It's hard to believe that the United States has never had a unified marketing effort for tourism -- but that's about to change. Brand USA, the organization formed by Congress to market the United States to world visitors, unveiled America's first-ever comprehensive marking campaign on Monday during a press conference in Los Angeles at International Pow Wow, the largest U.S. travel trade show.
The campaign aims to showcase the diversity of experiences available in the U.S. in a fresh and unexpected light, inviting visitors to Discover this land, like never before.
Our goal is nothing short of rekindling the world's love affair with the USA -- the place, the spirit and the dream, said Brand USA CEO Jim Evans. We want to spread America's message of welcome around the world and invite travelers to experience the limitless possibilities the United States has to offer. So we asked ourselves, 'how can we best speak to multiple countries, across countless languages and cultures?' We found the answer lay in the only truly universal language -- music.
The Brand USA team enlisted Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash, daughter of American music legend Johnny Cash, to compose an original song, Land of Dreams, to serve as the heart of the campaign. Cash is the first of what Brand USA hopes will be many musical artists to work on the campaign. The organization will extend invitations to musicians from across the globe to perform in their favorite U.S. cities and towns, profiling their trips online and through social media.
What is Brand USA?
Brand USA was formerly known by the clunkier name Corporation for Travel Promotion. It's governed by an 11-member board of directors appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
In November, the board unveiled its logo, which features the letters USA composed of multicolor dots with the Web address DiscoverAmerica.com underneath. The logo plays down any hint of patriotism and is meant to represent what Brand USA calls the United States of Awesome Possibilities.
According to Brand USA, the logo was created to be fresh, welcoming and inclusive. It's supposed to represent both the diversity of the people and the land.
The US gained a reputation over the past decade for being unwelcoming. Omitting all nationalistic plugs, the newly-formed tourism board aims to invite the world's visitors with open arms to help lift the nation of out the economic doldrums.
Inviting the World
Americans are viewed as arrogant and brash, having never actively asked tourists to come visit. Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman of Brand USA's Board of Directors, said that's about to change.
Other countries around the world have prioritized tourism efforts for years, yet in the 236 years since the United States of America was founded, this country has never had a nationally coordinated effort dedicated to inviting travelers to come visit us, he said. That changes today. This new campaign will tap into an incredibly valuable economic resource -- the millions of visitors who want to experience all that our great country has to offer.
Brand USA will use a mix of 60-, 20-, and 15-second television spots, as well as digital, billboard, and print advertisements and a robust online strategy to reach potential visitors. DiscoverAmerica.com will act as visitor's information portal, providing vital tips for trip planning.
The first wave of advertising will begin May 1 in Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom. A second wave will follow in Brazil and South Korea, with additional markets added later in 2012.
The United States trails France as the world's premier tourist destination, but the government hopes it's taking steps toward stealing the title.
Washington tapped into the tourism industry as a relatively fast way to propel the economy out of its post-recession woes.
Tourism accounts for 2.8 percent of the gross domestic product and about 7.5 million jobs. Foreign travelers to the U.S. spend, on average, $4,000 per trip, and each 35 incremental visitors results in a new job, Brand USA claims, citing U.S. Travel Association data.
The new initiative to draw international visitors will not be easy. The application process for a U.S. visa is enough to scare many foreign tourists away, but the government plans to tackle this with a new visa waiver scheme for most Western European nations, Japan, and Australia.
With international travel on the rise, the U.S. is betting that a relaxed entry process and a $12.5 million campaign can rekindle the world's love affair with the USA.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...