Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Breaking: Tierney to end readership decline, engage a new, young audience with, what else, a new advertising campaign by Gyro

We're guessing you’ve seen (or perhaps heard) some of the advertising for the new Philadelphia Media Holdings venture, Phillycars.com. (If not, you can watch a commercial at the end of the post.)

Turns out Tierney hired the local bad-boy ad agency, Gyro Worldwide, to run the campaign. And, potentially, to do a lot more…
The campaign is for Phillycars.com, a Web site introduced on New Year's Eve by Philadelphia Media Holdings. That's the company led by the local entrepreneur Brian P. Tierney, which in June bought the Philadelphia properties that were formerly part of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain from their new owner, the McClatchy Company.
Gyro Worldwide was familiar to Mr. Tierney because for many years he competed against the agency: He ran Philadelphia shops like Tierney Communications before leaving the industry and subsequently forming Philadelphia Media Holdings.

"When he got the papers, we were hoping we'd get a phone call from him," says Steven Grasse, chief executive at Gyro.

When the call came, "we discussed a project about trying to get new readers, young people not reading the papers," he adds, "then he had a more immediate need, Phillycars.com."
And from Gyro:
Local legend, Brian Tierney, took over the Philadelphia Inquirer and promised to make big changes.

And, wouldn’t you know it, one of the first things he did was hire GYRO worldwide. GYRO = Big Changes!

There are many projects in the works. However, the first to launch is Phillycars.com... a massive local car buying site designed to compete with sites like cars.com and vehix.com.
Super. Seriously, it’s great that Tierney’s prepared to advertise using a slightly non-traditional agency and everything… but let’s not forget that if you want people to actually read the paper, you have to actually spend money on its content.

As for the Phillycars campaign:
…the Phillycars.com campaign has a youthful feel because "people who buy cars online tend to be younger," Mr. Grasse says. "I think we're talking to a new generation of car buyers," he adds, so the ads are infused with "personality and vitality."

Mr. Michael's song is perfect for the campaign, Mr. Grasse says, because "it's vibrant" and all about "'hometown hip, hip hooray' and Philly pride."

He found the song, he adds, when executives he knew from Downtown Records "came to us and said: 'We have an artist who has this song, "Philadelphia." What can you do with it?'"

In a neat bit of synergy, the cover art that Gyro designed for Downtown Records for the CD single release of "Philadelphia" depicts the word in the same typeface as it appears in the logo of The Inquirer.

Mr. Grasse says he would like to "use the song as the theme song for the entire Philly.com Web site, not just for Phillycars."
The elements of the campaign meant to remind computer users of the local aspects of Phillycars.com are laid on as thick as the icing on the Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets sold by Philadelphia’s own Tasty Baking Company.

For instance, the TV and radio commercials feature a song, "Philadelphia," by a local singer, Kevin Michael, signed to a local label, Downtown Records. The TV spots are styled like music videos clips, intercutting scenes of Mr. Michael performing with local sights like the Schuykill Expressway and the streets of Center City, as Philadelphians call their downtown.

The commercials also show signs for roadways like the Pennsylvania Turnpike and neighborhoods like Chestnut Hill as well as mock vanity license plates.
What? No shout-out for Midtown Village? Shocking.

Philadelphia Media Holdings likes to keep it local [New York Times]
If hip were a state of mind, we’d, like, be the governor [Gyro Worldwide, Official Site]

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stephen A. faces the facts, agrees that Ed Snider is one of the worst Philadelphians in decades

Not much needed in the way of intro from us here — Stephen A. pretty much covers it all.

We will say this: even Stephen A.'s biggest critics can't argue with the man on this one.
Considering the fact that the Flyers are horrible, the 76ers are embarrassing, and everyone associated with them is not much better, we've gone far past the time to call for the proverbial heads of general managers or coaches.

It's time to address the chairman of this mess, Mr. Ed Snider.
Is Snider even equipped to preside over these franchises any longer? […] Since Bob Clarke and Larry Brown were allowed back with these teams - after quitting on the chairman - is it fair to question whether Snider already has walked away and just forgotten to tell anybody?
The worst team in one pro sport and the second-worst in another reside in Philadelphia, and the common denominator is Ed "We're-gonna-trade-him" Snider.

So an inquisition is necessary.
It goes on but you get the gist.

And there’s no need to rehash what has already been said but, for the record, Ed Snider has definitely had his chances. He should have stepped aside and given his post to Pat Croce after the 2001 season. (The Sixers and AI would be two championships deep by now if he had.)

More recently, he could have freed us from his ignoble reign by selling the Sixers. But, alas, he did not and our Sixers were lost for good.

So, Ed, don’t expect much sympathy from us. Or from anyone for that matter.

But good luck with your whole Foxwoods investment — sounds like you have the residents of South Philadelphia’s neighborhoods securely in your corner.


Stephen A. to Ed Snider: It's almost as if you have no business training at all… [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Surmising the secret location of WOW, Neil Stein’s prospective boutique hotel

Neil SteinNeil Stein got out of the clink on Saturday. And he wasted no time before starting to press the flesh about the boutique hotel he wants to build in Philadelphia, which we first mentioned this summer.

He’s keeping the potential location a secret. But lets see if we can’t decipher a guess from the clues he’s left.

Originally, his investors were “scouting locations in Old City, Center City, or around Penn's campus.”

And since he’s been on the outside?
“After he took a shower and got into a pair of jeans and a sweater [at his loft in Old City], he walked to his lawyer's office, stopping along the way to take a look at a suggested site (he didn't disclose it) for that boutique hotel — for which he has written a 300-page prospectus.”
Ok, his lawyer, one Nino Tinari, works out of 123 S. Broad.

That means the location must be somewhere between Old City and Broad Street. Which is cool, we guess. The Gayborhood/B3 area along Walnut and Chestnut is filled with amazing, 19th-century buildings that would be sick candidates for boutique hotel conversions. And Old City… well, lets just hope it’s in the Gayborhood.

Good luck Steins — now all you need to do is ditch the codename. Or maybe not…

We can't say his other proposition — introducing more Rouges to the world — is as appealing. It seems more cruel than anything else. Don’t get us wrong, Rouge has an amazing setting and makes a fairly decent, if overpriced burger — it’s just that its regulars can strike us as… a bit soulless.
[Stein] described Rouge as a place that tried to give people more than a great meal. "Whether it's the people you see, whether it's young ladies sitting there without underwear on, or with underwear on, or whether it's the music or whether it's the ambiance, it's a combination of all things," Stein said.
Wow, Steins. Wow, indeed.

Stein’s boutique hotel — codenamed WOW — to come complete with underwear-optional, rooftop restaubar [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Stein admits Rouge is filled with vapid Britney/Paris/Lindsay wannabes [Philadelphia Daily News]
Stein gets leg up on Starr, Starwood — and does it all from the clink

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Philadelphia's #1 New Years Resolution: New Plan, New Zoning Code, Think Big

Think Big with Urban PlanningBy now, pretty much everyone (except maybe David Auspitz) realizes how badly Philadelphia needs 1) a powerful Planning Commission and 2) a new, modernized Zoning Code that the planning commission can enforce. What not as many people realize is that Philadelphia is poised to make significant strides towards achieving both in 2007. It just needs a little kick in the ass from people like you.

In December, City Council's Law and Government Committee approved a package of bills that would create a new, 29-member Zoning Code Commission, charged with rewriting the city's drastically outdated and completely unmanageable zoning code. A related bill would overhaul the Planning Commission, giving it more time for land reviews, and would also require more expertise from its members.

The bills, which need to be approved by the full City Council, require City Charter changes and would go on the May 15 primary-election ballot for voter approval, after Council approval.

The bills and related resolutions were scheduled to come to a vote last month on December 14th during Council’s last session before the holiday recess. There were strong editorials in both the Inquirer and the Daily News advocating their quick passage. But, the sponsors ran into problems with Councilman Brian O’Neil (who appears to be opposing Zoning reform on behalf of several unions), and did not have the necessary votes (2/3 of council, 12 of 17), so the vote was postponed.

Now, Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco (co-sponsors of the bill) have a little more than a month to get the bills passed by the full council in order for them to make its way onto the ballot for the public to approve in the May primary.

You can help them out by visiting the Next Great City and sending city council a cute little note, imploring them to wise up and support both Zoning Bill No. 060699 and Resolution No. 060716.

And, really, you should. Because if you don’t hold their hand through it, they simply won’t do it.

Meanwhile, the Center City Residents Association will finally unveil their neighborhood master plan later tonight. While the CCRA has its share of NIMBYs, the CCRA’s Zoning and Planning Committees have their shit together.

So you can expect to see some actual legit urban planning in this plan, a great start to what hopefully will be the year Philadelphia finally officially embraces sound urban planning.

UPDATE: CCRA has posted a draft (PDF) of its plan on their website. It's like camping — i.e. 110 pages, 19MB.

Tell City Council to support Zoning Reform
[Next Great City]
CCRA Center City Neighborhood Master Plan a harbinger of impending influx of sound urban planning — not just wishful thinking [CCRA (PDF)]
New Philadelphia Planning head is planning ahead [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Time to rewrite the city’s “Da Vinci Code” of development [Daily News]
Philadelphia’s Zoning Code: A roadblock to growth [Philadelphia Inquirer]
New York, where the dreamers are asleep [New York Times]

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ed Rendell, Captain of Cronyism

Ed Rendell and the PLCB[Editors’ note: Sorry for being somewhat MIA over the past few weeks… we'll resume posting regularly soon.]

We hate to admit it, after all Fast Eddie used to be our bra — hell, we used to campaign for the man — but we do, in fact, have to admit it: we’ve become entirely disillusioned with Ed Rendell.

Why? Because instead of becoming a more progressive, more enlightened, more inspiring political leader after making the jump from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, instead of reforming a political system in dire need of it, he has all too often allowed the ancient inept machine of Pennsylvania state politics dictate the way he governs.

Where’s the reform he promised? After the pay-raise scandal of 2005, Rendell had a golden opportunity. He could have stepped up and pushed a reform agenda through a rebuked, embarrassed and weakened legislature. He could have become the poster boy for a constituency desperate for a politician to embrace.

Unfortunately, we've yet to see any reform. In fact, we’re seeing just the opposite.

Rendell recently made a pouting, off-the-cuff remark about Philadelphia being "closed for business" because a neighborhood group didn't immediately vote to support an ill-planned development for W. Arch Street, proposed by a Rendell donor. Earth to Ed: that’s not how shit is supposed to work — you’re not in Philadelphia anymore. Developmania is not going to fly. Please. You’re breaking our hearts.

Obviously the more glaring example is the creation of “a new, never-before-needed top position for the state's Liquor Control Board” and handpicking former State Senator Joe Conti to fill it.

The problem is not that $150,000 salary is too high, or that
the CEO position at the LCB is unnecessary, or even that Joe Conti, a former state senator that decided to retire rather than run for reelection after voting for a pay raise and refusing to give it back, is unqualified.

Rather, the problem is that Rendell created the position in complete secrecy, in a move that is so obviously and brazenly a patronage/favoritism/bad-government orgy (Conti, a Republican, helped Rendell pass key legislation, including the slots bill, in 2004), that every resident of the state should be utterly offended.

Because this shit is just flat out offensive.
In Pennsylvania, old water heaters don't die. They don't even fade away.

They miraculously find new life in $150,000-a-year sweetheart jobs created just for them.
Gov. Rendell this week announced he was creating a new, never-before-needed top position for the state's Liquor Control Board, and handpicked Conti to fill it.

The appointment was a done deal before anyone knew it was coming. Incredibly, not even the chairman of the LCB's three-person board, the well-respected Jonathan Newman, was let in on the secret. Rendell broke the news to him Tuesday afternoon, just one day before Conti's coronation became official.

Newman felt bulldozed and called it "a fait accompli" that smacked of bad government. Ya think?

No public discussion. No public scrutiny. No national search for the best possible candidate. Not even a single want ad.
The smell of patronage

All for a political fixture who coincidentally found himself in need of a new job - a man with no previous experience running a multibillion-dollar corporation. His previous private-sector experience was operating two family-owned restaurants that happened to have liquor licenses.

That is like saying a guy who owned two gas stations is uniquely qualified to run Exxon.

Regardless, Conti is now CEO of the nation's largest wine and liquor monopoly. And he was shooed in without the chairman of the liquor board even knowing. What's that smell like?

It smells a lot like patronage of the worst kind, and it's just more of what has turned Pennsylvanians so cynical about their government.

Rendell should be ashamed of himself for this one.
To say the least.

With Jonathan Newman resigning, the whole ordeal has become the opposite of a win-win — it’s a fucking LOSE-LOSE.

You can read more about how this happened on PhilaFoodie. And there are a few pretty good editorials out there.

Basically, it’s just an all-around raw deal for the people of Pennsylvania. And there’s no reason for it. But even more, there’s no reason for Rendell to be behaving like he’s taking political lessons from Vinny fucking Fumo.

Because that’s just too fucking depressing and disheartening for us to swallow.

Conti gig smells like team spirits [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Ed Rendell is drunk on power [Pittsburgh Post Gazetter]
Ed Rendell is a slut [The Clog]
Sleazy LCB appointment shows nothing has changed in Harrisburg [Easton Express Times]
Newman deserved better [Delaware County Times]
Q & A with Jonathan Newman at Philly.com [Philly.com]
Jonathan Newman dishes to PhilaFoodie [PhilaFoodie]
Apologizing to Mr. Newman [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Pennsylvania's loss is Jonathan Newman's gain [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Breaking: Eagles fans revealed as Tiki's backbreaker, continue their "psych-out" reign over entire NY Giants organization

Tiki Barber: I heart quittingThis excerpt is from a recent Sports Illustrated article that discusses Tiki Barber’s future after his early retirement from the NFL. But what brought on said early retirement? He’s only 31 and coming off two of the best years a running back has ever had consecutively… [emphasis added]
There is a moment when you know, Tiki Barber discovers. When the idea, lurking unspoken in your subconscious, suddenly is fully formed, and you can put words to it. Barber is standing in the end zone at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field before the Sept. 17 game against the Eagles, waiting in line with the other New York Giants running backs to practice short pass routes. […]

In the stands the green-clad Philly fans are shouting their usual stream of profane invective at the Giants, warning of impending violence, singling out Barber in particular. Barber looks at the mob, the men in their Trotter jerseys, the boys in their McNabbs, and doesn't feel a thing.

"You know what?" he says to Finn, his best friend on the team. "I'm done."
Oh, snap. Did Tiki Barber just admit that Eagles fans pushed him over the edge? We think he did. It's right there. The "moment" when Tiki first knew was here in Philadelphia. As ignominious taunts rained down from the stands at the Linc, Tiki reached his breaking point. He’d had enough. Tiki quit, and therein abruptly abandoned both his fans and his team.

So say what you will about Eagles fans — some call them vile, hate-filled, classless drunks — but, wow… when they set their minds to something, they can accomplish pretty much anything.

And by that we mean, we’ve yet to see a man whose spirit they can’t break.

Eagles fans: Crass? Yes. Inappropriate? You bet. But effective — oh so effective [Sports Illustrated (subscription)]
On the whole, they’d rather not be in Philadelphia [Philadelphia Will Do]