New York State Searches for Agency of Record

Government Plans to Spend Up to $50 Million on Campaign

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When the legendary shop Wells Rich Greene was named New York State's tourism agency in the mid-'70s, it birthed one of the best known tourism campaigns of all time: "I Love New York" is a slogan still widely in use, as it's pop-art logo continues to be emblazoned across everything from T-shirts to shot glasses.

Decades later, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking another agency that can create that sort of lasting buzz again. Only this time, the state wants to promote New York not as a tourist destination, but as a great place to both live and work.

In a statement, the governor's office said it is battling an "image of having one of the worst business climates in the nation" after many businesses have left the area and job losses have devastated towns and smaller cities.

New York does not have an agency of record, and the chosen shop will be tasked with creating a global campaign push that communicates that New York is "open for business" and will find a way to tout the advantages of doing business in New York.

The review promises to be swift, said Harvey Cohen, the newly minted VP-marketing for the Empire State Development Corp., which is leading the process. Mr. Cohen earlier in his career spent time as a creative director and copywriter at Foote Cone & Belding, which has since been merged with Draft, and is now Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB. He also worked at Saatchi & Saatchi and the now defunct shop Ally & Gargano. He told Ad Age that agencies are invited to respond in the next couple of weeks and that he aims to have the process completed this fall.

State officials have pulled together a group of prominent business leaders to help guide the effort. Among them are marketers such as Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman-CEO of American Express, and agency execs, including Ogilvy Chairman Shelly Lazarus, Deutsch Chairman Donny Deutsch and Cathy Bloomgarden, the CEO of Ruder Finn. Those agencies represented on the committee are not in the running for the agency pitch.

Not surprisingly, the administration will favor agencies based in New York State. The initial campaign push is expected to cost at least $10 million and run as high as $50 million, and the agency selected at the end of the search is expected to be retained for several years, representatives said.

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