Convention Ads Reveal Cities’ Different Goals

To the agencies putting together media campaigns for this summer’s national political conventions in Boston and New York, it’s all about the cities, not the candidates.

To get New Yorkers to volunteer their services for the Republican National Convention in August, who better to use than … Ed Koch? Would that be Democrat and former New York mayor Ed Koch?

One of two print ads with Koch reads, “The Republicans are coming. Make nice.” “New Yorkers have an edge and a great sense of humor. Ed Koch saying, ‘Make nice,’ is funny,” said Susan Polachek, vp and group management supervisor at Grey, which is preparing a pro bono media campaign for the convention.

Grey has created two print ads and will break two radio spots and one TV ad in the coming weeks. The goal is to recruit 8,000 volunteers to work at an event that is expected to generate $265 million for local businesses.

“We will give mostly first-time visitors a unique visit to the city,” said Paul Elliott, a rep with the nonprofit New York City Host Committee, which is organizing the event.

Boston, meanwhile, which has never hosted a national political convention, welcomes the Democrats in July with the message that Boston will be the place to be for years to come.

Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston handled a positioning study pro bono. That led the host committee, Celebrate Boston 2004, to focus on the idea of Boston as the birthplace of revolutions—and not just the American Revolution. Chris Gabrieli, a committee board member, said the city is a financial-services hub, a place where the concept of community policing began, and a center for mapping the human genome.

Gabrieli said he wants this convention to do for Boston what the 1988 Democratic National Convention did for Atlanta. “I think they were able to achieve a much broader positioning for Atlanta as the capital of the new South,” Gabrieli said.

For ads, the committee turned to Arnold, which is donating its services to prepare a print, radio and TV campaign with the theme, “City of first.” Bostonians and potential visitors to the city are the intended targets.

In July, Arnold will roll out four 15-second TV spots, along with print, radio and billboard ads. There is no mention of the convention in the work. One spot points out that 140 languages are spoken in the city. It features four people who all say the same phrase at the same time in their native tongue. At the end, one person says, in English, “Wicked awesome,” a phrase used by Bostonians. Then a voiceover says, “There are 140 different ways to say ‘wicked awesome,’ ” and refers people to the convention’s Web site, Boston04.com.

“Bostonians realize our rich history,” said Barbara Reilly, evp and group account director at Arnold. “What they don’t realize is some of the great things currently going on. We are using the launch pad of history to tell people what is going on today.”