Southern Living restaurant week, country concert planned for Manatee

Bradenton Area Visitors Bureau partnering with lifestyle magazine Southern Living as part of ad buy

cschelle@bradenton.comMay 23, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Tourism officials hope to offer a taste of Southern Living in the next year thanks to a partnership with the magazine.

The lifestyle and tourism magazine is working with the Bradenton Area Convention Center & Visitors Bureau to create a restaurant week in Manatee County, and is targeting Sept. 14-21, said Debbie Meihls, executive manager at the CVB.

The discussion was part of an event Thursday where local businesses learned about co-op advertising in publications and on websites where the CVB purchased space or have agreements to offer sweepstakes and promotions.

Details of the restaurant week have not been finalized, Meihls explained.

If the event goes as preliminary plans have it, Southern

Living would co-brand the event and bring staff to the Bradenton area to do foodie talks and travel segments on the area. The magazine's culinary staff would design a special entree, drink and dessert that all restaurants could offer on their menu, she said.

Southern Living has done similar events, including an annual Taste of Charleston in South Carolina, partnering with the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association.

A second component of the partnership with Southern Living includes a country music concert, Meihls said. Planning for that concert is in the very early stages and the magazine has not told the CVB who will headline the concert.

"I don't know the name of the person yet, but they are aligned with a country music star and will bring the star down for an event," she said.

Meihls said she is working to offer the concert during an off-peak tourist season, likely in 2014, to help boost visitor numbers here during the slowest times of the year for businesses. A venue has not been announced, either.

Working with high-profile musicians is nothing new for the magazine. Southern Living has a popular Biscuits & Jams segment where the magazine hosts country musicians to taste what's cooking in the test kitchen in Birmingham, Ala. Guests have included Zac Brown Band, Robert Earl Keen and Old Crow Medicine Show.

The CVB's $100,000 advertising deal with Southern Living is paid through what's commonly called a "bed tax" that hotel guests pay when they stay in Manatee County hotels or other short-term rentals. Four cents of the five-cent tax goes to marketing, advertising and promotion while the remaining penny pays for beach renourishment.

The local ads are expected to appear in the January, April, June and July 2014 issues of Southern Living.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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