Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ratner: construction is easier than "getting there"; Jay-Z's ad agency tapped to pitch Nets tickets starting in February

The news from the Sports Business Journal article 12/20/10 (embedded below, as reproduced on the Barclays Center web site), is not merely the effort to dispel confusion about whether the project is happening and how sports and family events are already scheduled, as noted in the headline Barclays Center pitch: We're here and have a lot going on.

It's an oblique reflection by the man behind the project:
"Construction is the easy part," assured Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Cos., developer of the Barclays Center and the associated 16-building Atlantic Yards mixed-use project. "Getting there is hard."
It's also a statement from a Barclays rep that the naming rights agreement is "a fantastic opportunity to build our brand," a quote that might give pause to the state officials who simply gave away naming rights.

Enter Translation

And, more importantly, it's the presence of Translation, a new ad agency co-owned by Jay-Z and aimed at the multicultural, youth market. Sports Business Journal reports:
"We are building an identity," said John McBride, director of the strategy group at agency Translation, newly hired to coordinate marketing behind the Nets' move to Brooklyn and the new arena. "When we are interviewing [Nets'] season-ticket holders, there is still a question of 'Is it real?' There are still people confused as to whether or not this is going to happen."

...[Brett] Yormark said the building has eight of the 12 founding partners sold, with others being pursued in the airline, insurance and domestic car categories. Suites, which range from $295,000 to $550,000, are almost 40 percent sold, with some more sales help via the New Meadowlands Stadium being added for an expected push early next year. Translation, another commercial entity in which Jay-Z and Steve Stoute have an interest, has been hired to orchestrate the first pitch for "Brooklyn Nets" tickets, with initial ads expected in February
So, what's Translation?

An 8/25/08 profile in AdWeek described founder Steven Stoute, a former record executive:
Stoute, who earlier this year launched Translation Advertising with Jay-Z -- as a division of Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging -- has leveraged the increasingly smitten relationship between Madison Avenue and the entertainment business into a lucrative career. His matchmaking efforts over the years have paired Jay-Z with Reebok, Justin Timberlake with McDonald's and Gwen Stefani with Hewlett-Packard.
The New York Times, in a 2/8/08 article headlined A New Venture for Jay-Z, on Madison Avenue, noted that Translation is co-owned by Interpublic, the third-largest agency:
Interpublic owns 49 percent stakes in several agencies that specialize in multicultural marketing to primarily Hispanic and Asian-American consumers, among them Accentmarketing, the IW Group and Siboney USA.

But Interpublic has not been represented in the multicultural/African-American realm for several years, since selling a 49 percent stake in an agency named GlobalHue back to its managers.
Issues of authenticity

That AdWeek article suggested that the issue wasn't selling out, just selling right:
Celebrity endorsements, says Stoute, have changed since the time that smiling while holding the product and then receiving a check were the extent of the deal. Now, he says, "product endorsements are about product development and new-product creation all the way to a traditional endorsement model and everything in between."

And "selling out" today, he adds, means creating inauthentic relationships between pop culture and product. The most successful relationships, he says, come from brands and artists viewing themselves as true business partners. "Artists want to be more responsible for the final outcome," he says.
So Jay-Z, like Spike Lee, has an advertising business.

Barclays Center Pitch, Sports Business Journal, 12/20/10

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