Suburb of Detroit to try tourism push

Detroit: Oakland County, located just north of Detroit, has hired North Carolina-based French/West/Vaughan to promote tourism in the county.

Detroit: Oakland County, located just north of Detroit, has hired North Carolina-based French/West/Vaughan to promote tourism in the county.

While routinely ranked as one of the five richest counties in the country, "Oakland County has never perceived itself as a destination," said Nancy Thompson, marketing coordinator for the county's planning and economic-development services. The county hopes more tourism will mean increased revenues and more economic development, she explained.

The county sent requests for qualification to more than 30 firms. French was selected because of its tourism experience, said Thompson.

Oakland is spending $5,000 a month with the firm, plus $15,000 for annual expenses. The deal is for a year, with options to renew for two more years. The agency agreed to donate in-kind services equal to its monthly retainer, Thompson said.

The agency is putting six people on the account, and plans to highlight attractions in the county and surrounding region that appeal to auto buffs, said Rick French, president of the agency. The firm will target travel writers, auto-enthusiast magazines, and men's magazines in the media outreach efforts for the county. It also plans PSAs featuring noted Detroit-area personalities.

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