After 20 years of working with the same advertising agency, the City of Ocean City decided to seek a new partner and has since received 10 proposals from companies across the country hoping to win the station market.
The mayor and city council announced the bidders at its Monday meeting, but that’s as far as it went in terms of revealing additional information.
City manager Doug Miller held up each of the 10 boxes for council secretary Tony DeLuca to read aloud. But when bidders were announced, the amount of each bid was not, making it different from the typical bidding process.
Miller said Tuesday that the bid totals were not announced aloud at the meeting because it was confidential information.
In each offer, he explained, the city receives two or three things. The first thing City gets is the creative approach and how the agency plans to market Ocean City.
“A lot of it is proprietary,” Miller said. “They don’t want their ideas pirated.”
The city is also insured for the cost of services. Miller said when proposal packages are evaluated by members of the tourism commission and members of city council, they like to look at the creative offers first before looking at the cost.
However, some members of the tourism commission are private citizens and do not hold elective office. When asked how it was acceptable to allow some citizens, or members of the public, to review bids and not others, Miller said it was a good question and he should investigate.
Miller could not be immediately reached on Wednesday.
The companies that submitted bids are Mariner Marketing of Columbia, Maryland, Harvey Agency based in Baltimore, Integrated Designs based in Glen Burnie, which worked on the Walk smart Ocean City campaign, and Fuse Ideas of Boston, Massachusetts.
Some of the other agencies are Beyond Spots and Dots, Paradise Advertising, and Bellweather Agency.
Maryland-based Owings Mills, MGH Advertising Inc., which has worked with Ocean City for 20 years, did not submit a bid.
At a tourism board meeting in September, Ocean City tourism and business development manager Tom Perlozzo said he felt MGH had an advantage because he knew the product. .
“If he doesn’t want the job, I don’t want him to have it,” Perlozzo said. “They’ve been very cooperative with us during the transition period…I want to do the job.”
As part of the FY22 budget, city officials budgeted $5.5 million for advertising.
The board voted 7-0 to send the offers to staff for review.
Once the finalists are selected, they will be brought back to make presentations to City Council. The new agency is expected to begin working for Ocean City in January 2022.