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Diversity

Nintendo Responds to Petition Asking for Reinstatement of Same-Sex Relationships in ‘Tomodachi Life’ Game

Nintendo Strikes Down Gay Marriage Requests for Tomodachi Life - IGNJust weeks before Nintendo plans to release its life-simulation game Tomodachi Life in western markets, it has patched out a “bug” that allowed — as the company put it — “strange relationships,” AKA same-sex romances between characters. The decision has sparked an increasingly-popular online petition called Miiquality, which is asking Nintendo to reverse its actions.

Tye Marini, the 23-year-old Nintendo fan from Mesa, Arizona, who launched the campaign last month, said of his hopes for the 3DS game, “I want to be able to marry my real-life fiancé’s Mii, but I can’t do that…My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiancé’s Mii, or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it.”

In response to the petition and growing controversy, Nintendo released a statement, saying:

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The NAACP Takes a PR Hit In The Donald Sterling Debacle

adam silverCommissioner Adam Silver was everyone’s hero on Tuesday when he announced that Donald Sterling would be banned for life from the NBA after the league confirmed that was in fact his voice on a recording filled with racist and sexist remarks. (Was there ever any doubt?)

Not only that, Sterling has to hand over $2.5 million for charity — not much for a billionaire, but it’s the principal — and Silver says he’s going to press to get the LA Clippers sold to a different owner. Not only did Silver call the comments “offensive,” but he said they were “harmful,” which connotes something deeper, more serious and more corrosive.  Boom. Boom. Boom.

While he and the league are being given credit for handling the situation swiftly and effectively (well, by almost everyone), there have been a lot of questions about how the NAACP could have seen fit to give Sterling not one, but two lifetime achievement awards. The second one was meant to be handed out next month at the organization’s annual convention, but was rescinded on Monday. Even then, the LA chapter’s president Leon Jenkins said there is “room to forgive.”

It looks as though the NBA has been much tougher on Sterling than the NAACP has. And some are saying that it could be because Sterling donated money and Clippers tickets to the organization.

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Avril Lavigne Responds to ‘Hello Kitty’ Critics and Cries of ‘Racism’

Avril Lavigne (who apparently still exists) is taking some serious flack for her new video “Hello Kitty.”

Since the video first appeared on YouTube this past Tuesday (it has since been taken down and re-posted), shaming, angry tweets have abounded, and even the experts haven’t been sure what to make of it — the general consensus seems to be that it might be racist (pandering at best), and it’s definitely terrible.

Billboard magazine’s Jason Lipshutz called the video “an embarrassment in any language,” and Entertainment Weekly‘s Darren Frenich said, “There are serious questions about whether it’s offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious (this one’s for you, large Japanese fanbase!).” Read more

Miss America Defends Student Suspended for Asking Her to Prom

Miss NYLast Thursday, the current Miss America, Nina Davuluri, was set to visit Pennsylvania’s Central York High School. Her purpose, as the first-ever Miss America of Indian descent, was to spread a message of diversity.

But student Patrick Farves had a different purpose in mind, and planned on utilizing the beauty queen’s presence at his school’s assembly to secure himself the holy grail of all prom dates — Miss America herself.

When administrators heard rumors of Farves’ plan, they warned him not to follow through with what would undoubtedly be a major disruption, but by that time, as Farves’ told Reuters, “my mind was already set. I was already in the zone.”

During the assembly, Farves, plastic flower in hand, approached Ms. Davuluri and asked her to be his date to prom, after which the crowd of students dissolved into laughter and cheers. The school’s administration, however, was less than amused and assigned Farves a three-day suspension. Read more

Oxygen’s New Lineup Is Tailored for the Young, Multicultural Female Viewer

chasing mariaOxygen, a network that has always geared its programming towards female viewers, is now going to zero in even more closely on the millennial, multicultural woman with new shows that include a nail art competition, Nail’d It!, that will culminate in a $100,000 prize; Sisterhood of Hip Hop, a reality show revolving around five female hip hop artists in the making; and Living Different, a show that will focus on women living “alternative” lifestyles.

At the network’s upfront, Frances Berwick, president of Bravo and Oxygen Media, said, “African-American and Hispanic and Asian-American and white” women are longing to see themselves better “reflected” on television. This lineup seeks to fulfill that viewer wish.

But more than that, Oxygen is trying to make a statement about its brand. Unlike other reality shows — like those on Vh1 and the shows that are part of the Real Housewives franchise — these shows focus on a more positive outlook on female relationships. So we should expect a lot less shrieking, backstabbing, and finger pointing for a change of pace.

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STUDY: Is PR’s Focus on Digital Media Detrimental to Brand Storytelling?

BPR Infographic V5 - Stories-without-borders-infographic.pdfTurns out, while managing to cram powerful, sharable, effective brand messages into 140 characters is an undeniably valuable skill, PR’s focus on digital media might be drawing vital attention away from effective storytelling.

This is according to a recent report by Berkeley 360, titled Stories Without Borders—International PR in an Evolving Media World, which explores current research and trends to discover how the global media landscape is shifting, and what that means for PR. The report states that, “the media in most countries has been transformed by digital technology, but success lies in the story, not the delivery.”

As a press release about the study explains that while boundaries are disappearing between print and digital media, between online, social and mobile channels, and between brands and their customers, the world remains a culturally, linguistically and geographically heterogeneous place—and brands and PR professionals forget this at their peril.

While social media networks remain a great way to build and engage local communities and are essential ingredients for successful PR, research shows that over half of the world’s population reads a daily newspaper, and trade publications remain the best way to influence senior decision makers. In other words: the press release is not dead, and people still want to hear a meaningful, engaging, and full-length story about the brands and companies they interact with. Read more

Apple Promises More Diversity in Its Emoji Department

iOS-Emoticon-300x300In case you thought MTV had lost its cultural influence, think again. This week Apple’s communications department agreed with the youth network and its unofficial spokesperson Miley Cyrus: the emoji family needs to diversify.

Inspired by Baby Daddy star Tahj Mowry’s Twitter lament over the lack of explicitly African-American emojis, MTV’s Joey Parker emailed CEO Tim Scott about the issue and got a response from the top of the PR team. Worldwide corp comms VP Kate Cotton wrote:

“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.”

No word on how or when this change will come about, but we just know that it will be a generation ahead of us.

While we admire Apple’s responsiveness and its desire to better serve its incredibly diverse fan base, we have a few emoji questions of our own…

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Felons Create Powerful Brand Campaigns and PSAs through ‘Concepting with Convicts’

A good idea can come from anywhere.

That was the revelation that led two interns at DigitasLBi in San Francisco to utilize the prison pen pal system to startConcepting with Convicts,” a project that helps convicted felons tap into their creativity by designing campaigns for major brands and PSAs.

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Inspired by powerful pieces of art made by felons, Ben Pfutzenreuter and Pat Davis, with the help Marcus Lof, sent hundreds of emails through prison pen pal websites seeking people who might be interested in the project. “We realized that if we could contact convicts themselves, maybe we could also show them that their creative talents can translate into a real career on the outside,” Davis told PSFK.

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Making Diversity in PR a Reality: Ellen Walthour, Executive Director of the BrandLab

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We’ve posted a few times on diversity in PR in recent weeks, and so far the most interesting conversation we had on the topic was with Ellen Walthour, executive director of Twin Cities-based project the BrandLab.

Could you give us a little history of the BrandLab?

We’re pretty young; we started in 2007 and launched as a 501(c) in 2008, so we’re a standard nonprofit. In 2009 we really began tracking students. We have kids graduating from college this spring who went through the program, and while those numbers are small, they’re going to grow.

Each year we’ve grown in terms of both participants and partners. PR firms are also involved, particularly PadillaCRT and Weber Shandwick.

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Graham Cracker Company Attests That All Love Is ‘Wholesome’ in Diverse New Ad

Well, the people who (inexplicably) freaked out about the Cheerios ad featuring a multiracial family a few months back are about to blow their stacks. This new commercial from Honey Maid sends the clear message that nothing’s more wholesome than the love of a family — no matter what that family might look like.

The genuinely heartwarming spot features families of all kinds — multiracial, single-parent, same-sex — all enjoying the two most wholesome things in the world–love and, of course, graham crackers. If not done just right, squeezing all of this sweetness and diversity into a 30-second spot for a snack could easily have come across as heavy handed or pandering, yet it doesn’t, and we’re willing to bet that’s due in large part to the fact that the people cast in the ad are real families, not actors, and so the love is palpable.

The company also released a few short documentary-style videos (after the jump) introducing these families and their stories in greater depth, furthering its message that it’s love, not demographics, that makes a family.

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