One of the classic pick-up lines for those who live near the New Jersey Turnpike is to ask, "What exit?" So perhaps it was inevitable that a city along that highway would try to build some brand recognition around its exit number.
The Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce is spearheading a $175,000 campaign to promote its stores, theaters, hotels and other businesses with the slogan, "13A, Shop, Play, Stay." With grant money from the state and the merchants involved, ads have run on radio and on a billboard outside of Atlantic City, as well as in magazines and rack cards at road stops.
Gordon Haas, the chamber's executive director, says the media attention has sparked interest not just around the United States but overseas as well. Participating merchants have redeemed hundreds of coupons printed off the campaign's Web site, www.exit13a.com. Since the area is in an urban enterprise zone, shoppers pay only 3 percent sales tax on purchases--half the state's regular rate.
Haas says he got the idea from watching the credit sequence of "The Sopranos," which shows the Elizabeth exit sign as part of an unflattering montage. "It stuck in my craw for years," he says. "We took what we considered to be a negative in New Jersey and we tried to build on the joke in a positive way."