Published Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Updated Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 | 9:21 a.m.
Seeking to change travel trends of fewer foreigners visiting the United States, a public-private partnership launched Brand USA today, the nation’s first tourism marketing campaign.
Led by Las Vegas resort executive Stephen Cloobeck, the Corporation for Travel Promotion unveiled the campaign on a world stage with an event at London’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a press conference at the four-day World Travel Market at London’s ExCeL convention center.
The campaign is important to Las Vegas because the city wants to attract more international visitors.
Las Vegas is one of the U.S.’s most desired destinations for foreign visitors, not only because of its reputation as a world-class entertainment and gaming destination but because of its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park.
The Brand USA launch is the first step in developing a marketing and advertising campaign designed to convince foreign travelers to visit the United States. The first ads are expected to be aired in the spring.
The United States has been one of the few industrialized nations without a coordinated international tourism marketing message. In the past 10 years, the world travel market increased by 60 million people, yet visitation to the United States was flat. Experts estimate the United States lost a potential global market share of 78 million visitors over 10 years, at an estimated value of $606 billion in spending.
The number of visitors from the United States’ largest overseas market, Great Britain, has declined since a record 4.7 million visited in 2000.
The competition is fierce from other countries marketing their attractions, led by Mexico, which annually spends $173.8 million advertising the country. Other tourism budgets include Great Britain, $160 million; Australia, $107.6 million; and Turkey, $98.6 million.
Today’s announcement included the unveiling of Brand USA’s new logo and the announcement that the Corporation for Travel Promotion would change its name to Brand USA Inc.
The logo features a collection of dots that join together to compose the letters USA. Because the logo will not adhere to a single color scheme, it symbolizes the diverse colors and images of people and destinations across the country, the organization’s top marketing officer said.
“What is so compelling about the United States is that no one thing can explain who we are as a nation,” said Chris Perkins, who recently was named chief marketing officer by CEO Jim Evans. “Each visitor and each experience helps create the fabric of American culture and Brand USA embodies this spirit.”
The logo also incorporates Brand USA’s official consumer website, DiscoverAmerica.com.
The challenge Brand USA will have is conveying the diverse destinations and experiences that await foreign travelers.
Megan Kent, global business director for New York-based JWT, the advertising subsidiary of the J. Walter Thompson communications group, contracted by Brand USA, said the agency tapped data bases of travel companies to get information from foreign travelers to the United States and people wanting to travel here.
Postcard responses were solicited from those travelers about their experiences or expectations of U.S. travel to develop the essence of the USA brand. The agency found travelers appreciated the United States being a center of popular culture, diversity and freedom. They also found most Americans greeted them warmly even though the United States has a worldwide reputation for being brash, arrogant and unwelcoming.
Kent said the agency would use that information to develop an advertising message that is fresh, unexpected, welcoming and conveys “boundless possibilities” for visitors. The development of the brand is explained in a video that can be found online.
The Brand USA ad campaign is expected to be run in 10 to 12 countries. The 11-member Brand USA Inc. board of directors sets policy and directs marketing and advertising campaigns much like the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors.
Cloobeck said he has briefed President Barack Obama about the branding and that the president made it clear in his recent appearance in Las Vegas that the campaign would provide new jobs and reverse declining market share trends for travel to the United States.
The organization’s board of directors announced today that after meeting every month in different cities or by teleconference since the organization’s inception earlier this year that it would begin meeting quarterly at its Washington headquarters beginning in 2012. Evans and Cloobeck are expected to be at this month’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Rio.
More than 47,000 people, including several Las Vegas tourism and resort industry executives, are attending the World Travel Market, which runs through Thursday.
The Brand USA campaign fits right into the LVCVA strategy to attract more international visitors to the city.
The authority is developing a strategy to increase the percentage of Las Vegas visitors from other countries from the current 18 percent to 30 percent within 10 years. Last year, 6.7 million international visitors came to Southern Nevada and spent an estimated $6.6 billion, which would support 58,000 jobs.
International visitors are important to the city because they spend more and stay longer than their domestic counterparts.