Thursday, March 07, 2002

Pamphlet effort seeks to counter tourism boycott

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        City and tourism officials kicked off a campaign Wednesday to tell the nation that Cincinnati offers more than riots and boycotts.

        The two-part advertising effort began at the Firstar Center, where basketball fans attending Conference USA men's basketball tournament are getting a brochure inside the event's program boasting “Cincinnati — We're on the Move.”

        The message also will be carried in 200,000 pamphlets that will be mailed to primarily African-American groups that have booked or are planning large meetings in Cincinnati.

        The campaign comes after big-name entertainers such as jazz great Wynton Marsalis, actor-comedian Bill Cosby and musical group The Temptations canceled recent concerts because of a boycott called by two local groups.

        Also last week, two conventions confirmed plans to avoid the Queen City until the city's racial climate improves.

        Organizers of the ad blitz, which includes photos of African-American leaders such as newly hired City Manager Valerie Lemmie and Fire Chief Robert Wright, said it isn't meant to gloss over the city's problems.

        Some visitors in town to watch the basketball tournament were skeptical of the advertisements.

        John Dinwiddie, of Highland, Calif., has watched national news broadcasts detailing Cincinnati's racial climate since last April's riots.

        The African-American man would have avoided a visit to Cincinnati if he weren't the godfather of the University of Houston basketball team's head coach.

        “If a person like Bill Cosby said the city should be boycotted, I'd respect his decision enough to do so,” said Mr. Dinwiddie.

        The campaign will highlight efforts the city has undertaken to improve race relations, including efforts to settle a racial profiling lawsuit and adopt police reforms recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice.

        The pamphlets also will encourage visitors to shop at black-owned businesses. It details celebrities from Cincinnati such as former Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Dave Parker and funk bassist Bootsy Collins.

        The campaign is being funded by the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau and corporate donations. Firstar Center has agreed to donate the costs of the advertising insert being handed out at the tournament.

        The convention bureau will pay part of the $12,000 bill to create and print the pamphlets.

        Vice Mayor Alicia Reece said Downtown Cincinnati Inc. will pick up some costs, but a spokesperson said the downtown advocacy group hasn't yet committed money.




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