OCEAN CITY — It seems that there will be nine new contestants in the “beauty pageant” that will crown the town’s new advertising company and one returning champion.
Despite 31 inquiries from advertising agencies who potentially wanted the town of Ocean City on their client lists, only 10 Requests For Proposals (RFPs) were opened and remanded to staff for review on Tuesday at City Hall.
Four ad agencies, including the town’s current agency MGH, applied for the job from the state of Maryland, with the other six applicants hailing from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC and Delaware.
“This is a good cross section of agencies”, said Tourism Director Deb Travers. “The size of these companies shows not only the growth in the town’s advertising budget but also how much the town has grown as an attractive client in the advertising world.”
MGH Advertising, who has been the town’s exclusive agency for seven years, will have their current contract expire at the end of the year, and City Council deemed it prudent to get a fresh look at other agencies to ensure that the town of Ocean City was getting the best bang for it’s buck from an advertising prospective.
Travers said that over the course of the next two months, she and Public Relations Director Donna Abbott will be assessing the applicants and will recommend two to three companies that will come before the Mayor and City Council in mid-November for their creative pitch, which some in the town have called “the beauty pageant.”
“The bids came in two sealed envelopes,” said Travers. “One of which was the fee and the other outlined the scope of their services and their resumes.”
Travers said that the one thing that could hurt an agency’s chances is having another resort or vacation destination on its client list.
“We want exclusivity as far as a destination on their client lists,” she said. “That would be like Domino’s Pizza going with the same agency as Papa John’s.”
What could be different this time around, according to Travers, is that the chosen agencies to present to the council might be submitting their plans to promote the town’s existing campaign rather than showcase new ideas.
“The decision was, to my recollection, that if the Rodney campaign was considered a success, which up to date reports are indicating that it is, the new company would use the Rodney character as part of their campaign,” said Travers.
MGH has charged the town a flat fee of just over $160,000 for the duration of its seven-year contract, but the price of the awarded bid is projected to be higher according to many on the council.
Forty-four agencies competed for the job seven years ago, but the other number that is different in this case as opposed to when MGH was given the gig is the advertising budget as a whole, which has almost tripled from $1 million to $3.9 million.
Councilman Joe Hall, who pushed hard for this agency review after being on the losing end and being extremely disdainful of the town’s move to grant the town’s new website to MGH for $178,000 without the usual RFP process, thinks that the right agency for the job is in these 10 applicants.
“I have no idea what’s in those envelopes but I think that if we can get three good ones, we’ll find the best one for our needs as a town,” said Hall. “There are many that feel that MGH is doing a great job so I would think that they’ll probably be one of the finalists, but I hope we find two good new ones to give them a run for their money.”
Bidders For Ocean City’s
— Gray Kirk Vansant Advertising (Md.)
— Siquis Advertising (Md.)
— Aloysius, Butler and Clark (Del.)
— Mullen Advertising (Pa.)
— Williams Whittle (Va.)
— Hermann Advertising (Md.)
— Pulsar Advertising (DC)
— MGH Advertising (Md.)
— Stick and Move Advertising (Pa.)
— Ogilvy Advertising (DC)