Surprise, surprise: BP hasn’t given state $25M for advertising

State Senator Don Gaetz says that, as of Friday, May 21, BP has not given Florida the $25-million block grant for tourism advertising that BP CEO Tony Hayward promised Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday.

“To my disappointment, I learned today from the Governor’s office that Florida has not actually received $25 million from British Petroleum to support our tourism industry,” Gaetz wrote in an email, dated May 21, to his district. “Instead, I am told by the Governor’s office that state officials are still negotiating a ‘memorandum of understanding’, which must be completed prior to receiving the funds.”

VISIT FLORIDA has prepared two TV spots that are will airing this weekend in major markets feeding NW Florida. Funding for these spots comes from a $2 million emergency fund.

Gaetz doesn’t believe commercial are good one for the Panhandle: “The spots are not particularly wonderful nor do they sufficiently emphasize Northwest Florida being open for business, as we have asked. However, some advertising — however little, however late — is at least a start.” I viewed them and agree. They mainly tell viewers to go the VisitFlorida website.


I would like to provide you with an update on VISIT FLORIDA’s destination marketing efforts to support the counties directly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

If VISIT FLORIDA is going to be the trusted source for travel planning information after this potential crisis passes, we need to offer credible and transparent information to our customers before and during this situation. VISIT FLORIDA will also continue to compliment that transparency of information with aggressive marketing programs to continue to drive interest in and visitation to the Sunshine State.

VISIT FLORIDA activated an integrated marketing team to address the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Friday April 30th when the State activated the Emergency Operations Center, and the team has been working aggressively to coordinate messaging with the State and our partners, to proactively develop marketing messages and programs that support the State’s most important industry and to react to all media inquiries.

On Friday May 7th, as the Official Tourism Marketing Corporation for the State of Florida, VISIT FLORIDA prepared and submitted a marketing plan to help mitigate the economic impact caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, this plan was delivered to BP through the Governors Office. The proposed plan included $34.75 million in immediate funding to support the summer travel season as well as additional longer term funding based on the possibility of future environmental impacts. The Governor’s request ultimately resulted in a grant of $25 million to be invested by VISIT FLORIDA to support the summer travel season. The $25 million grant from BP has not yet been received, however VISIT FLORIDA has prepared an integrated plan to implement an aggressive campaign when the funds are available.

In the meantime, on Wednesday May 12th the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors approved the allocation of $2 million from our economic risk fund to launch a new marketing campaign to jumpstart the summer travel season with an emphasis on those feeder markets that traditionally travel to NW Florida.

On Tuesday May 11th, VISIT FLORIDA launched Florida Live, a new social media platform on the website with real time updates from local communities and Floridians via: Facebook, Twitter and webcams as well as travel deals from VISIT FLORIDA partners.

Online advertising driving traffic to the Florida Live section of was launched on Saturday May 15th and will deliver 60 million impressions over 4 weeks in 15 traditional drive markets including: Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Greenville/Spartanburg/ Ashville, Houston, Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans, Raleigh/Durham and St. Louis.
Television advertising including both broadcast and cable ads will launch this Saturday May 22nd in Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, New Orleans, Raleigh/Durham and St Louis. The new television spot, shot around the state this week, features real people – not actors – enjoying the entire state of Florida and the call to action will be the Florida Live platform on

In keeping with the Marketing Principle that VISIT FLORIDA is focused on developing marketing platforms that the industry can build on rather than purely umbrella marketing efforts, DMO’s from around the state are encouraged to utilize the Florida Live platform and submit your consumer twitter feeds as well as recommended webcams.

Additionally, VISIT FLORIDA will leverage our media buy and marketing message to provide counties with an opportunity to promote individual destinations with local messages. DMO’s from around the state are asked to submit a :10 television tag to be attached to the :20 VISIT FLORIDA advertising message. This is a FREE Marketing Opportunity to help promote individual destinations in this critical timeframe.

Initially, this offer will be extended just to those counties that have been declared to be under a State of Emergency, however when the additional $25 Million in funding from BP is realized, VISIT FLORIDA will open the opportunity to all counties in the State with the caveat that the most impacted counties will receive a pro-rated share of the advertising impressions.

In the case of counties that do not have a :10 television spot nor the funding to create a new :10 spot, VISIT FLORIDA, through our advertising agency of record, will pay for the production of a spot utilizing existing photography, video, logos and call to action information.

In order to participate in the first flight of the co-op television, please provide a DigiBeta or Beta SP of your completed :10 spot to the address below by Wednesday, May 26 at 5pm. If you do not have an existing :10 television spot and would like for VISIT FLORIDA to assist in the production or if you have any specific questions please contact Martha Falcon at DDB – Miami at

2150 Editorial
Attention – Mike Charves
2150 South Dixie
Floor 2
Miami, Fl 33133

Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions and as always we very much appreciate your continued support.

J. William Seccombe
Chief Marketing Officer
Following are links to the new television spots as well as a background on the strategy and execution:

This week, in a 48 hour time period over 1000 photos were taken by 15 photographers in Miami, the Keys, Ocala. Jupiter, Gainesville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Panama City Beach, Destin, Pensacola and Tampa. The goal was candid shots of real people enjoying the great Sunshine State, now. These were real people – not actors; candid shots, not staged images.
This is the “anti-commercial” commercial. We are letting visitors see the real deal and see for themselves that Florida is alive and well and open for their treasured summer vacation. This reinforces the message of Florida Live and reinforces Florida as a destination that can be trusted.

* A montage of candid photos capture real people enjoying the Sunshine State right now
* Narrator Voice: friendly, straightforward and informational. No hype.
* Graphic: “Wish you were here?” Reminds visitors what the Sunshine State is all about.
* Flexible format allows us to re-edit or re-cut audio, video and images easily to adjust messaging as necessary.

Link to spots:, password: visitflorida (case sensitive)

There are currently 2 versions of the spot – a general Florida version and a more Northwest Florida oriented spot. Given the feedback that we all have received this week, we are planning on running the Panhandle version. As I mentioned this morning, we took this from concept to execution in just a week, so the campaign is very flexible. We can quickly make changes to the photos, videos, and voice-over based on the feedback from the Governor’s Office.

The television spot is scheduled to run on broadcast TV and/or cable beginning tomorrow Saturday May 22 thru June 23. The spots are estimated to receive over 64.6 million impressions in the following markets: Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, New Orleans, Raleigh/Durham & St Louis. I will forward more detailed information on the media buy separately.

Additionally, an estimated 48 million impressions of banner ads are driving traffic to the page in the following markets: Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Greensville/Spartanburg/Asheville, Houston, Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans, Raleigh/Durham and St. Louis.

I also wanted to pass along some other recent examples of VISIT FLORIDA television spots for your review – The Your Florida Side winter spot –
Share a Little Sunshine PSA

J. William Seccombe
Chief Marketing Officer