Wanted: a couple of good ad firms

State agency seeks bids on $35 million contract

Deadline is tomorrow

Economic development, tourism among goals

January 02, 2003|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

The state's Department of Business and Economic Development is seeking one or two agencies to handle its $35 million advertising account, which includes promoting tourism.

Trahan, Burden & Charles Inc. of Baltimore has held the account for the past five years. It could not be determined whether the firm is seeking to retain the business.

State officials would not disclose the number of proposals received so far. But 29 vendors attended a pre-proposal conference in November, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Economic Development. Agencies have until tomorrow to submit bids.

The account is considered to be a high-profile one.

"Since we don't have a lot of tall smokestacks in our part of the country, the sheer billings make it an appealing account to go after," said John P. McLaughlin, a Baltimore marketing consultant. "And creative people love tourism. You can do fun and beautiful advertising. There's all kinds of rich material to work with."

One of Trahan Burden's tourism commercials released in 2001 re-created the 1862 Battle of Antietam, with Union soldiers storming Burnside's Bridge as Confederate troops defended the site from a nearby hill.

The scene turned humorous when half-a-dozen camera-toting tourists popped into view and one requested that the action stop so she could reload her camera.

W.B. Doner & Co. held the state contract for the five years before TBC won the business in 1998. Doner chose not to bid for a second term.

The pending contract is for three years with two, one-year renewable options.

Services would be provided to both the Office of Tourism Development and the Office of Business Development.

The advertising has been divided into two segments, which could be handled by different companies. One segment would cover consumer marketing and advertising while the other would provide business-to-business marketing and advertising.

Although the goal of Maryland's overall advertising effort is to attract people to the state, the two departments target different audiences. The tourism division focuses on leisure travelers, while the business development office targets business-to-business marketing.

The bids submitted are expected to be narrowed to a short list and then a final decision made.

The contract would likely then go before the state's Board of Public Works for formal approval in April or May, according to a spokeswoman. The new contract would start July 1.

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