Is That Ice Tea?

(It must be because he’s wearing a cool suit.)

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Everyone at Geico hopes its heavily rotated commercial where a question is posed to kids operating a lemonade stand, has been seen by the world. Three adults walk up and ask, “Is that ice tea?” We won’t spoil the punchline because it’s the same as blurting out the ending of a movie you’re about to see.

We’ve all had these moments. The popcorn is about to crunch in your mouth when a loudmouth a row behind you says: “I’ve seen this five times. Yeah. Darth Vader is really Luke Skywalker’s dad.”

That kills the anticipation. You want to throw milk duds at the big mouth. Here is the relational gist all business should have: “product clarity,”and “brand distinction.”

The kids in the commercial are selling lemonade, but seem to encounter the same question about what they’re selling. In advertising clients often failed to identify essential key markers for success.

It begins with packaging. Perhaps it resembles similar packaging for a totally unrelated product. People are also reluctant to change their websites because Uncle Fredo did it. But, Uncle Fredo used the 1998 AOL homepage template. (Inspect a few clothing lines or restaurants websites) The layouts are chaotic and have too many fonts.

Think about walking in front of a beautiful business establishment, only to be let down by décor that’s raggedy, archaic, or too opulent.

There is a brand perception issue. What are you buying, exactly? Here is an anecdote. We were at the beginning stages of a campaign for a professional service company. Their business cards were Times New Roman. The stationery masthead fonts were gothic. Their company colors were dissimilar. It happens that the company’s envelopes were similar in color to a company that fell into disfavor  with a number of businesses. Our client’s stuff went into the trashcan.

Brand confusion happens more often than one might think, and its avoidable. Branding actually defines what a business is. To some this is elementary, but to most, it isn’t.  Here are some questions one should ask about their business:

  • Have we established, a clear and concise message about our  brand?
  • Does the brand messaging  extend to every aspect of the business, including how the phone is answered, and what people wear as ambassadors of the company on  sales calls?
  • Does the messaging “voice” for the company truly reflect what the brand represents? Evaluate then act to improve it.
  • Develop a tagline that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and reflective of the brand  for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel. Consistency is paramount
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.

Branding must be designed to bring about product distinction. If it isn’t — marketing becomes more difficult. Don’t take branding lightly. Don’t mistake ice tea for lemonade.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President

CDM Digital Advertising Agency LLC

Food for Thought: Yep. I’m Talking About You.

5b45f2_bb8384fbd35f4ccea3d71062eb6379abI was scooping water from the kiddie pool we have for the little ones. I needed a workout, so, soon I worked up a nice sweat. After feeling like my arms and back were getting swole like Shannon Sharpe, I found a lawn chair and started sipping coffee while engaging in one of my favorite pastimes, looking at websites of advertising and PR agencies, playing my version of  “Where’s Waldo.” I call it, “Can You Spot the Black Dude?”

I grew tired of it because most agencies with headshots of their crews were still 95% white, so it got tedious. Some of these folks reminded me of the newborn in the Raymond Bradbury short story, “That Only a Mother.”Looking at them got brutal.

There was also an absence of people over 45-50 from the so-called, dynamic, creative shops. What’s interesting is that if you find websites pre-Y2K you found the over 45-50 set — looking like exiles. Maybe, in some respects they are.

I was going to write a blog making wisecracks about the advertising industry’s failure to take seriously gender, sexual, racial and age discrimination. Damn, I started to have a sweeping wave of emotion. Sadness, maybe. Such jokes aren’t funny and are unnecessary.

I ran into an article in AdWeek that put things in focus and I knew why the caged bird sings. And this stuff is crazy. I asked myself if Jim Crow has repackaged and cloned his despicable Johnny Reb self and joined all the major advertising holding companies as upper management.

They are even putting out to pasture, people that could be mentors — the over 45-50 crowd — people who have a vague idea of who Tippy Hedren is. Read it in Agency Spy. They fired Grandpappy Amos and Granny Clampett when the clock turned on them. Hell, they still had dark hair and only contemplated botox. In the article, a group of agency insiders all confirm that ageism exists. That’s why Granny split, and Amos is off building a Y2K style website. He needs a job in the profession he loves. Granny plans to join him.

When you consider the rather alarming avalanche of lawsuits for racial discrimination (which gets  little coverage —  indictable in and of itself), sexual discrimination against women, and an endless list,  it cries not for reform, but for resolution.

These issues are not constructs of imagination, but sickening reality. It has been too prevalent in every industry, particularly advertising. Later in the year, although we’re small with small agency struggles, our plan is to bring on board two people otherwise excluded from our club. It’s a small step. No big agency drama or attractiveness, but it’s a step nonetheless.

What about you, “Mr. or Ms. Small Shop?” Can you help change the paradigm? Money is  an issue. I can absorb a hit on what I make and make it possible for us. (I’ve been doing it anyway). All of us can play a part and show the big boys how it’s done because they aren’t going too. If we own or partner in an agency — money is always a moveable commodity. However, the exiles are precious for their knowledge and should be treasured.

So, the question is, “What’s in your heart?”

Bernard Alexander McNealy

Food For Thought: Too Much Information; Not Enough Timebad day

By now, anyone that has read my blogs knows that I am the president of a small advertising agency. We’re an agency because we do with agencies do – assist clients by offering marketing services, and by generating adverts. Okay. Simple enough, but did you know that it’s difficult? Sometimes it’s even thankless and definitely can be money draining.

Let me reveal a masochistic tendency about my relationship to advertising and its pitfalls: I like it.

However, it’s lonely at the top. I’m supposed to know everything. But, I’ve discovered in the quest to know everything, there’s not enough time to discover and absorb the information. This morning I attended a meeting on integrating CRM and marketing automation. It was quite a discussion. It was definitely not ‘old school’. Tomorrow, I’m going to learn more about data and analytics.

The other day, someone sat in my office and droned on about programmatic methods for media buying. That meeting left me cross-eyed, and, this morning my left eye became my right eye and vice versa.

There is a project sitting on my desk that needs commentary, possibly requiring me to analyze why the graphics are off, and why the copywriting inconsistent. Yep. Helping to straighten out the inconsistencies of this advertising issue should be my element, but this other 21st-century digital modernist stuff keeps getting in the way.

What I’m learning is that it’s almost impossible for one person to take on the roles we small agency operators often have. What often suffers is that in the struggle to keep up, customer needs are affected negatively. Certainly, it’s unintentional. It also isn’t because we can’t let go and delegate because is often no one to delegate to. The hope is to incorporate a system and bring in individuals that can handle the nuances and intricacies required of  marketing specialists, and sales people. It’s great being top management, but I want the end product that we produce to improve massively because our clients deserve it.

Running an agency has become more complex than before simply because as the tools of delivering our services improve, the level of difficulty to increase. When I got started in marketing and advertising, very seldom did we give the Internet a thought except to do basic research. The heavy stuff was done by some nerd steeped in statistics and research, and no one really cared how they learned it. I’m not doing myself a service by lagging behind in learning of, and discovering the usage of online sales technology and tools.

But, I’m not a sales director but a guy that writes ads for other businesses.

It’s not so much a complaint but recognition that this profession is a difficult one to master. It’s easy to be mediocre. The standards that we set for ourselves should be higher than mediocrity. Clients place trust in us as well as pay for our services. As the remainder of the day closes, I’ll probably sketch out how all of this headache-inducing “stuff,” can help me develop my vision of a company that is proficient, nimble and capable of doing knockout work.
Some clients understand.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to a former client that told me of the plenteous marketing and advertising needs of his startup. He was considering hiring a large agency in Los Angeles. After giving him an assessment of their capabilities, they quoted a retainer that made him choke. Still, he went to their offices and was given a brief tour and noticed they had departments committed to doing the very thing I’m trying to come up to speed on.

“These people are cold. When you handled a project for me, your staff treated me well,” he said.

I replied: “It’s just the Golden Rule. Honestly, that other agency’s a better fit. It may be in your best interest to go with them.”

“Remember, if they’re not accessible, I doubt if they’re working for me. Never take the personal touch out of what you do.” He said, but took my advice.

After encouraging me, he gave an analogy of a small agency taking on a big formidable one. He talked about a boxing match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson. In his story, Ray knocked Iron Mike out. That analogy is reflective of reality because we try to compete against competitors that have five floors of creatives to undertake a project and know the modern digital “stuff.”

That’s a great analogy, but if Mike tags Sugar Ray with a left hook, imagine the little guy’s headache. Maybe, learning stuff that will make me cross-eyed makes sense.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President
CDM Digital Advertising Agency LLC

Food For Thought: Dealing With Sexual Harassment

chick9qQKPProbably to the person doing it, being accused of sexual harassment shouldn’t be a shock. You know what you know. Usually, as in the case of Roger Ailes, soon to be formerly of Fox News, it’s a man doing the harassing. As Gretchen Carlson’s accusations have not been adjudicated, Ailes is an ‘alleged’ perpetrator. The same thing applies to Bill Cosby. Nothing has been proven, though an allegation of sexual assault is processing through the criminal courts. Presumption of innocence should prevail.

There is a legal definition, and thus a threshold of conduct that falls within the definition of sexual harassment. It’s supposedly ironclad, but I contend an accusation can be often off based. There is such a thing as a misunderstanding. I’m not talking about the quid quo pro, “Hey, sugar, you’re working for me. Play with me and have a drink, sister and you’ll go far,” I had a short stint as a writer for a production company way back when. I met a woman executive that said that to me. She tossed in the cartoonish skin-crawling protruding eyeballs as her hand traveled somewhere between my lap and knee. Those types of things are easy to call, as it in the case of a woman being hit on by a supervisor or co-worker. My point is that it shouldn’t happen – no one should feel uncomfortable doing his or her job.

Those types of things are easy to call, as it in the case of a woman being hit on by a supervisor or co-worker. My point is that it shouldn’t happen – no one should feel uncomfortable doing his or her job.

I remember interviewing a young woman who, initially came across as being all business. She didn’t stay that way. She repositioned her chair to sit directly in front of me – slapping a hand on my knee and a display of cleavage came next. I was stunned, but more so by the overture she floated at me. I had no real interest and politely refused. Why? Quite honestly, it could have been a setup. I’m also married to the woman of my dreams. Besides, that’s not how I conduct myself in the workplace.

After that incident, I had my female assistant manager, conduct interviews with me, or, altogether, take the lead with women. Our agency has always been small with many lineup changes, but the culture is interesting. It’s always been my belief in providing a safe, comfortable environment. My colleague and I thought it essential to nip issues early on because, even off premises, men and women exhibited a lot of locker-room bawdiness and language. It usually spills over to the workplace. We felt the being proactive with written policies, and role playing were the best ways to deal with this issue.

Here’s a cliché’ “Appreciate women for their character and ability to do the job…” That’s really true, but also pabulum because it’s just a set of words that sound right. There are a number of people who want sexual neutrality and gender equality in the workplace. Just like the mythical “color-blind” society they claim they live in, its bull. It is a given that men and women doing the same job should be paid the same. That’s just common sense, not arguable. However, ‘sexual neutrality’ is a notion that goes against the male and female dynamic. Put men and women together and there will be tension.

As a man, I appreciate women for their gifts – intellectual and esthetic. I will pay attention, open doors and show deference because I am a man. No apologies. The unfortunate thing is that some men turn a gaze into a leer. That’s when the illusion that a quiet friendly smile, manner of dress, and professionalism is an invitation to make a woman feel devalued. In all ways holy, that’s just plain wrong. It’s also equally wrong to assume there is a demand behind, “Hello how was your day?” or, “Nice outfit. You wear it well.”

If the latter happens, remember you’re not under attack. It is called a ‘compliment.’

Food For Thought: The Evangelist

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Maybe it’s finally started to dawn on me, but as one who runs a small advertising agency, I’m realizing that I cannot do it alone. While serendipity set in, I also know that certain aspects of my job require me to do the selling of agency services. That process has to be systematic, consistent, and in some respects automated. I’m wasn’t big on ad tech, but it’s a necessity. “One must adapt – resistance is futile,” a former client of mine that resembled a Borg Soldier (from Star Trek mythos) told me. He was right.

Too many of us in the small agency arena have the illusion that we’re glib MadMen. We aren’t. I seldom consume alcohol. So is very unlikely that I will get a client agreement after a three martini lunch. I’m not friends with a politician or some big business owner. Getting clients requires hustling, and when relating the virtues of what we do in my shop, speaking with the fervor of an evangelist.

That doesn’t mean that I have to become the king of alliteration, breaking out into a gospel song in the middle of the presentation, but it means something that is lost on most of us. We must believe without whole hearts in what we’re doing and offering and that it is good.

Why now?

Easy. Change has to come from within. I referenced MadMen, not because of the television show, but the familiarity people have with it and the era of advertising it represents. Below I have studied the subject, my principal learning came from reading and consuming everything that I could get my hands on regarding David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Jerry Della Fermia, Roy Eaton and Leo Burnett. I had no illusions of walking into some agency and showing off my portfolio. I transitioned to marketing and advertising but wanted to bring the same sensibility and vision to what I was doing, as had the Masters of Madison Avenue.

That era has passed not because of creative obsolescence, but as the winds of time move the sand, it does the same to our lives. Thankfully, they passed down a legacy. Strive to be great.

For me, the lessons learned from studying the greatest should translate into developing a level of confidence and competence. The agencies of the Masters grew not only from superior creative work but also from unison within the agency. What’s produced these days can be summed up by a line from the lips of Jack Lemon in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross: “It’s horseshit.”

I’m a firm believer that the fame of Ogilvy, Bernbach, and the rest came about because they had strong sales ability – if not people in the trenches kicking in doors. The creative work spoke for itself – it was magnificent. Account services were practiced on a level generally not seen today. So, that’s what slipped past.

When CDM Digital Advertising was in its nascent days as Carson Dunn Media Advertising about eight years ago, or whenever the recession started, I was the face of the company. Sales came because I did the majority of the networking consisting mainly of going to civic organization meetings, and being the agency motor mouth. Here’s what is unpleasant about sales: rejection. There is also a hint of ridicule behind that. Can you imagine some CEO puffing up his face, turning his nose at the mention of your agency? It happens.

But in rejection, you’re reminded to persevere. An evangelist believes in the word they are spreading. Nothing should deter him or her. In the last year, I examined different sales funnel models, methodology to convert leads into actual clients, until I turned blue. (I have a Carmel complexion, so can you imagine?)

Here’s an observation. I’ve noticed that perspective clients have made a decision prior to meeting me. That decision is based on their belief of the benefits of their brand. My shop is a brand, too. Thus, despite differences in bank accounts and business clout, the client is the same as I am. They want to interface with a human being. As a communicator, I should be able to develop rapport, as I grow to understand what they are dealing with and growing their businesses.

It’s my hope that as I turn over the reins the new business development and sales to someone in my organization, they have that understanding as well. Marketing automation tools help a great deal to keep everything organized, but without commitment and belief, the agency evangelist is hitting his head against the wall.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President

CDM Digital Advertising Agency LLC

Why We Don’t Do Porn — A Second Look

Back in 2011, I wrote a blog post called: “Why We Don’t Do Porn”. It is now 2016, and while I am not reassessing my moral positioning on a given matter, or practicing relativism, I am looking at business realities. Then and now, as the agency president/owner, I am the titular head of new business and responsible for bringing in revenue for a small advertising agency. Quite honestly, the competition has an edge – pragmatism.

I say pragmatism because when one takes an unequivocal stance as to what they will and will not do, they are not taking into consideration the fact that the world is not made of black and white, but is a series of gray gradations. It determines our moral precepts and presumptions. A stance based on ‘moral’ grounds is admirable. Echoing Dr. Martin Luther King and several others, a person that this does not stand for something, will fall for anything. Here is the problem. It is also painting one’s self into a corner.

By the very nature of owning a business, I am a capitalist. In most respects I am laissez-faire. I believe too much government regulation is nothing more than interference with what I’m doing for my family. Still, I am an advocate of fair and equal wages irrespective of gender, and endeavor to pay them. I hope most businesses understand child labor, anti-discrimination laws, and workplace safety are the unquestioned law of the land. If you resist them, you’re an idiot.

The workplace should be as comfortable, and welcoming as a person’s home. Feeling this way doesn’t make me nobler than anyone else. It’s a recognition common sense should be a constant presence in all that we do.

When I wrote that blog post in 2011, it reflected my feelings. I haven’t necessarily changed, but as I said I’m a capitalist, my business is supposed to make money. Our society has changed and every evolves. America has become a place I no longer recognize. The marijuana business has become a growth industry. What should my stance be – ignore it? That’s one approach. But for an agency that may mean not pursuing a potentially profitable account.

And, what about e- cigarettes — should I just pursue pitching those companies that claim to only use herbal products? What about the pharmaceutical industry? What if a pro-abortion group wanted to promote an event related to women health issues? Should I let my pro-life stance interfere with providing advertising or some form of promotional marketing for them? And what about politicians? Some do lie — few tell the truth — but will if the gun is aimed between the eyes. I have to question whether or not I should help promote one of them.

Here’s my honest opinion. We live in a place called the “Big Picture.” That is simply defining ourselves as moral beings that recognize that there is a greater good and a higher power. Universal morality comes knowing these things. Still, if presented with something that is unpopular or controversial, payroll considerations will factor in the decision. Does that mean CDM Digital Advertising will provide marketing for PornHub, ‘adult’ products or a girlie magazine? I can only say that caring about the whole human being will factor into it. If a product or organization is hell-bent on degrading people, to them I say, try the creative outfit up the block.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President

CDM Digital Advertising

Agency Culture: “The CDM Way”

The idea of agency culture is powerful. Culture can be defined several ways. It could be a culture based on intimidation, paranoia, or political infighting. Culture can also be nurtured trust, from that, productivity develops. Ideally, culture within the company goes a long way to allowing those things to come to fruition that make us fulfilled in what we’re doing.

Studying other agencies have given me a perspective. At one time, culture embodied around company social interaction (crazy parties like they used to have before sexual harassment litigation, or dram shop lawsuits). When that stuff waned, agencies took on a casual style – torn clothing, sandals – disheveled chic — shorts — bowling alleys – ping pong tables and so on.

Is that culture, or comfort and playtime? I don’t know, but its sounds like recess. How many big ideas come from playing ping pong? How ticked off is a graphic designer buried with her nose in work while listening to guys drinking beer and shooting the crap about shagging girls?

Whatever form it is, culture should be positive. Everyone in an agency should embrace it because company culture is simply taking care of business the right way. Agency culture does not start with recess on the client’s time, but truly exists if the agency functions with cohesion.

Culture, or projected positiveness should be voiced by every member of the team. Interns, middle and senior management included. Everyone. Each is an ambassador of an agency, and should understand the shop’s motives and goals.

When asked, they should be able to enunciate it. It doesn’t require a lot of words, but whether or not we provide good work is demonstrated by the actual product. If it is memorable advertising, or the brand is made memorable by our work, it’s also evident, it is consequential by how we do things.

In the past I’ve written that I’m from the city of Boston. The NFL Patriots Football Team have a special place in my heart. I love the way that team operates – I love their culture. Our agency has a culture called the “CDM Way,” patterned on the “Patriot Way.” We’re gaining structure and a desire to be exceptional.

Here’s what the “Patriot Way” is: Cohesion. It starts with Mr. Kraft, to Coach Bellichek, to the players and staff. Individuality is not discarded, but loyalty and purpose are stressed to attain a goal: The championship. If one player or a group of them become susceptible to injury and cannot play, they are replaced by players who believe that they can get the job done. That is the Patriot Way. “Do Your Job–” Coach Bellichek exhorts.

The CDM Way is to do good work that enables a client’s products to sell. Consistency must be good year after year. We developed and mentored an excellent art director at CDM, but for whatever reason she left. She was also associate creative director, making her within a small percentage of female creative directors in the United States (that was regardless of agency size. Perhaps she did not understand or appreciate it.) She left with her work undone and it had the effect of an injury on the rest of us.

Her replacement was able to adapt her graphic styles to our style – the CDM Way. The work product is always supposed to stand for excellence, integrity and be respected for the workmanship. The same held true of copywriters. When a copywriter left, another replaced him.

When culture is real, the true objectives of an agency speak loudly. Quite honestly, when it is not, presentations a much harder, and RFP responses seem to be circular arguments. Whoever we are is represented by what we claim. That is not bragging, it is to simply state what we can provide that’s different than other agencies.

We are many things: a work in progress, a ‘dark horse’ unknown group in a nondescript building, but since we are developing, what we are today, will be tomorrow’s memory. We can’t be intimidated by relative smallness of staff. The Patriots didn’t capture a Superbowl until they had an earth shattering change in thinking. Prior to that, the team had been good, but the infusion of the culture of winners birthed a dynasty. History speaks to that.

I’m confident history will speak to the consistency of the CDM Way and its efforts to make a client’s brand memorable. That can only occur unless our agency culture is that of winners and believers.

NEW BEGINNINGS: The Parable of the Chewing Gum Wrapper

It’s How You View It

The words of this blog may seen the bit self-serving and they probably are. Every missive has a point; it’s up to the reader to find application to whatever they are doing. Consider the parable of two people that stumble upon a chewing gum wrapper, separately and moments apart. They both pick it up and look at what’s written on the back of the wrapper. One person sees it as just a bunch of words on a piece of paper. He tosses it back to the ground. The second person stumbles on it, reads it carefully and sees the ingredients as perhaps be the key to the universe.

Here’s the lesson: pay close attention to the moment at hand and to what you are looking at because an elusive kernel of wisdom is staring at you.

I know this relates to me in the following respects. Operating a small advertising agency, which I will mention prominently throughout, is my latest foray into business. I’m also a writer of mystery fiction. I enjoy both and good at them. I find myself questioning whether or not either have brought me to success that I want –the question is whether or not success can be to find. That is an internal argument and ongoing.

Here is where a chewing gum wrapper analogy comes in. A man I was helping to get through a number of problems took exception to the way I was doing business. He made a comment that I was smart, so smart and back that I should be a millionaire. I listened, remembering that my Mercedes was parked downstairs next to his junk on wheels, and my shoes cost more than his entire ensemble. That isn’t being arrogant that wasn’t putting the guy down, but I’m stating a fact. The dude was actually putting me down because I didn’t act ostentatious like someone would have that he deemed to be successful. He misread the gum wrapper. But, I also learned something about life, and how quickly what one has dissipates in the thin air.

Guard what you have and build on it.

I took stock of my business assets, and other things including property that I owned. On the surface, or paper I was a millionaire. He was seeking rather rudimentary advice and if he’d taken his time to really observe what he felt the need to seek counsel for, he could have figured it out.

As the cusp of the 2017 stands over the horizon, I realize my agency cannot continue to do things as we have and expect optimum results. Change has been necessitated by time. It’s time for me to go forward and find people that share a common vision for marketing midsized companies. Every small agency owner faces the same thing – the quality of their staff, their motives and their commitment. Work-life balance is great – but for me it’s a myth.
It isn’t that busting my brain assures more of what I’m hoping to achieve – it’s just that hard work can pay off. Success is according to your own definition – but you have to try.

Working hard does not assure that I’m smarter than the next guy either. Success is a matter of positioning. Even the dumbest people have succeeded in business in spite of their lack of common sense. It’s blind luck, or just their turn to succeed. You have to try and put yourself in that position of achieving orbit of success.
What you did in the past is relevant only to the extent that is foundational to what you are trying to do today. It does not define you. As a year closes we probably can reflect on mistakes as opposed to pockets of success. Be that as it may — it is milk that cannot be unspilled.

Whatever business you’re in you happen to in is part of the cycle. Sometimes is repeated, sometimes it’s best to forget it and act as if it never happened. It’s the Don Draper Philosophy. Forget it – it’s happened – get your tail in gear and roll up your sleeves.

I know in my small corner of this business, we will encounter businesses that believe that they will succeed without the type of marketing we provide. I know they believe a fallacy because the client I’m attempting to do business with will encounter potential customers being courted by a similar product.

That’s too much reliance on the past. “We succeeded without you … Blah…blah…blah.” When moment that happens, business will go south because consumers will see the old company as being irrelevant. As Joe Friday said: “That’s where I come in. I carry a badge.” Well, in my case it is a briefcase, a Samsung tablet, a yellow pad and pen.

CDM Digital Advertising offers advertising services that will help a company survive on something other than its own inertia. Our agency specializes in and execute campaign plans, analyzing marketing trends and development, and importantly, consumer receptivity of a brand. I learned that that my decision a few years ago about the type of clients I’d take on may have been wrong. Nowadays the very people I refused to marketed in the adult industry are being assisted by others, as are the medical marijuana merchants. It’s only foundation was that a mistake? No. It was looking at the chewing gum wrapper and realizing that those decisions were foundation to where I want to go.

Check you, later.

Bernard A. McNealy

Food For Thought: In Plain Sight

woman-645705_1280There is much uproar about whether a country can ban a group from its shores based on ideology, religion or nationality. What I said, you’re late to the party — it’s been done already.

People suffer from selective memory, especially if they believe it elevates them on some self-proclaimed platitude of being better than someone else. Let’s put it in context: Donald Trump. As people scream about Trump (who is enunciating a hypothetical policy and speculative political posture — thus words) there is an historical fact that backs him up.

It has been done before — by a ‘progressive democrat.’ It was the well-respected gentleman from Plains, Georgia, the “Peanut Farmer,” James Earle Carter. Get off the floor – I’m not making this up. Facts are facts.

US President Jimmy Carter froze immigration from a Muslim-majority nation in 1979 after the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun and American citizens were taken as hostages and terrorized by their captures.

Carter issued an executive order that all Iranian students in the U.S. had to report to immigration officials within thirty days. As a result of his sole decision 15,000 Iranians who were ejected from the country from a population of 50,000.

Now that’s just damn right un-American, isn’t it? Certainly no court would have allowed it to stand. Think again.

An Appeals Court decision upheld the President’s authority for the action, in part saying this: “The present controversy involving Iranian students in the United States lies in the field of our country’s foreign affairs and implicates matters over which the president has direct constitutional authority.”

There is a nexus to the current situation referred to in Trump’s idea. A concurring opinion in the decision made this point:

“Distinctions on the basis of nationality may be drawn in the immigration field by the Congress or the executive. So long as such distinctions are not wholly irrational, they must be sustained.” The court went to say that Carter’s edict is justified by perceived threats to national security.

History also points out that five months after the hostages were taken, the President imposed formal sanctions against Iran, including closing government offices, prohibiting exports from the U.S. into Iran, seizing domestic Iranian assets…

And, stopping entry by Iranian citizens into the U.S.

Here’s the pertinent line from Carter’s announcement:

“The Secretary of Treasury [State] and the Attorney General will invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.”

The United States has thus banned entry into the country on national security grounds – and under Democratic presidents. None of them are even close to what we call ‘evil.’ In addition to Carter’s freeze of entry into the U.S. for Iranians, FDR certainly imposed restrictions taken against Japanese and Germans.

Here is what people must remember. In the United States domestic policies, national security issues and the legalities of visa restrictions should be debated without vitriol because we should be concerned about the country and its direction. I’m afraid that the screaming and wild denunciations not only chase away civility, but common sense.

You don’t learn unless you listen to other viewpoints. You are a fool if you believe that only your ideas matter. Truth then hides in plain sight. If America has enemies, that’s their key to our destruction.

Trump may not be diabolical or mean, and neither was the “Peanut Farmer.” Their motives are and were spurred by what is seen as unjustifiable events from members of a certain population.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President
CDM Digital Advertising Agency

Food For Thought: Veterans Day 2015: Sometimes, Thank You Isn’t Enough

I lived in Boston until my teen years. Despite its rather checkered history in race relationships, Boston is a place where my heart beats faster because I discovered what I am – I am an American. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate people that live in other countries, and I sense their struggles and their ambition for both are human. I’m certain that their histories are rich, colorful, and valiant but I have something that they don’t have – I am an American.

I’m not going to ignore incidents of police brutality, blatant injustice and discrimination. I’m sure those other places have skeletons. But, today is Veterans Day. Honesty makes me acknowledge by the hand of God I was fortunate enough to be born in the latter part of the 20th century in a country that offers opportunities to go beyond my wildest imagination.

My ancestors are African, Gaelic and Native American. My family were freemen, not slaves. That doesn’t make me better, because you wouldn’t know it if you are hell-bent in holding my skin color against me. Here is what I learned — going back to the Revolutionary War, men in my family put the uniform and defended whatever they were assigned to defend. If they were alive today, I’d tell them my journey fighting for my own civil rights, was only because some people could not accept change.

Thanking those ancestors wouldn’t be enough.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about letting our servicemen and women know how much they’re appreciated. They are the best and the brightest and always have been. There is bravery in volunteering to put one’s life on the line should the situation arise. Thank you.

My mother married a handsome man that was a member of the 101st Airborne Division and fought in the Korean War. He never talked about war, but he did his job. He let his achievements speak for him, becoming a teacher, businessman and owned a considerable amount of stuff. I don’t quarrel with materialism – he earned it. I was born in the military hospital at Fort Gordon. I started choking as I came from my mother’s womb. Had it not been for a quick thinking nurse, and a doctor, I would’ve died. They will both under uniform and white. They saved my life. Thank you is not enough.

I was always amazed by watching military hardware pass near my grandfather’s house. Tanks, trucks filled with troops, helicopters flying overhead. No one knew what fate had for them. I suppose, in some later conflicts some died, and since we are still here, their sacrifices were for you and me.

When I attended Julia Ward Howe Elementary School in Boston, Mrs. Brynn took our class on the Freedom Trail. I heard stories of Paul Revere, William Dawes, Crispus Attucks, and Concord and LexingtoFeatured imagen. Each of them had a greater purpose. We even stood on the Constitution – Old Ironsides pretending to be sailors fighting for our country. But we cannot say enough about the one’s under arms in the war of 1812, the Civil War, the Mexican War, Spanish-American War, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq One and Two and places that we aren’t supposed to know about. Let’s not forget the responders at natural disasters. The spirit of men and women in arms and motivation is always the same — they protect and serve.

Beginning a generation ago a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals infiltrated the school systems and taught everything the United States does is evil. That’s bullshit. They scream about American interventionism, colonization and how America killed indigenous people. These statements have a degree of truth. But the people in uniform believe in ideals and principles of a nation that has done more for this world and spit upon, more than we deserve.

The JFK Kennedy Library in Boston sits on what was once the Columbia Point Housing Project. I lived there and had a beautiful view of Boston Harbor. I remember the fleet spreading over the horizon, then coming in precise it straight like a string of pearls. I thought about Pork Chop Hill, and Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima, the Battle of Midway, and Smoking Mountain a century before, Brandywine, the Battle of Trenton and Yorktown before that, and understood that even though my family lived in a housing project, in wars past some people didn’t come back for the privilege. And those that did make it back were unappreciated. Thank you would not be enough.

So, on this Veterans Day I’d to truly like to believe that the current Administration starts taking things seriously because the same forces that caused one to take up arms, still exist. They just call themselves something different. Our men and women come back from wars traumatized, into poverty, addictions and so on. They put on the uniform so that these suit wearing politicians can attend photo ops celebrating the Unknown Soldier without a clue as to who and what that means.

It’s time to say thank you by making the G.I. Bill stronger, and giving our troops jobs when they return to civilian life (the military trains exceedingly well), medical and psychological treatment, housing, education, and whatever else they want.

I once trained a former Marine to be an account executive. He left two months later, but not before we talked. He felt loyal and owed me, he said. He didn’t owe me anything because donning his uniform was enough. He laughed that I trained him so good, a big agency snatched him up.
I can’t say thank you enough for putting on the uniform. Maybe as a nation, we can just show some gratitude.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President
CDM Digital Advertising LLC