Is Toyota’s party a marketing ploy or a benefit?

According to this story in the Chicago Tribune (our regrets that we can only link to the pay-for-play archive), Toyota is spending $800,000 for a day in the park. The automaker is paying the city for a private party in Millennium Park, the city’s $490 million lakefront collection of gardens and art centered around a Frank Gehry-designed amphitheater, on Thursday, Sept. 8. Toyota’s payment includes signs in the park and acknowledgments in the brochures, but the automaker described most of the outlay as a straight donation. It appears the Tribune tried, but didn’t have much success in raising eyebrows about the deal. After all, the park was partly funded by private donations, signs of which exist everywhere (features include Wrigley Square, McCormick Tribune Plaza and BP Bridge. As usual, Chicago residents are fairly hardened to the cozy relationship between City Hall and business big and small, in ways aboveboard and below.

—Posted by Trevor Jensen