Oct 20, 2023 - News

$4 million ad campaign seeks to rebrand San Francisco

Photo: Courtesy of Advance SF

A new ad campaign that launched this week in San Francisco showcases local companies with the goal of reminding people that the city still has much to offer.

What's happening: The $4 million "It All Starts Here" campaign, created by nonprofit Advance SF and funded by donors like Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen and Gap Inc. chairman Bob Fisher, will feature ads at transit stations and on Muni buses, billboards and online.

  • Companies like Timbuk2 and Blue Bottle Coffee, the Summer of Love, artificial intelligence and other distinctly San Francisco elements will be highlighted in the ads.
  • Larry Baer, president of the San Francisco Giants and co-chair of the Advance SF board, wants the campaign to serve as a "spark" to inspire residents, businesses and local government to work together to rebuild San Francisco, he said in a press release.

Why it matters: San Francisco is trying to avoid the reality and the perception of a "doom loop" — a scenario in which many workers remain remote, offices continue to sit empty and businesses close.

By the numbers: Various data points show signs of life in the city as well as areas for improvement in San Francisco's post-pandemic recovery.

  • Last year, tourism was down about 16% from 2019, when a record 26.2 million people visited the city, according to the city's tourism department.
  • Yes, but: Visitors to San Francisco increased from 17 million in 2021 to 21.9 million last year.
  • Meanwhile, despite demand for office space reaching a 3.5-year high, San Francisco's office vacancy rate hit a new high of 34% from July to September of last year, according to a CBRE report released this week.

What they're saying: Ted Egan, the city's chief economist, told Axios via email the prevalence of remote work has reduced the city's revenues from commercial real estate taxes and "will have a number of second-round effects" on city budgets and transit systems over the next several years.

  • The city will need to manage those risks, he added, to remain economically healthy.

Of note: It turns out that San Francisco's downtown recovery rate isn't as bad as originally believed.

Between the lines: The city is facing an overdose epidemic and is on pace to have the deadliest year for accidental overdoses since January 2020, when the city began publicly reporting overdose deaths.

  • The city also has a well-documented homelessness crisis. In 2022, the city's homelessness department counted 7,754 homeless people on a single night.

What's next: As part of the new ad campaign, Advance SF plans to host a civic pride festival tomorrow at The East Cut Crossing, featuring food, music and family-friendly activities.

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