Mering Says ‘Hello’ to Fiji Tourism Business

Although no one from Mering Associates has been to Fiji, that didn’t prevent the Sacramento, Calif., shop from securing ad duties for the tropical island’s visitors’ bureau. In fact, the client’s local representative said Mering’s lack of exposure to the South Pacific resort was seen as a positive.

“They had no preconceived notions about us,” said Josaia Rayawa, the bureau’s Los Angeles-based regional director for North America. “They educated themselves about our customs and what makes us different. We just got this positive gut feeling about them when we saw their level of enthusiasm.”

Rayawa said the account, bud geted at $1 million, had been handled for 10 years by the Santa Monica, Calif., boutique Marchese Com munications. After being transferred from Australia earlier this year, Rayawa put the account into review and invited Mering to pitch, along with Mar chese and two other undisclosed agencies.

To curry favor with island officials without taking the 10-hour flight from Los Angeles, Mering designed a Web site for the purpose of making a presentation. Another selling point: When Rayawa visited the shop, he found a welcome mat that carried the traditional “bula” greeting.

“It’s a big deal for us to get an international tourism account,” said chief creative Dave Mering. “We took a novel approach and created the Web site so they could see the work we’ve done. We also studied up, and when we found that ‘bula’ means ‘hello,’ we made a welcome mat.”

The 32-person agency handles the California Division of Tourism, as well as the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

In September, the shop launched a campaign on behalf of California’s agricultural industry, built around the theme, “Buy California grown.” It is believed to be the first campaign specifically aimed at pro moting fruit, vegetable and farm products from around the state.