Four agencies will find out this week which one of them is the winner of the four-year, $12 million New Mexico Department of Tourism account.
The finalists are Albuquerque agencies McKee Wallwork Henderson Advertising, Kilmer & Kilmer and the eight-year incumbent, Rick Johnson & Co., and Impressions Advertising of Santa Fe, N.M.
The contenders were selected May 21 from a total of seven that responded to the state's request for proposals. The shops were then given eight days to prepare for oral presentations on May 29.
The contest is an important one for Rick Johnson & Co., which has historically positioned itself as the state's top tourism agency. RJ&C currently serves more than nine travel-related clients including Indian Country, a consortium of tourism accounts representing the northwest region of New Mexico.
Earlier this year McKee won the six-figure Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau ad contract away from RJ&C, an account the latter had held for 17 years.
The other agencies bring category experience to the match as well. Impressions has held the Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau account for nine years, and Kilmer & Kilmer has created advertising for the New Mexico Lottery Authority since the gaming commission's inception in 1996.
Tourism department communications director Wende Schwingendorf said a winner will be selected June 7. The new 48-month contract will start July 1.
Designed by RJ&C art director Mark Chamberlain, a hammered silver and black concha brand used in the client's national "Put yourself in a state of enchantment" campaign plays on the state's "Land of enchantment" motto. Separate in-state ads created by RJ&C promote New Mexico destinations to locals under the tag, "Enchanted vacations made only in New Mexico."