The Central Corridor is so much more than a place to buy a new muffler. A new ad campaign, soon to be splashed onto buses and billboards in Minneapolis and St. Paul, aims to promote the eclectic character of the Green Line.
The Metropolitan Council’s $1.2 million marketing push is bringing forward a slightly edgy, artsy image of the area, with references to craft beer and sambusas alike.
It’s meant to assist small businesses along the light-rail path during the busiest year of construction. But with crews well into their second full year of work, how much can the ads help at this point?
That’s a fair question, says Sean McDonnell, who is handling public relations for the campaign.
“We’re definitely hoping to move the needle,” he said. Increasing awareness about the businesses is one thing, but the marketing team is ultimately interested in influencing customers’ purchasing decisions, he said.
“Unless [the ads] convince people to go into a restaurant or business, it doesn’t really matter,” McDonnell said.
The campaign hit a speed bump earlier this year due to some red tape. But the plan, led by St. Paul-based advertising firm Mod and Co., is going ahead full throttle with more ads to come in the ethnic and mainstream press, bus shelters, social media, radio and TV.
To highlight the diversity of the area, the marketing team is branding the corridor into nine nodes: West Bank, Stadium Village, Prospect Park, Raymond Creative Enterprise Zone, Hamline Midway, Rondo Summit-University, Historic Frogtown, Little Mekong, and Lowertown Artist District. Nine “mini-campaigns” within the larger campaign are to come.
What you won’t see in the ads is a torn-up street, making the journey to University Avenue an adventure.
“We’re not painting a Pollyanna picture. We’re just saying, ‘Come on down, we’re open,’” McDonnell said. “Construction has been a challenge, but we’re trying to promote the uniqueness of the businesses that populate the corridor. There are shops and businesses you won’t find anywhere else in the Twin Cities.”