Vegas, Baby

“Vegas Right Now” is coming to a city near you. Las Vegas is hoping to drum up tourism by sending its showgirls on the road to visit other big-city sporting events and attractions, and giving away a few free flights to Sin city along the way. New York City’s “Just Ask the Locals” uses star power to boost visits, while Philadelphia’s “More Summer Fun” plays to the pain at the pump by providing gas cards. I’m a sucker for deals, but all this promotional talk conjured memories of Atlanta’s unsuccessful $15 million “Every Day is an Opening Day” campaign.

Brand Atlanta, a conglomerate of the city’s advertising and marketing specialists, is planning a new campaign — one that will target young professionals and empty nesters who live a short flight from Atlanta, according to Brand Atlanta’s executive director Melinda Ennis-Roughton. The campaign will be promoted via event sponsorship, blogging and social networking. The major downfalls of the original campaign, cited in a September 2007 Atlanta Business Chronicle story, include an unmemorable tagline, an unclear distinction between branding and advertising, and surveying public opinion on the ad campaign after it was launched. These mistakes are evidence of Brand Atlanta’s disregard of three of c21’s golden rules, which we follow to garner Remarkable Results for our work – from branding and marketing PR plan development to media relations and special events.

Know your audience: Who will benefit from your product or service, and how can you best reach them? Consider multiple touch points appropriate for your audience by researching its behavior, desires, purchase patterns, etc. To those of us in Atlanta, it was unclear who the “Opening Day” campaign was trying to reach, and thus generated more confusion than action.

Nail your message: Design can only go so far. Involve your stakeholders, employees and customers in generating ideas – and be sure to include the “why.” “Every Day is an Opening Day” didn’t communicate “why” tourists should visit Atlanta, or why metro Atlantans should make the trip into the city.

Measure, measure, measure: Conduct a situational analysis. Measure milestones along the way. Measure your end results. Too often we concentrate on the finish line and miss opportunities to make adjustments along the way that could have a great impact on the success of the campaign. The year after Brand Atlanta was launched, the organization spent $1 million to survey tourists in other states to determine the effectiveness of the campaign. The results? Brand Atlanta did not increase desire to visit Atlanta, and only three percent recalled the “Everyday is an Opening Day” tagline. Aggressive focus group testing pre-launch and at predetermined milestones throughout the launch, as well as the involvement of Atlanta residents and out-of-state tourists in developing the “why” of the campaign, are just two check points that may have allowed the Brand Atlanta to change direction and become a success.

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