It's a daunting client to have—the United States of America. And yet, undaunted, JWT this week unveiled the first comprehensive tourism marketing campaign for the U.S. aimed at overseas visitors. And the results are … about what you'd expect.
Which isn't to say, bad. Trying to capture a nation of America's size, complexity and diversity in a 60-second TV spot is an impossible task. Naturally, you're going to end up with imagery and themes you've seen hundreds of times before—America quickly turned to Americana, and wrapped in the gauze of unreality common to tourism spots everywhere. Still, given its run of the land, the campaign does deliver impressive images. New York. New Orleans. The mountains, the valleys, the fields and beaches. And then, beyond the images, you've got the music—a universal language for any overseas advertising. Here, it's Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash, singing an original song, "Land of Dreams," with backup from a host of musicians literally from all over the world. The spot is nicely shot and produced, and like all tourism commercials, all its edges are rounded and contours softened. Perfectly mirroring the desires of the target, it offers a vacation from reality—just on a bigger scale. The patriotism is familiar, too—from non-tourism ads. It's like an anthemic American truck or beer commercial, just without the trucks or the beer.
The campaign—produced for Brand USA, a public-private partnership between the travel industry and the U.S. government dedicated to increasing international visits to the U.S.—also includes print and out of home, digital and social efforts. The tagline is: "Discover this land, like never before."
JWT says it began the project by trying to understand the existing perceptions of the U.S. around the world—though of course, only the positive ones. The things foreigners love about America—the diversity, pop culture, optimistic spirit and larger-than-life presence—laid the groundwork for the positioning. "For more than 200 years, people have been coming to America, but we have never officially invited the world to visit," says JWT CEO Bob Jeffrey. "We developed a powerful message that taps into people's emotions, reminding them what they love most about America … and inviting them to see it, hear it and feel it in a new way."
I'm not sure about new. Rather, it leans on everything tried and true. After all, that's what tourism advertising is about—leading with your strengths. It's no time for surprises.
Client: Brand USA
Agency: JWT, New York
Music Production Company: NY Noise
Website Design: Digitaria
Sound Mixing: Sound Lounge