Wednesday, November 14, 2001

What's the Buzz?

Downtown: hope for holidays

        Fifty small trees on Fountain Square where people can buy $5 ornaments to benefit the United Way are among the highlights of the new holiday marketing campaign designed by Downtown Cincinnati Inc.

        This year's campaign will cost about $300,000, much of it from corporate sponsorships. It starts the day after Thanksgiving.

        “Our challenge is to make people have such a great time when they're downtown that they'll want to come back,” said Anastasia Mileham of DCI.

        It's been a particularly difficult year for downtown, with the Comair strike, the April riots, the slowing economy and the September terrorist attacks.

        Other new highlights of the holidays will include a 40-foot lighted sculptural tree on Fountain Square, and plenty of special deals at restaurants and hotels.

Here comes

        It won't happen any time soon, but expect, the Silicon Valley Internet cosmetics company funded mostly by Procter & Gamble Co., to start rolling out new vitamins and health products.

        Ginger Kent, the Hasbro Toys veteran who runs, told a group of venture capitalists this week that the company's ability to customize products made many health-care or beauty-care products fair game.

        “Things like vitamins and health and well-being (products) could be areas where could expand,” she said.

        The site allows buyers to pick everything from the formula of their shampoo or lipstick, to the packaging, to the scent. It even sends flowers to customers who spend lots of money on the site.

Push on for the arts

        Expect to see a renewed program in 2002 to market the Tristate's arts assets.

        Particularly, watch for promotion of the Contemporary Arts Center, to open in 2003, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, early 2004.

        The Cincinnati Business Committee, the elite group of two dozen of the city's most influential CEOs, is gathering support for a regionwide program.

        CBC member and Frisch's Restaurants CEO Craig Maier, who is chairman of the Fine Arts Fund drive, said finding money is the key — as usual.

        “It's just one thing we can sell that's unique and that brings people in,” Mr. Maier said. “But you can't get out there and promote the arts, or anything, without funding.”

        Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts, the group that runs the annual Fine Arts Fund, has hired consultant Kathy DeLaura to take advantage of the two openings.

        No matter which arts proponent is talking, their eyes are squarely focused on City Hall, where Mayor Charlie Luken has proposed an arts committee.

        In Indianapolis, the city and the Lilly Endowment have teamed in a $10 million arts campaign.

        If you have a tip about Greater Cincinnati companies, e-mail Cliff Peale at, or call 768-8573.


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- What's the Buzz?