Category Archives: SHAHERRA R.

Realizing the IMPORTANCE of African American Women


Taliah Waajid World Natural Hair Show, Atlanta, October 2013

We’ve heard and most of us have seen the strength of African American women.  The ability to effortlessly take care of home, work and still look stylish.  We see this in movies, television shows, talk shows and in everyday life.  They are at the forefront of style, trends and American culture.

Recently in Atlanta there was a natural hair show.  Thousands of women flocked to see what new products were new in this industry.  African American women are a complete niche market.  From hair, to clothes to shoes and shows, there is virtually every market that can reach theses strong women.

What are companies doing to speak to them?  Is it a good representation?   African American women are a great influence in the lives of their families, friends, community and anyone that is playing close attention (and that should be everyone).  If the hair industry, from mom and pops to top brands realize the importance of African American women, shouldn’t you?


What’s Black/Hispanic About It?

Are you talking to me?

Is it necessary to advertise to different demographics?  Should advertisers make one commercial for the general market, one for the African American market and even one still for the Hispanic, Asian and other markets?  If there wasn’t such a great need for multicultural marketing, would I would be out of the job?

Is it enough to just put black or hispanic talent in an advertisement and call it multicultural?  Is it a good idea either to have a Mexican talent voiceover a product targeted towards Cuban audience?  If you don’t see the problem with this, then you’ve probably have been missing the mark.

It amazes me that so many brands want the consumer to spend money with them, but are not willing to invest in their community.  For so long it was advertisers talking at consumers.  They would put what they thought was a good representation of a particular culture in commercials, but honestly it’s just not enough!

In order to reach your target market, you must engage them.  What are their likes and dislikes?  How is your message infused with their culture?  Most importantly, are you listening to them?

People don’t want to be talked at, they want to be communicated to, respected and included.  Don’t you?

Will You Love Me for Breakfast?

Will You Love Me for Breakfast?For years, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A have all been dominate forces in the breakfast game.  Recently, others have been testing the market.  Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Popeyes have expanded some of their locations to include breakfast items.

Taco Bell recently launched breakfast with a Waffle Taco, A.M. Crunchwrap and A.M. Griller, along with other items.  Wendy’s breakfast list includes a Mornin’ Melt Panini, an Artisan Egg Sandwich and a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.  Popeyes’ extended menu serves up grits, country fried steak biscuit, and of course their signature Louisiana’s Best Chicken Biscuit.

While they may still be in test mode, other franchises have made the successful transition into breakfast.  Dunkin’ Donuts has expanded their menu to include an assortment of breakfast sandwiches, even some that are targeted to health conscious individuals.  One of the fastest growing QSR chains, Subway has made breakfast a part of their day for over three years.

BBDO surveyed 1,000 Millennials about their eating-out habits and attitudes (including their views on some of the most popular QSR and fast-casual restaurants).  Among those ages 13 to 29: 18.5% are Hispanic; 14.2% are black; 4.3% are Asian; 3.2% are mixed race or other; and 59.8% are white.  According to the research, 60% of Millennial “foodies” eat at fast-food restaurants at least once a week.  Millennials use food as a form of self-expression and entertainment.  When Millennials likes something, they share it with their world through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  The same goes for when they don’t like something, everyone will know.

Millennials will share what’s on their mind and they also respect each other’s opinions.  The advertising is in but the jury is out…Will Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Popeyes be able to take a slice of the breakfast quiche?  Tell us, would you still love them for breakfast?

Advertisers Need to Go Back to School

It’s that time once again.  Time for students to go back to school.  Time for parents to spend money on supplies, fees and yes, clothes for their children.  Time for companies to vie for both the parents’ and kids’ attention. Every Fall, the back to school rush its television, radio and all possible media streams.

This year I cannot think of one advertisement that stood out besides one grocery store’s BOGO deal on school supplies.  I received an e-mail last week from a retailer that instead of highlighting their children’s line, offered 20% on adult styles.  Hmmm…

When it comes time for me to think of school shopping, one advertisement comes to mind every year…The JCPenney commercial from 2004 with Alyson Stoner.  The ad features a stylish bobble head and several adolescents doing an array of hip hop dance moves.  The tune is catchy and the children are showing off their clothes with style in the classroom and lunchroom.  While the children are various ethnicities, the style of their dance moves transcends into what’s in and essentially…cool.

While particular clothing brands may not have stood out, it appeared that JCPenney was the place to shop for cool kids.  Fast forward nine years.  There are more ways than ever to reach the target audience, including social media.  With so many retailers to choose from, how are companies standing out (if they even are)?



Over the course of two weeks, Paula Deen has gone from Domestic Queen to Dropped Diva.  Food Network, Walmart, Smithfield and Target are a few included companies in the dozen that have severed ties with Deen and her product lines.  These dismals stem from a  lawsuit from a former employee, citing racial and sexual discrimination.  Deen has admitted to using the “N” word and her reaction to the backlash created a media storm and PR nightmare.

Thoughts around the office:

“Social judgment aside, Paula Deen worked herself into a major PR crisis that only experts could work her out of.”

“Only if she were to grab the bull by the horns and fess up in public, showing true compunction and behavior change would public opinion give her a chance at redemption.”
“I don’t think her brand has really been hurt. She’s losing endorsements because her endorsers don’t want to be associated with this negative situation. Her core supporters will still support her. No love will be lost there.

“Her key supporters think and act exactly as she does. From what I know of this whole incident, my concern is no whether or not she’s racist or should endorse certain products, more about the level of respect, or lack thereof, that she has shown in her workplace. No one should be subject to a hostile work environment.”
“I feel she should be judged on how she has carried herself in the past years,  when we have all become more sensitive to the meaning and sting of the word and less accepting of it’s use by anyone, should count not what she did umpteenth years ago especially since she has apologized.”

“I find myself not having warm and fuzzy feelings for the companies who have dropped her.  They don’t have to condone the use of the word and maybe some kind of action was necessary but could they have not reviewed the situation, made a suspension then come back with a decision when some time has passed.”

“I do think her brand is redeemable….it might not be as strong as it once was, but I think it will come back.”
“I say yes.  I think her reputation and her brand are definitely redeemable.  It won’t happen overnight and it will take quite a bit of work.  She will have to prove to the AA community that she is truly remorseful and that she has been enlightened as to how hurtful that word can be to others.”

“I think Paula’s downfall was the fact that she used the phase “of course” when referring to the use of the “N” word.  That told us that she felt it was ok and a pretty common occurrence in the parts where she’s from.  I think that we can all be educated as to how our actions affect others and how to become more sensitive to other’s feelings and experiences.”
“On top of everything else, how can we say that we’re so offended when a white person uses the “N” word when we don’t get all bent out of shape when we hear other black persons using the word as if it was going out of style or something?”

At the end of the day it’s a word.  A word that we have allowed others to define and label us with.  It’s a word people.  If you take the power away from it, take the power out of it, then what……..”

Do you think Paula’s reputation is reDEENable?



We’re all entitled to mistakes and oversights, but REALLY?!  Troubled retail giant JCPenney is now being scrutinized about a teapot.  Look closely at the photo.  What do you see?  Was it a teapot or an ambiguous sight of Adolf Hitler?

As if the company needed any more negative media attention.  On the heels of the whole “shock value” that we’ve seen over the past month with other brands like Kmart, Mountain Dew and Radio Shack, I’m not so sure is this is the route JCPenney intended.

This goes back to not just the advertising agency but also JCPenney and its creative approval process.  As a marketer, I find it hard to believe that not one person involved in the development of this advertisement sat back and said, “Hmm”.

It is the responsibility of the ad agency to view ads from all angles, however what good is it if the client doesn’t listen?  I’m not sure if this was the case with this execution, however the resemblance to Adolf Hitler was too striking for no one to have said, “Wait a minute.”

What are your thoughts?

Radio Shock

First Kmart, then Mountain Dew, now Radio Shack.  It seems that every week another company is pushing the advertising envelope with shock.  Kmart kicked off with “Shipped My Pants”, I can deal with that.  I actually thought it was fairly clever.  One Million Moms on the other hand, didn’t think so.  They wanted this ad pulled from the Internet.  Kmart responded by placing the ad on television.

Mountain Dew’s goat commercials have been deemed racist and sexist.  PepsiCo has pulled the Internet ads.  (Read previous blog post, “Series(al) Killer).  Rev. Jesse Jackson  decided to have conversation with the beverage giant and the serious implications of the campaign.

Now, on to Radio Shack.  Their latest commercial for Beat by Dre Pill Speakers features crooner Robin Thicke, singing the hook to his latest single, “Blurred Lines”.  The commercial was very similar to the video for the song, except it featured the speakers with the hashtag #uwantit. The music video, in my opinion is very risqué and is filled with sexual innuendo.  The commercial is very similar and shows a woman on all fours with the oval shaped speakers on her back.

Shock value works sometimes.  I get that.  We use it to gain attention, get people talking and get our message across.  But when does it cross the lines and becomes poor taste?  Sometimes the shock value can have the adverse affects and have people talking negatively about the brand or product.  What do you think?  Did Radio Shack go too far or have we been desensitized enough that the shock is really not shocking?