Clear Channel Builds Times Square of the Desert

Westgate an Example of 'Branded Cities' Concept

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NEW YORK ( -- The lights and glitz of spectacular outdoor ads, such as those in New York's Times Square, can be seen in very few places in the world. Ellman Cos. and Clear Channel Branded Cities are about to add one more place to the short list: a cotton field in Arizona.
This mock-up shows the extensive signage that will illuminate the branded city Westgate.
This mock-up shows the extensive signage that will illuminate the branded city Westgate.

The Westgate City Center, located in Glendale, Ariz., about 10 miles northwest of Phoenix, will be a "mixed-use urban village." Its 6.5 million square feet, now in phase one of construction, will include two major sporting arenas, hotels, condominiums, convention centers, movie theaters, office space, restaurants, shopping centers, and over 30 media signs such as those in Times Square.

Preferred partners
Branded cities is a new concept that offers advertisers integration with a community, said Dan Jasper, VP-Clear Channel Branded Cities, a unit of Clear Channel Spectacolor, which also sells many of the signs in Times Square. Mr. Jasper sees Westgate as a new branding platform for marketers that goes beyond sales. For instance, he said, a company can advertise on the signs at Westgate, and also become a preferred partner for the residents of Westgate, offering enhanced packages, performing demonstrations in the plaza and creating a connection with consumers.

"Branded cities is about creating the ability for products and services to have a platform to integrate and align themselves in people's lives in a natural and organic way," Mr. Jasper said.

22 million visitors
The city center is projected to attract 22 million visitors a year, who will come to shop, see movies, attend conventions and attend concerts and major sporting events. Westgate will house two major sporting attractions, the Glendale Arena, a new concert venue that will also be home to the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes and the National Lacrosse League's Arizona Sting, and a new professional football stadium that will house the Arizona Cardinals and host the 2008 Super Bowl.

The packages are being sold as multiyear deals, but Clear Channel declined to give rates.

"The packages reflect the value of the signage as well as any branded entitlements and 'official and exclusive' rights that the marketer may have," Mr. Jasper said in an e-mail.

Times Square look, but not buy
But just because the signage looks like it would fit right into Times Square, that doesn't mean the pricing is similar: "Our division is operating in different markets than Times Square and New York City, and ... Times Square buys do not feature the integration and proprietary promotional access that we can offer in our projects."

The media signs are located in the central plaza of the square-mile center, around the entrances to the Glendale Arena, the movie theater, retail centers and a water feature similar to the one at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Mr. Hecht said the signs fit the high-energy atmosphere of the plaza, and will not extend into residential areas.

"We have integrated them in a way that does not intrude on surrounding residential neighborhoods," he said.

Because the project is still in development (phase one should be completed in the fourth quarter), there is "the opportunity now to integrate sponsorships right into the development as it's being built," Mr. Hecht said. Clear Channel is in the process of negotiating advertising contracts for the city center. Glendale Arena and Cardinals Stadium are separately owned and operated, and are not represented by Clear Channel, but through a working relationship with Glendale Arena and the Phoenix Coyotes, joint packages could be developed.
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