Why advertise a product unless people can buy it? Love JD, a new line of handbags from L.A. accessory house Junior Drake, is trying to create prelaunch buzz.

The brand is Webcasting a show about a group of women who run an L.A.-based handbag company. The "Love JD" show posts a new episode every weekday, just like a TV soap opera.

But the purses which figure prominently in the plot won't reach stores until early summer.

In the meantime, the show features seven scantily clad women who each target a different market segment: African-American, Latina, college graduate, mature, etc. The visuals, dialogue and themes reflect a chick-flick sensibility.

"These girls have the ability to blow the lid off of issues that many women are reticent to discuss," said Dennis Brown, owner of Junior Drake and executive producer of the series. "We want the 'Love JD' girls to become a voice that the viewer can depend on."

Each character has a signature color, and their silhouettes will appear on the handbags, which will retail in the $125-$200 price range.

Social networking site StyleHive.com writes that the "Love JD" show "makes 'Sex and the City' look like 'Leave It to Beaver!' 'Love JD' is the trashiest, flashiest Web series on the Net today."

Whether the flash and trash will translate into sales won't become clear for months, but for now, Brown projects first-year sales of the Love JD line between $3 million and $5 million.

Magic Means Money

African-American and Latino consumers name Earvin "Magic" Johnson as the best representative of the urban community, according to a new study by Connecticut-based market research firm Yankelovich.

Johnson, a former star with the Los Angeles Lakers and currently chairman of L.A.-based Magic Johnson Enterprises, was named by 16 percent of respondents, compared with 11 percent who tapped TV personality Oprah Winfrey, and 5 percent each for boxer Oscar de la Hoya and rapper-turned-activist Russell Simmons.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they are more likely to buy from a business if it has the Magic Johnson name attached to it. Johnson's company works to bring chain stores to underserved minority neighborhoods, and has established deals with Starbucks, Burger King, Washington Mutual, T.G.I. Friday's, 24 Hour Fitness and Best Buy.

African-Americans cited Johnson and Winfrey as equal at improving the financial situation of their communities. They outpolled Simmons, hoopster LeBron James, Time Warner Chief Executive Dick Parsons and Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson.

Yankelovich conducted more than 500 phone interviews in 16 states for the study.

Kobe's Genius

Venice-based production house Zambezi Ink has created a new ad campaign starring Kobe Bryant as a genius. The Lakers guard disguises himself to suggest historic characters such as Albert Einstein, Amadeus Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci and George Washington Carver. A boy narrator explains the genius behind Nike's new Zoom Kobe III sneakers.

"We wanted a way to talk directly about the shoe while showing Kobe as you've never seen him," said Brian Ford, creative director at Zambezi.

The narration emphasizes humor with basketball references to how shoe-buyers can "work the paint" like da Vinci or "get inventive" with the ball like Carver.

Zambezi's sports-heavy client roster includes the Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and Upshot Energy Drink.

For now, the Zoom III spots are only on view at Bryant's Web site, although Zambezi plans a broader release both off and online.

News & Notes

Hungry for a mammoth steak? AvatarLabs in Encino has created an online game to promote the Warner Bros. movie "10,000 B.C." The project allows players to participate in a virtual ancient mammoth hunt. True to the viral marketing model, users can challenge their friends to win the white spear, a tie-in to the coveted prize in the movie. Los Angeles-based CarryOn Communication has become the PR agency of record for Coors Brewing Co. The agency will service the Colorado brewery's account from its Chicago office. Tu Ciudad magazine, the Emmis-owned glossy for bilingual Latinos in L.A., has promoted Melissa Wood to advertising manager. Previously, she worked at Time Warner Inc. AdlhochCreative in Los Angeles has added CenterPoint M & A; Advisors to its client list. Woodland Hills-based CenterPoint handles mergers and acquisitions valued between $5 million and $75 million. Investor relations firm CCG Elite in L.A. has signed American Lorain Corp. as a client. Based in China, Lorain packages chestnuts for the U.S. market.

Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at jrussell@labusinessjournal.com , or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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