Maybe it’s because I’m a total classic film nut, but for me one of the world’s greatest Place Brands has to be Hollywood. I’ve made the trek up to stand by the iconic sign several times and probably, along with the I love New York logo, the Hollywood sign has to represent one of the greatest examples of Place Marketing there is.
Conceived originally as a billboard to promote the new real estate area that was coined Hollywoodland, the sign was erected in 1923 at the cost of US$ 21,000 by LA Times publisher Harry Chandler. The original thirteen letters were fifty feet tall and made of metal plates riveted together. They were pulled up dirt paths by general labourers to the peak of Mount Lee on which it stands.
The sign soon became synonymous with the city of glamour and glitz that lay below and soon the whole world knew Hollywood. The sign has had a number of stories attached to it over the years, but none more sad than that of Peg Entwistle, who became known as the Hollywood sign girl.
A Broadway actress who moved west to live in Hollywood with her uncle, Peg was dispirited by her lack of success in moving to Tinsel town. In a final fit of despair in September 1932 she climbed to the top of the letter ‘H‘ and jumped to her death. The following day her distraught Uncle received a letter intended for her informing Peg that she was being offered a lead role to play a young woman...who is driven to suicide. Peg was only 24 years old when she died.
By the early 1940´s the Hollywoodland real estate company had gone bust and the sign fell into disrepair and was eventually taken over by the city in 1944. Five years later the letters that spelled LAND were removed and the sign repaired. Since then, the sign has been through several stages of renovation and a constant threat of demolition to make way for real estate development. In 2010 the famous sign was saved from being spoiled by property development by a last-minute donation from Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner, who gave $900,000 to the fund which was set up to stop the site being developed. As part of the campaign the iconic sign was temporarily draped in new words 'Save The Peak', and I was lucky enough to be there when it happened. Today the 138 acres that make up the peak of land that the sign stands upon, is owned by the Hollywood Sign Trust, protecting it for the future.
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This extract is taken from the book WISH YOU WERE HERE THE BRANDING OF STOCKHOLM & DESTINATIONS. The author, Julian Stubbs, lives in Stockholm, Sweden and is a founder of UP THERE, EVERYWHERE, the global cloud based agency.
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