Rabbit Enthusiasm

The Bitch chases down rumors about VW's new model

There is little The Bitch loves more than the languid days of summer, when there is nothing but lawn darts, Parcheesi, backgammon, shuffleboard, and Wiffle ball to occupy twilight game-time. But one sport captures a canine's heart like no other: catch-and-release bunny-chasing. So the intrepid hound's ears pricked up at rumors of a sleek, new breed of rabbit that will soon hit our every-day-I'm-hustlin' urban streets. Turns out this one is for riding, not chasing.

In a move unprecedented in automotive history, powerhouse Miami ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky basically told the folks at Volkswagen early this year it was time to bag the Golf and reintroduce the Rabbit. The VW people agreed, and a publicity campaign for the return of one of Volks's most famous cars should begin soon.

There has been some muted publicity about the subject in the trade press, but little about CP+B's name-change gambit until this week, when Business Week played a story about the agency on its cover.

Steve Keyes, Volkswagen's Michigan-based director of corporate communications, said the company had planned to produce just another version of the 22-year-old Golf, but decided on a new-old name. "The decision to rename the Golf to Rabbit was based on the fact that our market was going to receive the new-generation Golf in late June," Keyes continued. "With the introduction, we had the opportunity to change the name as a nod to the passionate North American enthusiasts who have an emotional connection with the Rabbit name."

And Keyes admitted, "CP+B recommended the nomenclature change to Volkswagen's director of brand innovation, Kerri Martin." (Martin is the storied marketing brain who collaborated with CP+B on the ad campaign for the Cooper Mini. She left Cooper for VW in the fall of 2005. CP+B has had the account since December 2005.)

CP+B's creatives are behind innovative campaigns such as the freaky King-character-dominated spate of Burger King television spots, the anti-smoking "Truth" initiative, and the often three-dimensional print ads and billboards for the Mini. Crispin Porter, like the legendary Saatchi & Saatchi, has a reputation for a cultish, hard-driving environment with an emphasis on loyalty and omerta, though dogs are welcome in its Coconut Grove office.

Indeed, even though The Bitch is thrilled at the reinvigorated Rabbit, CP+B gave her the cold flank when she began nosing around. "It would be premature to talk about the Rabbit advertising campaign," Katie Kempner, the agency's vice president and director of communications, tersely told The Bitch. "And we did not have anything to do with the design of the car."

But a Bitch tipster suggested that maybe the agency and VW aren't telling all, saying that the firm contributed sketches of something quite a bit different and unusual to VW. "I've seen some of the printouts of the new Rabbit, and if the car is anything like these drawings, people are going to be blown away," observed a CP+B insider, adding that agency employees are under strict orders not to discuss Rabbit specifics until the ad campaign breaks into public advertising view.


Crispin Porter + Bogusky received hometown recognition of its worldwide ascendancy this week when the 47th annual Clio Festival visited Miami Beach. The six categories of awards were bestowed over four days beginning Saturday with a kickoff party at the Delano hotel on Collins Avenue.

Though the soiree at the Delano featured two hours of open bar and circulating trays of mojitos, the ad biz unsheathed its ultracompetitive, one-upping nature as partygoers showcased their wit and ambition in a series of id-wracking parlor games.

There was the old standby, the dance-class exercise of "trust," wherein one player leans backward to the tipping point, supposedly to be caught by a partner standing at the ready. Then came a second round of sport that involved distributing a sort of "Hello! My name is ..." tags, upon which each player wrote "the adjective that best describes your style," according to the volunteer handing out the labels. This freestyle battle was intense, with creative penmanship battling vocabulary, the word "rockin'" seemingly a favorite of men from the Midwest.

Fortunately James Thomas, a delegate from Delaware who does freelance graphic design for several agencies, did not allow the mojitos to melt away into sugar water, downing a notable half-dozen before trotting up the Delano's terrace steps to its cavernous lobby (where Christina Ricci sat in a modest INC dress). Thomas told The Bitch he's the noncutthroat type, identifying himself as "like a modern version of Michael Steadman from Thirtysomething[the late-Eighties television program about an ad agency run by sensitive, whiny yuppies]."

Thomas, wearing a nonconformist pink oxford shirt and plaid trousers, voiced his aspiration to someday work on a CP+B campaign, citing the firm's work "as the most creative stuff out there that's still widely seen in all markets."

His peers apparently agreed: Clio panels bestowed their favor upon CP+B with gold awards in the integrated media and print/poster categories for campaigns for the Cooper Mini and Miller Lite. One of the memorable Mini ads was a magazine piece that featured a perforated Mini model that could be punched out and folded into a three-dimensional mini Mini.

The "contact and content" segment jury, led by executive chair Paul Woolmington, founding partner of Naked Communications of New York City, also awarded a gold Clio to CP+B for its integrated campaign for the Mini.

Around 19,000 submissions were received from around the world, and only about 190 gold Clios were awarded. On Tuesday evening, during a presentation at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, Crispin Porter + Bogusky was named Clio Agency of the Year for the second year in a row. The agency also won another gold Clio in the cinema and television division for its “Urban Hipster/Decal Conscious” spot for the American Legacy Foundation.


House Music All Night Long

Even among the fiercely individualistic cadre of underground music heroes, Osunlade is special. His success as a producer of Gerardo's multiplatinum single "Rico Suave" and vocal tracks for Martha Wash and India.Arie has allowed him to found a fledgling record label, Yoruba, which is dedicated to tribal-infused music.

But it is for his dance-floor epics that Osunlade is known and beloved in the house music community.

The Bitch saw Osunlade when he visited Miami Beach for Aquabooty's party at Glass back in February (Osunlade returns to Aquabooty this week; see story on page 84) and was transfixed, along with hundreds of others, by an hours-long endorphin-fueled experience that lasted till dawn.

But Osunlade is more than a preternaturally charismatic DJ. He is an advocate of a serene, animist belief system who eschews the excesses of club culture. By popular demand, Osunlade released The Yoruba Soul Mixes, a new collection of his remixes previously unavailable on CD. Here are some excerpts from The Bitch's recent chat with the 33-year-old ancient soul, a six-foot-plus-tall man with a regal bearing but gentle manner:

How do you define or categorize your music? Your compositions and mixes seem to be more interested in polyrhythms and melodic structures than a lot of house and breakbeat is.

"I'd call my music ancestral.... It's first rhythm, then emotion. My melodies are influenced by jazz and soul, but it's all in reverence to the ancestors."

Are you a full-time expatriate now? You've lived in Greece for a while.

"I've been an official expatriate for almost seven years now.... I live in Santorini, Greece. And I hate [DJ haven] Mykonos! It's one of those tourist places people think of and visit when they think of Greece.... I don't like places like that. My life is built on peace and not fun. Santorini provides me with such."

What is your impression of the Miami dance music scene?

"Miami's is similar to a Los Angeles crowd; you know — you know, more about what car you drive, the clothes, and who you're with. But just as L.A. does have its house-heads, so does Miami."

Stevie Wonder is one of your inspirations, right?

"I've never worked with Stevie; however, my mentors in production and engineering were Stevie's people in the Seventies, so I learned a lot of techniques that gave me many hints on how to write and create in clear, creative environments."

How do you divide your time between Yoruba label responsibilities and travel, composing, and laying down your own tracks?

"There is no separation.... It is one and the same. Yoruba is my life. Everything else is a part of my responsibilities. It's a balancing act sometimes with the travels, but the Orishas and ancestors keep me balanced and allow me the strength in living and acting as one with spirit and human duties."

Who are some of the DJs you are listening to right now, or who do you think is doing something interesting and different? What about music in general? What's in your iPod?

"I don't usually listen to much DJ-based or electronic music outside of doing gigs. I think it keeps my mind clear by having blinders on to distract me from other music that's out. I listen to mostly jazz or progressive rock. Right now in my iPod I have Can, Gentle Giant, Joe Henderson, Benny Maupin, Jonathan Brooke ... and the list goes on."

Aren't you studying to become a priest of some sort?

"I am already a priest. I am in the second phase of studies, which will allow me to teach further and have my own i'lle [temple] and parish. It's simply a year of cleansing, like a monk. I must wear white only; there are many restrictions on food, and no physical human contact. Simple things like looking in the mirror are forbidden. It's a path that allows you to close your eyes to the world and the things that sometimes make you vain with ego or make you imbalanced."


Uniform Chilling

Spanish clothing designer Adolfo Dominguez was in South Florida this past week to receive the Lifetime Achievement in Fashion Award during Miami Fashion Week 2006, a showcase that attracted mostly Latin American couturiers. Dominguez is decidedly noncouture-oriented, having instead devoted his 30-year career to ready-to-wear goods for male and female humans. His most recent innovation was creating uniforms for the flight attendants of Iberia Airlines.

Dominguez was supposed to attend a shindig in his honor Wednesday evening at his namesake flagship store in the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables; he ended up bailing on his own party, which The Bitch, who was looking forward to meeting him, nonetheless finds rather cool. (Minerva Arboleya of ASI Marketing Group, who is Dominguez's U.S. spokeswoman, said Dominguez was just running late because of his hectic schedule.)

And his absence didn't deter about a hundred Adolfo admirers from showing up. Upon discovering platters of bruschetta and goblets of Pinot Grigio being passed freely, people and dogs stuck around to admire the clothes, which are really quite nice and, for those not on a canine allowance, special-occasion affordable: A long black mesh skirt with scarlet tulle lining and a blue-and-green grosgrain waistband was $291.

So The Bitch was happy, but the visiting Iberia employees who modeled the uniforms apparently were not. Cinthia Astollo, sporting the female airline wear (dark gray polyester with red-and-yellow piping) hissed loudly to her male counterpart Carlos Mirabal about the war paint sported by some Coral Gables grandes dames browsing ("Tanto maquillaje feo!") and even commented on the wraithlikeness of the pale hound.

When one guest-cum-shopper set a glass of white wine atop a narrow wooden ledge above some colorful, spangly smocks, store associate Paxti Cañada, already beside himself about the dangerous proximity of cranberry juice and minced tomato to the merchandise, lost it. "I will hold that for you," Cañada announced, grasping the stem of the wineglass. "No, actually, I will take it," the Bronson Pinchot-like man continued, spiriting away the offending liquid.

A few guests were startled by what appeared to be a member of the New York Police Department snapping their photos. "No, it's just an official NYPD shirt," explained Miami Heraldphotographer Gaston De Cardenas. Um, okay!


Luxury Lounge II

A longtime associate of The Bitch who sometimes pulls one of the dog's four legs, recently blurted, "You'll never guess where I went to a party at last night! The cocktail patio at Miami City Hall!"

No way! You're pulling one of my legs!

"No seriously," the amiga continued. "There was a big reception with lots of booze and women, and I was talking to Mayor Manny Diaz, but then [city manager] Joe Arriola came over and told Manny to shut the hell up!"

That anecdote had the bark of truth, so The Bitch investigated, first by circling the city hall building at 3500 Pan American Dr. This foot patrol of the archaic, fortress-like structure yielded little to the canine eye. So a call was placed to city director of communications Kelly Penton. Penton, who to her unceasing credit never shows what must be extreme exasperation with the ludicrousness of The Bitch's questions, patiently explained, "City hall does not have a öcocktail patio,' so to speak. The second floor has a large balcony that wraps around almost all of the building. City officials and departments use this area for appreciation ceremonies for volunteers or employees, photo shoots, and events for visiting dignitaries. It works out because we have such nice weather, the space can hold many people, and the city saves the cost that would normally be incurred when coordinating these events at other venues."

Penton had no insight as to whether the city manager rousted the mayor from chatting up guests. Arriola's reported utterance of the Ghostface Killah lyric, "If you don't get me some muthafuckin' cognac, I'll kill you," could be confirmed by no one.

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