Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pepsi Program Targets African-American Moms

Pepsi is targeting a somewhat overlooked demographic—African-American moms—with a digital community where such consumers will be asked to share personal and inspirational thoughts.

The effort, promoted across various media with the tagline “We inspire,” will serve as the cornerstone of Pepsi’s African-American marketing outreach for 2010. Pepsi is aiming to build buzz for via Facebook and print ads, in Essence and Black Enterprise, featuring actress Taraji P. Henson reflecting on the love she has for her mother.

Pepsi has tapped other celebrities to share their thoughts on the site’s six tenants: Love, laughter, hope, joy, beauty and wisdom. The next ad will feature That’s So Raven’s Raven-SymonĂ© and then Queen Latifah. Singer Keyshia Cole is also featured on the site.

Beginning next month, 30-second TV ads featuring Symoné and Henson will begin appearing on BET. The RPM Group handles.

In February, Pepsi will begin promoting the site through its retail partners. The brand will distribute short magazines based on the site’s six themes as well as coupons. Pepsi is also mulling radio ads and is readying a “full court press online” next year, said Lauren Scott, senior manager of multicultural marketing for the brand.

Scott said the push is a natural offshoot of Pepsi’s overarching optimism message featured in its “Refresh Everything” push. “What we wanted to capture is the strength, joy and wisdom of the African-American market. Particularly in these tough times, this group can look around every day and find optimism,” she said.

Brand-specific women-targeted social networking and blogs are becoming fairly common as advertisers race to woo so-called “mommy bloggers.” General Mills, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are going after such bloggers with social networking efforts.

However, Pepsi’s push is one of the first that’s focused expressly at African-American mothers, industry watchers said. “There is room for this kind of inspirational network,” said Lynne Johnson, svp, social media at the Advertising Research Foundation. “There are no social networks aimed at African-American moms, at least from what I’ve seen.”

Mom Central Consulting’s Stacy DeBroff agreed that Pepsi is one of the few addressing the demo via social networking: “There are many Caucasian blogs. This one is unusual. The demographic may be extraordinarily grateful to get to know each other.”

Fans camped out for LeBron James' book signing

WESTLAKE, Ohio — Cleveland area fans have camped out in tents and sleeping bags for the chance to get LeBron James' autograph on his new book.

James is signing copies of "Shooting Stars" at a bookstore in the Cleveland area on Friday night. He'll be signing at a store near his hometown of Akron on Saturday.

In the Cleveland suburb of Westlake, the line began forming in the afternoon on Thursday. Fans were waiting for the store to open Friday morning, then getting wristbands to reserve a spot in line for the evening autograph session.

In "Shooting Stars," co-authored with Buzz Bissinger, James tells the story of his rise from a hoops prodigy to NBA superstar.

Speaker Pelosi is No Poster Child for Civility

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave what might be considered an Oscar-worthy performance by a “mis-speaker” of the house in her weekly press conference. Holding back “tears”, the Speaker expressed her “fears” that the peaceful protestors assembled in Washington this past weekend were reminders of the violence she experienced in San Francisco back in the 70’s.

This would be laughable if it weren’t coming from the Speaker of the House of the United States who repeatedly goes out of her way to lower the discourse by referring to Americans who don’t agree with her point of view as swastika carrying Nazi’s; who has no shame in saying the CIA, “…lies all the time…”and then refuses to support her claims; who constantly abuses the rules of the house to stifle dissent and cut off debate; and, who abuses her office and taxpayer dollars by taking junkets to the Europe without batting an eye.

The Speaker should stop playing political games and wake up to the fact the American people have grown tired of the gamesmanship and mistruths spewing out of the Speaker’s mouth. The American people wish Speaker Pelosi no bodily harm, they just want her to stop all the political shenanigans and start listening to the want the people want for a change.

Huckabee is tops in conservatives' straw vote

WASHINGTON — A straw vote suggests former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is a favorite among religious conservatives to be president in 2012.

That's according to a vote held Saturday at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington.

About one-third of the 1,800 registered attendees cast ballots indicating their preference among potential GOP candidates. Huckabee was tops with 28 percent of the vote, which the group calls a straw poll.

Four people tied for second, each with about 12 percent of the vote. They were Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

Those casting ballots also listed their top issues. They were abortion, protection of religious liberties, same-sex marriage and tax cuts.

Mayweather Hit with Lawsuit Before Big Fight

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is already bobbing and weaving -- and he doesn't even fight Juan Manuel Marquez until tonight.

Mayweather has been sued by a law firm in Las Vegas for allegedly not paying them for some legal real estate work.

They are suing for $10,000 -- plus interest and costs. Mayweather reportedly will make a minimum of $10,000,000 for tonight's fight, so 10k should be no sweat off his back.

Obama, Netanyahu, Abbas: New York

by Christi Parsons

Palestinian and Israeli leaders will sit down with President Obama on Tuesday while in New York for a meeting of the United Nations, a three-way meeting that the administration has been trying to broker for weeks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to a three-way meeting with the U.S. president, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs announced this afternoon in a written statement. Each leader will also meeti separately with Obama, according to the bulletin.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the scheduling of the meetings portended a full-scale resumption of Middle East peace negotiations. White House officials had avoided publicly laying out specific requirements for their participation in a trilateral meeting.

But in recent days, National Security Council sources have said they didn't want a "meeting for meeting's sake," and instead would insist on entering talks with some promise of progress.

For the administration to count the meetings as a success, the parties will have to emerge from them with plausible signs that negotiations are moving forward.

The written statement from the White House hit an optimistic note that that will happen.

"These meetings will continue the efforts of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so that they can succeed," Gibbs wrote.

Today's announcement follows weeks of talks among the Palestinian and Israeli leaders with Mitchell, Obama's special Middle East envoy dispatched to get negotiations going again.

"It is another sign of the president's deep commitment to comprehensive peace that he wants to personally engage at this juncture, as we continue our efforts to encourage all sides to take responsibility for peace and to create a positive context for the resumption of negotiations," Mitchell said in the statement.

Ex-aide says Edwards fathered mistress' child

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A man who once claimed to have fathered the child of John Edwards' mistress says in a book proposal the former presidential candidate is the real father and that Edwards and worked with his campaign finance chairman to hide that secret, according to a newspaper report published online Saturday.

The New York Times said the book proposal by former Edwards aide Andrew Young states he helped facilitate the affair between Edwards and Rielle Hunter. According to the newspaper, Young wrote that Edwards once told Hunter they would wed after Edwards' wife, who has cancer, died.

Edwards told Hunter that the ceremony would be held on a rooftop in New York and the Dave Matthews Bands would make an appearance, the newspaper said, citing its examination of the book proposal.

St. Martin's Press has said Young signed a book deal with the publisher in June and it involved a strict confidentiality agreement. A spokesman for the publisher did not immediately return a phone message and e-mail seeking comment Saturday.

Edwards has said the affair with Hunter ended in 2006. That year, Edwards' political action committee paid Hunter's video production firm $100,000 for work. Then the committee paid another $14,086 on April 1, 2007. The Edwards camp has said the latter payment from the PAC was exchanged for 100 hours of unused videotape Hunter shot.

The same day, the Edwards presidential campaign had injected $14,034.61 into the PAC for a "furniture purchase," according to federal election records.

Edwards, a U.S. senator representing North Carolina from 1998 until his vice presidential bid in 2004, acknowledged in May that federal investigators are looking into how he used campaign funds. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh has declined to confirm or deny an investigation.

Edwards adamantly denied during an interview with ABC News last summer that he had fathered a child with Hunter, and he welcomed a paternity test. His wife, Elizabeth, has said she doesn't know if her husband is the father.

Young said in 2007 he was the child's father. Hunter said around the same time that Young was the father and the birth certificate does not list a father's name.

Michael Critchley, Hunter's attorney, declined to comment Saturday. A lawyer for Young did not immediately return messages left at his office Saturday.

Joyce Fitzpatrick, a spokeswoman for Edwards and his attorney, Wade Smith, said that Edwards would not comment Saturday. Smith has said Edwards may make a statement at some point in the future about the paternity of Frances Quinn Hunter, who is 19-months old, but there was no timetable for that.

Young hasn't spoken publicly since saying he was the father in 2007 and has repeatedly ignored reporter requests for interviews.

Young got his last campaign paycheck in the middle of November, a month before he and Hunter publicly declared through attorneys that he was the father. Fred Baron, who was Edwards' national finance chairman and a wealthy Dallas-based trial attorney, said last year he quietly sent money to Hunter and to Young's family to resettle in California.

Baron, who died following complications from cancer just a few months after Edwards acknowledged the affair, said he provided the money on his own, to "help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to move forward on their own."

The New York Times said the book proposal states Edwards knew from the start that he was the father of the child and expended considerable effort trying to conceal that. The proposal says Edwards pleaded with Young to claim paternity and asked Baron to check whether a doctor would fake the results of a paternity test.

PepsiCo Vice Chairman Michael White to retire

PepsiCo Inc. on Saturday said Michael D. White will retire as vice chairman of the company and CEO of its International division after nearly 20 years at the world's second-largest soft drink maker.

White, 57, also will step down from the company's board when he retires within a few months. He joined the Purchase, N.Y., company in 1990 as vice president of planning for Frito-Lay North America and has been a director since 2006.

Zein Abdalla, who will become CEO of PepsiCo Europe, and Saad Abdul-Latif, who will become CEO of PepsiCo Asia, Middle East, Africa, have been tapped to assume White's duties.

In a statement, Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and CEO, said, "Close to a year ago, Mike shared with me his interest in eventually moving on to 'the next chapter' of his life. Since then we have been working together to ensure a smooth and orderly transition. Our current international structure reflects that planning, so we're well prepared for this change."

John Sicher, editor and publisher of the trade publication Beverage Digest, said news of White's planned departure came as little surprise.

"It had been rumored in the industry," he said. "I think Mike does want to run his own company someday. I think that as good as he is, PepsiCo will not miss a beat."

Nooyi, then the chief financial officer, was elevated to CEO in August 2006 ahead of White.

Asked why White may have been passed over earlier for the top job at PepsiCo, Sicher said, "It's not that he was passed over ... though Mike White is very talented, Indra was the likely successor" because "she's very smart, she's very strategic."

PepsiCo, second only to Coca-Cola Co. in soft drinks, credited White for developing its staff and spearheading "numerous" acquisitions, including the pending $7.8 billion deals to buy its two largest bottlers, Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas.

The company reported in July its second-quarter profit and sales dropped slightly as consumers continued limiting their purchases of soft drinks but bought more snacks as the company promoted larger bags of chips. PepsiCo brands include Frito-Lay chips and Quaker cereals as well as Gatorade and Tropicana drinks.

'Precious' snags audience choice award at TIFF

A raw film about an abused teen named Precious won the audience choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, stoking predictions that the harrowing, Oprah Winfrey-backed tale is Oscar-bound.

"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," snagged the coveted award at a luncheon that also named "Cairo Time," from Toronto director Ruba Nadda, the best Canadian feature.

The win for "Precious" follows a sensational debut earlier this year at Sundance, where the film claimed the grand jury and audience awards.

Piers Handling, co-director of the Toronto festival, said the movie's remarkable success is not unlike last year's surprise sensation, "Slumdog Millionaire".

"I think people want to see real stories about real people who are being tested in some kind of way and at the end of the day, hopefully, come out ahead of the game," said Handling. "As I think about it, it probably bears a lot of resemblance to last year's 'Slumdog Millionaire.'"

The film revolves around an obese teen who has been impregnated for the second time by her father, and stars Gabourey (Gabby) Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey. Tyler Perry and Winfrey serve as executive producers.

"Slumdog Millionaire," an indie film set in the slums of Mumbai, came from virtually nowhere to claim the audience choice award at the Toronto Film Fest and went on to sweep the big categories at the Oscars.

The People's Choice award includes a 15,000 Canadian dollar ($14,000) prize, which was accepted for "Precious" on behalf by Laurie May, co-president of production company Maple Pictures.

"So far, we're two for two," boasted May, referring to the two-time audience win.

Other prizes handed out Saturday included the award for best Canadian first feature film, which went to Quebec's Alexandre Franchi for "The Wild Hunt," set in the fantasy-reality of a large role-playing game. The award for best Canadian short film went to Pedro Pires for "Danse Macabre," which was based on a concept by Robert Lepage.

Nadda, who gets CA$30,000 ($28,000) as part of the best Canadian feature prize for "Cairo Time," said her film very nearly didn't get made.

She noted that roughly CA$1.5 million ($1.4 million) in funding fell through just two weeks before filming was to start in Egypt. She recalled getting the news from her producer saying the production, starring Patricia Clarkson and Tom McCamus, was dead.

"I went into shock and called him back and I was crying and I was like, `I'm begging you, I'm begging you, I'm begging you — please figure this out," recalled Nadda, who also wrote the screenplay.

In 48 hours, they were back on track with the help of Telefilm.

"This is why I feel like I've won the lottery, I really have," said Nadda, who has made 18 films, but makes her debut appearance at the fest with her tale about a married magazine editor who flirts with having an affair.

New award categories this year included a midnight madness prize, which went to Australian Sean Byrne's horror "The Loved Ones," and a people's choice award for documentary films, which went to "The Topp Twins" from Winnipeg's Leanne Pooley, about New Zealand lesbian country-and-western singers.

The awards wrapped up 10 days of movie madness that included more than 300 projects and megastars including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage.

Saturday's closing night film was to be "The Young Victoria" starring Emily Blunt and directed by Quebec's Jean-Marc Vallee, who helmed 2005's "C.R.A.Z.Y".

Obama to meet Middle East leaders

President Barack Obama will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Tuesday to try to relaunch peace talks.

Mr Obama will first hold separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the White House says.

The three men, who will be in New York for the UN General Assembly, will then hold joint discussions.

The move comes after US envoy George Mitchell's latest round of shuttle diplomacy ended without agreement.

The White House said the meetings next week would continue efforts by Mr Obama, Mr Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations".

Mr Mitchell said Mr Obama desire to personally engage at this juncture showed his "deep commitment to comprehensive peace".

Settlement dispute

The US envoy held a series of meetings with Mr Netanyahu last week in a fresh attempt at getting a deal on Jewish settlement activity.

He also went to the West Bank to talk to Mr Abbas.

Mr Mitchell was hoping for a consensus before all sides attend the UN General Assembly, but he returned to the US without reaching any agreement.

Mr Abbas and the US administration have been demanding a complete freeze on Israeli construction activity.

Mr Netanyahu had previously offered a temporary freeze for several months, but not in East Jerusalem or in cases where homes have already been approved.

He noted this week that there had been a slowdown in settlement construction, but that work would continue on 2,400 units currently being built.

On Saturday, both sides were reported as blaming each other for the lack of any agreement to resume the peace process following Mr Mitchell's visit.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yossi Levi said the Palestinian Authority was "preventing the resumption of the peace process by making conditions that it has not made in the past", AFP news agency said.

It was not reported which conditions he was referring to.

But Mr Abbas said Israel was to blame for not agreeing to a total freeze in settlement building.

"The road is now blocked," he told journalists in Cairo.

"There is no more work [for Mr Mitchell] with the Western or Palestinian sides because we are complying with all our duties.

"The focus has to be on the Israeli side."