Louisiana Tries New Tack in Tourism Marketing

When Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne announced the state’s advertising contracts for the next three years, there were two notable changes. First, longtime contract holder, Peter A. Mayer Advertising Inc., had been replaced. Secondly, a separate contract to promote “multicultural tourism” had been eliminated.

The lieutenant governor’s office oversees the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and is charged, among other things, with promoting tourism in Louisiana.

The state’s advertising and marketing contracts are awarded every three years, and companies, including those under contract, must provide a formal pitch for the work. The companies that receive contracts are paid as work is assigned to them and completed.

Dardenne, who took over as lieutenant governor in November, inherited an advertising and marketing contract that included four individual contracts. The agreements called for Peter Mayer to perform advertising, branding and media placement for the state. Deveny Communication was contracted to do public relations. Miles Media, a company based in Sarasota, Fla., handled Internet-based advertising. And GMc+Company performed multicultural tourism advertising. The structure had been created during Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s tenure as lieutenant governor.

Expanding the market

Dardenne’s team replaces Peter A. Mayer with Trumpet Group and eliminates the GMc+Company contract. The other contracts were renewed.

The new contracts were awarded after a 10-member committee reviewed and scored each company’s proposal, Dardenne said. The top three or four were asked to make oral presentations.

“It was based on a fairly sophisticated scoring process,” Dardenne said. “It was a very tough decision and all of this was relatively close.”

Dardenne said the state chose Trumpet Group to replace Peter Mayer, in part, because Trumpet’s pitch included a partnership with a “very seasoned media buyer” that was attractive because the state wants to begin advertising in new markets, Dardenne said.

“We’re putting a new emphasis on this expanded market,” Dardenne said. “We haven’t been quite as aggressive in the past in reaching these markets.”

Dardenne said the tourism office wants to go from marketing heaviest to locations within close driving distance to the state, such as Houston and Mobile, Ala., to those that are a short flight or a bit longer drive away, like Atlanta and Memphis, Tenn.

Trumpet “put a premium on our media buys,” Dardenne said. “That was very much an important part of it.”

Mayer has “no hard feelings”

The Mayer agency held the state’s advertising contract for 18 years, Mark Mayer, the company’s president said. The firm was renewed six times by five different lieutenant governors, including former Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise (we lost the contract). It’s a surprise we held it for so long,” Mayer said. “There’s absolutely no hard feelings. We’ve been privileged to work for state tourism for 18 years.”

Meanwhile, the multicultural contract was eliminated because the four-contract system was unwieldy, Dardenne said.

“We have a very limited staff and their recommendation was to do this,” Dardenne said.

However, each of the three other marketing and advertising contracts now contain a provision requiring that they target multicultural audiences as well.

“All of those needed to include an ability to reach multicultural markets,” Dardenne said. “They had to demonstrate a proficiency of reaching multicultural markets.”

The advertising campaign the Mayer agency put together before it was released from its duties will continue to be used, Dardenne said.

“I was very pleased with the work that all of our vendors did during the time I’ve been here,” Dardenne said. “I’m equally excited about the new vendors and their ability to make sure they continue to be aggressive in our advertising strategy.”

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