A well-funded PR campaign for the city of San Francisco, one of a few that have been launched in recent months with the aim of rehabilitating the city's much-maligned image on the national stage, has just released a slick video that looks at the city's recent past, present, and future, with the tagline, "It all starts here."
It seems like more good news about the city's recovery and less "doom loop" talk would do more to boost the city's image than a highly produced ad campaign like this. But who knows?
The campaign has a website, itallstartsheresf.org, and the latest ad can be seen there, or some of it can be seen in ABC7's coverage below. It features a female narrator who admits, "We've been through a lot," as a vintage TV screen plays a series of images, including what appear to be reenactments of rescues from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. "The quake. The fight for justice and equality. And the AIDS epidemic,” says narrator. "But the city by the Bay always perseveres, through grit, through innovation, through hope, through unity, through culture, through joy."
Then we get flashes of the faces of former Mayor Willie Brown, and Nancy Pelosi.
Another, more visually and business-focused ad, narrated by local actor (and Ken Burns favorite) Peter Coyote, came out last week, and you can see that below. It name-checks and face-checks everything from Star Wars and Sam Altman to Alice Waters and Maya Angelou, and companies including Uber, Apple, Genentech, and Pixar.
The ad also features flashes of homelessness to represent the city's present challenges.
Big institutions like the Giants, UCSF and Google are helping to back the campaign, as the Chronicle reports, and it's being spearheaded by cryptocurrency mogul Chris Larsen (of Ripple fame) and Gap board member and son of the Gap founders Bob Fisher.
"The whole world went through the pandemic. That was nothing unique to San Francisco,” Larsen says, speaking to the Chronicle. That's apparently why the ad pays greater attention to the more distant past and SF's recoveries from those challenges.
On the It All Starts Here website, business can request window signs to promote the campaign, and you can write your own "love letter to SF." You can also make a donation.
Over the weekend, there was a kickoff event for the campaign in the new temporary SoMa community space the Crossing at East Cut (where the former temporary Transbay bus terminal was).
"San Francisco has a deep history of inclusion, innovation, tragedy and resilience and we always come back," the website says. "'It All Starts Here' is a civic pride campaign launched by a collection of committed business leaders to engage, activate and inspire San Franciscans to articulate their love of our City and send a message to the country that we refuse to be defined by our challenges."
This campaign follows on another, similar one, launched in the spring by SF Travel focused more on boosting tourism specifically.