Digital campaign from DCX saved beloved Gem Spa deli from being priced out of its location
With Citibank angling to take over its lease, Gem Spa, the East Village mom-and-pop deli that supposedly invented the egg cream, was in danger of being priced out. #SaveNYC, a grassroots movement dedicated to preserving the diversity of small business in New York City, tapped DCX to raise awareness of the deli’s dilemma.
DCX sought to create a media and PR spectacle to persuade Citibank to abandon its plans. The shop started by “rebranding” Gem Spa as “Schitibank,” appropriating the bank’s branding. Posters advertised schiti ATMs, Schitibikes and Robert Mapplethorpe rewards points—a nod to the artist and former Gem Spa frequenter.
DCX also planned a “cash-mob” event, calling for New Yorkers to convene on the deli for a day of financial support. The event boosted egg cream sales more than 1,000 percent and drew coverage from publications including Eater and the New York Times, as well as camera crews from WPIX, FOX and CBS. Citibank caved, and announced it would not pursue a lease at the location. Gem Spa would not be priced out.
But what Citibank couldn’t do, COVID did: In May, Eater New York reported that the pandemic forced Gem Spa to close permanently.