Governor Cuomo Defends Start-Up New York’s ‘Generic’ Ads

By Erik Oster 

Start Up NYGovernor Andrew Cuomo defended the “New York Open for Business” marketing initiative promoting his Start-Up New York project amid criticism from local government reps who claim that the advertising for the program is costly and ineffective.

The “New York Open for Business” marketing initiative with BBDO initially covered a series of Empire State Development campaigns, but its scope was widened in 2013 to include ads promoting the Start-Up New York program. New York spent some $251 million on the contract with BBDO before signing another $150 million contract with Campbell Ewald to continue “New York Open For Business” for two more years last fall.

In the wake of a report finding that Start-Up New York created just 408 jobs in its first two years, New York Senator Terrence Murphy called for the suspension of the advertising contract, saying, “The way to show we’re open for business is by reducing New York’s burdensome regulations and cutting taxes, not buying television commercials. I…never fully understood why New Yorkers were seeing ads about why they should come to New York…We have to put the brakes on these commercials until a system of accountability is in place, and if our targets cannot be met, we should scrap the whole thing.”

“It costs us nothing – zero – because all the program says is if you come here, we won’t charge you tax,” Cuomo explained to reporters in response to the criticism. “But they weren’t here to begin with, so it doesn’t cost us anything. It just saves them on the income tax.”

Cuomo characterized the “New York Open for Business” ads as “generic,” rather than specifically promoting Start-Up New York, adding, “‘Come to New York and we will help your business grow if you come to New York and New York is not the frightful place that you thought it was. We’re not a high tax state. We’ll eliminate taxes.’ So that’s what the advertising did.”