The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday selected an international advertising firm to take over its beach promotion program, which in its first two years of operation fell short of attracting the level of sponsorship and revenues the county had anticipated.
Ted Reed, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, said the board approved his department's recommendation of the Smith-Hemmings-Gosden Promotions Group, which handles numerous outdoor-related enterprises ranging from Kawasaki to the International Surf Festival, part of which is held in Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach.
Revenues generated by SHG Promotions will be plowed back into improvements of the county's beaches, which stretch along most of the coastline from Redondo to Malibu.
Reed said the county also hopes to use the revenue to sponsor outdoor events such as surfing competitions, family-oriented activities and music festivals.
The county's contract with its current promotional firm, Del Wilber and Associates, expires Jan. 31 and was not renewed because of differences between the county and the company, Reed said.
He said Del Wilber's strategy of attracting only exclusive corporate sponsors has had only limited success, although the firm did land a major contract with Nissan to promote its "hard body" small trucks as official vehicles for Los Angeles County beaches.
County officials have never indicated how much they hope the beach promotion program would raise, but have expressed disappointment that only one major corporate sponsor has been found so far.
Reed said the five-year Nissan contract is worth $250,000 to the county. It provides 37 new trucks for the lifeguards every year, allows the county to resell the vehicles after one year to other county departments at half the wholesale price, and has given the local beaches widespread exposure during Nissan television commercials.
Unlike Del Wilber's strategy, Reed said, SHG Promotions will seek numerous smaller sponsors as well as major corporate ones.
"Instead of waiting around like we have been, hoping for a few large sponsors to say yes, we can begin accepting small and medium sponsors, and I think that will be much more successful," Reed said. "Once we get a few sponsors going, others will see that they too can be an official L.A. County product, and we think they'll join in."
Reed said the county will encourage the use of its name by companies who produce items ranging from suntan lotion and soft drinks to marine equipment and bicycles.
SHG Promotions, which itself had revenues of $287 million in 1985, was selected by the county because it is "a group of very energetic people who know the beaches and the out-of-doors," Reed said.
He said he hopes their promotion will "spread the word that we have got very, very safe beaches because of our extremely professional lifeguards, so this is a great place for the family."