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Corbett's 'Phillyosophy'? Budget cuts

The city is launching a new campaign to attract tourists but cannot afford TV ads.

THE CITY'S tourism-marketing agency yesterday launched a new advertising campaign, "My Phillyosophy," that will appear online, in magazines and on billboards.

But viewers won't see any of the ads on TV - as they have in the past for campaigns like "Philly's more fun when you sleep over" - because the agency, Visit Philly, simply can't afford it.

The Corbett administration in 2012 eliminated budget programs that gave the agency, then called the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., about $3 million per year.

That's money that could've paid for TV ads to reel people in with "Phillyosophy," said Meryl Levitz, president of Visit Philly.

"We want to use every single kind of media outlet that we can because the stuff is gorgeous," Levitz said of the new campaign. "I don't mean just in Philly. Back in the day we used to be able to go on TV in our target markets" - other cities where people are most likely to be interested in a trip here.

The "Phillyosophy" ads feature photographs of local scenes overlayed with fortune-cookie-like text, such as: "My Phillyosophy: Finger food is good. Both-hands food is better. Plan your foodie weekend at" The agency will encourage people to contribute their own "Phillyosophy" through social media.

Without TV, the campaign cost $1.1 million to produce and run through the winter. It will be extended beyond that for an undetermined additional cost.

The tourism budget cut was part of a shift by the Corbett administration from direct funding for local tourism marketing to public-private partnerships, Levitz said, although the new programs haven't yet begun.

Levitz said she believes the change is "absolutely worth looking into" because more private partners could result in more stable funding sources than politically negotiated line items in a state budget.

Steve Kratz, spokesman for Corbett's Department of Community and Economic Development, said the administration suspended the funding because of financial constraints.

"The recession forced difficult decisions within the budget," he said. "Obviously current fiscal conditions make funding, not just for tourism, but for all programs, really volatile."

Kratz noted that Ed Rendell's gubernatorial administration had made cuts to those line items as well and that the state this year is giving Visit Philly an $850,000 grant to promote certain towns in the city's suburbs.

Visit Philly's budget is now about $12 million, Levitz said, with about $9 million from city hotel-tax revenue and most of the rest from foundations.

Despite the tight budget, Visit Philly will have a presence at the Super Bowl - again, not on TV. The agency will line with "Phillyosophy" ads the interior and exterior of one 10-car NJ Transit train that will make runs from Secaucus to the Meadowlands.