Sonoma County Taps GS&H for Repositioning Job

Grant, Scott & Hurley here has won the Sonoma County tourism account and will implement a new strategy of using more than wine to attract visitors.

The agency picked up the business after a review of 12 shops. The review’s other contenders were undisclosed. Billings are about $2 million, sources said.

The account was previously at Muhl hauser & Young, San Francisco.

Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, is known for its wineries, high-end hotels and spas. A campaign due in early 2003 will use the new tagline, “Good wine, good food, good natured,” and broaden the county’s image. “We are more than wine country,” said Sheila Walker, executive director of the Sonoma County Tourism Program. “We also have the coast and the redwoods. We want to make sure people know we have other attractions.”

Advertising now is more important than in years past, Walker said, because of the ailing economy. “Everyone in the tourism business is facing a much tougher environment,” said Walker. “There are more hotel rooms than ever all over California, and as the economy continues to sputter, every destination will be fighting more aggressively for every visitor’s dollar.”

“It’s the most beautiful area in California. It naturally lends itself to interesting advertising,” said GS&H co-founder Brian Hurley. “But the assignment—to go beyond the world-class wines and natural beauty—is a lot tougher than it might seem.”

Sources said the campaign will include print ads and possibly billboards but no TV ads.

“Sonoma County is an amazingly diverse place,” Hurley said. “How to bring such diversity together and market it to people with a lot of good options for their travel dollar is the tricky part.”

Grant, Scott & Hurley also handles Infineon Raceway at Sears Point, which is in Sonoma County, as well as the San Francisco Chronicle, Pacific Gas & Electric and several Canan daigua wine brands.