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The Empire

Cuomo Revives Iconic ‘I Love NY’ Ads – Sort Of

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Governor Andrew Cuomo is attempting to revive New York’s iconic “I Love New York” tourism campaign with some new ads.  The governor says the state not been aggressive enough in its promotions in recent years. But there are going to be some changes in the ad campaign ― the red heart, for one, is out.

Cuomo’s economic development agency hired an advertising firm to refresh the image. David Lubars with the advertising agency BBDO, explains that in place of the heart, the ads will feature sketches, solicited from the public, depicting a New York vacation spot that they particularly like to visit. 

The spots feature drawings of Niagara Falls, horse racing at Saratoga, and Finger Lakes wine. In the ads, the pen and ink images dissolve to actual footage of those locations.

The “I Love New York” campaign, with its distinctive logo featuring a red heart, was a major advertising and promotional innovation in the 1970’s, when it was created.  In fact, Governor Cuomo and his top economic development aids said, it was too successful, and countless other groups and causes have adapted the now iconic image.

“It’s actually been ‘borrowed’, let’s say,” Cuomo said. “And we, in some ways, we lost the very brand that we’d created.”

The state will spend $5 million dollars on the new television ads, as well as on social media. And members of the public will get to participate, too, there will be a contest to submit more drawings of favorite New York summer vacation spots.

Cuomo said tourism promotion in the state has languished in recent years, and he thinks spending money on the TV ads, as well as social media and other promotions, will more aggressively boost what is the state’s number three industry.

“It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs,” Cuomo said. “And tourism is big business for the State of New York. Period.” 

Peggy Coleman, president of the New York State Destination Marketing Association, says it’s been a long time since the state invested money in tourism.

“The tourism has been waiting for the state to sponsor a campaign of this size and quality,” Coleman said.

Governor Cuomo, for one, plans to take his vacation in New York, but he says he won’t be appearing personally in any of the ads. After former Governor George Pataki featured himself in a number of promotional ads for the state, including ones to increase enrollment in government funded health care for the poor, the legislature banned the practice.

“Not that I wouldn’t have been a significant attraction in the ads,” Cuomo said with a laugh.

View an 'I Love New York' ad featuring Pataki and Rudy Giuliani that aired shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.