Island Issues

JAX Ad Agency Lays Another Branding Egg That Might Cost County Tax Payers $47,000

JAX Ad Agency Lays Another Branding Egg That Might Cost County Tax Payers $47,000

WOW! Is this “true to their nature?”

The Jacksonville-based Ketchum-Burdette marketing and advertising agency presented its revised Nassau County branding program to the County Board of Commissioners last Monday. It didn’t go well. 

Locals  in the chambers didn’t like what they saw and said so, with several approaching the lectern to voice their blunt disapproval. If anybody agreed they stayed quiet. And if any of the commissioners liked it they also didn’t say, watching passively as the $47,000 worth of “project deliverables” of a new logo, proposed seal, and tagline were displayed by the firm’s President and CEO Will Ketchum.

Following the presentation and public criticism the Commission voted to postpone a decision on accepting the agency’s latest effort until its Monday, July 23, 6 p.m. meeting.

This was the Jacksonville firm’s second shot at providing a new brand for the county. Its previous effort included a seal that featured a railroad track, a spike and what suspiciously looked like a pot leaf, along with the tagline: “True to Our Nature.” That lame effort met with a unanimous “HUH?”

The agency’s most recent effort includes a new logo and seal shown here, with the same tagline.

Nobody but the Jacksonville agency seems to have any idea what  the tagline “True to Our Nature” means. Mr. Ketchum says that all the “Project Deliverables” were designed: “So that you’re inspired to be true to your unique character as you pursue your dreams.” Well, that certainly clears that up. And yes, he really said that with a straight face. He even had it on one of his presentation charts titled “Nassau County Value Proposition.”

Maybe I don’t get it because I’m not a member of  what Mr. Ketchum says is the targeted audience of:  “…those who seek authenticity and integrity in everything.”

I used to be in the public relations, advertising and marketing business where clear, crisp and understandable language was customary among my associates and expected by our audiences. It appears a lot has changed. I don’t recall me or my colleagues ever spouting such inane twaddle, at least not while sober.

Some local folks in attendance were taken aback by the price for such a meager offering, with one  business owner asking to see an itemized list of expenses. In an attempt to defend his agency’s efforts Mr. Ketchum began sputtering something about “billable hours” but was interrupted by Commissioner Steve Kelley who asked the agency head to provide implementation costs.

How did it get to this point? I was told in May by former County Manager Shanea Jones that since the amount was under $50,000 the request didn’t have to go out for bids. The money was in   her “discretionary budget” so she didn’t have to seek approval. Instead of asking the highly qualified and already budgeted Nassau County Economic Development Board for its advice and assistance, the Commission instead discussed cutting the budget of this successful organization, while it’s apparently willing to waste almost 50 grand for a new tagline and logo. And nobody considered asking the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council or the Chambers of Commerce for their advice or guidance. It doesn’t add up.   

One lady told the Commissioners that the agency’s image of the flying egret was misleading saying: “Egrets don’t fly with their heads up.” I don’t know a darn thing about birds but I investigated her accusation and it appears she may be onto something, since I couldn’t find a single image of an egret in flight that resembled the one proposed by Mr. Ketchum on his new logo.

Here’s a “heads up” for  the Nassau County Commission. If  it adopts this or any other new branding concept, the $47,000 will look like chump change, as implementation of the new program will cost tax payers a bundle. Road, truck, car and building signs, uniforms, stationery, business cards, and more will all have to be changed to reflect the new county image. That won’t be cheap.

I suggest that the county might want to review the contract with the agency to see if it is on the hook for the entire $47,000 and if there is any way to retrieve some of that wasted money. I also suggest that in the future discretionary budgets be reviewed, and those who have authority to use one, submit a monthly report to their supervisor explaining any proposed expenditures.

For a county looking at a multimillion dollar budget deficit, actively seeking programs in which to cut expenses, and considering raising taxes on  home owners, a new image of the county might more appropriately be tax payers giving the bird to the Commission, and I don’t mean an egret.


Something To Think About: “If people really knew what others said about them, there would not be four friends left in the world.” — Mathematician Blaise Pascal.


Mail Call: In response to a recent blog about failing U.S. newspapers an alert, dedicated reader, part-time Amelia Island resident, and upstate Plattsburgh area, New Yorker, Dave Wilcox, mailed me a hand-written letter recently with a newspaper clipping from his local weekly, the Sun Community News. The editorial he included decries the Trump tariffs on Canadian news print saying they will lead to the shuttering of more U. S. news outlets. However, what impressed me most about Mr. Wilcox’s letter was the fact that he took time to handwrite a note, attached a news clipping, stuff it into an envelope that he personally addressed, added a stamp and mailed it. Think about it. How many times does the mailman stick a handwritten letter in your mailbox. And when he does, I’m betting it’s the first thing you open, right?  I like getting mail and so does our grandson, Luke, so that’s why I keep a batch of postcards on my desk that I send the little guy on occasion, much to his delight. Thanks Mr. Wilcox for your gesture.


An  Investment Tip To Hang Onto: In response to President Andrew Jackson’s pronouncement: “I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct, upon the first tree I can find,” a South Carolina politician is reported to have remarked: “When Andrew Jackson starts talking about hanging people, it’s time to start investing in rope.”

Jackson’s rage was directed at South Carolina politicians who threatened to prevent enforcement of federal laws within their state creating what was called the Nullification Crisis, 1832-1833.

If Jackson were around today investors would be frantically buying rope futures while California politicians and officials from mayors to state legislators, the governor, local sheriffs, police chiefs and others would be nervously looking over their shoulders due to their obstruction of the enforcement of federal immigration laws by creating sanctuary cities, not turning over illegal immigrant felons to ICE, etc.

I’m not advocating lynching, but it’s either time to start enforcing the law or for Congress to change it. Following President Jackson’s pronouncement Congress took action. It passed the Force Act that authorized the use of military force against any state that resisted.


Old Fashioned Dining Etiquette: When I was growing up there were three things that we never had at our table — elbows, hats and phones. And there were always two choices for each meal — take it or leave it.


Technology Is Passing Me By: I purchased a new Apple iPhone from the  local AT&T store on Sadler Road recently and when I got it home my emails began going haywire. Emails I received on the new phone began vaporizing just seconds after they arrived. I returned to the AT&T store where one employee shrugged her shoulders and told me she had only been employed  there for three days while the other more experienced one, tried without success to remedy my problem. I then traveled to a larger AT&T store in River City, a Best Buy Store Geek Squad desk, and the Apple store in Town Center, all without any of their tech experts being able to explain or fix my problem.

My last stop was Megabite, a small computer services shop located at 531 South 8th Street where I encountered Deryck, a pleasant and knowledgeable fellow who quickly analyzed the issue, provided a workable solution, and  in less than an hour — for less money than I spent on gas traveling to Jacksonville and back twice.

I now have an new email address (  because the one I’ve had for almost 20 years that had “bellsouth” in it apparently became Yahoo, which was purchased by Verizon, which is  a competitor of AT&T, and so on, and then it all went kaplooey inside my new iphone. This is all very complicated and confusing as well as very, very annoying and frustrating. It was like buying a new car and having the engine shut down each time you turned on the radio or adjusted the rearview mirror.

Folks using this blog’s email are still able to send me messages as Dyreck is somehow having the old email address forward emails to my new address for up to six months, by which time folks should know my new email address. Don’t ask me how any of this works because I don’t know. I do know I’m glad I found Deryck. Call him at 904/430-0350 or check him out at


Things I Wish I’d Said: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I’m afraid this wasn’t it” — Groucho Marx.


Drinking, Dining & DancingThe Main Beach Sandbar will be celebrating a very, very happy hour, all day long this Monday, July 16, to mark its first anniversary. Beginning when the doors open at 11 a.m. Bud Light and Yuengling pint drafts will be just a buck until closing. There will be door prizes given out every 30 minutes and one dollar Fire Ball shots will be provided from 11 a.m. to noon, three to four and seven to eight. The Jack Fire Girls will be in house from two until four and the Three Olive Girls from 4:30 until six. There will also be one dollar slices of pizza at hours I haven’t been able to determine but I’ll be there. The new Lagniappe (lan-yap) restaurant at 4810 First Coast Highway next to the Harris Teeter grocery store complex, officially opened to the public this past Tuesday. Lagniappe, a Creole word meaning to give a little something extra, is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Brian and Melanie Grimley, who recently sold downtown’s Lulu’s at the Thompson House on South 7th Street. Their new eatery is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight, offering lunch, dinner as well as a late menu. Chef Carey Todd, who has owned and worked in restaurants locally for 20 years is working side-by-side with Brian in the kitchen while wife Melanie handles the front end of the house. Prices are extremely reasonable for the variety of Creole-southern kitchen selections including appetizers of  Bang Island mussels with blue cheese and bacon for $12 to Norwegian steel head salmon brulee ($15), jumbo lump crab cake ($15) and a southern meat and cheese board for an economical $16, the most expensive item on that part of the menu. There are others as well like the half sandwich and a cup of soup for just $12, but those caught my eye. The Fat Men From Space will be paying a visit soon to tuck into the $12 half pound double cheeseburger that comes with a side of Creole potato salad as do all the eatery’s lunch time sandwiches, which are all very reasonably priced with the most expensive ones at $14 and for that you get a crab cake sandwich, or something called an “L” burger for with an onion ring, tomato jam and arugula. There are also Po Boys with shrimp or fish for $12 and one with oysters for $14, a pastrami on rye for $14, plus many more, none over $14. Salads are also plentiful ranging in price from $7 for the  Caesar and house version and $18 for a crabmeat maison one. The dinner menu is equally varied and reasonably priced with the most expensive thing I could find being a $32 filet mignon or New York strip with a variety of vegetables included and a crab cake dinner. Friend Joe Murphy raves about the $28 seared ocean scallops with leek potato puree, corn and bacon saute, that he says was more than he could eat. My favorites on the  late night menu were the $12 “Daily Poutine”, featuring that day’s gravy with cheese curds and fries, making this the only place on the island or nearby that serves this unusual Canadian treat. Oh, you can even get a corn dog for just $8, about the same price as one at the county fair. There are a number of other main courses, sides, lunches and late night offerings, ensuring that it’ll take a number of visits to sample this tasty and varied menu. And why not drop the wife off at Harris Teeter and then stop by between 4-6 p.m. for happy hour at the cozy 18 seat bar. Call ’em at 904/844-2634.


Vince Cavallo - 15. Jul, 2018 -

My wife and I had dinner at Lagniappe Sat evening. Thanks for the tip as we really enjoyed the food and decor.
I had commented negatively before about the county logo fiasco. Did anyone ever tell them the adage: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? Interestingly, this is the same county that is considering re lining the eastern part of Sadler to the tune of $100K to determine if the concept of a more urban look, including parking meters, would appeal to the populace. That would be $100K they don’t have in a road repair budget already inadequate for maintaining what are considered substandard county roadways.

Dave Wilcox - 14. Jul, 2018 -

We have been a fan of Brian and Melanie’s LuLu’s at the Thompson House, and am glad to hear they have successfully moved to their new digs. This winter, when we learned of their impending relocation and name change to a clever but unpronounceable one, we suggested an alternative: (not NewLu’s but rather) NuLu’s at Harris Teeter. They demurred. I guess they thought I worked for Ketchum-Burdette.
p.s. Glad you enjoyed receiving my hand-written letter.

Colson Hillier - 13. Jul, 2018 -

Old Fashioned Dining Etiquette: Right on Dave, no elbows, no hats, had to finish everything on your plate and phones were never a problem since we had a “party line”. Many of todays young diners have hats, phones, elbows and hardly ever talk to each other! What has happened to actual conversation? Sort of like that hand written letter! Of course, many schools today do not even teach cursory writing so the future looks really bleak.

Lagniappe was outstanding for lunch this week -had the 1/2 Pastrami sandwich with Gumbo soup which was delicious. Understand they are looking into some shades for the separate dining room by the parking area which gets a little hot. Great one of a kind bar whiskies/scotches and selling all the wonderful condiments they use as well.

Charlie Freeman - 13. Jul, 2018 -

Hey Dave,
going back a few weeks ago. I saw Tonys Pizza is moving into Beef O Brady’s old spot. Are they going to cater to local’s or charge $5 for a 12 oz glass of beer like the other tourist traps do? I was so hoping someone would of reopened BOB’s with the same menu and prices

David Scott - 13. Jul, 2018 -

Charlie, the five buck beer gets you a pint glass at least if I recall correctly. When I first arrived on the island beer at Tony’s was a buck for a 12 ounce glass. The joint only has four bar stools so it isn’t exactly a beer joint sports bar hangout, but I agree that five bucks is beyond what I want to pay even while waiting for a take out pizza. If he’s going to run a bar in his new digs, he’ll have to reconsider his prices or he won’t be in the bar business for long, particularly with the nearby competition.

Daniel Sloughter (Dan the Scooby-Doo van man) - 13. Jul, 2018 -

It’s always great and disturbing to read your blog! Headlining the absolute corruption and incompetence of our local government always makes me shake my head in disbelief that our “elected” officials can and are this financially reckless with Nassau County’s taxpayers’ money. And for what? A truly pathetic logo that most of our High school kids could do a better job at producing!
Realistically if the City and or County would have proposed a “Graphics Competition” and opened it up to the public (Nassau County Residents Only) to develop a new County Logo with the winning entry being awarded $10,000.00. I am without a doubt sure that the resulting entries would embarrass this lame and “professional” Jacksonville firm while saving $37,000.00 of not the county, but rightfully the County taxpayers money. Funds that could be spent fixing other (Cough, cough— “Marina”) needed public embarrassments within the county. With dozens of active and retired graphics artist living in our county and many aspiring young adults whom I can only guess would and could use this “award” to financially assist or further their education. But still, just my opinion based on observations made from seeing the wounds of bad decisions made by our local government officials as our county bleeds our taxpayers’ hard earned cash without anyone being held responsible for the results of their incompetence and complete lack of common sense….

Steve Hall - 13. Jul, 2018 -

I’d say that logo and theme would probably work just fine for Nassau in the Bahamas [maybe they’ll pay the bill].

Susan Goldman - 13. Jul, 2018 -

Great review of Lagniappe. Dave. Right on.

Tom Yankus - 13. Jul, 2018 -

I’ll stand by what I said a few months back to save taxpayers $47,000. The gifted classes and/or art classes at any of the county schools could have come up with a better logo and emblem. Oh, well…

Larry Thornberry - 13. Jul, 2018 -

Steers need brands. When did counties start needing brands? Perhaps if taxpayers started taking branding irons to public officials who waste money on nonsense like this…

Charles Brown - 13. Jul, 2018 -

I have had the email address of since September 15, 1985 which was the day my son Ryan was born. Over the years I have used various models of I-phone and IPAD as my traveled have taken me to service areas of Bellsouth, US Cellular, Verizon, AT&T, Atlantic Telephone, Bellsouth again, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, Comcast, and back to Verizon. Today I still use this address on an AT&T purchased phone on the Verizon network and never lost an email. Sounds like you were just given bandaids with the real issue not uncovered.