Tax Money Spent for New Columbia Slogan

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COLUMBIA - Throughout the month of April the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau played a new commercial in St. Louis and Kansas City urging travelers to come visit Columbia.

Along with the commercial, the CVB also unveiled a new logo and slogan, "Columbia, Mo: What you Unexpect."

"It's a tourism brand," Megan McConachie, Columbia CVB Communications Manager, said. "For us it's really saying something to potential visitors about our destination. When we did our research both our travel influencers and our people we surveyed online said, you know I came to Columbia thinking it was just a college town or this just a place that I come with my family when my son has a baseball game. Once they take the time to actually experience our destination they're always extremely surprised by everything we have to offer. It's a lot more culture, a lot more fantastic dining, really great festivals that they don't expect. We really wanted to focus the brand on how Columbia kind of blows those perceptions out of the water."

The Visitors Bureau paid a Columbia based ad agency, Woodruff Sweitzer,$58,000 for research and re-branding.

"Most of it was actually spent on the research," McConachie said.

The CVB paid the same agency an estimated $30,000 to produce the commercial, and about $13,000 to create print ad concepts. Commercial air time cost $60,0000 half paid by the Columbia CVB and half paid by state cooperative marketing funds.

Those projects combined equal a total of more than $130,000 spent by the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau on the campaign.

Several Columbia residents told KOMU 8 News they worry it's a waste of tax dollars.

"That is expensive. I think that probably a lot of us on photo shop could have come up with that slogan," Kelly Dawson said.

"It might be a little excessive, but maybe it will pay off in the long run," Karen Marshall, who has lived in Columbia for 10 years, said.

The CVB thinks the new campaign will bring in more money than it cost.

"Tourism is the 2nd largest industry here in Missouri. It generates hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact just here in Boone County each year, and10-thousand Boone County citizens have tourism related employment," McConachie said.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded by tax dollars, but unlike most City of Columbia departments its budget does not come from the general fund. Instead, they receive all funding from the city's 4-percent lodging tax paid by anyone who spends the night in a Columbia hotel.