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Judges Named for Tourism Ad Contract Competition

2 min read

The Office of State Procurement has revealed a preliminary list of judges for awarding the state’s largest advertising and marketing assignment, the $14.4 million-a-year contract for promoting Arkansas as a tourist destination.

The Department of Parks & Tourism is seeking a single vendor after 20 years of using separate agencies, CJRW and Aristotle Inc., both of Little Rock, for what it calls “traditional” and “digital” advertising. 

“Beginning on July 1, 2017, these professional services will be rolled into a single contract,” the department’s guide to the advertising agency selection process says.

The deadline for agencies to submit written bids is Feb. 13, and the state’s bid solicitation document, known as a Request for Qualifications, says that three finalists will be chosen to offer oral presentations before a winning vendor is selected.

More: See documents related to the contract bid.

Many of the judges in the contract competition, identified in an online document answering vendors’ questions about the bidding process, are officials with Parks & Tourism. They are: 

  • Cynthia Dunlap, director of central administration
  • Grady Spann, state parks director
  • Leah DiPietro, communications manager
  • Kristine Puckett, tourism development manager

The other judges, which the procurement office said won’t be official until evaluation training takes place, are members of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission. They are:

  • Jim Dailey, commercial real estate broker and former Little Rock mayor
  • Jim Shamburger, a Hot Springs hotelier
  • Kalene Griffith, a tourism official in Bentonville
  • Mike Wilson, a former Comcast Corp. executive

While the marketing contract is for one year, state law allows up to six one-year extensions. The bid documents list collections of the state’s 2 percent tourism tax as a significant future gauge of the effectiveness of its advertising. 

In 2015, the last year for which full numbers are available, Arkansas hosted 28 million guests, some two-thirds of them from out of state. Collectively they spent more than $7.3 billion while traveling in Arkansas, paying about $15 million in the tourism tax. That tax money funds the marketing contract.

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