Ad Agency Decision Predictable, Justified


After reviewing all the presentations from companies bidding to become Ocean City’s next advertising agency, the resort essentially went with the status quo, although it will cost more than it ever has before.

This week’s decision will mean the same agency and campaign will be used next year to market Ocean City to prospective visitors. To some, particularly the majority of the City Council, that’s good news. To others, at least those in the minority on the council, it’s not something to be pleased about.

Ever since the town drafted the detailed Request for Proposal for a new advertising agency, some have alleged the process was skewed and weighted toward the incumbent agency, MGH Advertising of Maryland. Little evidence, other than pure opinions, has been put forward to prove that as a reality. However, it was not a surprise that Ocean City stayed with MGH, but it’s also justified and grounded in reasonable discretion as far as we can tell.

Although this was not all about price, it’s important to realize MGH came in with the lowest quote of $275,496, significantly cheaper than other agencies after all things were considered. After hearing the presentations and examining the merits of each company, the town ranked the various agencies bidding for the job based on technical and creative abilities as well as price. MGH ranked at the top of both lists.

Gauging the success or failure of an advertising campaign is tricky business. Surely, all do not love MGH and the current Rodney advertising campaign, which features a lifeguard rescuing people in metropolitan areas and reminding them they deserve and need to take a vacation, among other concepts, with Ocean City as that destination.

We were not overly impressed by this latest effort nor the stick-figure campaign previously, but we do like that it was targeted at new regions and was seeking to bring new business to Ocean City. We also think it’s clever to set up a lifeguard stand at busy intersections in metropolitan areas and to give away free stuff as reminders of our beach town. In contrast, some think it’s more desperate than effective. It may be just that, but we see no problems with thinking a bit outside the box.

At a time when disposable income is tight for most, there’s nothing wrong with resorting to whatever means necessary to keep a vacation destination in people’s minds. That’s the goal and creativity is needed at this time.

The fact of the matter here is all MGH won was a one-year contract to basically continue what it’s been doing. What Ocean City scored was stability. Tourism folks know what they will get with MGH. They have been working with the company for years and feel comfortable with the relationship. Other advertising companies had a chance to win Ocean City over, but they were unsuccessful, and most who sat through the presentations – from elected, appointed and volunteer capacities – felt MGH was the clear winner.

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