Michigan is again going national with its Pure Michigan tourism campaign. The state has decided to put most of this year’s reduced marketing money toward an $8.9 million spring/summer national cable TV buy.
The ads will begin running the first week of May and continue through June, said George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan.
The decision comes after deliberations over the best way to spend the $14.9 million the state has available this year to spend on tourism promotion.
In late March, lawmakers approved $9.5 million for the Pure Michigan campaign, adding to the $5.4 million in general funds in the current-year budget.
The $14.9 million is just half of what was available last year, including $10 million that the state put toward a first-ever national ad campaign on cable TV.
Zimmermann said the choice was to either abandon national momentum created last year with the cable campaign and fully fund regional marketing, or put as much as possible into a national spring/summer campaign and make significant cuts elsewhere in tourism promotion.
Travel Michigan opted for the later, after consulting with Travel Michigan’s Birmingham ad agency, McCann-Erickson, on the way to get the best results with less funding.
That means significant changes for the remainder of 2010, including no fall advertising for the first time in five years, no regional spot TV ads, no in-state billboards, and no production of new TV ads that would air in 2011.
Three new Pure Michigan ads that were produced and funded last year will be part of the upcoming campaign. They promote summer outdoor recreation, fishing, and culinary tourism.
Moreover, the state is rolling out the red carpet for a special premiere week to showcase its new 2010 TV and radio spots. During the week of 4/19 a new ad will be featured every day on Pure Michigan Connect (www.puremichiganblog.org), Michigan’s official travel and tourism blog, and the Pure Michigan Facebook Fan Page (www.facebook.com/PureMichigan.org). Travel Michigan, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is the state’s official agency for the promotion of tourism.
Included in the week of sneak peeks is the first ever behind-the-scenes video of how a Pure Michigan TV commercial is created. The footage used in the new TV spots and the behind the scenes video was shot during the 2009 season.
“We decided to use our blog and Facebook to roll out our new Pure Michigan campaign ads to build excitement with our fans and followers,” said George Zimmermann, VP for Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We now have more than 38,000 Facebook fans and about 4,500 followers on Twitter. We believe this will be a fun way to create a buzz about Pure Michigan when people are starting to think about their summer vacation plans.”
The air dates for the 2010 Pure Michigan campaign will be confirmed later in the month.
“We still have time to promote summer tourism and attract visitors to the wealth of Michigan’s attractions including beachtowns, national and state parks, sand dunes, lighthouses, more than 800 golf courses and resorts, and many unique cities and towns that only Michigan can offer,” said Zimmermann.
Of the $12.8 million that Travel Michigan will spend on advertising in 2010, $8.9 million will go to the cable buy, $2.3 million will be for regional advertising, and $1.6 million will be for the state’s share of partner advertising it does with Michigan destinations.
The $2.1 million remainder of the total $14.9 million promotional appropriation covers items like public relations, publications, agency costs and other marketing related activities.
Zimmermann said the decision to put most of the money into national promotion and to cut regional, wasn’t easy.
“We debated for a while, about which way to go,” he said.
One factor in the decision was that spring/summer is the state’s biggest tourism season both in volume and visitor spending, and has the best potential to attract tourists from greater distances.
And the farther somebody travels to reach a destination, the more time they are likely to stay and the more money they are likely to spend, Zimmermann said.
On average, visitors to Michigan from outside the Great Lakes region spent 37 percent more per trip than out-of-state visitors from within the region, according to research of 2009 national and regional ads.
Travel Michigan also believes its consistent presence in regional markets over past years has built momentum that will not be completely lost, particularly since the national ads will be seen in those markets as well.
Zimmermann said that “we planted our flag out there nationally last year,” and if the state had not figured out a way to go national again, it would not be taking advantage of last year’s promotion, spending and results.
Travel Michigan wants to return fully to regional markets in 2011. And Zimmermann said that if lawmakers complete work early on the upcoming fiscal 2011 budget, it may still be possible to do some fall tourism promotion this year.
He is also hoping lawmakers will find a way to fund the 2011 tourism campaign at the $30 million level it enjoyed in 2009.
“Looking ahead, certainly we believe, the industry believes, $30 million a year is full funding for Pure Michigan. And that’s where we need to get to,” Zimmermann said.
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