As tens of thousands crossed into the Spanish Harlem stretch of the New York City Marathon last year, runners and onlookers alike witnessed for the first time a new canyon of heroes. Images of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Rosa Parks, Pedro Albizu Campos, Julia de Burgos, Malcolm X, Vito Marcantonio and Emiliano Zapata were seen on banners measuring 8 feet high by 3 feet across. These recyclable banners, printed with eco-friendly, non-toxic, dye-based inks, were mounted onto city lamp poles, along First Avenue, from 112 Street to 125th street. Those images are the first installments of the “El Barrio Means…” campaign to promote arts, culture, education, businesses and economic development initiatives throughout the East Harlem community. Other banners include details of artwork by local artists, images promoting business and inspiring messages about our community, its cultural heritage and economic potential. The “El Barrio Means…” promotional campaign was a joint venture designed by Rafael Merino for grupoHuracán, and co-developed with Nelson Garcia, Jr. and Sandra De León, for the East Harlem Business Capital Corporation. Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, one of the first sponsors of the program, is a principal partner in this unique marketing development, and serves as the political liaison.
The “El Barrio Means…” promotional campaign went on to become part of EHBCC’s Banner Program, a component of the greater Marketing and Media Development services, now led by Mr. Merino.
“This bold program speaks to both the old and new generations of our community, as well as to vistors with a positive voice. We could have created a ‘safe,’ bland and generic campaign. But we wanted to get people to take notice, to talk. This is an audacious visual testament of what this community is about,” said Mr. Merino. “What makes New York City the greatest city in the world is its cultural tapestry, entrepreneurial spirit, fortitude and cosmopolitan flair. This city is the epitome of the immigrant experience; it is the ‘gold standard’ of what a global community means. And this is not the result of some absurd ‘melting pot’ idea, but rather the preservation and nurturing of different cultures, different histories and different aspirations co-existing in one place. You have Little Italy, Chinatown, Harlem and the South Bronx, among others. North of 96 Street and East of Fifth Avenue, you have East Harlem, better known as Spanish Harlem and, also known as El Barrio.”
“El Barrio Means…” invites people to explore what moves us, what powers us, what inspires us and what we look forward to. But this campaign is just the beginning. The marketing and media development initiative will embrace other campaigns and other initiatives that will be open to the community. This initiative represents an engaging opportunity to display the spirit, aspirations, assets and opportunities of this wonderfully diverse neighborhood.
Our Banner Program, in addition to our overall marketing and media development initiave, will develop a number of low-cost marketing solutions for artists, educational institutions, local businesses, and non-profit entities throughout East Harlem. The program is open to sponsorship proposals. For more information, please contact Rafael Merino at 212-427-6590, or email@example.com
The Banner Program is part of EHBCC’s portfolio of marketing, tourism and media development products and services focusing on the El Barrio/ East Harlem section of New York City – the “Hub of the America.