Monday, July 28, 2008

AY advertising, FCR branding, and the Manhattan Media connection

What's a generic Atlantic Yards advertisement--featuring some dubious statements used to promote the project even before it was passed--doing in the July 2008 issue of New York Family/Brooklyn, "a glossy, vibrant city magazine that offers active, sophisticated New York parents an inviting mix of feature articles and selected tips about their interests, issues, and concerns"?

Well, the magazine comes from none other than Manhattan Media, the enterprise that previously teamed with developer Forest City Ratner on the short-lived but much-criticized Brooklyn Standard "publication." Forest City Ratner initially pledged publication "every few months."

Contract unfulfilled?

Only two issues of the Brooklyn Standard were published, both in 2005. I speculate that Forest City Ratner contracted with Manhattan Media for more issues than were published, and the advertisements we see represent a fulfillment of the contract. [Update: NLG points out there's a term for this: makegood.]

Or perhaps Forest City Ratner likes Manhattan Media so much it has become, like the New York Post (with its Brooklyn Tomorrow advertorial), a valuable advertising outlet.

After, the Atlantic Yards ad is opposite the first page of a nine-page "special promotional section" featuring "dream buildings" like One Hanson Place, The Edge, and Peter Cooper Village, the latter not in Manhattan.

I assume that, should Atlantic Yards residential buildings actually be constructed, the marketing would be a little more targeted--buyers of high-end condos probably wouldn't care much about the Community Benefits Agreement.

Looking at the claims

Let's take a quick look at the claims in the advertising. Yes, some 6400 units of mixed-income housing are planned, but they sure wouldn't come in buildings that, as in the rendering above and in a previous brochure, would be only about 15 stories tall. Besides that, the project, though promoted as taking a decade, could take 20 years or more, thus slowing the delivery of the affordable units.

The 15,000 union construction jobs would be 15,000 job-years: 1500 jobs a year over a decade, or a smaller number annually over a longer period.

The Community Benefits Agreement was not "ratified by 200 leaders and organizations." It was signed by eight organizations, only two with established track records. The term “ratified” is a step up from “affirmed,” which was what was used in 2005.

As the New York Observer pointed out: The Real Estate asked for the list and counted fewer than 175; and that's only if "organizations" include elected officials, restaurants and real-estate agencies, as well as block associations and the like. But we were nonetheless surprised it had traveled so far, so fast. Why, there are groups from as far away as Queens and Manhattan on this list!

The eight acres of "public open space" would be privately owned but publicly accessible.

And "Brooklyn's own home team" would "Brooklyn's own" only in location. The major benefit would be reaped by majority owner Bruce Ratner and his firm, Forest City Ratner.

Branding ads

Also in the new magazine, as in Manhattan Media's New York Press and in the Post's Brooklyn Tomorrow, is a version (right) of Forest City Ratner's image-less branding ad.

In March, I wrote how the New York Press was prominently featuring a full-page advertisement from developer Forest City Ratner. The branding exercise, I suggested, might be seen as an effort to shape opinion among residents of Lower Manhattan, where the newspaper circulates, and where a promised school in Frank Gehry-designed Beekman Tower has been delayed--and where the developer has recently gotten support for more subsidies.

Now, as the ads persist, it looks like Forest City Ratner has some extra money to spend on image building or is just getting some value from the money pledged to the aborted Brooklyn Standard.

1 comment:

  1. i'm glad the red cross will be around to deal with this disaster...(look closely at the bottom left stock photo)

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