Brochure brouhaha Brews On
Domain Northside adds mandatory diversity training following brochure controversy
Employees of the two companies that run Domain Northside — the North Austin mixed-use project pummeled by criticism over a marketing brochure viewed as offensive — will be enrolled in mandatory diversity and inclusion training, the companies said.
In a statement issued to CultureMap, Jeff Newberg and Kirk Rudy, managing principals of Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group, and Ward Kampf, president of Dallas-based Northwood Retail LLC, also said they’d be hiring outside experts in diversity and inclusion “to audit and strengthen our culture and protocols to help us learn from our mistake.”
“We are ashamed and take full responsibility,” Endeavor and Northwood Retail’s statement said of the brochure. Endeavor owns Domain Northside, and Northwood Retail handles leasing.
The brochure, produced in 2017 to attract retail tenants, describes the “quintessential” shopper at Austin’s Domain Northside as a “classy, trendy, well-heeled woman between 30 and 60 years old” who most likely identifies as “Anglo, Jewish, or Asian.” The brochure goes on to list luxury brands that presumably would appeal to this shopper, including BMW, Range Rover, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Jimmy Choo.
Endeavor and Northwood Retail acknowledged they collaborated on the marketing brochure, which “was intended to outline a customer demographic. This was a mistake, and the ideas conveyed in the document do not reflect our companies’ values.”
The Domain Northside statement also reiterated the initial apology about the brochure.
“Upholding the values of the communities we serve is of the utmost importance to us. We are deeply committed to the Austin community and have heard their concerns loud and clear,” the statement noted.
“We remain dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in everything we do. We are committed to continuing this important conversation,” the statement added. “We are sorry for letting our community down.”
In its own statement provided to CultureMap, the Domain went to great lengths to distance itself from the “reprehensible” and “offensive” marketing brochure published by Domain Northside, its next-door neighbor in North Austin.
In the statement, the Domain clarified that its owner, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, is not affiliated with the owner of Domain Northside, Endeavor Real Estate Group. The two mixed-use projects — both featuring high-end shops, apartments, offices, restaurants, bars, and hotels — adjoin each other but are otherwise not connected.
“We are very concerned that our center has been mistakenly associated with this offensive piece of marketing collateral and wanted to set the record straight,” the Domain statement said. “Since 2007, we have been committed to delivering the best shopping and dining experience possible for everyone, and we will continue to do so.”
The Domain also noted widespread confusion among people in the Austin area over the origins of the brochure, since both mixed-use projects have “Domain” in their names. The Domain goes on to suggest that Domain Northside “blurs the lines by including our tenants in their marketing materials and community outreach.”
“We wanted to emphasize this distinction because we manage and operate our property very differently than they do,” the Domain statement said. “Domain Northside recently produced a leasing brochure that many in our community, including ourselves, reacted negatively towards because of its exclusionary language.”
The Domain statement added: “Simon and its property, the Domain, are not responsible for this reprehensible brochure. It’s exclusionary and completely at odds with what we stand for. The Domain, a Simon center, is an all-inclusive environment where everyone is welcome.”