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Proposed Ocean City ad: Govt. stealing fun

OCEAN CITY — School test scores are important, but let’s not forget mini-golf scores.

That’s the tongue-in-cheek message coming from MGH, Ocean City’s advertising agency, to encourage Maryland’s children to support a school year that starts after Labor Day.

MGH has crafted a faux newspaper advertisement with a bold headline, one urging children of Maryland to “beg your parents” to let them sign the petition, said Andy Malis, president of MGH, at the Town Council’s March 18 meeting.

“The government is stealing your fun,” the full-page ad says. “It hasn’t always been this way. Your parents, and their parents before them, spent the final days of August … in the fresh air of Ocean City. They enjoyed one last gulp of freedom before putting their noses to the grindstone.”

“Skee-Ball deprivation” also could pose a problem, the ad says cheekily, while noting that “a generation will now grow up without the time to fully master the Boogie Board.”

MGH will set up a website,, that presents a petition that asks for a re-examination of the school calendar, Malis said. The website was not live as of Tuesday. The Town Council will revisit this ad campaign after the close of the General Assembly’s session, said Ocean City Tourism Director Donna Abbott.

The ad aims for humor, but Ocean City Councilman Brent Ashley wasn’t laughing.

“Has there been any thought to the fact that you’re using advertising for a political purpose?” Ashley said. “I can see how that might not sit too well with some people that might be for this. I take it as political. I don’t think the advertising money is for political purposes.”

“You’re not going on the record as being anti-fun, are you?” Malis replied.

Malis said MGH is merely looking for a way to get attention to the issue, and that the political implications were “above (his) pay grade.”

Ocean City’s attorney Guy Ayres said he does not believe the satirical advertisement would fall into the political arena.

MGH proposes a follow-up to the 2012 “Summer of Thanks” with a new campaign called “Lucky Summer of ’13” that promotes deals and discounts.

MGH also recommended starting rounds of tourism advertising earlier into the summer and placing heavier emphasis on the New York and New Jersey markets. Malis also said Ocean City should advertise in the Pittsburgh market.

Malis suggested the resort continue to make use of social networking sites and apps, starting with the creation of an official Instagram page.