Controversy dogged adoption of the new campaign.
When Scott Brandon first drove over a high-rise bridge to the beachside in Daytona Beach, he was struck by the wide, open view of the river, barrier island and ocean. He said the view from the crest of the bridges outshines the approach to many other vacation spots.
“It’s an awesome sense of arrival,” he said in an interview about his ad agency’s campaign, adopted by the Halifax Area Advertising Authority at a meeting Jan. 16.
Brandon’s impression eventually led to the “wide, open, fun” slogan, the concept of the campaign, which does not replace the time-honored nickname for the area, “World’s Most Famous Beach.” It will be used in print, TV, radio and digital advertising throughout 2018 by the Brandon Agency.
Lori Campbell Baker, executive director of the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the concept can be a template for “all the fun things to do” in the area.
Brandon said his staff was amazed at the “wide” variety of available experiences in the area,
“You have more culture than many other areas,” he said. “You have a ton of cool events.”
A person can find a quiet part of the beach to relax or “go high energy” and take a ride on the Sling Shot, he said.
TROUBLE OVER SLOGAN
It turns out that punctuation can make a lot of difference.
Many residents in the area have decried “Wide Open Fun,” complaining that it made the town sound like it was “wide open” for the type of debauchery of Spring Breaks 20 years that gave the town an image that it is still fighting today.
But HAAA board members in the Jan. 16 meeting pointed out that it’s a concept, not a slogan, and that periods separate the words: “Wide. Open. Fun.” The word “wide” can refer to the wide variety of things to do and “Open” refers to the 23 miles of beach.
In the presentation by the Brandon Agency, “Wide.Open.Fun.” was accompanied by wholesome images of families at the beach or a museum, and couples paddle boarding or dining at a riverfront restaurant.
Some people have complained the agency did not get “public buy-in” for the slogan. Bandon said they worked with local stakeholders, but the most important opinions come from consumers.
“We’re being strategic,” he said. “You try to understand the issues that marketing needs to overcome. We do research to find out what consumers think.”
At the meeting, Baker said the board “absolutely respects” the opinion of community members.
“You are our best ambassadors,” she said to those attending.
But she said potential visitors were the target of surveys for the campaign.
“Everything we do is research based,” she said.
At the meeting, a couple of residents criticized the slogan, but another said marketing the area should be left to the experts and the public should be supportive.
Board member Rick Byrd, of Shores Resort and Spa, said he appreciated the audience comments, but said the slogan makes sense when seen with the photos and advertising copy.
“Let’s try something different,” he said. “Let us take a shot at it.”
Amy Pyle, a resident who has announced a run for Daytona Beach City Council, asked the tourism officials to encourage the city to enforce codes and improve infrastructure.
“Maybe the visitors will say, ‘what a nice neighborhood,’” she said. “They might want to go bike riding in the neighborhood.”
BEST DAYS AHEAD?
Brandon said an important part of the campaign will be to attract first-time visitors. Their research has shown that prior visitors understand the many options for family fun, but those who had not still had the “Spring Break party” image in their mind.
The Brandon Agency, headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, has agencies in Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, Orlando, Chattanooga, Breckenridge and an office in Orlando.
The CVB has a production budge of $200,000, which will be used to repay the agency for photographers, models, editing and other creative for television, radio, digital and print advertising. Plus, there is a monthly retainer of $44,375 for commission, analytics, etc.
While some locals look back to the glory days of tourism in the area several decades ago, Brandon points out all of the investment now going on in the area.
“A lot of smart people are betting on the area,” he said. “Your best days are ahead of you.”