Instead of taking offense, the city of Pinellas Park responds with slogans on its tower signs that say “Tampa knows our prices are low! Shop Pinellas Park,” and “Hyde quality. Low prices. Shop Pinellas Park, “as part of its campaign to encourage residents to shop locally.
Photo by JULIANA A. TORRES
A billboard at the corner of Westshore Boulevard and Spruce Street near the entrance of International Plaza in Tampa advertises a low-cost vodka brand with the slogan, “Hyde Park quality. Pinellas Park pricing.”
PINELLAS PARK – When a billboard campaign in Tampa played on Pinellas Park’s reputation as a “low-price” town, the city fought back with a campaign of its own.
The city’s tower sign along Park Boulevard and 58th Street now reads, “Tampa knows our prices are low! Shop Pinellas Park.”
“I thought we might as well take advantage of the situation,” said Government Relations Administrator Tim Caddell, who came up with the new slogan.
Wódka vodka brand has come under fire before for offensive ads that tout the brand’s supposed selling point: high quality at a low price. The company took down billboards in New York neighborhoods where residents were offended by its comparisons of Christmas with Hanukkah and escorts with hookers.
Then the campaign hit locally with ads that claimed, “Hyde Park quality. Pinellas Park prices,” coupled with a picture of a sheep wearing a sombrero. One of the billboards is at the corner of Spruce Street and Westshore Boulevard, visible to anyone leaving the south entrance to International Plaza.
The city could be mad at the campaign, Caddell admitted, but it capitalizes on a concept Pinellas Park is willing to embrace.
“Right across from International mall, there’s a sign saying prices are better in Pinellas Park,” he said. “We couldn’t afford that kind of advertising.”
Even the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce has chosen to focus on the positives.
“Any publicity is good for Pinellas Park,” said chamber board member Housh Ghovaee. “My point of view, it’s in a great location … with a lot of visibility. Anytime we’re associated with Hyde Park, it’s positive.”
Besides, the billboards prove that Pinellas Park has easy name recognition on the other side of the bridge, leaders point out.
“We’ve had a bad perception from a long, long time. But this has really come around,” Ghovaee said. “Pinellas Park is really pretty competitive with Clearwater and St. Pete and even Tampa.”
Coincidentally, the billboards coincided with the chamber’s campaign to encourage residents to shop locally, which began during Country in the Park this March.
“The whole idea is to show our community that it’s a viable option to not only shop at but to support the community,” said chamber President Jon Farris.
Farris admits that Pinellas Park is “a little bit different,” especially considering its equestrian area.
“The horse community is not a poor community. It’s not a poverty-minded community, but very affluent,” Farris said.
Additionally, Pinellas Park has proven to be a prolific environment for businesses. Amber Glen Feed Depot, for example, was No. 2 in national sales for feed stores, Farris said.
“No one would even assume that for Pinellas Park,” he said. “Our economy is so diverse. Campaigns are now noticing us, and we’re a viable force to be reckoned with.”
Caddell said that new businesses do well in Pinellas Park, with many national chains pulling in record sales after opening a location in the city.
“Values must be good here, because there are a lot of people that come to Pinellas Park to shop. Almost all the businesses that open here tell us that they had their best opening month in their whole chain,” Caddell said. “Driving through the city, it sure looks like everybody’s busy.”
The businesses in the community complement each other, Farris said, so that medical industries can find everything they need from industries based within city limits. Local banks provide service in-person rather than over the phone, and residents can find fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood that promote a healthier, environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
“Pinellas Park does give you the biggest bang for your buck,” Farris said.
He said that while the Internet has expanded shoppers’ abilities to purchase products from anywhere in the world, the benefits of shopping locally are numerous. The “Shop Locally – Shop Pinellas Park” campaign lists 13 benefits, ranging from protecting local character and prosperity and keeping dollars in the local economy to supporting the community’s well-being by investing in local competition, product diversity and local causes.
“The explosion of opportunities (online) has hidden treasures in the backyard of every community. These opportunities and benefits are now being rediscovered by people seeking to shop locally,” Farris stated.
The campaign also encourages businesses to move their business headquarters to Pinellas Park and reap the benefits of an ideal location in the center of a densely populated county with easy accessibility and transportation, a business-friendly environment, growth potential and a community with high quality of life.
As to the negative connotation of the Wódka ad campaign, Farris references a Taylor Swift song.
“People throw rocks at things that shine. Well, Pinellas Park is shining right now,” Farris said. “We’re a noticeable and recognizable community to the Tampa Bay area.”