Asian Culture Gets “Whitewashed” Again

With heightened attention on diversity and culture, you would think major Hollywood films would take notice. The newest film by Paramount Ghost in the Shell with lead actress Scarlett Johansson is the newest culprit in whitewashing films. The original character from the source material is Japanese and fans made their voices heard by using the films own marketing promotion. The film created a meme generator for fans to create their own creative content; many used it to promote Rinko kikuchi who fans thought should have been casted as the lead role.

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Nike Gets Inclusive With the ‘Pro Hijab’

In a time of great diversity, inclusion has never been stronger. Nike is one of the largest and most recognizable brands in the world, and has been on a big push for equality “Inspiration and Innovation for Every Athlete of the World”. Most recently Nike unveiled their equality campaign that features some of the biggest athlete of our time and supports all athletes no matter where they come from.

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Say Hello To Gerber Baby of 2016!

Congratulations to Isla for being chosen as the Gerber Baby for 2016! Isla was chosen out of 170,000 entries and will have the opportunity to be featured in Gerber ads. Isla definitely gets #MMXLII’s vote! Click here to read more.

Nielsen Releases First Multicultural ‘SUPER CONSUMER’ Report

Nielsen has recently released their first multicultural consumer report titled “The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers” which identifies multicultural consumers as the most dynamic and fasting growing segment of the U.S. consumer economy. According to Nielsen, multicultural consumers are spending $3.4 trillion and are the most dynamic and fasting growing segment of the U.S. consumer economy.

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Apple Planning to Add More Diversity to Emoji Character Set

Apple has plans to expand its emoji set to include emojis that are non-caucasian, according to Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications, Katie Cotton, who spoke to MTV Act (via The Verge). The company says it is working with the Unicode Consortium to add more characters to its emoji offerings.

“Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

After originating in Japan, emoji were incorporated into Unicode, which allowed them to be used on multiple platforms. The character set has largely featured caucasian icons, however, which Apple aims to change.

Apple’s last change to emojis came with iOS 6, when the company added additional characters and made emoji accessible to all users. Previously, special apps were required to access emoji on iOS. iOS 7, released in late 2013, did not include any new emoji, but it is possible Apple could make some changes to the characters with iOS 8 later this year.

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Honey Maid Celebrates Single Dads, Gay Dads, Punk Dads and More

Ever since Cheerios struck unexpected marketing gold with its subtle ad about an interracial family, brands seem to have woken to the realization that inclusiveness can be a good thing. Or even a great thing.

And this week, no one’s more inclusive than Honey Maid. The graham cracker brand has launched a new spot from Droga5 called “This Is Wholesome,” featuring real-life parents from many different backgrounds. Although it’s only a :30, we see at least five different families, not one of which fits into advertising’s usual white, heterosexual paradigm.

There are gay dads, two mixed-race families (one military), a single dad and a punk-rock family that dances around dad’s drum kit. This level of ultra-diversity could easily feel forced if the footage hadn’t been selected and handled so deftly. The three corresponding documentary clips below also complement the campaign’s storytelling and highlight that these are real families and neighbors.

The warmth of the campaign gets doused a bit when corporate parent Mondelez International discusses the ad, but I suppose you have to give them points for practicality. The campaign’s news release opens with stats on the number of U.S. single-parent families (20 million) and Hispanic families (11.6 million), along with the fact that one in 12 marriages are interracial.

“We recognize change is happening every day, from the way in which a family looks today to how a family interacts to the way it is portrayed in media,” marketing director Gary Osifchin says in a statement. “We at Honey Maid continue to evolve and expand our varieties to provide delicious, wholesome products so they can be a part of everyday moments of connection in a world with changing, evolving family dynamics.”

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What to Watch: The Tanning of America One Nation Under Hip-Hop [Documentary]

VH1’s The Tanning of America will explore hip-hop’s influence and debuts today.

Over the past 40 years, a cultural shift, marked most recently and vividly by the election ofPresident Obama, has been underway. Hip-hop culture, and its luminaries including Fab 5 Freddy,Dr. Dre, Diddy and Russell Simmons, has been the driving catalyst and laid the foundation for the development of this new generation.

Entrepreneur, advertising and record executive Steve Stoute has had a front-row seat and been an active participant while this transformation has taken place, distinctly conveying those thoughts in his 2011 best-seller The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.

“Tanning” is not simply the process of hip-hop culture being accepted by mainstream culture. Rather, it’s the creation of an entirely new culture. “It’s an entire new language, [and] an entire new approach that comes from an openness to borrow and learn and share cultural data,” Stoute says. “People are now hopefully willing to visit, accept, deal with and participate in other cultures. You’re seeing a generation that has adopted that to their lifestyle. That’s the reason why I go back to [saying], ‘You can’t just predetermine someone’s cultural values,’ because we are all borrowing from each other’s culture. There’s so much cultural sharing and tanning happening, that you have to be able to really deal with somebody for who they are. You can’t just hedge on anything because of the amount of sharing and the amount of information that’s being transferred.”

Stoute joined forces with VH1 and filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman for a four-part documentary series, The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip-Hop, based on his book. Life+Times caught up with Stoute to discuss his ideas about recent tanning moments, and the documentary, which is set to air on VH1 February 24-27.

Read Life+Time’s interview with Steve Stoute here

The History of Valentine’s Day

Did You Know: Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.

THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

ORIGINS OF VALENTINE’S DAY: A PAGAN FESTIVAL IN FEBRUARY

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

VALENTINE’S DAY: A DAY OF ROMANCE

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

TYPICAL VALENTINE’S DAY GREETINGS

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

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