Central Kentucky Wants to Lure Crowd-Wary Tourists With ‘Small-Batch Experiences’

VisitLEX campaign contrasts its open spaces with your daily life in quarantine

Agency Cornett says two-thirds of the American population lives within driving distance of central Kentucky. VisitLEX
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For at least a handful of on-trend reasons, it’s the perfect time to market an artisanal domestic vacation, especially one that promises a break from Zoom and Netflix and an intro to “small-batch experiences.”

A new digital campaign for VisitLEX, from agency Cornett, positions Lexington in central Kentucky as just such a destination, where curated tours of bourbon distilleries and horse farms are tailor-made for today’s socially distant reality that favors minimal head counts.

“Lexington Is Real Life,” running through October on Facebook, Tripadvisor and other platforms, also leans into the area’s wide-open spaces like Red River Gorge, Raven’s Run Nature Sanctuary and Boone Creek.

Tapping into the current mood, the visitors bureau says there are “no tourist traps, crowded sidewalks or long lines.” While those benefits were true even before Covid-19, they are qualities likely to sound particularly appealing to would-be travelers right now.

In a series of videos and retro-style digital postcards, Cornett plays with familiar tech-centric phrases to highlight the area’s parks, trails and lakes (tagline: “Now Streaming”) and its 450 horse farms (“Finally, a Stable Connection”). Those who venture to the famed Kentucky Horse Park might get some face time (not FaceTime) with a Derby-winning race horse.

Proximity is another key selling point these days, and the agency says two-thirds of the U.S. population is “within driving distance” of the leafy locale, “making it an ideal road trip destination.”

“As travel sentiment began to shift and we saw people were more comfortable with travel, we focused the campaign on places 200 to 400 miles away and prioritized markets from there,” said Leslie Miller, Cornett’s vp and director of brand management.

The new work is a continuation of the existing #ShareTheLex campaign, which has logged 700,000 mentions on social media with a call to action for locals to spread the word by inviting friends and family to the Bluegrass State.

Cornett and VisitLEX have created a wide range of fun, topical marketing stunts to promote the region, including a line of bourbon camouflage and an ASMR video of a horse eating.

Gathan Borden – Vp of Marketing / VisitLEX 
Leslie Miller – Vp, Director of Brand Management / Cornett
Bailey Klutts – Assistant Account Planner / Cornett
Whit Hiler – Executive Creative Director / Cornett
Dave Jones – Art Director / Cornett
Jonathon Spalding – Sr. Copywriter / Cornett
Coleman Larkin – Content Strategist/Copywriter / Cornett
Jacob McDaniel – Jr. Digital Designer / Cornett
Sarah Vaughn – Sr. Graphic Designer / Cornett
Brandon Turner – Videographer/Editor / Unsung Hero Media
Martina Barksdale – Actress
LaShayna Sawyers – Actress
Gwendolyn Carter – Voice Over
Matt Whattam – Animation  

Boone Creek Outdoors 
Canoe KY 
Mill Ridge Farm 
Buffalo Trace Distillery

@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.