The S.C. State Ports Authority is growing an advertising campaign that is intended to inform South Carolinians about the maritime agency’s impact on the state’s economy and swell public support for deepening Charleston Harbor, officials said.
The combination of internet and television advertisements is part of SPA’s “Our Ports, Our Jobs” campaign, which is intended to explain in-part how one in every 11 jobs in the state is tied to Port of Charleston, officials said.
“‘Our Ports, Our Jobs’ was devised to put real faces on the statistics and show the diversity of port-dependent companies – whether they be manufacturers, distributors or service providers – across South Carolina,” said SPA spokeswoman Allison Skipper.
That effort kicked off last summer with a series of advertisements in the Upstate, around the same time SPA announced plans to build its inland port near the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.
The campaign included 30-second videos highlighting how companies such as Fujifilm factory in Greenwood and BMW manufacturing plant in Greer use the state’s port for shipping products to destinations all over the world. The SPA spent $411,000 to launch the campaign last year, paying for costs such as video production, development of website OurPortsOurJobs.com, and advertisement buys, Skipper said.
The SPA is a financially self-sufficient state agency, which means it does not use tax dollars for such operations, Skipper said.
The agency has budgeted $650,000 in its current fiscal year to expand the “Our Ports, Our Jobs” campaign to the Pee Dee and Midland regions, she said.
“This is meant to be a statewide effort, rolling out region-by-region,” Skipper added.
The advertisement campaign is also charged with growing public support for the deepening of Charleston Harbor to handle larger ships expected to flow from an expanded Panama Canal in 2015. The SPA wants to deepen the shipping lane an additional 5 feet from its current 45 feet.
“There was a desire among the members of our board to raise awareness across the state about the importance of our port to job creation and, by extension, the importance of keeping this vital asset competitive through harbor deepening,” Skipper said.
The $350 million deepening project, which is currently in the study phase, is funded by a combination of state and federal dollars. South Carolina is competing with other East Coast port operations for limited federal dollars.
The S.C. General Assembly set aside $300 million last year to cover the entire cost of the Charleston project, just in case the U.S. government doesn’t come through.
Such marketing campaigns are common as companies try to “inform, persuade and remind” the public, said Denise T. Ogden, a marketing professor at Penn State University.
“It’s a good strategy to build goodwill and present an image that will help them in the future when they need funding,” Ogden said.
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.