How to Market Philly to Tourists

The Founding Fathers are hot right now thanks to the Tea Partiers

Philadelphia’s expensive “XOXO” tourism ads are clever, and I’m certain they’ll win awards, but they don’t give anyone a compelling reason to visit our city. We have to stop marketing Philadelphia as “hip.” We aren’t, and I think most Philadelphians are fine with that.

Forget promoting the arts, nightlife, restaurants and “romance” of Philadelphia. We’re great in each area, but other cities have the same or better. We need to promote what makes us special. And frankly, we have done a poor job of that.

The Founding Fathers and the Constitution are hot right now. The Republicans and the Tea Party treat the Constitution with the same reverence with which they look at the Bible. Philadelphia, the document’s birthplace, should be their Mecca. Tea Party events attract thousands from across the country. We should court them. Who cares if they come from Red States? Their money is green.

Beyond the Tea Party, we need a campaign that makes all parents believe they have a moral obligation to bring their children to visit Philadelphia—something like, “American history has been lost in schools. Help your children find it again in Philadelphia, where American history was born.” Guilt is a powerful motivator. Ad spots shouldn’t beg parents to come to Philadelphia, but rather ask why they haven’t yet.

In a 2006 international poll conducted by a group looking to bring the 2016 Olympics to Philadelphia, guess what was the number one thing people thought of when they heard the word “Philadelphia”? Rocky. I know, how gauche! Get over it. Rocky is who we are. We should have Rocky tours that end with a run up the Art Museum steps, a Rocky-themed restaurant, a Rocky convention, a Rocky film marathon and other Rocky events.

Get people here for history and Rocky, and the restaurants and night spots will be packed.
Maybe the Rocky, Red State and Tea Party crowds won’t appreciate the Barnes Foundation. But steaks wit’ Whiz should experience record sales.