Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

The village of Brookfield will move forward with a new strategy for marketing the village as a destination, one that will focus more generally on what the village has to offer after launching an unsuccessful rebate program last year.

On July 18, Brookfield Chamber of Commerce officials voted to partner with the village in paying the Libertyville-based marketing firm Bee-line Communications to execute a campaign that will combine a website that highlights local businesses and attractions with Facebook and Google advertising to drive traffic to the website, which will help people plan their days in town.

Bee-line will also “create publicity kits to promote the village beyond online advertising opportunities for placement in various community paper publications,” according to the firm’s proposal to the village.

While the marketing campaign will acknowledge Brookfield Zoo as a major tourist attraction that draws millions to the area, the goal is to market Brookfield independently of the zoo.

That is a much different approach than the one the village took last year in late summer, when it engaged the Chicago-based company A5 Inc. to create a rebate program known as Brookfield Bucks.

The campaign, also launched in partnership with the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, targeted zoo visitors specifically, offering them a $15 rebate if they spent at least $75 at a Brookfield business within a week of their visit.

 Brookfield Bucks got off the ground in the latter part of August and was not a success. The village and chamber of commerce split the roughly $9,500 cost for creating and managing Brookfield Bucks, which resulted in just five $15 rebates – all of them for purchases made at Tischler Finer Foods in Brookfield.

The Bee-line Communications’ marketing campaign comes at a total cost of $22,000, with $6,000 of that total being paid by the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, said Brookfield Trustee Brian Conroy, who worked directly with chamber officials to come to an agreement on another village-chamber partnership.

While Bee-line Communications initially had targeted launching the new program in late May to capture the full summer season at Brookfield Zoo, the timeline was delayed after the Brookfield Chamber in June asked a chamber member, Boxless Media, to submit a marketing proposal.

In the end, the chamber agreed to go with Bee-line Communications.

“While Boxless Media is definitely a strong contender for certain tactical pieces, I think as far as a global campaign that we’re looking at, I felt Bee-line is a better choice,” Conroy told Brookfield trustees at their meeting on July 12.

The village board delayed giving staff the go-ahead to begin working with Bee-line Communications at that time, because the Brookfield Chamber leadership had not yet voted on a preferred vendor. They unanimously agreed to go with Bee-line on July 18, giving village staff the green light to engage Bee-line Communications.

Due to the delay in getting started, Bee-line’s CEO, Stacey McClenathan, told trustees she would recommend extending the campaign through the end of 2021. Once given the go-ahead, McClenathan said her company could have a Brookfield marketing website up within two weeks.

“The summer is super important,” she said.

Once created, the new website will be owned by the village and can be used after the new marketing campaign comes to an end. The website will exist independently from the village’s own government site.

“In building this other digital property, which would be very easy to update, you’re actually making it easier for people to find and discover you,” McClenathan told trustees on July 12. “We’re going to create something that’s engaging for residents and visitors of Brookfield to be educated about the businesses and plan their day, and it’s something that can be built upon in future campaigns.”

Having the website, said McClenathan, would prove more useful at the end of the day than spending money solely on digital advertising or podcasts highlighting local businesses and attractions.

“You’d use them once and then they’re gone,” McClenathan said. “There’s no legacy there.”

This article has been changed to clarify that the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce asked Boxless Media to submit a marketing proposal for consideration.