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He’s Got Game

a shout out for Black professionals in the advertising business

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OOH …Here’s One Thing

by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company

Okay, so it’s Black History Month.

Ya I get it…in our industry, opening like that is like touching the third rail.  Especially coming from a wonderbread like myself.  So why the kamikaze Johnsen?  Well for a couple reasons.  First because it’s temporal.  Why can’t we all celebrate Black History Month and feel good about it, without shying away from it for feeling it’s just crumbs for the under-represented or as a white guy like I have no business misappropriating it for me and my own whitewashing?

Perhaps that’s the problem these days.  We are all labeled as either radical racist (or reverse racist depending on our color) or we are considered too superficial and self-serving to (again in both directions) to be real brothers.  I have no right, nor any proof that racial tension has gotten worse in my lifetime, but it sure as shit feels like it.  What I can confirm is for the first 10 years of my life I grew up across the street from New Cassel NY (~50% Black New Cassel, New York – Wikipedia) and we crossed the street and played pick up football, baseball, kickball, ringolevio and a bunch of other games without a second thought.  One of my best friends in college was Black.  No one else ever referred to him as my “black” friend.

“If you seek then you shall find that we all come from the Divine
You dig what I’m sayin? Now if you take heed to the words of wisdom
That are written on the walls of life then universally we will stand
And divided we will fall ’cause love conquers all
You understand what I’m sayin’?”

Public Enemy


Btw, great interview with Bonnie Raitt and then Chuck D of Public Enemy (2fer) here:

A Conversation with Bonnie Raitt, Plus Public Enemy’s Chuck D | The New Yorker Radio Hour | WNYC Studios

Before I lead you to believe that I’ve got it all figured out, I will say that I am as much a hypocrite as the next guy.  I now live in a town that has half a Black family (yes you heard that right), a few Hispanics and a few Asians.  Did I choose to live here?  As they say in Minnesota, you betcha.  What’s the answer to the problem?  No idea.  But I will say that Paul Gartland turned me on to the book More Than a Dream: The Cristo Rey Story: How One School’s Vision Is Changing the World: Kearney, G. R.: 9780829425765: Amazon.com: Books.  At the risk of again misappropriating, his brother is one of the founders.  I do know that that is a significant part of the answer.

Wow, brainfart, I sailed way off course.  My apologies.  What I really wanted to do this morning was to see if anyone had a shout out for Black professionals in the advertising business who have made a difference.  I’ll kick it off.  I had the great fortune to meet and spend some time with Bob Wingo in the not too distant past.  The people that make it happen. — Sanders\Wingo (sanderswingo.com)  He is a living legend.

Please send ALL of your honorable mentions my way.  Would love to run some profiles at the end of the month.  Here’s hoping for a color blind world.

Wishing you all good Superbowl.

  1. If you didn’t know why February is Black History Month, you have just been informed. Congress passed the amendment 119 to 56 on Jan. 31, 1865, just above the two-thirds majority necessary to pass it.  Question is, who the hell voted against it!

pss, not our finest moment:

Cornbread, Just They Way You Like It · Race & Ethnicity in Advertising | America in the 20th Century (raceandethnicity.org)

Photo from Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, Duke University














Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC
Johnsen, Fretty and Co. is an advertiser with OOH Today.


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