Strategic Storytelling

WHERE: San Francisco Design Center

STRATEGIC CHALLENGE: Position SFDC as the West’s premier design destination in the face of an industry gone global and an economy headed south.

San Francisco Design Center, an audacious idea when it emerged from vacant warehouse space in 1972, grew into Northern California’s unique showcase for trend-setting design and fine home furnishings. To highlight SFDC’s innovation, style and comprehensive collections, Ellen Newman.Ink partnered with SFDC’s marketing director on numerous media campaigns and design features targeting both the design trade and consumers.


Green design and sustainability

Eco-style can be high style. That was SFDC’s message even before Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth introduced global warming to a skeptical public. Over eight years, green-themed projects included sustainable residences in Palo Alto and Occidental. They also featured interviews with trendsetters like House & Garden’s then design editor Mayer Rus and Metropolis editor Susan Szenasy, as well as designers and architects eager to bring green design into the mainstream. The resulting features demonstrated persuasively that green design can be superb design.

Destination shopping: bringing good design home

Originally the realm of an elite, in-the-know clientele, SFDC was eager to broaden its base. We publicized SFDC’s Design Studio and Design Liaison programs, offering showroom tours and introductions to interior designers. Stories themed for summer and winter markets each year highlighted smart and sensual design, surprisingly fine and affordable art collections and sumptuous fabrics. Feature stories focused on designer-generated tips for pulling together a polished look to make design – and SFDC’s wares – more accessible to the public.

Social marketing: promotions with purpose

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, SFDC hosted 30 Shades of Pink, a gala fashion show and auction that benefited the San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The fashion show pairing interior design with haute fashion was so successful that it lived past the anniversary as CoUtuRE for the Cure. Similarly, Sweet Chair-ity, an event benefitting the Child Abuse Prevention Society, auctioned off individually designed and manufactured chairs. This again highlighted the creative capacities of SFDC and the design community. Ellen Newman.Ink publicized each of these events, attracting new attention in the press and bringing new audiences to the design center.

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