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The Greatest City Ever Sold: If There's a Piece of Dallas You'd Like to Buy and Name, Speak Up

Hey, Margaret Hunt Hill, do fries come with that shake? Now where's my consulting fee at?
Hey, Margaret Hunt Hill, do fries come with that shake? Now where's my consulting fee at?
Photo illustration by Patrick Michels

Let's go back to City Manager Mary Suhm's budget Q&A memo for just a moment, because there was one Q that had me at A:

What is being done to generate revenue by marketing the City?

A Request for Proposal was advertised on May 12 and 19, 2011 seeking proposals from qualified marketing professionals to assist the City in the development and implementation of a marketing income program. The goal of the program is to generate additional income for the City through naming, sponsorship, advertisement, and marketing partnerships with private corporations. Proposals are due on June 8, 2011.

I had a question for Suhm about something else unrelated, but when I had her on the phone this afternoon I asked her about this specifically. And, yes, so happens the city is looking to see if it can get "sponsorships or branding arrangements with different vendors," she tells Unfair Park. And that could mean anything from selling naming rights to city-owned facilities to slapping ads on the sides of city vehicles.

Suhm explains:

Right now, for instance, Dr Pepper is the exclusive soft-drink vendor at Dallas City Hall -- a deal worth around $1 mil a year, according to a 2005 briefing on the subject of marketing income. Which made Suhm wonder: What other opportunities are out there for "naming rights, brand exclusives and ads on trucks"? For starters.

"When the economy is bad people don't have much interest, but there are some opportunities," she says. "In the next year we'll open the big soccer center [the Elm Fork Athletic Complex], and I think it'll have some real opportunities. But do you want to sell it to a brand or see if there's a donor who wants to attach a name to it? We've tried this before, but where is the market right now? Aside from a few things it wasn't the massive revenue generator some people might think it would be."

I asked: What about selling sponsorship patches on City Hall workers' suits, a la Morgan Spurlock and, before that, The Art Guys?

"I wouldn't mind wearing uniforms," Suhm says. "Depends what I'm advertising, but it's one less decision to make every day."


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