Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Augustine to Take Closer Look at Image; by Sheldon Gardner

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Augustine to Take Closer Look at Image; by Sheldon Gardner

Article excerpt

Byline: sheldon.gardner@staugustine.com

St. Augustine commissioners are planning on taking a closer look at how the city is portrayed in advertisements paid for by the county bed tax, a levy designed to draw more people to St. Johns County.

Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline at this week's City Commission meeting said that she'd like to get commissioners point of view on advertising and whether they'd like to see a change.

Using bed tax dollars, the St Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau handles marketing for the St. Johns County government to bring in tourists.

Sikes-Kline serves on the VCB board as a government liaison.

The VCB recently chose a new ad agency, and Sikes-Kline said it seemed like a good time to weigh in on what commissioners would like to see, or not, in advertisements that draw tourists to the city.

"I have been outspoken in those meetings about what I see as the advertisement for the nightlife and drinking. ... A lot of people drinking, pictures of people drinking alcohol, drinking wine and that sort of thing," Sikes-Kline said. "Which I had not seen that in the past over the years, so that's something kind of new, advertising the nightlife of St. Augustine."

City officials plans to have Richard Goldman, president and CEO of the VCB, to talk to the commission about the ads that are being produced, and they've also asked city officials to come back with information on nightlife such as how many establishments serve alcohol in the area.

Commissioners largely agreed that they'd like to have a closer look, and provide more detailed feedback, about the advertising. Mayor Nancy Shaver, however, said a good ad agency will develop a balanced campaign.

"I think it's good to have a perspective I think we have to remember that quite frankly the job is to have people come here," Shaver said. "And people do not come here to drink tea. ... Our ability to ratchet that back is do we want to have closing hours earlier."

Commissioner Leanna Freeman said she'd like to see the direction of where the advertising is going. …

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