New Orleans Branding Different Here

Roof Copy
Roof Copylines
Water is Rising
Water is Rising
Katrina
Katrina

“It’s New Orleans. You’re Different Here.” Or are you? How does one ‘brand’ a place that has just been devastated? Where does it even start? Does the process of design or visual communication even matter at this scale of suffering? To the people of New Orleans–who depend on tourism after major economic shifts in the 50s and 70s–it does.

After the physical devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the ensuing media maelstrom resulted in a tarnish settling over the image of the South’s multi-faceted and multi-cultured gem. So the problem is then very specifically a branding one. The people of New Orleans and Louisiana would take care of the physical space. Peter Mayer Advertising would help handle the image with a multi-faceted campaign explained in part here.

http://www.aminworldwide.com/showcases/details/41/

Though this is not a full look at the incredible body of work Peter Mayer produced for its city it brings to mind some intriguing questions about the role branding places in defining place, or redefining it. Commercial art has not ever been shy about its role in manufacturing image. When combined with the discipline of design and the psychology of Peter Mayer’s public relations team, the city of New Orleans was beneficiary to a positive aspect of branding. A real physical city with real and tangible and hurting people needed real help to bring the tourism dollars back.

Youre_Different_Here_Logo
You’re Different Here Marque

I have heard arguments on the impossibility of branding something as public and multi-variabled as a modern city. In this case, we see undeniable evidence of success. Though we in America will forever remember the travesty of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some songs ultimately go unsung when things are being rebuilt. In this case, New Orleans is still standing and probably stronger than ever. The city’s people are survivors. The campaign to keep the economy going through tourism dollars was not only a success in branding, but also a shining example of the benefits of commercial art in our society.

I was privy to a lecture fully explaining this body of work through my local Pensacola Bay Area Advertising Federation. Though I understand the ethical implications of generating this type of work for something as ephemeral as a city and its people, it was an incredible experience to witness firsthand the effect the work could have. The potential for art and creative thinking to influence people around the world into visiting a specific region is no small task. It was a pleasure to more fully empathize with the reasoning behind attempting such a task, but also in grasping that ‘re-building’ a city is not always about plywood and nails. Our cities are complex. Keeping them going often requires complex systems of communication and influence that have a global reach. Who better to attempt this mammoth task than a local and passionate agency with Peter Mayer?

Follow their work here. They’ve grown with their city. What type of relationship do you have with yours?

 

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The Savage Grid

NO ESCAPE FROM THE SAVAGE GRID
the ethereal ideas of Milton
and heartache of millions…
where leave s        do      nt tur                 n
and skies don’t shine.

SENSORY STASIS
but constant change
lies about illusions of a mirage
games about wars
where fac     ts    tu          rn          fict     io                    n
and science becomes religion.

NEURAL PATHWAYS
become extended
into McLuhan’s wake and burial
mounds for dreams
and realities          ho        ld      t               ur                 ned
hands of electric aliens.

WONDER IS WANDER
Journeys taken seated
Where Life becomes logic
love becomes come
and poe        sy try to          turn

to Great       Pyramids.
A small pumpkin

PIE IN THE EYE
a high fort     he                fa           ll
right    through a mind’s glass                            sky.
Welcome to now or tur         n to the                         n or whe          n?

HERE OR THERE
WHERE OR CARE?
my her               his         she’s       t        urn

Stacked, Crunched, Smoked

Jelly Jars overturned
an old l-shaped writing crow’s desk.

Unsung Songs
of the street
depopulated by countless deaths of dreams
defanged by debts and bricks.

Stacked, Seen, and Delivered

to unknown destinations
postcards from trains
unpaid and planes not flown.

Where We All Go
at the end of a day
but only some can repeat in the ‘morn
and relive for love never born.

He Hates
to wake,
but loves to walk
under old oaks
crunching the unborn seeds
of hundreds more oaks
the mobile modern abortionist.

he hates To Smoke,
but flicks that end
still lit
and dreams of lives unlived
hundreds more hours
if he had the gift.

Edges and Thresholds

Egret taking flight
Down on Palafox Pier, the ink steps of Thoth…

Close to the edge of the free world, but not quite in the middle. Tallahassee is a three hour jump. Gainesville five. Orlando seven or so. Miami a good eleven. So close to the Keys relatively speaking, but most don’t realize how big Florida can be when you’re in Pensacola. Five hours, another planet. Eleven, another galaxy–in Miami.

Not all the way extreme. We have Joe Scarborough, after all. The conservative pedant that prefers money over pride. He who closely represents the values of the Irish and then mocks them by having a fair lass on his show to frown on now and again. She gets to introduce what’s next, though…

Seven hours from the land of the rat and her megaphones of a thousand languages.  Not completely fundamentalist. Not completely mono-cultural. Though it is full of a majority of the superstitious Christians for which our country is so well known. Not even close to anything intellectual, in the traditional sense, or remotely liberal, unless you mean our choice of footwear.

Not to say good things don’t come from bad systems–public education, aside. Not to say that generalities are everything. Or test scores retain meaning to the average morning Joe in Pensacola. Because they don’t. Because I’m writing. You’re reading. Things are changing. There is something in the wind.

We have Vinyl Music Hall. Downtown is alive with a gamut of sounds now, ranging from Punk to Hip Hop back to electronic on Wednesday nights at Seville. Look at the line-ups for De Luna Fest. Did you see who’s coming to Hangout? Does this mean that the business community will keep going on their current path of shaking things up?

With a liberal sprinkling of the remote and a pedantic crowd of 4 or so intellectuals that haven’t done anything or been anywhere liberal, Pensacola moves forward. Guns abound still, but the police are lazy unless you’re black or armed or wearing a hoody (not Pensacola, I know). Maybe it’s becoming less about who you know and which side of a bridge your family comes from nowadays in this town that once seemed asleep. Perhaps the business relationships based on an incestual scratching of backs and returns are fading and a new vibrance has arrived. Perhaps gallery nights are evidence of this. Perhaps our youthful mayor being seen at a G. Love concert is parcel to this.

The beaches are gorgeous here. But there’s more. And more to come.

Pensacola. Since 1559 approx. give or take.

Like so many cities, Pensacola is experiencing a revival. This citizen hopes to help in his own little way…