Sometimes, taking a chance pays off.
Chris Botta, the New York Islander vice president for communications,
didn't know what he'd get when he asked the ad agency blumenfeld + fleming to
pitch the team's account. "I figured it would be hit or miss," Botta said. "My
hunch was that when they made their pitch, we were all going to be looking at
each other like, 'Oh, boy, you know, this is not going to work,' or that they
might give us stuff that really opened our eyes."
Which is what happened with Lynn Blumenfeld and Jill Fleming made their
presentation, which explains how a small agency, run by women and based in
Montauk, beat out larger, male-dominated, up-Island firms for the team's
outside advertising work. "They were the one group that, when they showed us
their stuff, the Islander people were looking at each other and saying, why
didn't we think of that?" Botta said.
Hockey wasn't new to the two. Fleming grew up in hockey country, Vancouver,
while growing up in New York City. Both had sports-related accounts working for
agencies in Manhattan. "The male mindset thing, that was not an issue for me,"
What made things work was that the Islanders weren't looking to sell
hockey. "It's not just a matter of saying hockey's a great game, come out and
watch hockey, which is sort of the facile, superficial approach," Fleming said.
"You'll see that with a lot of sports advertising." Instead, she said, the
Islanders wanted to combine "the excitement of the game as well as the feeling
of pride one has in their hometown team."
To get the sense of hockey fans, Blumenfeld filmed and taped interviews
with about 40 people. She also posted a questionnaire to people on an e-mail
list. In the end, a line Fleming came up with was the winner. Blumenfeld noted
it is aimed at recapturing "lapsed Islanders fans." The line: "Long Island:
surrounded by water, united by ice." It appears in one of the first of the ads,
along with the tagline: "We're all Islanders."
Blumenfeld noted that she and Fleming will help bring back lapsed fans -
some of them family - as they attend a couple of games a month. "Jill's son is
15 years old and clamoring with all of his friends out in Montauk," Blumenfeld
said, talking about Mack Fleming's sudden interest in his mother's clients.
"He's not that involved when we win the Advantage Title account."
A plan to film paint-sludge pollution
Don Axinn has something new to add to his resume: documentary film producer, a
title incorporating many facets of his eclectic, impressive life.
Axinn, you might recall, is a real estate developer-turned poet and
novelist-turned humanitarian who partnered with Jamie Redford, Robert's son, in
producing a feature film based on Axinn's novel, "Spin," about a boy growing
up in the Southwest. (The film just made its way to DVD.)
Now he and Redford are teaming up to produce a documentary about the health
problems among the Ramapough Mountain Indians as a result of toxic paint
sludge dumped on their reservation from the Ford Motor Co. Mahwah, N.J. plant.
"Jamie and I and Bob [Redford] are very passionate about the plight of the
American Indians," Axinn said in an interview in his Jericho office last week.
In fact, they had been thinking of producing a documentary about what Axinn
said were injustices perpetrated on a North Dakota tribe a half century ago.
But then, a friend of Jamie Redford's, producer Maro Chermayeff, and a
colleague of Chermayeff's, producer Micah Fink, learned of the Ramapoughs'
plight through a series in a New Jersey newspaper, The Record. Redford and
Axinn decided to switch gears.
"Once we heard about this story, and it's 38 miles from New York ... we
stepped up," Axinn said, adding that "if we do it right, and the story is as
significant as we think it is, it could be a very major documentary and appear
Key to Axinn and Redford's effort is the cooperation of the Ramapoughs, and
the two law firms who have filed suits on behalf of the tribe. "We want to
make sure it is told from the Indian point of view," Axinn said. A major point
of the story, he said, is that the Ramapoughs "did not really understand what
the dumping would do to their health and their lives, and they were not
empowered to fight it."
He expects the project to take about six months. It is just beginning, but
he is already learning the differences between producing a documentary and a
feature film, two of which are fewer people but also working without a defined
script. Their goal is to finish it in time to show it at the Sundance Film
Festival in January.
STILL HERE. Whatever happened to Michael Hollander? Our curiosity was piqued
after we saw on the "Welcome to the LIA" page of the Long Island Association's
monthly magazine's current issue a listing for Aaron Michael Manage-ment. It
included the name, home address and phone number of the former president of the
Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. The consulting company's nothing
new, nor is its LIA membership, a puzzled Hollander said, adding that he's been
working for the past year as the general manager of a Williston Park
restaurant while trying to put his legal problems behind him. "It's not a
consulting job. It's a paycheck job," Hollander said.
HIGH NOTE. We have to give Vince Polimeni credit. Not for kicking in
$38,000 so the Central Islip High School choir could participate in an
international music festival in Vienna (as part of a celebration of the 250th
birthday of Mozart) and give concerts in Prague and Salzburg, but for the
restraint Polimeni showed. Not once did the Islandia developer insist they take
a side trip to sing at the ribbon-cutting for one of Polimeni's shopping
centers in Poland. And for that, the choir can sing: Hallelujah.