Some ad execs unsure about Indiana's NYC campaign

September 4, 2013

Some Indiana advertising executives aren't sure a state agency's new promotional ads in New York City's Times Square is a good use of the money.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. began running 15-second advertisements twice an hour last month to promote the state on the CBS Super Screen in Times Square.

Agency spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock said the state reached a good deal to pay $65,000 to run the "A State that Works" ads through December.

Full cost for that ad time, according to a rate card published by Toronto firm Neutron Media, would top more than $200,000, The Journal Gazette reported.

Hancock said CBS contacted the development agency after another advertiser dropped its spots on the screen.

"CBS was in a hurry to get the slot filled and needed to find someone that wasn't a competitor of their current advertisers," she said. "Thus, they reached out to the IEDC with a really good deal."

Nancy Wright, the CEO of Fort Wayne-based Ferguson Advertising, said she doesn't think the tourists and commuters rushing through Times Square are the right audience for promoting Indiana as a business-friendly state — even at a good price.

"It doesn't seem to be the right target audience to get to the decision-makers," Wright said. "It's still $65,000."

That amount of money would go a long way if spent on print ads in specialty publications routinely read by corporate executives and site selection professionals, Wright said.

Paige Webster, the owner of Arizona-based Webster Global Site Selectors, said it was important for states such as Indiana to seek attention at a time when some states are spending millions of dollars on economic-development marketing campaigns.

"To be honest with you, I think they got a pretty good deal for 65 G's. It escalates the state to the next level," said Webster, who is pitching his company's services to the Indiana development agency.

Money for the ads came from the IEDC's marketing budget, which the General Assembly set at $3 million over two years, Hancock said.

Critics say the ads could be more effective if they targeted Wall Street and not the tourist-heavy Time Square area.

Barry LaBov, founder of Fort Wayne advertising agency LaBov & Beyond, said he doubts that many of the millions of people who see a Times Square message actually have any say in locating a business.

"I would wonder if targeting businesses (directly) would be a little more efficient," he said.


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