Press report: Polarizing Shore tourist slogan came from politically active PR firm

     (Photo courtesy of Stronger Than The Storm Facebook page)

    (Photo courtesy of Stronger Than The Storm Facebook page)

    Prepare to be shocked, shocked! 

    Last week, we reported on how the “Stronger Than The Storm” post-Sandy tourism campaign, and its earworm of a jingle, were a bust with many living near the coast. At last week’s WHYY Ready For Next Time? forum in Cape May Court House, one attendee labeled it “insulting,” and others said it encouraged disaster tourism and promoted a false sense of bravado in the face of future storms.

    My “Down The Shore” co-blogger, Justin Auciello, asked for more feedback from New Jersey residents about the slogan, and got an avalanche of responses. Some folks said they liked the jingle and the #STTS campaign, while others called it “moronic” and “crazy” and complained about the role Gov. Christie and his family play in the TV commercials.

    Now comes a report from my former colleagues at the Asbury Park Press that the PR firm that won the state contract to create the ad campaign is politically active, that its bid was $2 million more than the runner-up firm and that at least one person in charge of choosing the winning bid has a personal tie to the governor:  

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    The top official on the selection committee, appointed by Christie, once received a $49,000 loan from Christie when he was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. 

    The two bidders had different views on how the campaign should be run. MWW proposed putting Christie in the ads. The other bidder, a team headed by the Sigma Group, did not. MWW won the contract. 

    I’m told the Press was only able to write the story after a months-long wait for public documents detailing the process. Christie spokesman Mike Drewniak said the campaign MWW undertook, which garnered national coverage on the “Today” show, was larger and more labor-intensive than Sigma’s. 

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