Market New Haven launches ad campaign

After nearly six years connecting consumers and merchants in the city, Market New Haven is expanding the scope of its public relations campaign in hopes of attracting more business and tourism.

Anne Worcester, chief marketing officer for MNH, said the organization is currently launching a massive publicity campaign that will focus both on tourism and on business. She said the tourism facet of the new campaign will focus on the city’s restaurants, arts and shopping, while the business strategy will focus on attracting new companies to New Haven. In particular, MNH will concentrate on the biotech industry, which already has a strong presence in New Haven — of the 35 biotech firms in Connecticut, 22 call the Elm City home.

MNH, which was created in 2000 by a partnership between Yale and the city, seeks to attract businesses and consumers to the New Haven area through publicity, advertisement and special events, Worcester said.

The nonprofit organization’s new catchphrase, “New Haven. It happens here,” has been adopted by more than 20 of the city’s businesses, marking the first time that a broad spectrum of New Haven businesses have united under the same banner to encourage mutual success.

Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs spokeswoman Shana Schneider ’00 said Yale contributes $250,000 annually to MNH. In addition to publicity, that money funds events on the New Haven Green, a resource Schneider said is often overlooked by the community.

MNH’s campaign — with its signature catchphrase — is designed to reach a broad group of people. As of now, MNH advertises within New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford and New London counties, and is also focusing on the New York and Boston areas.

“The PR campaign is designed to enhance the positive image of New Haven, but also designed to make New Haven more of a destination, not just locally, but also regionally and nationally,” Worcester said.

Jim Martinez, senior vice president of GCI Group — Market New Haven’s PR firm — said the Elm City has not yet advertised itself as it should.

“New Haven needs to get more aggressive in communicating what it has to offer,” he said.

Martinez said that because it is situated between major urban centers like Boston and New York, New Haven must work hard to shine in its own right. He said his firm’s goal in publicizing MNH is to increase awareness about the business opportunities in New Haven.

“Our goal is to give people a feel for the full mosaic that makes up New Haven,” Martinez said. “If people know New Haven from the publicity of 10 years ago or only because of Yale, they’re only getting part of the picture.”

Bruce Alexander, the chair of MNH and Yale’s vice president and director of New Haven and state affairs, said MNH seeks to unite businesses and consumers though publicity and public events.

As a nonprofit organization, MNH relies primarily on funds from the city and from Yale, but in the past year has made considerable efforts to raise funds on its own. According to Ward 14 Alderman Joe Jolly, who is a member of the city’s budget committee, New Haven cut MNH’s budget last year and specifically charged the organization with raising several thousand dollars. Jolly said MNH’s development team, headed by Worcester, has exceeded its initial goals.

Jolly said that last year the city appropriated $400,000 to MNH, and that it plans to award the same amount this year.

“My feeling is that it’s very important for the city to be marketing itself both to consumers and to potential retailers,” he said. “To me, $400,000 is a small amount of money to invest in a big return for people coming to spend money in New Haven and businesses relocating to New Haven.”

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