NYC Is ‘Still Open’ for Business

A horse carriage driver sits outside New York’s Central Park waiting for a fare. He holds a “Still Open” sign.

Ordinarily, The Campbell Group’s print advertisements for New York’s Inter-Continental and Crowne Plaza hotels might have been seen as another twist on the old “I love New York” theme.

These are not ordinary times. Like other chains operating in Manhattan, Atlanta-based Six Continents Hotels had seen occupancy rates in its seven properties plunge below 20 percent since Sept. 11.

At the same time, said Campbell creative director Andy Dumaine, hotel executives were looking to do something positive for those impacted by the terrorist attack.

“We recognized that everybody in New York had taken a hit,” said Dumaine. “The little guys—cab drivers, souvenir shop owners, street vendors, actors—had no safety net, no big corporation to carry them.”

A team from the Baltimore shop (lead agency for the client since 1988) traveled to New York and produced a black-and-white series of street portraits, both as a salute and a reminder that livelihoods, if not lives, are still at stake.In each ad’s photo, the subject holds a “Still Open” sign.

“Bringing travelers back to New York is just as important to the hot dog vendors as it is to the five-star hotels,” said Michael Corr, operations president of Six Continents.

The ads, appearing in The New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other newspapers in the East and South, are tied to a reduction in room rates at the client’s hotels. Additionally, Six Continents has pledged $1 million to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and September 11 funds.

“A campaign encouraging travelers to support small business is the way to go,” said Dumaine. “Obviously, if they need a place to stay, our hotels are a good option.”

Consumer response was immediate: a 40 percent jump in bookings the week after the ads broke—bringing in, hotel executives said, more than $1 million in spot-booking revenue. Occupancy rates now top 80 percent, close to pre-Sept. 11 levels.

The campaign, scheduled to end Oct. 31, will likely be extended and expanded nationally, sources said.

Campbell’s Tim Hoppin and Julie Pelaez handled copy and art direction, respectively. New York’s Chris Lynch was the photographer.