KANYE WEST COMES HOME
This past Friday, Hotel Sax hosted the launch event for The Kanye West Foundation. I was lucky enough to attend the Foundation’s benefit, which was held in the hotel’s Crimson Lounge. A sold-out concert in the nearby House of Blues concert venue followed. The night raised more than $500,000.00 for educational programs such as West’s Loop Dreams Teacher Training Institute, an initiative that will assist Chicago Public School teachers in using hip-hop in their curriculum.
Celebrity attendees included David Alan Grier, Mos Def, Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson, Miami Heat Star Dwayne Wade, America’s Top Model Winner Jaslene Gonzalez.
And while the A-Listers came out in full force, so did the corporate community. Microsoft, Wrigley and Ariel Capital were all major sponsors. Attending the event, it is evident that corporate America is embracing urban marketing strategies in a way that wouldn’t have been imagined just a few years ago. Kanye West isn’t just a hip-hop icon, he’s now a pop-culture icon. His appeal transcends those who will benefit from his foundation. But Kudos to him for using his influence to tap into some hefty corporate social responsibility dollars that in turn will be distributed to the Chicago Schools.
VICTORY, I GOT A HIT!
Although I began working at Zapwater in January as an intern, this summer I have really been given the opportunity to experience a much more interactive and in-depth approach to media relations. For the past month, I have worked on the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, Red Kiva, Elm Street Liquors and Victory Liquors, as well as several other accounts. With Elm Street and Victory Liquors, I have been in charge of sending out their listings to local publications, as well as preparing press releases for both of their up-coming anniversary parties (which you should keep an eye out for later this month!).
In addition to solely making sure both venues make it to the pages of the daily and weekly publications, I recently pitched Victory’s weekly drink and food specials to the RedEye for an article on exceptional food and drink deals for every day of the week. Considering Victory has amazing specials that my friends and I partake in weekly, I knew this would be a great addition to the article. A little less than a week later, I opened the RedEye, and there was the article featuring Victory Liquors for their Wednesday night specials (which includes Karaoke for those who are curious). One of the most satisfying things about working in media relations is that you can actually see visual results for the work you have completed. Also, check out the article below, and definitely stop by Victory for some cheap but excellent food and drink deals!
Victory Liquors is located at 2610 N. Halsted.
Zapwater’s most recent opening activity was coordinating the Grand Opening of RA Sushi’s 14th national and 3rd Chicagoland location in Lombard, Illinois. Coming off Crimson Lounge’s opening, Zapwater was tasked with creating an equally successful yet entirely different event to celebrate RA’s growth, support two local charities and introduce the city of Lombard to its newest upbeat and trendy sushi destination.
Complete with blackjack, roulette and poker tables and live DJ, RA’s venue was transformed into a gambling haven for a Vegas-themed Grand Opening Party. Guests could partake in faux gambling festivities, feast on RA’s tasty and equally aesthetically pleasing menu items and enter for a chance to win one of a selection of many raffle prizes. Consistent with Grand Opening tradition, RA chose two local charities around the Western Suburbs to donate bar proceeds from the evening. The night resulted in over $2,800 raised and split between the Naperville Young Professional Group and the American Cancer Society branch in Oakbrook.
I will keep names anonymous but will leave you with quote from one of Zapwater’s own, “I have never been out to Lombard before, but there really is a lot going on and it’s pretty cool!” So for all you suburban skeptics out there, I suggest you give it another try (it’s not that far), the evening was a great success and as the restaurant’s mantra promises, “It’s more fun in the RA!”
The foundation of the Hotel Sax Chicago guest experience philosophy is to provide what is expected in a luxury hotel along with unexpected encounters and discoveries that surprise and delight the senses. When we embarked on the initial planning phases of the grand opening Crimson Lounge, located off the lobby of the hotel, we knew there was some serious brainstorming in our future. The rest of the Zapwater staff, along with hotel directors and Crimson General Manager, Steven Greaves, knew they wanted to throw an unprecedented bash to unveil the new space, which had been completely gutted and renovated to remove any trace of its former occupant, the Kaz Bar. After several months of meticulous planning, Crimson Lounge opened its doors for the first time this past Thursday, July 26th.
As they arrived, guests walked a crimson carpet and were directed through the lobby of the Hotel Sax to the doors of Crimson Lounge. If the bass vibrating through the floors was a preview of the night to come – we were in for a great party! Party-going VIPs were greeted with glasses of bubbling champagne adorned with strawberries. Cocktail waitresses and servers – donning sexy Crimson employee outfits designed by L.A. clothing label Cash Lords in conjunction with Chicago celeb stylist Lindsay McKay – bustled around the room serving bite-size appetizers and signature drinks from the Crimson menu.
Matt Roan, a favorite DJ in Chicago, kicked off the night with two straight hours of energetic dance music and classic drinking songs. Los Angeles-based celebrity DJ and paparazzi favorite, Samantha Ronson, took over the tables at 10PM for an ecstatic crowd. Samantha and Matt seemed to enjoy each others company, they mingled by the DJ booth before she started her set. The booth, at crowd level, was perfect for many Ronson fans who watched her, faces pressed against the glass, throughout the night. Even while playing an unforgettable set of music, Ronson was extremely friendly and smiled and posed for pictures throughout the night – all the while flashing her signature peace sign.
The VIP guests of the night, including R.Kelly, Smokie Robinson and George Daniels received overflowing gift bags from the Crimson Gifting Lounge. Select VIPs received special passes to the security-guarded lounge, which included swag from Microsoft Zunes, K.Amato jewelry, Bulgari, Luca Luca, Cash Lords, Chicago Social and Vosges Haut-Chocolat.
The eclectic crowd grew throughout the night and became increasingly uninhibited as the night drew on. Sporadic dance-offs and sing-alongs to Jackson 5 remixes were definitely a highlight! Who doesn’t love a little “ABC.” When the last glass of champagne had been drunk (or spilled), the most hardcore partiers, Hotel Sax and Crimson staff and the Zapwater team retreated to various VIP areas to reminisce about the night. I was lucky enough to stumble upon my boss David Zapata in deep conversation with Samantha Ronson and Crimson General Manager Steven Greaves.
Being the huge celebrity blog fan that I am, I already felt like I knew Samantha and didn’t hesitate to squeeze my way into that conversation. She was totally down to earth and introduced herself with, “Love your dress – that’s awesome!” Little did she know it was borrowed. Either way I felt A-List. From the looks of the faces in Crimson that night, everyone else felt pretty VIP too. That was what we had in mind.
Congratulations to the Pritzker Military Library for winning recognition from the Webby Award for its online programming. The library’s Webcast programs landed the not-fot-profit organization in the top 10 of 8,000 applicants for a Webby Award. Click here to read an article from the Wednesday, August 1, 2007 Chicago Sun-Times and learn more.
Also well wishes to James H. McPherson, the Pulitzker Prize-winning author and historian, for being awarded the first-ever Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. The $100,000 honorarium, citation and medallion, sponsored by the Tawani Foundation, will be presented at the Library’s black-tie Liberty Gala on Saturday, October 6, 2007 at the Drake Hotel located 140 E. Walton Place.