Ocean City, Md, renewed the contract with the town’s ad agency, sparking a debate about the demographics Ocean City should be targeting, including median household income, reports The Dispatch, which, in part, added that the mayor and council “exercised an option to renew Ocean City’s contract with the advertising agency MGH for another three years. The town’s most recent contract with MGH was set to expire at the end of the year, but the council voted unanimously to renew it for another three years. In exchange for the contract renewal approval, (Baltimore-based) MGH agreed to lock in the rate at just under $23,000 per month for the life of the new contract. It’s important to note the town’s advertising budget is fueled largely by a percentage of the room tax dedicated for marketing.

“In that way, the marketing budget is funded largely by the visitors to Ocean City through a contribution to the room tax and not from the town’s general fund. Tourism Director Donna Abbott told the Mayor and Council the Tourism Committee had given a favorable recommendation for renewing the contract with MGH.

““We have a great working relationship with MGH,” she said. “Our numbers have been trending very favorably in recent years.”

“While the council ultimately approved the contract renewal with MGH, it did spark a discussion about more research into Ocean City’s desired marketing efforts. Councilman Wayne Hartman asked if there had been any recent market research to determine if the town’s advertising efforts were reaching the desired demographics.

““I know there have been conversations about making sure we’re reaching our target audience,” he said. “When was the last time we did any market research to see what families are looking for when they pick a place? If they picked Ocean City, why did they pick Ocean City, or why did they pick somewhere else?”

“Hartman said the resort has changed and evolved with new amenities and it could be time to redirect some of the marketing efforts to different demographics.

““We have a lot of new amenities in town and we have a lot of new hotels that could help us attract a different audience,” he said. “What makes people choose Ocean City or not choose Ocean City? Is it too much alcohol or not enough of something else? You hear we’re losing families, but when was the last time we did any market research?””

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