Florida's recently launched statewide campaign to promote its beaches and get the message out that oil hasn't ruined them is getting a secondary message with an aggressive push from the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, under its "The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel" banner.
The campaign uses a "fresh TV" approach wherein a raft of TV spots was shot and began airing in one day as a crisis-TV effort to get the message out in peak tourism season. It touts the destination with a message that the beaches are clean and there's no oil in sight.
The national effort, "Still Pristine" via TrueNorth, will ultimately comprise nine humorous 30-second spots airing on one national network and cable and on in-state television markets.
The ads were filmed, edited and aired every day last week and again this week. They feature a goofy tourist on a nine-day vacation, who each day is featured doing something and accosting other tourists. In one, he shows off his just-collected handful of seashells when a local shows up with her pail full of them, which includes a perfect specimen of the state shell. He grabs it and takes off down the beach. The call-to-action for each spot includes summer travel deals, vacation guarantees and flexible cancellation policies.
In addition to TV, the ads will run on consumer and industry Web sites, Facebook and Twitter pages, and at VisitFlorida.com, the state's official tourism marketing organization.
According to the bureau, Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva get nearly five million annual visitors who contribute $2.6 billion to the local economy, or $82 per second, and account for one in four jobs.
Nancy Hamilton, communications director of the Lee Country tourism bureau, tells Marketing Daily that the region has been holding its own so far this summer. "But the phones aren't ringing as much as normal, so we want to ensure the summer does continue to be strong for the county," she says. She adds that the campaign may well continue beyond July 1 because the county will get a portion of the $25 million that BP has paid Florida to promote tourism to the state. "We just received word that we are getting $500,000 of the $25 million," she says.
The region says that unless there's a major storm, which meteorologists say is possible this season, the chances of oil impacting the destination are slim because the loop current runs parallel to the Florida coast and extends to about 150 miles off the destination's shores.
A University of Central Florida study early this month said tourism in counties on the Gulf of Mexico accounts for $12.4 billion and about 269,000 jobs. Tourism is the lead employer in Lee County.
A new Harris Poll on vacation trends this year says 66% of Americans are planning to take a summer vacation this year, up 1 percent from last year. The study says that of those looking to reduce their vacation costs, 46% say they will stay closer to home.
Hamilton says the campaign has been generating a lot of interest, news coverage and buzz. "We are getting a lot of feedback online, and it keeps continuing," she says. "We had someone arrive at our airport last week, walk up to the visitors' desk and say, 'I saw that ad and hopped a plane.' He was from Los Angeles."