New York State Puts Its Heart Back Into Marketing Campaign

I Love NYAfter a 31-year hiatus spent on coffee cups and T-shirts, "I Love NY" is back as a bona fide ad campaign for the state of New York. The $17 million effort by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) aims to boost tourism from 155 million visitors in 2006 to 200 million by 2020 and spend to $60 billion annually. 

The campaign is not aimed at bringing global citizens to the Big Apple, but at getting those who live within a three- to-five-hour drive to put New York State on the vacation consideration list.

Gov. David Paterson said, in a release, that tourism generates $47 billion for the state and supports over 740,000 jobs.

Launched this month, the campaign via Saatchi & Saatchi comprises ads in newspapers, billboards, direct response, magazines, guerilla marketing, viral and digital marketing, and partnerships with JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Travelocity and Orbitz, as well as an updated Web site, custom brochures and a getaway guide.



"This is big business," says Thomas Ranese, CMO for ESD. "And research shows we have an opportunity for it to be much larger."

Campaign imagery includes a set of icons to identify various attractions from urban to Arcadian: grass, a butterfly and squirrel for NY's natural assets, grapes for wineries and culinary offerings in another.

The campaign has interactive advertising and partnership opportunities. Ranese says 50% of the budget for the effort is devoted to interactive media, including banner ads, a new Web site,, and email blasts. The Web site includes a feature that lets visitors create a customized travel brochure based on their interests, geography, or calendar of events. The goal in all the campaign elements is to drive potential visitors to call 1-800-ILOVENY.

In the past, per Ranese, tourism marketing consisted largely of in-state TV spots featuring politicians. "The new campaign used market research to identify target markets and consumers, bringing business discipline to state marketing," he says.

He adds that New York had not invested seriously in tourism and marketing for many years, so--to catch up--the state boosted the tourism marketing budget 54% in the last two years. Still, Ranese conceded, the $17 million budget is still much lower than neighboring competitors. "Places like Pennsylvania and Ontario outspend us by two to three times."

The timing is good, per Ranese, because the value of the dollar versus the Canadian dollar and the euro makes New York State an attractive option both for New Yorkers, consumers in nearby states, and Europeans. "We see record numbers of visitors from the UK and Europe--getting them to add on a day outside New York City for just one day can be a big boon to the economy," he says. "We learned that two-thirds of travelers in the New York City metro area left New York State on their last short getaway. With the rising cost of gas, we want them to see how much New York State can offer in an easy drive on a single tank of gas," he says. He adds that, as of the first quarter this year, hotel revenue significantly outpaces the national average across the state.

The campaign trumpets the virtues of places like the state's wine regions, which, per Ranese, constitute the second-largest wine producing area in the U.S. after California; the Catskills, Finger Lakes and Adirondacks; cultural centers like the Dia Beacon sculpture museum in the Hudson Valley; the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown; the beaches of Long Island; National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester at the Strong Museum of Play; the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, and the Culinary Institute of America.

New York is one of many states that have recently spent more marketing dollars to lure regional tourists away from more distant destinations. "Pennsylvania spends over $30 million, and Ontario over $60 million," says Ranese. "We need a campaign to keep the state top of mind for consumers as their window for planning getaways gets shorter and shorter."

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