Thursday, June 23, 2011

In non-layoff news, USAT trolls the French Riviera

[1835 White Palm Hotel in Cannes, scene of 2010 USAT event]

Apparently, the best way for USA Today to sell more advertising requires a nearly 4,000-mile trip to Cannes, the fashionable French resort on the glittering Côte d'Azur. There, the struggling daily will once more elbow its way through the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, a seven-day marketing schmoozefest that ends Saturday.

USAT says it is "the exclusive U.S. Representative to this prestigious international festival." Gannett's best-known brand doesn't say exactly what that means. Nor do its marketing materials say what the paper will be doing there during a week when Gannett itself laid off 700 workers at its other U.S. newspapers.

Last year, however, USAT says it hosted a private cocktail reception June 24 on the rooftop terrace of the 1835 White Palm Hotel in the heart of the French city.

Last year: Erdos, Hunke
"As the official U.S. representative of the IAF," it says, "USA Today entertained over 230 guests at the event. Attendees toasted each other while taking in a beautiful sunset, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. In attendance from USA Today included President & Publisher David L. Hunke; Senior Vice President of Advertising Lee Jones; Senior Vice President of Marketing Susan Lavington; and Vice President of Advertising Lori Erdos." (Don't miss this photo slideshow from the event.)

This year, the hotel's standard guest rooms next week start at $400 a night, which includes an in-room Nespresso machine. Not bad -- for a Radisson. (Quel dommage: The deluxe Sky Suite isn't available.)

Related: USAT has a reporter filing dispatches from the scene.

50 comments:

  1. Sorry to pick nits, but I believe dommage is spelled that way.

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  2. I think you are still correcting this as I am writing this, but since suite is feminine in French, you were right the first time with quelle dommage.

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  3. My high school French teacher (hi, Peaches!) is cringing right now.

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  4. Aw, but where are the bikini shots? Can't be Cannes without bikini shots. And where are the pix of that fabulous beach, or all those extravantly expensive four-star hotels.

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  5. thanks for raising my blood pressure again Jim.

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  6. Yes, and I hope they took their Guide Michelin with them, or they can pick one up anywhere. It has the latest listings of the expense-account-busting four star restaurants that make France famous in gastronomical circles. You can't get out of those places for less than $1,000 a plate, plus of course charges for some of the best and most expensive wines you have ever tasted.

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  7. Well, they probably saved money staying at the Raddison, and this is just at the beginning of the French tourist season there.

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  8. You know, at this point in the week I am already at 45 hours on a 37.5 hour pay schedule, with another day to work. When I see crap like this, I know my effort is worthless to USA Today. All I can say now is that my extended weekend has started, thanks Jim for showing what my lack of a raise for 3 years is really paying for.

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  10. Dear 1:29 pm.
    Use USAT as a springboard and find yourself a better place to work! What are you waiting for? Best decision of my life was to leave Gannett for greener pastures. Use this blog as inspiration and seek a better spot for yourself.

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  11. Don't know about 4-star restaurants, but there is one hell of a good 2-star restaurant some 20 clicks away in the small town of Grasse. They could take a taxi and have it wait until they finish eating so they can get back to their hotel for the night.
    It's the Bastide St. Antoine and the chef is the renowned Jacques Chibois. Expat friends of ours took us there and it was fabulous. I had the langostinos with caviar appetizer, which was $110, and followed it with a main course of the roasted pigeon with risotto and asparagus for $150. Never had pigeon before. Tastes like chicken. The desert was raspberries at $30 which were heavvenly, but there were only four of them on the plate. We shared a saucy $400 bottle of wine, and with four of us, had a second bottle. It's expensive, but worth the trip.
    I also liked another restaurant in Cannes, La Palme D'Or, which is only a 2-star. But I found it more expensive than the one I mentioned above, and the portions of food were not as generous.
    You eat can eat very well in Cannes.

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  12. 1:52 No frog's legs?!

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  13. 1:54 No, I didn't have cuisses de grenouille on this last trip, but I have eaten them before on a dare. I think I recall seeing them on the menu of the Palme D'Or. They are around in that part of the world, if you want it. The French, as you might know, are also very much into eating horse and they have special butcheries and restaurants if that turns you on.

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  14. P.S. If you go to the downscale working class restaurants, they also make one hell of a tripe in tomato sauce, which I really liked and it was quite cheap.

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  15. Wondering if the layoff of 700 will cover this including airfare and private company jet. If they get back and ran over budget, they can still.get rid if plenty more people.

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  16. Since Cannes is on the seafront, the raw seafood is to die for.

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  17. You stupid people talking about your own little secret place for wonderful food when you are supposed to comment on the lavish spending while 700 people lose their job.....you just don't get it.

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  18. 1:43, then why are you working for free?

    The company doesn't care about you, and will let you go at a moment's notice. So, why are you wasting time that could be better spent at a second job, or for sending out resumes?

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  19. I'm joking. And I've assumed others are joking, too.

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  20. Well, it's good to see where the money saved from firing, excuse me, laying off 700 people went to. What, exactly, was the point of this event, and has Dubow and company ever heard of Skype (which is free) and emails? Just disgusting.

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  21. What an outrage. Look at the size of this group, plus reporter for coverage. What are they doing, invading and conquering Europe? The insult is that we have to read the reports of their activities. They are not hiding what they are doing, but drawing attention to it. So, USA Today reporter, give them the coverage they want.

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  22. Guess it's kind of fitting that the first time Hunke shows-up anywhere in months it's in the South of France at a cocktail party. Lead on Dave.

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  23. As someone who has designed many Flash photo galleries, the Cannes gallery has got to be one of the most hideous I've seen.

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  24. Hunke is not there this year. This is a multi-year sponsorship deal, started during the tenure of Jim's favorite publisher, Craig Moon.

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  25. Here's a golden opportunity for a reporter to win a prize telling us what's happening in Cannes. And all we get is Old Spice ads? Write what boys and girls gone bad in Cannes are doing. Would be informative, and they asked for coverage.

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  26. 3:47 Plaisanterie....moi?

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  27. Did they put all the losers on this one trip in hopes they would kill each other overeating and pigging out in Cannes? Look at the slide show and tell me which one of any of those would really be missed. Would you send a get well card if any one of them was hospitalized for stomach problems?

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  28. Dave Hunke is not there. I am all for piling on, but perhaps the file photo showing him there is misleading.

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  29. What a waste of money.

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  30. Anyone else notice Jacki Kelly in the slide show? She used to be at USAToday and married to the infamous Jack Kelly.

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  31. I heard thru the grapevine that Jacki wanted to come back and is not happy in NY and the lifestyle in the Big Apple. Corporate was said to be interested, except they thought Jack was a huge problem.

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  32. 5:54 and 7:39 I've edited the caption to make it clear that it shows Erdos and Hunke at last year's event.

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  33. And look just who is leading the USA Today contingent. Maryam Banikarim -- certainly did not take her long to make use of that platinum Gannett charge card.

    http://www.canneslions.com/

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  34. 7:57 where? give me a hint

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  35. Well, I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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  36. 7:57 I also don't see Banikarim on the Cannes website.

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  37. Hunke not there? Guess he's disappeared even more than I thought.

    And we have the wrong photo gallery up on the web site? Sounds like marketing is all over this, as usual.

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  38. Hunke's not there. Too many advertisers are attending.

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  39. Is there any evidence Hunks is here? This is beginning to sound like a Baroness Emmuska Orczy novel: They seek him here, they seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? Is he in Hell? That damned elusive....

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  40. Curious minds want to know more about Baroness Emma Orczy!

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  41. Is Susie Ellwood there?

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  42. Yes, a fascinating period of British history leading up to the carnage of WW1. I've never really understood this decade leading up to that war, and found Paul Fussell had similar difficulties in the very good book "The Great War in Modern Memory" which involves the impact on Britain of the death of a generation of British youth and leaders in the trenches of Belgium and France. Wiki notes her involvement in this war.

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  43. What a huge waste of corporate money. But then look at it this way: its a fraction of what gannett pays in executive bonuses.

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  44. No, Ellwood is not there. She's busy reading this blog and trying to figure out how to cut this boondoggle from next year's budget.

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  46. After they're back from Cannes, I just hope they enter all that activity into salesforce.

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  47. Dude- you guys forgot Rudd Davis

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  48. USA Today has been the U.S. representative to the Cannes Advertising Festival since the late 1990s, I believe. For many years, USA Today hosted an annual dinner at the restaurant Moulin de Mougins as its major social event of the week. More than 100 guests would have drinks and a fine French dinner (along with fine French wine, I'm sure). I suspect the rooftop reception cost a lot less.

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  49. Just checked salesforce and didn't see any Cannes activity posted. C'mon guys...I got a dashboard to maintain!

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