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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, July 28, 2014

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In Marketplace Commentary

Cya Downtown. (PHOTO: MilwaukeeDowntown.com)

Peaches sells sexy in new Milwaukee Downtown campaign


So, what does Downtown mean to you?

For me, it's the heart of the state. The place to be. The thing to do. It's our lifeline and the pulse of the city and state. It's also home.

For Milwaukee Downtown, the business improvement district that spearheads marketing for Downtown Milwaukee, Downtown is its business. And, its new ad campaign is taking a different, funky, fun and sexy path.

For Canadian artist Peaches and the new songstress for Milwaukee, Downtown is the "thing" to do. Peaches' 2006 fourth album, "Impeach My Bush," features the hit "Downtown," a song that she recently and exclusively remixed for Milwaukee Downtown.

Interpret it as you may, but the song is catchy and sexy. Its original lyrics ooze sex appeal and its beats are contagious.

Of course, song lyrics can be misinterpreted as Gary Witt, executive director at The Pabst Theater and chairperson of the Milwaukee Downtown marketing committee (of which I'm a member), told me, "if you look long and hard enough at any song lyric, somehow it can be sexual. It all depends on what you, the individual are looking for."

As you may know, I've been involved with Milwaukee Downtown, B.I.D. #21, since its beginnings and OnMilwaukee.com also is a proud partner with the organization. I own a condo in Downtown and have spent most of my adult life working on ways to make Downtown continue to evolve and improve.

There's no doubt that Milwaukee Downtown has a huge impact on Downtown's growth. Its programs, events and people are driving forces for positive change.

Now, through a new marketing campaign and renewed focus on development, the entity – funded by property owners and private donations – is truly set to go big and create some huge buzz. Sexy, you see, sells.

The new campaign is catchy, creative, direct and to the point, cya (read "see ya") accomplishes both the tone and fun attitude of Downtown. As MilwaukeeDowntown.com tells it, "this iteration of what makes Downtown unique took an entirely new path. We even rounded up the city's heaviest hitters to help share the news."

You'll note that our own Caroline McDonald Henning is featured in one of the campaign's print ads.

As for the video spot, the Milwaukee-ized version of the Peaches song isn't too much different than the original but very different that the singer's original video.

All in all, the "Downtown" song is catchy and really works with the visual elements that showcase Milwaukee's dining, nightlife and people.

Executive director Beth Weirick explained the campaign this way, "Three weeks after an intense conversation (about the current campaign), I sat down in my agency's conference room eagerly anticipating the concept they were presenting. When they rolled the video that includes the portion of the Peaches' song, my reaction was 'Wow, you nailed you it'."

"I think the refrain 'cuz I wanna take you Downtown' coupled with the B-roll of authentic Milwaukee is absolutely perfect in capturing the vibe, the feel and the message that 'if it's happening, it's happening Downtown.' We want to show people our thing and that 'thing' happens to be a fabulous product we call Downtown Milwaukee," said Weirick.

Ellingsen Brady Advertising (EBA), the BID's long time agency, created the look and feel of the entire campaign and brokered the rights deal for the song.

Witt championed the go big or go home approach, "Tim Brady and Don Ellingsen and their team at EBA have created a new and exciting feel with cya downtown campaign that speaks much more directly to those who already do and those who will want to experience and use Downtown in the near future.

"Weirick's keen ability to adapt and recognize current trends exploding in Milwaukee's Downtown forced us all to rethink how we should speak with this fast growing community that is driving our Downtown businesses and assisting many of them in achieving record years."

Personally, I love the spot and campaign. Even the tagline, "cya downtown" is cool and I like that it could be confused with "cover my ass," too. In my mind, Milwaukee's always been cool. And while Downtown Milwaukee may not need sex to sell it, it sure doesn't hurt.


Talkbacks

ErinPetersen | July 11, 2013 at 3:38 p.m. (report)

"Of course, song lyrics can be misinterpreted as Gary Witt, executive director at The Pabst Theater and chairperson of the Milwaukee Downtown marketing committee (of which I'm a member), told me, "if you look long and hard enough at any song lyric, somehow it can be sexual. It all depends on what you, the individual are looking for." This statement rings especially true when the song is ACTUALLY about sex. Specifically oral sex, which is why Peaches wants you to go "Downtown." No one is reading too much into this. Those are just the facts. You're sampling from an artist whose entire repertoire (save for a few exceptions) is made up of songs about sex (a few examples: "F**k the Pain Away," "Stuff Me Up," "Shake Yer Dix," etc.) and you don't stop to think, "Hey, maybe she's not talking about spending time in a thriving urban square when she says 'go downtown'"? It IS a super catchy song, and I love love love Milwaukee. But seriously dudes, this might be the funniest fail ever. Better than the Bronze Fonz even.

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Tosandre | July 11, 2013 at 11:14 a.m. (report)

The first time I saw this I was with my sister, who was visiting with friends from out of town. Our first reaction was, "that's just embarassing." I'm all for moving towards a more metropolitan view and away from the beer, cheese, and Lambeau lovelies take that a lot of people have on our state, but this ad made me cringe. A lot of the footage is great, but the clubby, oh-so-chic-it-hurts vibe it tries to give off is just sad. I'd expect this from downtown Des Moines, but c'mon, Miltown, if you need to try this hard, you're doing something wrong.

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matsfan | July 11, 2013 at 9:24 a.m. (report)

"Interpret it as you may, but the song is catchy and sexy". There is nothing to interpret with those lyrics, they are as in your face about sex as they can be. When an "artist" like Peaches has an album titles "Impeach My Bush" and "Father Fucker"and songs titles like "Fuck or Kill", "Tent in Your Pants", "Rock the Shocker", "Stuff Me Up","Slippery Dick" and "Hit it Hard" I don't think that they lyrics can be misinterpreted. There weren't any better options? Really? We will see if that risk pays off with this campaign.

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EastSideMKE | July 10, 2013 at 11:25 p.m. (report)

Downtown Milwaukee is certainly not the heart of the state. Madison is the heart of the state, specifically State Street that connects the Capitol to the University via a pedestrian mall. I would argue that Milwaukee is not even the heart of the Greater Milwaukee metropolitan area, the heart of Greater Milwaukee is where Waukesha and Milwaukee counties meet near Mayfair Mall and Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Face it, as far as most people I know are concerned, Downtown Milwaukee sucks with the exception of the Historic Third Ward. The restaurants and nightlife are better in surrounding neighborhoods like Walker's Point, the East Side, Riverwest, and Bay View. The shopping is abysmal and the lack of things like a movie theater are major factors as to why Downtown Milwaukee sucks. The absence of a movie megaplex is almost inexcusable considering Marcus Theaters' corporate offices are located in Downtown Milwaukee. The city really dropped the ball when they decided to build Miller Park next to County Stadium instead of moving it Downtown. The Park East would have been nice because it would have put both sports venues within walking distance from one another, but the more obvious choice would be one of the Summerfest lots that go unused 11 months out of the year. That would have placed the stadium in an established vibrant, urban neighborhood and would have been a major catalyst for growth and development like it has proven to be in other cities like Pittsburgh and Denver. Considering that the majority of the state despises Milwaukee and everything it stands for, including most of our own suburbs, it's hard to market Downtown as a place people want to visit when it represents all the things people hate about big cities like parking tickets, potholes, crime, poverty, blight, etc. Choosing a hip-hop song about oral sex to promote your cause probably wasn't the best choice as I imagine it won't go ever well in the suburbs or up north. I guess what I'm getting at in a long winded way, is that Milwaukee needs to stop marketing itself to people in the suburbs and up north who have written-off the city long ago and should focus on getting people who already live here interested in coming downtown as well as making the city more attractive to business travelers and other out-of-towners like Chicagoans.

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