The City’s Marketing Turbine, BAM! Plus: Mayor’s Buyback Program

I’m a broken record on this, a city such as Bridgeport must promote its assets, destination points, business successes. The strategy behind rolling out a campaign must also complement the creative presented to the public.

The city, in conjunction with the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, has financed a three-month marketing campaign with most of the dough dedicated to cable television. The city is investing $240K. The business community has raised $100K. To some this sounds like a lot of dough. In the big picture, it’s a modest investment. And it is an investment.

The city spends money on all kinds of crap, including millions through the years on lawyers for a variety of idiotic cases. That’s another story.

The city/business community hired two accomplished firms for this effort, Westport-based Turbine Creative and Bridgeport-based Bob Abbate Marketing aka BAM.

Turbine, led by Jeff Vogt, is the agency that created a public relations panic (the good kind) early this year hoisting a mannequin in pajamas and a teddy bear atop an I-95 billboard on behalf of BMW of Bridgeport. Jesus, callers dialing 911 proclaimed, what are they doing up there? Ah, it was all part of the BMW campaign, we’ll let you sleep with one of our cars for a night.

Turbine and Abbate aren’t cheap, but those guys over there are very good. Turbine produced a spot for BMW that is outstanding. “It’s Better In Bridgeport.” They did not proclaim the city a Shangri-La. They said it’s gotten better. The message was realistic, we need to make consumers comfortable coming here. The spot Turbine produced for the city is well done. I would not have started the campaign as presented, however. I say you must kick out local success stories focused on issues and regular folks who do business here. Let them look into the camera to share their story. After that you bring in the elegant feel-good stuff. This campaign, however, didn’t have that luxury because the budget wasn’t large enough. But guess what, The Connecticut Post placed the campaign on the front page and little OIB has highlighted it, as well as which gets a  reservoir of traffic from around the state. We call that residual impact. The purpose of the campaign is to make the city more inviting to visitors, redefine city perceptions while making residents feel good about their city.

The mayor flyfishing the Pequonnock River? He’s been doing that for 25 years. He can spit to the river from his home on Crown Street. When Bill was a member of the City Council and then the State Senate we fished the river together many times. Last month I helped my stepdaughter Kaitlin move into 881 The Lofts on Lafayette Boulevard directly across from Housatonic Community College. 881 The Lofts is a gem loaded with young professionals who commute to Manhattan from the downtown train station just blocks away. Many of the attractions featured in the Turbine spot are within easy walking distance such as Two Boots, Épernay, Barnum Museum, ballpark and arena.

City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh is sharpening his teeth with Freedom of Information requests in an effort to analyze the selection process. Troll is upset that the City Council was not part of the vendor-approval process. The city said let’s give the marketing dough to the BRBC, we’ll issue request for proposals, review the presentations and make selections that way. The council was cut out. I don’t know if the city’s on the side of the angels, bypassing council, as it pertains to a sharing of costs. This is also the council that approved a contract with the promoter of The Gathering of the Vibes that provides VIP treatment to council members worth hundreds of dollars.

Troll is doing what Troll does best serving as a watchdog, a big pain in the ass, raising questions when the council gets cut out of stuff. The city, meanwhile, is promoting its assets. It’s been a long time coming.

From Mayor Finch:

55 Firearms Turned in on Second Day of Gun Buyback Program

City and Law Enforcement Officials Urge More Residents to Trade in Firearms; More Donations Needed to Extend Buyback Program

At the end of only its second day, the gun buyback program, a joint effort between the Bridgeport Police Department and the Bridgeport Housing Authority, has already netted 55 firearms.

Mayor Bill Finch along with Acting Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. and Bridgeport Housing Authority Executive Director Nicholas Calace kicked off the program on the Sept. 2, and by day’s end, 12 firearms had been collected in exchange for gift cards to local grocery stores. That number climbed steadily on Friday, and by 4 p.m., 55 firearms – 18 rifles and 37 pistols – had been collected and only $1,000 in gift cards remained.

“This program provides incentives for people with unused and/or unregistered firearms to trade them in for gift cards—no questions asked. One gun off the street is one less gun that could potentially fall into the wrong hands” said Mayor Finch.

“We at the Housing Authority are very pleased Mayor Finch and Chief Gaudett’s Gun Buyback program is starting to work. We understand how vital it was to get this program started with the initial seed money,” said Calace. The Bridgeport Housing Authority kick- started the program with $5,000, which was used to purchase the gift cards.

“I urge our local business owners and corporations to contribute to the gun buyback program so that we can continue to keep our streets safe and free from illegal guns. Our police department is doing a great job but we need everyone’s help to accomplish this goal,” added Mayor Finch.

“More than turning in a gun and receiving a gift certificate to buy food, it is our hope that residents participating in this program will see they play a critical role in making our neighborhoods safer for everyone,” Calace added.

Residents can bring their unloaded firearms to the Community Services Division at 1395 Sylvan Ave., no questions asked. Pistols are generally worth $50 in gift cards and rifles can be traded in for $100 to $150 in gift cards based on their condition. The Community Services Division will accept unloaded firearms from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

More donations are needed to continue the program. Local businesses and corporations interested in donating gift cards can call Lt. David Daniels at 203-576-8278.



  1. Awesome commercial, love how they promoted Steal Point, the politicians who went to jail or should have, the empty Bluefish stadium, the blown-out buildings and the crumbling roads, the rising murder rate, disgusting falling-apart schools and the plunging test scores etc. etc. etc.

    Ask the workers for give-backs when all the newbie cronies were hired and $350,000 goes to a commercial.

  2. Lennie
    I want you to look a city employee in the eye, someone who gave back days off last year, who agreed to pay more medical insurance last year, who is now in fear of losing their job this year and feed them that line of BS in your post.
    We want the people in the ‘burbs feeling better about Bridgeport while some of the lowest-paid people who work here lose their jobs. Pure BS.
    The budget, city spending is all a matter of priorities and this shows how poorly the Finch administration places its priorities.
    And because the city makes really dumb decisions of legal matters does not justify this expense.
    It is obvious the city went out of its way to hide this from the council and hide this from the public because they knew how bad an idea this really was.

    1. Troll, how many times have I written it’s going to be tough for the mayor to win union concessions without spreading the pain around to political hires? And you voted for the budget that had an $8 million hole. Why? And as far as we can tell the budget hole is still not closed. I don’t think you stop promoting the city because times are tough. Plenty of cities continue marketing campaigns during tough times. The city has invested roughly $240,000 for this effort. That equals two city positions. I’m sure you would have no problem identifying the two political positions that would cover the cost. I cannot wait for your response!

      1. Lennie,
        An advertising blitz costing $350K that will only last three months promoting summer hot spots after they have closed is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Plain and simple.
        Annualized, this would cost taxpayers $1.4 million dollars. But if there is not a long-term commitment then the short-term burst is money down the drain.
        So are you suggesting spending $1.4 million on institutional advertising is good use of taxpayers’ money when you are looking at an $8 million budget gap???
        Especially coming from yet another out-of-towner (see BRBC) telling the city how to spend its limited tax revenue dollars.
        Thanks but no thanks Mr. Redding.

          1. 56 Redding Pl.
            Bridgeport CT 06604
            $7,000+ a year in Real Estate and personal property taxes.
            The only thing out of town about that is the damned name of the street. Maybe I should consider getting the City Council to change it.

  3. And what is the real truth about when this ad ran and why it ran so late?
    Adam Wood says it was delayed because of the tornado. More BS from the Finch Administration. I was going to say you can’t make this sh*t up but obviously Adam did.
    A tornado hits so the city decides to wait two months before airing an advertisement that focuses on summer stay-cation spots.
    Paul Timpanelli says he couldn’t raise the money and didn’t mention any other reasons for the delay.

  4. Bob, I am appalled by how this was processed through the system. As a taxpayer, I welcome your investigation. However, you also should have questioned, as a senior council member, how the administration expected to get 8 million dollars in union concessions. You should have known the unions would not ever give that much back knowing full well how this administration has run amok with payroll patronage jobs. Bottom line, you were aware there would be mass layoffs–there is a shortfall and it has to be plugged. There was no other way to do it. The unions will not budge after all they gave back last year–so many will lose their jobs–many who absolutely need their positions. You certainly should have known that. You should have said “no” to the budget.

  5. Marketing is good, but there is an odor to this ad.
    The jumbled images do not give a fair representation for any activity. I’m willing to bend on O’Malley’s explanation the other day that it creates an overall feel. I disagree with it, but I accept it.

    The inconsistencies pile up. The comments so far this morning and in general line up many good ones.

    They say the ad was delayed because of the tornado. The tornado was June 24. If you are trying to get families to plan summertime activities you get the ad on before that unless you expect everyone to make an impulse splurge to a place they know nothing about based on a ad on cable at a weird hour.

    The freshwater fishing thing seals it, however. Tell me the city plans to hold a fishing rodeo in the Pequonnock River for all the little tykes after stocking it the day before with trout stunned by transport from a hatchery. Not sport, but easier to catch fish that way. The purpose, after all, is marketing.

    That far-fetched, loopy conclusion is the only logical explanation for the mayor doing a River Runs Through It imitation. The commercial doesn’t show Route 25-8 in the background with the sound of vehicles zooming up to Trumbull and Shelton. Helluva tranquil rustic image that would be.

    No, logically this was a political ad for the mayor, masquerading as an economic development ad for the city.

    The Finch reelection committee should be able to purchase the ad cheap next spring after the cable run. The city can recoup some of its investment that way.

    One suggestion. I’d change the fishing spot. Salt water fishing is more Bridgeport.

    Yessirree, I’d like to see the mayor down there underneath the Stratford Avenue bridge with line wrapped around an old beer can tossing a hook and sinker into the harbor for a blue. Next to a bunch of East Side kids offering hizzoner technique for the toss. Dressed in a ratty T and cutoffs instead of looking like a model for Cabela’s.

    That’s Bridgeport, and that’s a political ad.

  6. Lennie, thanks for info so far. Almost every TV commercial is an end product of advertising & marketing research. And there is a basic type of structure used to create any marketing plan …

    WHO is the target market:
    WHAT do they know about Bridgeport:
    WHAT do we want them to know:

    We all know how to fill in the middle question: crime, corruption and nepotism. Now, as taxpayers for this marketing, is it possible to know the top and bottom questions?

  7. Bridgeport Now // Sep 3, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Lennie, thanks for info so far. Almost every TV commercial is an end product of advertising & marketing research.

    Problem with this piece is they implemented that “old end around” product of advertising & marketing research. Timing was terrible. Who’s going to buy a snowblower in the summer? Also they could have used a donut hole approach in featuring our attractions. Arcade shopping shot is a facade.

  8. The administration says they found the money in the Klein Memorial Account that had been sitting there since last year. If that is the case why wasn’t this $200+ K used to pay city bills? How much more money is out there sitting in various accounts that we don’t know about?
    This whole God damned city is a mess and people are running around doing anything they damn well please. I don;t give a shit where the money came from why wasn’t the expenditure approved by the do-nothing council? Look I know as does the mayor’s staff this rubber-stamp council would have approved the expenditure after all they approved a budget with an $8 million built-in deficit. Right Bob?
    I like the ad but the timing of its release sucked. Vacation time is over the kids are in school so we are playing this commercial to a dead audience.
    By the way Mr. Wood the tornado was a one-day event and the only one working extra because of it were the public facilities people and the cops. You weren’t even here were you? You were screwing up Lamont’s campaign. I can’t wait for you to manage the Finch reelection campaign. Talk about peeing into the wind!!!

    1. I say Adam should challenge TC to a good old-fashioned schoolyard, bare-knuckle, knock-down fight. You appear to know so much about government, so why don’t you get off your ass and run for Mayor? What does everyone else think about (Yoda) TC getting into a scuffle?

  9. I won’t criticize the intent or the effort. However, the timing and the content of the ad are questionable. The Arcade shot was misleading and most shoppers would be disappointed. Bridgeporters know that already. I guess anyone who decides to come to Bridgeport in November for Christmas Shopping will find out for themselves. I know the Bluefish have struggled to draw good crowds, but there have been much better nights to get the right shot at the ballpark than the one they chose. I’m not a big fan of the Vibes, but video content from that would be appealing, and as we’re known as the Park City, a little more footage of Seaside and Beardsley would have helped.

  10. And talk about content, unless my eyes are deceiving me I believe I saw a former city employee who was fired by the last mayor in the ad.
    How dumb is that!!!
    Paging Adam Wood. Paging Adam Wood. Can you make up an excuse about how this happened?
    Maybe Mark Anastasi can render a legal opinion that we would be depriving the individual of his constitutional rights if we cut him out of the video.

  11. On another bad PR note:
    BRIDGEPORT — Twelve guns were collected Thursday in the first day of the city’s gun buy-back program, a new public safety effort aimed at enticing gun owners to swap their firearms for Stop & Shop gift cards.
    The program, supported by the Bridgeport Police Department and Mayor Bill Finch, offered $50 gift cards for each of the eight pistols collected Thursday.
    Three shotguns were traded in for $100 gift cards, and another, newer shotgun was redeemed for $150 in gift cards.
    $850 down $4,150 to go.
    Does anyone feel any safer as a result of this program???

    * Can anyone find in the City Budget adopted 2010-11 where Klein Memorial accounting is located?
    * Klein Memorial has a Board, Commission, Committee appointed by whom? Said organization web site says City is a supporter as well as FTC that is active manager of Klein these days. Site asks for donations. Is it a 501c3? Shouldn’t they be identified?
    *If Mayor takes/accepted $250,000 from this budget, did Klein Board approve? Were they consulted? If the money was intended for promotion of the Klein itself, what type of Water Music was playing that let the video end up with the smiling Mayor in waders casting in the Pequonnock?
    *If Mayor appoints to this Board, shouldn’t it be listed with other groups like Zoning, Police, Fire, etc.? Are appointments filled with current terms? (By the way how many Pension Boards do we have in the City? Where are they listed? Members, terms, meetings, etc.?)
    *Last thought: Can we let up on Bob Walsh a bit, please? There are 20 Council members voting and making decisions. Bob does not work for the City. He is only one who shows financial knowledge and expertise on a regular basis! Only one regularly asks questions that many of us question also! Imagine if his VOICE was silenced … while that may put a temporary smile on your face, isn’t his VOICE, independent, irritating or disagreeable as it may be to you on occasion, that has placed him off the Budget sub-committee where he should sit as he has in the past?
    Happy Labor Day weekend!!!

    1. “He is the only one who shows financial knowledge and expertise on a regular basis!”

      If he has the financial knowledge and expertise then why didn’t he know the money was in the budget??? He never even read the budget. Then again why should he, he was going to vote “no” anyway regardless.

      He’s a one-note song, Caruso-lite–same hot air only less filling.

  13. On the gun buy-back program. Wouldn’t it be better if we could get some gift cards from Bridgeport-based businesses instead of Stop ‘n’ Shop? I JUST HAD A MENTAL PICTURE OF A BLOOD/CRIP FAMILY REUNION AT JOSEPH’S.

    1. Town they may have a store in Black Rock, but I would wager a guess they don’t have accounts at People’s (though there are People’s banks in-store). Last time I had a meal at Joseph’s I missed the Goya section maybe you could point it out to me next time you eat there.

  14. Now let’s see where our tax dollars are going … Thanks for the link Lennie for this marketing company we hired as Bridgeport taxpayers.


    It says on their nice web site they have two types of marketing. The traditional, which I guess we chose–do an old-fashioned TV ad and buy 90 spots and you’re done. Not bad. But we are in the internet age, right?

    Their web site goes on, with a second kind of marketing that looks like it may have been worth considering: “… non-traditional (web videos, guerilla marketing, viral campaigns, … yes, maybe even a Facebook application) But you need a breakthrough idea to start. Then we execute that idea …”

    Was there a vote on which strategy to use? Who was in the room when this marketing decision was made?

    1. Well BRIDGEPORT NOW, followed your instructions and clicked on the turbine. Got to see a moving fan that didn’t want to leave the screen, so don’t get your clicker stuck in the blades!!!

      Changed into a big white goose with jets in its armpits … really wonderful imagery, don’t you think? … then words were used to suggest power and elegance … but since wintering Canadian Geese are more common to Bridgeport and region all it suggested to me were poop pellets and environmental destruction … hardly the power and elegance suggested!
      I guess marketing works differently with different people.
      But as I asked yesterday: Adam Wood, Mayor Finch, BRBC, et al., what markers, practical or otherwise, were you thinking of to measure whether the $250K (or the $100K) would bring business results??? A taxpayer is asking and still waiting …

  15. *** Surprise, it’s Bpt? *** Not @ all, Bpt has many unpolished city gems that have been overlooked & just barely maintained for years. The video ad was very well done however a bit late in the summer season though. And there’s no surprise the city council once again was bypassed when it came time to spend more taxpayers’ money on P/R (smoke and mirrors) type of ads, i’s nothing new! *** What’s next for our fair city’s reputation towards a better way after the weapons buyback program? Maybe have the Mayor, Chief of Police & Mr. Newton walking the beat @ night, hand in hand on the East End singing “Why can’t we be friends!” The more they speak of change, the more things stay the same, no? *** FORGETABOUTIT ***

  16. Lennie says if you effectively advertise that there is not a crime problem, not a budget problem, not a public-safety problem then the public will believe it. That is until it hits them personally but hey what’s the odds of that happening???

    1. Troll, here’s an idea. Maybe you can ask your pal Ned Lamont to donate $10 million to the city. That would be a much better investment than the $10 million he spent on a campaign you guaranteed a winner. By the way, we never heard your take on why Ned got his butt kicked.

  17. Speaking of the ad and Lamont, one of the more bizarre things I saw last month was a Lamont for Governor Hq in the Arcade. I thought it was a pretty dumb ass place to put desks and telephones for a political campaign since there is so little traffic in the Arcade unless it was free. Then, free is free.

  18. Speaking of the ad and the Klein, I seem to remember some other economic development initiative involving filming and the Klein.

    Perhaps our Web Patrone can entertain us chil’ens with a story over the long holiday weekend. Huh, Uncle Lennie, huh?


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