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October 6, 2011

Stoute's Plan to Market the Nets? Kissing Up to Brooklyn

Translation CEO on Borough Pride, City Rivalry and Bruce Ratner as a Modern-Day Robert Moses

Advertising Age
by Kerem Ozkan

Savor this one — it's surely the last time that Brooklyn Nets' adman Steve Stoute will be allowed to speak to the press.

Nets officials have been busy hyping Brooklyn as an iconic globally-recognized brand. Translation Founder-CEO Steve Stoute, whose agency is handling marketing for the team, said the New York City borough is marketing gold. "The power of the Brooklyn brand is so resounding. It means so many things: hard work, gentrification and diversity, music, culture." And while there are still critics upset over the use of eminent domain to make way for the Barclays Center where the team will play, Mr. Stoute said Brooklyn residents should "be ecstatic" about the move.

Honestly, it isn't easy to contain ourselves.

Mr. Stoute talked to Ad Age about the move, the branding and, sure to rile up critics of how the stadium came about, this "gift" from developer Bruce Ratner.

Oh, this ought to be good.

Ad Age: Another factor in all this is that the Atlantic Yards project has been steeped in controversy. What will you say to win the neighborhood over?

Mr. Stoute: I think that there's always going to be people who resist change. It's a human reality. I look at what they had to go through and say it wasn't easy, but it made sense. It was there to improve, to uplift, to contemporize, to bring back sports to the borough. It's the Barclays Center of Brooklyn. It's of the people. This is Bruce Ratner's gift to them. He is our generation's Robert Moses.

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NoLandGrab: Robert Moses? You mean the guy who destroyed neighborhoods by paving them through with highways, displaced thousands and thousands of people, made us slaves to the automobile, ran the Dodgers out of town, and precipitated decades of urban decay? That Robert Moses? Did someone shoot this guy up with truth serum? As far as we can tell, that's the first time anyone selling the public on Atlantic Yards has ever told it like it is. We can almost forgive him all that of-the-people, Bruce's-gift nonsense.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Ratner hires advertising agency. Agency CEO calls him "our generation's Robert Moses."

Norman Oder posted a comment to Ad Age (which, unlike the Brooklyn Paper, hasn't barred him from doing so):

Mr. Stoute may be an able adman, but "Our generation's Robert Moses"? Wow.

Moses is steeped in controversy, but what he built--roads, parks, pools--aimed at the public interest. Bruce Ratner's job is to build projects and make a profit.

"Bruce Ratner's gift to them"? Wow, again. Maybe that would be closer to fact had Ratner paid his own way, but if you add the public subsidies and tax breaks, the arena is a loss to NYC taxpayers, according to the NYC Independent Budget Office.

By the way, it's "eminent domain," not "imminent domain." Thanks to New York State's very flexible definitions of "blight," Ratner was able to get the state to declare a gentrifying zone blighted as a precursor to eminent domain. His cousin Chuck Ratner, then-CEO of parent Forest City Enterprises, called it a "great piece of real estate."

NLG: The article initially referred to the use of "imminent" domain, but was corrected after Mr. Oder pointed out the error. Of course, when Bruce Ratner and the ESDC are involved, "imminent" domain might be more accurate.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner Is "Our Generation's Robert Moses," Minus the Good Stuff

If Mr. Stoute and the Nets think it is a good idea to compare Bruce Ratner to the most notorious power abuser in American urban history, we can't disagree. Although, say what you will about Moses, he did oversee public works, rather than purely self-aggrandizing, for-profit real estate deals.

As for Ratner's munificent "gift" to the people of Brooklyn aching in their stomachs for the return of the Dodgers—when Ratner returns our homes, businesses, streets, tax dollars, zoning laws, democratic processes, and our Constitution we'll be sure to send him a big thank you note.

Posted by eric at October 6, 2011 10:00 PM