Monday, November 13, 2006

Hey Mista...I'll throw ya something, but you gotta throw somethin' back...ya dig?

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, 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.

Sound exciting?

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 say a competent city council member. Mrs. out there? Ollie, Arnie...Where Y'at?


Anonymous said...

Aaah, New Orleans falls prey to Wag The Dog. So, it's going to be made into a media spectacle and televised, just so that people the nation over will "see" that NO is open for business. But, Nagin & Co. will not spend that city money un-shrinking Mardi Gras?

So, the bottom line is: attract new investors, not the existing clientele. Hmmm, that's logical, isn't it? There is one thing they forgot to take into consideration, however: When the existing folks leave NO because things just aren't the same and never will be and that our resources are being wasted on boondoggles. That says a lot to America and the world, too.

Anonymous said...

Excellent "regular programming".

Anonymous said...

OMG, this is horrendous. Having worked in film/video production for years (years ago, but things haven't changed that much), this is a total setup. And worse, the "coverage" of the "marketed" Mardi Gras will be just the worst possible---Superbowl without the football.

There will be tons of man on the street interviews, cut to either tug at the heartstrings of those who still care about us or cut to show that we're a buncha decadent drunks, or both.

Then there will be the "elitist" angle, while they show Queen of Rex gold gowns and play up the theatre of the balls. But no one, in the end will understand how all that came about.

Then of course, there will be shots of Bourbon Street, something just short of Girls Gone Wild, but titillating enough for some.

OMG. I could go on and on, but will spare you. I just know how these production brainstorming sessions go. They will be looking for visuals, period. Substance will be a happy by-product, if that.

This is gonna alternatly worry me and piss me off all day.

We gotta be able to do something about this.

Anonymous said...

OK, let's bombard the council with how this ain't kosher, and see if they do the right thing, or the typical thing.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Isn't there some kind of meeting at the Ashe' center this Thursday with three of the city council members?

Anyone have the info on that?

G Bitch said...

The meeting is TONIGHT: Ashe Cultural Ctr., 6:30 p.m. with Fielkow, Head and Thomas and the District B Coordinating council.

bayoustjohndavid said...

I remember two quotes of Nagin's, "there's big money in disasters" and "we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." Yeah, I'm taking out of context, but i think Nagin thought about his own words.

Anonymous said...

It's very wise advice to start contacting your councilman/woman about this type of activity. I can say that I'm in pretty close contact with mine and she has made mention that emails from people expressing concern and raising issues does actually matter to them, particularly in their efforts to get this inspector general/ethics review panel going. In addition, it was through a lot of emails regarding the Nagin trash pickup deal that has led more than one councilmember to ask more questions about this contract than they may have in the past. So contacting your representative by email DOES make a differnce. Please contact them as well as OT and Arnie about Ernest/Imagine/Nagin and demand that they hold these people accountable.

Anonymous said...

I'll pass this on to Stacy Head. I suspect that she'll be interested.

I forgot to check here yesterday. I woulda enjoyed bringing this up last night at Ashe. Not that Oliver gave anyone a straught answer.

Dambala: email me at I have something to pass on to you.

Anonymous said...

Any news from the meeting last night?

Anonymous said...

P.S. - Ernest Collins has recently been dubbed a new title at City Hall - something to do with marketing, perhaps tourism marketing. Stephanie Dupuy has taken over Mr. Collin's old position.

Interesting, no?

Anonymous said...

According to the Secy of State website, MediaBuys Productions, LLC has one named member, that being a fellow named Chick Ciccarelli, 11650 Riverside Drive, Ste. 4, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Does that name ring a bell?

Jason Brad Berry said..., the name doesn't ring any tell man. Who is this guy and how did he get into our swamp?

Anonymous said...

My name is Chick Ciccarelli and I'm the owner of MediaBuys, LLC. I just ran across your blog. You couldn't be more off-base in your assumptions. I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone has about our company and our relationship to New Orleans.

Anonymous said...

Ernest Collins?
Isn't he the guy who directed hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars to cox cable after Collings joined Nagin at City Hall? And doesn't he get a piece of that action? or is he a volunteer production manager at Cox? Sounds like a violation of the state code of ethics and smells like fish rotting in the July sun for weeks. . .

Haven't we had enough hare brained schemes, corrupt insider patronage dealing and incompetence?

Will someone please post a link to the Metro Crime Commission or Bureau of Government Research so we can all blow the whistle on this nonsense?

Anonymous said...

Aren't all the proposals as well as the RFP public record? Can somebody get them, maybe from a councilmember, so we can see what firms were turned down, who is connected and whether collins choice of media buys was wise, or even legal?