How a Milwaukee Agency Made Some Simply Stunning Tourism Ads for Wyoming

BVK's path to capturing 'epic intimacy'

People say print advertising is dying, but pretty regularly we see tourism campaigns that show its continuing power—not surprisingly, as tourism ads always hold that promise of delivering breathtaking visuals and poetic copy.

Last year it came from Nebraska. And now, we have four wonderful new print ads for Wyoming, made by an agency 1,000 miles to the east—BVK in Milwaukee. The work has just the right balance of beautiful landscape shots and copy that manages to be lighthearted without taking away any of the grandeur.

Check out the ads here. Click to enlarge.

There is also a TV component to the campaign (which you can see below), along with other assets. AdFreak spoke to BVK group creative director Brian Ganther about the work.

The print ads are eye-catching. What were you going for there?

Our vision was to make an incredibly vast and rugged landscape feel personal and emotional. Achieving "epic intimacy" became our mantra. Wyoming has less than six people per square mile. What's it like to be one of those people, and have all that wilderness to yourself? We're trying to create a deeper connection between this endless land and the individuals who explore it.

Can you tell me about the balance between the visuals and the copy?

Reaching the right balance took a lot of experimentation, as is always the case in producing good work. When your product is Yellowstone, the Tetons, the authentic Western culture of Wyoming, the visual statement needs to be epic. And the personal, philosophical statements delivered in the headlines need to pay it off. Not an easy task.

What did you want to achieve with the video portion of the campaign?

Our approach was to avoid the Western cliché at all costs and bring a more modern, authentic vibe to the campaign. In the TV spots, that meant storytelling that was visually beautiful, but also thoughtful and challenging. In the longer-form videos, we thought it was important to feature stories about real people whose very identities are tied to the Wyoming landscape. We were also very interested in covering some of the lesser-known cultural aspects of the state, like music. We approached the content more like journalists than ad people.

Tell me how you arrived at "That's WY" for a tagline?

Beyond the obvious play on words, the beauty of "That's WY" is that it's based on an audience insight. Research told us our target market was curious, intellectual, theoretical and interested in understanding things on a deeper level, even an existential level. Asking why is built into their DNA. "That's WY" is more than a tagline. It's a creative platform that informs everything we do. So much of the tourism advertising that's out there feels so similar, so having a brand platform that is obviously ownable goes a long way to differentiating Wyoming from other states.

Where is all of this work going to be running?

National TV and print coverage, plus out-of-home, digital, social and radio. Key markets are Seattle, Kansas City, Portland, Ore., Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver and Salt Lake City.

Do you think print work is on the decline, and can tourism work help keep it alive, with its need to show beautiful landscapes?

The numbers probably say it's flat or declining, but from a creative standpoint every visual medium is important. Print may be particularly friendly to beautiful landscapes, but the best ideas should be able to exist in any medium.

Is it hard for a Milwaukee agency to do tourism ads for a state so far away?