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RE ads already more inclusive, execs say.

Last week, the New York Times, the Open Housing Center and four individuals settled a lawsuit charging bias in residential advertisements that use live models. The Times pledged future ads would "convey a message of inclusiveness.

But, real estate advertising executives said the Times as well as other papers - like the Star Ledger, and the Bergen Record, have for some time been more strictly enforcing federal requirements on minority inclusion in advertising and stepping up their own criteria.

In one recent instance, according to Greg Pretorius who heads real estate advertising for Pace Advertising, the BergenRecordreceived complaints from readers and would no longer run a testimonial advertisement that Pace created for a client's "55 and over" adult community because the ad's statements were being made by only white residents. But, Pretorius said, there are no black residents.

"It's de facto," he said. "If you want us to put blacks in the ad, it's false advertising."

Lanny Lambert of Chavin Lambert Advertising said his company was asked by The Times to change an ad a few weeks ago because the paper objected to the doorman being a minority.

Over the past few years, said Peter Posner of Newmark Posner and Mitchell, developers, brokers and advertising executives have all become very aware of equal housing issues.

"I believe all us have made a strong efforts to reach the broad range of marketplaces, "he said.

But with smaller advertising budgets and virtually no new projects, ads using live models are few.

Ads today are touting more the "nuts and bolts" about a project rather than the lifestyle, said Lambert. "It doesn't really come into play as it used to," he said.

Live models in residential advertisements are not critical, said Posner. A property can be sold, he said, in a "direct and clear" way without them.

"You don't really need live models ... You're selling the product not the person," he said.

The suit, brought in 1989 by the Open Housing Center, Inc. and four black individuals, claimed that the Times violated the Fair Housing Act because residential ads used white models almost exclusively. A federal judge last week signed off on an agreement in which The Times consented to revise its Standards of Advertising Acceptability and real estate ads that do not conform to revised policy will not be acceptable. Basically, the human models used in real estate advertisements must reasonably represent majority and minority groups in the greater New York City metropolitan area.

The specifics of the policy will be published in the newspaper and in letters to advertisers. The paper and the Open Housing Center will co-sponsor a meeting with real estate advertising executives and developers.

The plaintiffs will also receive $150,000 and the Open Housing Center will receive a series of free advertisements, valued at $300,000. The paper will send a letter to other publishers asking them to require more integrated advertising and they will co-sponsor a meeting for the real estate advertising industry.

In the consent decree, The Times' answer to the complaint denies any fault or liability on the part of the paper, which has held throughout that the ads were created and submitted by third-party concerns. The Times' request to a federal appeals court earlier to dismiss the case on the grounds that they were protected from such suits by the constitution, however, was denied.

Sherman Boxer, president of Sherman AdvertisingAssociates, said: " Everyone is aware of the rules. We're just surprised the New York Times has been put intheposition of being the ombudsman."
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Title Annotation:newspapers adhere to federal requirements on minority inclusion in real estate advertisements
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 25, 1993
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