You can always go — downtown
Marketing campaign promotes Halifax’s vibrant, diverse core
By BRUCE ERSKINE Business Reporter
Fri. Mar 27 - 7:07 AM
[A bus approaches the corner of Barrington and George streets in downtown Halifax.(Eric Wynne / Staff)</p>]
A bus approaches the corner of Barrington and George streets in downtown Halifax.(Eric Wynne / Staff)
A $45,000 marketing campaign will remind Haligonians who work downtown that the city centre is diverse, vibrant and worth exploring.
"This . . . is talking to those 20,000 people that are here five days a week, nine to five, who’ve already figured where they can park . . . but maybe aren’t thinking about the fact that they can go for lunch or stay out after work," said Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission at the launch Thursday of a new branding campaign focusing on Halifax as the port city "Where the Maritimes Meets the World."
The project, designed by Halifax advertising agency Extreme Group, includes a revamped website ( www.downtownhalifax.ca
) that will be up at the end of April and a stylized logo of the downtown street grid with the "x" in Halifax representing the city’s position as a regional hub and international crossroads.
The initiative, funded by commission members, will also feature billboard and bus shelter advertisements that will recount "stories" of what people miss — exotic restaurants, unique stores, interesting people and special events — by not spending more time downtown.
"Our sense is that anyone that’s in the downtown will know that these things exist but has maybe forgotten about them," said Mr. MacKinnon.
He added that future campaigns will focus on people who work outside the city core and will address concerns like parking and street maintenance.
"One of the issues that we know that people have with downtown is this perception that there’s nowhere to park or the perception that we don’t have the choice in shopping that you get if you went to the mall," he said, noting that downtown Halifax has features like the harbour boardwalk that can’t be found in commercial centres like Burnside Business Park.
"Sometimes you forget how great downtown is," he said.
Mitchell Abbott, manager of Attica Furnishings on Barrington Street, welcomed the new campaign.
"You always need to remind people of elements downtown that can be enjoyed," he said in an interview at the specialty furniture and decor store, which has been located in the city’s core for many years.
Craig Sievert, owner of Sieverts Ltd. tobacco store across the street, agreed that the commission’s campaign is a positive development that is worth pursuing.
"It’s certainly good," he said in an interview at the store, a landmark opened by his great-grandfather about a century ago.
But Mr. Sievert said the city’s administration has to move more quickly to address eyesores like the boarded-up National Film Board building that he can see from his front window. It’s sat empty for years after being destroyed by a fire.
"We’ve been here over 100 years and I still don’t see a great deal of difference," he said, adding that it takes far too long for downtown developments to get approved and built.
"If you build it, people will come," he said. "You wouldn’t need a (marketing) campaign."