NEW YORK Harold Levine, a founding partner of Levine, Huntley, Schmidt & Beaver, has accepted a one-year post as chief marketing officer for the City of Bridgeport at an annual salary of $1.
The retired adman, 83, aims to help rejuvenate the depressed post-industrial Connecticut city as a center for the arts by attracting investment and commerce. "They are in the midst of Fairfield County," said Levine, who lives in Westport, Conn. "I told the mayor, 'You ought to get out and reach all the wealthy people in Fairfield County.' "
Residents in other Fairfield County communities are reluctant to visit Bridgeport, which has a reputation for being poor, undereducated and corrupt.
Levine, whose agency operated independently on behalf of clients like Matchbox and Subaru of America from 1965-85, said the city does not have the resources for a large-scale ad campaign. Instead, he said he would begin his efforts by arranging speaking engagements throughout the county for Bridgeport's top politicians.
Levine said his involvement was sparked by the findings of the Urban Land Institute, which determined that the city had to, among other things, tap into the resources of Fairfield County.
Ultimately, Levine envisions a renaissance for Bridgeport along the lines of Dumbo, a Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood that is now a haven for commercial artists, designers and hip eateries. "There are a number of very good restaurants in Bridgeport," Levine said.
Norwalk, Conn., has also enjoyed a rebirth in recent years, he said. "[Norwalk] used to be a depressed community and it's now one of the hottest singles hangouts around here," Levine said.