The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation unveiled the new “With Love, Philadelphia XOXO” campaign during a press conference May 12. The campaign, which launches May 18, will include a special outreach to the LGBT community, marking the first time the city has incorporated a specific LGBT component into a mainstream marketing campaign.
The $1.4-million campaign, part of GPTMC’s recessionary strategy, seeks to attract leisure visitors to the city for overnight stays this summer by focusing on specific travel markets, such as families with children, festival-goers and LGBT individuals.
“We didn’t want to do what other cities are doing, which is heavy discounts — stay one night, get seven free,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of GPTMC. “We’re not going to do that. Philadelphia is a great value all year ’round, so what we’re going to do is focus not on a discount program, but on the Philadelphia experience.”
The campaign, designed by Philadelphia-based advertising agency Red Tettemer, will feature some 55 advertisements that will be posted on SEPTA bus shelters, billboards, print publications and television and radio commercials around the Philadelphia area before progressing outward to surrounding markets, such as western Pennsylvania, New York and Washington, D.C.
Each advertisement features a scrawled “love” letter, signed “With Love, Philadelphia XOXO,” in which the “city” writes to such recipients as “party people,” “art oglers,” “jazz cats” and “sirs/madams with a thing for statues,” describing what it has to offer for each of these communities in clever, conversational language.
The ad geared toward the LGBT community reads: “Dear guys who like guys and girls who like girls ... We’re into that in Philly. In fact, we have a place affectionately referred to as the Gayborhood. Heck, our street signs even shout, ‘We love everyone — gay, straight and not exactly sure.’ So come hang out with us and bring your favorite guy or girl. It’ll be fabulous.”
GPTMC’s initial outreach to LGBT travelers began in 2003 with its groundbreaking “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay” campaign, which made Philadelphia the first destination in the world to use a television advertisement to specifically reach out to LGBT tourists.
Levitz said the inclusion of the LGBT community into mainstream tourism efforts is a natural transition.
“I think the innovation started a few years ago when we were the first city on the planet to do an overtly gay-friendly TV spot,” she said. “It just seemed logical to us to include this community in this other campaign. Why not? Philadelphia loves all.”
Levitz said the nation’s current economic conditions require that the city make an extra effort to demonstrate its value to potential visitors, and in a way that all individuals, including those in the LGBT community, know they’re welcome.
“I think that with the ‘business-as-unusual’ recessionary time, people need to be specifically invited, specifically made aware that Philadelphia continues to be a great destination,” she said. “The LGBT community is a wonderful market and we’re a wonderful destination; they love us and we love them back and we want to make sure they know that.”
Jeff Guaracino, vice president of communications at GPTMC, said the new campaign demonstrates that the city — which this year jumped up three spots to 13 on Community Marketing Inc.’s list of top LGBT destinations in the country — continues to be a leader in LGBT tourism.
“This represents a significant crossover, now that the LGBT community is included in this mainstream tourism effort. But this is what you want; we need to give the same big, huge welcome to all visitors,” Guaracino said. “We’ve been reaching out to these travelers for a while, but with this campaign now there’s even more investment in the gay and lesbian market. It’s one of those next steps.”
GPTMC will continue using the “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay” ads, which will now also be stamped with the “With Love” signature at the bottom.
The new campaign will continue through Aug. 31.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.