Success Stories: Columbus, Ga. – Fireworks, expos get advertisers involved

May 6, 2002  •  Post A Comment

In Columbus, community events are what’s working for ABC affiliate WTVM-TV and its advertisers.
For example, WTVM puts on the city’s Fourth of July event. “When I got here, the city wasn’t doing much on the Fourth of July. We provide the fireworks; we plan the whole thing. It’s a one-day event with rides and games held downtown,” said WTVM General Manager Lee Brantley. “The city blocks off several streets for us.” Major local advertisers help sponsor the station’s July 4 event, and WTVM also puts together a spot schedule.
Last year WTVM began putting on a Men’s Health Expo in June and a Women’s Health Expo in September at the local convention center. They each averaged about 10,000 people and became “very profitable for us,” Mr. Brantley said, adding they will become annual events. WTVM also puts on an annual Family and Kids expo and an Outdoor expo as well.
Mr. Brantley said WTVM hasn’t been hurt as badly as other stations and markets because these major events help sustain the station. “We do a very extensive promotional campaign for all these events-they get identification for being sponsors, some packages they might actually get a spot schedule. But our sponsors get a tremendous amount of airtime exposure as being supporters of free community events,” he said. “We have a lot of repeat business.”
Tom Breazeale, general manager of NBC affiliate WLTZ-TV, said for 30 years the station has offered a trip incentive for advertisers who spend a certain amount of money on the station each year. Mr. Breazeale takes about 30 clients, who are each allowed to bring a guest, on vacations to such places as Alaska and Europe and on cruises. “We’ve got excellent relationships with our clients,” he said.
Jenny Horton, co-owner and media buyer at Image by Design, a local Columbus ad agency, said advertisers like getting added value. “Generally there is some added value, not as much as there used to be,” she said. “You used to buy commercials and then you’d get added value, sponsoring weather or something.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Columbus TV revenues were about $22.1 million last year and are expected to be about $22.8 million in 2002. Top ad categories are auto, political and retail.