For the first time in at least two decades, the Maine Office of Tourism has awarded its $4 million advertising contract to an out-of-state shop.
Warren Kremer Paino in New York outpaced eight-year incumbent Swardlick Marketing Group and McClain Hauptman Marketing Group, both in Portland, Maine. The account is legally mandated to go into review every three years.
"It was two big steps for our client and for any client to go out of state with the taxpayers' money," said Thomas McCartin, executive vice president at WKP.
WKP's contract begins Nov. 1; broadcast work is expected to break early next year.
The agency presented campaign concepts that were close to being roll-out ready, said McCartin. "There will be some strategic shifts in terms of where Maine directs its efforts," he said. "Less emphasis will be placed on taglines and more on developing a substantial brand. An important aspect of our overall efforts will be to assist the individual regions with a more coordinated marketing approach."
Swardlick's fall advertising push for Maine tourism showed footage of mountains, foliage and wildlife and used the tagline, "The Maine attraction." McCartin would not say how WKP's first work for Maine would differ.
WKP, which has 60 staff members, plans to open a Maine office, either in Portland or Augusta, to service the Maine tourism account and to pitch new business in northern New England.
Both McCartin and Maine tourism marketing director Karen Linscott said the agency's tourism background (it has helped attract visitors to both New Jersey and New York) was a factor.
There will be no personnel layoffs at the 45-person incumbent shop, said agency president David Swardlick. Though some state reviews of late have generated protests, most notably the California Lottery's agency selection process, the Maine tourism finalists plan no challenges, said Swardlick and Sue-Ellen McClain, president of McClain Hauptman.
"I don't think [the agencies are taking legal action]—we haven't heard anything," said Linscott. "We have a state process we follow and the highest score wins."
Though she plans no protest, McClain added that "the account should have stayed in the state."