Randall Rothenberg on Advertising and Peace Work

Interview by Larissa Simpson

Randall Rothenberg is the President and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the trade association for interactive marketing in the United States.  Previously, he was the technology and politics editor, advertising columnist and media and marketing reporter for the New York Times.

LS.  What is peace?

RR.  Peace is creating an environment  where people can feel and be nurtured. And in turn learn to nurture others.

That can be a family environment yet it can also be a professional environment, a work environment.

LS.  How can advertising promote peace work?

RR.  At least two ways.

One is directly because advertising can be very effective.  Not just in commercial causes. Also social causes.  Historically, we know that.

The power of things like War is Not Healthy For Children and Other Living Things.


War Is Not Healthy For Children and Other Living Things


Or the international Peace Sign.  Things like that.  It’s undeniable.

Perfect example of that kind of action that advertising people and designers and others can take.

Then there’s also indirectly. Yet importantly.  Advertising agencies and advertising people are mediators between the commercial sector, their clients, and the rest of the culture.  So they have an opportunity to influence their clients on behalf of the larger culture.

There’s many, many, many examples of that.

One is Warby Parker donating eyeglasses to impoverished countries based on a really novel internet based business system and a kind of a marketing idea.
There’s a great piece of research that the international Association of Advertisers unveiled this year.  Really large scale survey on the evolution of marketing organizations and marketing capabilities and thousands of marketing surveys.  To try to distinguish what’s the difference between a really successful marketing organization and successful companies, and those that are average or less successful.
And the number one differentiator they came up with was purpose.
It is not just the purpose of a successful selling or revenue generating company, but purpose, a local, social or geographical, environmental context.
And that that really acts as a catalyst for people inside the organization to go the extra mile.  Because they realize they’re working toward something that is larger than themselves, even larger than the organization.
So, clearly a role for advertising and driving that kind of positive social change.  And again, you’re in a job, you’re serving the client. But you can push. You can push.   When I think back to the 60s, the 1960s is a period known as the Creative Revolution in advertising.  Have you heard of that?
A fascinating period, when advertising went to being very creative and idea driven.  It’s also when advertising became interracial. Black people started showing up in ads with white people.




RR.  When I was a kid, my mother was very involved in the anti war movement, the anti Vietnam war movement.

I was very idealistic about that back then.  Then, I kind of grew out of that idealism.  When I went to college, which is mid to late 70s, that was the beginning-middle of the anti apartheid movement.

I became more of a realist.  Quote unquote.  Now, I’ve kind of come full-circle.

LS.  What changed your perception?

RR. I think it’s the realization looking back that positive change happened, and continues to happen.

That the collective will in action of passionate people can make things happen.

LS.  How does the internet play into it?

RR.  First of all, it’s a global connector. Knowledge is transferred from computer to computer.  This allows communities to self organize around ideas. So that they can find common cause with others.
It allows the ecretion of ideas upon ideas in such a way that it can create powerful frameworks.
There are countless small examples of this everywhere we turn.  From Barry Scheck’s Innocence Project, and getting information collected from across borders that has freed innocent people from Death Row.
I don’t think we can begin to count how it’s helped.
There’re bad people and bad ideas too.  That gets down to the idea of, do you think the world is fundamentally good or evil?

I believe it’s fundamentally good, so the internet allows more good things to happen than bad things.


Peace Beyond an Ideal–A Conversation with International Peace Advocate, Alyn Ware

Alyn Ware is on of the world’s most effective peace workers and I had I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him.  By Jillian Pacheco

Alyn hails from New Zealand.  Originally a kindergarten teacher, he became involved in international nuclear disarmament  to help make sure children have a safe future. He was involved in making New Zealand a nuclear free zone by banning nuclear weapons from the country and has drafted an international treaty to abolish nuclear weapons.

Where does peace begins?

I think that peace is multifaceted. You have peace personally within oneself, then you have interpersonal peace between you and your family, friends, children, co-workers, mates, etc, peace in our daily interactions, peace within a community and then you have national peace in the world.

For me all of those are a part of respecting others. And finding out how we resolve our differences and our conflicts in win-win ways.

How do we resolve conflict in a “win-win” way?

A “win-win” way of problem solving is one in which we are true to ourselves, but we’re also true to the other people.

If there’s one concept that Alyn can’t stress enough, it’s “militarism and violence is a dead-end game.”

Defending yourself with weapons is part of this whole destructive framework of thinking. Defending oneself against some enemy “out there” doesn’t help us grow, resolve the conflicts, learn about who that other person “out there” is. [defending with weapons is] partly based on fear, ignorance and on propaganda and feared ways of thinking.  When we’re told that [a specific group of people] is horrible it demonizes the other people and militarism enforces that.

When we start breaking that down we realize that we don’t need all of these weapons. When we start realizing that we’re all people we start finding that we can communicate with [each other].

Now we have the capacity to go find [and communicate with] people in other countries, religions and cultures through [platforms] such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc. or texting.


Do you think that the media aids in the glorification of military in America?

Absolutely. Entertainment media highlights violence so much.  On the one hand it’s because it’s very easy to show. There’s something very visual about violence.

Peace is much more of an interactive dynamic. I actually think it’s a disservice of our intelligence to think people watching movies don’t want to see that. People can see the results of positive relationships. When you think about it, most of the movies that get awards have personal stories that can help enrich our lives; they’re generally not the action “blow-up” violent movies. People do recognize the peace. We need to give people credit.

For more on Alyn Ware and the world future council visit http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/3604.html 

To read more about the danger of nuclear weapon testing and to sign the petition for a nuclear free world visit http://www.theatomproject.org/en/sign-the-petition/


Michael William-Paul – Fashion, Politics and A Modern Model Revolution

The emotion, the passion, the energy of Michael William-Paul’s photography challenges the human race, jolts our mind, daring us to expand our consciousness beyond the passivity of routine thought. By Jillian Pacheco

But do protests equivalent to the caliber of those that fueled the revolutionary movements of decades past really happen anymore? How many of us really consider taking to the streets to protest when we’re dissatisfied with something going on in America? It has become popular in our modern culture to indirectly vent our grievances, taking to outlets such as social media without much intent of actually contributing to a possible solution. Not to say that social media isn’t a sound platform (since it was played a very influential role in the early Arab uprising and many political movements that followed), but I believe it is equally important, especially amongst the younger generation, to able to take our concerns to the heart of the issue, beyond the computer screen and outwardly display our passion. We are the future of this country, and by standing for something we have the potential to greatly impact its evolution.

I came across The Protest, a powerful editorial by director and photographer Michael William Paul that coincides with this idea of modern revolution. The images that comprise The Protest depict strong, beautiful, young women involved in a striking protest. Michael William-Paul fuses the world of fashion and politics encompassing the pure essence of a twenty-first century protest and conveying a much deeper message.

Michael William-Paul, Photography

I caught up with Michael in New York City at his west side studio, MWP Studios, to pick his brain and find out what went into The Protest.

Where did the idea for the protest shoot come from? What was your inspiration?

Well ironically enough this production was done before the world broke out into protests and I had the idea well before that.  I had wanted to do some kind of fashion editorial protest shoot for many years…something that incorporated the drama and action of some of these clashes we have seen in history, at the same time not focusing on the revolutionary element as the center focus.  So I was more interested in something current, like  the contradiction of the peace and love image as they have just had enough a system breakdown.  This evolved when I started to look back at the WTO, IMF, G8, G20 and other types of civil/corporate clashes from the late 90’s and into the 2000’s. The economic crises in 2008-‘09 really gave way to a new rise in these demonstrations at a global level.  For many years I had been inside those meetings covering Heads of State and World Leaders so I wanted to tell the story about what was going on outside in the streets.

How did you decide upon the location?

It just so happened that the G20 was going to be in Toronto, a short hop from NYC, so this is where I decided to finally bring the concept to life.  Toronto is a city I know, with locations, crews, people, and a media that would surely get the town on their feet (and it did). Weeks before the production started the energy of anticipation had been so pre-meditated from the security chain fence wall that locked downtown, to the graffiti signs and early twitter posts foreshadowing the events to follow.

How did the energy at the actual protest affect you, your crew and the models? 

Well despite being well prepared, weeks of pre-production, prep meetings, even security (I used male models as Secret Service Agents)–he chuckles–you really don’t know what to expect. Once you hit the streets and you have some 20 thousand people out there, police everywhere in full riot gear it’s hard not to feel the endorphin’s kick in. It was exciting to say the least and important for me to stay focused.

Did the environment lend way to new ideas that hadn’t been planned or premeditated?  Meaning, did the shoot shift or change your vision once apart of the actual protest?

Good question, and actually not at all. In fact the vision just became real.  This image had been in my head for years and now, finally, it was happening.  David Anthony* once told me–and if you don’t know who he is look him up because his work is brilliant– “80% has to be been seen before, 20% is left for randomness”, Film maker Michael Mann says and I paraphrase, “being completely prepared allows us to make our own accidents.” When the tools of preparation are applied it really is a great thing to watch unfold.

I heard you received backlash from people in the crowd about fashion and politics having nothing to do with one another, how do you counter that argument?

Yes, this is indeed true, some of the more radical participants of the demonstration, who held an opposition to the police line we stood up against, also held opposition to our little cultural message. They shouted “Fashion has nothing to do with Politics” I thought this absurd and that any intelligent person would know the opposite and I need not reference the history of fashions influence precisely on the political. But it didn’t stop us from doing our job.

Why do you believe people want to see something like this?

Well different people want to see different things, but I would want to see this, and I love art that is of this variety, real, confrontational, passionate. I hope to create more of it; hopefully people will want to see that stuff also.

Why only Girls?

Actually my boys were dressed as secret service agents. They are in a few scenes which never got published, but are available online.  

Did you or anyone who was a part of the shoot experience any feelings of danger at any point?

I think the girls were probably the least scared, since it was a stage for them in a way, but I was more concerned for crew safety, I kept us back most of the time like a parent, the last thing I wanted was someone getting hurt by some crazy person or getting caught up in a stampede of tear gas and trampled.  We had many prep talks and security zones planned out, it was really the models that kept pushing forward, they were the brave ones.

What do you hope to inspire with this shoot, what do you want people to think about?

With all the media and world news since this, from the Occupy movements, Egypt and the Arab spring etc.  Our story was so well timed.  I sat on it for a half a year or more at my agent’s dismay, which is not like a fashion story that has to be out now because it becomes last weeks story fast.  I even held off through the Arab uprising, just releasing teasers and promos, then when occupy hit NYC streets, we were right on time.   The shoot has already been imitated many times by the very magazine that published it originally. In fact the editor made an entire edition based on this political genre, but in my opinion the momentum had passed. Looking back now, it sure was a great project to be part of.


Check out some images from Michael William-Paul’s Protest below.

View the full editorial here

Michael William-Paul, Photography

Michael William-Paul, Photogaphy

Universal Models for Peace Join NYC Clean Energy for a Night of Good Clean Fun

The Model Ambassador Program delivers invitations to small businesses in Tribeca to NYC Clean Energy party

As a member The Model Ambassador Program, with Universal Models for Peace, I had the pleasure of recently attending NYC Clean Energy’s party on October 22 hosted at Green Space in Soho. by Jillian Pacheco

The Model Ambassador Program (MAP), supported by Universal Models for Peace (UMP) is a hands-on initiative set on giving back on both a local and a global scale. The members of MAP can best be described as models on a humanitarian mission. Model Ambassadors help set up fundraising programs, campaign options and serve as role/spokes-models helping organizations, NGO’s and companies expand/build social value.

The Model Ambassador Program delivers invitations to small businesses in Tribeca to NYC Clean Energy party

Members of the Model Ambassador Program deliver invitations to small business owners in Tribeca

MAP, having recently partnered with NYC Clean Energy was represented amongst the high-energy crowd of Tribeca business owners at Green Space Tuesday evening. A live DJ was featured along with art from a variety of NYC based artists, including Guatemalan artist, Juan Carlos Pinto who makes portraits out of old metro-cards. Amongst delicious hors d’oeuvre and cocktails were some not so standard bar selections. The featured liqueur of the night was Prevú, organic sparkling liquor that blends vodka, cognac and berries.  The other featured cocktail was a “DIY” drink.  Yes, you read that correctly, a “DIY” drink. Guests were welcome to hop on a stationary blender bike and use pedal power to blend up their own slushy cocktail. If only all bike rides were as rewarding!

Amidst all of this excitement I was able to grab a word with NYC Clean Energy CEO and founder, Gene to ask him a few questions about what clean energy means to him and the future of our world.

So what attracted you to clean energy?

Gene explains his attraction to clean energy on a few different levels.

“The first level is, that there is a truth out there. And the truth is, climate change is real. No matter what you hear about the doubters and the media’s desire to create equivalency of all arguments, that’s just not a reality. If you speak to scientists, if you read the actual work, climate change is coming. I care about my children. I care about my children’s children. So if you can be involved in a business that motivates you from a financial an emotional and a spiritual perspective, it will make you jump up in the morning and go to work and build something, and want to create something. To me I feel that the clean energy space was something that I didn’t feel anyone was approaching from a good marketing perspective. “

Gene then goes on to explain what makes his approach different from all of the other clean energy companies out there.

 “They were these just very serious people, creating fear, making people scared. I don’t like fear. I like fun and optimism and if you can create an optimistic outlook and say don’t do it because you have to, do it because it’s fun, do it because it’s cool.”

Is it trendy?

 ”No trendy is a different word, I’m talking fun. I look at my kids, who are twelve and eight and they love what I’m doing and think, how could I not keep doing this?”

The New York based Robin Hood Foundation also inspires Gene. Their motto is, “Fight Poverty like a New Yorker.”

“My motto is, lets move to clean energy like a New Yorker, quickly and virally, using cool content.’”

Gene who has been in finance for 15 years also affirms that clean energy makes sense from a financial perspective. He looks to Germany and Denmark as exemplary leaders when it comes to wind energy conversion. Denmark is the world’s wind energy leader and Germany doesn’t fall far behind with their efforts to phase out nuclear power altogether.

When looking at wind energy on a nationwide scale Gene believes that it won’t be an easy feat “there will be bumps” he says, however, he’s optimistic that if we approach it from a long-term perspective we will be there within 5-10 years.

Where would you say New York City ranks in the nationwide movement towards clean energy?

“That question is driven by geography and feasibility. It’s important to look at what’s possible in certain areas. Some of the best options are solar options. Because New York City is an urban environment solar does not work as well until we get what’s called utility scale solar. Meaning entire farms of solar powered generators that feed into the grid.”

Gene believes that while New York is not an energy leader today, New York can become a leader very quickly. He attributes NYC’s potential to lead in wind energy to the viral connectivity of the city itself.

 Why target small businesses?

Gene has chosen to focus on converting small businesses to wind energy because he believes that they’ve been ignored in the clean energy movement. He has a particular fondness for small businesses due to his small business background. He has worked in business his whole life and enjoys talking with small business owners, addressing their concerns and their issues.

Why does clean energy resonate with small business owners?

 “It’s through our commonalities. They’re locally owned and operated and so are we. We are not a fortune 500 company coming out of Texas. We are a small local firm with a New York attitude.”

Gene then explains this sort of give and take relationship that small businesses have with one another,

 “We visit them, we eat there; that’s where we deploy our lives. They spend their knowledge with us and we spend our knowledge with them. That’s the way small businesses work.”

NYC Clean Energy began in Tribeca and they plan to eventually infiltrate businesses all over New York City. When the weather becomes nice enough Gene plans to deploy NYC Clean Energy representatives all over the city to talk to business owners about making the switch. Gene is a resident of Battery Park City himself and says he decided to focus on bringing clean energy to Tribeca first because he sees it as a place of forward thinking, a leading part of the city.

“They’ve led in other industries such as movies, with the Tribeca Film Festival, they’ve led in food with Taste of Tribeca, so why not energy?”

The Model Ambassadors of UMP hit the streets of Tribeca on Citi bikes a few weeks prior to the party to distribute invitations to small business owners, (many of which I recognized in the sea of attendees that night).

“There is no rule saying you can’t have fun in business,” Gene adds.

I let his words sink in a bit as I look back out over the gregarious crowd, mixing, mingling, laughing and pedaling away on the blender bikes. That’s true, I think to myself, witnessing the live proof.

Gene (Left) with fellow member of NYC Clean Energy (middle) and Greg Kelly of Good Day New York (Right)

Gene (Left) with fellow member of NYC Clean Energy (middle) and Greg Kelly of Good Day New York (Right)

Attendees power up the blender bikes

Attendees power up the blender bikes

Attendee checks out artist Juan Carlos Pinto's Metro Card portraits

For more on the Model Ambassador Program and/or NYC Clean Energy please visit