HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards competition is now closed, and our judging process is getting underway — honoring creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations. Meanwhile, take some inspiration from one of last year’s Platinum winners: Explore St. Louis, whose “Sterling K. Brown Advertising Series” was honored in the Advertising/Advertising Series/Television – Consumer category. (View all of last year’s Adrian-winning submissions here.)
BACKGROUND: Despite recent tourism development, urban inversion, a heavy tech scene, and world-class cultural assets, St. Louis has struggled with a negative or indifferent national perception. Qualitative research showed that perceptions among all demographics were neutral about the city, that many respondents were unaware of the off-the-beaten path experiences in the area, and that there was an opportunity to appeal to young travelers seeking authentic experiences instead of focusing on attracting families. It also indicated that St. Louis was often perceived as a “been there, done that” destination, with few return visitors and lack of interest among younger twentysomethings. Emmy Award–winning actor Sterling K. Brown of This Is Us helped showcase the vibrant and authentic experiences St. Louis has to offer, enhancing St. Louis’ image amongst all demographics while driving return visitation.
THE CAMPAIGN: A native St. Louisan, Brown was a perfect fit for promoting the city in an honest and authentic way. The core message of Explore St. Louis’ “In the Know” ad campaign was that visitors are missing out when they don’t explore the lesser-known parts of St. Louis. It aimed to promote cool, authentic experiences such as neighborhoods, festivals, microbreweries, and live music. Brown offered the credibility only a native of the city can offer, elevated by his celebrity status.
RESULTS: More than 232,000 visitors checked out the campaign landing page, with an average view time of three minutes and 49 seconds. The campaign generated more than 4.5 million social-media impressions and 140,000 YouTube views, and increased overall website traffic by 16.4 percent, with an 18.5-percent jump in unique visitors, compared with the campaign period of the previous year.