Tourism director sticks with ad firm

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PORTLAND (AP) – Maine’s new director of tourism has reversed her decision to seek new bids for a state promotion account, saying the current advertising campaign seems to be effective.

Patricia Eltman said she reconsidered because of preliminary figures linked to tourism trends during 2006 and a jump in traffic on the tourism office Web site.

“All this information indicates Maine’s advertising campaign is working,” Eltman said. “I feel it is in the best interest of marketing Maine to allow the momentum to continue to build for the next year, until it’s time for the advertising contract to be open for bid.”

Warren Kremer Paino, the New York City advertising agency that won the promotion account in 2002, has built a promotion campaign around the theme: “It must be Maine.”

The tourism contract is worth $3.2 million a year, and it runs for a one-year period, with the option to renew for two additional years. Warren Kremer is in the second year of a three-year contract.

Eltman said she will renew the contract for another year, beginning in November.

“I take full responsibility for it,” she said. “I have a lot on my plate right now, a lot of changes. I decided it was in our best interest for (Warren Kremer) to work out their contract.”

Tourism generates more than $13 billion a year in sales and provides more than 176,000 jobs in Maine.

“The 2007 ad campaign is currently yielding the highest response results over all previously recorded years, including the record year set in 2006,” Eltman said.

Eltman made her decision known last week to members of the Maine Tourism Commission.

“I think everybody was relieved,” said Robin Zinchuk, a commission co-chair and executive director of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce. “This isn’t the time to disrupt things.”

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