So, WTF? $2 million for Fruita?
In higher-level math, it seems that W+T+F = about $2 million.
Another equally valid answer is “priceless.”
That’s the conclusion of Eric Mello, who looked at the reach of the stories about Fruita’s consideration of using stickers marked “WTF” — Welcome To Fruita — to help market the town.
The Fruita City Council opted not to use the stickers or acronym in its official tourism campaign. Most of the council cited the vulgar nature of WTF and its intended audience. If you don’t know how the letters are colloquially used, ask a 16-year-old.
Be that as it may, Fruita is still reaping an enormous benefit from the idea, said Mello, who handles travel publicity for Fruita through Cobb & Associates.
Mello used the Web to track stories about the WTF marketing idea for Fruita and the town’s well-documented wrestling with whether to use it. When he found references to the story, which appeared in hundreds of publications, both online and in print, he used the publication’s ad rates to determine WTV — What’s The Value? — of WTF.
Many of the publications used stories from The Daily Sentinel, and several did their own pieces, Mello noted. When he added everything up, he arrived at a nominal value of “just over $2 million” in free publicity for the town.
And it was even better than just getting the town’s name spelled correctly.
When the story was played on the front page of a UK publication that gets 500,000 hits a month, “You go wow!” Mello said.
Even better, Mello said, were the comments on stories.
“A lot of them, they would visit just for the sticker,” he said. “People who didn’t even know we were on the map picked us up.”
Fruita Mayor Ken Henry said he was surprised by the reach of the WTF phenomenon.
One blogger noted Fruita also is home to a festival celebrating the peculiar life of Mike the Headless Chicken and commented that any town that had WTF and Mike “is a town I’d like to go to.”
Henry “even had calls from a news service in Britain,” he said.
And yes, interviewers unfamiliar with the small town along the Colorado River in western Colorado, call the place “Frew-eat-uh,” he said.
Taken altogether, no matter what his budget, Mello said of WTF, “I couldn’t go out there and buy that.”