Monday, June 4

Thought I'd Seen It All ...

... but I guess I haven't!!

I've been in our LA office the last few days, and spent the weekend as well.  I have always loved Southern California so I was particularly glad to spend some time there.  Each little area of LA has its own personality and "brand" if you will.  Hollywood, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Studio City ... and of course the infamous Beverly Hills.  Rodeo Drive, a brand unto itself, is like Disney Land for designers.  Eye candy galore.

Just thinking about Beverly Hills brings up all sorts of imagery about beautiful cars, palm trees, high heel pumps, big houses with even bigger hedges ... and of course boutiques and restaurants.  Some of these images are real, and some just created by Hollywood itself via television shows, movies, and intense celebrity promotion through the years.

Saturday night I was having dinner at a restaurant in Beverly Hills made famous by The Real Housewives franchise, Villa Blanca.  The place is gorgeous, especially the flowers and candles, and the food and service was top notch.  It was a perfectly suitable experience, exactly what I had expected from this brand.

And yes, of course, all along the curb out front were parked luxury cars of every brand you can think of - I've never seen more Bentley's in my life.

In casually observing the two couples sitting next to us, though, I had a shocker.  No, not a celebrity sighting like I'd hoped would be a part of the experience but something that I honestly have never seen before or even crossed my little mind would be possible.

One of the men at the table was refilling his wife's (and his) martini glasses with a chilled bottle of vodka that they had brought from home!  Packed in a Poland Springs water bottle!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Refilling the glasses all night long.  Each time checking to make sure that no one was watching, including the other couple sitting at the table with them.

First of all, tacky.  If you can't afford a $12 martini, then return the Elie Tahari shirt you're wearing and the Chanel bag your wife is carrying and the Louboutin shoes she's sporting.  Second of all, these waiters and restaurateurs are trying to make a living and you're STEALING as far as I am concerned.  And thirdly, this is Beverly Hills!  This kind of behavior is off brand!  Go to a BYOB at the beach!

I literally thought I'd seen it all ... but I guess I haven't!!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect series
Professor, NYU


  1. Could have been worse. Could have done a Victor/Victoria, packed their own bug and claimed it was in their Pasta with $100 white truffles. To paraphrase an old one...Rich is wasted on the rich. Apparently, so are manners. However, as I am not rich, I shall use that trick next time I dine...

  2. I too, have seen that behavior.....tacky is right!

  3. That is minor compared to what I have seen in the hotel business. Once we has a lady with a thermal lined purse slowly empty the shrimp and oyster bar plate by plate into her purse. And many other outlansish acts.Some of which were not G rated. People never fail to suprise me.