SARASOTA, FL: Alan Bell, a former vice chairman of Manning Selvage
& Lee who oversaw PR efforts for the launch of the "I Love NY" tourism
campaign, died on December 1 in Sarasota, FL.
Bell, who was 82, spent the last 10 years of his nearly six-decade-long
career as the public relations director for Star Clippers cruises, where
he worked until he retired last February.
Bell, a native of McAfee, NJ, got his start as a newspaperman, covering
Springfield College and the University of Massachusetts as a student
correspondent for the Springfield Union-News.
Known to friends for sneaking them in to watch the paper's late-night
print runs, he was equally renowned among UMass sports fans for his
exploits on the track oval. A champion long-jumper, he was later invited
for an ultimately unsuccessful tryout for the US Olympic team.
After graduating, Bell took a job editing the Trinidad, West Indies
Morning Calypso. During World War II, he served as a Navy quartermaster,
developing a love of sailing that would later lead him, at age 71, to
skipper his wooden-hulled, 32-foot motor-sailer called the Tusen Tack,
on a voyage from Long Island to Florida.
In 1954, Bell joined the New York shop Steve Hannagan Associates, helmed
by Steve Hannagan and known for its successful promotion of Miami Beach
as a tourist destination. Two years later, he teamed with Ed Stanton to
found Bell & Stanton. The firm's work on the "Forward Atlanta" campaign
- for which Bell created the slogan "The City Too Busy to Hate" - is
credited with helping the city emerge from its desegregation struggle as
one of the South's leading business and cultural centers.
"Alan's attitude was, 'You set a goal for the city,'" former Bell &
Stanton vice president Margaret Larsen told PRWeek. "And they lived up
to it the best that they could."
Bell & Stanton went on to work for clients including the city of San
Antonio, Grand Bahama Island, and the wine industries of California and
France. His efforts on behalf of the US Virgin Islands won him the
PRSA's Silver Anvil Award in 1978. He landed the "I Love New York"
account that same year.
Bell created a broad-based campaign that ranged from press releases to
local media outlets, to pitches on seasonal travel packages to national
magazines, to international tours with Broadway stars. MS&L handled the
initiative until 1986, and reported in a case history that under its
direction, "I Love NY" generated $8 million in tourism revenue
for every $1 million tax dollars spent on the ads and
Bell retired to Florida in 1990 - only to soon find himself back at work
full-time for Star Clippers, which operates classic ships on cruises to
the Caribbean, the Greek Isles, and the Far East.
"Alan so enjoyed sailing on these ships, that if he organized a piece,
he would definitely be along for the trip to accompany the writer," said
Jack Chatham, vice president of marketing and sales for Star
Added David Pearson, a former employee of Bell's, "That job was like
paradise for him. He's already been to heaven."