This week, office and retail brokers across Manhattan received thick red envelopes in the mail containing invitations to Tishman Speyer’s Annual Lobster Bake at Rockefeller Center.
“Tishman Speyer cordially invites you to the 9th Annual Lobster Bake at Rockefeller Center, Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 6 p.m., the Rink Bar.”
It’s a lovely invitation, shaped like a lobster bib, apparently embossed, with a clever logo on top featuring a red lobster set against a backdrop of a plate/skyscraper, with a fork to the left and knife to the right.
But it’s a far cry from the over-the-top, money-is-no-obstacle invitations of hale years past – before the real estate giant made the apparent mistake of purchasing Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for $5.4 billion at the height of the market; before the details of the deal were dissected publicly in every publication that follows such things, from The New York Times to New York magazine.
“Last year or the year before, they sent a whole lobster cookbook to everybody along with the invitation,” said one broker. “The year before that, they sent you a lobster bib and a shell-cracker. This is like nothing. It’s nice, it’s a nice cardboard invitation. But nothing compared to what they’ve done in the past. This is 1,000 percent a scale-back for them.”
Tough times call for more modest mailings. (Though a spokesman for Tishman Speyer said the rest of the bash will remain the same—same number of invitees, same ritual consumption of bottom-feeding invertebrate spider relatives in the company of brokers.)
Indeed, CB Richard Ellis superstar Steve Siegel said that, counterintuitive as it might seem, such marketing events increase in importance as the economy sinks. “In this environment you can’t stop those kind of things because it’s a mistake,” Mr. Siegel said. “You’ve got to continue to market your space. This is in no way, shape or form over the top.”