Go Green this Weekend At Comerica Park

Associated Press

The Detroit Tigers are showing their green side during this weekend's four-game home stand against the Chicago White Sox.

The team is hosting the free "Going, Going, GREEN!" gathering outside of Comerica Park's main gates from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It will give people a chance to learn about what they can do to be more environmentally friendly and find out about green efforts by Michigan businesses.

The Tigers play a doubleheader Friday, followed by games Saturday and Sunday. The first 10,000 fans through the gates at Saturday's game will get a Tigers "Going, Going, GREEN!" reusable shopping bag.

President Barack Obama will honor the 2008 WNBA Champion Detroit Shock for their accomplishments both on and off the court at a ceremony on South Portico of the White House on Monday, July 27, 2009. The ceremony will include a gift presentation from the Shock to the president.

Prior to the ceremony, the WNBA and the Shock will join forces with United We Serve – a national effort launched by President Obama to engage more Americans in serving in their communities this summer – to host a special WNBA FIT Clinic at the Richard England Boys & Girls Club in Washington, D.C..

The entire team, along with WNBA Legend, Community Ambassador and fitness expert, Jennifer Azzi, will promote fitness, nutrition, and self-confidence to 80 boys and girls at the club through interactive stations and positive messaging. WNBA FIT is part of the league’s social responsibility initiative, WNBA Cares, which supports educational programming, promotes hands-on community service and inspires young people and women of all ages to learn about the importance of physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

Founder of Lesson On Golf.com, Jeff Lesson, believes that its time to give back to the community that has supported him for many years.

Lesson, a golf talk show host, columnist and enthusiast has assembled some of the area’s finest golf courses in Southeastern Michigan to host a “Free Day at the Links,” in support of The First Tee of Detroit on Tuesday, August 11th from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Participating Lesson on Golf.com’s “Free Day at the Links” courses, include:

Tanglewood, 53503 W Ten Mile Rd, South Lyon, MI 48178
Moose Ridge,11801 Doane Rd, South Lyon, MI 48178
The Majestic at Lake Walden, 9600 Crouse Rd, Howell, MI 48855
Lyon Oaks, 52251 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, MI 48393
Springfield Oaks, 12450 Andersonville Road, Davisburg, MI 48350
Lakes of Taylor, 25505 Northline Rd, Taylor, MI 48180
Taylor Meadows, 25360 Ecorse Rd, Taylor, MI 48180
Whispering Pines, 2500 Whispering Pines Dr., Pinckney, MI 48169
Highland Hills Golf Club, 2075 Oakland, Highland, MI 48356

Please visit, www.lessonongolf.com to view all of the participating courses. To register, please call the selected course and mention “Lesson On Golf’s Free Day at the Links” and secure your tee time. Walking the course is free and for a minimum $20 donation to First Tee, a cart will be included.

The First Tee of Detroit impacts the lives of young people of Michigan by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
David Kiley
Business Week

Ford Motor Co.’s has topped a quality survey, beating rivals Toyota and Honda for the first time.

The survey is not from J.D. Power and Associates, which has the definitive survey on things-gone-wrong in new vehicles measured in the first few months of ownership [J.D. Power, like BusinessWeek, is owned by McGraw-Hill Co.]. But the results of the survey, by Bloomfield Hills, MI-based RDA Group, shows Ford with the fewest problems among any manufacturer, including Toyota Motor Corp.

“We’ve been tied with Toyota before, but it sure feels better to be on the top!” wrote Bennie Fowler, Ford’s global head of quality, in a memo to employees Friday, a copy of which was obtained by BusinessWeek. “We can all be pleased with the progress we have made in quality, even as we face external and internal challenges in a tumultuous climate. Our progress has come as the result of our union partnerships in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, along with the work of dedicated teams in manufacturing, product development, purchasing, marketing, sales, service, legal, IT and others who follow disciplined, standardized processes.”

In Power’s recently released Inititial Quality Study, Ford placed eighth, but in a statistical dead heat with Toyota. Ford scored 102 things-gone-wrong per 100 cars in the first three months of ownership, versus 101 for Toyota. Honda scored 99 TGW, and Hyundai scored the highest among non-luxe brands with 95.
Curtis Granderson has given plenty of his time to charitable causes over his four years with the Tigers. His next fundraising effort will include a night out.

Detroit's All-Star outfielder, who scored the winning run in last week's All-Star Game, will become a wine taster for the evening, welcoming teammates Edwin Jackson and Ryan Perry for a Passport to the Wines of the World this Thursday at Big Rock Chophouse/The Reserve in Birmingham.

The event will feature over 300 wines from five continents, including local wines from the Detroit area and the state of Michigan, as well as a silent auction of sports memorabilia, wine and entertainment package. The evening includes a bachelor auction, where the highest bid will win an elegant dinner for two with Granderson, Jackson or Perry.

Noted young comic Jeff Dye, third-place finisher in last year's edition of NBC's Last Comic Standing, will perform a standup set and serve as the auctioneer. The Seattle native won the 10th annual Giggles Laff Off in his hometown last year and has performed in the Just for Laughs Festival the last two years, including this year in Chicago. His comedy is clean but has been described as charmingly twisted.

"I am really excited to have Jeff come out and perform at this event," Granderson said last week. "I am positive that all in attendance will enjoy Jeff's comedic style and he will add a great energy to the evening. Plus, he is a big baseball fan, albeit for the Mariners."

The festivities begin with a VIP reception hosted by Granderson, beginning at 6:30 p.m. A 7 p.m. champagne toast precedes the main event at 7:30 p.m. The bachelor auction will start at 8:45 p.m.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Grand Kids Foundation, which helps students and schools in Michigan's inner cities by purchasing school supplies and books, establishing baseball programs, providing equipment and helping improve facilities.

Tickets for Passport to the Wines of the World run $85 for general admission and $135 for a VIP package, which includes admission to the VIP reception as well as special VIP wines and a souvenir wine glass. Members of the Detroit Wine Organization receive a $10 discount on both VIP and general admission tickets. Membership is free at detroitwine.org.

On July 14, President Obama visited Macomb Community College and announced the 12 billion dollar American Graduation Initiative, a historic investment in our community colleges that will help prepare Americans for the jobs of the 21st century. This plan will help an additional 5 million Americans graduate from community college in the next decade.
Gary Graff

A pair of home town stadium concerts over the weekend gave Kid Rock and a couple of his support acts an opportunity to showcase new material for the 40,000 fans who attended each show.

In Rock's case it was a reflective song called "In Times Like These" that he performed as the first encore on Saturday and Sunday at Comerica Park, the usual home of the Detroit Tigers.

Explaining that he usually doesn't play new work until it's been released, Rock told the crowd he felt this was "an important song" inspired by the economic times the country, and especially his home state of Michigan, were experiencing.

"It's the truth, and we hope it's more inspirational than anything," Rock said before performing an acoustic version of the song, whose lyrics contain sentiments such as "I heard them say they're shutting Detroit down/But I won't leave 'cause this is my home town" and "Even though it's bittersweet and brings us to our knees/It makes us who were are in times like these."

Rock was planning to follow-up 2007's triple-platinum "Rock N Roll Jesus" this fall but, as previously reported, has decided to take the project to producer Rick Rubin, which will likely mean a 2010 release. The two are currently reviewing what Rock has in hand, including collaborations with rapper Lil Wayne and T.I., and plan to start recording after Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band wrap up their summer tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Rock also rolled out a variety of covers during the homestand, including the Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice," Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" (accompanied by video screen images of a selection of deceased music heroes), the Jackson 5's "ABC" in tribute to Michael Jackson, snippets of the Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" and Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People" incorporated into other songs, and Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," which closed each night's show. The concerts were filmed and recorded, but Rock told Billboard.com that he has not made any definite plans for any sort of official release.

Alice in Chains, which played on Saturday's bill in its only U.S. show of the summer, debuted "A Looking in View" from "Black Gives Way to Blue," the group's first album of new material in 14 years. Prior to the show all four band members joined Virgin/EMI executives at Detroit's Fox Theatre to preview the entire album for a gathering of music industry professionals.

On Friday night, meanwhile, Lynyrd Skynyrd offered a pair of songs from its upcoming "God & Guns," which, as previously reported, is also coming out Sept. 29. The group opened its set with "Skynyrd Nation," an uptempo ode to its fans, and also performed the album's first single, "Still Unbroken," a heavy rocker that singer Johnny Van Zant dedicated to deceased Skynyrd members Leon Wilkeson, Hughie Thomasson, Billy Powell and Ean Evans and accompanied with historical photos of the group and its album covers on the video screen.

Ford: Designing Cars with Young People in Mind

Phil Patton
The New York Times

ANTONELLA is an attractive 28-year old woman who lives in Rome. Her life is focused on friends and fun, clubbing and parties.

She is also completely imaginary.

But her influence is definitely real. It is evident in the design of the Ford Fiesta, on sale in Europe now and arriving in the United States next summer as a 2011 model.

Antonella was the guiding personality for the Ford Verve, a design study that served as the basis for the latest-generation Fiesta. A character invented by Ford designers to help them imagine cars better tailored to their intended customers, she embodies a philosophy that guides the company’s design studios these days: to design the car, first design the driver.

Antonella is the personification of a profile created from demographic research about the Fiesta’s target customer, said Moray Callum, executive director of Ford Americas design.

Ford is using characters like Antonella to bring a human element to the dry statistical research drawn from polls and interviews. Based on psychological profiles, these characters are a more modern version of the “theme boards” that designers once covered with snapshots and swatches of material to inspire a design. They are also like avatars, those invented characters used in online games and forums to symbolize a participant’s personality.

“Invented characters get everyone on the same page,” Mr. Callum said. “Personalizing gives context to the information we have. Sometimes the target demographics are difficult to relate to by, say, a 35-year-old male designer.

“We found in the past that if they didn’t understand the buyer, designers would just go off and design something for themselves,” he added.

Murat Yalman, Ford’s director of global advanced product strategy, is a strong supporter of an approach that personalizes the ideal buyer for everyone involved in a vehicle’s development.

“You get a common focus for everyone from the clay modeler to the chief executive,” he said.

The method brings statistics to life. “It creates very memorable ideas that live on after the meeting or presentation,” Mr. Yalman said.

So Antonella is joined by Natasha, Ashley, Kristen and other characters from Ford’s imagination, each depicted in a Dewar’s profile type of write-up, and with images grabbed from the Internet. Antonella has her male counterpart in Anton. Jack is the presiding personality for the 2010 Taurus. Joe and Cal are the ideal characters for future trucks.

Antonella cares more about the design and function of her telephone than that of her car. Her priorities in the Fiesta are visible in the car’s central panel, where controls inspired by those of a cellphone operate the audio and air-conditioning systems. Designers working on the Fiesta referred to the shape framing the dashboard instruments as “Antonella’s glasses.”

Ford’s goal in using made-up characters is that they will help produce cars that transcend national traits and are instead built around international, psychological archetypes. Antonella is an extreme version of a type the Ford designers call the fun-seeker.

“There are fun-seekers in London and Cleveland,” Mr. Callum said.

But the image of the fun-seeker appears sharply etched and more extreme when set in Rome. “In Rome there are lots of small cars,” Mr. Yalman said. “They are always dodging each other. So a car there has to be nimble and it has to look the part. Romans have been conscious of how their vehicles look — all the way back to Caesar. Every little crease of their toga has to be just right.”

Mr. Yalman first found the composite characters useful when he began directing marketing efforts for Ford in Europe. Confronted with many boundaries of nation and language, he said, he looked instead at common values and attitudes, a process he referred to as mindset segmentation. “We did a value and attitude map,” he said.

Mr. Yalman found that archetypes like Antonella, the type he called hedonistic, existed in all countries.

The approach ties in to Ford’s efforts to create the Fiesta and other models as global products, with equal appeal in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Mr. Callum said the technique could be used to help imagine concept vehicles as well as production models.

Ford’s Lincoln division showed the Lincoln C design study, an idea for a smaller future luxury vehicle, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January. It was built around Natasha, a tech-savvy “social achiever” driver.

The designers imagined her life in detail in a video, “A Day in the Life of Natasha.” Several human models were screen-tested before one, who looks vaguely like Audrey Hepburn, was chosen to appear in the video. The video was also convenient for explaining the car to the press and public. It shows Natasha using a new generation of computer interface for the car’s information systems.

The Ford Transit Connect Family One Concept, shown at this year’s New York auto show, was created around Ashley, a very different character from Natasha. Ashley is billed as “a cool mom” who, like the vehicle, represents an update of traditional family priorities. In her profile, according to Ford’s internal research documents, Ashley’s “friends are part of her family.” She dresses up like her children at Halloween. She shops at T. J. Maxx, H&M and Target.

The concept van offers a vision of a post-minivan, post-S.U.V. family hauler with constant Web access. It includes an electronic tagging system for children’s backpacks, skateboards — and perhaps even dog collars — using the radio-frequency identification system Ford offers in some of its trucks; the tags help contractors assure that tools are collected when the work day is over.

Jack, the inspirational character behind the 2010 Taurus, is “the life of the party,” according to Earl Lucas, head of exterior design for the car. “He cares what his car says about him. He wants to be seen in an American car and he is involved in the community.”

Joe and Cal, the fantasy owners of the pickup truck of the future, are what Mr. Yalman called “the heroes of their neighborhood.”

Using psychological archetypes and patterns is more important when designing for younger people, Mr. Callum said. Some younger buyers invest less emotion in their vehicles than their elders did. “This can be hard for us to understand.”

Ford’s involvement with the technique can be traced to 2002, said Mr. Yalman, when Daniel Kahneman, a cognitive psychologist and behavioral economist who taught at Princeton and other universities, shared the Nobel in economic science.

Mr. Yalman had been following Dr. Kahneman’s work for some time, and the prize marked the ascendance of a wider new emphasis in economics on the psychological side of decision making. Dr. Kahneman is a proponent of “hedonic” choice, which explores ideas of pleasure and preference in buying choices and questions older, rational models of buyer behavior based simply on price or other hard factors.

“What this thinking suggested to us is that emotion played a much larger role than we thought,” Mr. Yalman said.

The new economic theories supported Mr. Yalman’s ideas. The choice to buy is not just about more horsepower per dollar or segment-leading rear legroom; design is critical, Mr. Yalman said.

“Before, all our cars in Europe were taken as Germanic,” he said. “So we dialed up the style.” Ford in Europe rolled out a more emotional exterior design language, called the kinetic look.

“We had done lots of models based on rationality, but now we are recognizing that emotions play a much more dominant role than we ever admitted,” Mr. Yalman said. “In buying a car, you have to fall in love.”

He added: “We now focus quite a bit on aspirations and dreams.”

These can be embodied in products. “Think of someone who has a really high-end parka in which you could climb Mount Everest. But the person only wears it on the train to work.”

So far, sales of the Fiesta have been strong. It is Ford’s best-selling car in Europe, and it was the No. 2 seller over all in that market for the first half of 2009.