#632. Super Bowl Halftime Shows

The Super Bowl. The penultimate American football game of the year, watched by more than one hundred million people in this nation alone. Many watch just for the creative advertisements, curiously crafted by cagey, inventive minds at agencies that lack in diversity:

No more white bands at The Super Bowl, please!

The report, titled “WHITE MEN DOMINATE ADVERTISING AGENCIES’ CREATIVE DIRECTOR POSITIONS As Exemplified by Ads Aired During the Super Bowl,” seeks to depict the current disparity in hiring practices that exists in the advertising industry regarding race and gender. There were 67 advertisements aired during the Super Bowl, 52 of which were produced by major advertising agencies. The other 15 were produced either by the companies themselves or by creative directors who were not professionals. At least one was produced by someone who won a contest. We were able to identify the race and gender of the creative directors for 58 of the 67 commercials that aired during the game.

Here’s what we found:

• None of the 52 ads from Madison Avenue agencies was produced with a person of color as the lead creative director — 100 percent of them were white.
• Furthermore, 94 percent of the creative directors on those ads were white males; only 6 percent were female.
• When looking at all 67 ads, including the 15 produced outside a Madison Avenue agency, a total of 76 creative/co-creative directors worked on these commercials, and only one was a minority: Joelle De Jesus, a Latino man who won a Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. His ad, Doritos “House Rules,” was considered by many to be a “top five” commercial in terms of popularity. This commercial was one of the few that had noncelebrity minorities in a lead role.
• Seventy of the creative directors were white males (92 percent); five were white women.

I have been doing media report cards since 2006, and I have been authoring report cards on the racial and gender hiring practices in the NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS and in college sport for more than two decades. In all those years, we have never reported on an industry group that is less diverse. The Madison Avenue ad agencies we researched are almost all led by white men. The hope in writing this report is that this baseline data will provide a mirror for self-reflection so Madison Avenue can embrace change and move ahead.

How horrid that white people dared to garner degrees in marketing, advertising, public relations and graphic design at rates that far outpace Black people pursuing undergrad degrees in those fields. Worse though is that these same white people then put up with pitifully low salaries as account coordinators and worked their way up the corporate ladder to one day have input as a member of the creative team that produces marketing campaigns.

Hard work will always supplant the person who was given a position based on an adherence to affirmative action, quotas or a need to fulfill unrealistic goals of diversity. The first casualty of these type of policies is creativity, team camaraderie and ultimately, the vitality of the organization.

The National Football League (NFL) is a league that is 70 percent Black, though the fan base is roughly 75 – 80 percent white. To reach the NFL, one must be the best at his given position because sports offer the appearance of the perfect meritocracy (don’t tell Toby Gerhart or Peyton Hillis that).

Should the NFL mandate quotas to guarantee greater proportional representation of white players? Of course not, and neither should any organization that hopes to produce the highest quality product or service possible.

One service that many people believe has been outstanding – based on record sales and concert attendance for musicians and musical groups – has been the Super Bowl Halftime show.

A list of the musical groups can be found here that have entertained hundreds of millions between halfs football and commercials produced exclusively by creative agencies staffed by white people. Like those advertising agencies, the musical groups are normally white people.

In the past ten years The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, U2, Aerosmith, Phil Collins, Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting and a couple of Black people (always accompanied by a Historically Black College marching band) have performed.

Why so many white acts? Outside of a wardrobe malfunction with Janet Jackson, Black people have been greeted with a white-out during the halftime show. Criticism came last year from a Black writer at EPSN:

OK, no disrespect to Roger Daltrey or Pete Townshend (he actually had an album named “Scoop” so I can never be mad at him), but this is getting out of hand.

When is a hip-hop group going to get a shot at performing a Super Bowl halftime show?

Ever since the infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” the NFL has been more conservative than Ann Coulter in selecting who’s going to entertain us between the halves. At this point it seems to be getting personal.

True, Diddy and Nelly were somewhere on the stage when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake made their “mistake,” but should all acts that never appeared on “The Midnight Special” be punished because of it?

Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, The Boss and now The Who. (Note No. 1: Prince performed in 2007 and really can’t be considered conservative, albeit safe. Note No. 2: Ever since the Janet Moment, Don Mischer Productions has been responsible for producing the halftime shows.) The previous roll calla, all first-ballot Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Now I know Gucci Mane or Drake may not be be quite appropriate for that stage, but damn, can LL Cool J at least get a look?

I’m not talking Will Smith or Will.I.Am. And for the record, Young MC, Coolio, the Sugar Hill Gang, Kid ‘N Play and PM Dawn don’t count either.

I’m talking about an act that would cause the same reaction people had when Three 6 Mafia won the Academy Award for best song. But until that tupocalyptic day arrives, here are some acts that the Super Bowl halftime selection committee should take into strong consideration … sorta, really.

The NFL is a league that enjoys a fan base that votes primarily Republican, and the owners are notoriously right-wing. Though hip-hop songs might sell on iTunes to high school and college students stocking their iPods with songs that will guarantee making white girls want to dance and potential hookup, not many people go out of their way to listen to hip hop or rap that aren’t Black.

The New York Times profiled Super Bowl Halftime shows last year and discussed that bands do not get appearance fees for appearing. Perhaps this is one reason why so few Black musician or bands have appeared, as they both fail to appeal to a mass audience of white people and desire monetary compensation for lip syncing to music produced by synthesizers.

That might be it, or maybe those in charge of the NFL realize that rap/hip-hop sounds horrible live. This year The Black Eyed Peas will removed the tedious boredom and interrupt the mundane whiteness by performing at halftime:

OK, let’s get the obvious out of the way right up front: We’ve got a feelin’ this Super Bowl halftime show won’t be as lame as last year’s.

We sure hope so, because our ears have barely recovered from Roger Daltrey’s off-key caterwauling in Miami.

Taking a tentative step toward making the mini-concert sandwiched between the second and third quarters relevant to viewers under the age of 60, the NFL signed up the Black Eyed Peas to handle the halftime duties today.

The league won’t get a medal for bravery. Make no mistake, this is a safe choice.

The Peas, despite occasional dirty words and Fergie’s sexy posturing, are mainstream and family friendly. And they’ve already performed in a Super Bowl pre-game show, back in 2005.

They know the drill. Sing the hits (usually in medley form, because time is so limited), hop around like you care and get off the stage so the real show can resume. Throw in a couple of surprise guests — look for Usher and Slash at this one — and you’ve got a perfectly respectable show that should appeal to a broad audience.

That’s what the NFL wants. The league has been playing defense with its halftime show since 2004 in Houston, when Justin Timberlake ripped off a piece of Janet Jackson’s top — the last time the Super Bowl was in Texas.

Fergie promises no wardrobe malfunctions this time.

In Black Run America (BRA), whiteness is as dull, boring, obviously racist and outdated. Black, however, is the color of choice: cool, hip, vibrant, edgy and always appealing.

Super Bowl Halftime shows have always been the Stuff Black People Don’t Like, with boring, old white acts past their prime hogging screen time for commercials produced by all-white ad agencies. Black people just want to live in a Black world where everything is produced by Black people, with only Black entertainers.

Let’s be honest: how many people actually think The Black Eyed Peas will still be producing music in ten years? These white bands that have been featured at Super Bowl’s the past six or seven years have produced quality music for more than 30 years.

To feature Black rappers would require that they stay out of jail long enough to sign a contract and make bail for the show.

Now how do we make ad agencies hire more Black people? And what do we do about that pesky National Anthem that Black people hate singing so much?



Stuff Black People Don't Like (formerly SBPDL.com) has moved to SBPDL.net!
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