Detroit airport seeks a media copilot

DETROIT: Besieged by media criticism for extending various service contracts without bids at Detroit's Metro Airport, Wayne County authorities have confirmed that RFPs will be solicited for a new annual PR and advertising contract to begin in January. The development led the Detroit Free Press to speculate that Caponigro PR will lose the account.

DETROIT: Besieged by media criticism for extending various service contracts without bids at Detroit's Metro Airport, Wayne County authorities have confirmed that RFPs will be solicited for a new annual PR and advertising contract to begin in January. The development led the Detroit Free Press to speculate that Caponigro PR will lose the account.

DETROIT: Besieged by media criticism for extending various service contracts without bids at Detroit's Metro Airport, Wayne County authorities have confirmed that RFPs will be solicited for a new annual PR and advertising contract to begin in January. The development led the Detroit Free Press to speculate that Caponigro PR will lose the account.

'This is a customer satisfaction account,' airport communications director Mike Conway said, 'and we've been very happy with Caponigro the past year.

But in view of the criticism, plus having a new airport boss, we felt we had to put out a new RFP for 2001 even though there was a renewal clause in the original deal.'

Caponigro vice president Bruce Babiarz said his firm initially won the account in the summer of 1999 after open bidding and was granted an extension to the end of this year from the original contract expiration on Oct. 6. 'We'll be bidding on the new account and expect to make a strong case,' he said.

Both parties confirmed the total value of the assignment at approximately dollars 1 million. According to Conway, about 40 % has been spent on radio advertising to alert airport customers to traffic or parking problems or inform them of improved airport services. Another one-third of the budget was spent on market research handled through Caponigro with JD Powers & Associates, a global marketing information services firm well known in Detroit's automotive community.

Conway said the contract also called for Caponigro to handle backup media relations in case the airport's small staff is ever overwhelmed by an unexpected event, such as the blizzard that stranded hundreds of travelers in planes on the ground in January 1999.

A large portion of the 2001 account will be laying the groundwork for the opening of Detroit Metro Airport's huge dollars 1.2 billion midfield terminal building and parking garage. The existing facilities were originally designed to handle 10 million passengers annually, but in 1999 it handled nearly 35 million.



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