Airport Officials Recommend RedRover for Branding Contract - The Daily News - 9/17/14

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Memphis International Airport officials are recommending that RedRover Co. LLC be engaged to help develop an image and marketing campaign for the airport, which is reinventing itself as an origin-and-destination facility.

The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board is scheduled to vote on awarding the contract to Memphis-based RedRover during its 8 a.m. meeting Thursday, Sept. 18. The anticipated commencement date for the contracts is Oct. 1. A contract price must still be negotiated.

Interest in tackling the airport campaign ran high. The Airport Authority issued a Request for Qualifications for public relations and marketing firms Aug. 19, and representatives from more than two dozen firms attended a pre-bid conference Aug. 26. Seven firms that made the final cut had hour-long interviews with a committee of Airport Authority officials, and RedRover was the unanimous choice, said Glen Thomas, public information officer for the Airport Authority.

“We have worked hard to determine the scope of services we need this agency to provide, and we’re excited about the possibility of getting a firm of (RedRover's) stature,” said Thomas. “All the firms we interviewed had strong resumes and were impressive in their own right, and RedRover was the unanimous choice of the committee that was involved in the interviews.”

Airport Authority officials have said the marketing push was needed in the wake of several high-profile events, including Memphis International earning a reputation as a high-priced hub for Delta Airlines and Delta's subsequent reductions in service.

The firms will be asked to assist with messaging, increasing public awareness, redesigning its website and expanding social media campaigns.

As a major piece of the Memphis economy – a 2012 University of Memphis study said the airport has an annual economic impact of $23.3 billion and affects one in four jobs locally – Memphis International for years enjoyed strong public support.

But the inflated prices that came with Delta’s hub earned Memphis International the unwanted reputation as one of the nation’s most expensive airports. Then Delta slashed it local service, leading to increased public scrutiny of the airport and its operations.

Delta’s most recent announced reductions means the airline's number of nonstop destinations will go from 20 to 17 in November, and the airport’s number of nonstop destinations will go from 26 to 24. Before Delta began downsizing its Memphis hub several years ago, the airline offered nonstop flights to more than 50 destinations from Memphis.

But Delta's reduced presence has allowed for more competition from other carriers, including lower-cost options such as Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines, and a transition from an airport dominated by connecting flights to one focused on origin-and-destination traffic.