Fight Fright

November 24, 2004
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Anyone who caught the brawl that tarnished the NBA’s reputation and damaged a pair of franchises, the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, most likely was sickened by what they saw live and on endless sports show replays.

But now comes something even worse: Blatant attempts to profit from the fiasco. No, we’re not talking about lawsuits among players, fans, teams, etc., although those are likely in the offing. What follows might be even worse.

C I Host, a Texas-based, self-anointed global leader in Web hosting and software development, is offering to pay $10,000 to the first person — player or fan who took or threw a punch captured in TV news coverage — who will permanently tattoo the company’s logo on their fist.

“We do not condone or support this type of behavior under any circumstances,” said ChristopherFaulkner, CEO of C I Host. “But chances are these people will be on camera again — at one point or another — so let’s see if they want to launch a marketing career. Of course, they will have to prove they were in the fray.”

Lest anyone think Faulkner’s just blowing smoke, it should be mentioned that his firm has a track record of guerilla marketing tactics.

C I Host was the first company to advertise on the trunks of a heavyweight prizefighter, embroidering its logo on the waistband of EvanderHolyfield in 1999. The company also boasts of such stunts as The Human Billboard, in which it claims that it paid $7,000 to an “entrepreneur” on eBay who was willing to wear a tattoo of the company’s logo on the back of his shaved head for five years. Faulkner said that stunt has directly led to 800 new accounts.

“You might say we are all about ‘top of mind’ awareness,” he said. “If we can get some tattooed fists spreading our brand, that should add a little punch to our guerilla marketing.”

Unfortunately, some yahoo out there will take Faulkner up on his offer and actually feel good about it. Hopefully, that person isn’t Pacers forward RonArtest, who must be looking for ways to replace his more than $5 million income following the season-long suspension handed down by the NBA.

  • From crass to class: The best restaurant in the state is right here in Grand Rapids

For the third consecutive year, AAA Michigan has awarded The Amway Grand Plaza’s The 1913 Room its five-diamond rating, the only Michigan restaurant to earn the industry’s highest honor. Only 57 restaurants in North America received that honor.

“The 1913 Room is the crème de la crème,” said LindaWoolwine, president and COO of AAA Michigan. “Both management and staff have worked hard to create a truly memorable dining experience, and they deserve special recognition for continuing to meet such high standards.”

  • He may be on his way out, but he certainly won’t be forgotten. Former mayor JohnLogie is leaving the Parking Commission and Convention and Arena Authority boards at the end of the year, presumably to retire to a life out of the public eye (yeah, right!).

His honor leaves some lasting public service impressions, however. Like the time he burned rubber in a yellow city pickup truck during the grand opening of a parking ramp, scattering onlookers at the celebration. Or his constant CAA reminders that Van Andel Arena was profitable during its very first few months of existence (“and why don’t you write about that?”).

And on a personal note, we already miss the jabs he took at The Grand Rapids Press upon the opening of each year’s State of the City Address.

  • Since this is “Street” Talk, here’s a small joke regarding the new Paul B. Henry Freeway (M-6).

We’d like to know if the place where M-6 merges with the Gerald R. Ford Freeway will be called the Henry/Ford Freeway. That ought to confuse those Detroiters.

  • Expensive art is worth the money to Kalamazoo. No, the city isn’t buying it, but officials found out recently just how much it’s worth in terms of economic development.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts hosted the exhibition “Millet to Matisse: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century French Painting from KelvingroveArtGallery, Glasgow” from May 22-Aug. 15. During that time, the show attracted 46,534 visitors (more than half from outside KalamazooCounty) and total visitor spending was pegged at $1.9 million. About $600,000 of that went directly to KIA and the other $1.3 million (68 percent) went to local businesses.

Additionally, the show supported 25 jobs and generated approximately 1,500 room nights for area hotels.

The business community was pleasantly surprised.

“We consider our collaboration with the exhibition a success,” said DawnDoty, rooms revenue manager for the Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites, which offered free tickets to the show as part of a room package. “We’re definitely interested in future collaborations.” She estimated the hotel made nearly $5,000 from the program.

Millennium Restaurant Groups also offered complimentary tickets to the exhibition at its locations.

“I was surprised to see the positive impact the exhibition had on my business levels,” said ShellyPastor, managing partner for MRG. “I hosted tour groups, planned ladies’ luncheons and catered French-themed parties, all because of ‘Millet to Matisse.’ We experienced a 15 to 20 percent increase in revenue in the third quarter this year.”

Hmmm, maybe that new Grand RapidsArt Museum will arrive just in time to reinforce KentCounty’s hotel-motel tax receipts. SteveWilson can only hope.    

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