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.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.