Corporate sponsorships are going to the dogs in New York City.
The Department of Parks and Recreation, in conjunction with media marketing behemoth IMG Consulting, is rolling out a partnership program that lets corporations put their names on the city’s dog runs.
After the deadline was extended, interested companies now have until September 14 to apply for the opportunity to stake their claim on any one of the 55 dog runs across the five boroughs.
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Corporate sponsors would have the right to place their brand or logo on signs and equipment like benches, and the opportunity to host events at the dog runs.
But this money-raising scheme puts City Hall in the doghouse with some pet owners who are annoyed that the parks have become just the latest target of advertising campaigns.
“Billboards are a form of visual pollution,” said Doug Weiss, 49, speaking while his dog, Moose, ran at the dog run at Sternberg Park in Williamsburg on Thursday evening. “Besides, this is where we come to get away from all of that, where we come, just, to be.”
“When you go to a park, you are already bombarded with an incredible amount of ads,” Geoffrey Croft, founder of NYC Park Advocates, told Metro. “And the main reason you go to the park is to avoid that.”
The city is hoping to pull $1.5 million in revenue from the project, which will go toward the general fund, according to the New York City Independent Budget Office. According to city officials, there is no set asking price for sponsorships.
“By raising revenue, it’s a way to offset budget cuts,” said Doug Turetsky, chief of staff for the city’s Independent Budget Office. “Therefore, more money will be available for parks and other city programs.”
It will be up to the city parks department to approve new sponsored signs at dog runs. While the city has yet to state limitations on the size of the signage, a mayoral spokeswoman insisted the new additions would not interfere with the aesthetic of the park.
“If you look at everything we do with corporate sponsors ... we are not interested in having the parks covered in logos,” said Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Money should go exclusively to park upkeep, some argue
Some dog owners say if the city is going to make money off the dog runs, it should be exclusively used for park upkeep, and not go into a general city-wide fund.
Pet owner Heidi Knoblauch, 26, of Brooklyn, said she’s weary of corporate signage giving off the impression that the company contributes to maintaining the park — a responsibility she says she often shares with other dog owners in her community.
“We come three times a day, it’s crucial to our way of life, and to having a dog in the city,” Knoblauch said. “Every day we contribute to the upkeep of the park — raking leaves, buying garbage bags, leveling the sand.”
Jeremy Sparig contributed reporting.