Can't Fight Blade Runner: Branded Cities Are the Future

Who knew South Gate would be the model for the rest of the country? According to Mediaweek, the future of urban life will be so-called "branded cities" i.e. neighborhoods built around advertising. At El Portal, South Gate's $218.4 million, 498,880-square foot entertainment center planned for the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Firestone Boulevard, shoppers (expected to be 90 percent Latino) will be targeted with ads via LED screens built into the development; in return, advertisers will collect information on shoppers.

More via Mediaweek, which seems to think that El Portál is a city, rather than a shopping mall. No matter--advertisers are in a lather over this thing: "El Portál is the first branded city in the United States that is catering to a specific cultural group, Latinos... David Goldman, managing partner of Allied Retail Partners LLC, the real-estate development company behind the project."

"He predicts 22 million people will visit El Portál each year and that the advertising initiative will be “highly profitable” —all the more so because the complex aims to collect data on around 200,000 customers via a retail loyalty program, which will be made available to advertisers. It’s easy to see why branded cities—places where people either work, live or play—are catching on. They are self-contained urban centers where signs aren’t just viewed for a few seconds from a car window—or maybe a few minutes, if someone is on foot. The interactive element provides an added attraction: “If you create an environment where people engage in media, it changes the dynamic,” says Adam Bleibtreu, CEO of The Retail Media Company, which is responsible for the design and advertising strategy of El Portál. “If you give people the opportunity to effect their environment, they talk about it; they come there more frequently; they stay longer.”

Pushing the "branded city" concept is the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, while advertising company Clear Channel Communications also has a Branded Cities division.

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