Goodbye Ford; hello Roz – 1 800 Ask Gary buys naming rights to amphitheater

June 11th, 2010 by

TAMPA – “Don’t be scared and confused” — it’s one of the lines used during the 1-800 Ask Gary commercials.

But many in the Bay Area say they’re a little confused — why anyone would want to name a music venue after the legal referral service?

But the old Ford Amphitheatre, in Tampa is now gone, replaced with the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre.

Ford apparently didn’t want the financial responsibility anymore for the naming rights.

David Harb, the GM for the Amphitheatre said 1-800 Ask Gary is a good community business.

“Name and titles come and go. It happened at the arena in our area. This name and title will have it’s time as well. Our job is to find community leaders and partner with them and we’ve done that here,” Harb said.

But many who attend concerts at the Amphitheatre think the name is silly.

Marie Knecht picked up her tickets for Saturday’s Brooks & Dunn concert. She’s not happy with the new name.

“It’s kind of ridiculous. it should be the Ford Amphitheatre. That’s what it’s always been. Ford has a branded name. And they are respected and everything in the community. And who uses 1-800 Ask Gary. I never have — but I own a Ford…”

But apparently a lot of people use the free medical and legal referral service — enough for the 800 Ask Gary founder to buy the naming rights, although the amount he paid is not being disclosed.

Karen Post, a branding consultant, said it’s good for Gary and exposure for his company. But she said the brand has a negative image to some, and that can now affect Tampa’s image.

“I think it’s a little bit of a scar. I think we work really hard at trying to be a sophisticated cosmopolitan community, city. We’ve got big conventions coming in. And then when you hear that, something doesn’t sit quite right,” Post said.

Post said the brand is targeted to a certain segment of the population. She does not think the name will hinder anyone who was going to a concert there. But hopes it’s a short contract.

“I don’t think people are not going to support the theater. But I would hope for Tampa’s sake, after the contract is done, they get some other proposals and get something that’s more representative of our whole city.”

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