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Hyde Park Village ad drive hits high gear

With a controversial rezoning resolved, Old Hyde Park Village is getting back to the business on hand: attracting more shoppers.

The village has hired the advertising agency, KCD of Cincinnati, to develop a campaign to pump more business into the shopping center along Swann Avenue.

To gather ideas, the team went on field trips to International Plaza, WestShore Plaza, Westfield Shoppingtown Citrus Park and Brandon Town Center. They wanted to know what makes Hyde Park different from the area's other retail centers.

The result is a new ad campaign for the 17-year-old village, which is trying to rebound from the loss of its main tenant, Jacobson's. The new slogan boasts the village as, "The cure for the common mall."

Heather LaBrecque, the village's marketing director, said the ads are designed to say, "Hey, we are committed. We are here and we are not going away. This is why we are really unique."

The campaign is one of the most visible in recent years and comes in time for the holiday shopping season, a critical sales period for store owners. Last year's billboards featured the fountain in the main circle.

Over the next few months, the village will put up 38 billboards around Tampa designed to grab people's attention. They come in four designs.

The first, already on Interstate 275, features a woman snuggling her bulldog. "Some of our best shoppers have four legs," reads the caption in reference to the open-air, pet-friendly atmosphere.

The village hosts a variety of animal-related events, such as the Halloween pet costume contest sponsored by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Some businesses, such as the Samba Room, have dog dishes at their doors.

Three other billboards are on their way.

To promote the restaurants, there's one of a woman's face in a mud pack with two cucumber slices over her eyes. The caption reads, "Some of our best shoppers play with their food."

To highlight the houseware stores, another shows copper pots and pans hanging from a rack. "Some of our best shoppers need copper supplements," it reads.

To call attention to the baby stores, one has a close-up of baby toes with the caption, "Some of our best shoppers squeal all the way home."

The village has also started radio ads urging people to come to the village for their holiday shopping. The annual Enchanted Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 29 near the fountain.

The advertising push comes about a month after the city of Tampa approved a complicated and debated rezoning that gave the village more flexibility in what types of tenants can move in. With the new zoning in place, village officials say they can finally start focusing on filling space.

"We are looking forward to getting some tenants in," LaBrecque said. "And building excitement up again."