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TBC to tout Baltimore tourism

Baltimore’s tourism agency has hired TBC Inc. as its advertising agency of record for its $1 million campaign.

Carton Donofrio Partners had held the contract for several years, said Visit Baltimore CEO Thomas J. Noonan.

Twelve agencies responded to the request for proposals, in which Visit Baltimore asked for bids in three different advertising areas: general market leisure and convention trade marketing services; multicultural and diversity marketing services; and digital media planning and buying.

TBC will be in charge of general advertising, while Visit Baltimore has retained Greibo K Designs LLC in Baltimore for multicultural marketing and Web Ad.vantage in Havre de Grace for digital marketing.

“We wanted them to give us fresh ideas,” Noonan said Friday. “We just want to see what kind of creative process to go through. And of course we looked at who gave us the best deal, and who were local agencies. TBC did a really great job, and we loved the job that Carton did for us.”

The three-year contract will have options for a two-year renewal. The $1 million will include agency fees, creative, production and advertising placements.

TBC’s first task will be to create a campaign to bring in out-of-town guests to watch the Baltimore Grand Prix during Labor Day weekend.

“TBC has some strong, strong background in tourism,” Noonan said. “They’ve had so many tourism accounts in the past and they really know the business.”

Current TBC clients include Smart Balance, Hair Cuttery, MinuteClinic, Penn National Gaming Inc., Haribo and Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Previously, the agency has represented the Baltimore Orioles, the Baltimore Ravens, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, the Lake Tahoe Visitor Bureau, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Harrah’s Hotels, Resorts and Casinos.

“Obviously we aggressively went after it,” said Tom Burden, president of TBC. “Baltimore has been our personal home and our career home for a very long time. We’re probably some of the biggest cheerleaders for the city. We finally just got to re-engage and tell the rest of the world what we’re like.”

Visit Baltimore’s board approved the contract July 18, and the agency has just started researching and planning Aug. 1, Burden said.

The Fells Point agency employs more than 100 people.

TBC also will be in charge of creating seasonal leisure travel advertising campaigns and promotions. The bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner will also keep TBC busy, as it prepares to create campaigns for the multi-year celebration starting this fall. The 2014 and 2016 Navy-Army football games, the 2014 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse championships, in addition to the city’s convention center and 8,500 hotel rooms will all be part of TBC’s strategy for promoting the city in upcoming years.