Southern Vermont Lands $70million Marketing Boost. Is More on the Way?
Updated: Mar 1, 2018
by Philip Gilpin, Jr (Editor)
For four nights in February, the Southern Vermont towns of Manchester, Wilmington, Dover, and Brattleboro took over ABC's Primetime airwaves as the location setting for the Bachelor Winter Games, a spin-off of the internationally popular "The Bachelor" series. The Winter Games was shot over a 3-week period in early December 2017 and brought in a crew of over 200+ people that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at local inns, restaurants, shops and vendors. The primary base of shooting was the Hermitage club in Wilmington/Dover, with the opening parade and ice skating sequences shot in Manchester.
While this new visitor revenue was a solid boost for the area during an otherwise slow time of year, it was nothing compared to the marketing value that Southern Vermont gained once the series hit the airwaves.
TV is big business. How big?
According to Ad Age, a commercial on the Winter Games cost advertisers $105,069 per 30-seconds. Considering that the four episodes of the Winter Games were one big non-stop commercial showcasing Vermont's natural beauty, local dates spots, and relaxing lifestyle, the 340 minutes of airtime that Vermont received was worth over $70,000,000+. In comparison, the entire 2017 statewide budget for the Vermont Department of Tourism was just under $4 million.
Variety reports that 3 million viewers in the 18-49 age demographic (the exact demo that Vermont desperately needs to attract) watched each episode of the Winter Games, with even more viewing it online. That's roughly 5 times the entire population of Vermont watching each night.
In addition, a Google search shows over 4,500 news articles were written about the "Bachelor Winter Games" in "Vermont". These articles include coverage by the New York Times, Entertainment Tonight, People, and many more. All of these add up to millions of free advertising for Vermont.
The bottom line? This single ABC television series achieved a level of tourism marketing and publicity that Vermont simply can't afford on its own - AND Vermont's local businesses got paid hundreds of thousands by the show's producers to make it happen!
With Southern Vermont starving for a new economic engine, TV has proven its economic value. The question is whether or not Vermont will capture this momentum and actively seek out more of the entertainment industry's money, or let it slip away?
image from a Vermont based production, "The Land"
To see how successful a state can be at attracting entertainment dollars, look at Georgia. A decade ago there was barely any major TV or film activity there, but now, according a University of Georgia study, it is booming with over $9.5 billion of annual revenue from TV and film productions that employ 92,000 people. In comparison, Vermont's entire economy was $30 billion in 2015 with an estimated 300,000 jobs (making Georgia's film industry equal to 30% of all of Vermont's economy). Well sure, but Georgia has a population of 10 million compared to Vermont's 600,000 - it's not fair to compare the two.
Yes it is. Georgia's TV and film industry boom was entirely self-created regardless of its population size. Hollywood doesn't care if a state has 10 million or 600k residents - it just cares if it can find the labor, locations, and cost savings that it wants. Hollywood will go where the talent and money is. Vermont's natural beauty, ease of permitting, and friendly atmosphere make it a potential hotspot of future TV and film production.
"Vermont was great and welcomed us with wide open arms," said Bachelor Producer Herbert Weatherford. "We had such a great time working with everyone there and the locations were perfect for Bachelor Winter Games! From a producing stand point everything was really easy to lock in. We didn’t really hear the word “no” in Vermont which is so amazing as a producer. I would definitely comeback to Vermont to work and play!"
image from a Vermont based production, "The Land"
While Vermont does not have a film commission to aggressively seek out new productions, there is the newly formed Vermont Production Council (VPC) that is actively lobbying both the state and entertainment producers to come together and make it possible for more productions to film in Vermont. Now that Vermont has proven it can handle a major network TV production, 2018 will be a crucial year for the possibility of boosting Vermont's economy through TV and film.
Dozens more productions have reached out to the VPC and expressed an interest in shooting their future shows and films in the Green Mountain State. All are looking for some kind of assistance or incentive, like in other states.
While Hollywood will go where the talent and money are, they are under enormous pressure to continually deliver new content so they don't have the patience to wait around years on end for decisions to be made (something that Vermont can be notorious for doing).
Hollywood is interested in bringing its money, creative talent, and youthful economy to Vermont. All Vermont has to do is say yes.
Note: Vermontime's Editor and author of this piece, Philip Gilpin, Jr, is a Co-Founder of the VPC.