A soon-to-be aired TV advert shifting Essex away from its TOWIE image has not been paid for by taxpayers, Essex County Council has said.
The county council has also defended the project that promotes Essex as having “something for everybody”, but dismissed attacks it was criticising the hit TV show The Only Way Is Essex.
Speaking in the authority’s full council on February 10, councillor Mark Durham said the advert due to be broadcast on Sky TV in March “simply points out there is a great deal more to Essex and its people places and attractions”.
The £300,000 advert, to be paid by Visit Essex membership subscriptions, the coastal communities fund and other central government grants, comes as the county aims to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.
Pre-pandemic tourism and hospitality alone contributed £3.6bn a year to the Essex economy and it employed 65,000 people.
After the effects of Covid restrictions, In 2020 the income had dropped to £1.2bn and over 30,000 hospitality jobs were lost.
Cllr Durham said: “This reason alone easily justifies any investment that may help Essex businesses bounce back this year and in coming years.”
The television campaign will feature the county’s most prominent scientists, chefs and historic attractions but will not feature TOWIE stars – a decision that has sparked criticism from some of its stars including Amy Childs and Gemma Collins.
Cllr Durham said: “Members may have seen recent press coverage that accuses us of dismissing the image portrayed by TOWIE.
“At no stage has anyone from Visit Essex ever criticised TOWIE, indeed we recognise it being a very successful aspect, raising the profile of Brentwood.
“And it has launched many successful careers from some of the starts that have appeared on that programme.
“And indeed many of the locations featured in the show have become tourist destinations in their own right.
“This campaign and others like it simply point out there is a great deal more to Essex and its people, places and attractions.
“Indeed Essex is probably one of the most diverse counties in England and this is exactly what we are trying to promote – literally something for everybody.”