“Firsts That Last 2.0” Brand Campaign Highlights Authentic North Carolina Memories, Milestones

April 20, 2022
Clare Rizer - Account Supervisor / Public Relations

Integrated advertising and communications agency Luquire and longtime client Visit North Carolina launched “Firsts That Last 2.0,” a multi-pronged brand campaign that aims to showcase through a first-of-its-kind film series and corresponding broadcast, digital, and social media why 80% of first-time North Carolina visitors return to the state over and over again.

The campaign builds upon Luquire and Visit NC’s original “Firsts That Last” campaign, which launched in April 2018 and earned the pinnacle achievement in destination marketing, a Mercury Award from the U.S. Travel Association.

A campaign more than a year in the making, Firsts That Last 2.0 speaks to travelers’ COVID-fueled desires to make every trip count by thoroughly immersing themselves in the feelings and experiences that come from seeing new things and connecting with fellow travelers and locals alike.

The campaign’s main component is the Firsts That Last Film Series, which will give 12 filmmakers the opportunity to bring their North Carolina “firsts” to life in short films running five minutes or less. Visit NC pre-selected 11 films as official series entrants, with a 12th entrant, “The State That Heals,” determined by a people’s choice vote. The winning people’s choice pitch centers around filmmaker Luke Gloeckner’s life-altering North Carolina roadtrip. Films will be released throughout the summer for the public to watch on VisitNC.com and will culminate in a vote for viewers’ top choice.

The film series will run concurrently with the brand campaign, utilizing footage from the selected films to share stories “based on a true vacation” and encouraging audiences to visit the website to watch the full short films and plan their own trips to North Carolina. The campaign was developed based on research showing that travelers are increasingly searching out experiences rooted in feeling “like a local,” which is why each film will be accompanied by a suggested itinerary for curious travelers.

“With Firsts That Last 2.0 we’ve moved beyond ‘firsts’ as moments, instead presenting them as catalysts to entirely new ways of living and thinking,” says Luquire Chief Creative Officer Glen Hilzinger. “This campaign uses authentic, real-life stories to explore not only what a vacation to North Carolina can be, but what it can inspire and where it can lead.”

The campaign will be complemented by 15- and 30-second ad placements on cable and streaming OTT and CTV as well as print, paid search and digital assets leveraging the short films. In addition, the team developed custom content built on travel-endemic sites to support the film content and encourage in-market travelers to create their own memories. Paid social, paid display and native ad units will be leveraged to target consumers using proprietary in-market tracker data with measurement KPIs that will report back on the economic impact of the campaign’s efforts.

“Queen of Pisgah,” one of the first films released, chronicles North Carolina resident and aspiring pro-cyclist Kaysee Armstrong as she embarks on her first professional multi-stage mountain bike race in Pisgah National Forest, where she’s up against climbs at elevations of nearly 6,000 feet. Throughout her training and during her race, Kaysee faces significant headwinds and is forced to make some tough decisions about her future in the sport: will she be defeated by what seems like an unsurmountable challenge or will she rise to the occasion?

“Much like Kaysee’s race, this next ‘stage’ of the Firsts that Last campaign propels us to new heights in the way we think about travel,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina, the state’s official tourism office. “While there’s a first time for everything, it’s the special ones that become memories you can’t forget. Firsts That Last 2.0 captures the way meaning is revealed as we relive and reflect on what we experience.”

The Firsts that Last 2.0 campaign will run through the fall with content working across all platforms illustrating the depth and richness of North Carolina experiences and the moments of exhilaration, joy, connection and serenity that visitors leave with and return to live once again.

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