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Nissan and the Black Experience

Every month I receive over two dozen magazines in my mailbox, and Vibe adds to this reading pile. No matter the magazine, no matter the targeted demographic, I enjoy the articles as much as the advertisements. As a carnival showcasing celebrity lifestyles, the latest music and entertainment, and fashion, "Vibe serves as a portal to a growing, young, trend-setting, multicultural audience." And with 67.4% of its audience being black (Vibe media kit page 6 of 14), the advertisements that appear in its pages get targeted to that audience. So what exactly would a multicultural audience think about Nissan’s Black Experience ad in Vibe’s 150th issue opening spreads? (Black Experience capital letters courtesy of Nissan.)

G-unit, Roca Wear, K-Swiss, Jordan XX2, Oral-B, and Infiniti Cars (a Nissan division) also advertised in the March 2007 issue, but Nissan’s double-truck, struck me as peculiar. In the full color ad, the automaker presented five Japanese youth hanging out in a Shimokitazawa, Tokyo barber shop with a subhead stating, "The Black Experience is everywhere. NISSAN, SHIFT_respect". Launched over five years ago, Nissan’s Shift_ campaign set the baseline for the automobile manufacturer to communicate in an open-ended fashion. Shift_ can become anything, and in an interview with FreshAlloy.com, Steven Wilhite, Vice President of Marketing for Nissan North America goes into greater detail about this platform. Much in the same way that a car’s chassis can get equipped with a different body style, Shift_ can have any suffix bridged to the underscore to complete or continue a message. Shift_power, Shift_individuality, and Shift_2.0 (like the engine) represent some of their past approaches. But most recently, Nissan and their minority-focused ad agency True chose to revolve Shift_respect around people and cultural identity without including any Nissan vehicles. Within the opening spreads of Vibe’s 150th issue, I witnessed a joyous moment where some Japanese youth took on the the proud and rebellious cornrow hair style, courtesy of a Japanese hair stylist. "I suppose some Blacks might find this offensive because they see the Japanese characters as acting Black; and they are. I’ve been to Japan, in fact I lived there for several years and I see it as a respect thing. They connect to Black culture because they like it and think it is cool, not because they are trying to make fun of it. All cultures borrow from one another. People borrow things seen as interesting and become connected to the ‘coolness’ of that cultural aesthetic,"  says Maurice Woods, who wrote Envisioning Blackness in American Graphic Design for his MFA graduate thesis.

Mr. Woods also pointed out that this ad runs during February—which happens to be Black History Month. "I believe this campaign’s intentions were to give homage to the influence African American culture has had on the world." On the surface, this appears both celebratory and honorable, but doesn’t Nissan want to promote its vehicles? To Roymieco Carter, who is Assistant Professor of digital art and design at Wake Forest University, the fact that no Nissan vehicle can be seen "portrays a weakness of the product." Prof. Carter continued, "The car has little to do with the creation of image. The car is secondary. The thing to point out is that there is no good guy, no bad guy in this scenario. It is a simple matter of images and the power they possess within our culture. The realization of this should give all creatives a greater sensitivity and responsibility to the craft. We have to remember there is nothing accidental in this ad or magazine. It is a strategy and a construction built on the intelligence, talent, and money of gifted individuals to attempt to control the behavior and thinking of a group of people. There are no arbitrary decisions at this level of representation." With an understanding and appreciation of black culture (and knowing that February is dedicated to it), the message has a positive denotation, but according to Prof. Carter, a new picture gets revealed on a connotative level, "It [the ad] is not humorous nor offensive, it is trivial and silly. Externally it sets the stage to make cartoons out of two cultures. It is a stereotype of a stereotype."

And that’s what came to mind when I saw the Nissan ad, "Is this offensive?" While Shift_respect centers on the Black Experience, how would the Japanese or other Asians perceive this ad? Asianmediawatch.com criticized a 2004 Nissan Murano ad for its portrait of Asian cuisine: "The troubling commercial portrays Asian American culture as strange and foreign relative to Western culture which is portrayed as the norm." And Angry Asian Man doesn’t feel too cool driving his lowly Nissan Altima. Whether or not Nissan’s are cool, the 2007 Black Experience ad makes the Japanese look like they could care less about their own culture and own coolness because they’re adopting somebody else’s; on the other hand, it makes African American culture look pervasive and the "it" way to style yourself, as Mr. Woods states, "This Nissan ad at least gives homage to the Black experience by saying what we all know is true, Black culture is borrowed by everyone. The only real problem with this is when the origins of a culture or experience get lost or misappropriated." While it’s true that Black culture has influenced music, fashion, and entertainment, it’s vexing how Nissan’s Black Experience ad reduces the culture to a barber shop illustration. So many other things could define the Black Experience, but they were overlooked or maybe overused. Apple’s Think Different campaign by TBWA Chiat/Day (who partially owns True) used a variety of heroes including Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali.

Those people signified the struggle, perseverance, and victories that are part of the Black Experience, but instead Nissan and True chose to create a caricature that focuses on an African American surface quality: fashion. At least Nissan chose to run the print ads in African American media like Vibe magazine, in order to target the market they’re after. But what does this advertisement do for the Nissan brand? And will it increase automobile sales in the African American demographic? Certainly they want to improve the brand’s stick-ability with the consumer, and of course they want to sell cars—the barber shop ad is not the first attempt. In 2003, ClickZ.com reported that Nissan launched their Black Experience campaign because, "According to research by Target Market News, a trade publication focused on the black consumer market, African-American spending on new and used cars from 1996 to 2001 more than doubled, surpassing $43 billion" (Brian Morrissey, 2003). Outdoor and print ads expanded the campaign across the mediascape, and assaulted viewers with a number of "shifters, shakers and groundbreakers in the African-American community that have made significant contributions in the arts, science and business from 1619 to the present." No images could be found, but the campaign sounds an awful lot like what TBWA Chiat/Day did with Apple—except the focus here is African Americans.

I suspect Nissan will continue to push the envelope with its campaigns, and employ Truth to assist with their carpet bombing. Most of all, they should continue giving African American’s credit with Shift_respect, "Black people want to see Black culture protected and treated with respect just as any culture. If you use it, fine, but then put it back were it came from. In this case, give us our props. Nissan, I believe is doing this in this ad." For all the time I spent analyzing the barbershop image created, it all boiled down to the closing statement, the one piece of type buried at the page’s far corner, Shift_respect. Props delivered. Props deserved.

divider

As a final notation, this statement by the Black Anti-Defamation Council of Columbus Ohio was located. It includes a press release by Hazel Trice Edney. Neither Hazel Trice Edney nor members of the Black Anti-Defamation could be reached for comments.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 3074 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Feb.27.2007 BY Jason A. Tselentis
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
John McCabe’s comment is:

This all smacks of over analysis, it is a simple case of image appropriation. Comments like "it's vexing how Nissan's Black Experience ad reduces the culture to a barber shop illustration" seem to imply that Nissan is trying to represent a whole culture in the ad; in fact they are just trying to look cool.

On Mar.01.2007 at 02:44 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

Nissan is trying to represent a whole culture in the ad; in fact they are just trying to look cool.

So you don't think they're cool? Trying smacks of a failed attempt. And, John, how can you disagree that a barber shop and cornrows reduce the Black Experience? Honestly, open up your comment a little, for my sake, and our readers, please.

On Mar.01.2007 at 02:47 PM
john mccabe’s comment is:

No, personally, I don't think Nissan is cool, but that is irrelevant.

The image is not appropriated directly from black culture but from a perceived stereotype of the culture, perpetuated by MTV et al. If this is a reference to a purely constructed stereotype, how is it any more offensive than the hundreds of appropriated images we see every day?

On Mar.01.2007 at 03:29 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

I don't know that anyone has labeled it as offensive, John, even during my deepest reading of the ad, I realized that it visualizes as Prof. Carter stated best, "a stereotype of a stereotype." If anything, the ad's authenticity should come into question.

On Mar.01.2007 at 03:34 PM
john mccabe’s comment is:

My comment, Jason, was simply a response to your own question.

"And that's what came to mind when I saw the Nissan ad, "Is this offensive?"And that's what came to mind when I saw the Nissan ad, "Is this offensive?"

On Mar.01.2007 at 03:45 PM
Pesky’s comment is:

Not necessarily over-analysis, John. I think Jason described a feature about cultural assimilation -global borrowing - is usually not deep but thru surface imitation. Respect comes later - possibly if at all.

There was a story recently on NPR about Reggae music in China and they rightly acknowledged that the content of political circumstances of black Jamaician music was completely lost on the Chinese who thought it was just cool music.
Nothing is ever taken entirely.

Personally I'm not fond of rap or hip hop as something to aspire to, but that's just me and no reflection on anybody who enjoys it.

On Mar.01.2007 at 03:57 PM
Doug B’s comment is:

'Global borrowing' from who?
Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer?

Shift_not_racism

On Mar.01.2007 at 04:13 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

The very obvious point that nobody is making explicit is that Nissan is a Japanese car company. The ad seems to offer a culture exchange that answers the objection to their cars as “foreign.”

Apple was trying to sell their computers not objects of a limited cultural scope but as harbingers of greatness. Buy a Mac and you're like Albert Einstein or Mohammed Ali (buy a PC and you’re like some schmuck in a cubicle somewhere.) Ali is not there because he’s black. He’s there because he was great and defied great social pressure to be less than he was. Apple doesn’t have to overcome any objections about the Mac’s perceived origins.

On Mar.01.2007 at 05:54 PM
pesky’s comment is:

Doug, spare me the white boy concern...global borrowing - cultural exchange, as Gunnar says - is something that has been going on as long as there's been travel and trade: thousands of years. It's just more calculated and surface when it's delivered by advertising rather than coming from the source.

Shift_originality_comes_first

On Mar.02.2007 at 12:46 AM
Darryl C’s comment is:

That ad is about as respectful as face paint and plastic tomahawks at a Cleveland Indians game. Hip hop culture is not black culture. It's youth culture and just as fleeting as most youth trends are. Afros were "in" in the 70s, "out" in the 80s and now they're coming back. Same with cornrows. "trivial and silly" is probably the best way to describe it.

BTW: Are they still selling that Darky toothpaste over there?

On Mar.02.2007 at 09:47 AM
Frank Lin’s comment is:

As an Asian American, I find this ad pretentious. It attempts to praise, and perhaps the intentions are pure, but it reduces an entirely complex subculture into a fashion cliche. How is this any different than thinking those rap videos with gangstas and hos are exemplary of African American culture?

What would Asian history month be like? Will there be an ad showing a bunch of black people wearing kimonos and samurai armor?

The scary thing is, African American youth may look at this and think it's cool.

On Mar.02.2007 at 10:19 AM
Pesky’s comment is:

Agreed. I'm not a fan of this stuff, BTW.

But it's out there -in this fashion - to sell something. Maybe "cultural borrowing" is a crappy phrase. I should be more selective in my words. An innocuous way to say steal, ripoff and imitate.

I'd rather listening to Jarvis Cocker sing "Running the World" right now.(an appropriately bitter little song).

On Mar.02.2007 at 11:32 AM
Doug B’s comment is:

Maybe "cultural borrowing" is a crappy phrase. I should be more selective in my words. An innocuous way to say steal, ripoff and imitate.

There's a HUGE difference between 'steal' and 'imitate'.

Some might call it the postmodern paradigm of appropriation.

Do you feel sampling in music is also stealing?

just curious...(from a "white boy concern"* angle)

(*now THAT'S RACIST)

On Mar.02.2007 at 11:55 AM
Sean Flanagan’s comment is:

I think this whole piece misses something that is entirely too obvious to me: this ad appeared in Vibe magazine. As cited in the article, Vibe has a readership of which over 2/3 are African-American. But here is where a point is missed: the other third of the readership is as diverse as the country. It is read by those of all backgrounds to whom the "black" lifestyle advertised in and advocated by the magazine is appealing.

That means that there are likely Asians in the readership who identify with the image portrayed in the ad, along with blacks, whites, Europeans, hispanics, and any other demographic represented in the readership. They are indeed respectful to the style as they do not see it as just a "cool" culture to mimic: it is their culture.

If black people want to see black culture protected and treated with respect, as quoted at the end of the article, then they should look no further than the demographic of the readership of Vibe and the way they embrace the culture advocated by the magazine. However, saying that those who "use it" should "put it back where it came from" is bigoted and offensive, things that this ad does well to avoid.

On Mar.02.2007 at 12:19 PM
Frank Lin’s comment is:

That means that there are likely Asians in the readership who identify with the image portrayed in the ad, along with blacks, whites, Europeans, hispanics, and any other demographic represented in the readership. They are indeed respectful to the style as they do not see it as just a "cool" culture to mimic: it is their culture.

Is style being confused with culture? The Asians in the readership, may admire the style, the music, but are they really in the position to say it is their culture? If I dress in Gecko, talk a certain way, and listen to hip hop, can I claim this is my true form?

I suspect there are only a few individuals who are authentic to the hip hop subculture, and probably they ain't congregating in a barbershop, getting cornrows.

The rest are just wannabes -- That's what the
marketing people are after.

On Mar.02.2007 at 01:24 PM
Su’s comment is:

The very obvious point that nobody is making explicit is that Nissan is a Japanese car company.

Largely irrelevant, but that suddenly made me remember Tokyo Breakfast.

It is a stereotype of a stereotype.

I kind of wonder about that statement. Is it really? The Japanese(in Japan, not people elsewhere of Japanese descent) are known to steal culture left and right. As to whether it's respectful, well, it's not done out of spite, but I think this also brings up the question of what they're doing with what they take. It's never just appropriation of a culture, which would be aping, but adaptation into theirs; in the end, it is not (intended to be) the same thing as the original.
As far as the other end, sure they're clearly dressed in hip-hop style but it's not like they're all blinged out with gold fronts on their teeth. It's surprisingly restrained, actually. They could easily have gone really cheap with this.
The 2004 ad, on the other hand, was clearly alienating and just taking pot shots.

makes the Japanese look like they could care less about their own culture and own coolness because they're adopting somebody else's

That's a rather large expansion.

Saying this reduces an entire culture to a single image is kind of ignoring that there's only one image in front of you, no? Are you bothered by the image, or is it that you want to see more(which is suggested to me by referring to entire campaign by Apple for comparison)?

On Mar.02.2007 at 05:11 PM
John McCabe’s comment is:

"Imitation is the sincerest of flattery."

Doug is correct; to steal deprives someone of what is theirs, to borrow/reference simply gives publicity.

On Mar.02.2007 at 06:34 PM
ps’s comment is:

i'm surprised no one brought up the budweiser wassup campaign, not having seen the ad full size but only this jpb, i'm reading this as pretty much a rip off of it.

anyone check on who nissan sells to. i might be off but nissan was at some point considered hip to the vibe demographics, so them playing a little joke, while giving respect to a magazine for the 150th issues, does not seem so far fetched.

at this point, i don't think jason has dug deep enough or provided enough background for a serious crit.

On Mar.02.2007 at 06:51 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

ps, regarding your Nissan sales information, I did cite that in the article, In 2003, ClickZ.com reported that Nissan launched their Black Experience campaign because, "According to research by Target Market News, a trade publication focused on the black consumer market, African-American spending on new and used cars from 1996 to 2001 more than doubled, surpassing $43 billion" (Brian Morrissey, 2003). And you can read the full background at Clickz site.

As for 'digging deep enough' as you say, I'm not sure what more you'd expect to read here, but I will agree that this has only scratched the surface. Because of the ad's timeliness, I wanted to get this out there sooner than later. Given more time and with more research, this could be expanded into a 3,000 or even 10,000 word piece.

On Mar.03.2007 at 01:43 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Su—
Largely irrelevant

Thank you for the full and eloquent explanation. Had you not been so thorough and convincing I might have had to inquire: “irrelevant to what?”

But of course a discussion of a Japanese company (with a product with a Japanese name)’s attempts at gaining favor with a black audience should not acknowledge that said company’s communication goals might be specific or particular. That might add mundane context to universally important insights unburdened by any nasty hint of actuality.

I’ll just sit back now and inhale your largely—no, make that colossally— relevant commentary.

On Mar.03.2007 at 04:13 PM
ps’s comment is:

gunnar, i think -su was not referring to your post but that it reminded him of tokyo breakfast. i hope your blood pressure did not rise too high -- might have been a false alarm.

jason, i guess what i'm trying to say is that if it turned out that a nissan sentra is considered one of "the cars" within the african american hip-hop community*, and because of it, nissan is aready in the circle and has therefore the luxury to speak like an insider within the community, even if its just to a selected few who get it, would you look at the ad differently? (disclaimer, i don't know if this is or was the case, but if memory serves me right there was something with the nissan sentra and extreme cool factor..) perhaps we don't get the point of the ad, but some folks, the folks who the ad speaks to, just might? i for one would have liked to get more information on where nissan fits into the vibe community.

On Mar.03.2007 at 05:19 PM
Brandon J.’s comment is:

I just bought that Vibe magazine yesterday, opened it, saw the ad, and kept on flipping. Then I got my retrospect email and found the article discussing the Nissan ad.

As an African-American male, I'm totally not offended. What I hope is that this ad was an attempt to show an "appreciation of a culture." Yet, cornrows and jerseys are not a culture. They're just a style! Anybody with long hair can get cornrows. Anyone can wear a jersey. I won't blow this out of proportion or take it any further than that.

The only thing I would do differently is take away the "Black Experience" from the ad. I really don't believe in this concept of a wholistic "Universal" experience for any race. My experiences as a black man are not the same as any other black man. Except the fact that I am black and a male.

It's good to see designers taking interest in these matters. Makes me proud to be one!

On Mar.03.2007 at 10:03 PM
Su’s comment is:

Gunnar, unclench. PS is right.

On Mar.03.2007 at 11:32 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

gunnar, i think -su was not referring to your post

Get real. No, he was not (just) referring to it. He was quoting it.

On Mar.04.2007 at 10:27 AM
Su’s comment is:

Because it was the trigger for my irrelevant memory, which would have been a full-on non sequitur without the quote.

Now get over it.

If you're looking to get offended, you seem to have succeeded. The rest of us are just confused now.

On Mar.04.2007 at 12:22 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Su,

Sentence fragments. Problems interpretation. You meant “The following is largely irrelevant.” I understood “What was just quoted is largely irrelevant.” Sorry. My bad.

On Mar.04.2007 at 02:04 PM
Ghazaleh Etezal’s comment is:

First off, Apple's ad kicks ass. Not because it's brilliant in concept but because no one can take any offense to it. It's true it's real and it's different. And, Ali was black, and all black people are proud of him and his legacy.

Nissan's ad sucks, but it works for the target audience. Look at all the other ads in those magazines. They're all the same. It's all about fashion. Japan right now is the highest exporter of clothing and shoes that people DIE for in America. Bathing Ape, Evisu Jeans and all those other Japanese brands are rare over here and if you got on a pair of kicks that no one has seen before and you say "I got ma connections", you're the shit!

Anyway, that's the world of materialism and fetish for lookin "fly". Yes it is everywhere and rap and hip-hop are not only music anymore but clothes and ways of walking and what type of jewlery you wear and how you do you hair. It has nothing to do with BLACK people anymore, it's just mainstream culture now.

But, the ad just sucks because it has NOTHING TO DO WITH A CAR and doesn't make me think Nissan and doesn't interest me in Nissan. It actually interests me more on the clothes they wear in Japan. Why does EVERY AD in these youth magazines have to do with FASHION and somehow make sense to be part of every concept. That just shows you how little creativity there is anymore.

This is why kids wanna go into advertising. To manipulate people, make things "cool" and sell them regardless of how surface and lame they may be. FUCK THAT!

Great post Armin, great post. Love it. Give me more... MORE! (no seriously, I really enjoyed reading this)

On Mar.04.2007 at 03:21 PM
Doug B’s comment is:

First off, Apple's ad kicks ass. Not because it's brilliant in concept but because no one can take any offense to it. It's true it's real and it's different. And, Ali was black, and all black people are proud of him and his legacy.

Actually, Ali offended a LOT of people when he refused to serve his country, but, he was a great fighter and a cultural icon, and will be remembered for the latter.

But, the ad just sucks because it has NOTHING TO DO WITH A CAR...

The Apple ad has nothing to do with a personal computer but you said it kicks ass.

Your arguments are in conflict, grasshopper...

On Mar.04.2007 at 03:37 PM
Ghazaleh Etezal’s comment is:

Okay, I did realize that after I posted it that Apple's ad has nothing to do with a personal computer BUT at least it's suggesting a better concept than the Nissan ad. Yes, Ali is an icon and therefore a better code of representation for something that is "different". Apple is just brilliant with their ads and marketing strategies and you all know it. You can't compare a Nissan ad in Vibe magazine to an Apple ad, you just can't.
What I meant by saying "IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH A CAR", I meant that it really has no memorable connotative suggestion of a brand and it's story. Or, maybe it does but it's just using the easy way out with fashion. Usually good advertising in my book does something greater than that. Maybe to others this is a great ad because it "SELLS" whatever crap you want it to sell to the demographic and that's why it's SUCCESSFULL. Maybe that's all advertising is about anyway? So what IS good if it's still selling a product? Dove's campaign is good right? It promotes beauty from within in women. So that's a great sucess story right? Well yea I actually would prefer something different and thought-provoking as oppose to something mundane and repetitive.
So I don't think we should compare apples to oranges. Because apples are just tastier, right? =)

I don't know where u got the grasshopper from because the closes animal I can be connected to is a gazelle. thaaanks =)

On Mar.04.2007 at 05:12 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

I may be mistaken, but I think the grasshopper reference comes from Kung Fu the series. And as for it's meaning:

Why is Caine called "grasshopper"? This question comes up every single week in the Search. One can only assume it is being asked by people who never saw the pilot in which the very first time Caine meets Master Po, he says that to be blind must be the worst affliction. But Master Po shows the young Caine that he can even hear the grasshopper at the young Caine's feet, which Caine couldn't hear (from kungfu-guide.com).

It's a little like 'young Jedi' or 'padawan.'

On Mar.04.2007 at 07:34 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Daryl C wrote: That ad is about as respectful as face paint and plastic tomahawks at a Cleveland Indians game. Hip hop culture is not black culture. It's youth culture and just as fleeting as most youth trends are. Afros were "in" in the 70s, "out" in the 80s and now they're coming back. Same with cornrows. "trivial and silly" is probably the best way to describe it.

Daryl, what rock do you live under?

1. Hip-hop music is totally black culture. Studies have connected it to blues and before.
2. It's not fleeting at all. In fact, hip-hop has had two mainstream surges, from Breakdancing to Black Eyed Peas (whom I despise). Hip-hop will never die, put money on it. There's even hip-hop artists in the Gaza strip now. Most people can't listen to punk, so hip-hop is the rebel alternative.
3. That ad is not disrespectful to Black America nor hip-hop. It's not racist either. It's life as most Vibe subscribers know it.

On Mar.04.2007 at 07:48 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Ghazaleh wrote:
It has nothing to do with BLACK people anymore, it's just mainstream culture now.

Eh-hem, I disagree with your statement. Most hip-hop fashion that you were talking about is driven by hip-hop music and artists which a large majority being black. Just because some white people (or Japanese) bite the style and fashion of hip-hop doesn't mean that it's origins are erased. Well unless you subscribe to that type of mentality, which of course is absurd, unfair and colossaly arrogant. However white people have been doing that to blacks for decades, sucks to know that type of thinking is still around.

You can't compare a Nissan ad in Vibe magazine to an Apple ad, you just can't.

They just did, hello, are you here? Just because you don't agree with the nature of the ad, doesn't mean it's not worth anything. I have a strong feeling that the ad was very well received by both the Asian and Black subscribers of Vibe.

You certainly can't blame advertising in general on the meer fact that hip-hop has a strong influence on Japanese youth. Please.

There is one thing that I don't think a lot of graphic designers understand about advertising. It's NOT ART, IT'S BUSINESS! Dumb shit designers think the world revolves around Cool Grey, well wake up and smell the ink, because it doesn't. Advertising revolves around sales, and bullshit client mentality. So before you go boasting about how cool you are working in advertising you better realize you are nothing more than a business man in jeans, sneakers and a pencil in your ear. Love it, hate it, embrace it or despise it, whatever you wish, just don't be complacent.

Usually good advertising in my book does something greater than that.

Greater than that...and your idea that Dove is a good campaign. So you would rather see advertising get deep into your emotions for it to be effective? Personally I think the kitsch Nissan ad is less manipulative than a woman thinking she is successful and beautiful (on the inside especially) through the kind of hygeine Dove 'provides'.

You are totally sold. Dove did a great head job on you. Still feeling 'beautiful'? I hope so and not for Dove's sake.

My thoughts are that advertising can never be beautiful, but only interesting. There is nothing beautiful about being manipulated to spend your money. Dove will never make you beautiful within, and Nissan will never be hip-hop. It's you who makes yourself beautiful and hip-hop which makes Nissan fly.

On Mar.04.2007 at 08:01 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Just to clear up any ignorance, the Nissan Maxima was well talked about in the black commmunity. Nicknamed Mackima as in the Mack, as in Return of the Mack, as in Mack-Daddy.

Grasshopper is also used in Buddhism which can be associated with some Martial Arts.

On Mar.04.2007 at 08:03 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

I wrote:

3. That ad is not disrespectful to Black America nor hip-hop. It's not racist either. It's life as most Vibe subscribers know it.

What I mean by this is...the barber shop is relative to someone's wanna-be life, their vicarious life or their real-life...it's a stereotypical scene from hip-hop 'culture'.

On Mar.04.2007 at 08:09 PM
Ghazaleh Etezal’s comment is:

Kevin wrote:
Just because some white people (or Japanese) bite the style and fashion of hip-hop doesn't mean that it's origins are erased.
Okay, I don't know what your point here is because I clearly wasn't saying that hip-hop culture is not from black "origins". It's not about SOME people other than black people influenced by hip-hop, it's MAINSTREAM and I repeat MAINSTREAM culture now. Turn on your radio, go clubbing, go to Footlocker, watch comedy, black cutlure IS everywhere and yes it is a HUGE business as you mentioned. Fashion is a big part of it and YES it all comes down to strategy and SELLING.

You can't compare Apple to Nissan because Apple is innovational, Nissan isn't. Apple is revolutionary, Nissan isn't.
They have both been "branded" but Apple to me as a viewer is more thought-provoking and makes me nod my head and go, "that's a good ad". Maybe because I'm a graphic designer and study this stuff. So the Nissan ad might work just as well with it's target audience and pursue them to buy a Nissan car because of how much they have connected it with black culture.

...your idea that Dove is a good campaign. So you would rather see advertising get deep into your emotions for it to be effective?
"Effective" wasn't the term I used dear, I think you should read what I wrote again. I said that I would choose Dove above the Nissan campaign because "I actually would prefer something different and thought-provoking as oppose to something mundane and repetitive."
Dove did just that. Different and thought-provoking in media. That's why it's good, from the advertisers side especially. Please don't make statements about me being SOLD to advertising, I only observe and criticise from a designer's perspective. Just because something sells a lot doesn't mean it's well done advertising. Does it?? I really don't know because I can't think like advertisers. What is good to you?

On Mar.04.2007 at 11:10 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

black cutlure IS everywhere and yes it is a HUGE business as you mentioned.

I never did or would say something racist like that. I don't percieve culture as business.

You can't compare Apple to Nissan because Apple is innovational, Nissan isn't. Apple is revolutionary, Nissan isn't.
They have both been "branded" but Apple to me as a viewer is more thought-provoking and makes me nod my head and go, "that's a good ad". Maybe because I'm a graphic designer and study this stuff.

Is it just your opinion that Nissan is not innovative? I'd like you to back up your thoughts and prove that Nissan is stagnant company.

If you are basing a good ad on Graphic Design, then certainly the Nissan ad has tons more art direction going on, so I think you are a bit confused on how graphic design has been employed to execute both ads. The Apple ad is a black and white photo with a logo in the corner. Great concept, but little graphic design.

Just because something sells a lot doesn't mean it's well done advertising. Does it?? I really don't know because I can't think like advertisers. What is good to you?

I think it depends on what school of thought you take. For example, Ogilvy would say that if the ad is, in your sense, beautiful but it does not sell, then the ad is a failure. However if the ad increases sales no matter how 'beautiful' it is or isn't then the ad is a success.

If the ad is thought provoking but does not increase sales, then I'm sure it's a success on some level...maybe it increases brand awareness, maybe it introduces a new product, etc. I think the Nissan ad is exceptionally successful - positioned perfectly, that glossy sheen, the barber shop, all the elements of hip-hop culture and the fact the Japanese youth love hip-hop. It totally works even if I disagree with plenty of the underlying moral elements. The fact that there is not a car in the ad does not mean it's a failure in advertising. In this day and age, it's all about selling a lifestyle, assuming an association, creating identifiers.

Please email me and explain how Dove is 'different and thought-provoking' and provide examples of how it is not 'something mundane and repetitive.'

Furthermore, you said that you can't think like an advertiser...so basically you are discrediting everything you posted here, because this thread is about advertising, not design. I certainly hope that if you try to work at an agency that you create the ability to look at your work from many perspectives - design, sociology, anthropology, art, advertising, statistics, linguistics...just to name a few. It really doesn't do the world any good to think in grids and Pantones. Presenting a strategy through design vernacular is embarassing to the design community because bascially it shows that the designer is a shallow thinker and has no concept of the world outside the Creative Suite.

On Mar.05.2007 at 10:33 AM
Frank Lin’s comment is:

As I stated earlier, I'm not a fan of the ad, but like KevinHopp stated, advertising is about sales.

Apparently, this type of direction is working quite well for Nissan, otherwise they wouldn't be using it – does anybody have any data regarding to how effective these ads have been working?

On Mar.05.2007 at 11:09 AM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Frank,

Are you more peeved on the Japanese youth craving hip-hop, or the fact that Nissan is using their own cultural nuances to appeal to the Vibe readers?

I don't think the general American populace reduces the complex Japanese culture into a trendy music scene. Ask 100 people what the first 3 things that come to mind when you say Japan, and I bet it's more like sushi, technology, video games, etc. I'm sure emulating the "Black Experience" is pretty far down the list.

On Mar.05.2007 at 12:14 PM
Frank Lin’s comment is:

Are you more peeved on the Japanese youth craving hip-hop, or the fact that Nissan is using their own cultural nuances to appeal to the Vibe readers?

I'm not peeved to see Japanese youth crave hip-hop.

Hip Hop has become this commercialized, domesticated animal, no longer having any real connection to its roots. And I'm tolerant of that, but to link it with the "Black Experience", the African American experience; I find it socially irresponsible.

The worst thing that can happen is for young impressionable African American youth, to buy into the hype that Hip Hop is about baggy clothes, bling bling, and bitches..so they better buy a Nissan Maxima.

On Mar.05.2007 at 01:46 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

I wonder if it was an African American who was the copy writer on the ad. True is the agency?

And I agree, the Black Experience from what my friends tell me, has little to do with material things.

On Mar.05.2007 at 02:13 PM
Su’s comment is:

I wonder if it was an African American who was the copy writer on the ad.

Well, there's only one person at their site(page 2) credited as a copywriter. And even if it weren't him, there'd still be a pretty good chance of it if you go through the entire collection, as long as it was all in-house.

On Mar.05.2007 at 03:37 PM
Su’s comment is:

*sigh*
Wonderful. The "people" section is randomized. Because it's always a good idea to make it impossible to point at a given piece of information.

Anyway. You'll find him eventually.

On Mar.05.2007 at 03:39 PM
joyce’s comment is:

Stereotype of cultures are pervasive in media nowadays. Asian women are sometimes sterotyped as sumissive creatives in western society. Why so shocking when you see Japnese playing Black characters?

On Mar.05.2007 at 09:11 PM
joyce’s comment is:

Stereotype of cultures are pervasive in media nowadays. Asian women are sometimes sterotyped as sumissive creatives in western society. Why so shocking when you see Japnese playing Black characters?

On Mar.05.2007 at 09:12 PM
Frank Lin’s comment is:

Stereotype of cultures are pervasive in media nowadays. Asian women are sometimes sterotyped as sumissive creatives in western society

Only sometimes? haha.

It isn't about the ad being shocking, it's about the layer of nicely frosted bullshit that is presented. This is why advertising gets a bad rep.

But ok, enough moaning on my part.

On Mar.06.2007 at 10:04 AM
Darryl C’s comment is:

Kevin Hopp wrote:

Daryl, what rock do you live under?

1. Hip-hop music is totally black culture. Studies have connected it to blues and before.
2. It's not fleeting at all. In fact, hip-hop has had two mainstream surges, from Breakdancing to Black Eyed Peas (whom I despise). Hip-hop will never die, put money on it. There's even hip-hop artists in the Gaza strip now. Most people can't listen to punk, so hip-hop is the rebel alternative.

Let me crawl out from under these boulders long enough to explain what I meant.

I don't need any studies to know that hip hop was created by blacks and is rooted in the black cultural experience. It obviously has influences way past the Blues into the black spirtual "call and response" style, slave work songs and the African polyrhythmic style. My point was that Hip Hop doesn't define black culture, it's a subset of black culture. My 74 year old father has no use for Tupac, nor does he wear his pants hanging down around his ass, or refer to his friends as "my nigga" Hip Hop was created by black youth to speak to black youth and like all such trends it will loose it's "cachet" to black youth once old folk, white folk and suburban folk embrace it. If you want to see lasting black culture look at the black church, soul food, Democratic political support, and distrust of the police as cultural imparatives that have been passed down from generation to generation and will continue to be.

Hip hop music will not die, but it will eventually lose it's appeal to black youth. In which case they will create a different form that will take over the airwaves and offend the mainstream. Black youth created the blues, created jazz, created rock and roll, motown and reggae. All of these forms were challenging and foriegn to the white mainstream before they were embraced, subverted and blacks lost interest. Try to get a black high schooler to sit down and listed to Muddy Waters these days. Kids can't listen to the same music as their grandparents. I think its a law.

I already hear cries of discontent as many black Hip Hop fans are getting tired of the gangsterism, misogyny, and materialism of commercial Rap music. I'm not sure what will come next but I do know that no one over thirty will like it.

On Mar.06.2007 at 10:22 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

And hip hop culture is more than fashion. It's attitude, music, style, voice, appearance, and as Russell Simmons once said, it is the truth in a community (from Mother Jones interview). I'm no expert, so let's let Afrika Bambaataa tell it how it is:

Hip Hop means the whole culture of the movement.. when you talk about rap..Rap is part of the hip hop culture..The emceeing..The djaying is part of the hip hop culture. The dressing the languages are all part of the hip hop culture.The break dancing the b-boys, b-girls ..how you act, walk, look, talk are all part of hip hop culture.. and the music is colorless.. Hip Hop music is made from Black, brown, yellow, red, white.. whatever music that gives you the grunt.. that funk.. that groove or that beat.. It's all part of hip hop....
From Davey D. interviews 01 and 02.

Nissan tauts the Black Experience, and uses singular Hip Hop elements to do so. Fashion. Barber shops. Cornrows. Are these really what the Black Experience is all about? Or which ones represent the Hip Hop Experience?

On Mar.06.2007 at 11:31 AM
Ghazaleh’s comment is:

I commend Darryl and his response to Kevin.

I emailed you Kevin with my perspective of why Dove's campaign is more different and thought-provoking in the media than Nissan. Awaiting response.

Kevin also wrote:
Furthermore, you said that you can't think like an advertiser...so basically you are discrediting everything you posted here, because this thread is about advertising, not design.

Hold on a second. Design is what MAKES advertising. Advertisers are not necessarily designers. They can have great concepts but not know how to work a page. That's why you collaborate with them. Once advertisers set foot in the industry they think about how they can sell a product. The focus is on the idea of HOW to sell that product, which is bought and it's success is measured through sales, linking to marketting, business and a corporate mentality.

Designers can be advertisers but advertisers cannot be designers. So, I meant that I am not a corporate advertiser ― which is where most people who study it (advertising) head towards―because I'm not all about a product and selling it and I don't see the success of great advertising that way. I put a value on what WAY the campaign chose to direct itself. What method did they choose to promote themselves? Is it any different than other products of it's kind? And if the product really is a superior creation, is the creativity up to par?

On Mar.06.2007 at 01:13 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Daryl, thanks for clarifying. You bring new light standing over the rock.

Being from Detroit, I know it's going to take a long time for black youth to be disenchanted by their peers creativity. By all means WJLB was playing the crudest gangsta rap on Christmas day. It's a long ways away.

G - I never received your email. Must try again if needed.

Design is what MAKES advertising. Not entirely. Most concepts are brought to the table by a group of people, or a team which includes a Copy Writer. Yes, a Copy Writer, one of the most underrated forces in advertising. Furthermore, it's flushed out by Creative Directors (who may be have been an Art Director, or a Copy Writer) and the Account team (which you peg as 'advertisers' I think, in which you fail to recognize that top agencies are filled with all types of graduates - anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, statisticians, marketers, business, the list gets exhaustive). Another overlooked detail is that designers are not the same as Art Directors for the most part.

Anyone who has worked in advertising knows that everyone is a designer. The client, the account team, the writer...everyone thinks they can do what we do. And unfortunately plenty, too many, design decisions are made by people who are not qualified to make those decisions.

"The client likes those little pill buttons."

"I know they used to use that typeface during that time period, but I just don't like it"

"We want it to be more sexy, can you put some sex in it"

The worst one I heard recently from a friend, was a Sr Art Director asking the writer to create a concept around a box he made for direct mail.

So who MAKES advertising? The agency does. I think it's just something that we have to accept whether we like it or not.

Although, I sympathize with your idealistic opinion that advertising is all about design, it's simply not true. People work as a team to satisfy what the client wants...it's hardly true that the client gets what they deserve. So before you judge too harshly remember there are more variables than meets the page.

Getting back to the subject, whoever decided to use cornrows and barber shops as The Black Experience is obviously not being very responsible, or perhaps they came up with some confident number that says, "Vibe subscribers percieve this image as being the 'black experience'" as ugly as that sounds.

If it makes you feel any better, after working for several years in advertising, I decided to bow out. The Celine Dion campaign which came directly from the client and completely flopped was all I could handle.

Love, Kevin

On Mar.06.2007 at 08:26 PM
Ghazi’s comment is:

What I meant by advertisers are people who get degrees in advertising and study it in school as oppose to graphic designers who go through far more technical courses when they graduate. They have more skills on typography and layout because that's what they focus on in their four years. Maybe all this is coming from a student perspective who is studying this stuff and heard stories and walked into some studios and seen how things are done, but never actually worked in an ad agency and never seek to. So, I'm sure you have way more knowledge on that end and far exceed years of experience in the working world.

I didn't say advertising is all about design. I meant that if it wasn't for graphic design you would have shitty looking ads, which could have great concept.

On Mar.07.2007 at 01:13 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

JT

I didn't see the Vibe Ad. I can't comment. Doubt if I'd be offended.

There's a Renowned Asian Actress that Starred on General Hospital in the early to middle eighties. She Guest Appeared in other Television Sitcoms appeared in movies.
I think her name is Beulah Quo. She had an uncanny Command of American Slang. This actress could hang with E 40 or Snoop upstaging them Speaking Slang.

Amy Hill who starred in Next Friday is very adept at Hard Core Comedy. At the same time, speaking Hip Hop Lingo and getting Lo Down and Dirty with the BEST OF THEM.

http://imdb.com/name/nm0384032/

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Term GRASSHOPPER inherited from the TV Series Kung Fu is American Jargon referring to someone that is a NOVICE or GREEN. The color of some species of Grasshoppers.

Grasshopper also mean, Apprentice, Mentee, Disciple, Pupil, Scholar, Sudent.

Most important Grasshopper is a Term of Endearment. A Linguistic exchange between someone having the Answers bestowing Fact and Truth to the Inquirer.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

An Aside.

Design, Art and Music are Universal.

Design, Art and Music should not be Governed by Race, Color or Creed regardless of the CREATOR.

Perhaps that's asking for UTOPIA.

Appreciation and Respect for any Art-Form should be Governed by Love, Passion and Enthusiasm.

Having said that, SIR MICK JAGGER said over Forty Years Ago. "He wish he was Black", because of the Rich Musical Cultural Experience.

TINA TURNER taught Mick Jagger to Dance.

Michael Jackson has always acknowledged, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown and Jackie Wilson as his influence.

When I see Michael Jackson Move. I also see Fred Astair and Elvis. The aforementioned are never acknowledged.

The same, back in the day, when Pat Boone and Elvis were doing Cover Tunes of Black Music.

My Point of Contention, Music is Universal we all as a HUMAN RACE share in the Development and Success of Popular Music.

Kevin C.

"Hip hop music will not die, but it will eventually lose it's appeal to black youth. In which case they will create a different form that will take over the airwaves and offend the mainstream. Black youth created the blues, created jazz, created rock and roll, motown and reggae. All of these forms were challenging and foriegn to the white mainstream before they were embraced, subverted and blacks lost interest. Try to get a black high schooler to sit down and listed to Muddy Waters these days. Kids can't listen to the same music as their grandparents. I think its a law".

Berry Gordy, Founder of Motown would never be the LEGEND and Mogul he is if Motown hadn't Crossed Over.

Rap Music, had it not Crossed Over into Suburbia and other Cultures would not be the Force it is today.

Rap is Alive Only because its Making Money.

R & B, The Blues, Jazz, Doo Wop are still played, considered Alternative Music. No longer considered mainstream.

When LIFE IMITATE ART and White Communities are Plagued with DAILY, White On White Crime, Senseless Violence, Murders, and Nefarious Activity, that Plague Black Communities Rest Assured, THE MUSIC WILL STOP.

FYI, Children will listen to whatever they're Exposed. I expose my Children to All Forms of Music e.g. Jazz, Rock, R&B, Funk, Reggae, Blues, Surf Music, Doo Wop, etc.

"I can only point the way, Grasshopper. You must walk the path yourself."

Master Po / Kung Fu


DM

The Hostile Takeover of Corporate Identity

On Mar.07.2007 at 01:29 AM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

wtf

On Mar.07.2007 at 12:53 PM
Armin’s comment is:

The Nissan Ad is, at least, a lot classier than this, this and this.

On Mar.07.2007 at 05:11 PM
ghazi’s comment is:

wow.

go nissan. woo

it's a lot "nicer" now.

On Mar.07.2007 at 06:01 PM
AllanIW’s comment is:

I opened the pages of this and was pulled into the cool of the image. My eyes then happened across the Nissan logo. Back to the image. Back to the logo. Then back to the great spead to find anything remotely related to cars, Nissan or anything. Came up short... Nissan is a Japanese company, period. I agree with some of the comments refering to the relation between being cool and thus by extension linking the car brand Nissan with cool, and by further extension remembering this image of cool when you decide to buy a car. A little too abstract but be effective in car sales but its good enough to show the company's respect for the culture (in relation to youth) and recognition of their current celebration.

That said, does anyone know how I can find out exactly where in Shimokitazawa this barber shop is? I live in Japan and would like to get some corn rows. (seriously... and I'm black...lol). Been looking for a place and there's none in my area. I do plan to go up to Shimokitazawa soon so I thought this ad was timely in that respect as well.
If anyone knows how I can find this barbershop, please click my name and send me an email.

Shift__hair do.

On Mar.07.2007 at 07:39 PM
AllanIW’s comment is:

I opened the pages of this and was pulled into the cool of the image. My eyes then happened across the Nissan logo. Back to the image. Back to the logo. Then back to the great spead to find anything remotely related to cars, Nissan or anything. Came up short... Nissan is a Japanese company, period.
I agree with some of the comments refering to the relation between being cool and thus by extension linking the car brand Nissan with cool, and by further extension remembering this image of cool when you decide to buy a car. A little too abstract but be effective in car sales but its good enough to show the company's respect for the culture (in relation to youth) and recognition of their current celebration.

That said, does anyone know how I can find out exactly where in Shimokitazawa this barber shop is? I live in Japan and would like to get some corn rows. Been looking for a place and there's none in my area. I do plan to go up to Shimokitazawa soon so I thought this ad was timely in that respect as well.
If anyone knows how I can find this barbershop, please click my name and send me an email.

Shift__hair do.

On Mar.07.2007 at 07:42 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

My Comments were meant for Darryl C.
not Kevin C.

Kevin Hopp:

Care to Clarify your WTF in reference to my Commentary???!!!

Before you Do. Ask Around...

DM

The Hostile Takeover of Corporate Identity

On Mar.07.2007 at 09:21 PM
KevinHopp’s comment is:

Mr or Mrs Design Maven,

I thought your comments were posted here for everyone to share.

My startled response was to your random/off-subject but entertaing 'commentary'.

BTW, I didn't ask around because I don't know what to ask and who to ask. But moreover I'm really confused on why you would say something like that. Do tell.

Does the term grasshopper really come from TV DesignMaven, or are you just assuming that? I thought it was ancient stemming from Buddhist teachings.

On Mar.08.2007 at 07:05 PM
Jason A. Tselentis’s comment is:

DM : the Vibe ad appears inline with the post and can be viewed here. Sorry you missed it in the magazine, and in the written post, but it's available in all it's glory here for you to view.

We'd love to hear your direct take on the image, DM.

On Mar.08.2007 at 10:37 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

JT

Apologies for the late Response. I came over to Speak Up to see if anybody came up with similar Ideas to my Word it. Trying to pull a Rick Tharp!!!

Saw the additional post for this thread and decided to check it out.

Thanks for uploading the image on the thread.
I didn't check to links after I read your Editorial.

Nah, Doesn't bother.

There's more I could say, that would take more time.

I think I was Drifting in and out of sleep one night watching TV on the Computer not so long ago. I saw Asians wearing Gold Chains and acting Gangsta in a Commercial.

I thought it was Cool.

We have to remember once Culture Crosses over its there for everybody to embrace and par-take.

I wrote something on Design Observer not so long ago about Milton Glaser having Dinner at his former Founding Partners House Reynold Ruffins an African American. Uncle Milty was Eating Soul Food.

The story told to me by Reynold Ruffins Nephew.

Is it wrong for Milton Glaser a Jewish Gentleman to eat and enjoy Soul Food, when his diet is supposed to be Kosher???!!!

Thirty years ago Actress / Model Bo Derek made Corn Rows Popular among White America.

At the time, African American Women and Men were losing their jobs wearing Corn Rows in Corporate America.

Ever hear of DOCTOR DREAD???!!!

DOCTOR DREAD is a Record Producer and Concert Promoter. I knew him when I worked at WPFW in D.C., early 70's he was the Resident Expert on Reggae Music.

DOCTOR DREAD is a Rastafarian.

DOCTOR DREAD is also Caucasian. He's been wearing Dreads for over thirty years.

Nothing is Exclusive to ANYONE, RACE, CULTURE, or CREED.

Which is why I emphatically Stated, We All Share in the Culture.

I grew up a preteen listening to Hendrix, Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, etc.

Got heavy into ENO, and ROXY MUSIC.

I also listened to, Doo Wop, Pookie Hudson & The Spaniels, Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge, The Diamonds, Little Anthony & The Imperials, The Flamingos, etc.

I was also weaned on The British Envision, Herman Hermits, Dave Clark Five, Eric Burden, etc.

I loved The Mamas and The Popas, Peter Paul & Mary, Jefferson Airplane, Lovin Spoonful, The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean.

Don't get me Started on SURF MUSIC.

I was Raised on R & B, Temptations, Four Tops, The Supremes, Otis Redding, James Brown.

I was one of the First Punk Rockers, early seventies, I've seen, IGGY POP, THE GODFATHER OF PUNK, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, DEVO, The Damn, many others. I Befriended the Lead Singer of the The Damn Captain Sensible, who invited me and my crew as Guest to his concert, because we didn't have the money.

The Culture is there for everybody to EMBRACE that wishes to par-take.

Inasmuch as some people think African American's OWN HIP HOP Culture.

Rick Rubin A CAUCASIAN GENTLEMAN was Russell Simmons Partner and CO FOUNDED Def Jam.

Rick Rubin was a Fixture and Staple in HIP HOP from the Beginning.

The Same with The Beastie Boys, Third Base, and Vanilla Ice, many others to numerous to mention.

Yes, African Americans Poplurized the Culture of Hip Hop. Certainly, they Dominate as Artist.

The Demographics Clearly Show. White Americans are the Benefactors of Rap Music, R&B, Jazz, Blues, Doo Wop etc.

Caucasians had a Hand in Popularizing the Art Form from the Beginning.

If we look far enough, we can Trace a Rap Song back to Blondie, Deborah Harry which predate Russell Simmons.

Looking further we can trace Rap to The GODFATHER OF SOUL, James Brown.

Over thirty (30) years ago TOWER OF POWER made SONG Titled "What is Hip"? Tell me, tell me if you think you know.

Great Song, Thought Provoking, very appropo to this discussion.

Anybody interested should buy the song, not sure if its on itunes.

http://cgi.ebay.com/TOWER-OF-POWER-LIVE-IN-COLOR-WHAT-IS-HIP1989_W0QQitemZ110101697630QQcategoryZ307QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Wikipedia History

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_Of_Power

Kevin Hopp:

Just having some Fun.

Generally, I'm in my Bill Cosby Story Telling Mode.
I love taking the Scenic View.

Fifty years of Living, Dealing with many Cultures, and people of various backgrounds and Denominations.

Certain, the term Grasshopper was Popularized by the Television Sitcom Kung Fu.

Friends with some Buddhist for many years never heard the term used.

DM

The Hostile Takeover of Corporate Identity.


On Mar.15.2007 at 03:31 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

I love the Tower of Power too.

On Mar.15.2007 at 11:03 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Here's a 1979 photo of Bo Derek with Corn Rows from the Highly Successful Movie "10" Starring Dudley Moore and Julie Andrews.

The Title of this movie alone gave The World a new Colloquialism and Lingo.

Insert photo here

DM

The Hostile Takeover of Corporate Identity

On Mar.16.2007 at 10:20 AM
Kevin Hopp’s comment is:

Since I am too young to really appreciate Kung Fu. The first time I was introduced to it was in a Buddhist teachings and sayings book.

But I'm sure that people who use Grasshopper didn't read that same bed-side book I received as a present.

On Mar.19.2007 at 11:00 PM
Eugene Randolph Young’s comment is:

I guess I'm old fashioned in that I see the "Black Experience" as something lived by black people.

For me, going to the barbershop was always an important part of that experience. It's hard to put it into words, but you can learn a lot about a given neighborhood or even draw some conclusions about the state of American black culture after waiting an hour in a black barbershop and listening to people talk.

At the last black barbershop I went to, the owner offered me marijuana. My barber, a new guy in his 20s, started eating fried chicken in the middle of cutting my hair. He was just out of prison and stressed out over some drama with his girlfriend who kept calling the shop. The phone would ring and he'd pick it up, yell some vulgarity, then slam down the handpiece. He was so upset that his hands shook and he could barely hold the clippers. While this went on, I listened to one guy with is girlfriend and young son go on and on about how "all women is bitches," and I couldn't figure out if he was there to get a haircut or just hang out. When he dropped his baggie of weed on the floor on the way out to his car parked outside I figured he was there on business. That was around 1992 and I was in town on a weekend during one of my first years in college. And being in college naturally made me a target of ridicule. But in the spirit of supporting my bethren in the struggle, I went back a couple of times, until I eventually decided that this new scene just wasn't for me.

You see, Mr. Lyons up the street had retired. He'd been cutting my hair since my freshman year of high school. This man kept his shop clean, washed his hands, and treated everyone with respect. It was a family shop. Even the little ones he occasionally had to strap to the chair appreciated him. There was a definite code of conduct everyone understood but it really just came down to being patient and waiting your turn.

The barbers I remember going to to with my father when I was a child were professionals and gentlemen. The only fumes you had to worry about in their shops came from the cool fog of Afro Sheen they sprayed you with when they were done cutting your hair. Then he'd hit a lever and feel yourself slowly descend on an piston while he slowly turned you in the chair with a mirror in your hand. The apron came off with a snap, and they'd dust you off with that floppy talc brush. Everyone in the shop would tell you what a handsome young man you were. It was the mid-70s, and a time when pride, dignity, decorum and "lookin' clean" in a lot of ways defined the Black Experience for me. It would have been unimaginable for a room full of black men to tolerate another man calling the mother of his child a "bitch" in front of his child. It was okay to be cool without being a thug or a clown. There was no foul language or people dropping the n-word every few seconds. Sure, there was plenty of strangeness showing up in popular music at the time, but there was always a critcal mass of respectable, older men who kept all of us in touch with who we were and where we came from. Sometimes the barbershop was a sanctuary from the madness outside. Sure, there are plenty of young guys who can do a tight fade, but it's just not like it used to be where Iive. I miss the professionalism.

The problem is that ads like this one don't tell these stories. It's all about youth, trend, and fashion, not history or experience.

I wonder if there's a dying legacy of Japanese barbers who'd cringe at the image of someone talking on their cell phone while working on someone's head. I know that folks from my father's and grandfather's generation don't like the lack of respect and decorum expressed through hip-hop. It's considered shameful and embarassing.

I enjoyed the satire of "Tokyo Breakfast" because it shows an awareness of the social/cultural pathologies perpetuated through hip-hop that have already managed to take root black communities in this country. I wouldn't be surprised if those same pathologies have already made it into Japanese homes.

I studied a martial art with Asian roots for six years, but does bowing and wearing a gi necessarily give me the right to say that I've had a slice of the "Asian Experience"? What about my collection of Japanese robot models, the occasional night of karaoke, anime, or playing Street Fighter well into the night with a dorm room full of Asian engineering students.

I guess I take issue is with the wording more than anything else. It would make more sense to me if it read "The influence of hip-hop is everywhere," or something like that. The Black Experience? As my great aunt used to say, that's somethin' othuh else.

On Jul.03.2007 at 10:13 PM
Ghazaleh Etezal’s comment is:

I just wanted to share this with everyone:
http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0704/feature4/multimedia.html

On Jul.18.2007 at 02:31 PM
melissa parker’s comment is:

you people are absolute geniuses! i am in awe. however it makes me sad that yall argue brilliantly over the meaningless when collectively yall could do sooo much!

On Aug.21.2007 at 02:02 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

Melissa, come clean, what more could we do? I feel like getting your comment above is remarkable in and of itself. Thanks for sharing.

On Aug.21.2007 at 09:40 PM