news from the intersection of branding & technology

Certain truths are self evident. Ask Ithaca, NY

In brand-building, social media on March 18, 2015 at 11:54 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

The area around Ithaca is known for its robust winters. Known by some as the “snow capital of the world,” this region endured record-breaking snowfalls and cold this past winter. But if you’re the head of the Ithaca Convention and Visitors Bureau during one of the worst winters in history, you reach the point that “you’re fed up”, so fed up, in fact, that the Bureau came up with a remarkable marketing idea: Tell the truth. “That’s it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West anyone?” And while it’s your job to promote tourism to your area, it was self-evident that tourist were not flocking to an area to which was blocked by closed highways and below-freezing temperatures.

While the marketing concept was later “retired”, it went viral, and as Bruce Stoff, director of the Ithaca Convention and Visitor Bureau told CNN — “everyone in the Northeast is beaten by winter now…and we were dreaming of being someplace that is warm.” It was a move that some in the tourist industry frowned on, but the spokesperson for the Florida Keys Tourism Counil told CNN, “it’s the wackiest thing I have every seen in my life from a tourism marketing standpoint.” The Floridan tourism group eagerly complied with a request to send a photo for the Ithaca web site — it went viral on Twitter.

What is interesting in my conversation with Stoff was that this idea had been in the talked about for eight years, and it was in the planning and implementation stage for the past two years. “It was certainly calculated….that this was going to be a positive for Ithaca.” Bruce is still on the job, but he cautions that the next three quarters will tell if their concept worked.  — RJL

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