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Hoping to Keep Orlando Blooming
From The New York Times.com. Although not specifically about WDW, I'm sure most of us have seen these ads. This is a big commitment on Orlando's part...I'm sure it will have an impact on the parks. We're already seeing crowded conditions during off-peak times...how much worse will it get?
February 21, 2007
Hoping to Keep Orlando Blooming
By STUART ELLIOTT
Editor’s note: In Advertising comes to you today because of the Presidents’ Day holiday yesterday. Look for In Advertising next week on Feb. 26, its regular publication day, Monday.
Orlando, Fla., has long been known for superlatives like being the No. 1 tourism destination in the United States, with around 50 million visitors a year who spent about $30 billion. Now, Orlando is starting its largest marketing campaign to date, meant to solidify its lead as competition intensifies for the hearts and wallets of travelers.
The campaign, aimed squarely at the leisure market, carries the theme “Built for families. Made for memories.” There are television commercials, print advertisements, outdoor signs, a redesigned web site and publicity efforts handled by the Morris & King Company in New York, which included a visit last week to a frost-bitten Times Square by representatives of Orlando attractions like Walt Disney World, Gatorland, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and Sea World.
The budget for the campaign is $68 million for the next two years, a huge increase from the $20 million spent during 2005 and 2006. There will be, for the first time, commercials on national television networks (previously, spots ran regionally only) as well as ads tailored to both the African-American and Hispanic markets.
“We wanted to turn up the volume,” says Gary C. Sain, the new president and chief executive at the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, who joined from the Orlando ad agency Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, where he had been a partner and chief marketing officer.
“American families have a lot of choices where to travel,” Mr. Sain says, adding: “We felt it was important to continue our leadership role. We can’t rest on our laurels.”
The campaign, by WestWayne, an agency with offices in Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., takes the opposite tack from the much-publicized advertising for another leading tourism destination, Las Vegas. Rather than proclaiming, “What happens here, stays here,” Orlando is telling potential visitors that the fond feelings generated by their experiences there will return home with them.
Or, as Richard T. Crotty, the Orange County mayor, puts it, “What happens in Orlando stays in your family’s memories forever.”
“Vegas is very successful with its model, and we’re very successful with our model,” says Mr. Crotty, who accompanied Mr. Sain and the menagerie of characters, actors and animals that visited Times Square. “The two can co-exist.”
The approach of the new campaign is also different from previous ads for Orlando tourism. They mostly concentrated on the features of the area’s theme parks and other attractions, like spas and golf courses, along with the copious amounts of sunshine that Orlando receives and the availability of hotel rooms.
The changes are the result of extensive research into the mindsets of the deciders, as President Bush might call them, who determine where families go on vacation: mothers, ages 25 to 54, with children still at home.
“The take-away was that you can not only have fun in Orlando, you can reconnect, re-bond, as a family,” Mr. Sain says, “with your spouse and kids.”
That is particularly important to mothers in two-paycheck families, he adds, who say they want to get away to “a destination that maximizes their vacation time.”
Two television commercials bring the idea to life in an eye-catching way. In one spot, a mother on a roller coaster with her daughter turns into a girl around the same age as the daughter; they spend an action-filled day together visiting theme parks like Disney World and Sea World.
In the second spot, a father on a water slide with his son is transformed into a boy about his son’s age; again, the two spend the day palling around at Orlando attractions. Both commercials end with an announcer intoning the campaign’s theme and referring viewers to the Orlando Web site.
“From the research study, which we called the Future Study, we learned that Orlando has a very, very high level of awareness, but visitor intent was declining,” says John Sierota, senior vice president and group account director at WestWayne.
“People were not aspiring to visit Orlando as much as in the past.”
“The competitive landscape has become more crowded and they have become more aggressive marketers,” Mr. Sierota says, listing the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, cruise lines and traditional destinations like Chicago, New York and Washington.
At the same time, he adds, those taking part in the study said “there were some practical barriers” to visiting Orlando, which include congestion, heat and cost.
The best way to respond to the challenges, the research found, was not to “sell an Orlando vacation as a product, but to sell it as an experience,” Mr. Sierota says, to “focus on the emotional benefits of an Orlando vacation” which include “bonding as a family and creating long-term memories.”
So the campaign presents Orlando as “the only place that provides experiences the family can enjoy together,” he adds, in contrast with, say, a cruise, where “everyone will go off and do their own thing.”
The commercials demonstrate that by enabling “parents and kids to experience things together, at the same level,” Mr. Sierota says, an Orlando vacation allows “parents to become kids again, which transforms them, refreshes them.”
And to create the feeling that Orlando is a contemporary destination, he adds, high-energy rock tunes were chosen for the sound tracks of the spots: “Time Machine” by the Click 5 for the mom commercial and “Alright” by Supergrass for the dad commercial.
The Orlando logo has also been redesigned to give it an updated look. It plays a leading part in the print, outdoor and online parts of the campaign as well as in the TV spots.
The posters, appearing in markets like Chicago and New York, are colorful and direct. One declares: “Our characters. Our sets. Your story.” A second one advises: “Get away from the cold. And closer to your family.” Other posters reiterate the “Built for families. Made for memories” theme.
There is a new media strategy to accompany the new creative approach for the campaign, Mr. Sierota says, which WestWayne calls “Pathway to Orlando.”
“It’s intended to align the advertising with where consumers are as they consider vacation destinations,” he adds. “It’s also why we launched the campaign so early, in January, because the booking cycle for a summer vacation can be 12 to 14 weeks.”
The commercials began running Jan. 29 on more than a score of cable networks like ABC Family, Animal Planet, CMT, Discovery Health, Fine Living, HGTV, Nick at Nite, Oxygen, Si TV, TBS, TV Land, USA and WE (Women’s Entertainment).
The spots started appearing Feb. 5 on local stations east of the Mississippi that belong to all five broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC. Spanish-language versions of the spots also began running that day on the Telemundo and Univision stations in the New York market.
And from 8p.m. to 9 p.m. on Feb. 6, the commercials ran on a combination of 16 broadcast and cable outlets, on programs ranging from “American Idol” and “Country Fried Videos” to “How Do I Look” and “What You Get for the Money.”
The print ads are appearing in USA Today and a long list of magazines read by mothers, including Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, Family Circle, Family Fun, Good Housekeeping, More, O: The Oprah Magazine and Real Simple.