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Flagler County Buys 276 Minutes on Electronic Billboard Near Times Square, for $15,000

| October 4, 2013

Flagler's recurring 10-second spot will be appearing on the Panasonic electronic billboard to the right,. below the CBS sign. It is on West 42nd Street,  several blocks away from Times Square.

Flagler’s recurring 10-second spot will be appearing on the Panasonic electronic billboard to the right,. below the CBS sign. It is on West 42nd Street, several blocks away from Times Square.

Two branches of Flagler County government–its economic development arm and its tourism bureau–have teamed up to produce an electronic billboard ad that began showing in Midtown Manhattan on Oct. 1. It is one of the city’s–and the world’s–busiest business and tourism locations.

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Contrary to a county news release, however, the billboard is not “in heart of New York City’s Times Square,” but, rather, four blocks south of the square itself (which is at 46th Street where Broadway and 7th Avenue meet), and one block west, near the corner with 8th Avenue, a less trafficked area than the square’s zone, which draws some 40 million people a year. The billboard is located above 253 West 42nd Street. County Administrator Craig Coffey at the County Commission meeting on Oct. 7 repeated the inaccuracy when he told commissioners that “we are advertising in Times Square.”

The 10-second spot will run once an hour, 18 times a day, through Jan. 2. The cost: $15,000. Half is paid from the Tourist Development Council’s revenue from the county’s 4 percent bed tax. The other half is paid through the county’s general fund, which finances the economic development department’s roughly half-million dollar budget.

Helga van Eckert, the county’s economic development director, unveiled the ad (see below) at the economic development council’s monthly meeting Wednesday–and specified its location between 7th and 8th Avenues, near the high-trafficked Port Authority bus terminal.

“We’ve been putting a lot of focus on getting the Flagler County word out there,” van Eckert said, whether through an ad in the annual Florida Business Magazine used by the governor and Enterprise Florida to promote the state when they go on out-of-state tours, or through exposure in the Jacksonville Business Journal. One of the billboard leasing companies happened by the Business Journal item through a web crawl and pitched the 10-second ad sale to Flagler at a discount, because of another advertiser’s cancellation.

“We managed to do it at a really great rate,” van Eckert told the council Wednesday, though the $15,000 figure was never mentioned.

“It will be running for the full three months, during the parade, Christmas, the ball drop, everything,” van Eckert said, referring to the celebrated–and immensely viewed–New Year’s ball drop in Times Square. (The ball drop is watched on television by more than 25 million people, but that’s at One Times Square, where billboard costs are prohibitive: Dunkin Donuts pays $3.6 million a year for its spot there.)

“So here’s the challenge to everyone,” Brabara Revels, the county commissioner who chairs the economic development council, said. “We want to see how many of our members or members of the public can get to New York, get in front of the billboard, wait for our ad to come up and get your picture taken there.”

The ad shows a man in a business suit and shades walking on a beach–the beach: you can glimpse the pylons of the pier in the background–with a surf board under his arm. Cut to the doffed business suit being draped on a green green chair with a laptop on an armrest. The man briefly appears from the waist down in bright orange swimming trunks as he grabs the surfboard again. His full silhouette is then fully visible as he heads for the surf, with a white-lettered message appearing: “Your Business Forecast in Florida is SUNNY.” The county’s economic development website’s url appears below that. It’s a cleverly told and enticing story that should have much appeal as the weather cools and turns to rain, sleet and snow in New York.

But missing from the picture, at least in sharp enough letters, is Flagler’s branding. A small logo with the word “Flagler County Florida” adjacent to a small green map of Florida, appears in the small laptop’s computer screen. The five-second branding may be too brief and small to give Flagler as much of a bang as the more general seduction of heading to the beaches, though the fact that the billboard is nearer street level will help. Throughout the ad, the website address of the county’s economic development office appears in sharp orange and blue letters, lining the bottom of the screen (, which helps give Flagler some presence. The county had very little time to produce the ad.

Flagler County staffers Videographer Craig Hockinson joined the effort to produce the ad with assistance from Katrina Austin, a county news release notes, with props from Z Wave Surf Shop and Sully’s Surf Shop in Flagler Beach. The chair was from Revels’s own porch. (The news release also neglected to note the cost of the ad, though that cost was readily provided by a county spokesman and van Eckert when requested.)

Later in the meeting, one of the council members was curious about the possibility of teaming up with local businesses and have them help carry the cost of ads or marketing.

“I don’t think we can do that with the way that our model is, as far as a business giving $10,000 and saying, OK, it’s to use for marketing,” Revels said. “I think we’d have to do it through a vehicle, whether it was an arm of the chamber that set that, but the county—I’m speaking of the county now, as far as the government—has difficulties in receiving donated funds because it’s not one of our ‘funds.’ It’s just kind of not done. When we’ve had that happen, we had Feed Flagler, we had the Carver Center, a number of things throughout the county where people have wanted to give money, they’ve made it happen, but it’s not typical. So we’d have to set up some other way of doing that.”

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36 Responses for “Flagler County Buys 276 Minutes on Electronic Billboard Near Times Square, for $15,000”

  1. John Adams says:

    Great. Now the murderous Yew York motorcycle gangs will have a new vacation destination to hang out here in Flagler, the land of bars and booze.

  2. JL says:

    I think it’s a great idea. I know so many people from NY and NJ who moved here because they saw the informercials on cable tv (ITT produced). I think they should do that again. I know I live part of the year in Philadelphia, and I know people who are retiring and they all say, I want to move to FLorida, but I’m not sure where to look. If you advertise up here, they will come.

  3. fruitcake says:

    Great idea!
    advertising “up north” not to mention in NYC is a great idea!
    good use of the ad dollars…..

  4. Born and raised in Flagler says:

    Really, were spending money on this….. This community use to be so peaceful and now were going to try and populate it with more New Yorker? ughhh.

  5. Marissa says:

    Guess they gave up on jobs in this County. Back to bedroom community begun by ITT.

  6. tulip says:

    What a waste of money.

  7. rhweir says:

    Let me guess…it says; send your unemployed and self employed, cheap rent, nice beaches, venison on the golf courses, gas in storage yards. Really, tourism yes, people moving here unless professionals, wealthy or retired with guaranteed income, no. I understand that there were billboards back in the day in the NY and NJ areas that encouraged people to move here. Well they came and they’re still here and an awful lot of them are unemployed. I would think the kind of tourism we have, which is mostly for the resort in the Hammock and the motels in Flagler Beach, is already pretty much taken care of by those entities.

  8. confidential says:

    I have to say is a great tryout idea and it was overdue to be done! Very self explanatory and creative add!
    Our own experience when we came from NJ, 21 years ago is that we had no idea of the boating and water skiing paradise (that then was my passion) our Palm Coast intracoastal was, added to the tennis courts that I used plenty back in those days and windsurfing in Anastasia State Park. Thanks to friends that moved here 8 years before we did and were encouraging us, all the time to join them, we did! If we tell those freezing NY, NJ, CNN, IN, Ill, MI, etc. small and mid size business owners what they are missing to enjoy while in business, we may convince enough of them to make a positive change in our economy and unemployment rate. I sincerely hope it works. Is not that much money after all for such an important exposure, as I have seeing thru all these 21 years our TDC and Chamber wasting hundreds of thousands in obscure advertising mainly in GA that was never seeing anywhere and advertising Cd’s to hand out that most do not know existed and funds for ads in local Parent…? and other magazines” for locals only…” We need the outsider real tourism, and the business owners to move here and create jobs!
    Move to Flagler County bring your business along and go surfing, kite surfing, boating, cycling, golfing, tennis, fishing, skate boarding for the kids too or just leisurely walking and wildlife watching in our gorgeous walkways after ours or on weekends. These sport activities will promote also their healthier and longer life. This advertising and promotion in NY rocks!! Hope it works.

  9. Craziness says:

    I my humble opinion this is a huge waste of money. The last thing we need in this county is more New Yorkers. In reality, this $15,000.00 could have gone farther and reached more people by advertising in the Midwestern US. What a waste!

  10. tulip says:

    I agree with Craziness as I posted what a waste of money. How many people who live/work in that area even notice what all those signs say. I watched the video and people just kept walking and not paying attention. PLUS it ‘s on the outskirts of time square.

    It’s approximately a little over $50 a minute to show a little 10 second video. Also extra money for the salaries for the people that put the video together.

    Lately it seems that if something is for sale, Flagler County will buy it. Granted some of the money is from the bed tax, but the other half is from tax payers money. Plantation Bay water fiasco, the old hospital, now a sign in NY.

  11. palmcoastpioneers says:


    Palm Coast this past summer received national attention on the Merv Griffin Show.

    Palm Coasts’ ‘ Symposia ‘ for promotion of the area:


    Newsletters sent Nationally and Internationally to Palm Coast Lot Owners to promo the Area:

    Newsletters sent Nationally and Internationally to Palm Coast Lot Owners to promo the Area:

  12. shark says:

    Come on down to Palm Coast – there are plenty of landscaping jobs available, or maybe WalMart is hiring!!!!

    There are too many New Yorkers here now that are ruining our town!!!!

  13. Ray Thorne says:

    The point I gathered from the article is that they lied to make something sound greater than it is.

    ” Contrary to a county news release, however, the billboard is not “in heart of New York City’s Times Square,” but, rather, four blocks south of the square itself”

  14. Thelma says:

    And we pay this lady how much to come up with crap like this? We don’t need to create tourism….jobs need to be created! What is being done to attract employers and help those that are self employed here, other than prevent them from advertising so they can’t be successful. This is a total waste of money. Those that can surf need a job and if they come here they won’t be able to find one, so why use the businessman in the suit with a board? We certainly don’t need more seniors to complain all the time and to provide services for.

    We take down bill boards in Flagler County and then go spend someone else thousands to advertise on theirs….WOW!! Are our County Administrator and Commissioners are over medicated or just plain eat up with the dumb ass?

  15. WHOOP DE DO, way to go Coffey. What are you gonna do for an encore? Wish I could take a coffey break.
    Cudoos Carl, Georgie Boy and all the gang at the Palace.

  16. Wow ! Born and raised in NYC but Floridian since 1979 – more than half my life and kinda think the ad will be e very effective in the Big Apple on those slushy, grey-brown ,yukky sometimes mid-winter days, especially after almost slipping and breaking your neck on the subway stairs rushing to work or getting off your commuter bus…. BUT BUT we need to remind the future tourists that they should think twice about coming here if they have a serious physical condition because we have no emergency helicopter service at night to transport them in case of dire emergency as our only area hospital with a Trauma center which is way down Daytona way and not a 5 minute drive either from anywhere in Flagler County. We have no money to insure our tourists they are in good safe hands because tourist money can’t be used for any necessity but it’s cool for $33 breakfasts and $345 a night hotel bills. Wow as I mentioned above…

  17. Joseph says:

    I would only say to anyone from New York or any where else that Flagler / Palm Coast during the evening smells like a pig farm because of the sprinkler system through out it, and I would only suggest you come here if you are a recluse who hate being disturbed, and all you want to do it go the the Library, beach, and cinema. No public transport, no parks for the kids in the Sears / Johns appliance city end of the W section, and no side walks in residential areas where people decide that going 40MPH an hour or faster is ok when it isn’t. So if you want to be killed take a walk round the W section around 7-8am, or 6-8pm !!

  18. That one girl says:

    Just what we need…
    More High roller New Yorkers invading Flagler county to complain about our pizza traffic bagels and beaches.
    Seriously, the last thing we need is another ” you gotta try my pizza and sauce” BADA BING jerk.
    I’m all about opening and embracing new folks to the community, but I think we should have targeted another geographical location, other than the land of not so OZ.

  19. Palm Coasting says:

    And how do we know this wont attract business owners who could, oh idk, open a business here or expand what they already own, increasing jobs in the area?

    You use heads, people.

  20. confidential says:

    We do not have a County or Sheriff emergency helicopter here in Flagler County, because the knuckle head commissioners we had for over 21 years and that remain nowadays, only spend millions of our tax dollars buying overpriced land and decrepit useless worthless utilities and buildings from their county managers buddies and their own buddies developers. They overbuilt a Taj Mahal and Justice in Moody Blvd., 30 years ahead of their time of need with our taxes squeezed from our depleted pockets and now they can’t even afford the maintenance of that white elephant. When I have visitors and see the Taj Mahal conglomerate they marvel at its grandeur given the surrounding blight and the small county it seats on, in comparison with the smaller county facilities in their much larger counties form their states of origin. They went spending and wasting our tax reserves like drunken sailors from 1997 till 2010, without using common sense and save reserves for rainy days. We are still paying those bonds in our home taxes. Now they want higher taxes to fund the old hospital millionaire waste and the Plantation utility. Meanwhile this county does not have the copter we need for emergencies among other things. People here need to run for office and have the guts to stop administrators digging in our pockets for special interest. How come is that local candidates run in a promising platform and as soon as elected axe it?

  21. Say What? says:

    So… I’m going to have to hear, “In New York we did it this way,” even more? Real great…

  22. flaglerresident says:

    Great… Lets bring more people from NY here. Great idea. Come to South NY, the only City in FL, filled with New Yorker’s who want to transform a small Florida town into NY. Thanks for the waste of money.

  23. JL says:

    Ok, how many of you complainers are actually from Florida? And of the ones who were BORN here, how many of your parents were born here? Ya, that’s what I thought. Look people, not all NY’ers are rude. Just like not all Floridians are stupid rednecks with dumb accents. Why do they advertise in NY and NJ so much? Because they have those wonderful pensions! Because they know those pensions will get them so much more in the land of Sunshine. And what does Flagler County need right now? People with money to buy the houses that are sitting empty. People paying real estate taxes and spending money at the stores so the city has more revenue to pay the police and firemen.
    If you really don’t like the way Palm Coast is right now, move! Please. We’d much rather have nice, friendly people living here. We do NOT need more public transportation. And we don’t need to give out freebies. Let’s aim for tax paying citizens with pensions to last them a lifetime. Because we need money to keep the city running.
    I graduated from Seminole County school system in FLorida, but I have lived all over the US while my husband served in the military. Palm Coast is a beautiful city full of friendly people. Many of those friendly people are from NY and NJ. I’d like them to stay and bring their friends.

    • That one girl says:

      I am one of many from an old “cracker” family. By cracker I mean born and raised in Florida.
      Let me add a successful business owner too…
      I have watched this sleepy little hollow of a town transform into a pizza parlor,northern owned often slum lord rental owner,horn honking Burrough.
      Personally speaking I find the our way attitude repulsive.

      • rhweir says:

        “I have watched this sleepy little hollow of a town transform into a pizza parlor,northern owned often slum lord rental owner,horn honking Burrough.” Good point. I would love to see a limit on how many homes can be rented. Every time there’s trouble, I check the address on the Appraiser’s website and you know what almost always an out of state owner. More often than not, it’s New York. If you bought it, you live in it or pay a huge fine. I urge everyone to check on rental homes in their neighborhood to make certain that the owner is not claiming the $50000 homestead exemption. If they are and they’re renting the home, report it to the Property Appraiser’s website. If we all did that, we could cut down on the number of rentals in the area. There are way, way too many.

  24. Shauna says:

    I am just dumbfounded by the negative comments being thrown out regarding having more NY residents here. You’re outright throwing offense at any current pre-NY residents …. people in this community that are your neighbors, coworkers, etc. Palm Coast has a very rich blend of people from varied backgrounds …… and this is a problem??? I think not. Surely, I can appreciate that everyone will have their own opinion about the ad campaign, pro or con. But, to throw needless insults toward residents (past, current & future) in your own community …. surely doesn’t help to build up the friendly atmosphere in the place where YOU live.

  25. Ray Thorne says:

    Come to Palm Camera.

  26. Tim R says:

    We pay this lady $110,000 a year and this is what she came up with, an electronic bulletin board in the back alleys of New York?

  27. Stx girl says:

    It is a fabulous idea. Many many NY employees have pensions that are much more than our jobs will ever pay us and THEY HAVE CADILLAC HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS~! So, they come down here and spend those pensions and go to the doctors. So that means JOBS for us! They hire landscapers, go out to restaurants and go to Publix everyday. For example, a teacher on Long Island makes about $125,000.00 a year so that means at 30 years ( age 57) she will retire and make over $60,000.00 a year to live the high life in FL and SPEND THAT MONEY here! ( hopefully they will even pass our school budget) They can go to the doctor for everything and WE HAVE THE JOBS!

  28. Flagler resident says:

    JL I was born, raised and worked here! My tastes to leave Palm Coast grow everyday. I am tired of hearing well in NY we did it like this and the attitudes are despicable too. Only thing about it I work here, have a mortgage here and kids that go to school here, so can’t move. In the mean time let’s bring jobs here not tourists, because all that does is create low paying jobs at fast food places here.

  29. Melissa says:

    I think this is a great idea but I am very disappointed in the quality of that ad. Did we pay to have that created?

  30. jerry m says:

    I thought this was a lame idea, but hoped the ad wasn’t embarrassing to Flagler county, but after reading Melissa comment about the ad, I decided to view it. OMG it is really bad and appears to have been done by an amateur. Looks like it was done on my daughter’s iphone.

    And are we recruiting for the State of Florida or Flagler county? the closing line of the ad… your business forecast in Florida is sunny? how about your business forecast in Palm Coast is sunny? Oh that’s right the county can’t use the two words Palm Coast.

    really bad….. not a bad idea but poor execution. .

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