'I Love NY' stranded as Wolf Group shuts

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Right now New York region TV stations don't love New York.

A number of metropolitan TV stations are owed several million dollars following the sudden shuttering of Wolf Group Integrated Communications' New York office last month. And the New York state agency behind the "I Love New York" campaign may be stuck picking up the tab. Money had already been forwarded to Wolf for the media buys, but Wolf's New York office closed without having paid the stations.

The Empire State Development Corp. has started a review to determine which stations are owed and how much. "Everyone who is owed will be paid," an Empire State spokesman said.

Wolf Group co-chairman Larry Wolf stated in an e-mail, "We are negotiating to sell our profitable offices and upon completion of the sales, the company anticipates that it will be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion with the New York agency's creditors."

credit policies

Until the bills are paid, it's possible ads promoting New York State tourism, starring Governor George Pataki, as well as government-sponsored programs, such as the Healthy New York initiative, will not air. Executives at two of the New York area stations currently owed money by Wolf Group said buys for future time may not be accepted until the outstanding bills are cleared. Those stations' credit policies include joint and several liability terms, which mean that both an ad agency and its client are held responsible for any bills.

"We fully expect to continue running our advertising campaigns," said the Empire State spokesman. Wolf handled spot buying from its still open Cleveland office but creative was developed out of the now-defunct New York operation.

The shop won advertising and marketing responsibilities for Empire State in September, 1999, and created some well-regarded spots featuring ordinary New Yorkers proclaiming their love for New York City following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The account went up for a mandatory review in March, 2003; Wolf defended, but lost to Syracuse-based Eric Mower & Associates. Wolf's contract ends March 14.

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