Thursday, November 17, 2011

How the arena promoters market (and twist) GQ's designation of Brooklyn as "the Coolest City on the Planet"

Forest City Ratner, which brought to Brooklyn Chuck E. Cheese and Buffalo Wild Wings, is ever ready to ride on the slipstream of cool created by independent entrepreneurs.

Forbes reported yesterday on a press conference announcing college hoops at the Barclays Center:
[Developer Bruce] Ratner noted that someone commented to him recently that Brooklyn was the coolest place on the planet. “Not that you’d know it looking at me,” the 66-year-old real estate developer joked.
Um, that wasn't just a "comment," it was a GQarticle about non-corporate restaurants. But there's no limit to exploiting the Brooklyn brand--or, as I described it last year at the arena groundbreaking, "the endless marketing and unbearable banality of borough iconograpy.".

The "Coolest City"?

GQ Declares 'Brooklyn is the Coolest City on the Planet', the Barclays Center said in a 10/21/11 press release, which left out the rest of the headline, "An Eater's Guide":
GQ has declared that "Brooklyn is the Coolest City on the Planet."

"GQ has realized Brooklyn is the place to be," said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. "We already know that, of course, which is why we can't wait to open the state-of-the-art Barclays Center in September 2012. While GQ raves about the delicious culinary options in the borough, in the next few months we will introduce our BROOKLYN TASTE experience that will draw on Brooklyn's dynamic food scene. We appreciate GQ recognizing the borough and we look forward to bringing the best of sports and entertainment to Brooklyn."
"We appreciate GQ recognizing the borough"? Thanks, Mr. Yormark, New Jersey resident, but shouldn't you leave that to designated Atlantic Yards greeter Marty Markowitz?

Restaurants honored

The GQ article was headlined Brooklyn is the Coolest City on the Planet: An Eater's Guide. What were some of the restaurants included?
  • Mile End,  Boerum Hill
  • Egg, Williamsburg 
  • Henry Public, Cobble Hill
  • Tatiana, Brighton Beach
  • Roberta's,  Bushwick
  • Vinegar Hill House, Vinegar Hill
Nearly all if not all of the restaurants represent projects spurred by individuals or partnerships--small businesses driven by passion and closeness to their customers. That's not quite the same as an arena larded with sponsorships.

Sure, the Barclays Center will try to capitalize on Brooklyn food cred, just as the arena groundbreaking ceremony in March 2010 had a table of Brooklyn desserts.

It's a gesture--and more of a localization effort than many sports facilities, though the Mets' CitiField has begun to set a precedent.

But don't forget that the big money comes from sponsors like Coca-Cola.

The opportunity

Word has gotten around, because Markowitz is using the GQ designation in his new home page video, and so are other Forest City officials.

In a presentation 11/8/11 at a graduation ceremony for the BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) customer service training program, held at a church in Crown Heights, Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall cited GQ, saying, in an energized voice, "Brooklyn is the coolest city on the planet."



The audience, consisting mainly of working-class youths of color, applauded enthusiastically.

Who doesn't want to think their hometown is the coolest?

But I doubt that the audience was thinking that Mile End and Egg and Roberta's were making it so.

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