Erika Engle

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Amid carb-count
craze, Taste of Honolulu
promotes girth

A public service campaign offering a way to "gain weight instantly" has become a pop culture hit.

It hit print pages and broadcast airwaves just a week ago and within days, people recited lines to Billie Gabriel, Easter Seals Hawaii vice president for development, at her Kamehameha Schools class reunion.

The public service announcements for Easter Seals' Taste of Honolulu fund-raiser this weekend are supposed to be a satirical take-off on all the products that take off weight, of course.

Laird Christianson Advertising Inc. agreed to help. Typical of Hawaii, the agency's friends were enlisted for the effort, including freelance copywriter Kim Porter, production facilities such as Montaj9, KHON, Studio X and a host of actors who appeared in exchange for event scrips.

Brad Bate, who posed as a chef and doctor in the television spot, told organizers, "I couldn't pass up the opportunity to actually work for food."

Gabriel says both Easter Seals and Laird Christianson "support healthy eating habits, we're not telling everybody to go gorge themselves. We want everyone to have fun."

There was concern that someone might take offense. But the nonprofit organization has received no complaints. Rather, "people have been asking, 'who did these ads, they are so funny,'" Gabriel said.

"I'm sorry to say that (Easter Seals Hawaii President) John Howell and I did all the ads in the past and they're absolutely flat. They were OK, but we're not professionals," she said.

The campaign could have cost as much as $20,000, were it not done pro bono, Christianson said.

The first brainstorming session for the spots almost resulted in the concept getting dismissed.

"It really started with just, 'could we possibly do this?' and then our first reaction was, 'well, no.' Then it became, 'but if you did,' and line after line after line just started flowing."

The spot plays off the low-carb, low-cal, low-fat mania as well as criticism of the so-called Super-Sized Lifestyle.

"When Krispie Kreme lowers its earnings projections, you know it's a trend," Christianson said. "A couple of us actually stayed up late to watch infomercials."

Your columnist is fortunate to be among the hosts of the Taste of Honolulu telecast beginning Saturday afternoon on KHON2. Hopefully the on-camera appearance of furikake between the teeth can be avoided.

Now for drinks

The long-vacant Eastern Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant at 46-023 Kamehameha Hwy., across from Windward Mall in Kaneohe, is to become a co-branded Starbucks Coffee and Jamba Juice store. It will feature Hawaii's second Starbucks drive-through.

"We have right now a tentative completion and opening in early October," said Sherri Rigg, marketing director for Cafe Hawaii Partners. The partnership is the umbrella entity over Starbucks licensee Coffee Partners Hawaii and Jamba licensee JJC Hawaii LLC.

The new location won't serve up fruity Jamba drinks from the drive-through window, since there is no corporate design for such a facility, but it's not for lack of customer demand. Rigg regularly fields calls from customers who suggest sites, which is among the reasons for the second Starbucks location in Kaneohe. The first is at Windward City Shopping Center. The Jamba Juice will be Kaneohe's first.

Starbucks' first Hawaii drive-through, part of a 2,300 square foot store, opened in Hilo right around Merrie Monarch time last year.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at:


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