Agency rejects "Buy Glendale" commercial

CITY HALL — Redevelopment Agency members got their first look Tuesday at a TV commercial for the city’s ambitious $150,000 effort to boost local shopping and revenues for area businesses. They were not impressed.

The commercial for the “Buy Glendale” campaign was made up of a barrage of talking heads that prompted criticism from the City Council, acting as the agency, and in particular from Councilwoman Laura Friedman, a former Hollywood studio executive.

“This is a rough cut, right?” Friedman asked Development Services Director Philip Lanzafame, who explained that the commercial was near completion.

His response prompted a series of suggestions from Friedman and other agency members, who asked the city’s redevelopment team, charged with creating a marketing plan for Glendale and its struggling businesses, to dramatically change their 30-second clip.

The commercial was “too claustrophobic” and raced through a broken monologue without showing exterior shots that might inspire viewers to go out to neighborhood business areas that they previously had not thought of visiting, Friedman said.

“This doesn’t do that,” she said.

The initial spot was made by the city’s GTV6 television staff and cost $1,500. It was part of the Buy Glendale plan’s first phase, aimed at educating residents on the benefits of local shopping.

The plan’s preliminary phase proposal also includes $13,854 for local newspaper advertisements and an undetermined allocation for a website, which will serve as a resource to help consumers find the goods and services they are looking for, Lanzafame said.

The website may also include event and discount announcements and will feature videos of the locally targeted Buy Glendale commercials, which will otherwise appear on Channel 6, he said.

But Friedman questioned staff members about the value of a website that appeared to serve mostly as an educational tool to inform visitors about the local sales tax and stimulating effects of shopping locally.

“I just don’t know why anybody would go to this website,” Friedman said.

Other agency members agreed that the website needed work, but contended that it could have value.

Councilman Ara Najarian suggested adding a full directory of the city’s restaurants and retailers, complete with reviews, ratings and dollar signs to illustrate price and quality.

The site could also include weekly discount coupons or special offers as a method of driving people to the site, Councilman John Drayman, agency chairman, said.

Friedman agreed that a coupon offering might draw more visitors, but cautioned against handing the redevelopment team the task of creating and maintaining a full-blown review and rating service for area businesses, instead suggesting a partnership with a local newspaper or other media organization to develop that aspect of the site.

The agency also approved a resolution to solicit bids from marketing firms to assist developing a plan that would simultaneously promote the city as a shopping destination, while emphasizing its individual business districts.

That will not be an easy feat, officials and business leaders have said, but done appropriately, the campaign could lure shoppers from other cities into Glendale’s collection of unique and often quaint business districts.

A marketing firm’s plan will be part of the project’s second phase, dedicated to promoting local shopping areas like the Montrose Shopping Park and Kenneth Village. That phase of the project will account for the bulk of Buy Glendale’s costs.

A separate set of television ads is planned as part of the second phase for distribution throughout the Los Angeles area on cable television.

Officials originally crafted the Buy Glendale campaign as an emergency effort to help struggling area businesses during the recession by encouraging residents to turn to neighborhood stores for their needs. But the plan got stalled and reworked as agency and community members voiced concerns about how the campaign may promote one business district over another, or perhaps allocate funds unwisely.

The Redevelopment Agency, responding to what it saw as a hastily assembled proposal, directed city officials to seek input from area business associations and take additional time to formulate the campaign.

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