Archive for January, 2012

“Are Black History Month Ads Still Necessary in 2012?”

January 25, 2012

Every year around this time, the question of whether Black History Month is still relevant is asked.  But I’ve got a different question: Are Black History Month Ads still relevant? You know, the ads that fill your newspapers and magazines every February from corporate advertisers displaying, hopefully, how much they understand and support the African American consumer.

I’ve worked on more than a few of these ads in my nearly 20 year advertising career. When it’s done well*, Black History Month ads can be a powerful way to communicate a cultural sensitivity and commitment to recognize the contributions of African Americans.

Macy’s 2012 Black History Month creative*, featuring celebrated African-American artist Romare Bearden’s lithograph, The Lamp, is a beautiful example of when it’s done well. In 2009, Coca-Cola created a series of lovely Black History Month ads that delivered uplifting messages like “BE GIVING”, “BE DRIVEN”, “BE LEGENDARY” and “BE HEARD” along with powerful contemporary illustrations and original poetry. And McDonald’s has an initiative that strives to celebrate African American achievements and history all year long, called 365Black.

When Black History Month ads are done badly or awkwardly, the price can be deadly. Remember last year when the Los Angeles Clippers ran a Black History Month ad in the wrong month? Plus, the ad offered free admission to “underprivileged children”. The implication that the Black children attending the game are likely underprivileged is even more insulting. Also last year, Nissan North America’s multi-city Black History Month billboard campaign sparked controversy because the word “history” was crossed out and replaced with “future.” Nice try, but no. And take a look at the ad* below for Regions Bank featuring a B&W image of pioneer Dr. Charles Drew riding a bicycle with a young African American girl. Huh?

These efforts are clearly not meant to insult; what marketer intentionally angers their target audience? However, the number of missteps out there suggests that many brands don’t have experienced African American marketers on their teams.

So, what’s the verdict? Are Black History Month Ads still necessary or not? IMHO, all ads speaking to African Americans, whether they run in February or any time of the year, should be thoughtful, clever and based on insights that serve to connect the brand or product to the people in a meaningful way. And that’s always relevant.


In Lieu of a Gift…Billye Aaron uses 75th Birthday to make Students Dreams Come True

January 10, 2012

Billye Aaron, wife of MLB legend Hank Aaron, usually celebrates her birthday by hosting a soiree with the crème de la crème of corporate leaders, celebrities, athletes, and socialites. Every year dignitaries come from all around the country, and the world, to celebrate Mrs. Aaron’s birthday with her. But, this year Billye surprised everyone when she sent out the attached card:

Billye Aaron 75th Birthday Invite

While her friends were set to honor Billye, in true Aaron style she threw them a curveball.  She enlisted the help of Matlock to design a card that encouraged her friends

to cancel any plans they might be making to come celebrate her, but rather they should pull out their checkbooks and donate to the UNCF.

For those friends that donated, their names were listed in the program for the annual Atlanta Mayor’s Masked Ball, the UNCF’s signature fundraising event in Atlanta. More than 50 friends stepped up to the plate and responded to Mrs. Aaron’s challenge. Her goals were ambitious; she wanted to raise $250,000 to help students go to college. So far Mrs. Aaron has exceeded that goal and has since raised $300,000, and she is not stopping there. Mrs. Aaron now wants to raise $500,000 by the end

of 2012. If anyone is capable of achieving such an ambitious goal its will be the very spunky, determined, and unstoppable Mrs. Billye Aaron.

For more information on how you can donate to the Billye Suber Aaron UNCF Scholarship, please contact Marilyn Skrine at

Matlock celebrates the Holidays by Volunteering at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter

January 10, 2012

The team at Matlock was brimming with holiday cheer as we prepared for the gift giveaway for tots through teens at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter.  As a member of the board for the shelter, Matlock’s Brand Group Director & Vice President Pamela Bishop organized a day for the agency to work with the shelter to transform the their gym facility into a winter wonderland boutique where parents would have the opportunity to come through and “shop” for gifts for their  children. The shelter, created to guide homeless families to independence had seen a dramatic increase in need, which meant more volunteers than ever were needed to help make Christmas a magical day for the families.

Besides creating the feeling of Christmas throughout the gymnasium, the team also spent the day volunteering in the shelter’s daycare; rocking babies, playing tag, and singing nursery songs. The staff at the daycare encouraged the Matlock team to spread the word that there is always a need for volunteers in the shelter, especially the daycare.

For more information on how you can volunteer or make a donation to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter

Visit or call 404-892-3713.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kent Matlock featured in Atlanta Tribune Magazine’s 25 Anniversary Issue

January 10, 2012

Matlock CEO Kent Matlock was recently featured in Atlanta Tribune Magazine’s 25th anniversary edition of its printed publication. Kent, a longtime supporter of Atlanta Magazine also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Matlock Advertising & Public Relations agency. The publication featured the Who’s Who of Atlanta movers and shakers.