The city has contractors sitting on their hands as the Celebrate Jackson public-relations campaign continues to stagger down an unclear path.
Jackson-based Fahrenheit Creative Group pitched the idea for a marketing campaign focusing on the capital city's positive aspects last summer. The city hired the group in July to run the campaign and has spent about $38,000 of the allotted $98,000 with little to show for it other than a mistake-riddled opening event.
Jason Thompson, CFO at Fahrenheit Creative Group, told the Jackson Free Press Feb. 9 that he believes the next phase in the campaign includes radio ads and billboards. He said Fahrenheit Creative submitted scripts for radio ads and plans for billboards to the city in November, but hasn't heard back from anyone on whether the city will use them.
"It's been a back-and-forth process," Thompson said. "We started submitting radio spots when they first requested them in November, a little after the kickoff event."
Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. told the JFP Feb. 20 that Celebrate Jackson has begun airing a series of radio spots called "Living Legends." The ads, appearing on local stations, feature stories about Jacksonians. Johnson said the idea for the radio spots was a collaborative effort with Fahrenheit Creative.
"Celebrate Jackson is moving forward," Johnson told the Jackson Free Press. "It's meant to be participatory, so we're asking people to tell us their stories."
The city is encouraging citizens to contact Anthony Dean, the city's director of marketing, and suggest Jacksonians to feature in the Living Legends radio ads, Johnson said. The subject doesn't have to be a famous person, either.
"It can be an aunt who raised seven kids while working full time," Johnson said.
Current on-air ads for Celebrate Jackson feature stories about James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi, and Pete Brown, the first African American golfer to win a PGA tournament.
The Jackson Free Press requested financial reports on Celebrate Jackson from the city in January, and received the information Feb. 1.
The majority of the $38,000 spent as of Jan. 25 -- about $28,000 -- went to Fahrenheit Creative for the company's work between Sept. 30 and Nov. 21. Thompson said that work included meetings with the city and preliminary campaign studies.
Other expenses on the city's report include $2,500 for signs, banners and posters, almost $5,000 for an online ad on villageprofile.com and $375 to Jackson-based Hapax Creative to film a TV commercial. The city also advertised the Eleven 14 campaign event in BOOM Jackson magazine, the Jackson Free Press' sister publication.
The Celebrate Jackson records show the city spent a little less than $500 for blue dye and $497 in extension cords from Home Depot for the opening event.
Thompson said $98,000 isn't enough money to run a large-scale marketing campaign. The city, he said, planned from the beginning to search for more funding for Celebrate Jackson, as much as $100,000 more, from groups such as the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown Jackson Partners, the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership and University of Mississippi Medical Center. Thompson said he did not know which groups the city had approached, other than JCVB in December, but said that city had not secured any more funds.
"It was our understanding that other entities would be coming in, which is why we moved in the way that we moved," Thompson said. "(That) hasn't materialized to this point, so we had to do some creative juggling to make things work."
Mayor Johnson said the December meeting with JCVB was preliminary and that the city is preparing a formal request to present to the JCVB board in March. He confirmed that the city has not approached any other groups about additional funding. A few campaign TV ads aired in November, shortly after an opening event the city called Eleven 14, but no more since.
The Eleven 14 event, named to mark the Nov. 14 date, included booths from local food venders and performances by school bands and choirs around City Hall.
It was riddled with problems, though, including light-pole signs that were too long and dragged on the ground, and a less-than impressive attendance due to the lack of clear information as to what the event would be.
Starting with an event was a poor way to start a marketing campaign, Darren Schwindaman, a graphic designer and branding specialist at Jackson-based Creative Distillery, told the JFP in January. Branding the TV commercials and posters for the event with the Eleven 14 logo, instead of the Celebrate Jackson logo, was even more confusing to Schwindaman, who was previously a graphic designer for the JFP.
Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email Jacob D. Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org.