On Tuesday morning, an unlikely cast of Houstonians – including rapper Bun B, fashion designer Chloe Dao and Houston Texans linebacker Connor Barwin – made their way through the unassuming red door that marks the entrance to the infamous Last Concert Cafe.
Seven other local tastemakers, known for their respective successes in retail, music, fashion and academia, joined them at the venerable outpost of Tex-Mex and rock music, which now stands in the shadow of a looming I-10 overpass.
The courtyard came to life as Dao, Barwin and Bun B, along with Discovery Green founding president Guy Hagstette, singer Asli Omar of The Tontons, Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, Tootsies owner Mickey Rosmarin, interior designer Lucinda Loya and author Justin Cronin quickly bonded over mutual acquaintances and an affinity for one another’s work.
These notables were hand-selected to be a part of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s latest print advertising campaign, entitled "Houston is Hip."
But this vivacious group wasn’t at Last Concert for the conversation or the queso: They were hand-selected to be a part of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s latest print advertising campaign, entitled "Houston is Hip."
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the GHCVB and the fifth anniversary of the MyHouston campaign, which according to vice president of marketing Holly Clapham, is “the most successful image campaign in Houston’s history.”
As part of the second iteration of MyHouston, the GHCVB has created a series of five print ads that provide visual representations of Houston culture.
To represent the city’s burgeoning culinary scene, the GHCVB created an advertisement under the tagline “Houston is Tasty.” For the performing arts, the slogan is “Houston is Inspired.” But Clapham told CultureMap in a phone interview that a fifth ad was needed to represent “a menagerie of different assets that the city has to offer, from music to sports to retail to style.”
Thus, the idea for "Houston is Hip" was born.
“When we were thinking about the hip factor of Houston, we wanted an iconically hip Houston venue,” Clapham explained. “Houston is the kind of city that whether you’re going to a first-class restaurant or a dive bar you will find and see interesting and cool people within the walls. Last Concert has a rich heritage, and is certainly an iconically Houston establishment. It has enough of a hip factor, a style factor and a history factor. There were other contenders, but when we started pulling back the layers of Last Concert it became the place – it had to be Last Concert.”
“Houston is the kind of city that whether you’re going to a first-class restaurant or a dive bar you will find and see interesting and cool people within the walls."
The entire production – beyond just the venue and cast – was homegrown. Local editorial photographer Julie Soefer worked behind the scenes with location stylist Maggi Porrman.
In fact, it was the make-up artist Victoria Callaway’s birthday on the day of the shoot, prompting Bun B to jump on the stage at Last Concert and serenade her.
“It’s that uniquely Houston style, that what you see on the outlet rings true for what really happens on the set. That’s the special part of the campaign – it’s not for show, these people really love the city and have such a mutual respect for one another,” Clapham said.
Expect the finalized version of the Houston is Hip ad, along with the four other new print pieces, to debut in January via the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. According to Clapham, we can expect 2013 to be “a banner year for our city.”