GJ tourism ad 
hits big screen 
in Times Square

Visitors to New York’s Times Square who crane their necks to watch CBS’ digital billboard will see flashes of biking, wine tastings and Colorado National Monument through April 15.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership and Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau gathered photographs of these local scenes from their advertising archives to compile the 15-second video ad that began airing Thursday in Times Square. It will air once every hour and be seen by an estimated 300,000-plus people each day from around the globe.

The ad would normally be an opportunity out of reach for either agency. But a media company that handles the billboard’s ads, Canada’s Neutron Media, called VCB Executive Director Debbie Kovalik a couple weeks ago and offered her a space for a Grand Junction ad for one month for $17,500. The ad space was being discounted from the usual rate of $75,000 per month because CBS at the last minute rejected an ad from a video game corporation because, Kovalik was told, the ad was deemed too violent.

The Neutron Media representative who called Kovalik said he needed a replacement fast and thought of Grand Junction because he had been visiting the city’s VCB site ever since the New York Times listed the Grand Valley in its list of top wine destinations. He said she had three hours to consider the offer.

The price, while significantly lower than usual, was still steep for the VCB alone. So Kovalik called GJEP Executive Director Kelly Flenniken and asked if her group would consider splitting the bill 50-50. Flenniken met with her board and agreed to the deal. Three days later, the ad was handed in.

“We’ve never had the reach before that this will give us,” Flenniken said. “It’s a little more than we traditionally spend, but it’s a whole new medium.”

Flenniken said she hopes to reach not just New Yorkers, but all of the international business travelers who come through Times Square. Kovalik said the ad has the ability to attract business owners to contact GJEP about business development opportunities in the area while potentially enticing travelers to consider a vacation in Grand Junction. The bureau will track its website traffic and check Visitor Center rosters this summer to see if the ad attracted anyone from the New York area or beyond.

Both Kovalik and Flenniken expect the ad to have the greatest reach for their agencies yet. The bureau’s biggest ad so far had been a quarter-page ad in a USA Today travel section and GJEP ran ads in the early 1990s in California.

“This is us venturing out further than we normally could afford to do,” Kovalik said. “It’s hard to tell what the impacts will be.”


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