Why $60 million TN tourism contract was awarded to Missouri company

Made In Tennssee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The announcement of a $60 million tourism campaign to promote Tennessee being awarded to a Missouri based advertising agency is rubbing some people the wrong way.

VML is based in Kansas City, Missouri but opened an office in Nashville this past March.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development awarded the agency a five-year contract for the ‘Made in Tennessee‘ ad campaign.

Cindy Dupree with the Department of Tourist Development said three of the seven firms that submitted written proposals were Tennessee based, two of which made it to the pool of finalists.

In an email, Dupree wrote, ” The tourism industry was represented in this process from Bristol to Memphis and all points in between. There was complete consensus among all the judges. The criteria: Tennessee needs an agency with the right experience and channels to reach long-haul domestic markets and international markets.  VML fit that criteria the best.”

Dupree said all the components of the campaign were made in Tennessee, “The logo was created by a company out of Knoxville. The voice-over talent is native Tennessean Rivers Rutherford. All music was created by Tennessee musicians. The majority of the production crew members are Tennesseans. On-camera talent are all Tennesseans or authentic Tennessee visitors. The spots were edited in Tennessee.”

The first batch of ads focus on spending time in the outdoors in Tennessee and will be sent to about a dozen advertising markets in the country.

Tourism is Tennessee’s No. 2 industry, with a $16.2 billion direct economic impact.



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