As the City of San Diego scrambles for cash to fill its chronic budget hole, Mayor Jerry Sanders has put out the word that he is ready, willing, and able to become a pitchman for pay. So says a “request for information” posted on the City’s website that asks would-be marketing wizards to furnish the City with “information relative to corporate partnership program ideas, concepts and proposals,” most of which involve advertising on City property, access to email lists, and the official endorsement of Sanders, all in exchange for money.
In addition to Sanders himself, the City “has numerous marketing assets that are considered valuable to corporate partners,” according to the document, including 60 recreation centers, 37 libraries, 48 fire stations, and a captive market of “22 million annual visitors to the beaches,” along with “10,000 City employees and their families,” 6000 retirees, and 400,000 households with access to CityTV, the City’s cable channel.
“Marketing and advertising rights” that can be had for an unspecified price run the gamut from “naming rights at City facilities including parks, recreation centers, libraries, fire stations, police stations, lifeguard stations, etc.” to “the right to include Public Service Announcement messaging on City property including recreation facilities, lifeguard stations, trash and recycling bins on the beaches, bays and parks, trash and recycling vehicles, public safety vehicles, etc., to the extent permitted by the Sign Ordinance.” There are also options “to create a public service message to be aired on CityTV,” and “to host special events and/or product seminars at City facilities — e.g. parks, recreation centers, libraries and community service centers.”
Corporations that come up with sufficient cash would be entitled to special treatment from Sanders, including “the right to participate in a press conference with the Mayor to announce the Marketing Partnership, and to be recorded and aired on CityTV and local news stations” and “the right to participate in possible additional press conferences with the Mayor to announce other, innovative ways that the City and its corporate partner are working together for the betterment of the San Diego community — e.g. specific environmental or other initiatives.” The mayor’s ready squad of taxpayer-paid flacks would be enlisted to build the hype. “The Mayor’s Office has a comprehensive public relations team that has the ability to draft media advisories and press releases, and collaborate with local and regional media outlets to increase participation at the above-described events.”
Sponsors would also be given exclusive access to the City’s internal email system, including “the right to include promotions in a weekly e-mail blast from the Mayor’s Office. This internal communication provides City employees with important information about City programs and services and issues in and around the City”; “the right to send promotional information electronically to Department Directors to be disseminated to employees”; and “the right to include promotions of products and services on CityNet, the City’s internal website for employees.” Exclusive use of the City’s email list of the 90,000 or so businesses that “obtain a Business Tax Certificate from the City” is also a possibility, including “the right to produce an e-newsletter to be sent to all or targeted businesses that includes educational information about environmentally responsible purchasing practices as well as promotional information.”