Awards Recognize Destination Branding Efforts
“San Diego Still cheaper than psychotherapy.”
“San Diego All natural, no preservatives.”
The phrases, which ran on billboards in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, respectively, play on a theme that has proven successful for local advertising agency Di Zinno-Thompson Integrated Marketing and its client, the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau.
For three years, their marketing campaign, called “Get Some Fun Out of Life,” has generated a buzz in the industry. It happened most recently at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s “Adrian Awards” in New York last month. More than 1,800 entries had been sent for the contest.
The “Get Some Fun” campaign garnered 13 awards, including the “platinum” accolade for the development of the city’s brand marketing and advertising.
“It’s pretty unusual to have such a focus on branding a destination,” said Tammy Haughey, director of client services for the Downtown-based Di Zinno.
– Creating Awareness
Of Destination Benefits
“Our focus for the last three years has been really creating and evolving this brand,” Haughey said, “and really helping to clarify in people’s minds what San Diego is about and what the benefits of the destination are to various segments of the market.”
ConVis is wielding a $6 million marketing budget for fiscal 2000, which ends June 30. That figure includes $4 million in supplemental dollars. Funded entirely by the city of San Diego, ConVis has a $15.2 million general budget for the year.
According to Steve Pelzer, the bureau’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, the campaign has paid off. In fiscal 1999, the bureau generated approximately 1 million inquiries through calls and Web site hits.
In this fiscal year so far, there is a 55 percent increase in that pace, Pelzer said. There have been an estimated 731,000 inquiries, according to ConVis statistics. The number of Web visits is up by 165 percent, he said, now at 100,000 users a month.
– TV And Outdoor
Next up: New television commercials are slated to air in late February, and outdoor ads in San Francisco and Denver over the next few months, said Haughey, Di Zinno’s point person for the ConVis campaign.
The two cities and the northern California area are developing a focus for the campaign, which previously targeted the “drive” market of Los Angeles and Orange County areas, and parts of Arizona.
“We need to grow beyond that to further become a first-tier destination,” Haughey said, noting there wasn’t the funding to take the campaign and branding to additional markets before.
When the account was still in the “pitch” stage, the agency had plans to develop a brand, Haughey explained.
The agency looked at ConVis’ research and the research it had done on its own.
“We found out people who were traveling were really looking for new experiences,” Haughey recalled. “There was a real focus on intangible benefits to travel.”
She added, “The (bureau’s) advertising and marketing prior to that time period really focused on selling the features of the destination, all the stuff that there is to do there wasn’t much of an emotional connection being made with the marketing.”
– Developing A
The agency also developed a cohesive look for the campaign, which had been fragmented between convention business and the vacation market, Haughey said.
Combining the emotional and the fun started to manifest in promotions such as cherry red beach cruisers being delivered to the offices of 250 meeting planners. The bikes came with announcements that the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center was moving ahead and included “instruction” books on enjoying San Diego.
On the leisure side were the billboards and outdoor advertising such as an “escape wall” painted onto the side of a Hyatt hotel along Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. The “wall” incorporated the hotel’s windows, adding an additional one with a bedsheet hanging down. The sheet hung down to the words “San Diego.”
The Hyatt wall is an example of the way ConVis and the agency works together, Pelzer said.
Pelzer was a general manager with the Hyatt hotels and had told Di Zinno the wall, like many on Sunset Boulevard, had been used for outdoor advertising. He asked the agency to see what could be done.
With windows, the Hyatt wall made for a “challenging” background, Pelzer said. “That’s where the creative team was brilliant in saying, ‘Let’s not worry about the image Let’s just escape from the building,'” he recalled.
Pelzer doubted Hyatt would approve an ad that depicted a bedsheet hanging out of a window.
“In the end of the day, it’s about the money,” he said, and Hyatt sold the advertising space. The wall won a gold award from the association, he said.