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“Put the ‘U’ back in Syrac_se” promotes local businesses

By Eric Reinhardt


Merike Treier (at lectern), executive director of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc., shares details of the “Put the ‘U’ back in Syrac_se” campaign during a news conference Wednesday morning at 327 W. Fayette St. in Syracuse. Also attending and speaking (from left to right) were Danny Liedka, president of Visit Syracuse; Stephanie Crockett, executive VP and managing director of Mower; Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon; and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE — It’s designed to encourage consumers to return to the local businesses and attractions they used to like to visit and spend money at before the pandemic struck.

The Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc. on Sept. 2 launched the “Put the ‘U’ back in Syrac_se” campaign.

It’s an eight-week long initiative that includes a scavenger hunt and is supported with an advertising campaign designed to put the “U” back in the community, Merike Treier, executive director of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc., said.

She and several others spoke at the Millpond Landing Wall at 327 W. Fayette St. in Syracuse.

“Put the ‘U’ back in Syrac_se is the result of a community wide partnership to encourage consumers to visit businesses, institutions, and destinations throughout Onondaga County now that many of the places that make our community unique — including our shops, restaurants, and museums — have reopened safely and responsibly,” Treier said in her remarks.

Treier went on to say that people everywhere have been learning to adjust to the “new normal” and that people can now “safely and responsibly” return to the businesses that they miss. At the same time, Treier also acknowledged that the general public has “varying levels of comfort” about visiting local establishments.

“This campaign builds a buzz about the many ways you can still support our community’s businesses and show support for the destinations that we all know and love while staying safe and socially distant,” said Treier. 

The campaign involves several businesses and elected officials. It is supported by 10 media outlets, involves more than 50 local businesses, and has the support of Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, and Visit Syracuse. 

“This is about really getting back to living with this virus in a safe way and really supporting each other, especially our local businesses. They need your help and they need your help in a big way right now,” Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said in his remarks at the late-morning ceremony.

“I want to thank all the business owners and property owners here for investing in Syracuse,” Ben Walsh, Syracuse Mayor, said. “I want to thank everyone who has come back into the city and into downtown to do business and thank those of you who haven’t in advance for coming. We’re ready for you. Everyone is taking this very seriously. We’re doing it safely. So, come on down.” 

Danny Liedka, president of Visit Syracuse, told the gathering that the campaign will help his office attract visitors to downtown Syracuse. 

“My team is tasked with bringing not only people from our county downtown but from afar. And we can’t do that without showing a vibrant city center. That is super important,” Liedka said.

Syracuse–based Mower — a marketing and advertising agency — created and donated the creative concept behind “Put the ‘U’ back in Syrac_se,” along with all campaign materials, Treier noted. 

“This campaign you’ll see on TV. You’ll see it in digital and print advertising, [and in] billboards on the highway,” Stephanie Crockett, executive VP and managing director of Mower, said in her remarks. 

Treier also credited artist Ally Walker with designing the mural on the wall behind the speakers at the Sept. 2 event. 

“Our community should feel proud of the progress we’ve made to keep COVID-19 at bay. Our community is staying healthy and we’re doing this while reopening, which shows our ability to be safe and enjoy all that comes with it,” said Treier. 

Scavenger hunt 

One element of the campaign is a socially-distanced, digital Syracuse Scavenger Hunt, which encourages the community to visit places throughout Onondaga County, inviting them to enjoy businesses, restaurants, and explore iconic landmarks. 

By reading the clues, participants are eligible to win prizes by earning points by completing the tasks listed on the Scavify app, accessible by visiting                  

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