Back in May of 2007, it was announced that advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi had been awarded the I Love New York campaign run by The Empire State Development Corporation with an alloted budget of approximately $17 million — budget that goes into the production and media buys, not into Saatchi’s pocket as some people have misunderstood — to promote tourism for the state of New York. The first set of print ads came earlier this year and the now infamous logo with a squirrel on it has been popping up regularly but for some reason there is a rekindled interest in this story and some fun material has come up, so we are happy to give this the attention it deserves.
The biggest concern when I read about Saatchi getting the job was that they would be a little too eager to change the 1977 logo designed by Milton Glaser, in an attempt to get some attention and show how clever advertising agencies can be. Luckily, the I ♥ NY remains the same… except that it has grown some actively annoying clip art appendages. These, along with the print ads, are meant to show how diverse New York is and to establish the I ♥ NY icon as representative of the whole state, not just Manhattan.
In theory, the idea seems good, to activate the logo in different ways, but the execution is so timid and half-hearted that it is barely convincing or engaging and, at best, it looks like the cheap knock-offs that the The Empire State Development Corporation fights so furiously in getting off the market. The print ads are actually not bad; the illustrations lend an interesting contrast to the usual tourism ads, giving it a somewhat edgy feel.
Somehow a PDF of the identity guidelines for the campaign has been posted on-line, and unless someone says it shouldn’t be, you can see them here [PDF].
Major props to Jim Edwards who posted in detail about this and has some of the best links about this story.
Thanks to Mr. Frankie L. for the tip.