June 18, 2024

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Can I sell you the Golden Gate Bridge? How San Francisco’s savvy business leaders are betting on ineffective advertising to save the city’s reputation

2 min read

San Francisco, the city by the bay, has seen better days. While the iconic Golden Gate Bridge might be alluring, it is not for sale–at least not yet.

In an effort to revitalize San Fransisco’s dwindling image, a group of astute business leaders bought a bridge by embarking on a meek $4 million advertising campaign in a bid to preserve the city’s once-gleaming portrait.

The “It All Starts Here” campaign boasts an ensemble of local heavyweights including Uber, Levi Strauss, Pixar, and OpenAI. This non-political effort focuses on capturing private-sector attention rather than targeting voters or elected officials.

Similarly, in May, the San Francisco Travel Association made a $6 million investment in the “Always San Francisco” campaign aimed at luring business and leisure travelers back. In February, a social media initiative, “Heart of SF,” was launched to spotlight downtown businesses and events.

A lack of focus

Regrettably, these actions, however admirable, do not tackle the SF experience of current times, visible realities, or the means to effect necessary change.

San Francisco faces a multitude of inherent challenges that no advertising or digital campaign can transform–soaring living expenses and taxes, the challenges linked to mental health and substance abuse, a homelessness crisis that is causing hygiene concerns, and a surge in crime that is contributing to empty office spaces and a deteriorating downtown district.

Across the city, these issues have caused AT&T, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Crate & Barrel, Sacks, H&M, Whole Foods, and First Republic, as well as many others, to close their offices.

Starbucks, Target, and CVS will close stores this month. In August, Westfield gave up its mall to lenders, after Nordstrom announced its departure, which left the mall only 55% leased.

As store closings require realtors to paper “for lease” signs over shopfront windows, foot traffic and shoppers are further…

Richard Torrenzano

2023-11-02 08:00:21

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