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Questions, Questions, Questions

November 11, 1986|Bill Ritter

A class of senior marketing students at San Diego State University is getting a real-life lesson in how to conduct random surveys.

And at the same time, a private corporation is getting a free marketing study about a fast-selling imported beer its firm distributes.

Ron Fowler, president of Mesa Distributing, which, among other liquids, delivers Corona beer in the county, has hooked up with the marketing class to develop a profile of the typical Corona drinker.

The students have already completed 550 random telephone surveys in an effort to find out what makes Corona lovers tick, or in this case drink. The survey's results will soon be punched into a computer and analyzed, with a finished product delivered to Fowler by year's end.

Other corporations, for-profit and nonprofits alike, can take advantage of the university's services, according to Dinoo Vanier, chairman of San Diego State's marketing department.

Any conflict with publicly funded students conducting a survey for profit-making, private corporations?

None whatsoever, according to Vanier and her colleague, Prof. Don Sciampaglia.

"We're not in competition with other marketing survey firms," Sciampaglia said. And, "if you take your argument to the extreme, it would preclude any internship program and any type of case study."

Fowler, a long-time San Diego State supporter, contributed $5,000 to the marketing department this fall, which matches a gift last spring when another marketing class conducted a marketing survey on Lowenbrau, which Fowler's firm also distributes.

According to the owner of a for-profit marketing firm, a similar survey would typically cost between $4,750 and $7,000.

But the marketing firm owner said he didn't object to Fowler's arrangement. Students, he said, "have to get experience. The more experience they can get, the better it will be for the ultimate employer."

But he quickly added: "I've seen work products from university classes--sometimes they lack the conceptual (analysis) and the insight and the interpretation one needs in a targeted marketing communications program."

Slip Slides

Don't tell multimedia producer Ron Costa about doing battle with folks who buy ink by the barrel. He's taken on a host of them.

Costa says he's readying a lawsuit against the San Diego Press Club for $1,300 as part of a complicated and embarrassing Keystone Cops-sounding foul-up of the Press Club's slide show presentation at its annual awards dinner in September.

Costa claims that the Press Club, in a bid to hold down production costs, said it would find a source to donate the $350 audio portion of the $3,100 multimedia show that Costa wrote and produced.

But when Costa presented himself for Show Time the night of Sept. 22, he claims that the audio segment wasn't "professionally acceptable."

The show was cancelled and Costa says the Press Club still owes him $1,300 of his $3,100 costs.

Costa late last month sent a two-page letter to dozens of newspapers, radio and television stations, public relations agencies and attorneys, detailing the story and apologizing for the multimedia snafu.

He closed the letter complaining that his firm, C.I. West, can't afford this "negative (monetary) depletion" and predicting that the "damage to our business reputation could certainly be in jeopardy."

Costa promised he would "not be intimidated or wrongly accused of professional incompetence by anyone."

Press Club spokeswoman Barbara Lord denied Costa's account of what happened but was hesitant to talk much about the flap.

Said she: "How do you win fighting the San Diego Press Club?"

Farmed-Out Sweets

Piret's, on the verge of being spun off along with 12 other specialty restaurants from parent Vicorp Restaurants in Denver, will close its commissary in San Diego later this week as part of a cost-cutting plan.

"We'll make our food on sight," said Herschel Hendrickson, Piret's district supervisor, who added that the Piret's chain of fashionable eateries will now have more "direct, in-the-restaurant quality control" over prepared food.

To justify its cost, a commissary needs "at least a dozen" restaurants to serve, Hendrickson said. Piret's commissary serves only seven outlets--five in San Diego and two in Orange County.

The commissary's items--primarily baked goods--will now be made by independent vendors.

Concurrent with the commissary closure, Piret's will also present a new menu next week, Hendrickson said, adding that Piret's will try to place the more than 40 commissary workers in its restaurants, said Hendrickson.

Meanwhile, Piret's in the Imperial Bank building as well as other downtown eateries are bracing for today's expected announcement that the San Diego Symphony Orchestra will cancel this year's season.

"It means a lot to us," said Hendrickson, adding that business in the Imperial Bank restaurant increased 20% during concert nights at nearby Symphony Hall.

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