Next Year’s Election Poses Challenges For OC Marketing Plan

OCEAN CITY — With the 2016 election season already into high gear, Ocean City tourism officials are planning on how best to direct their television advertising campaign next year to avoid getting lost in an endless stream of political ads.

Each year, Ocean City spends a significant amount of money and resources on television, radio and print marketing, targeting the major metropolitan areas in the mid-Atlantic and up and down the coast and into the Midwest.

Presenting an attractive, unique message to potential visitors from all over the eastern third of the country is always a challenge, but it will likely become a more daunting task next spring during the ramp-up to the 2016 presidential election. To that end, tourism officials last week discussed a plan for its television marketing campaign for next spring.

“Next year is an election year and it will create some challenges with all of the political ads running,” Tourism Director Donna Abbott told the Tourism Committee on Monday. “We’re looking at either pulling back on that somewhat or starting earlier to avoid getting lost in all that clutter.”

Abbott explained the individual state primary elections will be held throughout next spring and into early summer during a time period when Ocean City starts to ramp up its television marketing campaign in its target areas. Already, political ads are starting to surface and they will steadily increase in the days and weeks leading up to the primaries next spring.

For example, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, along with Connecticut and Rhode Island, will hold primaries next April 26. New York will hold its primary a week earlier on April 19. New Jersey, another prime marketing area for Ocean City, won’t hold its primary until June 7, while another fairly recent marketing target area, Ohio, will hold its primary early on March 15.

Abbott said the challenge will be navigating the primary election season during the spring when Ocean City is typically reaching out to its target markets with an extensive television campaign and avoiding getting lost in the political hyperbole and traditional advertising surge.

“We’re considering starting the TV ads earlier, and then maybe stopping in some areas and starting up again later,” she said. “That March and April time frame is a big time for primaries and unfortunately, it coincides with the time we usually start blitzing some of those areas with our television campaign.”