The following Letter To The Editor was submitted by Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) in response to the recent attempted campaign to roll-out a new marketing campaign (a.k.a. “cooler & warmer”) for the state of Rhode Island.
“Since October, I have been chairing a House commission studying the potential for growing tourism through a coordinated marketing effort. I sponsored the bill creating this commission because I firmly believe Rhode Island needs an ad campaign that effectively conveys our state’s unique identity to tourists. The Assembly agreed, and concurrently appropriated $5 million to the Commerce Corporation to create that campaign.
The mismanagement of this effort has jarred Rhode Island as well as members of our commission. From the start, the commission has been concerned about the branding and design process. We were unsure about the selection of out-of-state consultants chosen to design the plan, but we were assured that the best of the best were chosen. We were assured that an inclusive process would involve Rhode Island stakeholders from the tourism and hospitality community. We were assured that the branding and marketing plan would be exciting and launched in January 2016, in time to market the state for the critical summer season.
We are sorely disappointed that these goals were not achieved.
The House recently voted to extend our commission through December, and we will use this time to demand accountability and results. The commission will seek regular updates from Commerce at our meetings through the end of the year, and will call upon its leaders to expedite the messaging to promote Rhode Island so that we may all see the purpose and function of the logo. We will solicit and review the responses of the regional tourism boards so their voices are heard clearly as this plan unfolds. We will measure the impact of the branding and marketing programs and we will make a full inquiry as to how such a traditional marketing exercise and product became such a fiasco.
Our commission plans to produce two interim reports before our final report in 2017, outlining our efforts to require better coordination and communication in the implementation of the state branding program. I hope and expect Commerce will fix this flawed effort before then, because our state wants and needs a tourism marketing effort that works.”