Ok, since I don't have my laptop I can't add any funny image to this post. Maybe I'll edit it in later, but it's too important to wait.
Remember before Mardi Gras last year when Nagin announced in the 11th hour that he was hiring an L.A. based advertising firm to promote Mardi Gras and sell sponsorships? The firm, MediaBuys, met with little success other than negotiating a sponsorship with Glad Products Company, the trash bag maker. I think they donated thousands of trash bags to the city for Mardi Gras clean up....er...thanks, I suppose we needed that.
Well...turns out one of our favorite snakes, Ernest Collins, and Numnuts Nagin thought MediaBuys did such a great job last year they've decide to bring them back for the sequel in 2007. Only this time the vision is much grander.
MediaBuys released a press release a couple of days ago...I won't bore you with the entire thing but here's the first paragraph:
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 10 -- The City of New Orleans announces significant advertiser enhancements for the 2007 New Orleans Mardi Gras Sponsorship & Support Program. Building on the 2006 program, new packages include an original TV special with a celebrity lineup, increased media exposure and a host of local event and hospitality incentives. Proceeds from the program will be directed to the city to be used for police and fire protection, emergency services and sanitation. MediaBuys LLC, the city's agency-of-record, will once again coordinate the effort.
The city's agency-of-record? hmmmm. Let's back up and examine this from a larger scale.
The city has two permanent and well funded organizations to promote tourism...NOTMC - New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation and the CVB - New Orleans Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Before the storm, the entities each had separate agendas...the CVB was focused on attracting conventions while NOTMC was focused on attracting the leisure market. While they quite often overlapped in their mission statements, they maintained a pretty good relationship and have done a rather good job at their respective assigned goals.
Each entity utilizes the talents of local advertising and PR firms. The CVB contracts Trumpet Advertising and NOTMC utilizes Peter A. Mayer Advertising. They are both talented and competent companies and have done a lot to promote tourism in the city.
Now, the mayor also has his own Department of Culture, Arts, and Tourism...the responsibilities of this department have always been rather vague and AZ has posted quite a few questionable if not illegal machinations revolving around the department's director, Ernest "Shake 'em Down" Collins.
In the Post-K "fight for your life, fight for your budget" world, the lines have begun to blur between the mission statements of these three entities. This provides an excellent opportunity for Ernesto and Nagin to expand their efforts and spend the city's money as they see fit, without having to yield to the two designated tourism entities who each have regulatory boards they must answer to in regards to how money is spent and if it's being spent wisely.
Collins only answers to Nagin...hence The Ray Nagin Traveling Picture Road Show which spent the city's cash to take a photo essay of the bald jackass to New York.
So having put all this in context...let's take a look at another paragraph in this press release:
Another milestone in the carnival's legacy will be staked when behind-the-scenes footage of the entire 2007 festival, taped over its two-week duration, will be wrapped around a live concert and televised nationally as a whole by early March. The two-hour special, a focus on the history, music, food and parades and starring a bill of A-list celebrity artists, will be the first broadcast of New Orleans Mardi Gras ever to a nationwide audience on a major television network. MediaBuys Productions LLC, a newly minted, New Orleans-based MediaBuys offshoot, will manage production of the television special and ensure that the majority of production-related expenditures are kept local. Network partner and talent lineup are to be announced later this month.
Hmmmm....a televised spectacle. That's gonna take lot's o' cash to produce. I wonder who MediaBuys will contract to do all this?
Let's look at this sentence a little closer and see if we can read between the lines:
MediaBuys Productions LLC, a newly minted, New Orleans-based MediaBuys offshoot, will manage production of the television special and ensure that the majority of production-related expenditures are kept local.
In case you don't remember the background info. I gave you on Collins in previous posts...he was the former director for the TV production department at Cox...the Same company of which Nagin was the former CEO before being elected to office. Well, mysteriously enough, he is still directing Cox's production crew while simultaneously holding a public office.
So I wonder who's gonna get the production contract for this televised gala? Do you see the ouroboros? The snake eating it's own tail?
Collins' office decides to hire an independent advertising firm to promote Mardi Gras, overlooking two public entities whose expertise it is to market the city, while also ignoring highly competent local advertising firms like Peter Mayer, Trumpet, Zender, etc. in order to hire a mysterious L.A. firm who as far as I can tell...had no direct link to our city before being tapped by the mayor's office. Now they are setting up a new division of their company in NOLA...MediaBuys Productions, which currently has only one job....Mardi Gras.
Funny how they had never had a need for a production branch before this account and funny how they're hiring "locals" to do all the production work...doesn't that just make you feel good about the whole thing? Oh well, they may be pissing away a shitload of the city's money marketing a tradition they know little to nothing about, but at least they're hiring locals.
In case you still can't read between the lines...these guys were probably hired under the premise that they "play ball". So the high curve Collins threw them was that upon getting the contract, "We want to do this huge television spectacle...and oh yeah, we've got a local television production crew who YOU WILL HIRE to do it."
This whole scenario is once again...just fucking pathetic. If the city decided to take it upon themselves to market Mardi Gras...I want to know why the contract wasn't put out for RFP, and more importantly why it wasn't given to a local firm who actually understands carnival and it's nuances. The bigger question is actually why the fluck they took it upon themselves in the first place when we have two perfectly capable entities who know a thousand times more about marketing the city than this unknown company from L.A.
I'll bet my top hat, tails, and the grave I sleep in that Ernest and Cox get the contract to shoot this whole thing...I'm sure its written in tombstone.
This is something that is going down right now. I can only hope someone will scuttle this whole thing before it happens...like say a competent city council member. Mrs. Head...you out there? Ollie, Arnie...Where Y'at?