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Private Branding of the Public City

Oracle Park, the Blue Shield of California Theater, Ford GoBike—branding abounds in San Francisco.
July 14, 2019, 5am PDT | Camille Fink
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Allan Watt

Urban design critic John King considers the plethora of not-so-subtle branding that has swept through San Francisco. He describes the naming of Salesforce Park and Salesforce Transit Center as brazen:

The brazen part is how Salesforce drove a deal with the Transbay Joint Powers Authority to place its name front and center — rather than, say, "The Transbay Transit Center, presented by Salesforce." Astro, one of the software giant’s cartoon-like mascots, even adorns the rugged boulders that direct you to the park.

Branding opportunities give cities revenue streams they need, says King. But he points out that nonprofits are also cashing in. "This is what’s insidious. Brandopolis respects no boundaries, even if familiar landmarks are cheapened as a result."

He also notes that the commercialization of cities is not anything new and change is constant. "Heck, I’ve been around long enough to remember when the Giants welcomed us to brand-new PacBell Park. Which begat SBC Park. Which begat AT&T Park and, as of this season, Oracle Park."

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Published on Monday, July 1, 2019 in San Francisco Chronicle
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