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April 23, 2012


Ripoff Report | Industry Today with Terry Bradshaw | Complaint Review: 822125
Just in case you have not seen this. You proudly sent us the show on your blog. R&J


Apparently, Kindersley, Sask. and Thompson M.B., are among other cities featured by Bradshaw.
Thompson council voted to make the $25K expense http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/article/20120208/THOMPSON0101/302089984/-1/THOMPSON/

Chris Seto of our staff just interviewed the mayor in relation to this story.
Following the interview, the mayor published the following post about both the interview and this issue.

There are other interesting takes on this subject by members of council in the blogosphere.

Coun. Leanne Piper expresses enthusiasm for Guelph being selected for the Bradshaw coverage.

Coun. Ian Findlay posts a suggestion that such profiles have been brought into question.

This whole thing smells.

Have the powers-that-be never heard of Google? Two seconds of "Terry Bradshaw Infomercial" brings up all kinds of red flags. I think it is the total ignorance of city council and/or staff that most saddens me. Is everyone asleep at the switch?

Farbridge left out the part about paying $25,000 for this infomercial and now she can't understand why that might upset the taxpayers.
I'd like to say she is out of touch with the people of this city but the phrase "out of touch" just doesn't do this one justice.
If you have a phrase that accurately describes the chasm that exists between Farbridge and the taxpayers of Guelph then please, post it here.

And how come US cities only paid $20 grand?

Any truth to the rumour that the city just took delivery of 1,500 Oreck air purifiers.

Most of the US Cities that fell for this pitch were hit with a fee of $24,800 US.

Phil - you should have stayed with the "Phil"istines - this is an Infomercial pure and simple. When I find an Infomercial the channel changer goes "click"! The US blog comments on this "product" are negative!

Some sayings for Farbridge to remember:
-Caveat Emptor
-Let the Buyer Beware (In case she did not take latin
_If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
-A fool and her(Taxpayer) money are soon parted

And for her Heritage Whip to say that Guelph was the only Canadian City to be considered is living proof that "BS baffles Brains". Here is some stuff from BC posted in March. There were also gullible communities in Sask and Manitoba. Where was the due diligence at City Hall??
Mayor Cooper and Council;

Please find the enclosed Exhibit “A” which was compiled from an internet search for information about “Today in America” infomercials.

Parsippany, New Jersey, USA (pop. 50,000) was recently approached, similarly as to Salmon Arm, by the same media company and their council first agreed to proceed and then declined to go forward with the expenditure as they, the council, considered it most important to have a previously adopted strategic plan to follow and not execute an action resulting from a convincing sales tactic.

Very Truly Yours,

Warren Welter
2499 65th Avenue NE
Salmon Arm, BC V1E

The wheels are quickiy falling off the Farbridge Civic Bus.
I used to love this City, but now I am deeply embarrased by the former gang of eleven and the current gang of eight.
Where is the City's resident songwriter, entertainer, City Hall Watcher now? Like me probably too embarressed but with a big difference - he is a Farbridge supporter!

Come on folks! This is Terry Bradshaw!! Four time Superbowl winning quarterback Terry Bradshaw!! Two time MVP!! Arguably the greatest professional quarterback ever!

If Terry Bradshaw tells people to come visit Guelph, well you better believe there's gonna be a stampede!

I think the Mayor got this one right on! ... although Mr. T might would have been a good choice too. :)

I was disappointed to find out that the City paid for this...basically an infomercial rather than Guelph being profiled based on its merits alone.

BUT, it is probably true that a video of this quality and exposure is worth far more than $25K. It's probably been passed along on Facebook alone thousands of times.

Maybe the reason she wasn't entirely up front about the cost has to do with my first paragraph. Another potential good news story turned sour by the execution.

Have a look at this blog post from Fayetteville, Arkansas. I especially enjoyed this line:
"To me, the most entertaining aspect of the city’s involvement with the show was how city officials tried to sell the paid infomercial as a legitimate t.v. show with a legitimate interest in Fayetteville."
Sound familiar?


At least it was an expense approved by Council in Fayetteville.

Well, the City has this $25K 5-min profile in their hands now...they'd better get on the ball making good use of it (without incurring any more costs of course).

Fairmont Minnesota was offered the same 5 minutes for $19,800. They declined. This was last summer, so I still say that we were screwed for amount as much as content. And I wrote a poem about this for the "Mayor's Poetry Challenge"; it's in my front window. Good luck finding parking.

Somebody just reminded me of Springfield's "Monorail." We got ripped because we were trying to keep up with Shelbyville!

It's sad that nobody thought to look into this TV show that "came to us" to do a feature and then asked us to pay for it. That's not how legitimate TV shows work, and a quick Google search of "Insights with Terry Bradshaw" would have brought up a link to Ripoff Reports on the first page!
This must be what happens when your job is to spend other people's money.
So the question now is: Who approved it? Who signed off on the $25,000 without any due diligence?

I actually just wasted 5 minutes of my life and viewed it. Meh. Sure seems like an awful lot of white people live here, though. Even the shot of the Multicultural Festival showed no one of colour. Hilarious! And more than a little sad.

... I'd like to know why that guy was riding his bike across the covered bridge ...

I swear that he looks like Karen's husband! Time for some more investigative journalism.

But we were chosen! (Of course we were.)

Seems that we have joined an unfortunate list. (Are you proud?) If you don't support the effort, you're not sufficiently proud of Guelph, in a L'etat c'est moi kind of way.

Trappings of hubris.

That is probably the best $25000 dollars spent this year. The viral capacity(over 8700 views on YouTube already) and thousands more on Facebook and Twitter is better than the thousands of advertising dollars wasted on ads in the Mercury, Tribune and whatever the local radio statio is. Newspapers, radio and TV are no longer the way to go. Getting a quality, professional short video to be used for online marketing is a much better investment. This video can be used for a couple of years, and in that time, if even 1 company is swayed toward setting up shop here, or even learns that Guelph exists, it's a great investment that will more than pay for the upfront cost. Anyone that thinks this was a waste of money needs to get out of the 90's and look at the online potential.

Perhaps, geoff. More likely: dubious value. Care to substatiate a single dollar of return on investment experienced by other communities? Or for ours? What decision-makers are you presuming to be swayed by it? Did you want to do more/ spend more in Guelph because of it? What if you were considering locating a plant here? Could it be "helpful"? Not unless other factors such as development fees and taxes are competitive.

And how was this initiately presented to us?

geoff, the problem is we don't know who those 8700 viewers are. If 8700 Guelph residents view it, are we getting good value for our money? I think you are overestimating the value of the infomercial.

We don't and won't ever know exactly what the value of the video is, but it's not zero (it's actually not bad) so the scam, if you want to call it that, isn't terrible. I wouldn't say we were ripped off, but I'd say at best we were targeted by a semi-legitimate production company with a sketchy and questionable marketing strategy. Someone should have done their homework on them before writing a cheque, but they obviously didn't. It exposes some problems in how freely tax money is spent.

Ed Video and the U of G fine art students would have provided many times the quality for a fraction of the price. It is just like when they paid $400,000 to someone in Winnipeg(!) for downtown signage, when there had to be someone a bit more local to turn to. But then the Mayor used a Cape Breton call centre during the last election, so maybe "spreading the (our) wealth begins at the top. Maybe Americans really need our money.

As a part of our Prosperity 2020 plan, one of our goals over the next 10 years as a community is to proactively promote our residential and business attractiveness. This video does both, and highlights both secondary and post secondary education as a key asset. Natural and cultural heritage are placed beside environmental and economic attributes. Guelph’s sustainable development plan runs right through the video.

The Mayor consulted with many people in making her decision, including the Chamber of Commerce. Burlington had a similar video produced by other means for almost double the cost (no criticism on Burlington – that was an excellent video too), which did not include potential TV markets or exposure into the USA. Infomercials work, or there would be no market for shopping channels. Paying for production and the rights to use a product that was produced professionally is really not a controversy. And I can remember the discussion around the known distribution hits, potential for expansion, and ownership of the video for community use being something we thought was a good thing. Scam websites would have a different take on all this. They might also think advertising is a form of conspiracy.

... Though in fairness Lloyd infomercials seem to be mostly about hawking slap chops and what-not to us when we can't get to sleep. I do wonder if there are examples for when this format can harm a brand. And I am skeptical about what influence this would have over a decision-maker.

I think what is at issue here is the At Guelph interview, which is hard to get around, and decision on who we decided to literally carry the ball for us.

But also I was surprised you weren't in it and that we didn't have more messages from our business leaders in it. Perhaps you were interviewed, along with others -- do you mind commenting on that?

The bottom line is it plays like an informercial, and people can see through that, and there seems to be a broader controversy about the presenter -- so, perhaps regrettably, in this instance we are reminded of that wisdom that the medium is the message.


Nicely put, Scott.

Recently I was visiting Denver, and on the local hotel tv they had a series of 'infomercial' type shows featuring the different neighbourhoods in Denver. Some of them looked pretty cool, so the next day I went to one, and shopped, had dinner and checked it out and spent quite a bit of monty. If it wasn't for the infomercial, I wouldn't even known it existed.

You're right Craig, Guelph's video does play like an infomercial, but if infomercials (and celebrity endorsements) didn't work, the world's major brands wouldn't still be using them after 60ish years of TV. Also, I can't give you an actual dollar of return figure at this point, the video has only been out for 2 weeks but it has a shelf life of a few years, and in those 2 weeks it's done incredibly well, even if it was just local for now. This is a tool for the City to help promote Guelph for several years, both locally, nationally and internationally.

And Ray, Ed's Video or U of G students couldn't have made this for the same price, and included a celebrity endorsement. And the downtown signs from Winnipeg were an RFP, and it is illegal for a municipality to award an RFP based on the companies location. Are you saying that Guelph contractors shouldn't be allowed to bid on projects in other cities? They would lose out on a lot of opportunities following your logic.

Bottom line, this was a good investment.

Craig, they only had 5 minutes for the video. Try to keep me to a 10 second clip on why Guelph is so great. Carlos represented business well, and a lot of other businesses would have said exactly the same thing.

Geoff, next time in Denver check out Bennett's BarBQ. Great local hangout. http://www.bennettsbbq.com/

Bucksnort Saloon up in the hills is another - unbelievable setting. Amazing drive up to a great out of the way place.

Looks like that Denver video is still having the desired effect :-)

Since when is an American ex-athlete from 30 years ago who the majority of Guelphites have never heard of and who does a show none of us have ever seen such a great catch? I don't even think that he visited here, and it is possible that he has never even visited Canada. We are the best city in the world in which to live, and I find this neediness to be validated quite off-putting. If you want a professional video then pay for one, don't overpay to bring in the crappy celebrity endorsement. And then don't lie about the fact that we paid for said endorsement.

Good column, Scott. Balanced, direct.

The bottom line is this is first a story about how our experienced Mayor mishandled this affair, not once, but twice, complicating in my opinion its presentation to the public. The question which remains, is "why" and what if anything is revealed in it. I will leave that to you to consider.

Allan Boynton makes a good point in his blog that we could have looked to local talent with American reach, like Richard Peverley. Who else is out there?

The Bradshaws are out there, for sure, to help someone make a pitch, especially if they have $25K burning a hole in their pocket. They are certainly an option for those who really don't have any US reach they can tap. Or are missing the local creative base to do it themselves.

People know that. They know they are watching an infomercial featuring someone who has been paid to read a script.

So, that's not particularly consistent with who we are. Or our message. (!!!) This is about what I was saying earlier about whether an infomercial as a format could hurt a brand. Perhaps. Maybe it was the wrong format altogether; maybe it was the wrong format in terms of the lack of local confidence we expressed in going with someone like a Bradshaw.

We have local reach. Maybe that would’ve actually made our story compelling. We have the local creative capacity to produce it. Maybe that would have kept it real. Maybe there is something to be said of the persuasive power of authenticity. Maybe we skipped over that.

Maybe that would have been what it is to be truly proud of Guelph?

When the city rolls out the Community guide do they say how much it cost? Or the calendar with the garbage pickup days, radio ads every morning,the weekly city news in the Tribune, signs, billboards, the full page ads in the Mercury? Does everyone think these are free? These are all tools used to promote Guelph, with a budget that Council has approved, so how is this video any different? Are people so naive that they think you get free marketing from a tv show?

The information about the cost was available weeks ago, it was even on the front page of the local newspaper.

While using local celebrities like Peverley sounds like a good idea, in fact, he's really not that famous. I live in Guelph and all I know is that he won the Stanley Cup, but I couldn't even tell you what team he was on. I don't watch sports, so to me, his endorsement would mean nothing. He may be "Guelph Famous" but that doesn't mean he has any influence over the broader market which is what this video was intended for. I also don't know much about Terry Bradshaw, I couldn't even name a team he played for, but I do know he is famous (I'm not sure how I know, but I just do), so when I see a real celebrity feature our city on a program in another country it gives it a lot more klout than a local celebrity that appeals to a much smaller niche market. This video wasn't made for Guelph residents to feel good about Guelph, it's to market Guelph to other businesses around the world that probably have no idea who Richard Peverley is.

geoff, I think you are spinning your tires.

Perhaps it is the nature of this blog, where folks get their back up against a wall. But I think you're unduely invested in defending this direction -- and with all due respect I think it is all sounding more and more like damage control.

So we'll have to disagree on this one.

In the comments here I am not seeing anything counter to the primary issue of how this was presented by the Mayor. Or the Mayor's blog entry.

Enjoy your weekend!

And in other news -- notably exemplary:






They only gave out 60,000 of these, including one to the indicted mayor of London, so I don't know why the local media continues to do puff pieces on people they should have an arms-length relationship with. Hmmm. Advertising dollars?

That drum must be just about banged out by now, eh Ray?
Does the City advertise with us? I'm asking because I seriously don't know, and either way it wouldn't change how I do my job.

That's alright, it's more of a Trib "problem", and you have redeemed yourselves a bit by creating a whole new thread out of Craig's musings. And like Geoff Berner says: "We all have to be a prostitute sometime." But it seems like sometimes the media doesn't even realize 'til too late that there's smoke being blown up their butt.

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Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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