Make us your home page
Instagram

Will BP pay to fix bad publicity?

If Florida's tourism industry has its way, BP will be underwriting advertising campaigns to lure reluctant visitors to the Sunshine State as long as a single tar ball threatens our pristine beaches.

Visit Florida, the folks in charge of nurturing tourism's $65 billion economic benefit to Florida, wants BP to immediately deliver $34.75 million for an emergency marketing campaign.

Florida has no oil slick yet on any of its beaches. But there are troubling signs that all the media coverage of the BP gulf oil spill is scaring away tourism dollars already lean from the recession. Tourist bucks make up a fifth of Florida's taxable sales. Given the wretched condition of state government coffers, losing more tax dollars at this time is a ticket to disaster.

Gov. Charlie Crist wrote BP America president Lamar McKay on Wednesday asking for $34.75 million and explaining why Florida BP's cash is "critical to our economic survival."

It's not the first time Florida's sought emergency funds for struggling tourism. After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, people stopped flying, and Florida tourist attractions and hotels shriveled.

"We haven't been impacted — we've been devastated," said Visit Florida at the time.

The state funded a $20 million ad campaign urging people to visit Florida by car. Tourism slowly revived.

After the nasty 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, Florida tapped its emergency fund for ads to counter skittish tourists who read headlines like this one in an October 2004 Travel section of the Indianapolis Star: "Florida Vacation: Fuggeddaboudit!"

Now, unlike 9/11 or rough hurricane seasons, Florida may have a marketing sugar daddy in BP — if the company agrees it is in the corporation's best public relations interest to deliver all or some of the requested $34.75 million.

If BP does not deliver, Visit Florida may be limited to tapping a paltry $500,000 spring ad budget and $2 million more set aside for marketing emergencies. But $2.5 million is not quite the same as $34.75 million.

Fully funded by BP, Visit Florida's marketing strategy would work this way: First, it would get its ad agencies, DDB Miami and others, to produce an online campaign within days to drive potential tourists to the Visit Florida website. TV, radio, print and social network messages would soon follow.

The goal, says Visit Florida, is to minimize the traditional ad campaign in favor of a grass roots approach by driving people to a Florida map on its website. Click on the Florida map and the curious are supposed to see live beach webcams, Twitter feeds and input from locals giving details about the condition of area beaches.

So far, the online map is just taking shape. "It's rough," a Visit Florida spokeswoman admits, but the agency wants to expedite this campaign. Tourism officials swear that even if oil eventually strikes the Florida coastline, they will maintain the map so inquiring folks know where not to go. It's a credibility issue that Visit Florida hopes will pay off in the long run.

Of course, if oil does strike Florida, you better believe that BP will be bombarded with more requests — by then they may become demands — from state officials to simply open its corporate wallet until further notice.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Will BP pay to fix bad publicity? 05/12/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  2. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    But its replacement — Tampa Bay Next — will likely include many of the same projects, including express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  3. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]
  4. Leaders of Tampa Bay's top workplaces share insights, suggestions

    Business

    TAMPA — Nearly 300 people gathered at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday morning to hear tips and insights from leaders of the highest-ranked workplaces in Tampa Bay.

    Bays Florida associates (From left) Robert Patterson, Amanda Boser, and Kellly Banchak talk during the reception before the start of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces Live! program at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Study: Florida most friendly state for retired veterans

    Working Life

    Florida is the nation's best state for military retirees looking for somewhere to settle. That's according to a study released Monday by WalletHub which rated Florida the most friendly when it comes to economic factors, quality of life and health care.

    Veterans watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp in 2016. Florida is the most friendly state for retired veterans according to a new WalletHub study. | LOREN ELLIOTT, Times