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JUNE 10 - JUNE 18, 2014

Glynn Exploits Dead Presidents in Lame Outdoor Advertising Campaign

By Mike Hudson

June 10, 2014

James Glynn’s new Maid of the Mist advertising campaign features billboards

In days gone by, Jimmy Glynn used to brag that his Maid of the Mist boat ride was so iconic, so much a part of the Niagara Falls experience, that he had no need to advertise, ever.

He said it to advertising representatives of this newspaper, and he said it to salespeople representing the local daily paper, where his brother Dan has toiled in the newsroom since time immemorial.

He said it to representatives of the daily Buffalo newspaper and the three television stations that broadcast from the Nickel City.

But mostly he said it to his friends, in that same, self-satisfied way he boasted about many things.

That was then, and this is now. After a series of investigative articles in the Niagara Falls Reporter stripped Glynn’s tour boat company of its lucrative Canadian contract, and forced the expenditure of millions of dollars for new docks on the American side of the mighty Niagara River, Glynn discovered that maybe advertising wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

His new boat ride competitors, Hornblower Cruises operating across the river in Canada, do a lot of advertising, most of which touts the sleek and modern, amenity-laden vessels it deploys in the Niagara Falls basin, the ease with which reservations can be made and the specialty cruises the line offers.

The Maid of the Mist, which essentially sails the same rusty tubs it did in the 1970s, makes customers wait in lines that take longer than the 15-minute cruise itself and offers no special events’ programming other than the same boring tour most people tired of ages ago. It has but one thing to advertise, and that’s phony tradition.

Glynn is fond of telling anyone who will listen about how his company has operated tours at the falls since 1846 or 1776 or whenever -- a patent falsehood since he has only been the operator since 1972. That tradition, however, is all he has, and so he has decided to advertise it for all it is worth.
And in order to advertise his archaic boat ride, Glynn chose perhaps the most archaic advertising medium still in existence – the outdoor billboard.

A recent study commissioned by RR Donnelly, a Fortune 500 company involved in everything from book printing to online technology, found outdoor advertising to be ineffective.

“A business cannot survive on billboard advertising alone,” the study states. “The rate of return on your advertising is a negative number. The time and words required to convey your message is limited.

The number of customers who see the billboard is also limited to only those who drive by. Thus, the billboard is one of the least effective means to advertise your business.”

Glynn’s billboards depict the sculpture at Mt. Rushmore and the seated statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial dressed in the familiar “blue garbage bag” Maid of the Mist costumes, with the company’s logo and the words, “America’s most monumental experience since 1846” written in small, barely readable type.

Jimmy Glynn’s finally gotten around to doing some advertising, just like they did 150 years ago. While his competition has embraced online computer technology, smartphone apps and other 21st century advances, Glynn, like his boat ride and apparently his own world view, remain firmly rooted in the 19th.





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