Tag Archives: marketing to black people

New Beginnings: Agency Invovement In Social Issues

Driving the Dialogue: Part 2

Does propaganda eliminate truth from the intersection of ideas, opinions and facts in public discourse? Merriam-Webster defines propaganda as:”…(2)the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. (3) ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect.

Without getting into nuanced differences, propaganda seems to have similarities to public relations, advertising and yellow journalism.

In the classic sense, issues and causes are driven by propaganda. With the advent of marijuana becoming decriminalized, if not legalized in states like Colorado, Oregon and California, none of this happened without discussion in public discourse or propaganda. This is also true of the gay rights movement. Personally, whatever I believe will not change because of shifting of moral climate — I will not harass people, either.

However, here is where the public relations come in. Straight people have been made to feel shame for being straight. There is a propaganda avalanche of gay-themed television programs, entire networks, and airhead celebrities taking a stance. Of course, it got rather funny when that reasonably good-looking straight actress made a defiant tearful public declarations of: “I will not marry the father of my child until this state legalizes gay marriage…” only to dump the guy cold once DOMA was struck down. Or, what about the fading dishrag celebrity that freaked out when her daughter told her: “Mom. I’m growing a beard and a dick for Christmas.) Neither really seemed committed did they? The point is that the propaganda agencies got paid millions to give face to the cause. Money can make you shoot your mouth off.

Still, in its most basic form the gay rights people were only using a platform. Using a voice is neither malevolent nor benign. It’s a communicative tool.

In relation to how black people are perceived, it is very negative. Some of it stems from the baseness that we have allowed to represent who we are. For example, the incessant use of the N-word, misogynist diatribes in Hip-Hop has given white people like Quentin Tarantino empowerment to bare their hearts and throw the N’word onto the screen, and naivete fools to voice the words. (Say what you want about O.J Simpson, but he beat the crap out of Richard Burton for calling him the N’word on set. To me, that was an appropriate response.)

No one has taken a national voice, except Black Enterprise Magazine, Essence and less fervently, Ebony, speaking to the wrongness of this ‘word.’ Instead, what you have is worship and obsession with countless people who only claim to fame seems to be the ability to excel in sports, cuss, bare their asses in sagging pants, wear skimpy clothes, and act whorish. It is wrong on so many levels. This is not who we are as a people.

My friend pointed out that since I owned an advertising agency, I am a propagandist but in a unique position to help establish and sustain positive perspectives. I pointed out that I am in business to make money. What if a account executive brings in clients that sell E cigarettes, manufacture spirits, or even run marijuana associations — do I say no? Where does my social responsibility lie?

I can safely say, we still will not advertise pornography.

From the standpoint of being who I am, I will remain true to my upbringing and set of mores. Social responsibility cannot be weighed on a scale of relativism.

Check you later,

Bernard A. McNealy, CEO
Carson Dunn Media Advertising, Inc.

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New Beginnings: This Pitch Has Something For You, People

AMC produces a show about advertising agencies called: “The Pitch.” The premise is interesting and reflects what the average person does not know about advertising agencies. We compete against each other for business, although it is not like in “The Pitch.” In that program, two agencies are summoned to a briefing by a business like 1-800 Flowers, Little Caesars Pizza, Tommy Bahama, C. Wonder, Marriott Corp. and a few others. Some of the owners of the agencies act like God is waiting for them with an axe to chop their balls off.

They are in the same room and given a briefing at the same time. Like real life, the agencies are given a short period of time to come up with an idea that the business will buy and enter into an agency client relationship.

I’m fascinated by what drives a company to hire an agency. Last season, Jo Muse of Muse Communications head of a multi-cultural agency talked about losing the “chemistry battle.” He felt the business owners and the other agency got along better, and hence overcame the first necessary ingredient: “chemistry.” Both the client and the rival agency were white. There is something to be said about that.

Jo Muse ran a commercial during the show called “White Spaces.” The premise of the commercial was true because I have observed exactly what the commercial claimed. Carson Dunn Media Advertising is a small company. We are considered as a “dark horse,” meaning, there are certain business that we will not get to take us seriously because our size. But it could be worse… you guessed it. I run into the “white space” mentality. Madison Avenue acknowledges the trillions of spending dollars in black, Latino and Asian communities, but we are seldom part of the decision-making process in the boardroom. That’s where it’s decided what agency will be signed to a contract.

When I went into business, I wanted an opportunity to fail. What that means is that I wanted the same opportunities other people got. It is the greatness of this country that I can have a chance to run a business. But, the “fail” aspect deals with having the same view that my firm is confident directed at me… my ethnicity notwithstanding. Is it disheartening to look at website after website and see that all of the faces are nearly all white? Depending on how one’s personal makeup is, it can be.

I choose a look at it this way. Those trillions of dollars in the so-called minority, are fast becoming the majority — they control their fate in business. They need to take a look at the products they buy and ask what was prevalent prior to 1964 Civil Rights Act: “What about our businesses. What about the ones we control?”

This should not be an empty argument. I’m afraid when one looks at the so-called black culture, one is struck by music and dancing. Very little media coverage is given to anything else. Magazines such as Black Enterprise will address the issue, but I’m afraid believes Global Hue is the only black agency worth mentioning. In fact there are many. What media coverage we can muster should be directed towards us. That means as an agency, I have responsibility to introduce myself to the publishers and broadcasters involved.

One has to understand that control of the media means controlling perception. All the singers, dancers and rappers don’t make a whole hell of a difference in the lives of people who need to be told that they are worth something. If you listen to the “songs” they are not affirming but denigrating.

Creating our own media is one way of dealing with the wrong message being thrown out there. That takes money. There are a lot of people of color that could solve this issue — but how does it help, Tyler, Oprah, Bob Johnson and others. They aren’t going to anything unless they see a reward — money overnight.

To do less means that we will never control dialogue as to what is hurtful and appropriate for black people. Our children will continue to be statistics like Travon Martin, or the countless millions of black men in jail. Agencies also need to take a second look at black graduates in communications and English, just as the graduates should look at a black agency for employment. People, it can’t hurt.

Parenthetically, I have had young black people at my agency for a day. They gave nothing, contributed nothing because they had been believed that a black-owned agency offered little in the way of opportunities. So, they either didn’t show up for work, or have some lame excuse for being late.

I can’t help but think that if I was one of those smiling faces on those white websites, if things would be different. Just a thought.

Check you later,

Bernard A. McNealy, CEO

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