Thursday, February 17, 2005

Of jokes and landmarks

Whether you're in NYC or Scranton, Pa., a certain method of advertising remains relatively cheap and very resilient: the moving and/or parked billboard. Walking by the Plaza Hotel this evening, I came across an example of this. Perhaps you've heard the Plaza was bought by new owners, who are turning most of it into luxury condos, leaving the hotel portion greatly reduced (and -- needless to say -- many people fired). From what I've read, it seems the facade of the hotel has been deemed a protected landmark, but the interiors? Not so much. Oh, sure, they're beautiful, but apparently either no one got around to doing the paperwork or the bodies who decide these things have not granted that coveted landmark status.

Enter this mysterious firm called the New York City Consulting Group, whose website appears on this moving-billboard van. What's their lofty goal? "It is our intent to raise enough money through donations to buy back the Plaza ..." Wow. No need to read any more. Do they realize how much the latest purchase price was? Apparently they do, since they linked to a USA Today article that cites a figure of $675 million cash.

So what are landmark-loving New Yorkers to think from this plan? The NYCCG is going to raise $676 million, knock on the new owners' door and say "Let's make a deal"? This seems like a lame attempt not only to steal people's money (what happens if they only raise $674M and/or the new owners look at them like they're crazy?) but also to get publicity for a futile quest. I couldn't find much on this outfit, except that it has an address of "551 Madison Avenue - Suite 300" and that it's associated with something called "Rolling Promos" (hence the van).

Somehow I just don't see this happening. Least of all from a group that can't seem to decide whether to use the word "it's" or "its" when declaring: "ITS A LANDMARK. IT'S NOT A JOKE!"

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