The Texas Parks And Wildlife Department, the state agency that operates state parks and regulates hunting, fishing and related activities, announced today that it is seeking corporate partners. Seriously. Says so right on their website in big, bold letters: "Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Seeks Corporate Partners."
From the announcement:
For years, TPWD has benefited from working closely with its official non-profit partner, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, to develop corporate sponsorships as well as philanthropic relationships with individuals and private foundations. Now TPWD will also be able to offer a new array of exclusive benefits to Official Corporate Partners, including official partner designation in specific business categories.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is a trusted brand, synonymous with outdoor experiences, wildlife, state parks and conservation," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "We believe that this private-public partnership will be a smart business move for the right companies, offering access to a marketplace of millions of outdoor enthusiasts, and recognizing partner roles in helping to preserve state parks and the outdoor lifestyle that are such important parts of our Texas heritage."
At first I thought the whole thing might be a bored hacker's critique of consumerism run amok, but a hacker would have to be very bored indeed to generate a 31-page request for proposals and draft and steer a bill through the state Legislature.
And then I spoke with Darcy Bontempo, TDWP's marketing director, who assured me the program is very real indeed. Over the years, she told me, companies interested in sponsorships have approached the agency, but "we've never been able to offer this kind of suite of benefits before."
Benefits like rights to license the TPWD brand, plaques at "appropriate" locations, mentions in press releases, joint promotions and advertising across various media produced by the agency, all for the low, low price of $100,000. Additional benefits kick in at the $150,000, $300,000, and $500,000 levels.
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The department is looking for partners in 10 categories, one of which is energy, though the RFP makes clear that "partnerships cannot be used as settlements to address an environmental penalty that the entity has been cited for."
I asked Bontempo if they would ever sell naming rights. "Absolutely not," she told me. "We want to [preserve] the integrity of the sites and the visitor experience."
This is Texas, though, where the government doesn't like paying for stuff, so we figure the naming rights are just around the corner. Here's a few ideas that'll give TPWD a head start:
British Petroleum Presents Galveston Island State Park Choke Canyon Brought to You by the Dallas Cowboys Ebby Halliday's Dinosaur Valley Texas Parks and Wildlife Compost Heap by Wolf Brand Chili Dr Pepper 10 Presents The First All-Male Swimming Hole: The Man Hole American Airlines Presents Concealed Weapon Hunting at Tyler State Park