The CBS daytime soap opera “As the World Turns” will be filming in Branson and tax dollars may be on their way to help make sure the cast gets here. Five percent of acquired tourism tax dollars are set aside into a contingency fund for unforeseen and unbudgeted marketing opportunities that may present themselves. On March 23 Concept Marketing pitched the Taney County Enhancement District (TCED) and the Branson Chamber of Commerce on donating dollars to help with expenses related to filming in Branson. Concept Marketing asked for $47,000 and the TCED board granted $36,223 by unanimous vote. Approved funds will provide airfare, shuttle and limousine services for the crew and executives during their stay in Branson. An $11,000 line item for a reception was set aside for further discussion, denied until attorney Hank Griffin can conduct legal research.
Recent “As the World Turn” plot lines have included such popular topics as male rape, hospital swapped babies, stem cells and adultery. Love it or hate it, our target audience tunes in. Kent Turner said he did not think our customers would blame Branson for displayed promiscuity. Dan Lennon of the Branson Chamber of Commerce -notes “As the World Turns” attracts a demographic past advertising campaigns have targeted. Lennon specifically notes the television show attracts a high percentage of female 34 to 64 year old T1 to T4s, marketing code for rural Americans rich and poor.
The question, “How will Branson be portrayed?” raised questions from Branson Alderman Dick Gass who said, “the only risk that I see is that we’re trying to change some of the image of Branson…blacked out teeth and playing guitar.” In order to flush out any preconceived notions, Lennon is guiding CBS representatives on an April tour to show what Branson has to offer. CBS has stated their intentions are pure and that they want to shoot in Branson to engage a loyal base of soap opera fans that enjoy Branson as a vacation destination. It’s not our place to judge what CBS deems appropriate for their audience and script approval isn’t an option the company is putting on the table.
Concept Marketing is not directly profiting off the venture. John Wallen said their firm has spent $12,000 to date and credits Ann Reinke for her hard work in gaining the interest and commitment from CBS. Concept Marketing views the project as an opportunity to network and collaborate with the community. The company has made an open invitation to businesses that want to participate in the project. Entities that provide resources such as lodging and food for the cast will be included in location shots and credits. Parties interested in contributing to the project can contact Ann Reinke of Concept Marketing at (417) 339-4555
*The BDI article I wrote ended with:
It's not our place to judge what CBS deems appropriate for their audience and script approval isn't an option the company is putting on the table.
This was a hard story for me. Elements of the draft above didn't make it into Sunday's Branson Daily Independent. The story should have taken a couple hours but I spent nearly a dozen trying to figure out how to honor the people who are making the effort to bring the soap into town and keeping the public informed with the facts about civic actions taken with their hard earned money.
The fact that tax dollars are helping fund the project brings the situation into a new light. Many sub-issues weren't addressed; however, if the 9 million media impressions are as valuable as some have suggested we should easily be able to generate several times the funds needed to facilitate CBS in a dramatically hospitable way. Since taxes are being used, local companies should have an equal shot at the opportunity to contribute funding for coverage...here's a model:
60k - Where Soap Stars Pick Up Tickets
30k - Where CBS is housed
17k - Actual Theater CBS is Using
7k - Restaurant Promotion
Just a start...more on this later.