Boston wants Bravo to bring the cutthroat, cooking-themed reality TV show Top Chef to film its next season here, and Bravo likes that the city is trying so hard. On February 1st the marketing agency Digitas launched a social media campaign to get Bravo's attention in the hopes of convincing them to make Boston the location of the show's next season. Attention = gotten.
"This is very cool," said a Bravo spokesperson to the Globe, which also writes that said spokeswoman called the campaign unprecedented: "no city has ever tried something like this before." The mayor's office openly acknowledges its support, with Menino now personally tweeting as part of the #YouGottaTryBoston campaign. Menino also shared a statement with Eater.
“My office has been working with Digitas on the ‘You Gotta Try Boston’ campaign to promote Boston’s restaurant industry and highlight our thriving culinary scene. We have some of the best top chefs in the country and so many exceptional places to eat, I couldn’t possibly pick just one. You gotta try them all! We’d love for Bravo and Top Chef to take that opportunity.”
But how far would the city go to attract Top Chef?
It was no accident that Top Chef ended up in Texas: in fact, Bravo had asked Texas to pay for it to come. Though the show's production company tried to block the release of portions of documents detailing negotiations with the Texas tourism board, it came out that the state paid $400,000 and the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau contributed another $200,000 for the show to film there.
Could Boston also be ponying up tax dollars to bring in Padma?
Would that be a bad use of city or state funds? Not necessarily: the attention that Top Chef would bring to the local food scene would surely be a boon to the industry, and the cost of convincing Bravo might come back to us in spades, but Bostonians should have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, which Texans did not. Also, if we are paying Bravo, it casts the whole #YouGottaTryBoston campaign in a different light. The story won't be that a social media campaign won the hearts of a major television production, it would be that we paid them to listen to us.
There's no confirmation that Boston is paying Bravo, but it has happened before.
And it certainly would be a hoot to see our local stars issuing challenges to a crazed bunch of ambitious chefs. But one question remains: how, in the show's promo, would Padma find a way to look as wanton wearing a colonial era costume as she did in her Western garb?