Daytona Tourism: Danica’s Side Hustle

When it comes to “selling” the Halifax area to potential visitors, the powers-that-be like to do the same thing over-and-over again, always expecting a different result.

That’s right – it’s the very definition of insanity.

In their most recent variation of the theme, the Halifax Area Advertising Authority – another tax-funded organization which duplicates the job of the Daytona Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority, and the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority, etc., etc. – has hired NASCAR beauty Danica Patrick to star in a series of digital media spots encouraging folks to come visit the Cousin Eddie of Florida vacation destinations.

The marketing theme?

“Forget what you thought you knew about Daytona Beach, because no matter what you’re into, this place is totally your speed.”

 Wait a minute.  Forget what you thought you knew?

You read that right.

From the same bed-tax gobbling half-brights who brought you, “Seize the Daytona” – our new tourism hook is: “Blight?  Homelessness?  Crime?  Exorbitant beach tolls? FUGGITABOUTIT!”

Is this a bad joke?

Things are so bad that seasoned advertising executives – guys that can sell a ketchup Popsicle to a lady in white gloves – have been reduced to begging people to ignore their gut instincts. . .

“Hey, Mr. & Mrs. Middle America – just forget that time the vagrant urinated in front of the kids on the Boardwalk.  Put it out of your mind. I’m just asking here, but do you think you could also overlook the rundown crack houses, the empty storefronts and omnipresent drifters bumming cigarettes and just relax and have a good time for Christ sake?  I mean, they have a new Outlet Mall on the frontage road, what more do you want?”

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that just three years ago the Halifax Area Advertising Authority commissioned a focus group in Columbus, Ohio (our core demographic?) to study what comes to mind when people hear the words, “Daytona Beach.”

(Best Richard Dawson accent) Survey Says! – “Redneck,” “Crowded” and “Starting to fall apart.”

Apparently, our study participants recoiled in horror – like they were being forced to watch the director’s cut of “Deliverance.”

Columbus?  I spent a month there one night.  You talk about people starved for entertainment.

Wow.

Look, Danica Patrick is easy to look at – and she has an exciting day job – but when it comes to selling Daytona Beach to the Midwestern masses, she’ll earn every dime of that $100,000 paycheck.

Over time, our elected and appointed officials have ignored and neglected the goose that laid the golden egg.  It took about three decades of complete inattention, but they finally killed it, and no fancy marketing campaign can revive it.

Apparently, no one on the HAAA’s over $1 million-dollar annual payroll understands that.

In typical fashion, rather than transform and revitalize the internationally attractive assets that once made us the “World’s Most Famous Beach,” we simply throw good money after bad trying in vain to promote the dregs of a once vibrant destination.

Until we have something unique and different to offer – accessible beaches, clean spaces, modern amenities, beachside shopping, restaurants and attractions, an active arts scene and inviting commercial and retail centers – we simply cannot – and should not – compete in the marketplace.

 

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