Santa Clara County re-branding efforts scrapped

Santa Clara County Supervisors Tuesday pulled an item that would have approved a $1,150,000 public relations contract to re-brand the county and its services.

County Executive Jeff Smith initially recommended the Board move forward with the contract but at the last-minute requested they pull the item for further review.

"At this point I want to go back and look at it more carefully," Smith told KTVU after the meeting. "I just wasn't comfortable bringing the whole contract before the board today."

In an earlier memo to the Board, Smith recommended the Board of Supervisors approve a contract with New York-based public relations firm Keating for a re-branding campaign with a maximum payout of $1,150,000 from the general fund.

"Maybe we could go get some more quotes? Because that seems like a lot of money," said Brenda Chastaine from Los Gatos.

The proposal listed a number of services including a new logo for the county and some of its 38 departments, possibly creating an iconic monument and a more modern website.

And up to $10,000 for the firm's travel expenses.

"I think the money could be spent better elsewhere, for instance with the school district," said Parisa Kubota of Santa Clara.

Smith says the reason he wants to hire a branding firm is to have a consistent message and look across the county and its departments.

"What we had was a fragmented message. Some message from the health system, different message from social services, a different message from the Sheriff," said Smith.

Santa Clara County is one of the largest employers in the county and offers thousands of services.

Smith pointed to a county-funded commercial done by another firm that features dancing babies.

He says that commercial instead of highlighting county services instead promoted the county-run hospital instead.

"As a taxpayer, we want to see our money is spent wisely and we're getting the best deal for our dollars," said Chastaine.

"We're being prudent--we will rethink it," said Smith.

The county executive says he still wants to look into hiring the firm, just on a less-expensive case-by-case job.

Smith says county has already spent $150,000 for the initial assessment.