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.
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 wouldn't mind wearing uniforms," Suhm says. "Depends what I'm advertising, but it's one less decision to make every day."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.