Can the Empire State Building Brand Its View?

Develops new creative strategy

The law doesn’t allow for the trademarking of a great view, but there’s nothing wrong with branding it. Just ask the marketing folks at the Empire State Building. The 1931 landmark’s 86th floor observation deck (which boasts 80-mile views on clear days) already draws some 4 million people yearly, but Malkin Holdings apparently feels it can do better. The majority shareholder has brought aboard both The Concept Farm and U.S. International Media in order to “adapt and evolve our observatory brand,” said observatory director Jean-Yves Ghazi.

Unlike his building, Ghazi didn’t offer an unobstructed view of his marketing plan, promising only “a full creative strategy and avant-garde executions.” But whatever form the branding will take, its arrival is not surprising. Malkin is well into a $550 million capital project that seeks to boost ESB’s revenue-generating potential by branding nearly everything in it. The skyscraper is now billed as “The World’s Most Famous Office Building,” which includes a new LED lighting system called the “Tower Lights” and an 80th floor event space called “Dare to Dream.”

Call it a coincidence, but the ESB’s observation-deck branding may also have a little something to do with One World Observatory, the stratospheric roost that’ll soon open atop the new World Trade Center. Eleven years ago, the 9/11 terrorist attacks handed the city’s-tallest-building status back to ESB, a reign that’ll end in 2014. In contrast to the ESB’s narrow outdoor perch on 86, WTC’s aerie will fill the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors with restaurant, retail and gawking space.