October 10, 2007
Watch your back, Six Flags!
Today Bloomberg's global tourism campaign, This is New York City, launched its new ad [video]. As far as making New York look like a fun, safe, clean, non-snobby place for regular Americans to visit, it's a great ad. I love the Ella Fitzgerald soundtrack (a remix, but still) and the plug for "Avenue Q". And as a friend who watched it commented, on video you can't smell the urine! [NY Times on the launch].
But selfishly, I can't stand the way it makes New York look like an amusement park. All the animated versions of real-life icons (like the Flatiron building turned, mysteriously, into an animated wedge of cake, or the Bobblehead Yankees pitcher) seem to downplay New York as a big (potentially scary) city where real people actually live and go about their daily lives, and turn it into a cartoon.
And the posters that go along with the video (above)? "Just another day" in New York isn't daily life at all--it's Disney World!
I completely understand this campaign. If New York is going to attract 5 million more tourists every year by 2015, which is what Bloomberg wants to do, we're competing with Disney World and Busch Gardens. We have to make the city look appealing in the same way those places are appealing. These ads do a great job of that.
But for those of us who live and work here, it just means millions more tourists who wander around five-across on 7th Avenue at 5:45 PM, randomly stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to fuss with their cameras or say "Do we want Sbarro's or Olive Garden?" to each other. When tourists are successfully sold on New York as a tourist attraction just like Disney World, I think it subtly encourages them to treat sidewalks and subway entrances the same way they would treat the food court area at Six Flags, with little awareness that New York is a real city with regular people in it, not just other tourists.
If I decided to hang out with my friends in a cluster or set up my hot dog cart in the middle of some suburban person's driveway at 8:30 AM, blocking their car when they were trying to go to work, I don't think they'd like it.
OK. It's a good-looking video. And as my friend Trashrock, who lives in Washington, DC, points out, it's a whole lot better than the DC tourism promotion video.
Check this out [video]. It is ridiculous. Senators shaking hands? Laura Bush singing? Trent Lott? Oh my god. Did John McCain direct this thing? Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, I love our Disney video now.
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