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San Diego Spins ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ Wins Free PR for Area Economy

The odds of San Diego , as good a candidate for bankruptcy as you’re likely to find , luring another Super Bowl without a new stadium are roughly on par with ____ freezing over. (It’s a four-letter word for a place.)

But who needs ’em when you’ve got “Wheel of Fortune” providing the kind of destination marketing that money can’t buy. And, unlike the Super Bowl, it cost the city nothing in the way of services.

To bring its cast and crew to town for three days of filming in late March that netted three weeks’ worth of half-hour segments to air between the end of April and mid-May, the syndicated Sony Pictures Television show dropped $2.5 million.

That sum included space rent at the San Diego Convention Center, where a temporary studio and offices were set up, 1,500 nightly hotel room stays for 125 people, including Executive Producer Harry Friedman and stars Pat Sajak and Vanna White, as well as the cost of hiring 175 locals who worked on the show as carpenters, riggers and stagehands.

Sure, the 2003 Super Bowl generated some big numbers: $194 million in direct spending, $7.3 million in sales tax revenue and an additional $4.5 million in hotel room tax.

The football game and related activities drew 348,000 visitors, while 138 million people watched it on TV.

“Wheel of Fortune,” which airs on 208 stations nationwide, as well as Canada, the Philippines and on the Armed Forces Network, boasts 14 million nightly viewers. Take that times 15, the number of shows touting San Diego, and you get 210 million , less than the number of Super Bowl viewers, but still very impressive. Especially considering that Wheel’s set, which depicted the iconic Hotel del Coronado, the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, the Gaslamp Quarter and Seaport Village is like a TiVo-proof tourism ad. And on top of that, White also spotlighted local attractions with on-site promos.

Not that the Super Bowl didn’t portray the city in all of its sunshiny splendor. It did. But as far as the TV audience was concerned, it was mostly about the game, unless you count those who may have tuned in to see a fight break out between Oakland Raiders’ and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fans. It didn’t.

San Diego hosted the Super Bowl two other times , in 1988 and again in 1998.

“Wheel of Fortune” has visited San Diego three times in 12 years, including three years ago, which is more than any other city in the country.

“We have visited very few cities more than once,” Friedman said. “We have a great partner in KNSD , Channels 7 and 39 , and the city makes us feel very welcome. Viewers like to see the show in places they’d like to visit, and San Diego is high on their list.”

Hear that Super Bowl?

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Addy’s Add Up To Recognition:

The San Diego Ad Club handed out 106 awards for excellence in 88 different advertising and graphic design categories to 32 different companies at its 2007 Addy’s Creative Show on March 23 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

Recipients of Best of Show awards were Digitaria in the professional category for the agency’s work for KCET-TV and Sean Hosam of the Art Institute of California at San Diego in the student category for his work on Bloomingdale’s brown bags.

Additionally, Paul Palmer, president and chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County, was honored as the 2007 recipient of the Paula E. Sullivan Award for outstanding career achievement.

He spent 37 years in radio, 24 of which were in San Diego. In 1972, at age 29, he became general manager of KFMB-AM and KFMB-FM. Following 22 years at KFMB, he launched Eagle 94.1 Radio, which was later sold to San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications. He joined Big Brothers Big Sisters in September 2002.

During the past year, the organization has doubled the number of children served within the county.

The award, named after the late Paula E. Sullivan, who opened the city’s first all-woman advertising agency in 1946, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated active involvement in the local advertising and graphic design industry and share their accomplishments and inspiration with the community.


Send media and marketing news to Connie Lewis via e-mail:

clewis@sdbj.com

. She may also be reached by phone at (858) 277-6359.

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