The Asheville CVB hired Peter Mayer, an agency a CVB spokeswoman said has the negotiating power to make big media buys and the infrastructure to adhere to strict payment requirements for those buys. Both issues can be difficult for smaller agencies, said spokeswoman Marla Tambellini, who added that the CVB hires a number of Asheville-based freelancers and companies for work.
Critics, including residents and some who work on the local ad agency scene, argue that outside agencies and the CVB don’t offer up an authentic view of Asheville, and say the thousands the CVB plans to spend on promoting Asheville should go to Asheville agencies. Here’s a typical comment from a Facebook discussion about the topic:
Asheville has some of the most talented people in the world. Many of which would give PM a run for their money, or school them outright on what makes Asheville, so amazing.
Here’s the statement posted at petermayer.com, complete with a photo of Chimney Rock (which is in Rutherford County, about 40 minutes from Asheville):
Peter Mayer is proud to announce that we have been named agency of record for the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau in North Carolina. Asheville, the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains, was recently featured on USA Today’s “Best Summer Weekend Escapes” list, and we had the opportunity to experience that firsthand.
In mid-July, even before we were officially on board, the agency sent nine team members on a trip to Asheville to immerse themselves in the city’s unique culture and natural beauty. The group enjoyed the fabulous craft beers and bluegrass music; restaurants that serve inventive farm-to-table cuisine inspired by Asheville’s unique Foodtopia community; an audio tour of the magnificent Biltmore Estate; outdoor activities such as zip-lining, watching artists and craftsmen at work in the River Arts District; and discovering the rich cultural, literary and architectural history of the area on a trolley tour. The afternoon our team spent at the Grove Park Inn (ranked a “Top Twenty Resort Spa” by Condé Nast Traveler) wasn’t too shabby either.
The group met with our new clients from the CVB team downtown at the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar to get introduced and to learn what each person loved about Asheville. Surrounded by shelves filled with wonderful old books, the team shared an incredible cheese tray with delicious offerings from local creameries. The group from Peter Mayer left with a love for this magical city and a deeper understanding of the “Asheville vibe.”
Director of Strategy Amy Hubbell summed it up this way: “Asheville is such a vibrant city. It offers a city life that competes with the biggest, most sophisticated cities, but in minutes you can be on a hiking trail. Or, more to the point, in minutes you can get from a beautiful trail to a great dinner!”
Creative Director John Pucci agreed. “It has a sophistication and worldliness to it that is a cool counterpoint to the mountains and the surrounding natural environment.”
Initial work for Asheville will include the development of a comprehensive brand strategy and a new awareness campaign, as well as a themed holiday campaign.
Peter Mayer has a long and successful history of working with national tourism clients, from lodging and cruise companies to compelling destinations and attractions. Asheville fits that profile perfectly.
Condé Nast Traveler named Asheville one of its “Friendliest Cities in the United States.” We agree and are delighted to begin our marketing partnership with this truly magical place.
Here’s the full statement that CVB spokeswoman Marla Tambellini sent me:
As you may know, the CVB uses an extensive number of local providers including freelancers, photographers, artists and locally produced product for use in events (Food Blog Forum, 48-hour Meeting Experience etc.) and as amenities for meeting planners and media. For the past several years, we have expanded our retainer contract with a local video production company and have worked with several local agencies on significant marketing projects.
During the agency review process, we sent an RFP to all of the local agencies. Several made it through various rounds of the process. However, the media buy is significant and BCTDA financial policies require an agency to be able adhere to strict payment requirements that prove difficult for smaller agencies. Additionally, BCTDA wants to ensure strong negotiating and buying power on a net media basis to maximize the buy. This can be challenging for smaller agencies that aren’t purchasing significant media.
All of BCTDA’s agency contracts are for one year. At the conclusion Mullen’s contract, BCTDA chose to hire Peter Mayer, a finalist in the review process and an agency that provides extensive destination experience.