Chabad Intown sponsored a home run event for 115 Nov. 6 in conjunction with its Jewish Business Network series. Featured speaker was Joel Babbit, CEO of Narrative Content Group, a marketing network company founded with Chuck Leavell, Rolling Stones’ keyboardist.
Many members of the audience best remembered Babbit as one of the most successful advertising/PR/marketing pioneers ever to grace Atlanta, including a high profile stint developing the city’s marketing plans.
Aside from that, he was akin to a standup comic with a homespun native Atlanta self-deprecation and irresistible ability to make sense of nonsense and real issues alike. Truthfully, some folks were howling hysterically as Babbit explained complicated concepts while shedding new light on the basics of marketing with charts and videos.
Intown Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman kicked off the program, introducing the concept of professionals through education and connections by saying, “One might ask why a kippahed, bearded guy like me is facilitating this. So we Jews turn to Torah.” He went on to share the parashah telling how Abraham put himself out by saving his nephew Lott, who was a “nogoodnik.” Schusterman related that growing up in California, he internalized that we take care of family and Jews (even the not so good ones) who are our family.
Schusterman is motivated by Chabad Intown becoming a center for Jewish life and hosting over 1,000 visitors. “We are planning for these monthly events through late spring. [We hope] by then to have had 1,000 people pass through our doors for JBN related events (already over 400). The goal is to build a strong Jewish network for people in varying professions.”
The rabbi was feeling the love with fresh news announcing a $1 million anonymous donation, which boosts the $12 million target capital campaign to $8 million to date. The project will allow the Intown Chabad to rebuild and expand the preschool, renovate the upstairs and purchase more of the current property. He promised more details at a later time.
One of the night’s sponsors, Jay Halpern, a University of Georgia roommate of Babbit’s, introduced him with nothing short of a roast. Halpern had a built-in cheering squad with a table of “almost alta cockers” egging on his every revelation. “Joel was the first to use “WTF,” and I was his best man-twice! He is the first to leave an event and the first to offend everyone.”
Babbit then took the podium. “I’m nice to Doug Hertz ‘cause I want Falcon tickets. Steve Labovitz and Jack Halpern [Jay’s cousin] just returned from a trip around the world. The last time they did that was at the Clermont Lounge.” Fun was again poked at Jack Halpern, who had a perfect SAT and went to Harvard. “Maybe the SAT was a combo of two people’s scores.”
Steve Selig, Billy Bauman, Mark Rosenberg, Steve Kuranoff and Gerry Benjamin were the brunt of the jokes. With his Don Rickles’ swag, Babbit articulated how his out-of-the-box, logical thinking works. He took a fun jab at Michael Morris’ father Bernie Marcus, who decided to delete “The” from the Georgia Aquarium name because it would cost extra for the sign. He did compliment Marcus’ management style as decisive and instinctual versus the sludge in companies that have too many layers to produce good and timely solutions, which he labeled “the destructive power of a committee.”
Babbit explained that the answer is not always immediate. “Think about marketing a $40,000 bottle of Remy Martin that no one will buy yet will boost the brand.”
The crowd laughed as he told his city ordinance dilemma about putting signage on the moon.
He offered humor with charts outlining the marketing objectives for Christopher Columbus and also the American Revolution. He concluded, “The older I get, the more right-wing I get.”