Tracy: KCMO Ad Agency Bangs Taxpayer-Funded Juco for $120k for New Logo

 Bernstein-Rein Advertising has donated dozens of branding campaigns to local charities over the years…

Good for them.  So why are they hitting up Johnson County taxpayers for $120,000 to “rebrand” our crown jewel, Johnson County Community College?  My question to Bob Bernstein, our venerated dean of advertising is –where’s the love, bro?

I know, I know, times are tough. 

And you took a hit on the mess known as West Village just off the Plaza.  It stands as a monument to extravagant architecture, runaway budgets and staredowns between local businessmen. It went into foreclosure and probably lost millions in that pissing match with J.E. Dunn construction.  But why not donate your services to Juco?

Look, everybody knows Juco’s sunflower logo sucks. 

It’s dated, from around 1969.  If it were converted to a scratch and sniff, we’d probably hear the hippie anthem, “Where have all the flowers gone?” every time a student waved his bong over the logo.

So let’s start with something fresh. But the seed of a new concept for a logo shouldn’t cost $120,500. 

“Rebranding” is high falutin’ sucker talk to inflate the budget.  Juco needs a new logo, but it operates so well that it doesn’t need an entire rebranding campaign.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Especially with our tax dollars.

The price of Bernstein-Rein’s bid was approved by gullible and irresponsible trustees, including board president Don Weiss who’s up for reelection April 5.  Was there even a bid?  Or is this one of those insider-awarded specials? 

College spokesperson Julie Haas deserved an Oscar last week for delivering her straight face spin moments after chancellor Terry Calaway stunned the faculty by calling for layoffs. Calaway is the man who covered up the sexual indiscretions of the former chancellor and helped oversee the naming of a building after the schmuck. 

Haas told the trustees, “While rebranding might not provide savings, it could provide gains.  If the economy improves, enrollment could go down.  Rebranding could result in maintaining healthy enrollment numbers.”

Let me get this straight; a snappy new logo and maybe a slogan will somehow convince students to enroll at JoCo Community College?  Are you flipping kidding me? 

People don’t go to Harvard because they like the typeface on the t-shirts.

The contract promises to include “consulting services to include research on stakeholder perception of the college, before and after a brand change."

To which trustee Jerry Cook (not up for re-election) said, “It’s that data that will help position our programs. Hopefully, this will help us with a lot of strategies going forward.”

I used to represent a financial planner and I got him a radio show here.  He does a piss poor job of managing money in my opinion, but he sure talks a good game.  He uses the word “strategies” in every other sentence. In my experience, people who promise “strategies” do so to mask an absence of measurable results.

As a taxpayer, I object to this waste of $120,500.


Tracy Thomas is a writer of political satire and criticism.  Reach her at

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8 Responses to Tracy: KCMO Ad Agency Bangs Taxpayer-Funded Juco for $120k for New Logo

  1. Robertoe says:

    good job exposing this ridiculous excess. As the owner of a design and web development firm, it should not have cost 10% of this. After all this wasn’t a mega church project.

  2. Kerouac says:

    If money be no factor, JCCC should have enlisted John Berg and Nick Fasciano – creator(s) the greatest logo in rock history – one just as identifiable as Coke (which in fact it was inspired by / pirated from)

  3. Ross says:

    Really? We’re blaming Bernstein?
    I must have missed the part of the story where Bob Bernstein held the gun to the Dean of JCCC in order to get them to sign the paperwork on this. The real story (that you completely whiffed on at the expense of tying a perceived high cost of services to the failed West Village project) is Johnson County farmed a job paid for through $120K of tax payer money to a Missouri company. That should be the real outrage. Not the people providing services. Is there not one Johnson County agency that get this done – for say $100K?

    Also – why would Bernstein-Rein – A Jackson County company – feel any obligation to make donations to the tax payers of Johnson County, KS?

    Also – This is a marketing effort for a public college meant to drive revenues at the college. Please explain to me how a Community College in one of the wealthiest counties in the country is somehow deserving of the same treatment as non profit charities.

  4. bschloz says:

    Heres an Idea
    $120,000 logo…. that would even have to make Lew Perkins blush.
    How bout putting up a 2 year scholarship and letting…….errrr students compete for it.
    Maybe we need to follow the trail of Capital Grille Dinners on this one.

  5. Casey says:

    What College Teaches Us
    Why would a community college in Kansas would look to Missouri for creative input? Maybe it’s because part of their being a “crown jewel” in Johnson County’s amazingly rich, varied cultural tapestry is that they occasionally look outside the mecca of Johnson County, Kansas for input.

    Keep in mind that 120K is equivalent to a small down payment on the money JOCO laid out for the Sprint Campus, and that lesson has failed to teach the community much at all.

  6. smartman says:

    This is why the ad biz is just pure hammered shit. Are you happy with your Shamwows and Slap Chop?

    As for the logo, BR needs to change the color and perimeter design and get another $120K from the KCMO Aviation Department for the KCI “rebranding”. That damn logo is the road into KCI with three terminals. Even with pre and post market analysis and a sexy design brief this is a bloody ripoff. $120K for this kinda shit is Weiden+Kennedy money.BR doesn’t roll in that league anymore. You know what they say It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to not get fucked by an Ad Agency.

  7. chuck says:

    Great read. Luv the scratch and sniff reference.
    bschloz beat me to it. What he said.

  8. Kevan Gibbs says:

    You want to rebrand?
    Next time, go to your students first. In an age of user generated content, and with a design and technology group as talented as any in the nation at any level, you could easily looked internally, run a competition and produced identity work as strong as BR’s. At the same time, you would have cast a really strong vote for your own programs and saved a boat load of money in the process. In a town where you can’t swing a cat (apologies to my PETA friends for the colloquialism) without hitting a designer (ad & design agencies, Hallmark, The Art Institute), you could easily have put together a community panel to guide, oversee and judge the student work.

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