YourView: Confusion Over Who\'s Paying For New Columbia Commercial

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COLUMBIA - On April 25, KOMU 8 News reported about Columbia Convention and Visitor's Bureau's new slogan and commercial created to urge travelers to come visit the city. One viewer commented on our website saying we intentionally left out where the tax dollars were coming from to pay the more than $130,000 bill for the marketing campaign.

"Factual journalism would say 'NO ONE LIVING IN COLUMBIA PAID FOR THIS'--100% of this campaign was paid for by THE HOTEL TAX PAID BY TOURISTS TO BRING MORE MONEY HERE. Research it, KOMU. Please don't spin the story just to ruffle feathers. So disappointed," Ryan Bell wrote.

We talked to KOMU 8's anchor Brittany Pieper who reported the story. She says she specifically mentioned the 4-percent lodging tax paid for the entirety of the commercial and slogan in the report. 

"It was very clear in the report the very last thing we said when I came back on camera was that the Convention and Visitors Bureau was run on tax payer dollars," Pieper said.  "But unlike most departments in the city of Columbia, the CVB gets their funding from the lodging tax." 

But we understand Bell's confusion. The story's title on KOMU's website read as "Tax Money Spent for New Columbia Slogan." And when the story was reported during the station's newscasts, the anchor introduced it by saying "And tonight I show you how much we all paid for Columbia's newest marketing tool."

Megan McConachie, Columbia CVB Communications Manager, admits a lot of people are confused about whether city residents' tax dollars or the lodging tax funds the CVB.

"I think it's just a really common point of confusion," McConachie said.  "Just because we are a city department, but we are funded so differently, we run into things like that all the time as to how things get paid for by the CVB."

CVB paid Woodruff Sweitzer, a Columbia ad agency, $58,000 for research and re-branding, $30,000 to produce the commercial, and about $13,000 to create print ad concepts. $60,000 was spent on air-time in Kansas City and St. Louis to run the commercial, half of which was paid for by Columbia CVB and the other half by state cooperative marketing funds.