Montanans watching the Late Show with David Letterman will see a familiar face Wednesday night..
Governor Brian Schweitzer will appear on the show for the first time, part of a 4 day trip to New York City to promote Montana tourism.
Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce looks into how much this Big Apple excursion is costing and the potential benefit.
“Best place in the world to take your family,” Schweitzer said into a microphone on in a video released by the Governor’s Office Tuesday.
Governor Schweitzer is driving around Times Square in the video inn a semi truck covered in expansive, colorful photos of Montana, with VISITMT.COM gracing the corner of each one.
“Just building a buzz about this direct flight from Newark to Bozeman, Montana,” Schweitzer said in a Wednesday phone interview. This new non-stop United Airlines flight from nearby Newark lasts through the Summer.
The video shows Schweitzer speaking on a megaphone, running around on bleachers, smiling for photos, and handing out Montana goodies like free jerky and jam. Schweitzer’s office says flights, hotels and food for him and a staff member is costing about $1500, from his travel budget. The Governor defends the bill.
“This is such a novel idea here in New York City that it’s garnered a lot of free media,” he said.
Schweitzer’s office says Letterman alone boasts a nightly audience of about 5 million people. He appeared on Fox and Friends, CNBC, he’ll be on the MSNBC program Morning Joe. And then there’s local media–and social media was buzzing too. “You literally cannot buy advertising like we’re getting right now,” Schweitzer says, arguing he needed to fly to the East Coast anyway. He will be signing a water compact for the Crow Tribe in D.C. on Friday.
“It was a great way to have an opportunity to have a presence in that market in an affordable way,” said Montana Tourism Office Division Administrator, Jeri Duran. The office has purchased a three year contract for 10 of those visit Montana Semis. Half of them will drive around inside New York City, the others around New England—doing normally scheduled deliveries of furniture and home supplies. It’s costing over $190 thousand.
That money comes from bed taxes charged at hotels in the state–money that is supposed to go to promoting tourism. As for the tactic, driving Montana semis randomly around the city, Duran says that really is cost effective. New York City is the most expensive media market in the country.
“A half page ad in the New York Times with a big scenic photo like that, a one shot deal would cost about $70 thousand,” she said. To have the Governor’s schedule line up enough that he could unveil the semis–she says that was a bonus.
Schweitzer says people in New York don’t know who the Governor of Montana is. But a bunch of New Yorkers went home with free jerky and jam.
“When they get home they’ll show people the picture and they’ll say I don’t know the guy said he was the Governor of Montana but he was a nice guy and he gave us this jam,” he said.
Maybe a couple of them will plan a trip.