Apr 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The proper way to dispose of an American flag is to hold a ceremony for it and then burn it. That is what Boy Scouts in Presque Isle, Maine, learned after receiving nearly 200 old, tattered flags from WAGM-TV.
The NEPSK Communications station, which operates as an umbrella affiliate for the Big 4, received the old flags through an “American Flag Swap” ad sales promotion it held last summer. It will repeat it again this year beginning in June and culminating on Independence Day.
Viewers were asked to bring in their old medium-size or larger flags and trade them for a new 5-foot by 8-foot one to erect for the holiday season. The station’s goal was to distribute the flags during the course of the week preceding Independence Day, but all 200 flags were claimed within four hours. For this summer’s promotion, it is tripling the number of flags to 600, with hopes of nearly triple the number of sponsors as well. The VFW, which is hoped to sign on as a sponsor, is also on board, helping to raise money to cover the cost of the flags (about $2,500 per 200).
Last year a car dealer and a credit union committed $2,000 each for the four-week promotion. With that buy they received 15-second tags on a news-department-produced promo that gave viewers tips such as don’t wear a flag on your hat.
“We did five different etiquette tips and ran 65 promos for each client,” said Sales Manager Kelly Landeen. “We also ran separate promos announcing when the Great American Flag Swap will happen. We tagged both sponsors on these promos.”
WAGM brought in $3.1 million of the market’s $3.2 million TV ad revenue in 2002 (with the remainder going to The WB), according to BIA Financial Network. Year-end 2004 should bring in about $3.6 million in total TV revenue, up from the $3.4 million the area saw last year.