City Inks Deal With New Bus Wrap Company

OCEAN CITY – Local businesses who were looking to
continue, or even begin, placing their advertisements on Ocean City’s largest
moving billboards can breathe a sigh of relief as the Mayor and City Council
approved a staff recommendation for a five-year contract to continue the bus
wrap program.

The bid was approved Monday night during the Mayor and
City Council’s open session following last week’s closed session that
determined only two companies out of the 12 solicited bid on the contract. Of
the two, neither was Clear Channel Outdoors, who had held the contract.

According to the Superintendent of Transportation George
Thornes, the two companies, Direct Media, Inc. and Signal Outdoor Advertising,
LLC, both proposed the net revenue percentages to be paid to the town to be 60
percent for all five years with a 15 percent agency commission off the gross.

Since the two offered the exact same revenue percentages,
Thornes said he began to look at the background of the companies to determine
who had the better track record.

“Direct Media, Inc. has a very good history,” he said. “They’ve
had some great endorsements from other transit agencies from up and down the
east coast and without a shadow of a doubt I think they are clearly the ones to
step up and take over this program and move forward and hopefully gain more
revenue that we have in the past.”

In recent years, the revenue garnered from the bus wraps
has reached in excess of $100,000 a year, a figure city officials didn’t scoff
at when it came to debating the future use of the wraps a few months ago.
However, the council did alter the contract with a few changes.

Those changes came about months ago when the Mayor and
Council began to debate on whether the city should approve a bidding process to
renew the five-year contract that was set to expire just before the summer

Discussions about the contract began at the end of January
to make the deal more attractive on the city’s end. Some of those changes
included shortening the initial contract to three years instead of five.
Another term was to exclude the Park n’ Ride buses and the downtown trolleys
from the advertising and defacing.

The issue of the wraps themselves was the cause of three
more additional terms. They included one where the company with the winning bid
is responsible for any damage done to the buses when the wraps are removed.
Also, it must provide wraps made of materials that will be able to endure the
elements of the full contract and not deteriorate before that time is up.
Lastly, the windows of the bus can no longer be covered in the advertisements.

The debate continued the following week when all council
members were present. It was then decided all the new changes would be added to
the contract except for the shortening of it to three years. The decision to
continue with the edited contract passed with four members approving and
Council members Jay Hancock and Margaret Pillas against it with Council
Secretary Nancy Howard abstaining.

On Monday, Howard made a motion to accept Direct Media,
Inc. as the winning bidder and Councilman Jim Hall seconded it. The company was
then unanimously approved as the bid winner for the new contract.