Thursday, Oct. 29-Council Votes 4-3 To Return Same Ad Agency

OCEAN CITY — After a lengthy process that often resembled a political catfight, the end result remained the same: MGH will continue to be the town of Ocean City’s advertising agency for at least one more year.

The City Council approved the Tourism Commission’s recommendation to hire MGH for one year in a split 4-3 decision, with council members Joe Hall, Jim Hall, and Margaret Pillas in opposition, on Tuesday, despite a near 10-minute attempt at a filibuster from Joe Hall and a passionate argument from Pillas, despite it being revealed that she missed all but two of the eight agency presentations last week.

“I was the dissenting vote at the Tourism Commission meeting because I wanted to bring the top three agencies in front of the full council rather than just go with MGH, so we could ask more in depth questions about their fee structures,” she said. “I think some of those presentations showed us that we should use Rodney as a spokesperson or ambassador but not as the brand.  We need to play to the emotional, sentimental, core-based tourist, like families, so we get more of an emotional response, and not just the tongue in cheek campaign.”

The council members’ last ditch effort to sway their council colleagues flopped, as the council voted to hire MGH, who according to the agency review score sheets, ranked first in performance and pricing amongst the eight agencies.

Those statistics as well as the town’s seven-year relationship with the Owings Mills-based company essentially made MGH the odds on favorite on Friday, according to one member of the commission, but as Economic Development Committee Chairman and Carousel Resort Managing Partner Michael James said, there were some other factors that may have played a part in the final decision.

“I made the motion to hire them for a year, because frankly, no one set themselves apart from MGH, and I didn’t see a big enough variance in the risks vs. the rewards of changing agencies,” said James. “Consistency is most important to me going into 2010, and I think going with a proven company that we knew was more important than the risk of change in this economy.”

James hinted that for him, personnel changes and vacancies in the town’s tourism department, such as the still open convention center director position that was vacated by Mike Noah’s resignation, also played a factor in wanting to keep MGH on the town’s payroll.

“I don’t think that anyone, even some of the agencies that presented, thought that MGH did a bad job for us,” said James, “and not one of them had as good of a price.”

For the complete story, and dozens of other articles, see The Dispatch tomorrow morning.