Gotham unites ad biz

Execs look to rebuild by bringing prod'ns to N.Y.

NEW YORK — In an unprecedented move that reflects the dire state of the commercials production business in New York, the production chiefs of every major advertising agency have joined with the leadership of the film community to pledge support to rebuild the industry.

The newly formed coalition, which includes the Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers, the labor unions and the Screen Actors Guild, unveiled a new logo — by “I Love New York” designer Milton Glasser — for its “We Love New York” campaign.

Coalition members say advertisers are committed to studying every commercial job to determine whether there is any chance that it can be shot in New York, rather than in Los Angeles, Canada or elsewhere. Move comes in an effort to be “fiscally responsible and emotionally responsive” to the current economic situation in the U.S.

“Anything that’s coming up is being rethought for New York,” said Nancy Axthelm, director of broadcast production for Grey Advertising. “Everyone is feeling a tremendous emotional pull back to the city. It’s the right thing to do.”

“We’re doing a Johnson & Johnson spot here that was going to be shot in Los Angeles,” said Peter Freedman, head of production at McCann Ericsson.

But sagging national ad spending and the war in Afghanistan won’t help matters, and commercial production leaders recognize that theirs is an uphill battle.

“On Sept. 11 the commercial business was lousy,” said Freedman. “On Sept. 12, it was decimated. “But now, with this new coalition, we are acknowledging that everyone has to do his own share. If we can put people to work, and put clients in New York hotels and restaurants, then we are doing our share. This is one thing we can do to help.”

The coalition’s statement, signed following a meeting Friday, states: “Our clients can be assured that every possible effort will be made, on the part of the Advertising Agencies and the film community, to help them to partake in this particularly American initiative and this New York need.”

It continues: “In order to be successful, everyone must play a role to help New York … New York is fully functional as a location and accessible for all aspects of production. We in the advertising community must all do our part to support and rebuild New York.”

Signs of recovery

It’s far too early to say whether the coalition will meet its goals. But some members of the commercial production community say there are already positive signs.

“The idea of a recovery is relative, especially if you consider how bad things were a year-and-a-half ago,” said Silvercup Studios CEO Alan Suna. “But we’ve been very fortunate. We are seeing double-digit increases in production since last year.”

And Suna says a surprising number of commercials have been booked in the weeks since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Among the commercials that have shot at Silvercup, or are currently booked, are commercials for Colgate, Hess and Sudafed.

Coalition supporter Radical Media recently produced a Visa commercial at Silvercup that was originally to be shot in Los Angeles.

‘For the entire country’

“The client committed to staying here in New York,” said Jon Kamen, Radical’s CEO. “The meetings we have had have definitely benefited the New York community. Because of these difficult times, there are many people who want to stay as close to home as possible. There is an immediate need to help bolster the community. But it is not limited to New York long-term, it’s for the entire country.”

AICP prexy-CEO Matt Miller said, “I think this is at least going to limit the damage that may have been inflicted a month ago. There needs to be support of the New York production infrastructure in order for it to be sustained. We can’t lose New York as a production center.

“This move becomes an investment in our American economy,” he added. “It’s an example of what we hope will grow out from the ‘We Love NY’ concept. The ad community is saying, ‘We really need to keep this money in the American economy.’ ”

“Clients are now willing to listen.” said Freedman, who is well aware that overall ad spending is down. “They’re being considerate where six months ago it wouldn’t happen. So far the reception has been very strong.”

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