I think we need to do a better job of integrating what they're doing into what we're doing. There has been some separation in the past between us. It's certainly OK for them; they don't need us. But we definitely need them. I would welcome the chance to do that even more.
What's the status of developing a brand identity for the state? That's been ongoing for several months.
It's actually been ongoing for more than a year. We had an agency, GreenRubino, doing the brand development and they did some really good research. The language that they used to identify and differentiate this state down to its core DNA is wonderful.
Now, we have a new agency on board, Burson-Marsteller, that is going to drive the creative beyond this point. They've also been given the tagline project to come up with a tagline that is going to bring all this together.
Some political leaders were upset that a Nevada company wasn't selected for the two-year $3 million contract that Burson-Marsteller won. What's your response?
We had a group of seven travel industry professionals from throughout the state that were part of the evaluation committee, and we all worked to follow the rules to a T in this process.
When we started, I had asked how many points extra you give to a Nevada company. When I had done this in Ohio, there was a 10 percent advantage to Ohio companies. They said there was no preference.
As we started moving through this process and we got our responses back, the evaluation committee scored the responses based on their merit. It was clear when we went through the responses that there was a difference between the ones we got from Nevada companies and the ones that we got from the national-level companies. The goal from the Nevada Tourism Commission all along was to get the best and the brightest. And the best ended up coming from outside Nevada.
I knew going through this that it has always been an issue for people in my role in other states, and there probably would be some conversation about this. After we did the initial selection of finalists, I brought the whole staff together and I said, "Folks, the committee has selected all out-of-state vendors. It's going to get attention." And it did.
I think the conversation was always good. We followed the process, we did what we needed to do, and we're incredibly pleased with who we got. They have really stepped up to the plate, and they have a lot to do. The expectations now are about six times higher than they would have been if this had just been normal, and we know that. But I think Burson-Marsteller is up to the challenge.
The commission also voted to spend $600,000 to sponsor the Reno air races. How did the state benefit from that deal?
They were very careful to take this $600,000 and craft it into a sponsorship, just like a sponsorship we would have for any event. There was a very long list of marketing considerations.
This title sponsorship will be in place for at least three years. We'll be able to extend our brand through the kind of marketing this event does. It makes business sense, and it's also a good community gesture.
Both ways, it worked in our favor. The response was very positive. People were very glad that this event was able to remain in Reno.
With this precedent set, how will the commission be able to reject sponsorship requests for other events in the future that are equally important to other communities?
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