Behind the Doors of MARC’s Tourism Win

ATLANTA MARC USA has won the $2 million Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitors Bureau account following a final round of presentations yesterday, the agency said.

Members of the client’s review board heard pitches from the winning Coral Gables, Fla., shop; Barber Martin in Richmond, Va.; Dudnyk in Horsham, Pa.; Interpublic Group’s Fitzgerald + Co. of Atlanta; and The Zimmerman Agency, an independent in Tallahassee, Fla.

The bureau had been without an agency since February, when it parted ways with incumbent HDC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which has since closed its doors.

Shop president Evan Contorakes credited the win to his agency’s enthusiasm, all 50 staffers were present for the final pitch, and a series of shared marketing programs with several of the agency’s Pittsburgh-based parent’s national clients.

“We doubled their media budget with promotions from True Value, Holiday Inns and Panama Jack,” said Contorakes.

One idea is to tie a Fort Lauderdale winter promotion to snow removal products sold in some 1,100 True Value hardware stores in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

“We’ll put Fort Lauderdale coupons and tie-ins on snow shovels, scrapers and bags of salt,” said Contorakes.

Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels. Observers at the review, including finalists, commented freely on presentations.

“Fitzgerald and Zimmerman had the strongest creative and strategic presentations,” said one source who admired agency president Curtis Zimmerman’s idea to rebrand the destination as the Great American Beach.

Barber Martin, which handles Virginia’s tourism account, focused on media and targeting specific demographics.

“They conducted research asking people who has the best beach,” said one observer. “Their point was to go after the 30 percent who didn’t know.”

The Dudnyk team, augmented by a handful of former HDC staffers, created a buzz for itself by running an ad in the Miami Sun Sentinel under the tag, “What can a Dudnyk do for you?” a week before the final presentation.

Fitzgerald was said to give a lively presentation that went flat when executive creative director Eddie Snyder referred to Fort Lauderdale as a five-star destination. “Someone on the committee pointed out that there were no five-star facilities here,” said a source.

MARC was credited with the most enthusiastic presentation, delivering a video set to The Who’s “Who Are You?” The agency offered three creative concepts, but its focus was on generating revenue. It also presented a BARATA (benefits, awareness, role, attributes, territory, attitude) analysis while showing competitive work from the region.

The client could not be reached for comment.