TV spots for Bennington will air through fall foliage season

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BENNINGTON — Two new commercials being broadcast on two Albany, N.Y., TV stations aim to bring visitors to Bennington, a message its creators hope will make impressions on viewers across New York's Capital Region and the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

It's the largest marketing campaign of its kind, according to Eric Peterson with Oldcastle Theatre Company, who said the response has been very enthusiastic.

And it comes at a critical moment in Bennington's economic and business future: The proposed re-development of the Putnam Block, a multi-million project.

"Bennington is going to be changing," Peterson, the organization's producing artistic director, told the Banner on Friday. "There's quite a bit here and there will be more to offer. We wanted to set the table to get people thinking about coming to Bennington."

The local creative team worked for several months on the commercials, which show local restaurants, businesses and cultural attractions downtown. It's all shot by local videographer Mike Cutler. The two thirty-second commercial spots will re-air on Channel 10, WTEN-TV and Channel 13, WNYT-TV through October.

In February, Oldcastle received a $15,000 grant from the Citizens for a Greater Bennington, which came from a settlement the citizen's group reached with the developer behind the new WalMart in 2013. Oldcastle had to match the funds with an additional $10,000, which Peterson said was donated by the theater company, local businesses and the hospital.

Peterson noted the expansive size of the Albany market: There's nearly a million people in the Capital Region alone. And with viewers across southern Vermont and western Massachusetts, the two TV stations reach over a million people.

Cutler and Peterson worked with an ensemble of local business and economic development leaders including Matt Harrington, Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce executive director; former community development director Mike McDonough; and John Shannahan, executive director for the Bennington Downtown Alliance.

Peterson provided the voice overs. Cutler said he had an idea what attractions to feature.

"I was born and raised here, and was excited to show off what a great little town this is," Cutler said.

The ads end with a wide aerial shot of Bennington shows a sweeping view of the Green Mountains, Bennington Battle Monument, and more. Cutler caught that shot with his drone.

The project "was about how quick and efficient can we put the grant funds received by Oldcastle for marketing downtown to use," said Harrington. The team had an idea of the general pitch — showing "a vibrant downtown Bennington — as well as sites and images they wanted to show.

"We're hoping that day and weekend trippers in that region, which spans from Schenectady to Lake George, got to see some of the amazing sights and sounds in these Bennington commercials and perhaps, gave downtown Bennington priority on their must-go trips for this fall," he said.

Shannahan, a member of the citizen's group, said it's exactly what the money should be spent on.

The TV spots will run through the fall foliage season, Peterson said.

"We'd love to raise the money to run them again and make more down the line," he said, adding that without startup money, it's more difficult.

The team also gave kudos to folks at both stations: Channel 10, the ABC affiliate, and Channel 13, NBC affiliate, have aired shortened versions of each spot and also shared the commercials on social media.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.


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