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The new segregation

The article entitled " BBDO crafts minority ad alliance" (AA, April 23) may have been more appropriately titled, "Segregation: Still the advertising way."

How much longer will this industry continue to act as if black people and black culture are on the fringe of society? How much longer will it take white, corporate America to realize it lives in a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious society, and their agencies and their advertising must reflect that? And how much longer will educated minorities continue to sell other minorities into a system that confines us like an iron box?

Alfred Schreiber, president of minority executive recruitment firm U.S. Alliance Group, states [in the article] that "eventually, all of the agencies will have multicultural departments." Perhaps Mr. Schreib-er means "all agencies will be multicultural," because suggesting that agencies create separate departments to house minorities, their ideas and cultures would be the worst thing that's happened since the glass ceilings were installed.

Such environments limit the opportunities, contributions, exposure and earning potential of minorities, and imply that the greatest contribution a minority can make to an agency is to serve as an interpreter for the benefit of getting more minorities to buy a particular company's goods or services

The creation of such departments, as does the creation of companies that supposedly specialize in urban youth and multicultural marketing, also relieves whites of their responsibility to learn about other cultures and their responsibility to include us in advertising. Perhaps these departments and these agencies are employed to facilitate the learning some executives don't get outside the office. Perhaps their role is to let other departments know when they've created an offensive or stereotypical ad. Perhaps their purpose is to raise the level of multicultural marketing.

Unfortunately, so-called specialty firms seem to reinforce ster-eotypes more than they break them down. It's a shame that the people who start these firms rarely claim to be specialists in creating groundbreaking advertising. When will the industry realize that just because we're black doesn't mean we all think, live or act alike? When will the industry realize that our opinions, our political beliefs and our purchasing habits are shaped by our experiences, exposure, education and socioeconomic status, just like those of whites?

Black/African-American people are not on the fringe of society. We are the mainstream and have been in the mainstream for some time. Our ideas, our culture, our labor, our music, our athleticism, our politics, our inventions and our patriotism have been consumed, along with those of white America, long enough that journalists and marketers should stop separating us and acting like we just showed up with a few bucks to spend.

While I'm sure the intentions by most industry leaders and critics are honorable, the language, strategies and practices by many seem to be leading us in the wrong direction, and continue to breed a segregated workplace that creates segregated communications. No wonder we can't all get along. More people need the courage to do the right thing.

Charles Hall

Freelance Creative Director

New York

Not-so-new idea

Coca-Cola's new global campaign ("Coca-C0la unveils global `Life tastes good' push," AA, April 23) is perhaps an idea whose time has finally come. I dug out a campaign script I wrote for Coca-Cola in the mid-1970s when I worked for McCann-Erickson as exec VP-international creative director. Featuring moments made special with Coca-Cola, it goes like this: "There's one moment you wouldn't trade for anything. And when it happens, you celebrate it in every little way you can. That's when you know it. Life tastes good ... just like a Coke." The "Life tastes good" campaign idea was rejected in the 1970s for not being relevant to consumers worldwide. Who knew?

Al Lerman

Creative consultant

Stamford, Conn.

Burdened by defects

Re: "Despite technology's advance, our tolerance for defects rises" (Viewpoint, AA, April 16). I couldn't agree more. He didn't even mention the new adventure of ordering drive-through fast food: Will you actually get what you ordered or, more likely, not? And this is in my small Midwest city, a region known for its work ethic.

Jim Elliott

Kinzie & Green

Wausau, Wis.


* In "Video-game makers prepare holiday efforts" (Late News, April 30, P. 2), the agency for Sega of America's new Sonic the Hedgehog games is True North Communi-cations' FCB Worldwide, San Francisco, not FCB, New York.

* In "BBDO crafts minority ad alliance" (April 23, P.1), it was incorrectly stated that BBDO New York created S/R Alliance. BBDO has begun a partnership with S/R; S/R already existed prior to the BBDO partnership.

* In "Coca-Cola unveils global `Life Tastes Good' push" (For the Record, April 23, P. 36), Coca-Cola Co. incorrectly said McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, was the agency for all its U.S. advertisements. Of three new spots unveiled in April, McCann's Am-ster Yard, New York, produced two while McCann produced one.

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