Philly Leverages 'Love' To Promo Art, History

Love statue of Philadelphia Philadelphia is launching a new series of local, regional and national tourism marketing efforts to promote an array of art, history, science and culture events that are converging there this year.

The efforts, by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC), the Constitution Center and by the new "America I AM" exhibition on African-American culture, will spotlight such museum events as a new major exhibition, "Galileo, the Medici and the Age of Astronomy" at the Franklin; the largest collection of Cezanne anywhere in the world at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation; and a massive exhibition developed and curated by PBS host Tavis Smiley on the African-American experience and how it has defined this country.

The GPTMC is wrapping it all together in its 10-week "Feel the Love" campaign targeting the Northeast. The effort will use artist Robert Indiana's famous "Love" graphic (the statue is in Philadelphia) as its iconography. It also extends the "Philly Overnight" hotel-package program that first launched in 2002.



Merrill Levitz, CEO of the GPTMB, says 13 hotels will offer special packages that include tickets to the Cezanne exhibition.

She says the Galileo exhibit, timed with International Year of Astronomy (and the 400th anniversary of the telescope and the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing) is composed of artifacts lent to Philadelphia by the Italian government.

The GPTMP will promote with marketing efforts in Northeastern markets with radio ads and outdoor elements. Levitz says that 25% of visitors to the city come from within a five-hour drive. Even in this environment, she says, "people don't want to cut travel; but they do want to find a different way of traveling." New Yorkers fill about 20% of Philadelphia hotel rooms. "It's our biggest feeder market, especially during the winter," she says.

As part of the "Love" campaign, the city will offer traveler perks over the duration of the program, with ten visitors each week receiving a gift, or offer.

"America I AM" will get its own promotional push, per Tavis Smiley, who was in New York on Friday to promote the exhibition. He says the four-year-long show--which opens at Constitution Center on Martin Luther King's birthday and then tours the U.S.--is being handled by Arts and Exhibitions International, which also oversaw the King Tut, Titanic and Pirates U.S. tours. "King Tut was such a massive tour that if we get even a part of their success we'll have a home run," he says.

The exhibition has some 300 physical items so far, including everything from the skeleton key and cell doors to the Birmingham, Ala. jail cell in which Martin Luther King wrote his famous letter; leg shackles used to restrain slaves on the Middle Passage, to the actual speech--signed--from which President-elect Barack Obama discoursed on race last year in Philadelphia. The exhibit includes an interactive section where visitors can offer--on camera--their own perspective on how the African-American experience has shaped the country.

"This is the biggest, baddest, boldest exhibit ever to tell the story of African-Americans in this country," he says. "We have more items loaned to us than we have space." Smiley says the show, visiting 12 other markets after its tenure in Philadelphia.

He says the exhibit has already been running a truck tour for the past year to different cities showing items from the exhibit and gathering comments from people. "By the end of the four years, we will have collected the world's largest oral history project on African-Americans' contribution to this country," he says.

Smiley says the effort will include radio, TV and print promotions in markets like New York, Washington and Baltimore, strategic advertising in major national publications, and "an aggressive media campaign starting with me."

He says he is also leaning on Obama to take a tour of the exhibit before his train ride from Philadelphia to Washington on Saturday. "Locally, Constitution Center has done a great job of outreach."

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