SALT LAKE CITY — When you hear the term “Utah’s Mighty 5,” what comes to mind? The folks at the Utah Office of Tourism hope you think of Utah's five national parks.
Last March, just prior to last year’s summer tourist season, the state launched an out-of-state multimedia advertising campaign about the Mighty 5, hoping to attract new visitors.
“We hoped the Mighty 5 would be a breakthrough campaign for us. That would make people say I have to have the Utah experience!” said Vicki Varela from the Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding.
The campaign has worked so well, the state will do it again this year, spending more money on it.
Utah’s tourism industry generates nearly $1 billion a year to the economy, officials say. Visitors come here from all over the world, and the state’s five national parks play a role in that.
“When you have a product like Utah, it's a very authentic and genuine brand,” says Daniel Conner, CEO of Struck, the Salt Lake creative agency that developed the multimedia campaign.
Previous out-of-state campaigns were more general in scope, promoting a variety of Utah’s many summertime activities. Other states do the same thing. So the new approach was to inform potential tourists of the uniqueness of Utah’s national parks in that they’re in close proximity to each other.
“What Utah offers that no one else can offer that there are five national parks that can be seen in a single trip, so that became the focus,” Conner said. “And I think it resonated with them, not just because of the things you can do, but I think the campaign emphasized was an experience. I mean you're going to do something that you probably just dreamed of doing.”
Surveys of visitors found that people wanted the Utah experience. On average, visitors stayed in Utah longer than the previous year and spent more money. For example, in 2012, visitors spent an average of $810 on their Utah vacations. In 2013, that figure increased to $1,042.
The ad campaign also enticed a large number of new visitors.
“There were 375,000 trips that people made to Utah (in 2013) as a result of our advertising campaign,” Varela said. After seeing or reading the ads, “People who were not planning to come to Utah, 375,000 of them changed their plans.”
Last year, Utah spent $3 million in seven different cities — Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle — to promote the Mighty 5. This year, the state will spend an additional $1 million and place ads in Sacramento and San Diego as well. The 2014 Mighty 5 campaign will begin in March.