Pair of Agencies Team Up for a Tale of Two Cities

Bohan Carden & Cherry and The Tombras Group have chosen cooperation over competition in a new tourism campaign promoting the Great Smoky Mountains.

BC&C of Nashville, Tenn., is lead agency for Pigeon Forge; Tombras in Knoxville, Tenn., handles marketing for Gatlinburg. Both Tennessee cities, gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, compete for tourism dollars.

“These are separate clients and, in the main, very competitive,” said BC&C chairman David Bohan. “But to a vacationer, they’re pretty seamless, so it made sense to work together.”

The park is one of the most popular federal preserves in the country. In the past, however, both agencies’ efforts were focused on selling the gateways rather than the resources of the park.

Research conducted by the tourism departments of both cities revealed that visitors do not perceive Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge as separate entities, but part of a total destination—the Smoky Mountains. The data convinced city fathers that a mutual marketing effort would not represent a conflict.

“Co-op advertising was a logical thing to do,” said Leon Downey, director of tourism at Pigeon Forge. “It also is more efficient in the actual purchasing and placing of the advertising.”

After the client cities committed to a two-year marketing program, the creative departments of both agencies conceived and produced a 30-second television spot, which kicks off in Atlanta this month.

If successful, the campaign will move to cities like Detroit and Chicago in a second phase.

“What we are really trying to do is attack high-cost media markets in a cost-efficient way,” said Bohan. He claimed client savings could total 40 percent over two years.

Tombras was responsible for television production; BB&C oversaw media placement. The agencies will reverse roles next year.

BC&C has had a long-term relationship with Pigeon Forge; Tombras has served Gatlinburg for the last few years.

Both agencies will continue to produce city-specific marketing efforts as well.

“That’s where the hotels, restaurants and other attractions are,” said Bohan.