Midwest tourism campaigns tend to rehash the same old ideas: smiling families, rural landscapes, generic copy. Bloomington, Indiana, on the other hand, is opting for a much different approach in a new campaign that embraces the college town's liberal status in a Republican-dominated state.
Pivot Marketing serves as the partner agency working on strategy as well as implementation, design and production.
“Many times people think of a college town as just a place for partying," says Mike McAfee, executive director, Visit Bloomington. "We certainly offer that, but we are a great destination for families, retirees, meetings, the LGBTQ community, and practically anyone else. We are thrilled to be the home of Indiana University and known for that, but we are also fortunate that Bloomington is much more than that.”
The new brand value statement ‘Bloomington is for idealists' is crafted to talk to a "dreamer, a visionary, a wishful thinker. Idealists. We want idealists visiting here, relocating here for work, coming to school here and certainly we are striving to be idealists ourselves," says McAfee.
The media buy targets these "idealists" through integrated owned, earned, shared and paid media in nearby markets, including Indianapolis, Evansville, Louisville, and Chicago. Media used in the campaign includes targeted print, digital, pre-roll, social, and out-of-home placements.
This campaign represents two strategic shifts for the town of 80,000. First, the organization never consistently partnered with an agency before, other than for brief one-off projects. Also, all campaign materials are developed under a cohesive, systematic branded platform. "That’s key," says McAfee. "Now everything from group sales efforts, travel media, advertising and social media work together better than ever."
He adds, "We were still promoting arts and culture, to outdoor recreation enthusiasts, our meeting facilities and more, but our messaging wasn’t tied together with a brand. Now we’re more focused and everything works together.”
Looking forward, the campaign will shift into its next phase with a full year of promotion in 2017. "We feel like we did a great job with this brand development project and have a great marketing road map right in front of us," says McAfee.