Come to New York, the World's Greatest Cheap Date

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It may be hard for us locals to believe, but the global image of New York is still, apparently, that of crime and grime: streetwise swindlers, filthy sidewalks, and brusque passersby. Enter George Fertitta, the man Bloomberg has picked to mount an NYC ad campaign the likes of which the world hasn't seen (unless one counts every Hollywood romantic comedy of the last twenty years). Fertitta is a logical choice for the mayor who famously called his city "a luxury product." As a co-founder of Margeotes Fertitta & Weiss, he's previously been peddling Godiva, Remy Martin, and Orrefors crystal. Bloomberg has set a goal 50 million visitors a year by 2015 — six million more than now — a bar Fertitta finds almost dispiritingly low, "a layup," he says. So how will NYC & Company, the city's self-promotional arm, with a $45 million budget, lure Europeans to New York on Fertitta's watch?

Is it the promise of the world's most diverse dining scene, cutting-edge design, iconic vistas, astonishing art collections? Nope. For now, the agency "has begun placing billboards in some European cities declaring that with exchange rates in their favor, New York is a relative bargain." Ouch. Touting the weak dollar may do the job, but damn if this tack isn't the tiniest bit unbecoming. In fact, it's roughly two steps up from running ads that say "New York Women Find European Accents Extremely Attractive." But, then, let's not give NYC & Co. free ideas.

Remaking the City's Image, With 50 Million Tourists in Mind [NYT]