- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006

Washington hit the streets of New York this weekend to drop hints about visiting the nation’s capital.

The Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corp. (WCTC) released 10,000 $1 bills with a sticker that read “He’s better in color” and an arrow pointing to George Washington. The group also hired artists to paint Washington landscapes on street corners in an attempt to bring visitors here.

The guerrilla marketing tactic is part of its summer tourism campaign, “Washington, DC Celebrates American Originals,” which revolves around the July 1 reopening of the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“Consumers have so many media options and are bombarded with things to read,” said Rebecca Pawlowski, a spokeswoman for the WCTC. “This is a different way to get people’s attention to think about visiting Washington in a fun, creative way.”

RedPeg Marketing, the Alexandria company that developed the campaign that is being implemented by New York City marketing firm GoGorilla Media, says getting people to participate in an activity rather than simply viewing an advertisement is more likely to be effective because it draws the participant into the activity.

“The question is how do you go into a high-traffic area and get people to take a look for even a second?” said Garrett O’Shea, director of brand and business development at RedPeg. “Having real painters out there is better than ‘Hey, take a flier.’ ”

The WCTC started the promotion, its first attempt at experiential marketing, earlier this month when it dropped 5,000 $1 bills with the stickers in Washington-area businesses.

The stickers also have the campaign’s Web site, americanoriginalsdc.com, and say, “See George and many other American Originals on display in Washington, DC’s museums this summer.” The hope is to drive traffic to the campaign’s Web site.

The stickers aren’t permanent, in line with Treasury Department rules.

About 11 percent of Washington’s leisure travelers come from New York City — the most of any one city. The WCTC is spending about $60,000 on this New York leg of the campaign.

Prebaby boom

The Jurys Washington Hotel said this week it is selling “babymoon” weekend getaway targeted at expectant parents in the fall.

“I went away just before giving birth. It’s so nice to have that last-minute splurge before the chaos begins,” said Aine McKee, regional director of sales and marketing at the Dupont Circle hotel.

The $299 package includes valet parking, breakfast in bed and Bath & Body Works products.

Open and shut case

• Urbana, a restaurant and wine bar in the Hotel Palomar on P Street Northwest, opened Thursday. The menu, under the direction of Washington native Richard Brandenburg, will include dishes originating in northern Italy and southern France.

• Occidental Restaurant closed Sunday for what is expected to be a four-month period to completely replace its kitchen. Occidental, which reopened 20 years ago but boasts a 100-year history, doesn’t plan to remodel the dining area of the restaurant, general manager Chauncy Woodly said. When the restaurant reopens in November, it will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

• Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or [email protected]

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