Monument Valley in Arizona, part of the Arizona Office of Tourism's new marketing campaign - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Arizona Launches Innovative Media Campaign To Bring Back Tourists

Arizona has gotten a bad rap as of late, with the added national backlash from the passage of SB 1070 making it even tougher for the state to climb out of the recession. But the Arizona Office of Tourism is fighting back, and it has only one word for you — monumental.

It’s part of the Arizona Office of Tourism’s “In One Word — Arizona” marketing campaign that launched Nov. 8. The campaign couples iconic images of Arizona with one word describing the image. Bet you can guess which image is paired with “grand.”

The campaign’s eight images, ranging from the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley to Sedona and Flagstaff’s distinctive terrains, will run from November 2010 to May 2011 primarily in Chicago and Los Angeles, the two major markets for Arizona tourism.

This campaign features traditional print, TV and radio ads, but also includes innovative strategies, such as video-on-demand, “wallscapes” on buildings in Chicago and Los Angeles, and versions of the ads appearing on the print-out boarding passes of eight major airlines.

The advertising is “layered to continue to drive home the wonders and the diversity of Arizona,” says Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Spreading the message of Arizona’s allure is not limited to the Hollywood Hills and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. An extensive digital media campaign also will run in San Francisco, Denver, New York City and other major markets, as well as Mexico and Canada.

But the biggest accomplishment of AOT’s new campaign is the fact that despite intense budget cuts that practically erased the marketing budget, the campaign is forging ahead, focused on bringing in much-needed tourism to the state.

The state Legislature removed revenue from the tourism formula from AOT’s budget and placed it in the general fund. Because of this shift, the AOT will receive approximately $14 million less in the 2011 fiscal year than it received in the 2010 fiscal year.

“We have this budget, and we are going to make this budget stand like it is 10 times what we have,” Henry says, adding that AOT’s mission is “to use the dollars we do have to drive as much revenue as we can.”

The budget stress isn’t the only issue facing Arizona’s tourism industry. The recession, which caused the budget decrease, is the No. 1 issue, Henry says. The swine flu epidemic of 2009 hurt, as well as the “AIG effect,” in which big businesses cut down on holding corporate meetings at resorts. Then, boycotts from the passage of SB 1070 gave a further beating to an already crippled industry.

However, Henry says Arizona’s tourism is going to surge back because of the state’s well-established image and the strong partnerships within the tourism industry.

“The branding of Arizona hasn’t changed,” Henry says. “There are some misconceptions of what’s happening here, but it hasn’t really affected the Arizona we all know and love.”

AOT has partnered with local convention and visitor bureaus and the Arizona Tourism Alliance to reach the group-and-meeting tourism market. The relationships between all sectors of Arizona’s tourism industry are “stronger than any other state we know of,” Henry says.

Although 2009 saw a 10.2 percent decrease in travel expenditures and a 2.1 million decrease in overnight visitors, 35.3 million visitors still made Arizona their destination of choice.

Statistics show that in 2010, top-of-the-line leisure traveler numbers are up, Henry says. AOT identifies leisure travelers as Arizona’s target visitor.

“We’re finally beginning to see it creep up again,” Henry says of visitor numbers.




Arizona Office of Tourism's new campaign

Images courtesy of the Arizona Office of Tourism




AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011