Going the extra mile for charitable causes

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Even on a slow week in the industry, we can always count on someone holding a charity event. We're not the black-hearted kind, but we do tend to the lazy and we wonder why some people feel a need to torture themselves in order to give to charity. Where we would wake up on a Saturday afternoon and think about writing a check, 320 people woke up July 29 and headed to Calf Pasture bay in Norwalk, Conn., at the ungodly hour of 7:20 a.m. Then they hopped into kayaks and paddled across Long Island Sound to New York. And they paid, at minimum, $500 for the honor. Now that, my friends, is dedication. And, yes, it was for a good cause. In fact the even is called the Nautica/GQ Kayak for a Cause and GQ VP-Publisher Peter King Hunsinger was among the band of pirates navigating the Sound for the Hole in the Wall Gang, a summer camp for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Other charities received a piece of the $460,000 raised as well. Also making the 13-mile early-morning paddle were GQ Associate Publisher Michael Wolfe; Scott Carlin, president-domestic TV distribution, HBO (and co-founder of Kayak for a Cause); Matthew Puckett, coalition controller, Nautica; and Carter Oosterhouse, spokesman for Nautica Voyage fragrance and hammer-wielding carpenter hunk on TLC's Trading Spaces.

Of course, participants weren't simply gluttons for punishment. There was a lobster bake, with entertainment provided by the Wailers. Because nothing soothes worn-out muscles like a half an hour or so with Junior Marvin and the Wailers (if you catch our drift).

Meanwhile, across town...

Dedicated readers may remember a few weeks back, when Adages gained entry into the Conde Nast cafeteria in Times Square and provided you with an insider look at all the food going uneaten there. Turns out there is a bit of sibling rivalry between the Conde Nast buildings. Shortly after that item ran, we received an e-mail from a worker at the Conde Nast offices on Third Ave., which houses Golf Digest, the Bridal Group, the Fairchild books and other Conde titles. They, too, have a new eatery and they wanted to show it off to Adages. And who are we to pass up lunch, especially in the name of hard-hitting journalism? This iteration of the Conde Cafe was a coolly lit space that put us in mind of a sushi restaurant. And, as with its cross-town sibling, this cafe had a robust sushi offering. It also had a grill, a stir-fry station, salad bar and special-of-the-day offering. As luck would have it, the special of the day was Texas-style barbecue. (We'll spare you yet another tirade about the purity of barbecue, but only because of limited space.) The biggest difference between the two cafes? People seemed to be eating at this one. And no one looked at us in horror when we filled our Styrofoam cup with 42-ounce of high-fructose, glorious green Mountain Dew.

Betting the mortgage on the Mets

When Jericho, N.Y., mortgage broker and banker Premium Capital Funding wanted to up its game, it turned to branding agency Thinkso Creative, and thus was born Topdot Mortgage. But as everyone knows, it takes more than a name-change and a new marketing focus to get people talking-especially about mortgages. So Topdot VP Adam Brown, a life-long New York Mets fan, couldn't pass up the opportunity to do a promotion with radio station WFAN and the Amazins.' Adam, though, wanted "to put some high stakes in there." So they came up with the "Grand Slam Inning" contest. Starting after the All-Star break and lasting until the end of the regular season, the next time a Mets player hits a grand slam in the fifth inning, one lucky fan will receive a year of mortgage payments up to $25,000 (renters can enter, too, and get their rent tab picked up). They're also giving away $200 steak dinners to a Christo's steakhouse in Queens for single home runs in the fifth. It took a little persuading on Adams' part to get his brother David, CEO and founder of Topdot, to go along with the promotion. Grand slams, he pointed out, are rare, and, "I explained to him that a grand-slam in the fifth inning is not very likely." And then the Mets hit a record-tying six grand slams in the month of July. Four of them happened before the contest began and the latter two didn't happen in the fifth inning, but it was enough to give Adam conniptions. "It's bittersweet," he says. "I want them to win, but I want the fifth inning to fly by."

And the Yankees? "We have plenty of Yankees supporters here at the company," says Adam, "but I'm a Mets fan so they had to deal with it."

Stir it up with kwheaton@crain.com
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