New Yorkers have an opinion about everything. True to form, when it comes to the "I ♥ NY" logo, some say they want it left alone.
New summer tourism commercials replace the iconic heart with sketches of things like Long Island beach balls, Coney Island pizza and Adirondack mountains to suggest vacation destinations in the state. It hasn't taken long for the media to take umbrage, comparing the shift to "defacing the Mona Lisa" and "slapping tattoos on the Statue of Liberty" and calling it the tourism equivalent of New Coke. Who knew the chattering classes had such a proprietary interest in a logo that has been appropriated around the world to shill for everything imaginable?
And that's half the point here: BBDO's first work for the state seeks to reclaim the logo and make it synonymous with what people love about New York itself. According to Harvey Cohen, Empire State Development's vp of marketing: "The idea here is to give it more specific meaning and depth. 'I ♥ NY' is still the essence of the campaign. This is just an extension of that message and builds upon it before ending the commercial with the icon."
In a category full of scenic wallpaper, the spots are infused with a quick pace and vitality, combining animation and live action. The sketches are inspired by actual drawings submitted by New Yorkers about why they love the state—the drawings are on display in an online gallery, providing some grassroots whimsy beyond the usual tourism clichés.
"I ♥ NY" hasn't been seen on TV in more than three years, and regaining momentum for the state's important tourism industry has been a personal interest for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who unveiled the campaign at an Albany press conference on Wednesday. In the late '70s, when the Milton Glaser logo first appeared, the state could afford the luxury of running separate New York City tourism pitches and ones covering the outdoor attractions in Long Island and upstate. With a budget of $5 million for the summer months, this work has to do double duty—customizing the logo manages this well and allows for further localization.
The comparison to New Coke underscores the power of "I ♥ NY" in marketing. This shift, though, might be more akin to Diet Coke.
Client: Empire State Development ("I ♥ NY")
Campaign: "Follow Your Heart"
Agency: BBDO, New York
Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars
Senior Creative Director: Linda Honan
Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Kurt Lenard
Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Nick Sonderup
Executive Producer: Ashley Henderson
Executive Music Producer: Rani Vaz
Production Company: Elastic TV
Director: Andy Hall
Editorial House: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Anton Capaldo-Smith