Erika Engle

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Musician Herb Ohta Jr.
sings for the Reyn's on his back

SECOND-generation musician Herb Ohta Jr. has no idea how many Reyn Spooner shirts he owns.

He's been a customer for years and counts company executives and store staff among his friends, but not all friends enter into marketing agreements. Ohta and Reyn's have entered such a pact.

Herb Ohta Jr. has been a Reyn's fan for years.

"Any time they need me to help them, then I'll help them," Ohta said. Sometimes that help entails a two-hour concert inside Reyn's Ala Moana, such as his most recent June 19 gig that sent cash registers singing.

In exchange, Reyn's hooks up Ohta with shirts for gigs and CD covers.

In exchange, he hooks up Reyn's with an acknowledgment in his album liner notes.

The junior Ohta has recorded seven albums, two of them in partnership with Keoki Kahumoku (he's the cousin of former volleyball Wahine Lily). He's clad in a Reyn's shirt on more than half the CD covers.

"He goes to Japan a lot and wears our shirts,"said Kitty Jenness, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Reyn-Spooner Inc. "It's not only promoting the product but promoting a wonderful musician, very talented."

At 33 Ohta Jr. is too old to be referred to as Ohta-chan, the Japanese honorific suffix generally ascribed to children. However, he's also younger than the stereotypical 40-or-better Reyn's wearer.

The marketing arrangement is common within the Hawaii music scene. Artists and bands have received sponsorships for decades, for varied products and services from clothing and instruments to transportation and lodging.

Not your father's Toyota

The Scion, a new youth-targeted brand of Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp., hits the Hawaii market Saturday.

The first two models of the Scion went on sale in California last July, in the first wave of a three-phase rollout that winds up with the nationwide introduction of the third model.

The staggered rollout of the Scion xA, xB and tC was designed "to make sure supplies are sufficient for dealers," said Wes Kimura, vice president of automotive strategic planning for Servco Pacific Inc. It is the parent company of several automotive businesses including Scion Hawaii, the state's sole distributor of the subcompact line.

Given the deliberate nature of marketing, generation of buzz and an increasing of consumer interest and demand were also part of the plan, he said.

The xA sedan, xB urban utility vehicle and tC two-door coupe will be available at Servco Scion at 2850 Pukoloa St. in Mapunapuna and at Big Island Scion, co-located with the Big Island Toyota at 811 Kanoelehua Ave. in Hilo. A Scion dealership is planned for Maui at some point.

Kimura would not divulge the number of cars that will be available this weekend and could not say how many the state would be getting each year.

"At this point, we have less than what our market demand is," he said.

Scion dealers will take orders, should the cars sell out immediately.

Each model comes with several standard features including anti-lock brakes, air conditioning and power windows and door locks, so buyers only need to choose the model, the type of transmission and the color, one of six for the xA or xB, one of seven for the tC. The xA is the cheapest, starting at $12,995.

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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