LANSING — The Florida-based company that won a contract to redesign Michigan’s tourism website beat out competing firms, including some based in Michigan, that have worked on other Michigan government websites.
Miles Media LLP’s contract, worth $389,690, was neither the highest nor the lowest bid out of 22 firms vying for the work. The field included 12 companies based in the state, including a sister agency to the firm that currently produces Pure Michigan commercials and another that redesigned the state’s official website.
Crain’s and Bridge Magazine requested contracts and price information from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. through the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The MEDC previously did not disclose the bid amounts.
State tourism leaders said decisions on hiring a vendor are not made based on price alone, but also value — including the level of detail in a company’s proposal and its ability to demonstrate in writing alone that it can do the work requested.
“Nobody should ever think that just because we didn’t choose one of them that our companies can’t do the work,” Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, which manages the state’s tourism efforts, said of Michigan-based firms.
“I will always give more weight to a local company. That’s me, and I’m sure that’s most of our people,” Lorenz said. “But at the end of the day, we have this responsibility to provide the best product possible.”
The selection last month of Sarasota, Fla.-based Miles Media to redesign Michigan.org, the state’s official travel site, raised eyebrows on social media for the apparent irony of choosing an out-of-state company to work on a Pure Michigan branding project.
Travel Michigan wants to update the state tourism website to solve issues related to navigation and content. The project should take 28 weeks to design and build the site; when finished, it will include a new hosting platform and operating system and more user engagement tools, such as trip planning and integrated social media.
Each company that bid estimated price differently, with some including options for additional services or recurring site maintenance, so the bids can’t easily be compared with one another.
Yet price proposals released by the MEDC show a few companies’ bids topped $1 million — though some were multi-year offers:
- Dearborn-based Campbell Marketing and Communications bid $1.1 million in the first year and more than $341,000 for each of the second and third years.
- Pleasant Ridge-based Pitch Black Media LLC proposed $2.8 million over three years.
- Chicago-based Rightpoint Consulting LLC, which has a Novi office, proposed a range from $1.04 million to $1.26 million over three years.
A few companies bid less than $100,000, including:
- Detroit-based Novocan LLC ($57,000 plus recurring monthly fees for maintenance)
- Baltimore-based Simple Information Inc. ($44,175 plus additional costs for hosting and project management)
- Troy-based Integrated Productivity Systems LLC dba IPS Technology Services ($39,500 plus an additional $1,500 monthly fee for web hosting).
Travel Michigan awards contracts using an evaluation committee. In this case, it consisted of marketing staff and industry professionals, Lorenz said, adding that the committee narrowed the field and opened price proposals only from the finalists.
Royal Oak-based Octane Design and Tucson, Ariz.-based Simpleview LLC were the two other finalists on the website project, a Travel Michigan spokeswoman said. Octane bid $260,000, with additional fees for site maintenance. Simpleview bid $738,000 in the first year and $362,000 in recurring costs.
“We are a quasi-governmental organization. There are always going to be pressures put on an organization like ours from constituents (and) others who want us to make a decision because they have friends in the industry,” Lorenz said.
“The reason we go through this process is so that people can’t say down the road, ‘Oh, you picked them because they’re your friends.’”
The contracts show Miles Media was selected over companies that have worked on state projects before. They include the Birmingham office of MRM/McCann, whose sister advertising firm, McCann Erickson, is the agency of record for Travel Michigan and produces Pure Michigan commercials; and Lansing-based Gravity Works Design LLC, which helped redesign Michigan.gov, the state’s official government website.
Miles’s contract includes four annual renewal options worth $141,240 each year for site hosting and maintenance.
Miles works solely with travel marketing and branding and counts state, regional, national and international visitors bureaus and travel agencies as clients.
The company employs about 200 people and has more than $50 million in annual net revenue, with 10 percent growth forecast in the next year, said Doug Luciani, Miles’s vice president of communications and branding.
The firm will hire Brighton-based digital marketing agency TwoSix Digital as a subcontractor. Both companies said the value of the TwoSix subcontract has not yet been decided.
|Gravity Works Design LLC||Lansing||Website design; graphic design; mobile development||Not disclosed|
|Ciesa Design||Lansing||Branding, logo, corporate identity; design and development; digital media; brochures, publications, print/Web ads||$158,110|
|Reliance Communications LLC/CivicLive||Scotts Valley, Calif.||Web design, software development with focus on public sector||$290,000 + $50,750 annual software service fee + options|
|corePHP LLC||Battle Creek||Full-service Web development firm||$656,550 for website rebuild + $13,770 for site analysis/optimization + hosting|
|Velomedia LLC dba Crowd Favorite||Redondo Beach, Calif. (office in Commerce Township)||Digital design, development firm||$516,950|
|Simpleview LLC||Tucson, Ariz.||Website development; content management; interactive marketing||$738,000 in year 1 + $362,000 recurring|
|Radish Media LLC dba Radish Lab||Brooklyn, N.Y.||Website development; infographics; mobile apps; interactives; content strategies||$301,500|
|Rightpoint Consulting LLC||Chicago (Novi office)||Agency and technology services firm; digital strategy||$1.04 million-$1.26 million for three years|
|Miles Media LLP||Sarasota, Fla.||Digital, branding, advertising services; content creation; focus on tourism industry||$389,690|
|Integrated Productivity Systems LLC dba IPS Technology Services||Troy||Website- and Web-based systems development||$39,500 + $18,000 for annual hosting|
|Novocan LLC||Detroit||Web, mobile app, software development||$57,000 + monthly fees for server maintenance, SEO, on-call developer|
|Simple Information Inc.||Baltimore||Website development; content management||$44,175 + 20% for project management + options for hosting|
|Pitch Black Media LLC||Pleasant Ridge||Branding; website development, management, hosting; content strategy||$2.8 million over 3 years|
|Ameex Technology Corp.||Schaumburg, Ill.||Website design; content management; business marketing strategies||$76,440.50 + up to $17,280 for annual maintenance and support|
|Icreon Tech Inc.||New York||Digital strategy; software development||$403,750|
|WeUsThem Inc.||Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada||Creative strategies (Web design, branding, mobile apps, advertising)||$321,475 + $42,971 for annual maintenance + $1,000 optional monthly retainer|
|Icon Interactive||Ann Arbor||Digital marketing; Web development||$178,500 + $21,500 in ongoing support costs|
|Campbell Marketing and Communications||Dearborn||Branding; Web design; marketing||$1.1 million in year 1, $341,340 in years 2-3|
|Octane Design||Royal Oak||Branding; Web and interactive; print and editorial||$260,000 + $7,000-$25,000 in ongoing site maintenance|
|MRM/McCann||New York (McCann has office in Birmingham)||Brand development; Web, mobile design; analytics and optimization||$596,970 for Brightpoint option; price not disclosed for separate Adobe option|
|Keystone Media LLC||Ann Arbor||Internet marketing; Web design and development||$237,225|
|Traffic||Troy||SEO; Web development and management; creative services||$268,750-$396,875 for website build; $6,250-$10,100 for maintenance/hosting|