The terrifying ghost of Terry Bradshaw is once again terrorizing Guelph. Not that the ex-NFL player and current NFL-commentator died or anything, his spectre joining Al Capone's girlfriend in the rafters of the Albion, this ghost is more of the tax payer money and infomercial variety.
You'll remember that last year there was some degree of controversy about the City of Guelph spending $24,500 of tax payer money on what was supposed to be an in-depth, high-profile TV spot profiling the Royal City as an awesome place to visit. The result though was somewhat less than impressive. This series, "Profiles with Terry Bradshaw," seemed more akin to an infomerical with Bradshaw talking on a cheesy TV set while stock footage of Guelph played in the B-roll.
If that's all there was to it, the embarrassment would have been over, and it's worth pointing out that Guelph was not the only one duped by this, for lack of a better word, scheme. But the controversy came bubbling back up in January when Macleans published a list of the "99 stupid things the government did with your money," on which Guelph's "Profile" was number 26. Still, the City is insisting that the video produced more benefits than demerits saying that the video, since its release, has been seen in 5.5 million households (on various channels, usually very late at night/early in the morning) and has received 14,389 views on You Tube (by comparison, the University of Guelph's "Harlem Shake" video has 7 million - and counting).
“I don’t wish to speculate as to how or why this project was singled out,” Guelph CAO Ann Pappert said in an e-mail to the Guelph Mercury about the Macleans article. “We know that the environment in which we work is public by nature. We know, too, that people hold differing opinions about how marketing budgets should be spent. City staff’s view is that this investment was a good one that continues to help us reach diverse audiences.”
Yes, diverse audiences like Bradshaw fans and people who typically watch TV at 3 in the morning, like insomniacs, the unemployed, and alcoholics.
“Was the money well spent? We don’t know whether Guelph has attracted new business as a result of the video,” Pappert continues in the e-mail. “But we will be measuring – over a long trajectory – the success of larger economic development marketing initiatives, of which this is one component. It’s important to remember that the Profiles video is but one tool in a marketing tool kit that is growing.”
Of course, the city is also taking tools out of the tool kit as well, city council voted to outsource the responsibility for promoting Guelph tourism last fall. But when it comes to the Bradshaw video, the real question is why the City insists on defending what was obviously a bone-headed move? Were they promised a personal visit from Bradshaw and his team as they shot live on location? I doubt it, they had to get all that footage somewhere. Were the parameters not specifically laid out in the contract: in terms of what the city would be getting? One would think so. Does anyone think that something with the same degree of artistry and creative as the infomercial for Sham-wow could effectively sell Guelph to professional business people? Not really.
Perhaps the most compelling reason against, I still think, is that there are several video artists and filmmakers here in Guelph for whom $25,000 is a year's salary for their craft. For Bradshaw, who has an NFL pension and millions from commentary work and endorsements, it's pocket change. That money, given to a local filmmaker, would have stayed in Guelph and be spread amongst Guelph talent, who could easily create a video that's distinctively creative and sell Guelph to a wider audience, and not be one of a menagerie of suckers that just paid for another storey on Bradshaw's mansion. Granted, it probably wouldn't have gotten airtime on the Golf Channel at 1 am on Friday morning, but hey...