Beverly Hills: Come Hither, All Tourists

Beverly Hills’ image as a star-studded stomping ground for the world’s most glamorous socialites—and the tourists who want to be around them— doesn’t seem to need much of a polish. But the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau wants tourists to do more than windowshop on Rodeo Drive; it wants them to book off-season overnight stays at the city’s tony hotels and reserve tables at its gourmet restaurants.

That’s the objective of a $2 million campaign from independent M&C Saatchi in Santa Monica, Calif., that launches this week. Print work attempts to seduce potential visitors by personifying the city as a romantic, sophisticated young woman. One full-page ad that breaks in April magazines including Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine depicts a woman wearing a glamorous, lace-up-the-back gown (on loan from Beverly Hills’ Barneys), gazing through a picture window. “Is it shopping or sightseeing?” asks seemingly hand-scripted text. Like an intimate note, smaller writing reads, “There’s lots more I’d like to show you. Love, Beverly Hills.”

Other messages have the woman claiming, “I know a ten-thousand-story hotel,” and promising visitors, “We’ll make a few stories of our own.” M&C’s ads “succeeded in capturing what makes this place so special,” said Kathy Smits, the CVB’s director.

Instead of pitching a one-time idea, M&C creatives “took a much stronger chance to differentiate Beverly Hills,” said Kate Bristow, the shop’s evp, director strategic planning. “It’s a powerful destination brand. Even with a small budget, it [was] possible to create an enduring campaign.”

The ads come as Southern Cailfornia tourism continues to recover (like elsewhere) from 9/11. The group’s most recent ad spend was just $300,000, in 2003, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, although it spent $4 million in 1999.