With Tourism Win, Mcgarrybowen Takes on the Job of Selling America to the World

Brand USA spends up to $30 million a year

Mcgarrybowen's continuing global expansion got a vote of confidence as the agency edged out larger networks to become the creative agency for Brand USA, America's first national marketing organization.

Spending by the public/private partnership is estimated at $20 million to $30 million. Brand USA's search RFP estimates agency revenue to come in between $1 million and $3 million.

Until Brand USA was created in 2010, America had been one of the few countries without a national destination tourism effort, leaving that task to individual states, regions and cities. Brand USA awards its marketing contract on a three-year basis, with JWT and, more recently, WPP corporate sibling Geometry behind its launch. During the RFP process where some 17 proposals were submitted, including one from the incumbents, the number of finalists came down to an undisclosed handful of global agencies.

New York-based mcgarrybowen is still a newcomer to that group of global players, adding in recent years London, Shanghai, São Paulo, Singapore and Paris outposts to its four U.S. offices.The agency has tourism experience working with marketers like Marriott and Disney, both of which were Brand USA founding partners.


In addition to Brand USA, the partnership also runs Discover America, its consumer-facing initiative which is the group's current marketing priority. Mcgarrybowen will work with Mediacom, the media incumbent on the business.

Brand USA has more than 500 private-sector partners and its aim is to increase the economic benefits of travel.The organization's spending doesn't involve the American taxpayer: It is supported by private contributions and matching funds collected by the government from international visitors who visit the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

In the first decade of this century, America's share of international travelers declined, dropping from 17 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2010. According to Oxford Economics, from 2013 through 2014, Brand USA's marketing initiatives have helped attract more than 2 million incremental visitors to America, ringing up nearly $15 billion in business sales and nearly $2 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

Christopher Thompson, Brand USA's president and CEO, said that among the reasons mcgarrybowen was selected was because the agency understood the importance of tourism as an economic driver.

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