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City, county moving forward on marketing strategy to attract retirees; $60,000 to $80,000 annual media campaign may be on tap


The business of attracting lucrative retirees to live in Lawrence and Douglas County is beginning to get a clearer price tag.

It looks like it will take around $60,000 to $80,000 worth of advertising a year to get the job done.

Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday meeting are being asked to approve a contract with the Lawrence-based Kern Group to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to convince higher-end retirees that Lawrence and Douglas County are great places to settle.

The company — which is led by advertising and marketing veteran Mark Kern — will create a title/slogan for the effort, a logo, a Web site, a package of marketing materials to provide to interested retirees, and concepts for radio, television, print and Internet ads.

The proposed contract calls for that work to cost $34,500, with the city and the county splitting the costs. But the more substantial commitment comes in the form of an annual advertising budget that Kern estimates will need to be in the $60,000 to $80,000 range each year. At least a couple of years of that type of spending, but maybe four or five, may be in order, the proposal suggest. Kern has suggested a good amount of that money, however, can come from private partners in the community that would benefit by having a larger retiree presence in the city. Creating a list of those potential partners is one of the things Kern will do as part of the initial contract.

It will be interesting to see what type of slogan or tag line the marketing folks come up with for Lawrence and Douglas County. Maybe: Lawrence: Where ’Hawks Come to Roost and Retire. Or DOuglas County: We DO retirement. Or since edgy seems to be all the rage in advertising these days: Lawrence: Where Keg Stands aren’t Just for the Young. (Yeah, I don’t understand why the advertising people never invite me to lunch.)

Expect whatever campaign develops (I haven’t yet trademarked the ones above, but you had better hurry) to have a strong element designed to attract KU alumni. Kern’s proposal calls for developing advertising that would work well in various KU publications, such as the Alumni Association and KU Endowment’s magazines. Plus, the marketers will look at developing television advertising to run in the other regional cities that televise Jayhawk sporting events.

Douglas County leaders are optimistic that attracting the right type of retiree will greatly increase the amount of disposable income in Lawrence and Douglas County and provide a boost to area businesses.

This marketing contract is just the latest budget item to come up related to the retiree efforts. The city and county earlier agreed to restructure the Douglas County Senior Services Board and put it in charge of overseeing the Web site and the retiree attraction efforts.

As a result, Lawrence and Douglas County also have both expressed a willingness to provide additional funding to Douglas County Senior Services as it seeks to hire a new director that has the skill set to lead the retiree attraction program. It previously has been estimated that could require the salary of the approximately $55,000 a year position to be boosted by $15,000 to $25,000 a year to attract the right candidate.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday. Maybe by then I’ll have some other slogans. Oooh, got one: Lawrence: Where You’re Never Old Enough to Know Better.


headdoctor 5 years ago

They are bound and determined to ruin Lawrence. There goes the schools, neighborhoods, etc and pretty much anything else that would keep Lawrence as a thriving university town. Many retirees may have money but that doesn't mean they want to spend it. Let the grouchy get off my lawn I don't want to deal with the younger generation bunch move to a retirement city in Arizona.

gccs14r 5 years ago

This, too. Our slogan should not be, "Lawrence: where Hope goes to die."

gccs14r 5 years ago

How about spending that money on fixing the sidewalks so seniors can safely move around their neighborhoods? Marketing is worthless if the product is junk.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

What about all the old people who already live here and have done so for a long time? Is it because people who have worked here their entire lives don't have as much money as those from other places?

MarcoPogo 5 years ago

Lawrence, KS: God's Waiting Room

kernal 5 years ago

Nah, they're looking for retirees with money.

Ken Miller 5 years ago

Lawrence: Kevorkian Liked It Here.

xyz 5 years ago

Return to Lawrence: Re-Live Your Misspent Youth!

jack22 5 years ago

Lawrence, where we are so desperate we'll spend $80,000 to convince you to move here.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years ago

No. Not to my knowledge. Thanks, Chad

Old_Oread_Phart 5 years ago

I'm sure one-eyed Wilbur will have a couple of suggestions. Maybe he could serve as the poster-geezer.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

We would love to have you if you are in the top 25% financially. Otherwise the tax increases will eat you alive if you are on a fixed income!! Elitism is alive and well and thriving right here in Lawrence

SOONERthanlater 5 years ago

Oh Great! Just what we need, more elderly drivers on our streets going 10 mph under the speed limit. We have bike lanes, can we get "Old People" lanes?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

This is more local corporate welfare. The senior citizen condo's are not filled and the new old folks home in Baur Farms cannot fill up fast enough = there was a not a market for this in the first place. Now comes another local taxpayer bailout which could be prevented if local commissioners would do their homework instead of choosing speculation.

I noticed a story on best places to retire and Lawrence was not among this list of about 100 locations. Of course Boulder was among the top 10. Mild summers,ski slopes and local trout fishing in the city as the water comes rushing down from the slopes. And there is no Sam Brownback and a right wing legislature messing with senior citizen programs.

Meet nonsense....

"As a result, Lawrence and Douglas County also have both expressed a willingness to provide additional funding to Douglas County Senior Services as it seeks to hire a new director that has the skill set to lead the retiree attraction program. It previously has been estimated that could require the salary of the approximately $55,000 a year position to be boosted by $15,000 to $25,000 a year to attract the right candidate."

I say leave the senior center completely out of local politics = hands off. Keep that political person and political position in city hall. Don't contaminate the Senior Service Center. It is a wonderful place with outstanding customer service.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Old people know all about Lawrence,Kansas. That is why they bring their children here and go back home. The many new drinking establishments and fewer retail shops tells them all they need to know. Which should not matter for they have better things to do with their time than "shop till they drop" which defeats one purpose for attracting them.

I say design this down for pedestrians and cyclists which indicates progress and safe travel. There is money within this segment of the population although it is younger more active money. This might also attract the very active baby boom seniors who want more than a rockin' chair. Lot's of outdoor walk and bike trail venues throughout the east, south and north parts of town for this crew of seniors makes way more sense. Baby boomers love the outdoors.

Some folks in this town believe the old folks want to live in only west and northwest Lawrence then die. Wrong again.

patkindle 5 years ago

ku grads and jayhawk sport fans with a bucket full of money to live on may be attracted to lawrence. other towns with more to offer are spending alot more to attract retirees , so lawrence will lose again.

Katara 5 years ago

Formal dining room citrus trees? Oooo... I bet that is a deal maker.

Katara 5 years ago

Seriously? Selling points is it is just a short golf cart ride to Jack In the Box? And an interior courtyard with sliding glass doors?

The problem wasn't with Lawrence, it is just that these people you hoodwinked into moving across the county must have terrible low standards for amenities.

I think I'd prefer Lawrence. I hope I'd never turn out to be so bitter in my old age that I'd move to a town that doesn't allow children to live there.

Tomato 5 years ago

No children? Well you just sold it for me.

Wilbur's retirement community sounded way better than Lawrence (dining aside).

But now that you've revealed that there are no kids there... wow. I'm thinking of moving there right now.

irvan moore 5 years ago

i sure wish they'd attract a red lobster and a golden corral instead of more of us old people

steveguy 5 years ago

If the retirees have money they will not come to Lawrence.

KS 5 years ago

If you want to attract seniors, just set up free programs and a happy hour at 4PM. Build it and they will come.

Armstrong 5 years ago

How about

Lawrence, where the wannabe "cultural elite" want to redistribute your money

Stephanie Hull 5 years ago

Old hippies never die... they just move to Lawrence.

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