OCEAN CITY – MGH Advertising President Andy Malis boldly proclaimed that the town’s current campaign is the “most successful in its history,” and although that claim could be considered laughable to some, Malis is confident that Ocean City will have the last laugh in future summers.
Malis addressed the tourism commission last week outlining the staggering results of the Rodney the Lifeguard advertising campaign and the new www.ococean.com website, and in a not-so-subtle way, tried to make a statement for his company’s worth to the town as it prepares for an agency review this fall.
“I’ve never in my history of being involved in advertising, or since the Internet started measuring statistics, seen these types of increases,” said Malis. “That means there’s a lot of people out there that are seeing our advertising and are becoming very interested in Ocean City.”
Page views of the town’s website were up 100 percent and 177 percent, respectively in June and July, and the unique users of the site (a term used to described people who actually spend a significant amount of time on a website) increased 50 percent and 82 percent in June and July, respectively.
After a mid-May launch, the town’s website, www.ococean.com, which MGH designed for the controversial sum of $178,000, saw huge increases in almost every category of statistical information, most notably on the accommodations page, which means that more people were planning their stays online.
Simply put, more people went to the site, they stayed longer, and the message reached new areas, according to Malis.
Malis said that the top two geographic areas that became interested in the resort were New York (138-percent increase) and New Jersey (99-percent increase.)
“I’m very pleased with how the summer has gone, and I know some people might be surprised by that as some are saying this is a soft summer, but we’ve had a tremendous response from this campaign, and we have to realize what things could have been like if we didn’t advertise the way we did this year,” he said.
Malis also pointed out that the campaign helped Ocean City avoid the “bottom from totally dropping out on us” in an economy that is enduring its longest recession since World War II and the highest unemployment rate in 26 years.
“The situation is about as dire as it really could be, but every statistic in the world shows that those who keep their advertising up when times are bad reap the benefits later on down the line,” Malis said.
Other East Coast resorts, such as Myrtle Beach, have shown seasonal losses of up to 30 percent, which is a number that makes the “soft” summer in Ocean City seem record breaking, according to Malis.
“People want what we are selling and we sent them the right message this year, but some couldn’t afford it”, said Malis, “but, no other east coast resort town was talking or sending a message like we did, and that is going to pay off.”
Despite Malis’ passionate presentation, his company’s job is on the chopping block as the Mayor and City Council have already instructed town officials to send out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to other agencies as MGH’s recently extended contract expires Dec. 31.
The usage of the new social mediums, such as Faceboook and Twitter, has also been deemed a huge success, according to Malis, who said that the town has “set itself apart from competing resorts in the way that it has marketed itself.”
Malis said that the “Rodney to the Rescue” commercials, which have received an equally positive response will run through Aug. 23 as well as a new radio spot cut by Mayor Rick Meehan.
Meehan said that he would like to come up with a way to promote Ocean City during the final week of August, which is historically tediously slow prompting some in the hotel industry to describe the week as “the bottom totally dropping out.”
“I think that the way we did our budget helped us weather the storm this year,” said Malis. “The job of this campaign is to get people to raise their hands and get excited about Ocean City and on that level, this campaign was a tremendous success.”