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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesREJECTED V.I. FIRM RAPS AGENCY ON TOURISM ADS

REJECTED V.I. FIRM RAPS AGENCY ON TOURISM ADS

As the Tourism Department at long last gets going on a new series of television commercials to promote the territory as a destination, local filmmakers say they were arbitarily kept from getting the contract to produce the spots.
Eric Zucker, owner of St. Thomas-based Flicks Productions, said his experience dealing with the government’s new advertising agency, international behemoth Ogilvy and Mather, has left him wondering who is in control of the Tourism ads. It also has him questioning the government’s long-standing mantra of using local companies whenever possible.
On Feb. 9, according to Zucker, his associate producer, Deborah Quaid, began negotiating with Ogilvy and Mather to produce three 30-second spots separately highlighting St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
After an initial consultation with the agency, Flicks, which produced Tourism’s last TV spots, in 1997, and won a national Mobius Advertising Award for one it did showing Peter Holmberg sailing back in 1990, bid $250,000 for the job, he said.
They were told the figure was too high. So, to accommodate the agency, Zucker said, he and Quaid asked for a detailed scope of work and brought back another bid of $135,000. Too high again, Ogilvie and Mather said.
After yet another consultation that supposedly outlined the exact needs for the work, Zucker and Quaid submitted a final bid of $104,000, just $4,000 above the agency’s price.
The filmmakers lost the bid to an Ogilvy and Mather off-island production company. The reason given, Zucker said, was that Flicks' scope of work proposed in the final bid was "inflexible."
"We negotiated, and then all of a sudden we were told no," Quaid said. "We were led to believe we were negotiating with them and that we’d get the job."
"We bid it as a normal job," Zucker said. "We dramatically cut the numbers down, but with the stipulation that we didn’t need certain things in the contract. We consulted with them. Then they told us we were too inflexible."
Zucker said he wasn’t expecting to have the job handed to Flicks, the only full-service film production company in the territory, on a silver platter. But because it is local, has experience producing national- and international-caliber work, is familiar with local permitting needs and wouldn’t incur travel or accommodations costs, he said, it would make sense to go with the hometown outfit.
"It was the best thing at all levels," Zucker said. "I don’t want to assign blame, because I haven’t quite figured it out."
Tourism's acting commissioner, Pamela Richards, who holds the title temporarily while Acting Commissioner Monique Sibilly-Hodge is off island, didn’t return calls Monday, nor could an Ogilvy and Mather representative be reached for comment.
The person whose job it is to coordinate film shoots in the territory, Manny Centeno, director of the government’s Film Promotion Office, said he was left out of the loop on the Tourism ads project. Centeno’s office falls within the Tourism Department, but he said he wasn’t aware of the bidding process.
According to Centeno, the territory has top-flight production professionals capable of taking on the Tourism job. He said that, whenever possible, he tries to use local production crews.
"People come to us from all over the world," he said. "My job is to prove our capabilities. But, unfortunately, I wasn’t intimately involved with this project."
Zucker and Quaid, he said, "are certainly capable" of producing top-quality TV commercials.
The Flicks filmmakers said it was "disingenuous" of the ad agency to request a specific scope of work and then reject the proposal to carry it out on the grounds that the company was not flexible.
"In the end, in my opinion, the agency manipulated Tourism to go with its cronies," Quaid said. "I want to see what they are providing versus what work we gave for $100,000."
Zucker, born and raised on St. Thomas, said he is looking at the experience in a larger context: what it takes to stay in business in the Virgin Islands.
"I want to work," he said. "But there is no point in struggling if my own government doesn’t give me a job that I am prepared for."
"Natural Forces," a video feature Zucker directed, was screened on the opening night of the Reichhold Center for the Arts premiere International Film and Video Festival last month. He's under contract to direct a full-length feature film in California later this spring.

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As the Tourism Department at long last gets going on a new series of television commercials to promote the territory as a destination, local filmmakers say they were arbitarily kept from getting the contract to produce the spots.
Eric Zucker, owner of St. Thomas-based Flicks Productions, said his experience dealing with the government’s new advertising agency, international behemoth Ogilvy and Mather, has left him wondering who is in control of the Tourism ads. It also has him questioning the government’s long-standing mantra of using local companies whenever possible.
On Feb. 9, according to Zucker, his associate producer, Deborah Quaid, began negotiating with Ogilvy and Mather to produce three 30-second spots separately highlighting St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
After an initial consultation with the agency, Flicks, which produced Tourism’s last TV spots, in 1997, and won a national Mobius Advertising Award for one it did showing Peter Holmberg sailing back in 1990, bid $250,000 for the job, he said.
They were told the figure was too high. So, to accommodate the agency, Zucker said, he and Quaid asked for a detailed scope of work and brought back another bid of $135,000. Too high again, Ogilvie and Mather said.
After yet another consultation that supposedly outlined the exact needs for the work, Zucker and Quaid submitted a final bid of $104,000, just $4,000 above the agency’s price.
The filmmakers lost the bid to an Ogilvy and Mather off-island production company. The reason given, Zucker said, was that Flicks' scope of work proposed in the final bid was "inflexible."
"We negotiated, and then all of a sudden we were told no," Quaid said. "We were led to believe we were negotiating with them and that we’d get the job."
"We bid it as a normal job," Zucker said. "We dramatically cut the numbers down, but with the stipulation that we didn’t need certain things in the contract. We consulted with them. Then they told us we were too inflexible."
Zucker said he wasn’t expecting to have the job handed to Flicks, the only full-service film production company in the territory, on a silver platter. But because it is local, has experience producing national- and international-caliber work, is familiar with local permitting needs and wouldn’t incur travel or accommodations costs, he said, it would make sense to go with the hometown outfit.
"It was the best thing at all levels," Zucker said. "I don’t want to assign blame, because I haven’t quite figured it out."
Tourism's acting commissioner, Pamela Richards, who holds the title temporarily while Acting Commissioner Monique Sibilly-Hodge is off island, didn’t return calls Monday, nor could an Ogilvy and Mather representative be reached for comment.
The person whose job it is to coordinate film shoots in the territory, Manny Centeno, director of the government’s Film Promotion Office, said he was left out of the loop on the Tourism ads project. Centeno’s office falls within the Tourism Department, but he said he wasn’t aware of the bidding process.
According to Centeno, the territory has top-flight production professionals capable of taking on the Tourism job. He said that, whenever possible, he tries to use local production crews.
"People come to us from all over the world," he said. "My job is to prove our capabilities. But, unfortunately, I wasn’t intimately involved with this project."
Zucker and Quaid, he said, "are certainly capable" of producing top-quality TV commercials.
The Flicks filmmakers said it was "disingenuous" of the ad agency to request a specific scope of work and then reject the proposal to carry it out on the grounds that the company was not flexible.
"In the end, in my opinion, the agency manipulated Tourism to go with its cronies," Quaid said. "I want to see what they are providing versus what work we gave for $100,000."
Zucker, born and raised on St. Thomas, said he is looking at the experience in a larger context: what it takes to stay in business in the Virgin Islands.
"I want to work," he said. "But there is no point in struggling if my own government doesn’t give me a job that I am prepared for."
"Natural Forces," a video feature Zucker directed, was screened on the opening night of the Reichhold Center for the Arts premiere International Film and Video Festival last month. He's under contract to direct a full-length feature film in California later this spring.