Lewis Puts Alabama Tourism Humor on Hold

ATLANTA A tough economy and escalating fears about personal safety caused Lewis Communications to take a different tone in its new television campaign for Alabama tourism.

Three 30-second spots from the Birmingham, Ala., shop use themes like remembering, playing, learning and discovering to encourage tourists’ visits and spending in the state.

Lewis creative director Spencer Till called the new work a dramatic departure from previous campaigns where humor predominated.

“With people worried about the economy, terrorism and a possible war, getaway vacations with family and friends are really important for emotional well-being. We think people will see our beaches and state parks as great places to reconnect with what’s important.”

Directed by Steve Colby of Pogo Pictures, Atlanta, the soft-focus commercials show viewers Alabama’s beaches in a spot called “Remembering.” Another spot extends the learning theme with an earnest look at the state’s civil rights district in Birmingham.

Till used banjo music to lighten the mood in “Playing,” which touts the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. A fourth commercial, “Learning,” features the USS Alabama, the World War II battleship harbored in Mobile Bay.

The TV spots broke this week on network and cable channels in Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky. Five print executions, which incorporate the images of San Francisco photographer Jim Erickson, will appear in Golf Digest, Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens and American Heritage. The campaign, budgeted at $3 million, will run through June.

Toning down the advertising was the result of research conducted by the agency. Account supervisor Carlton Wood said 30 families planning trips to Alabama were given cameras, journals and videotape and asked to record their memories.

“We learned that what was really important to them was that they have some place to go and unwind and rebuild their family relationships,” said Wood. “We’ve also used [the research] in presentations to members of the industry to show them how real tourists see us.”