Authored by The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy


The Olmsted Cresent is a marketing collaborative designed to offer maximum promotional benefits to a range of cultural resources and institutions in Buffalo, New York, in exchange for a minimum investment from each contributing partner. The ten Crescent partners include parks designed by the legendary Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Zoo, the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, and Shakespeare in Delaware Park – many of which are located near the parks, or offer programs there.

The Olmsted Crescent – a name that gives the organizations an identifiable geographic identity – was conceived by Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s Executive Director, Deborah Trimble. Finalized in February 2001, the marketing plan below is aimed at three audiences: cultural tourists, Buffalo-area colleges and universitities, and a regional population interested in the arts.

Table of Contents

  1. Current Marketing Situation
    • Marketing Situation
    • Product Situation
    • Competitive Situation
    • Distribution Situation
    • Macro Environment Situation
  2. Opportunity and Issue Analysis
    • Opportunities
    • Threats
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Issue Analysis
  3. Objectives
    • Marketing Objectives
  4. Marketing Strategies
  5. Action Programs

I. Current Marketing Situation

Market Situation

There are three main market segments for the Olmsted Crescent. The first is the cultural tourists who live within a 400-mile radius of Buffalo. The second is the Buffalo-area colleges and universities. Their alumni departments are particularly important because college graduates are more highly educated and tend to have higher salaries than the average person; traits also seen in cultural tourists. These alumni also already have a connection to Buffalo. For the colleges within the Olmsted Crescent itself (Canisius, Medaille and Buffalo State College), markets include their recruitment departments and current student base. For these schools, Olmsted Crescent can provide a green, cultural and historic, landscaped “campus” that is not available within their confining city infrastructures. The third market is the Western New York population that is at least slightly interested in the arts. More than 80 percent of tourists to Buffalo come to visit family and friends; if host families are aware of offerings in the district, there is a greater chance the tourists they host will visit the Olmsted Crescent.

We can determine the demographics of our Western New York target market through several current research studies. A 1993 study by the Arts Council of Buffalo and Erie County (“The Market for the Arts in Western New York”) found that of the approximately 800,000 adults living in Western New York, approximately 350,000 are slightly interested, and 88,000 are very interested in the arts. Furthermore, the study indicates that women are almost twice as likely as men to be interested in the arts and that those more highly educated and those with a higher income level are more likely to be interested in the arts.

The Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth presented their State of the Region Performance Indicators for the Buffalo-Niagara Region in 1999. This research found that adult attendance rates for this region are comparable to national levels and that a recent boom in Niagara, Ontario tourism shows a 28 percent increase in tourists with a 64 percent increase in spending. A 1996 analysis of 315 U.S. and Canadian metropolitan areas, reported in the Places Rated Almanac, affirms the Buffalo-Niagara Region’s advantage in the arts. Based on a composite measure of assets in theater, art, museums, ballet, opera, symphonies, and libraries, each of the region’s four metropolitan areas ranked in the top 100 places for the arts: Buffalo-Niagara Falls, 24; Hamilton, 64; St. Catherines-Niagara, 85; and Jamestown, 88. These rankings signify not only the high caliber of arts, but also their importance as a regional asset. Given this data, The Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth suggested the following as the number one priority in their action steps: Increase the share of the region’s adults attending arts and culture events through expanded marketing, including mutual promotion and packaging of attractions.

One of the projects cited by the Institute as a template for this type of expanded joint marketing effort was the 1999 Summer of Monet project. Research conducted by Jeffrey K. Smith, a museum research and evaluation consultant, showed an economic impact of $11.3 Million generated in 14 weeks by visitors coming to area cultural destinations from outside our local community. The Olmsted Crescent joint marketing plan will serve as a template for an expanded effort related to bringing cultural tourism to our area.

Product Situation

Following are the attendance figures for each of the Olmsted Crescent organizations for the year 1999, the year of “The Summer of Monet” and for the year 2000. These attendance figures will act as our baseline data to gauge our effectiveness in increasing visits to the district. When available, specific zip code information on attendees will be recorded to further analyze the draw of the district.

  • Albright Knox Art Gallery
    1999 attendance – 135,524, 2000 attendance – 223,225
  • Burchfield Penney Art Center
    1999 attendance – 22,000, 2000 attendance – 41,000
  • Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society
    1999 attendance – 81,629, 2000 attendance – 99,242
  • Buffalo Museum of Science
    1999 attendance – 160,000, 2000 attendance – 185,000
  • Buffalo Zoological Gardens
    1999 attendance – 315,293, 2000 attendance – 344,872
  • Darwin D. Martin Complex
    1999 attendance – 5,546, 2000 attendance – 7,059
  • Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy
    1999 attendance – 106,860, 2000 attendance – 110,600
  • Forest Lawn Cemetery
    2000 attendance – 5,000
  • Shakespeare in Delaware Park
    1999 attendance – 43,000, 2000 attendance – 40,000 – 50,000
  • Tri Main Building
    1999 attendance – 51,000, 2000 attendance – 52,000

Competitive Situation

Brand Competition
There are similar districts in other cities competing for tourist dollars. University Circle in Cleveland and the Chicago Museum Campus are just two examples. Both of these organizations have been in existence for many years and have developed successful marketing programs. University Circle has created a 20-year master plan for the district. The members of the Chicago Museum Campus have jointly hired a marketing associate to promote their district to tourists.

Industry Competition
The Olmsted Crescent competes with all other cultural destinations within the 400-mile target market radius. Toronto, Cleveland and Pittsburgh’s offerings are just three examples. Moving the attention of the cultural tourist away from these large metropolitan cultural areas requires focused marketing and dedicated funding.

Form Competition
The entertainment market is composed of many segments, all of which compete for the same disposable income as the Olmsted Crescent. Movies, Broadway shows, sports, and gaming are examples of entertainment alternatives that compete against the Crescent.

Movies offer a wide variety of choices to fit every age group and are very affordable. Ticket prices range from $2 at a second-run theater to $7.50 for a first-run primetime showing. Movies are also backed by large advertising campaigns to further drive their sales.

Shea’s Buffalo Theater, a 3,000-seat National Historic Landmark, presents Broadway shows from Phantom of the Opera to Cats, and there are many other smaller theater venues that provide the city with the most active theater schedule in the state, outside of New York City.

In Western New York, sports consume a major portion of the entertainment dollar. The Buffalo Bills begin the year with preseason games in August and end, during good years, in January. Crowds average near 80,000 for each of the eight home games. The Sabres play from October until April. The 40 home games average 10,000 in attendance. Ticket prices for both the Bills and the Sabres are high. Western New York has shown strong support for its sports teams, with ticket remaining static (as long as the team is winning). While complaints may be heard over price increases, attendance remains steady.

An added competitor for the entertainment dollar is the Niagara Falls Casino, which has seen record attendance since it opened.

Generic Competition
Generic competition consists of all elements of the market on which the public spends its disposable income. These would include recreational shopping, luxury items, dining out, traveling, etc. “The Source Book of County Demographics, 10th Edition” gives the average disposable income for 1996. The disposable income used is gross income, net of taxes. For all ages it is $26,341. For those under 35 the figure is $23,119; 35-44, $30,401; 45-54, $36,334; 55-64, $31,147 and 65 and over ,$14,358.

Distribution Situation

The Olmsted Crescent’s information distribution channels are varied. Each organization distributes materials on site and mails information to its constituency. Each also has counterparts in other cities to which it can reach out to, share information and promote itself. Admissions are purchased in various ways including telephone reservations, in-house ticketing and for blockbuster events through an outside ticketing agency. The collaborative has hired Brochures Unlimited to distribute its brochure throughout Erie and Niagara counties and in all Tops locations. The Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau distributes the brochure to tourists via mail, its Visitor’s Center and at the Angola and Clarence Thruway locations. The Crescent also joined the Niagara Falls, Ontario, Tourism Bureau and its brochure is part of the Bureau’s regional distribution program.

Macro Environment Situation


According to Exploring America Through its Culture,a 1995 report commissioned by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, cultural tourism is “a mosaic of places, traditions, art forms, celebrations and experiences that portrays America and its people and reflects the diversity and character of the United States.”

Cultural tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. The key to capitalizing on the cultural tourism trend is collaboration. Exploring America Through its Culture acknowledges that most individual sites cannot stand on their own in the highly competitive tourism arena. Communities need to package their assets together to grab the attention of today’s tourist. Within that framework, community cultural and tourism industries need to work hand-in-hand on product development, marketing, visitor service, research, and financing.

An area’s economic situation is vital to the survival of cultural tourism. During economic downturns families will trim disposable income spent on entertainment. A healthy economy will determine the level of corporate, foundation and individual donations received by cultural groups. The U.S. economy has enjoyed many years of growth coupled with low unemployment and low inflation; the economy of Western New York has not fared as well.

Collaborations such as the Olmsted Crescent allow funders to support cultural tourism without receiving more requests than they can accommodate. Wegmans, a large supermarket chain, has already signed on as a corporate sponsor of the Crescent. The Baird Foundation provided initial funding for the Crescent. Each organization within the Olmsted Crescent contributes a minimum of $500 annually to this effort and receives thousands of dollars in promotional benefit that they would never be able to afford on their own.

The Olmsted Crescent is part of a larger initiative in Western New York entitled the Cultural Tourism Committee, a joint effort of the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Arts Council in Buffalo & Erie County. The Cultural Tourism Committee fully supports the efforts of the Olmsted Crescent and the Crescent holds a seat on the committee.

II. Opportunity and Issue Analysis

Opportunities for the Olmsted Crescent

  • There are more than fifteen colleges and universities in Buffalo. As education and income level are important factors in arts interest, the alumni from these schools represent a tremendous attendance resource to which the Olmsted Crescent can market. The Olmsted Crescent can also be marketed as a “campus” for the students of the three colleges within the district.
  • Most of the organizations within the Crescent have an education department. These departments have the ability to collaborate on programs and market them under the Olmsted Crescent banner, further strengthening the district.
  • By participating in local events, festivals, and tourism tradeshows under the Olmsted Crescent banner, the group can receive additional exposure, reduce pressure on each organization’s volunteers, and reduce marketing costs.
  • The distribution network of the Crescent is strong. By consistently displaying the Olmsted Crescent logo on each organization’s printed material, community awareness of the district will be heightened. By marketing to each organization’s members and tapping into each organization’s counterparts within the 400-mile circle, the Crescent can develop a database of cultural tourists.
  • Wegmans sponsorship can build exposure for the Crescent through new district banners, an in-store display at the Amherst location, and advertising in the community section of the company’s weekly flyer.
  • Buffalo’s Theatre District is a known entity. By packaging the Crescent with the Theatre District, the Olmsted Crescent can heighten its visibility (i.e. Olmsted Crescent by day, Theatre District by night package).
  • The potential downgrade of the Scajaquada Expressway would result in a more unified, more pedestrian friendly district.

Threats to the Olmsted Crescent

  • The collaborative is young and fledgling. Each of the organizations must commit to this work in order for the initiative to succeed. Lack of commitment by any one of the organizations to this effort will weaken the whole.
  • The Elmwood Museum District has strong visibility in the community. The Olmsted Crescent includes those entities within the Museum District. There is potential for confusion if both districts are marketed simultaneously. A clear strategy on how to proceed is required in order for the Crescent to reach its potential.
  • Crescent funding opportunities exist but sometimes conflict with funding requests submitted by the individual organizations. If there is not a plan in place to fund the Crescent while maintaining the trust and health of each of the individual organizations, the collective won’t survive.
  • Two of the three demographic variables most likely to affect a person’s interest in the arts are income and education. In Erie County, 25 percent of all workers make less than $15,000. In addition, arts education has been drastically cut throughout the Buffalo Public School system.
  • Buffalo is not traditionally known as a cultural tourism destination and there is no common marketing theme used by all organizations interested in cultural tourism. Strengths of the Olmsted Crescent
  • Each member of the Olmsted Crescent is known for its high quality work. All are respected throughout the arts community and have loyal and supportive constituencies.
  • There is a strong distribution network both locally and within a 400-mile radius that can be exploited for the benefit of the collaborative.
  • The trends in tourism show that cultural and heritage tourism are the fastest growing segment of the industry.
  • The Olmsted Crescent is only 30 minutes from Niagara Falls, which attracts millions of visitors each year.
  • There is a strong belief by governmental, foundation and individual funding sources that collaborations are important.

Weaknesses of the Olmsted Crescent

  • There is very little name recognition for the district. While the brochure has been widely distributed advertising continues in the Wegmans weekly circular, the crescent needs more consistent promotion to “brand” the district.
  • The district has poor visibility. There are no banners, signs, information areas, etc., to inform visitors that they are in the district and provide information on how to travel within it (maps, etc.).
  • With the exception of the brochure, there is no mechanism for highlighting the district to cultural tourists. For example, there is no cultural tourism database to which to send targeted mailings. There is also no tourism package for the district through which a visitor can pay one price and receive accommodations and attraction admissions.
  • There is no one staff person assigned to the Crescent. Either the Executive Directors or a staff person they assign sit on the Crescent committee. These people work on Crescent projects as volunteers, in addition to their more regular jobs, that impedes the development of consistency and momentum in Crescent activities

Issue Analysis

  • How should the Olmsted Crescent reach out to the Alumni Directors of the schools in the district? Should a package be provided that can be offered to the alumni of each school?
  • How can the district best market itself to the colleges and universities within it as an extension of their campuses?
  • Should a package be developed for cultural tourists as well? If so, with what hotel? There is no hotel in the district; however there are area bed-and-breakfasts. Should a listing of restaurants in the district be provided?
  • If packages are created, should the Theatre District be approached to include evening options and connect to a known entity? How can that be done while also highlighting the performing arts venues in the Crescent?
  • In light of the fact that there is no staff person, how can the Crescent accomplish goals, which require consistency and a higher degree of oversight (i.e. Uniform use of the Crescent logo, compilation and maintenance of a cultural tourist database)?
  • As collaborative education programs are developed, how can they be marketed under the Olmsted Crescent? How can the commitment and momentum of the participating organizations be maintained without staff support?
  • How will the Crescent create an effective but affordable public signage plan for the district?
  • How does the Crescent fit into other initiatives? The Elmwood Museum District? A common cultural theme for the city? The work of the CVB and the Cultural Tourism Committee? Marketing with Niagara Falls, Ontario?

III. Objectives

Financial Objectives

  • Provide $147,744 in marketing benefits to each organization through the collaborative (minimum cost each organization would incur if they took on this project alone).
  • Increase by more than $10 million the economic impact of the district. Marketing Objectives
  • Increase attendance figures by two percent for each Olmsted Crescent organization.
  • Enhance the Olmsted Crescent’s name recognition and visibility throughout the Western New York community by five percent.
  • Increase by fifteen the number of events, festivals, tradeshows of which member organizations are represented by doing them collaboratively.
  • Increase the number of brochures distributed by printing an additional 100,000.
  • Increase our penetration into the Niagara Falls, Ontario, tourism market by following up on 200 leads provide the city’s tourism bureau.

IV. Marketing Strategy

  • Market Research
    Each organization will continue to collect its attendance figures to gauge increases linked to the marketing of the Olmsted Crescent. At the end of 2001, a telephone survey will be conducted to a 600-person sample to determine penetration of district name recognition.
  • Target Markets
    The Olmsted Crescent has three distinct markets:

    1. The 350,000 Western New Yorkers that are at least slightly interested in the arts.
    2. Area colleges and universities
    3. Cultural tourists within a 400-mile radius of Buffalo
  • Positioning
    “Arts, Parks and Sciences in the Heart of Buffalo.” A cultural geographic district equal to that of Niagara Falls.
  • Product Line
    The organizations within the district and their events and programs.
  • Price
    Admission prices are average compared to other museums, galleries and cultural institutions. Compared to touring productions and sporting events, admission prices are low. Compared to gaming, admission prices are high.
  • Distribution Outlets
    The Olmsted Crescent’s distribution channels are various. Each organization distributes materials on site and mails information to its constituency. Admissions are purchased in various ways including telephone reservations, in-house ticketing and for blockbuster events through an outside ticketing agency. The collaborative has hired Brochures Unlimited to distribute its brochure throughout Erie and Niagara Counties and in all Tops locations. The Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau distributes the brochure to tourists via mail, their Visitor’s Center and at the Angola and Clarence Thruway locations. The Crescent also joined the Niagara Falls, Ontario Tourism Bureau and its brochure is part of the Bureau’s regional distribution program.
  • Sales Force
    Hire an intern to act as the point person for the Olmsted Crescent. The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy will supervise the intern.
  • Service
    Develop a mini-training session for all front-line employees of Crescent members organization with updates on current programs and events scheduled for each member.
  • Advertising
    Continue the partnership with Wegmans on advertising in its weekly flyer. Develop radio PSAs. Cultivate a television station to sponsor the Crescent. Explore the possibility of ArtVoice, Buffalo Beat and The Buffalo News compiling listings under an Olmsted Crescent banner.
  • Sales Promotion
    Participate in local events, festivals, and tradeshows as a collective.
  • Research and Development
    Continue research on University Circle in Cleveland and Chicago Museum Campus and other districts. Lobby for the downgrade of the Scajaquada Expressway.

V. Action Programs

February 2001

  • Cooperative efforts with the Greater Buffalo Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)–$16,100
    The CVB has committed more than $16,000 in in-kind contributions for the Crescent cultural tourism initiatives. The Crescent will be highlighted in various ad campaigns produced by the CVB. $100 additional cost is for facilitation expenses. Organization responsible for coordinating: CVB.
  • Cooperative initiatives with the Niagara Falls, Ontario Tourism Bureau–$1,000
    Cost includes membership fee of approximately $300 U.S. and funds to mail Crescent brochure as a follow-up to cultural tourist leads. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC.
  • Begin Wegmans advertising–$54,016
    $100 cost is for production expenses associated with the coordination of weekly advertising donated by Wegmans in its weekly circular, distributed to 417,000. This in-kind contribution equates to $53,916 in advertising. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC
  • Distribute logo slicks to Crescent organizations and businesses–$300
    Cost includes $150 for the logo slicks and distribution expenses. Organization responsible for coordinating: Blessed Trinity Church.
  • Join other tourism organizations
    Participate in the Niagara Frontier Tourism Task Force, the Bi-National $100 Tourism Initiative, Rethinking the Niagara Frontier and, of course, the Cultural Tourism Committee to plan our work collaboratively and without Duplication. Cost is for membership fees for some organizations.

March 2001

  • Order Crescent stationery and envelopes–$1,000
    Stationery will be used for general Crescent correspondence and for press releases that cannot be emailed. Organization responsible for coordinating: Darwin Martin House Corp.
  • Begin Monthly events flyer–$3,840
    Cost is for the printing of 1,000 flyers per month and to their distribution throughout the district and through the Arts Council and Convention and Visitors Bureau. Organization responsible for coordinating: Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
  • Begin Events press release–$100
    In association with the above flyer, a monthly press release will be sent to all area media highlighting the Crescent’s event offerings. Organization responsible for coordinating: Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
  • Begin Crescent PSA schedule–$10,200
    In association with the events flyer, schedule sixty donated PSAs worth $10,2000 On Infinity Broadcasting’s five radio stations (WJYE, WYRK, WECK, WBLK, WBUF) and WNED and WBFO to highlight monthly events. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC.
  • Compile Events and Festivals exhibit schedule–$5,000
    Develop a list of all the events and festivals at which each organization Exhibits, during the course of the year, with each organization taking on the responsibility for staffing a portion of these dates. Cost is for registration fees associated with some events and for the creation of an Olmsted Crescent table-top display. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC.

April 2001

  • Print 100,000 Olmsted Crescent brochures–$10,100
    Continue the creative concept from the first year with the addition of organizations identified as new assets/members. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC.
  • Brochure distribution contract with Brochures Unlimited–$900
    Company distributes Olmsted Crescent brochures throughout Erie and Niagara counties. Organization responsible for coordinating: Buffalo Zoo.
  • Order district banners–$20,000
    Place banners at intersections with high traffic counts to announce the district. Minimum of eight banners per intersection, at a maximum of ten intersections. Cultural institutions will be identified on those banners closest to their institutions. Organization responsible for coordinating: Burchfield-Penney Art Center.
  • Hire Eli Mundy to coordinate the Crescent role in the Scajaquada study–$12,000
    The Olmsted Crescent will act as lead community agency in the study to redesign the Scajaquada Expressway. Cost is for a government relations consultant to coordinate our efforts at $1,000 per month. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC.
  • Create Olmsted Crescent Website–$5,000
    Four-to-six page site used as an umbrella site for the district organizations with links to each site and other tourism Web sites in the region. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC.
  • CVB Advertising–See Feb.
    CVB will include mentions and editorial support in ads geared to consumer papers in the Utica/Binghamton/Ithaca/Elmira corridor. Combined circulation of papers in advertising schedule- 430,000 per insertion (system-wide). Estimated value of mentions in CVB general consumer ads: $2,000+. Organization responsible for coordinating: CVB

May 2001

  • Conduct Asset Assessment of the District–$100
    Review of entire district to determine additional cultural tourism assets Currently not identified. Mileage and research expenses. Organization responsible for coordinating: Tri-Main/just buffalo literary center.
  • CVB Advertising–See Feb.
    CVB will include mentions and editorial support in ads geared to consumers in the Syracuse Post Standard. Combined circulation of papers in advertising schedule- 430,000 per insertion (system-wide). Estimated value of mentions in CVB general consumer ads: $2,000+. Organization responsible for coordinating: CVB.

June 2001

  • CVB Advertising–See Feb.
    Weekend Magazine (independent publication with distribution across New York State and throughout Mid-Atlantic region) 130,000 circulation (minimum), 270,000 readers (minimum) per four seasonal issues. NOTE: Ad includes direct space match for editorial copy- exposure is effectively doubled. Estimated value of 1/4 page ad in co-op @ to insertions: $1,288. Organization responsible for coordinating: CVB.CVB will include the Olmsted Crescent in television ads for the CVB’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard” campaign. The program is being supported by WIVB-TV, the local CBS affiliate. Estimated value of the ads with WIVB-TV: $2,000. Organization responsible for coordinating: CVB.CVB will include mentions and editorial support in ads geared to consumers in the Albany Times-Union. Combined circulation of papers in advertising schedule-430,000 per insertion (system-wide). Estimated value of mentions in CVB general consumer ads: $2,000+. Organization responsible for coordinating: CVB.

July 2001

  • CVB Advertising–See Feb.
    CVB – AAA World (Auto Club Magazine for AAA clubs in the Mid-Atlantic Region) 2.4 million circulation, 4.8 million readership per issue (six per year). Estimated value of 1/6-page ad in co-op @ two insertions: $9,000. Also included with ads is brochure distribution to 73 AAA Club offices in the magazine’s service area. Estimated value of distribution service (for one year): $2,000. Organization responsible for coordinating: CVB.

May — December 2001

  • Develop Master Pass with Niagara Parks Commission–$300
    Using the Bodensee Alpenrhein Tourismus, Verband, Austria, a tri-national heritage tourism master pass initiative, determine feasibility of a joint master pass with Niagara Falls, Ontario, heritage sites. Organization responsible for coordinating: Buffalo Museum of Science
  • Develop package with overnight accommodations–$1,300
    Using both bed-and-breakfasts and commercial hotels, develop a two-day/one-night package for individuals to be marketed through the area alumni associations of the colleges and universities. Organization responsible for coordinating: BOPC.
  • Living History Tour of the District–$3,000
    In conjunction with the Sept. 22-23 weekend celebrating the Pan Am, offer a living history tours throughout the district. Organizations responsible for coordinating: BECHS, Forest Lawn Cemetery and Shakespeare in Delaware Park.

December 2001

  • Market Research on Impacts–$3,000
    Conduct telephone survey on sample 600 Buffalonians to determine their knowledge of the Olmsted Crescent. Organizations responsible for coordinating: Forest Lawn and Shakespeare in Delaware Park.
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