(June 26, 2020) Ocean City will launch phase three of its “Welcome Back” campaign next week with a new set of commercials called “Favorite Things,” which, as implied, will focus on the activities visitors enjoy doing the most in the resort.
Commercials will begin airing on July 1 and run until September on television and digital outlets, such as social media.
“’Favorite Things’ really was meant for a time when everything was back open — amusements, arcades, [etc.], and really it focuses in on what are the favorite things you’re going to do when you come back to Ocean City? What’s the first thing you’re going to do?” interim Tourism Director Jessica Waters said.
Originally, the city had a marketing campaign called the “Fun Family” ready to roll this summer, but the advent of covid-19 led the tourism department to conclude that running the advertisements with the pandemic in full swing would be inappropriate.
Instead, the department worked with the resort’s marketing agency, MGH, to produce a new series of commercials, re: the “Welcome Back” campaign, that would match Gov. Larry Hogan’s reopening phases.
The campaign began with the “Open Arms” commercials, which reminded viewers that Ocean City would always be their happy place, but now was not the time to return.
As Hogan began to ease restrictions, the city pushed out the “It’s Time” commercials on its Instagram page, which encouraged the gradual return of visitors to the resort.
Finally, as the state has moved fully into phase two of Hogan’s reopening plan, comes the latest set of commercials.
“We’ve all been cooped up for so long,” Waters said. “It [the commercials] really focuses in on all of the fun things we didn’t get to do for the several months of quarantine.”
The major theme of each set of commercials has been nostalgia — reminding people of the good times here in Ocean City, as the world wades through uncharted waters.
“The last couple of months have been emotional for everyone, and I think each commercial that we’ve run … really focused in on people’s heartstrings and focusing in on what people were feeling during this pandemic and what recovery emotions they’re experiencing,” Waters said. “I think you’ll see that in “Favorite Things,” because again I think after coming out of several months of not seeing your family, not seeing your friends and not being able to do certain things that you love, “Favorite Things” really celebrates all of the things we love about Ocean City, and doing that with the people you love the most.”
In terms of balancing both drawing crowds to Ocean City and ensuring the resort doesn’t become a coronavirus hotspot, Waters, as have resort officials, emphasized the importance of personal responsibility and stressed that guests must be cognizant of their comfort levels and exercise caution.
“We really feel like 2020 … any kind of travel will depend on how comfortable you are,” she said. “Every different person and every different family has a different comfort level. Maybe some people won’t want to go out to dinner as often or maybe won’t feel as comfortable going onto the Boardwalk on a crowded night.”
However, Waters highlighted steps the community has taken to create a safer environment, particularly the local business community and how it has adapted during the pandemic.
One popular example has been waterfront restaurant Fish Tales on 22nd Street, which is using tube tables to ensure customers are socially distanced.
Last Sunday, the city’s Sundaes in the Park and Fireworks event at Northside Park on 125th Street used large circles to separate groups listening to the live entertainment.
Additionally, many of the activities available in Ocean City are naturally self-isolated or require minimal contact, Waters said, such as paddle boarding, Jetskiing and walking in the park.
“There’s a lot of ways to travel responsibly,” Waters said. “We usually put out an event sheet, but this year we edited it a little bit to promote some of the things you can do in Ocean City to social distance. That’s a unique thing in terms of visiting Ocean City is that there’s so many things you can do here to be outside and to experience the beach and nature, but also social distance.”
Nevertheless, Ocean City is not immune to national trends.
As states have reopened, at least seven — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — have seen record infection rates.
Maryland’s metrics have trended downward or flat for several weeks now, and the state’s positivity rate — the number of covid-19 tests that come back positive — is at 5.06 percent.
The World Health Organization recommends states reopen after 14 days at a 5 percent or lower positivity rate.
The state has 65,007 confirmed cases of covid-19, 418,528 negative tests results, 561 hospitalizations and 2,963 confirmed deaths, as of Wednesday morning.
Optimistic metrics notwithstanding, as Hogan and his administration officials have said, the novel coronavirus pandemic is not over, and Waters said the city is well aware of that fact.
“As we continue to reopen, we’re certainly all relieved we can resume a lot of our normal behaviors, but I think it is important to know that we still very much have the coronavirus on our radar and we’re continuing to be responsible to protect our visitors and our residents,” Waters said.