Tarpon Springs is open for business — and wants to attract locals back to the city with its new marketing campaign.
ReDiscover Tarpon Springs, a 12-week campaign that began on June 8, aims to stimulate area businesses by inviting North Pinellas residents and other visitors to explore the city’s new offerings.
Karen Lemmons, the city’s economic development manager, thinks visitors will be surprised to see the many attractions that Tarpon Springs now boasts. “In the past four years, we’ve added eight or nine new restaurants. We also have five breweries and a craft distillery. It has become a really fun place to spend your day.”
ReDiscover Tarpon Springs arose from a long-term tourism project that began last year, called Explore Tarpon Springs. Lemmons says Explore Tarpon Springs was created to consolidate tourist information and expand the city’s marketing. Then 2020 rolled around.
“When the pandemic hit, we went into full gear, doing everything we can to support our businesses,” Lemmons says.
In early April, the city announced a program that would give one-time $1,000 grants to local businesses that experienced loss of revenue due to COVID-19. Lemmons also created a Facebook group, Tarpon Springs Business Happenings, to provide business owners a place to network.
Lemmons’ team chose to launch ReDiscover Tarpon Springs in June. This way, they could continue their advertising throughout the summer as the conditions of the pandemic continue to improve.
“As time moves on, it’ll be on people’s minds, and they’ll come to visit here,” Lemmons says.
Advertisements have been distributed through multiple platforms, including television ads, billboards, digital ads, posters in business storefronts, and brochures. All ads bear the image of a sponge diver standing in the sand, a nod to the city’s famous Sponge Docks.
The total cost of the campaign was $26,000. While half was taken from the city’s general fund, the other half was paid by the Tarpon Springs Merchants Association, a group that uses its earnings from local events to fund advertising for the city.
Carol Rodriguez, a Merchants Association board member, says this collaboration benefits the ever-evolving community. “The city is growing, and people want to come here. (ReDiscover Tarpon Springs) is what TSMA is all about — helping our merchants get people into their doors.”
To save money, the television ads contain recycled clips from earlier commercials. Instead of creating new billboards, the city decided to extend the standing billboards, which read “Explore Tarpon Springs,” for another year.
Nick Romano, marketing and events specialist for Explore Tarpon Springs, praises the city for its “eclectic and low-key atmosphere,” which he believes is reflected in their marketing.
His goal for the new campaign? “To remind people that we’re still here.”