Hotel Online  Special Report

San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Rebrands
itself �Only in San Francisco.� 
New Theme Incorporated into Bureau�s Marketing Efforts


June 24, 2004 - The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB) has launched a new branding campaign, titled �Only in San Francisco.�
�We�re here to unveil an unprecedented marketing/branding campaign, a major effort of the SFCVB to enhance tourism�s economic recovery that has garnered phenomenal participation from the business community,� said SFCVB President and CEO John A. Marks at a press conference on June 22.

�Our inspiration was San Francisco itself, a place unique literally from the ground up � its geography, landmarks, originality, traditions, cultures, tolerance and diverse inhabitants,� said Diane DeRose, SFCVB vice president of marketing. 

�Our research has always reflected that visitors have a very emotional reaction to visiting our City.  Sometimes it�s called elation, optimism or awe. These new ads combine the physical icons of San Francisco with those emotions,� she continued.

The print ads pair the Golden Gate Bridge with a woman in a yoga pose, a cable car with a wildly decorated flower power bus, a Chinese dragon dance with Lombard Street, a ballet dancer with Coit Tower, the Victorian houses of Alamo Square with an outrageous hat from �Beach Blanket Babylon� and the San Francisco skyline with a towering pile of volumes in a North Beach book store.

The theme is also carried out in a thirty-second television spot, ten-second live radio spots, outdoor displays for use on billboards, banners, cable cars, kiosks and a major installation at San Francisco International Airport.

�It�s time for a little optimism in San Francisco.  It�s about time we get back to basics and look around and pause and reflect not only on history but on where we are and where we are going and what the City really represents and what the City is truly about,� said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  �Only in San Francisco do you have people from all over the world that are focused on their common humanity,�

The campaign will debut in the local Bay Area.  Companies recognizing the importance of tourism to San Francisco have committed more than $1.2 million in local advertising space and time to the campaign: 

  • The San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7 Magazine, the San Francisco Business Times and the Bay Guardian.
  • Television stations KRON, KGO, KTVU, KPIX and KQED.
  • Radio stations KDFC, KFOG, KGO, KNBR, KOIT, KQED and Clear Channel including Kiss FM, 101.3, KKSF and KMEL and KYLD.
  • From the outdoor media, Clear Channel, Next Media, Viacom and JC Decaux.
  • As part of an ongoing marketing partnership with the SFCVB, San Francisco International Airport is providing banners throughout the International Terminal during the launch period.
�The local response has been very positive,� DeRose noted.  �Everyone we have met with on this project has said not just �I like it� but �I want to be a part of this!��

Beyond the in-kind contributions of the media, the �Only in San Francisco� campaign has inspired local businesses to embrace the new brand. For example, Max�s Restaurants is offering an �Only in San Francisco� sandwich.  June 23 is �Only in San Francisco� Night at SBC Park and unique San Francisco prizes will be awarded.

�The local part is only the beginning of this campaign,� said DeRose.  �The truth is the Bureau has a very limited advertising budget, slightly more than $1 million which includes existing partnership money.  It is absolutely necessary for us to develop new partnerships if we are to take the campaign beyond the Bay Area and drive an increase in tourism.�

�This new theme will be incorporated into all of the Bureau�s marketing efforts, including those to consumers, meeting planners, travel agents and the international travel trade,� DeRose said.

The campaign goes beyond traditional advertising to include:

  • A kit for merchants with �Only in San Francisco� posters, post cards and other materials so that every business in San Francisco can get on board.
  • The SFCVB will be promoting �Only in San Francisco, Only with Visa� offers.
  • See�s Candies will be participating with unique �Only in San Francisco� offerings.
  • The SFCVB Web site, has been completely redesigned to better serve potential visitors and to incorporate the campaign theme.
  • In the �Wish You Were Here� sweepstakes on the Web site, local residents can send e-postcards to their friends and both parties will be entered into drawings for San Francisco vacation packages and prizes of local interest. 
  • To encourage visitors to venture further and explore more of this fascinating city, a corps of Neighborhood Ambassadors has been enlisted.  They will share �insiders� knowledge of the things that make their districts unique and inviting.
  • A San Francisco photo gallery has been established on the Web site, calling on some of the best photographers in the Bay Area to showcase this beautiful region.
  • A merchandising program will be developed.
  • �Only in San Francisco� tour packages will be developed and promoted to consumers and the travel trade.
The concept and creative development for the campaign, including the new logo, print ads, TV ad, radio, outdoor, Web site and merchandise design were developed by Eleven, ( an integrated brand marketing agency that provides brand strategy, advertising, graphic design, and Web design services to a select number of high-quality clients, including Kodak, Williams-Sonoma, Google, IDT Telecom, Ameristar Casinos, Barclays Global Investors and Hyperion.

�We looked for an agency that not only had strong creative talent but also had fresh ideas about how to make the most of our great destination given our limited financial resources,� Marks said.  �We received proposals from six of San Francisco�s top creative agencies.  Our search brought us to Eleven because of the depth of their experience and their integrated approach to branding, strategy, advertising, graphic design, web and interactive services.   We loved the creative work they showed us, but were equally blown away by the array of ideas they brought us.�

Electronic copies of the ad campaign are available from Tim Zahner, SFCVB Public Relations Media Manager, at [email protected].

The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit membership organization whose mission is to market The City as a leisure and convention destination.  With nearly 1,900 member businesses, the Bureau ranks as The City's largest business membership organization, promoting San Francisco's $6 billion tourism and convention industry. 


Laurie Armstrong
[email protected]

Also See: The 300,000 sq ft Moscone West Convention Center Expansion is Completed; 89 Pre-Opening Bookings through 2013 / June 2003
John A. Marks, President and CEO of the San Francisco CVB, Elected National Chair of the Travel Industry Association of America / Nov 2002

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