Marketing and communications from city’s official agency have been vital in an international brand relaunch ten years in the making.

It is a topic in no short supply of symbolism, but if any more were needed the official opening of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City today, built from the ruins of ground zero, also represents a relaunch of brand NYC, and Lower Manhattan in particular, with marketing and communications playing a vital role in the decade following the terrorist attacks.

The loss of life, property and morale weren’t the only wounds inflicted by the attacks on New York City. The following years saw a sharp decrease in international tourism, with visitor numbers dropping from 6.8 million in 2000 to a low of 4.8 million in 2003. It took five years for those numbers to return to pre-2001 levels, a downturn that cost the city in excess of $2 billion in tourism revenue. Interestingly, domestic tourism remained steady in the year of and after the attacks.

Until yesterday, Ground Zero had been a construction site, but the memorial’s opening is a major milestone in the redevelopment of the site and of Lower Manhattan. Ten metre walls of water cascade down into the footprints where the towers once stood, with the names of victims carved into stone. Next year will see the opening of a museum to accompany the memorial, featuring artefacts such as fire department trucks and clothing, and the Freedom Tower, which overlooked the ceremony yesterday half-finished, is due for completion in 2013.

The effort has been spearheaded by mayor Michael Bloomberg, assisted primarily by NYC & Company, the city’s official communication firm. NYC & Co is headed by former ad man George Fertitta, bringing an agency feel to the operation of marketing the city, promoting tourism and building partnerships. In conjunction with the memorial’s opening, the city is running the ‘Get More NYC: Lower Manhattan’ promotion through its website, selling the borough as having something for everyone from families to foodies to fashionistas.

It’s all part of a brand relaunch ten years in the making, and one that NYC & Co forecasts will bring a record 50 million tourists to the city next year.

Peter Roper
BY Peter Roper ON 13 September 2011
Editor of Marketing Magazine and