Virginia Has 2 Suitors

By Jim Osterman

ATLANTA–Two Virginia agencies have emerged as the finalists for the estimated $5 million-plus Virginia Division of Tourism advertising account.

Incumbent Siddall, Matus & Coughter (SM&C) in Richmond will pitch this week against Barker, Campbell, Farley & Mansfield (BCF&M), Virginia Beach, according to sources.

Officials with the tourism office could not be reached for comment at press time.

The finalists will make presentations to a committee of tourism officials early this week. According to a source close to the process, the original request for proposal contained a positioning question, which will be a primary part of the final pitch.

The field for the account apparently had only four shops submitting a written response to the questionnaire, which was issued in March. Twelve agencies attended the pre-bid meeting. In addition to SM&C and BCF&M, Barber Martin & Associates and Just Partners, both in Richmond, made a play for the business.

The finals for the account review come somewhat later than first expected. At the time the request for proposal was issued, the tourism office hoped to have final presentations by late April and a winner by May 1.

One consideration the victorious agency will not have to deal with is creating a new tagline. Going into the pitch it was understood the state would again be utilizing its popular ‘Virginia is for lovers.’

SM&C has been the state’s tourism agency since 1992. When the shop won the business then, it had an annual budget of $7.2 million. According to Competitive Media Reporting, however, the state spent $5.2 million last year.

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