New Live Baltimore ad campaign offers twist on "just say no"
The nonprofit marketing group that encourages people to live in Baltimore has launched a new ad campaign with a bit of (tongue-in-cheek) anti-marketing. The big letters proclaim, "When people ask if you love Baltimore, say 'no.'"
The small print adds, "The less other people know about the City, the cooler it stays for the rest of us."
For a larger pop-up with readable text, click on the ad.
This is Live Baltimore's first new image campaign, not counting event promotion, since one that launched in 2007 and ended two years later.
The group is advertising in the Baltimore and Washington regions, including D.C.-area Metro stations -- repeating the strategy that drew a lot of attention in the bubble years, when Live Baltimore made hay out of the price and personality differences between the two areas. (A 2007 ad showed a black-and-white photo of suburban tract housing under the headline "Generica," contrasted with colorful "painted ladies" in Charles Village, headlined "America.")
Anna Custer, Live Baltimore's executive director, says the group is spending $40,000 on the first three months of advertising in hopes of pushing people off the fence. The tagline is "So if you've ever told yourself, 'Someday I'll own my own place,' get in touch. Because someday is now." (SomedayBaltimore.com redirects to the Live Baltimore site.)
"We’ve talked with our real estate partners who’ve lamented that some of their customers who seem to know it’s prudent to buy aren’t talking any active steps to do so," Custer said in an email interview. "With the start of the spring buying season, we thought it’s a good time to focus people on buying a home – and specifically buying in the City."
Besides the reverse-psychology ad, the others "highlight ironic things about Baltimore, like the farmer’s market under I-83, with the goal of showing to a broader audience just how cool the Baltimore of today is," she said. "We can always aspire to be more, but Baltimore has a lot of great things going for it and this campaign celebrates those aspects."
I asked about property taxes, since that's a perennial thorn in the "buy here" effort. Is Live Baltimore taking a position on the slash-the-rate-in-half proposal making the rounds?
"We are a marketing organization and don’t take official positions on ideas or proposals," Custer said. "When people start diving into the homebuying process, we do get questions on the property tax rate. While it's higher than the regional average, we also have lower overall housing costs. Additionally, we make sure people know about the tax abatement opportunities here in the City that other jurisdictions don’t offer – new construction, renovation, and historic tax credits – along with the state's homestead and homeowner's credit programs."
Read on for the rest of the ads, and remember that you'll get a larger (and easier-to-read) pop-up if you click on them. What do you think? And city residents: When people ask you if you love Baltimore, what do you say?