“Part of my job is tourism,” Bloomberg says once the photo op is over. “ ‘Hi, how are you, welcome to New York.’ You gotta make people feel happy.”
The offices of NYC & Company, at 810 Seventh Avenue, are a Bloombergian open-plan playpen that seems more like a tech start-up than home to the city’s tourism brain trust. Inside, 155 staffers divided into thirteen units, some working around the clock in shifts, are busy doing one thing: selling New York. NYC & Company is not a city agency, although it has city DNA. Dreamed up by Bloomberg and his former deputy Dan Doctoroff, it is formally a 501(c)6 nonprofit corporation. In effect, however, NYC & Company is a large, full-service marketing, public-relations, and advertising agency whose main source of funding and sole client happens to be the city.
It was determined early on, for example, “that New York can’t have a tagline,” Fertitta says. A slogan, any slogan, would drag it down to the level of a Minneapolis (“City by Nature”) or Chicago (“Second to None”). The closest NYC & Company would come to a tagline was the minimalist “This is New York City.” Next came the logo. The so-called Brand Identity Project, which started with the chunky NYC insignia on taxis, took five years for almost every city agency (some enthusiastically, some kicking and screaming) to adopt. “The mayor wanted everyone to feel like they’re part of the same team,” says Willy Wong, the company’s chief creative officer, while the lettering itself “conveyed a sense of strength.” Like it or not, New York now had a font.
“We are New York. We don’t pay anybody. You pay us.”