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CityScape, Phoenix, AZ

Builder & Developer Portfolio

Up For Review

Early in 2006, John Bacon, Director of Marketing for RED Development, initiated an agency marketing review for their CityScape project in Downtown Phoenix. At that time, CityScape was a $980-million, 2.5-million-square-foot mixed-use development combining high rise condominiums and loft condos, retail, hotel, office and public park space that would ultimately span three square blocks of prime Downtown Phoenix real estate becoming the major focal point for a new urban downtown.

CityScape Development Map

John met with four agencies and design firms who'd worked on other RED Development projects throughout the nation. Unfortunately for these first agencies, their approaches were shot down by the RED/CityScape review committee as each presentation focused on marketing this project as an extension of the "Jewel of the Desert" branding approach which had been developed for the Phoenix CVB by E.B Lane. The CVB concept promoted Phoenix as a "jewel" ringed by rugged mountains, picturesque Sonoran Desert, one of the world's truly elite golf destinations, and home to more beautiful resorts than perhaps any other community of its size in the world.

It was during the agency reviews that I first met John Bacon through Bozell, Omaha. Two months earlier, I'd merged my company, Pitzer Advertising & Design, into the Bozell network enabling us to open the Bozell, Phoenix office. During our lunch, John shared some of his concerns regarding the presentations he'd seen. I asked if I could make a presentation on behalf of Bozell, as I'd just completed two and half years as Executive Creative Director working on the Phoenix CVB account. John agreed to look at what I could come up with – but he needed to see something in three days because the final decision was going to be made that week.

The issues to overcome for my presentation would be:


While Phoenix is surrounded by desert (like Los Angeles), – it is no longer consider to be "a" desert.
The view of people living in the Greater Phoenix area – Downtown Phoenix closes at 7 pm.
Visually – Do not show cactus, beautiful resorts or golf course shots to represent CityScape.

The biggest obstacle to over come would be repositioning 10 years of consistently beautiful marketing by the Greater Phoenix CVB's which created the brand look & feel, that every geographic area of Phoenix and Scottsdale bordered some part of a picturesque golf course or scenic desert strewn with cactus and red rocks. The next issue, and possibly a bigger one locally, would be creating the illusion that Downtown Phoenix was open 24hrs – or at least until midnight.

The Presentation

The presentation consisted of several boards of hand sketched ideas, each representing a possible execution or direction the initial CityScape marketing could take.

CityScape presentation concept 1
CityScape presentation concept 2
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CityScape presentation concept 8

The last concept approach, combined with the second concept board showing the creation of a unique book and matching delivery box won the CityScape marketing review. It also didn't hurt that RED knew I'd developed all of these concepts in under two and a half days. The basic branding approach was inspired by the paintings of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who captured the Parisian nightlife of the Montmartre section of Paris. In particular was his work, La Goulue Arriving at the Moulin Rouge with Two Women painted in 1892 and is now in The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The bottom-lit colors and the slight green tinting captured that moment of excitement of evening entertainment. The look of our print and collateral would also use this nighttime lighting, adding excitement to our images and reinforcing the concept of "There is life after 7 pm in Downtown Phoenix."

Design – by the book

The contents of these handmade booklets start out by delivering information on the region and the Sate of Arizona. The next few pages provided information and statistics on Greater Phoenix and Phoenix. The following section focused on stats regarding Downtown Phoenix followed by several pages of information specific to the CityScape project.

The design approach for each spread used one large visual with three unique inset photos to help articulate the information and statistics we were presenting. Because the entire book was handmade, it could be updated as new information, rankings, and other build projects progressed in the area. The slip cover featured a copper-plated information bracket that was riveted to the front of the box. Each time we printed and assembled a book, a new number was assigned to each cover so that as these were handed out, the recipient was given a book specifically printed and assembled for them. This 50-page book was created in two sizes, 8x8 as shown here and a 17x11 coffee table version. Each was also design to hold a DVD regarding the CityScape project.

CityScape Book image 1
CityScape Book image 2
CityScape Book image 3
CityScape Book spread 1
CityScape Book spread 2
CityScape Book spread 3
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CityScape Book spread 17

As part of the marketing approach, a monthly updated print ad was run in both AZRE and Urban Land magazines.

CityScape Book print ad

When it came time for the launch party, we didn't have an old building to blow up in a dramatic ground braking ceremony. We also didn't have the luxury of wonderful mild weather being September in Phoenix. What we did have was US Airways Center directly across the street from the CityScape development site. On a scouting trip with John Bacon, I said it would be absolutely awesome if we could use a technique I once saw in an opera that would allow us, at a key moment in the celebration, to unfurl floor-to-ceiling event graphics, having them drop dramatically into place. We'd create a real-time, perfect perspective view of what the CityScape would look like against the existing Phoenix sky line of Downtown Phoenix for 500 t0 600 people and press attending the ground breaking. John tilted his head, looked at the 45' tall windows and said, "Can you get something printed that large?" I said, "I have no idea, I'm not even sure if they'll let us install something that big if we could." The idea and theatrics were so perfect, John had us put together the concept in sketch form so he could present it to his management.

RED approved the concept immediately.

CityScape Ground Breaking Event

Enter Commerce Color, their previous exterior graphics work gave us the confidence to move forward with this project, which involved some things that had never been done before with printed vinyl banners. Commerce Color did a great job. They worked really hard, got the event graphics done in an insane amount of time. They created three 40' tall 20' wide banners, with computer generated renders created in China with skies to match the time of evening of the presentation — everything came off beautifully.