Mediha DiMartino

Contributing Writer

Mediha DiMartino covers media, marketing, auto dealers, government, nonprofits and education. She can be reached at

Phone: 949-813-7384

Recent Stories

Taco Bell’s Thalberg Leaves After New CEO Hire

Led a Number Of Memorable Stunts

Marisa Thalberg is gone as Taco Bell Corp.’s global chief brand officer, but we certainly remember some of her more notable marketing achievements.

Tennis Club Seeks Clients on Groupon

96% Discount For 2-Month Promo

A local sporting club has turned to Groupon to boost its membership ranks.

Garage Team Mazda Hires Creative Officer

Chavez Oversaw Buick Account

Garage Team Mazda, an in-house advertising agency for Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations, hired Steve Chavez as its chief creative officer.

Marketing: Tennis Club Gets Its Groupon

Newport Beach Tennis Club is seeking members via a massive discount.

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Habit Picks Auto Ad Firm for First Ever Agency

Burger Chain Names Innocean for Creative

Shortly after hiring Jack in the Box’s Chief Marketing Officer Iwona Alter, Habit Restaurants Inc. (Nasdaq: HABT) in Irvine has hired its first agency of record.

J.D. Power to Get New Owner

Being Sold For Nearly $2B

J.D. Power and Associates in Costa Mesa will trade hands again, three years after it was sold to China-backed XIO Group for $1.1 billion.

Vans to Sponsor World Surf Games

Set for Japan As Olympics Qualifier

Costa Mesa-based Vans Inc. signed on as the presenting sponsor for the International Surfing Association’s 2019 ISA World Surfing Games, which will be held in Miyazaki, Japan, Sept. 7 to 15 and serves as a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Vans Sponsors Surf Overseas

Costa Mesa-based Vans Inc. is the presenting sponsor for the International Surf Association’s 2019 Word Surfing Games next month in Japan.

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Taco Bell Chief Brand Officer Departs

Marisa Thalberg resigned as Taco Bell’s chief brand officer, with her duties handed to Senior Vice President of Marketing Melissa Friebe and Tracee Larocca, senior vice president of advertising and brand engagement.

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Setting Sail

SPORTS: Moshayedi, Madden, Bissell and other OC execs see parallels in sailing, business endeavors

More than a dozen sailing teams from local yacht clubs and several prominent Orange County-based business executives are heading to Hawaii this week.

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Office Style File Zillow Group Inc.

An Office With a View, Yoga, Kitchen

Zillow Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ZG) has about 380 employees in Orange County and not a single office at its three-floor, 63,000-square-foot space off Michelson Drive in Irvine.

Office Style File: Acorns

Designed to Help Fintech Write Next Chapter

Nas’ hip hop album Illmatic, perched on a shelf at Noah Kerner’s office, is the only nod to Acorns Grow Inc. chief executive’s former life as a DJ on the “Today” show and MTV with Jennifer Lopez.

Small Biz ‘Roadies’ Play Big Coachella Crowds

FOOD: Local fare sold to 200,000 music fans

Aside from sunglasses and a bandana, Erin Whitcomb’s packing list for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this month included a 26-foot refrigerated truck, a soda station and 15 ice cream carts.

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Office Style File

BKM Capital Partners

Skateboards and B-Ball at ‘City Hall’

Volcom Expects Growth Under Split Structure

APPAREL: Execs Keep Stake in Operating Biz

Think of Volcom’s new investor as an in-house ad agency, eager to propel the Costa Mesa-based skate brand to what they assert will be “new heights.”

Field Goals

Execs enjoy soccer’s competition and camaraderie—and learn key business lessons

You don’t need much to play soccer—a ball, a flat patch of land and anything to serve as goal posts.

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OC Style File

Alpa Lally

A Monday morning at Experian PLC, the consumer credit reporting company with its Northern American headquarters in Costa Mesa, feels a lot like a Casual Friday at other companies—jeans and button-down shirts appear to be the attire du jour.

Execs Skip Lift Lines in Search of Perfect Ski Run

OC’s Heli- and Cat-Skiing Enthusiasts Share Their Stories

For some Orange County executives, life’s too short for waiting in lift lines and dodging inexperienced daredevils on skis and snowboards.

Because It’s There, And Because It’s Fun

Climbing Bug Attracts OC’s Elite

Daniele Struppa walked into Jim Doti’s office in 2006, and saw a photo of him standing atop a mountain peak, next to a makeshift cross fashioned out of spare poles, climbing gear and tape.

He Rolls Differently

Entrepreneur’s ‘Shark Wheel’ Aims to Spin Circles Around Competition

Commuting is a hassle for most people. For David Patrick, gridlock provided his biggest aha moment.

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Kaiser Buys in NJ

Kaiser Aluminum Corp. in Foothill Ranch bought Columbia, N.J.-based 3D metal printer Imperial Machine & Tool Co. on undisclosed terms.

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Rand’s Klein Shrugs Off the Unexpected

TECHNOLOGY: distributor is ‘predictor of marketplace’

Rand Technology Inc., an Irvine-based company that has no recurring revenue, notched a 160% two-year growth rate for the period ended June 30. Founder and Chief Executive Andrea Klein, who views the lack of predictability as a challenge rather than a problem, has figured out a way to bring more stability to Rand’s bottom line and boost its revenue amid fears of looming trade war.

TCA’s New Payment Method: Simple and Sticky

MARKETING: Adds frequency discounts, interstate portability

For those of us who never dedicated windshield space to the toll roads transponder and are still chasing the 4-inch plastic box all over the dashboard—relief is on the way.

Irvine Co. Debuts Big Bet on Spectrum Center

RETAIL: Local, lifestyle are themes of $200M redo

More than a dozen new stores and eateries sprouted in the north section of the Irvine Shopping Center that not too long ago housed Macy’s department store. New tenants are national and local favorites—Sephora, 85°C Bakery Cafe, Stance, Afters Ice Cream—that complement the rest of the 150 shops at the outdoor center.

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How Richard Sudek is Growing The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

INNOVATION: Came to UCI in 2014 and ‘moved very quickly’

Firms with connections to the University of California-Irvine have raised more than $18.9 billion over the past 10 years, according to Richard Sudek, an angel investor and executive director of the school’s Applied Innovation center.

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Ex-Boeing Staffer Engineers Sweet Enterprise

Dirty Cookie Scales Milk Shots Famed Chef Created

Shahira Marei jumped from managing projects at Boeing to serving cookie-enveloped milk shots. The career switch was rather drastic, but it was her ties to the aerospace giant that made her Dirty Cookie business a possibility.

They Caught a Fish…or They Didn’t: It Was That Good

OC Execs Share Their Fish Stories and Passion

Most anglers consider fishing an escape, an antidote to our plugged-in lifestyles. For several Orange County executives, it’s also a great way to entertain clients—the sport provides ample opportunity for uninterrupted conversation and reeling in the catch can be a team effort.

How Ethika Stayed Hip And Got Underwear Sales to Hop

Matt Cook Brought Business Chops to Small Apparel Company; Brand Influencers Were Already There

There are a lot of easier ways to make money than starting an apparel brand, according to Ethika Inc. Chief Executive Matt Cook, who joined the underwear manufacturer in 2012, little more than a decade after its founding.

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Local Businesspeople Skydive to Decompress

Divers Hone Skills, Make Pals Like POTUS

Most executives associate the term parachute with a golden one they can count on if they part ways with the company they’re running.

Action-Sports Brand to Broadcast Events on Facebook

MEDIA: Two web series are also in works

Nitro Circus has pulled yet another stunt. The actions-sports entertainment company signed a deal with Facebook to broadcast 28 events on the social media giant’s Facebook Watch video app.

Ad Firm INK Bets On Its Own Creativity

MARKETING: Starts with businesses it knows best

A Laguna Beach-based ad agency that’s helped numerous entrepreneurs take their brands to the next level is now cultivating its own business ideas.

Boardriders, With New Execs, Ready to Ascend

APPAREL: Billabong purchase closes; companies co-locate

Boardriders Inc., just before the recent closing of its purchase of Billabong and after the January disappearance of President-elect Pierre Agnes, named its new executive leadership team and is contemplating co-locating the combined company in Boardriders’ Huntington Beach headquarters.

Pang for ‘Green’ Cosmetics Grew Into Retail Brand

Got Lift With Letter Sent to Paris Boutique

Most cosmetics startups consider landing on Sephora shelves as a benchmark of success. For Laguna Beach-based Ilia Beauty Inc., the nod came from Colette, an influential Parisian boutique frequented by Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld and other fashion gurus.

Execs Orchestrate Soul-Soothing Downtime

Moonlighting Gigs Build Client Bases, Help Charities

Orange County is the birthplace of a number of national headliners—No Doubt, Cold War Kids, Sublime, The Offspring and Social Distortion.

Bigger Newport Film Festival Draws Local Sponsors

Eight Days of Flicks Include New Theater

Several Orange County companies are taking lead roles in producing the upcoming Newport Beach Film Festival.

Karma Company Store Fits Right in on Tony Mile

AUTOMOTIVE: Gets traffic from nearby dealers

Karma Automotive LLC’s landing in Newport Beach was a good one—so good it’s in the process of doubling its presence there.

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Experian Ads Portray Its Service as Cyber Savior

Spots Point Up Frequency Of Online Data Thefts

Experian PLC’s latest round of TV commercials continues its spotlight on the proliferation of personal-data theft and its credit-monitoring service, which uses proprietary technology to peruse content posted on parts of the internet not indexed by conventional search engines.

Now Showing at SC Metro: Appliance Showrooms

Manufacturers Say High-End Cluster Lifts All Kitchens

The Costa Mesa theater district, home to Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory, has added another showroom to its repertoire—the Fisher & Paykel Experience Center, where a reference to a high note is more about a 36-inch stove’s British thermal unit output than about a vocal range.

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PE Firm Reduces Interest in Trade Show Operator

MARKETING: Onex down to 65% of Emerald Expositions

Onex Corp. is further reducing its stake in Emerald Expositions Events Inc., less than a year after the San Juan Capistrano-based trade show operator completed its initial public offering and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Kawasaki Motors Gets Unexpected Oscar Limelight

OC Operator Helped Keep One Speech Short

Did you recognize the Jet Ski Jimmy Kimmel offered for the shortest acceptance speech at the 90th Academy Awards?

Vans Celebrates Women With Skating How-Tos

Clinics in Observance Of International Celebration

Vans Inc. in Costa Mesa has scheduled more than 100 skateboarding clinics in Brooklyn, Chicago, London, St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Bangalore, São Paulo, Mexico City, and other major cities to “inspire a new wave of women’s skateboarding progression.”

Execs Get Flyboy High Outside of C Suite


Most of us, at least as children, “have looked at the birds and thought that they might be having more fun,” said flight instructor Michael Church, who’s helped a number of Orange County-based executives follow through with the fascination by getting a license to operate their own set of wings.

Skincare Brand Drunk Elephant on Sales Binge

RETAIL: Puts second HQ in Newport Beach; $100M in 2018?

Orange County’s where the party’s at, just ask the folks at Drunk Elephant Holdings LLC.

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Oakley Visualized Olympics Exposure Sans Big Spend

Competitors Wore Its Goggles on the Slopes

Oakley Inc. wasn’t a sponsor of the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, but its oval-shaped logo got plenty of airtime. Nearly a dozen athletes won medals while wearing Oakley’s Harmony Fade goggles, including Chloe Kim, who won gold in the snowboard halfpipe, skier Mikaela Shiffrin, first in giant slalom, and snowboarder Red Gerard, who won in slopestyle

Ad Shop Plays With Cutting-Edge Tech

MARKETING: Sees opps where rivals fear to tread

Think of Super Toy Box as a digital ad shop that picks up technology-heavy assignments traditional advertising agencies tend to shy away from.

PacLife Celebrates Sesquicentennial This Year

Insurer Started in Sac, Moved to NB in 1972

Pacific Life in Newport Beach plans to celebrate its 150th birthday all year long.

Taco Bell Execs Shift After CEO Moves to Chipotle

RESTAURANTS: Former Starbucks VP joins elevated vet

Taco Bell Corp.’s January shuffle in the top ranks was apparently a sign of things to come.

P.J. Salvage Founder Taps Apparel Vet as Successor

RETAIL: Not just PJ’s, now ‘bed to brunch’

P.J. Salvage hired Simon Cohen as president in November, the first shift in top management at the Irvine-based apparel manufacturer since Peter Burke bought it out of bankruptcy in 1997.

J.D. Power Takes Its Auto Data Expertise to China

Partners With BitAuto Holdings on Digital Projects

J.D. Power in Costa Mesa formed a partnership with China-based automotive website BitAuto Holdings Ltd. to “build the most efficient automotive big data center and artificial intelligence platforms serving China’s automotive industry.”

OC Companies Take Advantage of Super Bowl Fever

Various Tacks to Get Vast Audience’s Attention

Several Orange County-based companies were part of the enormous marketing push around Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4.