When the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau decided to create a new video to market downtown Phoenix to meeting planners, they didn’t imagine its star would be a grumpy doofus who complains about the city being “hotter than the surface of the sun” and dreads imprisonment in a “hideous, concrete, fortress-of-solitude convention center.”

But that’s exactly what transpires.

The new video addresses misconceptions about downtown Phoenix head on, with tongue firmly in cheek. The trick: As the petulant protagonist tromps through the city, viewers get the benefit of drop-down graphics that refute his misperceptions.

The audience learns, for example, that Phoenix’s average yearly temperature is 73 degrees—far more comfortable than the 9,900-degree surface of the sun—and that the city’s decidedly un-hideous glass-and-stone convention center was designed by the same architectural firm behind London’s Olympic Stadium.

The graphics are reminiscent of the bubbles used in VH1’s “Pop Up Video” television show, and the tongue-in-cheek humor is reminiscent of … well, nothing the CVB’s marketing department has tried before.

“We definitely went in a different direction with this video,” said Melissa Gogel, marketing director for the Greater Phoenix CVB.

The CVB not only went in a bold new direction, it got other downtown stakeholders to follow it. The Phoenix Convention Center, three major downtown hotels, the managers of the new CityScape entertainment district, and a nonprofit coalition of businesses called the Downtown Phoenix Partnership all joined forces to fund the new video.
“Everyone identified that there was a real need for a video to help tell the story of downtown Phoenix—we can only convey so much through words,” Gogel said. “Over the past few years the character of downtown has changed so much that perceptions of it haven’t been able to keep up. We needed to do something to bridge the gap.”

The CVB and its partners enlisted local video producer Brett Kurland of Relate Digital to help them carry out the project. One of the first things Kurland did was turn his new clients into a focus group. He had them participate in an exercise aimed at identifying the biggest misperceptions about downtown, then he shepherded discussions about how to expose those misperceptions as folly.

“The group ultimately agreed that humor was the best approach, given that most of the obstacles in the selling process originate from misperceptions about heat and sprawl,” Gogel said. “Once the myths are dispelled—and we agreed to hit them head on—it’s much easier to get to the task of booking business.”

Enjoy the latest video produced by the GPCVB: Downtown Phoenix: It’s Cooler Than You Think.