Natives Star as Hometown Tour Guides: Ground Zero Features Locals for CitySearch On-line Service

By Angela Dawson

LOS ANGELES–Ads for the on-line service CitySearch offer the inside scoop on what’s happening in various cities around the country.

In its first work for the client since winning the $8-10 million account in March, Ground Zero has developed a campaign around the theme, ‘Views From the Inside.’ The objective is to distinguish CitySearch’s Web site from Microsoft’s Sidewalk and other on-line guides.

‘It seemed to us the only way to beat a company with clearly better name recognition and a considerably larger ad budget was to focus on what makes CitySearch special–namely, its emphasis on the site being made by locals for locals,’ said Court Crandall, Ground Zero’s co-creative partner.

In TV, print and outdoor ads, the Santa Monica, Calif., agency used real people to express a particular viewpoint or insight about their city.

The agency shot 25 TV spots using a hidden camera technique to get unscripted responses from local residents about interesting things to do and places to see in town. Each ad ends with CitySearch’s Web site address,

Print and outdoor ads depict real people holding up handwritten signs that express a viewpoint or insight about their city. One ad shows a man standing outside of a movie theater, holding a sign that expresses his feelings about the film he has just watched, ‘This movie sucked!’

‘This de-vice allowed us to catch people saying truly ‘inside’ things about their city, rather than scripted responses,’ Crandall said.

Spot and cable TV ads are running in markets where CitySearch is available, including Nashville, Tenn.; San Francisco; Salt Lake City; Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; and Pasadena, Calif. Print ads are running in New York newspapers.

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