OCEAN CITY – A proposal by an essential spice in most households of Maryland to be featured on Ocean City’s Boardwalk trams was turned down this week until further research takes place on the value of the advertising space.
The town’s current vehicle advertising agency, Direct Media, requested approval to expand saleable advertising space on Ocean City’s Boardwalk trams to include full wrap advertising on all eight power units, which is where the driver is positioned.
Currently, Direct Media’s contract with Ocean City allows for advertising to be placed on the roofs of the trams to be seen by those looking down from the buildings on the Boardwalk. The roof advertising falls in the range of $400-$500 to advertise per roof per month.
Direct Media estimated a reasonable fee for wrapping the power unit would be $750 per tram per month. For the four months of summer, Direct Media would receive $24,000 from the advertiser, and according to the contract Ocean City would receive 60 percent, which is $14,400 of additional revenue.
McCormick & Company has approached Direct Media with a desire to wrap all eight power units in the popular design of their traditional eastern shore spice, Old Bay.
The Boardwalk tram currently runs 110 calendar days out of the year. Starting on the weekend of Springfest and picking up again Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and then on the weekend of Sunfest. The trams come back out to be used for the Winterfest Express, which is the train ride through the holiday light displays in Northside Park during the winter season.
Councilman Doug Cymek was concerned the amount of proposed revenue was not sufficient enough compared to the amount of exposure the brand would receive, and the remainder of the Mayor and City Council agreed.
Cymek also pointed out the trams would have to be stripped before Winterfest, and would like to see the contract with McCormick extend through that period.
Mayor Rick Meehan furthered the power units of the trams have never been used for advertising space before, so there has been no other opportunity for others to bid.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins agreed with the Mayor and Council’s concerns over the value being proposed. He pointed out the town’s 10-year contact with Esskay hot dogs to have five clocks on the Boardwalk brings in an annual revenue of $11,000.
“Maybe Direct Media should have come to us first to discuss what the costs would be, or the value, before they moved in that direction,” the mayor said. “I do think it exceeds what is being proposed.”
Adkins asked if the council wanted Direct Media to open the opportunity to advertise on the Boardwalk trams power units to a national level.
Meehan responded the first thing is to find the appropriate value and then open the opportunity up in a Request For Proposal (RFP) process.
“With a little research, I think we can find a better way to do this and a better way to promote it,” the mayor said. “If Old Bay wants to be part of it that great, I think it is a great brand.”
Councilwoman Mary Knight was aware the Boardwalk trams were just a piece of an overall advertising campaign Old Bay is initiating in Ocean City.
“I would like to see us negotiate with Old Bay at a more substantial number,” she said. “Maybe Old Bay would be willing to discuss their whole advertising campaign that they are looking at that I think will really help Ocean City.”
Adkins said he would work with Direct Media in coming up with a more appropriate value for the tram power unit advertising and return with an update.