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MTA and LIC business group clash over neighborhood advertising campaign

7subway1March 12, 2014 By Christian Murray

Last month, the MTA promised the Long Island City business community that it would launch an advertising campaign to help offset the lost trade caused by the No 7 train weekend shutdowns.

The implementation of that advertising campaign, however, has been delayed as the Long Island City business community and the MTA have struggled to work together.

Long Island City’s business leaders argue that the MTA has been slow to provide them with the details needed to put together a successful advertising campaign while the MTA claims that the businesses have not been responsive.

Meanwhile, while this has played out, the weekend shut downs have already begun.

“We haven’t received any creative content from the LIC team yet,” said Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, earlier this week. “The ball is in their court.”

Content, however, was e-mailed to the MTA on Monday– much later than the Long Island City business community said it would have liked.

Meanwhile, this neighborhood’s politicians have begun to enter the fray.

“Now is not a time for the sort of finger pointing that the MTA has chosen to engage in,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said in a statement Tuesday.

“The least that the MTA could do is work actively with the community on the promises that they have made. Instead, we have seen the MTA add insult to injury by suggesting that the slowness of implementation of a campaign is on someone other than themselves. This simple suggestion is shameful and arrogant.”

Sheila Lewandowski, who has been working with the Long Island City business community, said the MTA’s initial concept of an advertising campaign has changed.

Initially, Lewandowski said, the MTA said it would place posters on the trains that would advertise Long Island City.  While other items were promised—such as brochures and metro cards featuring images of the neighborhood—the posters were the big draw.

However, the posters dedicated to LIC were later ruled out, Lewandowski said, and the MTA offered to advertise the community as part of its public service announcement posters, which inform commuters when train service is closed. The MTA said the LIC business community could include an image on those posters.

Despite the disappointment, Lewandowski said the PSA posters still provided an opportunity for the businesses to promote the neighborhood if they were done right.

The MTA, however, was slow to follow up, she said, and didn’t provide some of the key components needed to maximize they campaign.

“We wanted to know ‘how long would they [the public service announcements] go up for?’ and ‘Can we revise the images?’ Lewandowski said.

She said that these details mattered, since the businesses wanted to know whether they should market the community on a season-by-season basis. Furthermore, the length of a campaign also has a bearing on the message that should be conveyed, a marketing firm had advised the group.

The MTA didn’t provide these details—just the dates of two deadlines that the business community didn’t meet. It wasn’t until Friday, March 7, that the MTA told them the length of the campaign, Lewandowski said.

Lewandowski said the MTA told the group that the public service announcements would be up for about 3 months (possibly more), although it was not a firm commitment. She said the MTA could pull them down when needed—such as when the governor has a message.

Lewandowski, who is still seeking clarification on the 3 month timeframe, said that the business community is still dedicated to making the campaign work– despite the difficult start.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris said he will push the MTA into working with the community.

“The MTA must stop treating our communities as if they don’t matter,” Gianaris said in a statement. “This unresponsive bureaucracy will keep hearing from me until they get it, which they clearly do not at this time.”

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Or increase the frequency of the east river ferry during the times the 7 is shut down.


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