Coming up in January 2017, Oklahoma drivers will begin switching out their current license plates, which feature an image of Allan Houser’s iconic “Sacred Rain Arrow” statue, for a newly designed tag, which features an image of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the state bird.
As with any design process, this one involved numerous ideas which were rejected, for one reason or another, and this process was no different.
9 Investigates requested billing statements from the agencies involved in the tag design, along with the images of other tag design proposals.
The new tag was mandated by legislation approved during the 2016 legislative session, and which put the Department of Tourism in charge of coming up with the new license plate.
Documents show that the tourism department turned to the advertising agency with which it currently contracts -- VI Marketing and Branding -- to develop a variety of potential designs. Black and white sketches provided to News Nine show about two dozen tags with images intended to represent staples of life in Oklahoma -- steer-roping, wildflowers, and Route 66, to name a few.
Proposals that apparently got the go-ahead for further treatment included tags with OKC Thunder images, travel and tourism-themed tags, and a tag intended to look like it was stitched out of leather.
When none of these designs met with necessary approval from those overseeing the process, state officials decided to turn the project over to a different advertising agency, Staplegun, which was already under contract with the State Commerce Department.
It was Staplegun that came up with the design that Gov. Mary Fallin proudly unveiled last month in a Blue Room ceremony at the Capitol.
According to statements provided to News 9, VI Marketing and Branding billed the state #11,485.50 for 111.5 hours of "creative design service." Staplegun billed the state $1,300.65 for its work, which included 5 hours of "art direction" and 2 hours of "project management."
A worker with knowledge of the process explained that the deadline to complete the design was July 1, barely one month after lawmakers gave final approval to the bill that mandated it.
Oklahoma motorists will each pay $5 for the new tag, which, Tax Commission officials say, will raise about $18.5 million in new revenue for the state.