Ozark Mountain Christmas deemed ‘not a marketing plan’ by MOC | Local News

The members of the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District’s Marketing Oversight Committee have said Ozark Mountain Christmas is more of a creative theme than a marketing plan for the region.

During a Thursday, Oct. 20, meeting of the MOC at the Branson Chamber of Commerce building, the members discussed Ozark Mountain Christmas after a contentious meeting the previous Monday between Chamber CEO Jason Outman, Branson Mayor Larry Milton, and the Branson Board of Aldermen. Milton and board members were vociferous in their support of Ozark Mountain Christmas having a prominent part in the holiday marketing.

“We did a three year marketing plan,” Branson Chamber/CVB Chief Marketing Officer Rachel Wood said during the meeting after Sam Voisin broached the subject of Ozark Mountain Christmas. “We decided this year to take this plan, use it, and basically update it for another year. We applied for a grant for $100,000 to have a company like MMGY [Global] come in and do a full-scale three year strategic plan and we plan to do that next year.  

“When we have the focus groups with different groups in the community…when we do this full scale and it starts at the beginning of the year next year, once we do that then we can talk about putting additional things into the marketing plan.”

Wood said it would be a discussion subject for 2023 for implementation in 2024.

“So how does that dovetail with what we have heard from the city?” Voisin said. “Knowing that we are the experts in this room, knowing that, how does that dovetail with their edict I’ll call it, to please include Ozark Mountain Christmas into the marketing program?”

Wood responded it was always the plan to take the existing marketing plan and move forward for one more year, but she wasn’t opposed to adding Ozark Mountain Christmas.

Chamber/CVB Director of Communications Lynn Berry said the chamber has always used Ozark Mountain Christmas in their copy. 

“We call it an ‘umbrella’ and for us, any mention of Christmas Tree City, that’s a campaign,” Berry said. “Overall when people go online they’re looking for ‘Christmas in Branson.’ That’s something we just focus on, but it’s been an umbrella for years.”

Voison suggested if it’s already being included then it could be named in the marketing plan, drawing the objection of Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Shiela Thomas.

“I don’t believe that governmental bodies should issue edicts, to use your word, on what marketing should be,” Thomas said. “We have three other governmental bodies in the district. None of them have said ‘we want this.’ I think we set a precedent by allowing a governmental body, whose people will change over the years, to set marketing strategy. 

“That’s why I am against putting it in the marketing plan, because it’s not a strategy, it’s a tagline…I call it a tagline. They don’t feel it’s a tagline, I understand, but what if the Stone County Commission and the Village of Indian Point said ‘we want to do Ozark Mountain Christmas, but we want it to end this date because Silver Dollar City closes.’”

Thomas added she’s not against using the phrase in the actual marketing but doesn’t want it in the marketing plan.

Ty Lewis of Branson Airport said he saw Ozark Mountain Christmas as an overarching umbrella.

“It could be an event, it could be a campaign, it could be a tagline, it could be a positioning statement for a campaign,” Lewis said. “But I don’t see other campaigns mentioned in the marketing plan because it’s a generic plan. It’s a great plan, but it’s not meant to hone in on a specific campaign, because campaigns can change.”

Nikki Sivils with Branson Landing said the landing isn’t part of Ozark Mountain Christmas.

“In no way do we [Branson Landing] represent Ozark Mountain Christmas,” Sivils said. “It’s more of a modern Christmas. So you’re never going to see [OMC] on anything Branson Landing, so I’m a little indifferent about it. I can see where for Silver Dollar City and other entities it would be good, but it just doesn’t cover all of Branson itself. There are other things that are newer, and not so traditional.

“I get that they’re upset about it not being in all of our media, Christmas coverage, but I just am not a fan overall.”

It was pointed out the current “Vacation” campaign isn’t specifically mentioned in the marketing plan.

  “We should say in this plan, because I don’t want there to be any confusion, that no creative content or taglines are listed in here,” Voisin said. “This is a general overview, and then detail is not covered in. We need that disclaimer if we do not want to put it in the plan, such as we are not with ‘Your Vacation Needs Branson,’ because we don’t have that in here either. A great point Nikki brought up. 

“What I don’t want to happen is this document goes public and then it’s a ‘I told you, it’s not in the plan.’ Well, a lot of things are not in the plan. This is a general overview. That’s why I wanted this productive discussion because it will come up again.”

Voisin said he wanted to make sure the contract with the city doesn’t lead to a different discussion about whether not including Ozark Mountain Christmas violates the agreement.

“No content is included in this,” Voisin said. “That just shuts the conversation down.”

The committee members then said the creative elements of the marketing plan would be discussed at a later time when more data and analytics were available to members. 

The committee then voted unanimously to continue the marketing plan with the added line about creative content not being specifically mentioned.