Thursday, March 5, 2009

Black Friday for entertainment at NE Phoenix malls

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, November 30, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

During the Christmas season, it's hard to buy into the propaganda that Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the nation.

The day after Thanksgiving, there were no special events at any of northeast Phoenix's three malls.

Paradise Valley even lost the annual Beth and Bill Thanksgiving radio show to Chandler.

The famous Disney Jingle Jam is scheduled for Tempe on Dec. 9, not northeast Phoenix. Why not?

Let's hope CityNorth, which is getting terrific tax breaks from the city, will learn a marketing lesson. This project will move Phoenix's demographics north, to northeast Phoenix. So its Christmas event needs to be spectacular.

Los Angeles has an outdoor shopping mall called The Grove. It opened about the same time as both Kierland Commons and Desert Ridge Marketplace. The Grove is similar to San Diego's Horton Plaza, another shopping mall with national renown.

"Christmas at The Grove could give Rockefeller Center's celebration a run for its money," according to the Web site So could CityNorth, if it markets itself properly.

Here's a suggestion for CityNorth developer: On Nov. 18, The Grove had performers Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle, Goo Goo Dolls and Mannheim Steamroller. This was not as good as 2006, when they had my favorite group, Aly and AJ. You can find their The Grove performance on

If CityNorth wants to be overly successful, it should plan a huge holiday event. If it opened today, I would recommend Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers.

Next year, I would recommend Jordin Sparks. Maybe bring the world's most gorgeous woman, Jessica Simpson, to sing her Christmas album songs, or Hilary Duff, who created the Christmas album genre for the Zack & Cody generation.

I would even recommend a comedian -- we have many locals like Robert Shimmel, Gary Shandling or David Spade. Then there are the minor talents needed to fill out the show. How about Willa Ford doing Santa Baby (gimme, gimme, gimme)? Local bands like the Gin Blossoms or a reformed Pistoleros, too.

Of course, marketing CityNorth is key. Not only garner the cable news and local news action, but today you need Internet, like YouTube, FaceBook and MySpace, as well as each performer's Web site. Syndicated morning radio shows as well. Imagine inviting Ryan Seacrest's Los Angeles radio show here for a holiday spectacular. That would draw in California tourism.

It doesn't matter what specials are drawing consumers to stores on Black Friday. To build a national reputation (like The Grove received on CitySearch), CityNorth needs to establish a presence during the winter holidays when we have wonderful weather.

Without a spectacular Yule season, it will be missing great marketing opportunities.

CityNorth could bring radio stations from cold climates to the state, like Disneyland does. It's great publicity. Add the national morning news shows broadcasting from CityNorth during its holiday spectacular. Don't forget the airline magazines for more tourist draw.

Too bad so many tax dollars go into poor marketing by government and non-profit tourism groups that miss the mark on marketing efforts like these. CityNorth could prove again it is private industry that achieves results.