Fishing Show Still Hoping For Resort Sponsorship

OCEAN CITY – Although the Tourism Commission has initially denied the recent sponsorship request of local fishing show “Hooked On OC”, show producers remain hopeful that the town will partner with them to give Ocean City’s fishing industry national exposure.

At a Tourism Commission meeting in January, producers of the local fishing show “Hooked On OC,” presented the commission with a proposal, one that they claimed would be beneficial for all parties involved. Producer Dave Messick and host Scott Lennox presented the commission with the proposal, which would have involved national advertising for the town through their show.

“Hooked On OC,” which features the regional fishing community, went national last year when it began airing on the Sportsman Network. Before any show was ever aired on the network, Messick and Lennox approached the commission in hopes that the town would come on board as the title sponsor for the show. The cost for title sponsorship was pitched for $100,000.

Despite lowering the price tag of national advertising exposure from $100,000 to $25,000, the Tourism Commission declined once again to come on board as a partner with the show.

Messick weighed in on the decision this week, remaining hopeful that the town will realize the potential of the national exposure and come on board.

“I don’t think they realize that there’s someone here, locally, that’s capturing Ocean City for them,” Messick said.

In exchange for $25,000, the town would gain a year’s worth of advertising. The deal includes one 30-second commercial for the town during each episode, which airs four times a week. Extra commercials would also be included for special events in Ocean City. The opening and closing of each episode would expand to include coverage of different events and areas around Ocean City. A link to the Town of Ocean City website would also be added to the “Hooked On OC” website as part of the deal.

Worcester County recently came on board as a sponsor, joining a list of local and national sponsors that include, Sunset Marina, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Coastal Fisherman, Miller Lite, the Ocean City Fishing Center and Tournament Yacht Sales.

“I’ve had so much response on the national level, but I just can’t do it alone,” said Messick, explaining that while sponsorship is growing, the partnership with the town is paramount.

Messick went on to describe the outpouring of interest in Ocean City that has been generated since the show went national.

“I get e-mails constantly from people all over the country, wanting to know more about Ocean City,” he said.

Besides garnering funds for his show, Messick has a larger goal, spreading the word about Ocean City’s fishing industry.

“Ocean City has become stagnant. We need to get people from all over to experience Ocean City fishing. We need to get people from other regions…only then will the town grow,” Messick said.

The Tourism Commission has agreed on more than one occasion that fishing is an untapped resource for Ocean City but remains reluctant to give funding to the show.

Tourism Commission Chair Margaret Pillas explained a few of the commission members’ reluctance this week, remaining hopeful however that some funding will be put toward the show.

Pillas explained that “Hooked On OC” is currently not included in Nielson Ratings, leaving many wary to give money toward the show.

The town currently provides sponsorship for another local television show lacking in Nielson Ratings, however, through local golf show Endless Golf with Bobby Vermillion.

“Even though its $25,000, its something we could take a minor risk on,” said Pillas, who supports sponsoring the show. “I’m for the show.”

Pillas is considering more cautious ways that the town could invest, for example through monthly payments.

“I think that locally, there’s a lot they can do for the town,” she said, noting the local exposure, commercial footage and local event coverage that would be a huge benefit.

Messick plans to expand the show to include coverage of the local events to give viewers a taste of what Ocean City has to offer.

“If the town comes on board, I want to advertise a lot of our local events so people can see what the town has to offer for the whole family,” Messick said.

Messick added that as a producer and a local he already has a wide variety of local footage that could be used to promote the town.

Both Messick and Pillas remain positive that a solution can be worked out.

“I think we’re moving in a positive direction,” said Messick.

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