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Ad Agencies Team Up To Promote Tourism


  Seven local advertising agencies are teaming up to work with the group Visit Pensacola as “Showcase Pensacola” which will market the area to potential visitors.

Work on promotional and public relations projects for Showcase has been going on since early spring, by the Appleyard Agency, E.W. Bullock Associates, Ideaworks, IDGroup, Southern Media, AC Advertising and Duncan McCall. Dick Appleyard says normally, they’re a very competitive lot.

“But we’re also friends, and this is one area where none of us were making money,” said Appleyard. “The goal is, ‘something’s better than nothing.’ Stop your ego, leave it at the door and figure out how you can contribute.”

A Nashville firm, Bohan Advertising, was hired to promote Pensacola-area tourism. Its contract with Visit Pensacola expired in late 2013. Appleyard says that’s when the idea of collaboration was hatched.

Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes says he broached the “Showcase Pensacola” concept to the ad execs around the time the Bohan deal ended. It’s being funded with a $2 million contract from Visit, a private, non-profit firm that was born when the county’s tourism operation, also named “Visit Pensacola,” split from the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce last year. Hayes was asked if Showcase would have been formed had that separation not occurred.

“Even with that being the case, I think that we might have been able to do it,” said Hayes. “Being separate indeed certainly helped, but I think we could have accomplished it as well if we had been under different direction.”

Visit Pensacola’s departure from the Chamber was also spurred by some local hoteliers, who felt an independent entity could focus more closely on the area’s $1.2 billion tourism industry. Ted Kircharr, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Landrum Consulting, was brought in to oversee the new project. He says it was a matter of getting all interested parties in the same room and hashing out Showcase’s main objectives.

“One of course, was to put ‘heads in the beds and feet on the streets’ to increase tourism in the Pensacola area,” said Kircharr. “Two, to go into this with a spirit of cooperation, and third is we were going to commit to an open and transparent way of doing business.”

Part of the plan was to distribute the work evenly among the seven agencies, according to their own particular specialties. Dick Appleyard says that’s resulted in everyone working hand-in-glove, through the establishment of a “skills bank.”

Visit Pensacola's contract with Showcase ends in January 2016. Landrum’s Ted Kircharr says before then, they’re promoting the area in large part through social media and digital ads in cities with direct flights to Pensacola, such as Houston, Chicago and Nashville.

Some of the fruits of combining the talents of the seven ad agencies may already be on the tree.  Pensacola-area tourism grew about 10% in May, along with a nearly 13% increase in bed tax revenues according to the latest available figures.

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