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NUmedia: ICVA Announces New Partnerships, Branding at the Toby

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The tremendous enthusiasm Don Welsh, the new CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau, brought to the ICVA's Annual Meeting this afternoon at the Toby Theater at the IMA was welcome. He led off and served as M.C. for additional speakers including Mayor Ballard, Maxwell Anderson, Director and CEO of the IMA, Jeff Smuulyan, CEO and Chairman of Emmis, and several of the ICVA staff. Each moved the presentation along ably, highlighting 2008 accomplishments and setting a high bar of expectations for 2009 and beyond. Though I particularly enjoyed hearing from Anderson who, in a brief address, was much funnier than I might have guessed.

But for me, and for the purposes of NUmedia, the fireworks went off when Welsh introduced Anne Beriault and Charlie Hopper of Young and Laramore. Y&L was retained near the end of 2008 to re-brand Indianapolis as a product and charged with creating materials for marketing and sales support across media. For having worked on such a large project for such a short amount of time, their presentation was excellent.

They casually lampooned a bit of the back and forth one might hear within a creative meeting at the agency. Anne would present a concept that was, well, nice. And Charlie would shoot it down with a certain fervor and joy. Potential concepts were run against a literal "B.S." meter. (The funniest bit of the afternoon was when the boastful potential tag line, "Move Over New York, Apple is Our Middle Name" sent the B.S. meter to 'max').

With this illustration they got at the heart of one potential pitfall for business owners who wish to advertise, but can't afford the services of a professional agency. And that's finding a balance in presenting truth within a package that still has impact. Substance v. Style. Truth in advertising might sound like a punch-line, but for those who can effectively leverage its power, it does lead to success.

What Y&L came upon was "The Competitive Spirit" of Indianapolis. This isn't a functional tagline for the campaign, but an underlying truth about our city and a platform on which the campaign will be built. Indy is readily identifiable as the home of competition thanks to the Colts, Pacers, and the IMS. But the concept was fluidly applied to the arts, to the hospitality business- and in a way that I really respected- the city. We don't have the mountainous ranges of the West or ocean views from hotel rooms. But we've built airports and stadiums and world-class hotels and a Community- one that other cities envy. We work hard to get what we get. We've earned it. So damn right, we're competitive.

How many small business owners have taken that same kind of ownership of their story? It's much easier to create an external facade that some or most could find appealing. Build flash around a product or manufacture a certain aesthetic. But how many campaigns actually reflect what's within?

I look at these things rather analytically, but I have to say kudos on the concept. I look forward to seeing what the campaign itself has to say about the city, and how they say it.

For more info on the ICVA, go here:

http://www.indy.org/indianapolis/web/jsp/index.jsp?p=1&x=1232669189519

For a more statistical analysis of the ICVA's efforts, see the IBJ's piece from earlier today:

http://74.219.68.10/ibjemg/ibjemails/2009_01_22_IBJDaily_Standard/Articles/30135.htm?1=1&EGEmailID=1132&PublicationID=1&PublicationDesc=IBJ%20DAILY&EmailType=Standard

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