The effort, via Philadelphia-based Red Tettemer, features an indie film that launched May 14 in webisode form on www.PAstories.com, which also hosts a sweepstakes contest for visitors to have a chance to win their own Pennsylvania getaway.
The $1.3 million campaign, "Peter Arthur Stories," is also being supported with traditional media in feeder markets, a social media strategy, sweepstakes, and a street team initiative featuring delivery of Pennsylvania favorite shoofly pie around Manhattan.
Also, a 30-second commercial broke during "American Idol" in New York and Philadelphia markets. The effort trades the usual regional-tourism "stay overnight" argot for a fiction that makes the Keystone State the background of a narrative.
Steve Red, president and CCO of Philadelphia-based Red Tettemer, tells Marketing Daily the Philadelphia agency has been working with the state tourism office for five years and that it has free reign to experiment.
"I think they are willing to push the boundaries of what tourism ads have to be," he says. "Pennsylvania is not a state where people fly here for two-week vacations. The tourism comes from nearby states, so the inclination is to jump in the car; we took advantage of that whole notion and said we'd be about spontaneity and enthusiasm and making the journey as much fun as the destination."
The 26-minute, four-episode film series features a twenty-something man who follows his heart across Pennsylvania in search of his long-lost, pre-adolescent love, a waitress named Meg who once served him a memorable slice of Shoofly Pie. Red says the first series of webisodes focus on the eastern portion of the state: Philadelphia, Dutch country, Gettysburg, and Jim Thorpe. Episodes to be shot this summer will be centered on the Pittsburgh area, the Alleghenies, and the Great Lakes.
The traditional, social media, out-of-home, and grassroots elements are meant to give the films the feel of a campaign for a studio release or a new TV show. Movie-banner type outdoor ads focused in the New York metro area are in New York's Penn Station, on double-decker buses, on New Jersey Transit, and on New York City wild-posting sites. Online ads will be at Jaunted, Epicurious, Jezebel, Gawker, The Onion, AV Club, Lotame, Invite Media, and Hulu.
"With what's been happening this year with the economy we felt like we couldn't just do more traditional kind of media and have it get through," says Red. "We needed to engage with people and compel them to say, 'Here's a state that plays into what's going on now; it's affordable and close, and you can have a great vacation.' But to say that in an ad is Dullsville because everyone's done that. So we felt it would be great to create a piece of entertainment and market it just like the launch of a movie or TV and make Pennsylvania the co-star."
After watching each of the four episodes, viewers will be prompted to answer four trivia questions about the film and will then be entered to win one of 12 getaways. Packages include a two-night hotel stay across varying regions in Pennsylvania along with tickets for free stuff in each region. The sweepstakes runs through June 30. Red says the media focus is in New York -- not only because it's the largest drive-to market for Pennsylvania, but also because it follows the entertainment news footprint. "When media news happens, it breaks in New York," he says.