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RECREATION, RETAIL, RAIL CITED DOWNTOWN BUFFALO PLACE LAUNCHES ITS LATEST AD CAMPAIGN

The second phase of the crusade to promote downtown Buffalo as the place "where you want to be" began Thursday with print, television and radio spots that push three reasons to hang around downtown.

According to Buffalo Place Inc.'s promotions staff and Great Ideas Advertising and Promotions Inc., the spots were designed to drive home three distinct aspects of downtown: recreation, the Metro Rail and retail stores that are open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

The first phase of the campaign began about two years ago and presented a visionary "surreal" picture of what the area would be like once the Metro Rail, theater, restaurant and office construction projects were completed, said Dottie Gallagher, promotions manager for Buffalo Place.

"Two years ago downtown Buffalo was in disrepair," said David Mancuso, account executive for Great Ideas. "It looked like downtown Beirut. We had to create a sense of excitement for what was about to begin."

"We have a new reality," Ms. Gallagher said. "Many of the things we were working for are now here."

Therefore, the campaign is switching from the old slogan, "The next great place to be" to the new slogan, "Where you want to be."

Buffalo Place -- a not-for-profit civic organization that promotes, develops and maintains Buffalo's central business district -- took on the job of promoting the area in 1984 with the media campaign beginning in 1987, Ms. Gallagher said. About $130,000 of the $450,000 spent annually for promotions has been invested in the campaign, said Richard T. Reinhard, executive director of Buffalo Place Inc.

The new campaign will run for two years. Ads will use television, radio and print to promote different activities or reasons to come downtown.

The television spots use "an umbrella approach" to help viewers become familiar with the area. They are similar to the old commercials that gave quick close-ups of activities and places associated with the city and the business district. The new commercials also shows quick shots -- 34 images in 30 seconds -- of Bisons' baseball, Sabres' hockey, plays at Shea's Buffalo and shoppers dancing around the Metro train.

The print ad is a combination ad and a monthly events calender that will appear in The Buffalo News Gusto magazine on Friday.

"Print ads communicate much of the real information about what is going on in Buffalo Place," Mancuso said. The simple, bold black and white photographs depict the faces of celebrities (including Queen Elizabeth, Elvis Presley and George Bush) in a ripped out fashion appearing in familiar downtown places saying something like, "Read my lips. Where I want to be is Buffalo Place."

"The radio ads carry through the idea of being accessible while being humorous," Ms. Gallagher said. They hit the three messages with lines like "Going to work or going to play, take the train to Buffalo Place."

Success of the campaign will be measured through surveys. Additionally, "Property owners will make us aware of what their customers are saying about the ads," Ms. Gallagher said.

Success also can be measured in increased traffic throughout Buffalo Place.

The commercials seemed to please Buffalo Place board members during a debut screening Thursday morning.

"I think our people did a great job putting together commercials that show a true picture of what Buffalo Place looks like," said Robert F. Stuart Jr., general manager of Hammerson Management Corp., owners of Main Place, Empire Tower and the Liberty Building.

Archie L. Amos, University District council member, said, "I'm glad to see they included African Americans in the commercials." The old ones included fewer minorities, he said, adding that future commercials should include more minority entrepreneurs instead of entertainers.

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