Do cities have their own brand? Personality? Style of storytelling? The resounding answer is yes. Close your eyes and what do you see when your hear the “City of Lights”? Rain bouncing on cobblestoned streets? Parisians riding around on bicycles with baguettes sticking out of their baskets? Paris was a central character in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. So much, in fact (spoiler alert!) that the viewer was taken through a portal to the city during its bohemian heyday. Who wouldn’t want to chum around with Picasso, Dali or Hemingway?
Carrie Bradshaw constantly referred to New York City as a central character in Sex in the City. These days, romantic comedies seem destined to be centered around the Big Apple. Is it the smell of the roasted cashews, the provoking museums, sumptuous restaurants, horse riding through Central Park? Maybe it’s that great tap water that gets the heart pumping.
Last month, I saw Drive. Now, let me say, I’m not an LA girl but Ryan Gosling? (Thank you sir, may I have another). Drive reminded me of my curious but detached attitude to the “City of Angels”. Some people love it. Anthony Keidis loves it so much that he partnered with Ed Ruscha, a famous local artist, to create a video and provide interest to the museums in town.
What exactly is LA known for beyond Hollywood and sweet beaches? Lately, with Carmageddon, the omnipresent car culture is on our radar and Drive helped put it in a romantic, 80’s tinged neon light. With so much time spent driving in LA, it can be lonely, and Drive speaks to that with a noir lens, featuring darkness and intrigue, bad guys and power.
As brands, cities have to capitalize on the experiences that differentiate themselves to others, in order to attract future visitors and potential inhabitants. According to NYC & Company, New York City attracted over 48 million tourists in 2010 who spent $31 billion. Dang, that’s no chump change.