Innovate ABQ Sets the Tone for its Mission

May OrtegaBy  –  Reporter, Albuquerque Business First

When you live in a desert, you have to make your own rain.

Those are the large, blocky words greeting users when they enter Innovate ABQ’s brand-new website.

The phrase frames a large, tilted gif, looping a clip of flowing, bubbling neon paint behind a “play” symbol. It’s a portal to a video.

The nearly two-minute-long film opens with fast-paced jazz music blasting along with the voice of a man stating that the public-private project will totally transform Albuquerque. It features familiar faces like CNM President Kathie Winograd and Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

“This is not just another plan,” the unseen narrator says. “This is not just an idea.”

And so Innovate ABQ has begun to set the tone for its purpose. The advertising campaign, a product of Albuquerque-based McKee Wallwork + Co., is still in development, according to Innovate ABQ Project Manager Daniel Dietz. He said the present InnovateABQ.com will serve as a landing page until the official site is ready to launch in a couple of weeks.

“Our old website indicated and focused around the plans, around what we were going to do,” he said. “This new website will highlight what we’re doing already and how we’re moving forward to further the interests of the project.”

He added that the vibrant push is a sort of rebranding for Innovate, which previously had a simple, minimalistic motif.

Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork, said the lively feel of the campaign encompasses what Innovate is all about.

“Innovate is all about optimism and forward motion for the city, right? So we wanted to capture and reflect that in our design approach,” he said. “There’s no mistaking that this is something new and different and that is the statement we wanted to make.”

The website is one key part of introducing Innovate ABQ to the community, but McKee explained that it will also encompass videos, presentation materials, construction signage and more media.

“The project is a living, breathing thing and so is the marketing campaign,” he said.

Much like a living thing, Innovate is growing. Dietz said it is still on track to open the $35 million mixed-use UNM Lobo Rainforest Building and the space for CNM’s FUSE Makerspace in August, though he did not provide specifics.

The full campaign will be in motion by then, Dietz said.

“We wanted to give a little taste that something is coming new, really trying to generate interest around viewing the new webpage,” he said.

A contact form at the bottom of the current website is an important aspect of the site, Dietz and McKee said. In the future, that function will be more significant for two reasons: make it easier for people to reach out and so those involved with Innovate have an idea of the amount of interest it has garnered.

Since the site launched last week, Dietz said all sorts of people and groups have signed up for the Innovate ABQ newsletter and reached out for more information. The numbers and variety of outreach made it tough for him to give an idea of how many have contacted him, but he said traffic has always been strong from the old website to the new.

“We’ve had people interested in the real estate portion, to perhaps become a tenant at the site, reach out,” he said. “We’ve had people from out of state reach out, interested in seeing what’s going on in Albuquerque.”

McKee has been enthusiastic about the project since he first heard about the concept years ago. When his firm was asked to head the marketing campaign for it more than a year ago, he was delighted.

“To me, when you look at that part of our city and what it’s going to represent to our entire city and our whole state, it’s just really exciting,” he said. “To be playing a small role in that is awesome.”

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