Trying to counter several years of bad national press and a concerted effort by conservatives to single out San Francisco for urban ills that exist in many cities, SF Travel has launched its "largest ever" ad campaign to lure conventioneers and tourists back to town.

Set to a new version of the song "San Francisco" made made famous by Judy Garland, the 60-second TV spot is getting rolled out now through October in specific markets where decision-makers and event planners reside, says SF Travel. That means New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., and Houston, with a companion digital campaign rolling out in international markets.

Speaking to the SF Business Times this week, Lynn Bruni-Perkins, SF Travel's chief marketing officer, calls the $6 million ad buy a "full funnel" campaign which is aimed at decision makers before they may even be planning a specific event.

"We want them to see everything the city has to offer — the bold, inviting, playfulness of San Francisco — and counteract the negative messaging they've been receiving through news media," Bruni-Perkins tells the Business Times.

You can see the spot below, which features shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and Ferry Building (obviously), the latter with a dance troupe outside, as well as people sipping cocktails in Moon Gate Lounge (upstairs from Mister Jiu's), tourists on cable cars, cars snaking down Lombard Street, and Lady Camden of Rupaul's Drag Race fame posing in front of the Castro Theatre.

Per the Business Times, the "Always in San Francisco" campaign is being funded in part "by Visit California — the state tourism body — and grants from the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, SF Travel, and industry stakeholders."

SF Travel was pretty doom-and-gloom about the city's convention situation even before the pandemic began. The president and CEO Joe D’Alessandro, you may recall, was lamenting the loss of Oracle's OpenWorld conference back in late 2019, and he had previously lamented the loss of a major medical-industry conference in 2018 in which organizers specifically cited the homelessness issue.

"There was a time when the biggest obstacle to having a convention here was that it can be expensive, but now we have this new factor," D’Alessandro said at the time.

It may still be years before downtown hotels see the kind of occupancy rates they had before the pandemic. Per the Business Times, 35 events at the Moscone Center are set to account for 700,000 room-nights this year, nearly double the number from 2022 — when hotel occupancy citywide was around 62%.

That level of occupancy is similar to what SF saw back around the dot-com bust in 2001 — as the Chronicle reported at the height of local hotel occupancy in 2015, the city had the highest occupancy rate anywhere in the country at that point, hovering around 84%, with hotels also charging some of the highest average room rates.