Board members express dissatisfaction with billboards


April 10, 2019

Several members of the Tucumcari Lodgers’ Tax Board on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the design of new tourism billboards west of the city.

Members said they liked the design for the “Tucumcari Tonite” billboard with images of neon. However, they said other billboards along Interstate 40 west of Tucumcari that show the disc-golf course, area lakes and the dinosaur museum are difficult to read and don’t clearly indicate the attractions are in or near Tucumcari.

City Manager Britt Lusk noted the billboards’ image designer, the Sunny505 marketing firm of Albuquerque, might be following guidelines from the state tourism office.

David Brenner, a former board chairman sitting in the audience, said three billboards are not clear they are advertising Tucumcari and are “impossible to read.” City Finance Director Rachelle Arias said the word “Tucumcari” is on the billboards, but it is too small.

Board Chairman Larry Smith said Sunny505 might need to redesign the images to make them clearer.

“I think they make fine print ads, but they’re not meant for billboards,” Smith said.

Sun Vista Outdoor Advertising owns the billboards. Lamar Advertising soon will erect new Tucumcari tourism billboard images on I-40 east of the city.

Earlier in the meeting, Dezaree Vega-Garcia of Sunny505 went over Tucumcari tourism initiatives for the spring and summer:

• A Facebook campaign in April through June;

• A custom email campaign in May that could reach 500,000 people;

• A video at Albuquerque International Sunport’s baggage claim;

• An ad with the Pandora music-streaming service that can reach 625,000 people;

• A Viant digital campaign from June through August that can make up to 2 million impressions.

Lusk said the city is working on a possible renewal of Sunny505’s contract, which expires in mid-April. The city in April 2018 entered into a one-year, $50,000 contract with the firm, formerly known as Griffin and Associates, to boost its tourism marketing efforts. Griffin merged with HK Advertising in Santa Fe in January and changed its name.

In other business by the board:

• It reimbursed $2,555 in expenses by organizers of the New Mexico Music Showcase set for May 3-4. However, City Clerk Angelica Gray said organizers should reconsider doing business with two partners in the future because they don’t hold businesses licenses in the city.

The two firms identified as not having licenses were Drastiksoundz and Graphixs and Luciano Montano-LM Designs. One of the event’s organizers, Jerry Lopez, said he would consider dropping them if they didn’t procure licenses.

Board members approved the reimbursement “with the understanding (vendors) must abide by the rules.” Lusk said the city in the future might address enforcement of Tucumcari businesses and licensing.

Lopez said the New Mexico Music Showcase is advertising the event with flyers, banners, Facebook and radio stations in Lubbock, Texas, and Las Vegas, New Mexico. Organizers also are considering advertising the event on a billboard at Route 66 and First Street.

• The board heard an update via teleconference from Brian Whitcomb, organizer of the Rockin’ Route 66 festival June 27-30. He said it has drawn “heavy hitters and influencers” in music acts from both sides of the country, including Annie Marie Lewis (niece of music legend Jerry Lee Lewis). The full lineup is at

Whitcomb said he secured television appearances at stations in Amarillo and Albuquerque before the festival. He said he also has connected with Route 66 enthusiasts from the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Australia and Canada who plan to attend.

He said he’s landed sponsorships from national companies and several area motels, restaurants and other businesses. The Odeon Theatre, he said, will host a cruise-in before a screening of the 1973 film “American Graffiti.” He said he anticipates more events will be in Tucumcari’s Old Town area next year.

• Answering a question from board member Al Patel, Arias said the new owner of Tucumcari Mountain’s north face no longer is allowing Tucumcari High School’s senior class to whitewash rocks that form the big “T” on the mesa. She said city officials may negotiate with the owner to allow the class of 2020 to refurbish the “T” next year, but not enough time remains in the current school year for the Class of 2019 to do it.

• The board will hold a special budget meeting at city hall at 10 a.m. April 17.


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