Sept 14, 2008

-By Gregory Solman

adweek/photos/stylus/21898-band.jpg

MySpace Music is designed as a social experience, not just an online source for tunes.

LOS ANGELES Sony Pictures, McDonald’s, State Farm and Toyota have signed on as platinum sponsors of MySpace Music, said Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing at the client.

The e-commerce venue is slated to launch in the next few weeks. It will be integrated with MySpace proper for some functionality, but can also be used as a standalone resource by those who are not members of the News Corp.-owned social network.

One key reason Berman believes that MySpace Music will succeed is the “social filter on top of it,” making the service more like an online community than simply a source for music.

Berman drew a distinction between the site’s relationship with the music labels Sony BMG, Universal and Warner and the new sponsors. “We haven’t made just a commercial deal with the labels, but a joint venture, so they are invested in our success,” Berman said. Platinum sponsor brands, on the other hand, will be integrated into various MySpace Music programs. For example, McDonald’s will sponsor free music downloads and have a presence among the customized tools on the MySpace Personal Music Player.

The site will accommodate ad-sponsored unlimited live streaming of content, but downloading material to another device would typically require a fee, Berman said.

State Farm’s brand will be visible throughout the site, gracing the music player and various playlists. The insurer will probably integrate its MySpace Music affiliation with its own content offering, NowWhat.com.

Toyota plans to sponsor “Toyota Tuesdays,” supporting free music downloads and rotating its ads on the music player for the next year.

Sony Pictures is launching a campaign for the Oct. 3 release Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Whereas MySpace users can now only add a single song to their profiles for sharing, MySpace Music will allow them to create and post entire playlists. Sony will exploit that feature by skinning user lists with messages related to the movie. A MySpace Music homepage roadblock for the film is also planned.

Berman said MySpace Music would be marketed via the MySpace network of 76 million domestic and 122 million worldwide users and through some “offline marketing as well,” though he declined to disclose details of the future campaign.

READ AN INTERVIEW WITH MYSPACE CEO CHRIS DEWOLFE ABOUT THE SOCIAL NET’S MUSIC PLANS

Sep
14
Sanaa Lathan talks

Jennifer S. Altman / For the Times
WELL TRAVELED AND ANIMATED: Sanaa Lathan talks about working with Tyler Perry (he’s great), the beast of “Alien vs. Predator” (Prague was sweet) and becoming a cartoon (you work in sweats).
THE SUNDAY CONVERSATON
The actress talks about working with Tyler Perry (he’s great), the beast of ‘Alien vs. Predator’ (Prague was sweet) and becoming a cartoon (you work in sweats).
By Choire Sicha, Special to The Times 
September 14, 2008
SANAA LATHAN appears in “The Family That Preys,” Tyler Perry’s new film about two families torn apart by greed and scandal. But she’s also been busy, having starred in a TV adaptation of “A Raisin in the Sun” on ABC this year, costarring in the forthcoming Fox “Family Guy” spinoff “The Cleveland Show” — and dating Adewale “Wally” Ogunleye of the Chicago Bears. We caught up with her while she prepped for “Prey’s” New York premiere.

So how did you end up in that “Alien vs. Predator” mess?

Oh, listen, there are a lot of people who liked that mess! It was a last-minute kind of audition thing. My agent was like, “You’ve been very careful and this is a big movie and you should go for it.” It turned out to be a great experience — I got to live in Prague for five months! I got to travel around Europe on my off time. Acting-wise? It was one of the most challenging roles I had — regardless of what you think of that movie. Being in that state of terror for five months, the same outfit, the same dirt on your face — it was a real acting exercise. You do take after take because of the technical aspects.

What did you see in Europe?

Oh, gosh, Prague is so beautiful, the architecture is so preserved. . . . I probably would not have gone if I wasn’t there for work! So it was good — a good education for me.

You have an excellent education already.

I do, huh. My education is in some people’s minds unnecessary for what I do. . . . Nobody in the industry cares that you went to the Yale School of Drama.

What sort of things are you getting to read now?

I just finished doing a movie [“Wonderful World”] with Matthew Broderick where I play a Senegalese woman. I’m doing “The Cleveland Show,” which is a spinoff of “The Family Guy.” It’s Cleveland, the neighbor. He’s black, and I guess he’s really popular, and he’s got his own show. I play his wife, Donna. It’s so great — you get to work in your sweats. It’s really smart, really funny. You go to work and laugh, and it’s two hours of your week. That’ll be out in fall.

Tyler Perry: What gives?

He’s great! I was very impressed by him. Regardless of what you think of his work, he has a huge following. The thing I respect about him is he’s reflecting a whole community of people who don’t get reflected in Hollywood. For years, black actors were told, “You can’t open a movie. Black movies don’t make money.” He’s proving there is an audience for it. And I just love how he is doing his own thing. He’s created his own model. I went down to Atlanta — he has an amazing studio down there.

He’s taken this and made it big money, not to be crass.

That’s what it’s all about: money. That’s what people care about, unfortunately. You know what I mean? The dollars.

You have a small group of friends who are also actresses. 

I have other friends besides the actresses too.

You what?

I took my best friend to Chicago to see my boyfriend; she’s a fifth-grade teacher. She’s getting her PhD in education [and is] going to write a book about the educational system and black children. She’s my best, best friend. I took her for Wally’s birthday, and he had a barbecue at his house the next day — people were playing games, charades and Taboo. And we were going to the airport and she was like, “I want to leave L.A. . . . All day I talked to so many people” — and no one asked her what she did! People were cool and down to earth and just wanted to enjoy each other. You don’t realize that until you get out of L.A.

What’s your three-step program?

To keep your sanity, for me, I believe in finding some kind of spiritual outlet, whether that’s church — or therapy for somebody. I have kind of a spiritual mentor who’s like a therapist but more spiritually based. Not in any one denomination! But I’ve been talking to her for the last 10 years. She helps me keep grounded and keep things in perspective. I think everybody needs that.

As long as she’s not taking 10% of your money.

No! She’s not.

Sep
14
Black women are less likely to get breast cancer, but more likely to die from it
Sunday, September 14, 2008

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES
The Oregonian Staff

Vicki Ivory thought something might be wrong for more than a year. Her breasts were tender and she felt a lump in one.

The 49-year-old would make appointments for a mammogram. And then cancel them. “It was more of a thing of being afraid,” says Ivory, of Portland. “I don’t know why.”

In July she scheduled yet another doctor’s visit. A few minutes later, her phone rang. Alake Patterson of the African American Health Coalition was on the line. She’d gotten Ivory’s name from a list of women who take the coalition’s free exercise programs. Patterson asked Ivory if she’d had a mammogram recently, and if she hadn’t, Patterson would help her get one.

“I said, ‘Wow, this must be a sign,’ ” Ivory says with a laugh. “God was trying to tell me something.”

African American women — in Oregon and nationally — are less likely to get breast cancer than white women, but the most likely of all racial and ethnic groups to die from it. The reasons are two-fold: Black women often get a more aggressive form of breast cancer, and they are more likely to get diagnosed when the cancer is in a later stage.

The African American Health Coalition and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation have partnered to change these statistics through an initiative aimed at getting 100 African American women in Portland a mammogram within a year.

Patterson, who directs the program, gets the word out to African American women that early diagnosis of breast cancer through a mammogram is key to survival. She helps women without insurance get free mammograms through the Oregon Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.

Nathalie Johnson, a surgical oncologist and medical director for Legacy Breast Health Centers, says insurance can be a barrier for African American women. “There’s often a delay in diagnosis and access to care,” she says. “More of us are not insured or are underinsured and that’s a major problem.”

Several other factors lead to the death rate disparity among African American women. Black women don’t like to talk about their breasts, and breast health and other cancers aren’t at the forefront, Johnson says. “In our culture, we’re a little more focused on hypertension and diabetes.”

Also, Johnson says, many African American women rely on prayer to heal them instead of allowing God to use the medical system to heal them.

Studies have also shown that a vitamin D deficiency might be linked to breast cancer and black women in the Northwest are particularly at risk.

Despite the risks, African American women often avoid mammograms because they know women who died shortly after diagnosis, Patterson says. So like Ivory, they would rather not know. But so many die close to their diagnosis because they get diagnosed so late, Patterson says.

Mammograms are one of the most important steps African American women can take to ensure breast cancer survival, says Johnson. So far 67 women have signed on with the coalition to get mammograms. If cancer is found, low-income women can get free treatment through the Oregon Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.

Ivory is glad she overcame her fear and got the screening. Her results came back. She’s cancer free.

“I really do understand being afraid of knowing,” says Ivory. “But if they just take that step like I did, then they can detect it at an early stage. By doing this, it might have saved my life.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones: 503-221-4316; nhannahjones@news.oregonian.com