Condé Nast Plays The CIT Card

FishbowlNY contributing editor and self-proclaimed “aviation nut” Greg Lindsay reports from an odd Condé Nast party atop Rockefeller Center:

I attended a party and panel discussion hosted by the Condé Nast Media Group and one of its most favored advertisers, the banking giant CIT Group. (No, not Citi.) Being an aviation nut, the main draw for me was the features conversation with Marquis Jet founder Kenny Dichter, who had the brilliant idea back in 2001 to sell hours aboard a private jet like they were minutes on an international calling card. Entitled “CIT: Behind The Business,” the event was second in a series of four, with the first one having featuring fashion designer (and CIT client, like Marquis Jet) Mark Ecko. In case you haven’t already figured out where this is going, the party was essentially a value-added event for an advertiser and a hundred people or so it wanted to impress. What made it more interesting than the usual run-of-the-mill advertiser event was the fact that the CN Media Group, and not any one of the magazines, was the official sponsor. CIT ads will appear in September issues of Portfolio, Wired, Golf Digest, and the New Yorker, but none of them received so much as a node during the evening, even though the publishers of each magazine were present. (Alas, we did not get the chance to ask Portfolio publisher David Carey just how many pages in his magazine’s second issue will stem from corporate ad buys.)

As for the conversation with Dichter, we learned that Marquis Jet is great (of course), and that what the company is really offering is service, not luxury. “It’s not a socialite thrill,” he put it succinctly, “but we do take socialite money.” What else I learned:

  • It only cost $5,000 to hire Dick Vitale for college basketball events back in 1987, when Dichter recruited him to host the University of Wisconsin’s “Midnight Madness” the year he was only a freshman.
  • Warren Buffet is, or was, an Apprentice addict,” Dichter said. When Marquis Jet headlined an entire episode of Trump’s first season, Dichter heard about it from Buffet himself.
  • The secret of success is having a great idea. After that, “you just have to know someone or get some capital.” Well, there is that.

    The guests retired to the garden, which in this case was seven stories above Fifth Avenue atop Rockefeller Center.