While the city is still finalizing a contract, council members June 23 voted 4-1 in support of the two partnering agencies, selecting the proposal over a list of three finalists being considered for the position.
Ampersand CEO Cindy Montgomery said the full-service branding companies have experience in destination marketing and local and national retail clients, including Academy Sports & Outdoors, which has a location in Sunset Valley.
Montgomery called Sunset Valley a hidden gem within Austin, with shopping opportunities and green space. She said the firms would work to create a brand over time that reflects the city and differentiates Sunset Valley from neighbors such as West Lake Hills and the Hill County Galleria.
“We are not only a potential agency partner; we are your targets,” Montgomery said during a presentation June 23. “We live here; we shop here; we love it here. We’ve been an agency for more than 20 years, and our only office is in Austin, Texas.”
According to the presentation, the firm would also use cell phone data to research local shopping trends and develop targeted marketing. During the ongoing pandemic, they would work to keep those individuals who have visited Sunset Valley coming back and would use that group as a base to expand on to find future shoppers.
“We really responded to the RFP because we feel like we really know your community and your target audience, and we know them because we already work with them,” said Jose Canales, the CEO of Canales & Co. and a Sunset Valley resident. “We’re immersed in it. We saw it was an opportunity to work with a place that we’re very fond of and very familiar with.”
Council Member Rudi Rosengarten made the motion to select Ampersand and Canales, in part because of their local ties and familiarity with the city.
Council Member Melissa Gonzales said she was impressed with all of the proposals made June 23 but that the Ampersand and Canales presentation stood out.
“For me, Ampersand has the edge because of the emotional connection that’s important for who we are as a city,” Gonzales said. “My bias leans toward the artwork, and the edge in their artwork makes me want to go with Ampersand.”
Sunset Valley began looking for a new firm last summer and officially put out a request for proposals in November. After that request only returned two candidates, City Council hit pause to reassess the goals of the request.
The current process began March 30 and returned 11 total candidates. The city ranked the candidates based on their qualifications, and the three finalists—New York-based Resonance Consultancy, Irving-based Augustine Agency, and Ampersand and Canelas—were invited to make presentations June 23.
Mayor Rosa Cardona said she does not remember a time in the past when the city received such a strong pool of candidates for a request for proposals, and presentations given were a caliber above others the city has seen in the past.
“I have confidence council is going to make a good selection tonight, and that [Sunset Valley] would benefit from any of these three firms,” she said.
Council Member Phil Ellett, who voted against the motion, said he preferred the economic development aspects of the presentation by Resonance Consultancy. However, he said he was impressed with all three candidates.