Giving Our Junk Mail a Second Chance
Like most journalists, we are fairly regularly inundated with PR materials for various products, services, and, especially, books. Like most journalists, we give these things a quick once-over, realize they have nothing to do with anything we ever write about, and promptly toss all the packing, and all of the press releases, and all of the accompanying background material, and the sturdy folder all that paper came in, into the trash — or, if we’re feeling responsible and industrious, into the recycling. Sometimes we hang on to the product itself, often we toss it on a free-stuff table, and occasionally we throw it out, too. Which we were about to do yesterday with a set of books that arrived unbidden and irrelevantly on our desk — until we noticed the titles: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Composting, Water, and Energy. At which point we laughed a little bit, and then we threw them out.
in other news
The Fight for the Red Cross: In Which We End Up Siding With the Multinational Conglomerate Over the Healthy Do-GoodersWhen we first came across this news in the Times, we immediately nominated it for our Chutzpa of the Year award: Johnson & Johnson has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to wrest the red-cross logo from the American Red Cross. What’s next, we wondered, DreamWorks suing Islam for exclusive use of a crescent moon? As we read on, however, we found ourselves involuntarily siding with the health-product giant over the disaster-relief nonprofit. Turns out J&J trademarked the logo before the American Red Cross was even chartered. And that the two had peacefully co-existed, like Apple Computer and the Beatles’ Apple Corps, under a deal that allowed the nonprofit use of the logo so long as they not step on each other’s toes. This meant that the health org wouldn’t go into retail (and that the conglomerate wouldn’t go solving health crises, we suppose).
‘B’ Battle Brews in Brooklyn
When the C-Town supermarket in Williamsburg wanted to freshen its look in an effort “to appeal to a neighborhood that is now more hip,” as manager Jose Cruz says, it rechristened itself Billy’s Marketplace and slapped on a high-design, retro-y logo. One little problem: The new logo looks suspiciously like Brooklyn Brewery’s insignia. “You would think they would understand you can’t just take someone’s logo,” said brewery president Steve Hindy, who points out that his version was created by legendary New York designer — and legendary New York designer — Milton Glaser. “It evokes the history of baseball in Brooklyn as well represents the new Brooklyn and the future,” Hindy said. A few weeks ago, the brewery sent a letter to Billy’s asking them to change their logo, but market manager Cruz doesn’t see what the big deal is. “They have a ‘B’ inside a circle, and we have a ‘B’ inside a square,” he explained. “Our ‘B’ is more of a typical old English ‘B.’ They’re different types of Bs. They’re not the same, aside from both having a B.” Um, yeah. —Shana Liebman
On Perry Street, the Death of Real-Estate Bling?Luxury-condo marketing went through the looking glass at a brokers’ breakfast this morning for 166 Perry Street, a new 24-loft, bumpy steel-and-glass condo set to rise just east of Richard Meier’s sleek towers in the far West Village. The building has private swimming pools for its penthouse duplexes and art-installation screens over the ground floor, but, interestingly, Corcoran Sunshine marketers are pushing it as, well, simple. “There’s an architecture-collector market,” marketer James Lansill told us in Jean-Georges’s Perry Street restaurant, which will deliver room service to the building. “It’s not about bling at all.” Oh, no. Not at all. —Alec Appelbaum
Paul McCartney Invades Starbucks!
Paul McCartney’s new album, Memory Almost Full, is the first on Starbucks’ new record label, Hear Music, and so to launch it today the java monolith has been playing the album nonstop at its 10,000 shops worldwide. How were people subjected to the music handling it? At the three Starbucks locations on Eighth Avenue between 16th and 23rd Streets — yup, three in seven blocks — the worker bees weren’t allowed to do interviews, and they didn’t want us to photograph or interview patrons. We did anyway.
in other news
Saatchi & Saatchi Loves New York, ‘Lovemarks’So Saatchi & Saatchi has landed the “I Love New York” account. And it seems the international ad firm (which takes credit for electing Margaret Thatcher and Boris Yeltsin, among other things) has a unique qualification for the job. Turns out Saatchi & Saatchi doesn’t do brands anymore — it does lovemarks. “Brands have run out of juice,” proclaims the first sentence on Lovemarks.com, a has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed site created by the firm to explain its mission. “Check out the Love/Respect Axis” — seriously, check it out — and learn “the hallmarks of a lovemark.” Those, it turns out, are “mystery, sensuality and intimacy.” And what is “I Love New York” if not the ultimate lovemark? It doesn’t get more intimate, sensual, or mysterious than a first-person-singular pronoun, a big red heart, and an abbreviation. Indeed, we’re so excited about Saatchi’s forthcoming campaign — nothing will be unveiled till winter 2008 — that we might just leave a lovemark right where we sit.
Lovemarks.com [Saatchi & Saatchi]
Cheerio! Loyalty and Mutiny at Saatchi & Saatchi [NYM]
PR Swag of the Week: Great Scot!
A New York colleague received in yesterday’s mail what at first seemed to be a standard-issue bit of flackery: a press kit for Tartan Week, which is apparently both “an annual celebration of the contribution millions of Scottish-Americans have made to our great nation” and, it seems, an attempt to boost tourism to Scotland. The package was about what you’d expect: a color-copied itinerary of Tartan Week events, ads for the week’s blue-chip sponsors — like Glenfiddich, Continental Airlines, and what appears to be the government of Scotland — and a brochure about visiting “the best small country in the world.” And then there was the woolen thong. Yes, a woolen thong. Complete with a cute little bow. Is it local garb? Who knows? But: Itchy. And, if it is, sort of undercuts the come-visit pitch, no?
in other news
NPR Discovers ‘Zack’Meet Zack. He’s young, he’s hip, he’s in the know, he’s got money to spend, and he just loves listening to National Public Radio. There’s only one drawback to the advertiser’s wet dream that is Zack, and it is that Zack is a figment of NPR staffers’ imagination. (Perhaps he lives next door to the Baileys?) He recently made his debut in a company memo, “NPR Zack: A New Space for Younger Listeners,” trumpeting new ways in which public radio can entice the slipping 25-to-44 demographic. Those ways, according to the memo, are, well, music and news. Except, you know, cool. Like, for instance, news will be delivered throughout the day by “newshounds.”
the morning line
• A seven-months-pregnant Brooklyn cop stands accused of covering up for her ex-con husband, who shot another (plainclothes) officer. We give it seven weeks until it’s a Law & Order plotline. [NYDN]
• Speaking of ripping things from the headlines, the speed with which the Law & Order machine has absorbed Adrienne Shelly’s murder is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way — even the actress playing her corpse. [NYT]
• With the U.N. building set for a $1.2 billion spruce-up, diplomats are looking for a temporary home; Bloomberg has scheduled a private talk with Condoleezza Rice about keeping the august institution in NYC for the time being. We suggest HoJo’s. [NYP]
• The 55-story Bank of America Tower at 42nd and Sixth is going to be the greenest building in town, with a 300-ton icebox for a cooling system and recyclable tap water (it will feed the sprinklers in the rooftop garden). If, you know, costs allow. [amNY]
• And the state is hiring marketers to fuck up, sorry, “invigorate” the iconic “I ♥ N.Y.” ad campaign. Because leaving good enough alone is just not the New York way. [WNBC]
Wal-Mart Claims Proof of Fired Marketing Veep’s AffairThe operatic battle between Wal-Mart and its fired senior vice-president of marketing communications, Julie Roehm — the juiciest Madison Avenue scandal in years, and the subject of an upcoming piece in New York — escalated today when Wal-Mart claimed it had “irrefutable and admissible evidence” that she had an affair with Sean Womack, a vice-president who reported to her.
“Julie Roehm didn’t tell the truth about the inappropriate relationship with one of her subordinates,” Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams said from London. “Despite these denials, Wal-Mart now has irrefutable and admissible evidence of the relationship” between Roehm and Womack. “I would not tell you this if we didn’t know it was true.” A romantic relationship between employees violates Wal-Mart policy. The company apparently decided to respond after Roehm filed a lawsuit seeking money she claimed Wal-Mart owed her. The suit also referred to “false and malicious” statements by Wal-Mart in the press.
the morning line
In Case You Haven’t Been Screwed Enough By the MTA…
• Wait, now there’s a $3.9 billion surplus?! Just weeks ago, the city was projected to be mere $2 billion in the black. Bloomberg warns that the city’s become “very dependent” on transfer taxes from huge real-estate deals. Whatever. We want free cabs for a week. [NYT]
• A “wacky” judge “ranted” “bizarrely” against a death-penalty case on his hands, preferring that the prosecutors shoot for life-in-prison instead. And that’s just the news story; you should see the epithets in the editorial. [NYDN]
• Today the massed forces of NYPD will once again do furious battle with the evil swarm otherwise known as hippies on bicycles: Critical Mass is coming to town. Interestingly, Brooklyn cops appeared far more supportive two weeks ago: Officers even rode alongside the cyclists. [amNY]
• The Post’s Andrea Peyser, having finally cracked, roams the floors of a Bed, Bath & Beyond waving photos of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Paris Hilton. It’s a “social experiment,” apparently. [NYP]
• And City Hall is about to, um, roll out official New York City condoms. “Memorable packaging” may include the iconic subway map. Is the mayor getting frisky with the budget surplus already? [AP]
the morning line
Lurid, Infected, Leering
• A gruesome murder-suicide in Brooklyn left four dead and almost redefines “lurid.” Investigators believe an ex-con bludgeoned to death his girlfriend (who was also his half-sister), killed her two children, then overdosed on the scene. [WNBC]
• A former NY1 reporter says she was sexually harassed at work and fired for complaining about it. Among other things, a colleague Photoshopped giant breasts on her photo, which apparently passes for a joke at NY1. [NYP]
• E. coli is here! The first registered NYC patient (who has already recovered) is a Staten Islander who got the bug, like the other 60 victims, by eating at a local Taco Bell. [amNY]
• The Daily News is shocked to learn that about 70 percent of recent subway graffiti has been made by European kids looking for an “authentic” NYC experience. Next they’ll tell us those guys on Astor Place are not real punks. [NYDN]
• And the Times ponders the rise of “experiential marketing” in Times Square, wherein companies do something moderately freaky and hope tourists will photograph it and/or blog about it. Here at Daily Intel, we would never fall for such gimmicks. [NYT]
the morning line
Goya, Oh, Boy-a!
• The female victim of yesterday’s strange shooting died. The attacked couple, who share a cul-de-sac with the Clintons in Chappaqua, were supposedly run off the road in an ambush. The husband, a disbarred lawyer, is in the hospital; cops are finding his account of the events somewhat odd; and we’re getting a queasy feeling that we’ll be returning to this story quite a bit. [WNBC]
• Good news: New York State’s top court has green-lighted an almost $2 billion increase in funding for New York City’s schools. Bad news: Lower courts had ruled the city deserved $4.7 billion. Squaring the ruling with campaign pledges to boost funding much further is Spitzer’s first homework assignment. [NYT]
• Now that Citigroup is paying the Mets $20 million a year to call the new ballpark Citi Field, the MTA wants in. The Daily News reports that the authority is in talks with the Citi people about renaming the closest subway stop. In other news, meet our new cat Citi. We prefer cash. [NYDN]
• Not sure whether Michael Richards’s appalling comedy-club outburst was our territory — he is, after all, only a fictional New Yorker — but am New York made him a cover story today, so there you go: TV’s Kramer is a racist and sucks at shutting down hecklers. Also, he was weird on Letterman. Video, etc. Blech. [amNY]
• The stolen Goya is back! The FBI recovered 1778’s Children With a Cart, stolen two weeks ago in Pennsylvania, after a New Jersey man recognized the painting “from media coverage.” And not just because it was, you know, a Goya. In New Jersey. [NYP]
Soup Is Good ArtAs if last week wasn’t big enough for Andy Warhol — the late Pop artist’s works pulled in more than $88 million at auction, including that Mao silk screen that went for a record $17.4 million — on Friday he also got a brand-new tchotchke. Barneys will this year be celebrating a “Warhol-iday” season, including just-unveiled Christmas windows at its Madison Avenue flagship rife with Warhol-inspired paraphernalia featuring, more ironically — limited-edition Campbell’s Soup Cans all dolled up with bright Warhol-esque labels. Stop for a moment to savor the double-reverse appropriation going on here (as Warhol himself no doubt would have): He famously made art by faithfully reproducing the iconic soup cans on canvas, and the soupmaker is now putting his art back onto the cans. Campbell’s has an ongoing relationship with the Andy Warhol foundation, according to a company spokesman, with gift-shop kitsch like plates and scarves already on the market. These new cans — containing actual, real, good-ol’-fashioned tomato soup — will be available exclusively at Barneys stores nationwide (and online). At $12 a pop, we’re sure it’ll be delicious.
— Rachel Wolff