Last September, Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. CEO John Percy received a check for $6.2 million, his agency’s share of the city’s proceeds from the $89 million Seneca Niagara casino settlement.
Quickly, the money began burning a hole in his pocket.
His mind turned to advertising, but it wasn’t the sort of advertising you might expect.
For an agency, hired by contract with the city of Niagara Falls and Niagara County, to be responsible for increasing the number of tourists who visit the region, you have to wonder what he is doing with his "hometown heroes" ad campaign.
Rather than launching an ad campaign in places like Cleveland, Erie, Pa., Toronto, or Rochester, touting Niagara Falls as the ideal place for a weekend getaway or a great family vacation, Percy decided to advertise strictly in Niagara County.
His “Hometown Heroes” ad campaign employs local businessmen to promote the NTCC and, by extension, Percy himself. The campaign basically features local tourism business owners who praise the fine work the NTCC does.
It is sort of a win, win: the businesses get a free ad and in turn they proselytize the many splendored achievements of John Percy and his NTCC in local newspapers with a readership which is local.
That’s right. Percy is using the casino cash, your money really, in a desperate and shameless attempt at self promotion.
Additionally, by purchasing expensive ads exclusively in Niagara County newspapers, he is potentially diminishing any chance of negative stories concerning the NTCC appearing in those newspapers.
Studies have shown repeatedly that the bulk of the tourists who come to Niagara Falls live within a 250-mile radius of the mighty cataracts. And yet Percy, in addition to his local, self promoting, advertising campaign, has literally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars playing the tourist himself, not in the 250-mile radius, but, rather by flying first class to far away, exotic locations.
“We were treated like royalty!” he gushed to a local newspaper stenographer on his return from one such sojourn to an impoverished area of India.
The costly “Hometown Heroes” ad campaign does have a certain pratfall comedic appeal.
“Niagara USA – Believe!” one states. Believe what? That the city is being raped daily by the state and bloated bureaucracies like the NTCC? That Percy's trips around the world are meaningful?
“We work hand in hand with the NTCC, with the common goal of increasing the visitorship into Niagara County,” writes one businessman, who mangles the English in a unique and exciting way.
“Visitorship,” by the way, isn’t even a real word.
Percy and his agency are an unfunny joke. His repeated refusals to supply the City Council or comptroller’s office with hard, audited facts and figures regarding the number of tourists who actually visit the falls because of his efforts, how much revenue is generated by those tourists and whether that revenue justifies the insane amount of money the city gives him, is inexcusable.
Niagara Falls has been drawing tourists like flies for more than 250 years, for the most part without Percy’s assistance. Niagara Falls is known to people around the globe in much the same way as Elvis or Muhammad Ali. But to hear Percy tell it, he created the falls himself.
Percy receives money from the city to promote tourism to those in other locales in order to boost the region’s sagging economy. To spend money advertising locally in order to promote himself ought to be a criminal offense.
| NTCC CEO John Percy is either off to faraway places with strange sounding names, or is advertising himself!
||John Percy, promote thyself!