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Crunch Time in Florida

OlivaWe've watched this circus twice before. You know, the one where the Florida Speaker of the House sets his sights on eliminating that State's Destination Marketing agency. Says that money is being misappropriated and that marketing Florida really isn't necessary because of its beaches, attractions and high consumer awareness.

It's the tired "high consumer awareness" crack that makes me shake my head every time. Apple has high consumer awareness. Nike has high consumer awareness. They spend billions on advertising because not everyone has yet tried their product. But, there is one product that every single person on the planet has tried.

Milk. Every one of us is a past or present user. We know what it tastes like and whether we'd like some more. And yet, the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (formerly known as the Milk Marketing Board) spends over $20 million a year to convince consumers to use more of a product they already know.

There is one difference this time around, however. There is a new Speaker of the House...and he is the CEO of a highly successful corporation that produces an award-winning product. When he's not trying to jam a spike through Florida's Travel and Hospitality industry, Jose Oliva runs Oliva Cigars. I could be way off, here...but, I'd be willing to bet that his company advertises in cigar magazines, works with media outlets to promote all the awards they've won and offers co-operative promotions with retailers around the world.

So, when he says, “In a trillion-dollar economy, a few million dollars put towards advertising a few different places cannot possibly have a direct correlation with tourism,” one can't but involuntary snort one's drink through one's nose.

With little more than a week left in this legislative session, prospects for saving Visit Florida have never been more tenuous. Several Florida DMOs are blanketing their stakeholders with urgent e-requests to contact their representatives to attempt to put an end to this dangerous legislative recklessness.

Since he apparently doesn't believe in the efficacy of advertising, someone should ask Mr. Oliva how much his company spent on promoting his family's line of cigars last year. 

Bill Geist

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