Virginia Tourism Revisits Finals With 4 In-staters

Four Virginia agencies made final presentations last week for the Virginia Tourism Corp. ad account. The client spends in excess of $5 million.
Finalists are Barker, Campbell, Farley & Mansfield (BCF&M), Virginia Beach, and three Richmond shops: incumbent Siddall, Matus & Coughter (SM&C), Barber Martin and Arnold.
All four contenders made their presentation last Thursday. Each shop had 90 minutes to make its case. Principals with the participating agencies said last week they had been given no timetable as to when the client would make its decision. According to the request for proposal issued in August, the tourism contract begins Nov. 1, 1997.
“They’re going to have to make their decision pretty fast if they want to have it settled by Nov. 1,” said one agency president who requested anonymity.
Client director of advertising Bruce Twyman did not return calls at press time.
This is the second time this year the account has been reviewed. The initial attempt was scuttled when the process reportedly got down to finalists in early summer. Richmond shop Just Partners filed a protest before the account could be awarded, at which point client officials said they were unable to come up with a recommendation and reissued the rfp.
SM&C was awarded an emergency interim contract that expires Nov. 1.
All four agencies have direct or related experience. Besides being the incumbent on the tourism business since 1992, SM&C once had the state’s economic development account, now at Barber Martin. BCF&M has worked with the City of Virginia Beach on its tourism business, and Arnold is the current agency for the Virginia Lottery.
If the incumbent does not win, a new major campaign will not break until next fall because a majority of the media for next spring and summer has been placed.