The Kentucky Tourism Development Cabinet will hear presentations this week from eight in-state agencies vying to win its $3.5 million advertising account.
The incumbent is Creative Alli-ance, Louisville, Ky., which is defending. The other seven finalists are: The Beam Group, Doe-Anderson, Ott Communications, Paul Schultz Advertising, Power Creative and Sheehy & Associates, all Louisville; and Ad-Success, Lexington, Ky.
Pitches will be made this Tuesday and Wednesday. Said tourism director Victoria Hessen: "If there is a clear-cut winner . . . it will be [announced] April 1, unless there are two or three agencies that are too close to call. [In that case,] they need to come back and pitch again and we'll announce a winner by the end of the month."
Creative Alliance, Kentucky's largest agency, has held the account for six years and successfully defended it twice. State law dictates that the contract may be renewed once after a win, but must be placed in an open review every two years.
Hessen said last week that CA's recently developed tag, "Stop dreaming. Start driving," will likely be used in ads no matter which shop wins. Its current TV spots use Kentucky natives The Everly Brothers crooning their classic oldie, "Dream."
Several contenders said that the state was positioning itself as a weekend getaway spot, drawing tourists from states that are within easy driving distance. Hessen acknowledged that was the case.
Kentucky's ad budget has nearly doubled from last year, recognizing increased competition from neighboring states. Tennessee, for example, benefits from destination locations like Nashville and Dollywood, each with its own advertising budget.
"[Creative Alliance has] done a good job," said Mary Ellen Sloan, chief executive officer of Lexington's Meridian Communications, which chose not to pitch. "The state would be crazy to give it away, unless there's something seriously wrong."