The year was 1977, New York City, on the verge of bankruptcy, dreary, dark, crime was rampant. It was like a scene of Gotham City from "Batman." Real estate was so bad; the City of NY became the biggest landlord in the city as landlords abandoned their buildings, the city obligated to pick them up and keep them running.
So how is it that now, just 30 years later, the NYC real estate market is hotter than ever and everywhere you turn you see the slogan "I Love NY". Even if you're not from NY, more than likely you've seen this or a similar slogan such as "I Love John" or "I Love TX". How did this "I Love . . . " craze begin?
We even have a group here on Active Rain called "I Love NY".
You must have wondered how or when this started.
Last year, I've had the privilege of speaking with the creator of the "I Love NY" advertising campaign. It was a momentous time because it was now 30 years since he originally kicked off the campaign (in 1977).
New York was running out of money and time. The New York State Tourism Department needed to do something to improve the image of NYC. With a very small budget, they hired a NYC advertising agency headed by Stan Dragotti and Charlie Moss. I had known Stan for several years and was most impressed by him having been married to supermodel Cheryl Tiegs. But when he explained to me how he created and developed the "I Love NY" ad campaign, I was totally mesmerized (sorry Cheryl).
His idea was to incorporate all of the Broadway actors and have them sing "I love New York". The ad campaign was a success; the jingle became NY State's official song, the "I Love NY" slogan stuck. The TV commercial became one of the greatest commercials of all time.
In less than 30 years, New York went from being a dark, crime ridden city ranked 8th most desired city in the US to visit, now the #1 tourist destination in the world. I don't have to tell you that real estate values have reached skyscraper proportions and NYC is no longer the biggest landlord in the city.
Stan Dragotti also went on to direct several movies including "Mr. Mom" starring Michael Keaton and "Love at First Bite" with George Hamilton as well as others. He also won the Tony Theater Award in 1978 for his "I love New York Broadway Show Tours." As for me, I am honored to know him and that he is of Albanian descent, which is how I got to know him in the first place.