Singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash will wail an anthem called “Land of Dreams” while images of smiling Americans playing on the beach, running through fields of flowers and dancing in streets flash across the screen.
These are among the images and sounds behind the nation’s first coordinated $150-million media campaign to promote the U.S. to travelers worldwide. Details of the campaign are set to be released today at International Pow Wow 2012, a travel trade show at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The U.S. Travel Assn. initiated the campaign with the support of several large tourism groups and travel businesses. It was approved by Congress as part of the Travel Promotion Act of 2010. The campaign will be financed by a $14 fee charged to each international visitor who registers for a visa to enter the U.S., plus donations from private businesses such as hotels and theme parks.
The campaign is in response to a drop in the country’s overall share of world travelers in the decade following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Many travel industry leaders blame the nation’s tougher visa requirements and airport security measures for cutting overall visitor numbers and spending totals.
To draw foreign travelers back, the campaign will launch billboards, magazine ads, online videos and television commercials, emblazoned in colorful images of city scenes, forests and beaches and the message “Discover America.”
The campaign is headed by a board of directors, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, that includes the heads of state tourism panels and hotel company executives, among others. New York-based JWT, one of the nation’s largest advertising firms, was chosen to develop the campaign.
The marketing blitz will begin next month in Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan, followed later in Brazil, South Korea, India and Germany.
Although the campaign is designed to promote the country as a whole, private travel industry firms that donate a minimum of $1 million in cash and $4 million in in-kind contributions to the campaign get mentioned in the ads by name, with online links and phone numbers included.
So far, Marriott International Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Best Western International Inc. have each contributed the minimum amount.
“Those that can’t donate those dollars still benefit from the overall campaign,” said Chris Perkins, chief marketing officer for the campaign. “By selling the whole nation, they all stand to benefit.”