NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Michele McKenzie,
interim CEO, Tourism Nova Scotia.
In October, Tourism Nova Scotia announced its plans to partner with DDB Canada and Halifax’s Trampoline to help market Nova Scotia to travelers from around the world. Together they bring a winning combination of local insight and international expertise to the contract.
Some have been critical of the decision to award this work to a partnership that includes an out-of-province firm. I’m happy to share a few points about the contract and the process that guided the selection of DDB Canada.
The provincial government has a rigorous procurement process that strictly dictates how tenders are awarded. This contract, and the process that led to the selection of DDB, was no different. Twenty organizations submitted a bid, and each were evaluated and scored by the same people, against the same criteria. It is important to realize the DDB partnership was awarded the contract because their score, after several rounds of evaluation, was the highest.
It has been suggested that special criteria might have been established to ensure a Nova Scotia firm would win the contract. If Nova Scotia businesses are allowed to compete globally, this means out-of-province firms must be allowed to compete here too – and fairly. It’s worth noting many of the bids, including those submitted by Nova Scotia firms, featured local-national partnerships like the one between DDB and Trampoline. These partnerships create wonderful opportunities to build capacity, share learnings, and benefit from another firm’s insight.
While I did not participate in the procurement process as a scorer, all of the evaluators that did have extensive marketing expertise. In fact, over the course of their careers some have worked on the client side with a number of the bidders, including those based in Nova Scotia and elsewhere.
A misunderstood point is the notion that because an out-of-province firm won the contract, $6 million will be removed directly from Nova Scotia’s economy. While the contract is worth $6 million annually, around $5 million will be spent on media buying to bring more first time visitors to the province. This amount would be spent outside of Nova Scotia regardless of who won the contract.
There is good reason to be excited about Tourism Nova Scotia’s future with DDB and Trampoline. Throughout the selection process, DDB demonstrated a superior understanding of our key markets as well as new technologies that could be used to enhance Nova Scotia’s brand. They have proven international travel and tourism experience and, as part of a global network of partner firms, bring significant international expertise to the table. As Tourism Nova Scotia looks to expand into international markets – including China – this expertise will be invaluable.
Nova Scotia’s tourism industry has an ambitious goal to double annual tourism revenues to $4 billion by 2024, and I’m truly confident this process identified the right marketing partners to get us there. DDB and Trampoline are the customer and market experts, and Tourism Nova Scotia is the expert on what our province has to offer.
Together we will combine our expertise to market Nova Scotia to more first-time visitors, and help the tourism industry achieve the growth we know is possible.