Photographer Tony Saluto is my upstairs neighbor. Sometimes he drops by with gourmet chocolates and asks what’s up in New Orleans, so I was glad to hear about his planned Women of State Farm New Orleans Benefit Calendar.
He talked with us about donating some of the proceeds to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Bloomington has been a supportive community where we moved after being displaced. It's also State Farm Headquarters. When our shutters are open, we can see the neon State Farm sign glowing red into the night.
No good deed goes unpunished, and State Farm’s backlash to Tony’s announcement ended his calendar project. The reporter who covered the calendar was surprised at the vitrolic comments, and soon after the paper changed its comments policy to delete anything overly discourteous.
ARTICLE: Dear readers. . . if you are a regular reader of the comments or a contributor, you have probably noticed that many people take full advantage of their online anonymity to not only speak their minds but also to offend their fellow users.
POST: Thanks wrote on January 11, 2007 8:16 AM:"Now we can comment on stories and not readers. Do you think there is any coincidence that there was a State Farm article and many rude postings were directed towards State Farm employees and now, one day later, The Pantagraph changes procedures?"
This could partially be my fault. I may have implied that if the State Farm did not want to help New Orleans with a calendar, perhaps they could have stopped the storm surge by backing into the gulf with their fat asses which they sit on all day denying claims and fighting lawsuits. The post was called, “Congratulations State Farm, My Mother-In-Law is Homeless.” The comment was censored and I’m glad because State Farm employees may not be out of shape at all.
After all, the company just donated $1.5 million to Bloomington’s YMCA which could only increase their fitness level.
ARTICLE: State Farm Companies Foundation donated $1.5 million for a new family YMCA . . .
POST: Amanda wrote on January 11, 2007 3:23 PM:"anyone else find it interesting that this was released the same day that State Farm was found liable for not paying claims as a result of katrina? Hopefully more local organizations will benefit from this type of pr stunt. Now's the time folks, get your requests into State Farm for donations while the iron is hot and their name and image are tarnished."
And State Farm just brought an Indian outsourcing company to Bloomington. That could lead to new vegetarian restaurants and healthy dining.
ARTICLE: Patni Computer Systems, Inc. opened next to State Farm’s downtown building to service its only Twin City client, said company Vice President Avdhut Nadkarni, who would not mention State Farm by name.
POST: smythe.... wrote on January 17, 2007 7:53 AM:"now we don't have to think of our jobs going "over there" we can see them right in our own downtown!!!!! "
But after settling on the Mississippi lawsuit and anticipating more, maybe there are a lot of would-be State Farmers calendar girls chewing their nails and comfort food – especially after paying about $80 million to 639 policyholders.
ARTICLE: In his closing argument Thursday, one of the Broussards' attorneys, William Walker, said State Farm had breached their contract "in a bad way" by denying their claim. State Farm "acted like a chiseler," he said, adding, "The pocketbook is what they listen to."
POSTS: They didn't pay for the coverage wrote on January 12, 2007 1:14 PM:"I think this is bogus, these people didn't pay premiums for this coverage. The insurer only covers certain things under certain policies, if they would have paid the correct premiums for flood insurance then I agree, but they didn't have to correct coverage so therefore shouldn't get anything. I thinks this is terrible for SF."
good point wrote on January 12, 2007 2:07 PM:"I work at State Farm and your statement is so untrue it shouldn't be posted. If you can please show me these minimal profit margins State Farm made from homeowners. We just posted record profits this year. I got a raise, and people got hoodwinked. We make a substantial amount of our profits off our home-based insurance. Do you even work for an insurance company?"
It’s been an interesting window into the community, but Tony was slammed by many posters like this one:
Saluto IQ???? wrote on January 09, 2007 10:55 PM:"For a person who thrives on word of mouth I wouldn't think it too intelligent to offend 3/4 of the 13,000 people that work at State Farm. Well, I think you managed to do just that. Well done Anthony Saluto.... oh, and good luck finding wedding and family portraits in this town now!! "
If some of the proceeds had been given to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, Tony’s calendar would help recipients like the 7-year old boy who watched his father, a New Orleans drummer, shot and killed in front of him; a living legend trying to save up for a deposit for his Habitat for Humanity home; and a brass band member who is lying in a coma with escalating hospital bills. The calendar would have been done by September.
The following are just some of the avalanche of responses to the Women of State Farm Calendar proposal. Read from bottom to top for chronological order. I'm heading back to New Orleans soon and will be sad to come home to fewer comments.
ARTICLE: He announced his calendar plans last week and quickly received a letter from State Farm, informing him that he couldn’t use State Farm’s name for commercial gain.
SF Employee wrote on January 13, 2007 7:34 PM:"For the ones that are talking bad about the women employees of SF, or should I say SF in generally. You need to know all the facts! This gentleman that wants to use SF women for a calendar is totally out of his mind!!! Let's recall ALL the contributions & MONEY that SF gave to the Katrina victims at the time of need, some of the victims of Katrina where not even policyholders of SF but they received money at their time of need. So before you people on this blog start bad-mouthing us Sf employees know the facts before you start overloading the blogs. P.S. Note the time of this entry and did any of you see Willie Brown in the Pantagraph yesterday for helping out the Y??? What was that donation for ??? Helping ??? I do believe so!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I know Tony wrote on January 13, 2007 12:55 PM:"I know Tony personally and I do not think he is a sleeze, however Im not sure what his goals are by taking these photographs of the State farm employees... Probobly not a smart move on his part, but he isn't a pervert by any means. He's a great guy, and a wonderful grandfather and he does take very amazing pictures. I have never heard of him taking nudes either. I do know that his main subjects are his 2 beautiful grandchildren and his photographs are always beautiful and very tasteful. "
Genius wrote on January 10, 2007 8:28 AM:"For whatever reason (i.e. Katrina), I don't care. This man is a genious. Too bad so many conservatives are opposed (are you the same bunch that bad mouthed Hooters, but now sneak over once in a while?). There definitely is a market for this sort of thing. Playboy has done it with Girls of Starbucks, McD's, Home Depot, Enron and WalMart, not to mention Hooters, issues, and by golly, I don't believe Playboy got sued. Mr. Saluto, congrats...just get a good attorney to research your legal plan, bc the big boys don't like controversy. They want the masses to fear for their private lives and live under the weight of their Code of Conduct (I actually hear Ed is asking the Pope to consider adding it to the Bible). And to all others, there are PLENTY of hotties that work at SF. They could have a new calender every year throughout the millenium and not reuse a single gal.
Rumor Mill wrote on January 09, 2007 3:32 PM:"I heard the provocative spread is going to be titled "Premiums, Policies, and Pantyhose: Intimate Portraits of Insurance Executives." I can't wait!!!! I'm sure this will more than smooth over SF's image problem with the folks in New Orleans."
Bill Lumbergh wrote on January 18, 2007 8:30 AM:""Uh....yeahhhhh...... I'm gonna ask you to go ahead and cancel that calender plan. M'k? By the way... did you get that memo on the TPS reports?""
Ed Jr. wrote on January 18, 2007 12:03 AM:"I work at State Farm there are some fine fine ladies working here i wish he would have finished this project. Lets get some support behing him and try to get this project going again. It's for the good of the people in new orleans anyways they are not going to have a football team to cheer for after sunday so lets get these fine ladies half nude "
hm... wrote on January 17, 2007 10:02 PM:"You'd think with the recent count decision, the pending class action lawsuit, and upcoming investigation by homeland security that the lawyers would have better things to do than worry about a calender. "