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Incumbent keeps tourism ad account

McFarland & Drier in Miami gets to keep the state tourism advertising account, bucking a decades-long trend of switching ad agencies when switching governors. The account is worth $6.4-million this year, although McFarland & Drier will take home less than 15 percent of that amount in commissions.

Florida Department of Commerce officials said Friday the incumbent agency fended off challenges from a number of the state's largest ad agencies, many with national and international ties.

In addition McFarland & Drier overcame the liability of its first appointment in 1987 by then Republican Gov. Bob Martinez. Many in the advertising industry didn't think that Commerce Secretary Greg Farmer, a Chiles appointee, would choose McFarland & Drier.

"Those guys pulled a coup," said Jack Painter, president of Fahlgren Martin Benito in Tampa, one of two finalists competing with McFarland & Drier.

"I've got to give it to them, they did it . . . against the odds," said James Radcliffe, senior vice president at the William Cook Agency in Jacksonville, the other finalist.

McFarland & Drier will continue its "See Florida, coast to coast to coast" campaign, which features a montage of beaches and tourist attractions, said Timothy Swies, agency vice president. The camera doesn't linger too long at any one attraction, so the ad campaign is considered a peaceful marketing solution for the often fractious tourism industry.

Such a campaign will become more important as the industry prepares itself to take on more of the advertising burden, Swies said. Chiles is establishing a tourism commission that will collect tourism tax revenues to pay for marketing the state, instead of the state continuing to pay.

Farmer said he chose to retain McFarland & Drier because of the agency's past success in stimulating tourism _ Florida's visitors jumped from 36-million four years ago to 40-million in 1990. Florida needs to maintain a consistent image, he said.

"One of the arguments that makes an impression on me is that we in Florida haven't kept with a theme long enough for it to really penetrate," he said.

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