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Raimondo, Commerce Announce All-Star Team to Develop and Deploy New State Brand

Governor Gina M. Raimondo this evening announced a three-firm marketing team to design and execute a top-notch statewide tourism and business attraction campaign. Engaging this team will build on efforts ongoing across state government to revitalize the state's economy and put Rhode Islanders back to work.

"We're focused every day on putting people back to work," Raimondo said. "Marketing Rhode Island effectively will attract both businesses and tourists -- both are important parts of growing our economy and creating more jobs." "We're pleased to introduce this dynamic and experienced team today," said Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "Havas and Milton Glaser have the creative and media firepower to build a compelling brand and propel it to the forefront of Americans' consciousness, while the talented professionals at Epic Decade will help produce a campaign that is authentically Rhode Island. This is the team Rhode Island needs to compete effectively for tourists and businesses."

The Commerce Corporation Board voted to allow the Commerce Corporation to enter into agreements with the following entities:

Milton Glaser, to develop a compelling statewide brand;

HAVAS PR, to deploy this brand through advertising and public relations; and

Epic Decade, to execute events to engage residents in telling an authentic Rhode Island story.

The project's total budget, as set forth in the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget, is $4.5 million.

"We were thrilled by the number of strong responses we received from local, regional, and international firms," said Commerce Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer Darin Early. "We saw time and time again in applicants' research how little people and businesses outside our borders know about Rhode Island's world-class tourist assets and high quality of life. This team offers us the opportunity to change that."

"This announcement is the beginning of a cohesive, collective, and strategic effort to share with the world all of the wonderful reasons to visit Rhode Island. I look forward to working with the new team and with my tourism colleagues throughout Rhode Island to promote the many charms of our home state," said Martha Sheridan, President and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We have world-class tourism assets in Newport and across the state and the Governor has put together a team equal to the task of promoting them," said Evan Smith, President and CEO of Discover Newport.

About the team HAVAS PR, Commerce's Agency of Record, is led by Marian Salzman, a force in the world of public relations (PRWeek U.S. PR Professional of the Year 2011 and PRWeek Global Agency PR Professional of the Year 2014, among many other honors), Havas PR North America partners with sibling the Cake Group and with strategic research firm Market Probe International on the Rhode Island business. Havas PR is the earned-media and buzz agency within French holding company Havas. Headquartered in New York City, with offices in Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Providence, Havas is a full-service communications agency with a portfolio that includes Best of France, Colliers International, the Economist Group, Fox Restaurant Concepts, #GivingTuesday, Transitions Optical, United Nations Foundation and many more.

Milton Glaser, Inc. is a design and branding firm based in New York and headed by Milton Glaser, a well-known leader in the industry and the brain behind the "I 'Heart' NY" campaign, among many others. The firm, established in 1974, produces a wide range of design disciplines. In the area of print graphics, the studio produces identity programs for corporate and institutional marketing purposes, including logos, stationery, brochures, signage and annual reports. Glaser is also personally responsible for the design and illustration of more than 300 posters for clients in the areas of publishing, music, theater, film, and institutional and civic enterprise, as well as those for commercial products and services.

Epic Decade is a Jamestown, RI-based design think tank that helps major clients such as Apple and American Express design engaging customer and citizen experiences that support authentic, compelling brands and identities. Epic Decade will lead an effort to create significant public events that distinguish Rhode Island as a world-class destination.

"We are eager to build brand recognition and to insert buzz back into a state that has so many exciting attributes but hasn't been packaged or marketed to business leaders or tourists, who often don't consider Rhode Island," said Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR North America and a graduate of Brown University. "I lived in Rhode Island for several years and have had an office here since 2013 and know firsthand this special compact and creative place."

"We are enthusiastic about working on the Rhode Island project because, among other things, small is beautiful," said Milton Glaser.

"We're honored to be a part of such a forward thinking team and set of strategies to catalyze significant growth here in Rhode Island - we believe this initiative is laying the ground work for profound transformation," Seth Goldenberg, Founder + CEO, Epic Decade.

The Commerce Corporation received 51 proposals in response to the Statewide Tourism and Business Attraction Branding Campaign RFP. Applicants included 39 agencies that submitted individually, as well as 12 teams of agencies that applied together. Respondents included local, regional, national, and global firms, and specialty as well as full-service agencies. The Commerce Corporation conducted a thorough review of the responses, including collecting feedback and input from tourism, hospitality, and marketing experts, as well as from business and government leaders.

The teams are prepared to begin working on the project immediately so that the new state brand can debut in early 2016 with rollout across multiple media.

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