New York City's marketing and partnership agency, NYC&Company, is launching a campaign supporting its association with Google Maps' new "Favorite Places" feature. New York is one of more than a dozen cities worldwide that have signed on with the program, including San Francisco, London, Paris, Moscow, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Madrid and Prague.
The just-launched function on Google maps embeds local businesses and the endorsements of celebrities who suggested them into virtual maps on www.Google.com/FavoritePlaces. For The Favorite Places campaign, the NYC map includes recommendations from 28 local experts.
On Google's "Favorite Places" map of New York, for example, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa recommends his favorite restaurants; Diane Von Furstenberg and Isaac Mizrahi share their favorite places to shop; and Yo-Yo Ma, Mark Morris and Maya Lin list where they most enjoy art exhibits and theater. Others offering their two cents include Jimmy Buffet, Cynthia Rowley, Danny Meyer, Al Gore and Alice Waters.
Steve Flatow, SVP business development at NYC&Company, says the organization's Partnerships Group division developed a relationship with Google early this year as part of the NYC&Company visitor's center near Times Square.
Google helped develop the interactive displays in the center, including things like interactive map tables and Google Earth 3D views of the city. "When they conceived this Favorite Places campaign, they came to us and discussed it early on," he says.
He says that businesses get on the Favorite Places map when well-known New Yorkers recommend them. Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs is there because of Mayor Bloomberg's recommendation, for example.
Flatow says the effort is aimed both at tourists and locals. "Our focus has shifted a lot recently from purely marketing to tourists to helping them navigate to also helping locals," he says, explaining that the shift included changing the name of the city's information Web site from NYCVisit.com to NYCGo.com.
The effort is supported by an out-of-home campaign on New York City bus stop shelters and street pole banners; window decals of the Google Maps "My Map" pin appear in stores, restaurants, galleries and other venues. The favored locations are also on NYCGO.com, and the site links to Google Maps as well.
San Francisco has life-sized red-tipped pins like those on Google Maps that appear in front of businesses selected as favorite places; mobile elements are available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 handsets.