OCEAN CITY – Creative minds are coming together as a concept for a free gas giveaway promotion is in the works, sending Ocean City through a publicity whirl wind.
Last week, a majority of the City Council approved $100,000 of the city’s advertising budget be allocated towards a free gas giveaway.
The promotion will provide free gas to visitors of Ocean City and the town’s advertising agency, MGH, Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), and tourism department are working on how to execute the idea hopefully in time for the 4th of July.
“The ideas are coming in from the people in the city and the council which are incredibly creative ideas,” motivator of the gas promotion and owner of Ocean Gallery Joe Kroart said on Tuesday. “There is not a resort in the country that has ever done anything like this.”
Kroart added that there is an excitement around town that the gas promotion has “re-birthed”. The town has no need to hire an outside company to advertise the free gas giveaway because the talk among town and the press on Ocean City over the promotion is creating enough publicity.
“This is as grass roots as you can get because it’s coming from people who know Ocean City and who have great intentions but are now getting organized and they’re going in the right direction,” he said.
Councilman Brent Ashley asserted that the $100,000 re-allocated toward the gas giveaway has already been worth it because the town has received around that amount in free publicity.
“Here is a small idea [gas giveaway] that starts here in the council chambers and the next thing you know we’re on a metropolitan TV station — a whole big story,” he said.
Baltimore news station, WJZ 13, interviewed Ashley Monday morning and aired the gas giveaway story that night.
“I’m saying Ocean City is doing this because we care about our visitors,” Ashley said. “I mean, how powerful is that? We are the first municipality in the country to do this … and again it is all free.”
Ashley said the gas promotion is getting Ocean City in the news and an outburst of response from followers has been received.
Ashley said City Manager Dennis Dare came up with a concept to have a tanker truck wrapped with “Free Gas in Ocean City Maryland” be driven around or parked to grab people’s attention.
“We’re getting the concepts together, gathering ideas … we have very creative people in this community who have come up with some wonderful suggestions,” he said. “It is all being fed to [Ocean City Tourism Director] Deb Turk, who is in constant contact with MGH, passing the ideas on. I’m sure they are being overloaded with ideas.”
Ashley used an example of a person he spoke with from Colorado who had even heard about the gas promotion.
“He said ‘could there be a prize for the longest distance traveled to Ocean City’? So we’re getting exposure about this across the country and people are sending in ideas,” he said.
Ashley added the gas comes second in the promotion and that the advertising and the promotion of Ocean City is the main idea.
“For years we became a little complacent and flat around here in our advertising and promotion,” he said. “We need some life, we need to get Ocean City back in the forefront, back where we were years ago as being the premiere family resort for this area. People sometimes get in the mindset that it’s Ocean City and people come anyway, well that’s not necessarily true.”
An idea Ashley added is to use social media to create a poll to gather even more opinions on how to create the gas giveaway concept.
“You could get something up on Facebook and it could be done all in the same day,” he said. “The idea is to create buzz here and to get ideas, we all have different ideas.”
Turk said that there is a concept that has been put together and anticipates to be scheduled for next week’s Mayor and City Council work session to discuss it.
“The fulfillment piece of the $100,000 worth of gas is a little tricky and that will probably most likely be in a contest format or an enter to win kind of thing so we can control the amount and so we don’t have $100,000 worth of gas gone in two days,” she said.
Turk added that the promotion is the second part of the puzzle.
“The other piece to it is how we’re going to roll this out and we have had some good ideas, some really fun good ideas. In true MGH fashion I think it will be very current and very clever,” she said.
Turk also said that the timing is very important and another factor to be looked at, but the plan is to have the gas promotion up and running by the end of the month “so we don’t get lost in 4th of July activities.”