New Meaning to ‘Magic Bus’: GMC, Aspire Woo Ad Execs With Hall of Fame Hoopster

Like most networks, GMC has been wining
and dining advertising executives during the upfront
season, talking up the virtues of its inspirational-themed
network, as well as the new African-American-targeted network
Aspire (for which GMC is providing affiliate and adsales
services; for more on Aspire).

Instead of holding elaborate restaurant affairs, though,
GMC is taking
execs for a ride
on its GMC/Aspire upfront
bus, a cozy tour
vehicle outfitted
with snacks,
beverages, a karaoke
machine
and several bigscreen
TVs suitable
for viewing
media sales
pitches.

For a few
lucky ad execs,
a guest passenger
will
also be aboard
the bus: Hall
of Fame basketball star and Aspire majority owner
Earvin “Magic” Johnson. GMC/Aspire executive
vice president of ad sales Mary Jeanne Cavanagh said
Johnson has greeted media buyers on the bus in Chicago
to talk up Aspire, launching June 27, one of four
multicultural networks supported by Comcast as part
of a a voluntary condition of its NBCUniversal merger.

Cavanagh said the
bus tour — which
will make an appearance
at the Cable
Show in Boston
next month — cut
through the upfront
clutter. “We had
to come up with a
unique environment
where people come
into our space,” she
said. “For young
people, you feel like
a rock star on the
bus. And for older
people and key decision-makers, they’re
happy to get out of
the office.”

Rogue ‘Real’ Husband
Gets Sued in Virginia,
Runs for Governor


Tareq Salahi
, former
“real husband” on
Bravo reality television
show The Real
Housewives of D.C
.,
found himself the
target of a lawsuit
by Virginia’s attorney
general over alleged
violations of the Virginia
Consumer Protection
Act.

In response, he’s
running for governor.

Attorney general
Ken Cuccinelli II’s
reps said the suit
had been filed in a
Fauquier County, Va.,
circuit court against Salahi over a wine tour venture and
allegations of not delivering wine tours as promised or
refunds for canceled tours. Salahi also stands accused
of representing “reputable businesses” as partners
when they were not.

Also named in the suit are Virginia Wine Tourism Inc.
and Celebration Entertainment Productions LLC. Cuccinelli’s
office said Salahi is the “sole officer and director”
of Virginia Wine Tourism and presumed to be the
same for Celebration Entertainment Productions.

Salahi and his now-estranged wife, Michaele, were
featured on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of D.C., and
gained even greater notoriety after crashing a White
House dinner in November 2009.

Cuccinelli is seeking civil penalties, as well as the return
of all monies collected from consumers.


The Washington Post
reported Salahi decided the right
response was to crash the Virginia governor’s mansion
through the front door, opting to run for governor against
Cuccinelli as a kind of protest against the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Salahi’s company emailed The
Wire this confirmation: “During the course of recent
events and witnessing the waste of taxpayer dollars on
unwarranted, overblown investigations and hearings used
by elected officials for media attention and political gain
at his personal expense, Tareq Salahi is announcing his
consideration as a candidate for governor of Virginia.”

Cox Floors Mall-Goers
With Trompe L’oeil
Still Life With Digeez

Cox Communications is faking out Virginians with a specially
commissioned piece of artwork that makes it look like
they’re chillaxing with the MSO’s pint-sized Digeez mascots.

The MSO has installed the piece, known as 3D Pavement
Art, as the centerpiece of a promotional campaign
at three malls in Fairfax, Roanoke and Hampton Roads,
where it will be on display through early May. A 16-by-16-
foot vinyl mat lies flat on the floor, depicting a living room
with four of the space-suited creatures watching TV, on
the phone, using a tablet and hanging out by a PC. The
artist’s technique makes the figures appear to be in 3D

Cox reps take pictures of visitors — posing on the
couch or standing on a stool — using a fisheye lens to create
the 3D illusion. The snaps are later uploaded to Cox
Virginia’s Facebook page. The Digeez scene has garnered
some perplexed looks, says Cox spokesman Mike Leone:
“At first glance, people are, like, ‘What do I do with this?!’”

The piece is the work of Kurt Wenner, who’s internationally
known for his 3D Pavement Art — Pope John
Paul II
once commissioned him to create a 15-by-75-
foot street painting based on The Last Judgment.

One imagines Virginia suburbanites aren’t as tough a
crowd.

UPFRONT SEASON:
CONGESTION AHEAD

WGN America caught The Wire’s eye with kiosk ads in
Manhattan timed for “upfront” season, which is, of course,
when networks throw parties and talent-filled events touting
shows such as How I Met Your Mother and enticing media
buyers. Ironically
(fittingly?),
the Tribuneowned
network,
which did the
ads in-house,
makes its pitches
one-on-one,
not party-style.
E! and Fuel TV
hold upfronts
this week, but
May 14-17 is
when the calendar
really gets
crowded. See
page 6 or sister
site broadcastingcable.com/upfronts for a
rundown and
Freeze Frame for
more pix.

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