Pita Portrays Hartford as ‘Rising Star’

BOSTON Is Hartford the new Baltimore? The state of Connecticut certainly hopes so, investing a total of $2.75 billion in public and private funds for an economic revival project that aims to transform the sterile insurance capital into a bustling downtown packed with commercial retail stores and residential housing.

With much of the new construction in development, the rebirth is still a work in progress. But the rebranding has already begun.

The Hartford Image Project, a consortium of 13 state and local civic organizations, has undertaken an integrated marketing campaign and unveiled a new logo that dubs Hartford, home to the Mark Twain House, “New England’s Rising Star.”

“The brick and mortar project is not enough to change people’s perceptions of a city that’s gone through some difficult times,” said Michael Kintner, campaign manager for HIP. “Hartford is ranked in the top 6 percent of all American cities for culture and there’s a great deal going on downtown in terms of arts and entertainment. We’re trying to get people to believe in the city again.”

The marketing campaign, which began in 2001, features TV, print and outdoor ads, by Pita Communications in Rocky Hill, Conn. They target the under-35 crowd and spotlight the city’s attractions via executions such as a colorful map illustration called “Playgrounds.”

Other components include “Rising Star” weekend events and a press tour crafted by public relations agency Ruder Finn.

Data shows the campaign is working. In a phone survey of 200 people within the region by Avon, Conn.-based research firm Witan Intelligence, brand awareness of the “Rising Star” theme rose from 41 percent to 52 percent in 2002-04. Last month, 63 percent of respondents expressed confidence that Hartford will “continue to improve.”