Fighting Gentrification

with Good Humor

Raising awareness for the plight of small businesses, with a budget of almost nothing.

Case Study

Jesse’s Deli

When our neighborhood deli faced pricing out due to rent hikes from an aggressive landlord, we asked owner Jesse Itayim if there was anything we could do to help. He suggested publicizing his struggle to help other businesses in similar situations. Since gentrification isn’t necessarily a “hot” news story, we knew we would have to get creative.

First, we ‘gentrified’ the prices at Jesse’s Deli for the Artisanal Landlord Rent Hike Sale. By creating a campaign that advertised artisanal products at 2.5x the price, we stirred up local, national and international news coverage and raised awareness of gentrification’s effect on small businesses. Next, we applied the same approach to an entire city block in Washington Heights, advertising “Small Plates for Twice the Price.”


Lastly, we followed up with AirBnBodega, in which we listed Jesse’s storefront on the popular web service AirBnB. News and social media again picked up on the story and helped stir popular support for NYC’s Small Business Job Survival Act, which had been stuck in legislative limbo for decades. In the end, the act finally received enough votes for a majority in the city council.