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Published December 03 2010

It’s all happening ‘downtown, baby!’

Where are you headed for your next meal? Your next shopping trip? Your next haircut?

The Downtown Community Partnership of Fargo-Moorhead is offering the answer in a new branding campaign: “… downtown, baby!”

The campaign, announced Thursday afternoon, seeks to showcase “everything that downtown entails,” according to Jed Pahan, promotions manager for the Downtown Community Partnership. It’s the product of a committee that started brainstorming ideas for a downtown promotion in April.

Pahan said the group settled on the emphatic slogan (evocative of – though according to its creators, not inspired by – actor Vince Vaughn’s exclamation “Vegas, baby!” from the movie “Swingers”) to bolster the idea of downtown as a destination.

“If you ask a question, any question, the answer is, ‘Downtown, baby!’ ” he said.

Spider Johnk of Fargo’s Spider and Co. advertising firm was one of the major architects of the campaign, which is also backed by the Kilbourne Group, Fargo Downtowner and Forum Communications Co. Johnk said the goal was to promote downtown without tying the message to a specific industry.

“We didn’t want to have it sale-based or coupon-based or anything like that. It was more of an attitude thing,” he said. “Without saying it, it’s hip.”

Other options – “explore downtown Fargo,” for instance – were simply variants on previously used slogans, he said. “Downtown, baby!” was new territory.

The campaign enlisted a handful of downtown business figures to shoot prototype television ads. Greg Danz of Zandbroz Variety on Broadway was among the business owners involved in those early ads, which are specific to different businesses.

“The message is just that downtown is this fun, eclectic, wonderful place,” Danz said. The ads will begin appearing on WDAY/WDAZ today. An early generic version, which features a cameo by Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, is available on YouTube.

Johnk of Spider and Co. said he knew he was onto something when he spotted some of the people featured in the ad cheerfully exclaiming “Downtown, baby!” when they bumped into each other on the street.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502