Clewiston resident and professional fisherman Scott Martin has been in partnership with the city of Clewiston for some years to market the city and county on his nationally televised fishing show.
At the last commission meeting on Dec. 15, commissioners voted to approve an already budgeted $20,000 to Martin to continue his marketing efforts, but not until Martin proved to commissioners that his product was worth the investment.
At the preceding commission workshop on Dec. 11, Martin showed commissioners where their marketing dollars go: commercials, plugs and features on his TV show, logos and social media efforts.
Part of the city’s $20,000 investment is used to “name drop” Clewiston and Hendry County during Martin’s fishing show, The Scott Martin Challenge, which is seen by millions of TV viewers across the country. Martin has also filmed several shows not only on Lake Okeechobee, but in the city of Clewiston. This season, Martin plans to shoot two to three shows in Clewiston.
Martin also uses social media, such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to market the city and county. Every hit, tag, comment and like is a dollar well-spent, Martin said, and offers a tremendous value for the city.
When one of the characters from the hit TV show Duck Dynasty came through Clewiston to fish with Martin and his father, roughly 71,000 people were reached by the post of Martin and Mountain Man. Roughly 60,000 people were reached via a post of Martin’s daughter catching a big bass in one of Clewiston’s canals.
Clewiston is even marketed through logos on apparel. Martin talked about possibly changing the logo this year to the simple and catchy, “Fish Clewiston.”
Commissioners agreed that Clewiston and Hendry County could not be marketed as effectively with as little money by any other means, but one commissioner in particular was wary of putting the cart before the horse.
“I went through Clewiston and counted 14 empty buildings on U.S. 27. … We have all these people coming to Clewiston and we don’t have a place for them to stay. We don’t have a place for them to eat. We don’t have a place for their wives to go when their husbands are fishing. This city is tired, we need to clean it up. That’s where we should be focused, that’s where our money should go,” said Commissioner Rodriguez.
Commissioner Mali Gardner said she shared the same concerns, having counted nearly 30 empty store fronts along U.S. 27 and W.C. Owen just a year or so ago. But Commissioner Gardner said it is the commission’s responsibility to make sure the city tells a better story, and one of the ways to share that story is to be on nationwide television.
Commissioner Sherida Ridgdill added to the conversation.
“Everybody sitting here tonight believes that our town has some charm to it, that it has some jewels to it and we need to take care of what we have. We need to maintain what we have. We need controlled growth. The comprehensive plan we went over tonight — setting a vision and a plan — is what we as a commission need to do. We need to reach out to partnerships within the community. … If we pull our name back off of the map, so to speak, people are going to quit researching us,” said Commissioner Ridgdill.
Martin agreed that marketing is essential and said marketing funds should not be tied with rehabilitation funds, instead the two should work together.
Commissioners eventually voted 4-1, with Commissioner Rodriguez voting against the motion, to approve the $20,000 investment to market the city of Clewiston and Hendry County.