Battle For Leaf Peepers

Maine, Vermont Break Seasonal Campaigns
BOSTON–The states of Maine and Vermont are waging an advertising battle to attract tourists for the fall foliage season.
The Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing recently launched its first fall campaign in a dozen years. Crafted by Paul Kaza Associates in South Burlington, Vt., the TV effort employs the tagline, “Fall. It’s our season,” and includes product placements from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Cabot Creamery. The two Vermont companies kicked in about $1 million to supplement the state’s annual $1 million media budget for tourism, said agency president Paul Kaza.
A pair of 30-second spots showcase the state’s scenic beauty, including copious shots of fall foliage, in an effort to attract visitors from nearby markets such as Hartford, Conn.; Boston; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. The media budget for the three-week effort is $150,000, Kaza said.
Asked whether fall campaigns from Maine influenced Vermont’s decision to run seasonal ads, Kaza replied, “There’s no question” that competition was a motivating factor. Another driver was the fear that travelers would forgo a trip to Vermont under the misconception that severe winter ice storms had put a damper on fall foliage, said state tourism official Diane Konrady.
Vermont’s tourism office estimates that the state welcomed about 27.4 million visitors in 1997, a 3 percent increase over 1996. In addition, more than 20 percent of Vermont’s overnight visitors–a key segment for the hospitality and restaurant trade– come in the fall, Konrady said.
Meanwhile, the Maine Office of Tourism for the second consecutive year has launched an effort to lure leaf lovers, spending $350,000 on broadcast and print media through Swardlick Marketing Group, Portland, Maine.
The five-week effort includes 60- and 30-second commercials that ask, “What makes Maine so spectacular in the fall?” as images of foliage, lobsters, hikers and bikers appear. The state’s 10-year tagline, “Maine. The way life should be,” closes the spots.
The ads are running mainly in the Boston market, with print executions appearing in regional publications and travel magazines.
“Fall is our fastest growing [tourist] season,” said agency president David Swardlick. In the first few weeks of the campaign, the state received more inquiries than it did during the entire fall 1997 effort, Swardlick said.