April 3rd, 2003

City's Going on the Block; Naming Rights to be Offered

By David Saltonstall
New York Daily News

It won’t be Citibank Central Park, or even the KeySpan Brooklyn Bridge. And it’s doubtful that, say, Clearasil soon will become the official acne treatment of the New York City school system.

But in a bid to raise some extra cash for the city, Mayor Bloomberg announced plans yesterday to sell New York’s good name to companies eager to tap into the city’s image as a vibrant, tough-as-nails metropolis.

“I don’t think you will see a big Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola sign across the front of City Hall,” joked Bloomberg. “The key is, we want to keep it tasteful.”

The mayor offered few details, choosing to leave those to the city’s new chief marketing officer, Joseph Perello, a branding expert whom Bloomberg also appointed
yesterday at an annual salary of $150,000.

Trying a harder sell

But senior advisers said the initiative could include everything from creating a line of official New York City products, to selling naming rights on Parks Department
facilities, to designing a “proud sponsor” seal that companies could slap on everything from bottled water to computers.

NYPD and FDNY logos also could be more aggressively marketed, aides added, although both agencies have licensed their seals for years. Last year alone, that brought in $1.1 million to the Fire Department and countless more millions to street vendors selling unlicensed knockoffs.

Firefighter union officials said last night they supported the idea but they wanted the proceeds from any FDNY logo agreements to continue to go to the department.

“It represents the blood, sweat and sacrifice that thousands of firefighters have made for generations,” said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters
Association.

Either way, aides suggested, the city has enormous marketing potential, possibly in the same league as Nike or Disney. And with the city facing a $3.5billion budget gap, it no longer can afford to pass up those dollars.

Ad execs enthusiastic

“Whether it is the [city’s] energy and the excitement, or more recently the resiliency and courage, those are attributes that companies want to associate with,” Deputy
Mayor Dan Doctoroff said.

Most independent ad executives yesterday agreed, suggesting that New York could reap tens of millions of dollars.

“Everything the city buys, from tires for the police cars, to paint for buildings, to uniforms for park employees and trash bags for sanitation workers, those are all products that could be put into a relationship with the city,” said Douglas Pirnie, a senior vice president at marketing rights giant IMG.

But there would be limits, other suggested, especially when it comes to the city’s most revered landmarks.

“It can’t be the Statue of Liberty Mutual, or the Statue of Liberty Media,” joked Jon Bond of the advertising firm Kirshenbaum & Bond.

“That would be inappropriate.”

But an official soap of New York City? That you could sell, Bond joked. “I mean, who wants the official soap of Columbus, Ohio?”

The Daily News’ Top 10
Top ten things New York City could endorse:

10. Preparation H: The hemorrhoid treatment of choice for New York City’s bureaucracy.
9. Meineke Mufflers: Official sponsor of the Belt Parkway.
8. Poland Spring: Almost as good as New York City tap water.
7. Depends: Official sponsor of New York City’s senior centers.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts: Preferred by New York City cops everywhere.
5. Crayola: The official writing tool of the New York City Council.
4. Marlboro: New York’s favorite cigarette as long as you smoke outside.
3. Windex: When you can’t find a squeegee man ...
2. Victoria’s Secret: Lingerie worn by New York’s finest hookers.
1. Right Guard: Official deodorant of the New York City subway system.

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