Thursday, May 21, 2009

More On Downtown, Inc. And That Playboy Party

WRTV's Sara Cornell followed up on a post I had yesterday about Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.'s promotion of a race weekend party sponsored by Playboy at the Conrad Hilton featuring Ludacris and several Playmates. Cornell interviewed IDI's Vice President of Marketing Julia Watson to get her reaction to potential negative reaction to the taxpayer-financed organization's promotion of the racy (no pun intended) event. Watson's position is that IDI promotes events that take place in Indianapolis every weekend regardless of their content. I'm not quite sure why she pointed to it as an example, but Watson said IDI would be promoting Circle City Indy Pride, an annual celebration for gays in lesbians, in a couple of weekends. I guess her point was that a party with controversial rapper Ludacris and the Playboy Playmates was no different than a gay pride celebration from a moral perspective, except for the fact that the Pride event is open to the entire public to people of all ages and attendance at the event in University Park is free; the Official Playboy Party is an adults-only private party to which admission is charged.

Cornell followed up her interview of IDI's Watson with a short interview with me. I explained to Cornell that I have no problem with Playboy hosting the party at the Conrad Hilton. It's a private business trying to market its product, and its star-drawing status will no doubt fuel attendance at its party. My question is why IDI, a publicly-financed nonprofit organization, is promoting this private party over all of the official race-related events over the Memorial Day weekend. The Hulman-George family has taken the opposite tact in recent years as it increasingly changed the atmosphere surrounding the Indianapolis 500 to be a more family-oriented event. Race day at the Speedway is a fairly tame affair compared to what it was 15 years ago. I suspect the Star's story today on the lack of bookings at area hotels might have been an extra incentive for IDI to promote an event at a downtown hotel. Your thoughts?


jabberdoodle said...

Like you, I don't care if the Playboy folks and the Conrad want to put on a scantily clad girlie review for money. I think, though, it is bad judgement for taxpayer money to be used to promote same. IDI has been on the public dole for years and has no real oversight. If you say anything about them, they burn up the phone lines to Councillors to get protection lined up.

At the end of the day, IDI is way out of line spending our money like this. I'd like to see their books opened up for public scrutiny, also.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The comments feature on Blogger is having some difficulties this morning. Please be patient if you are trying to post comments. Several published comments aren't publishing for some reason.

poohpal said...

ndianapolis is working to become a diverse city and appeal to persons of all types. IDI is working very hard to promote the Indianapolis Downtown area. Whether it's a church service, a Colt's game or a Playboy party at the Conrad, IDI is only reporting the events that are happening in Downtown Indy. Not all events will appeal to all people. IDI is not promoting this party over all the other events. Anyone who l looks at their website and press releases and advertisements can see this. This is a little blown out of proportion, there are 17 events and/or businesses in this week's email alone.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The issue has nothing to do with diversity. This is a private party. The promoters have the right to promote it as they see fit. The question is why a taxpayer-funded entity is promoting this particular private party?

poohpal said...

I think that IDI is doing a public service by listing the Playboy party on it's website. I have no desire to go to a Playboy party. This just lets me know the where and when so that I can avoid that particular hotel during this party. Promotions can serve dual functions.

M Theory said...

I sent them information about the international erotic arts ball I produced in 2004. They ignored me, yet we had an international art jury, a curator, three floors of art and performance, and 1000 people attended including a whole lot of Indy's arts crowd.

Where was the IDI then?

I forgot to mention that the Erotic Arts Ball in 2004 did not objectify women, either.