If we’ve learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that celebrating the small stuff – the little victories and everyday wins – can be just as important as marking the big milestones. So that’s why we’re super excited about an honor client Visit North Carolina just received for a compilation of small victories achieved by the Old North State in the fight against COVID-19 this past year.
Visit NC was named State Tourism Office of the Year in the Southeast Tourism Society’s Shining Example Awards, which highlight the best work in travel and tourism throughout 13 states and Washington, D.C. The winning effort was highlighted by Visit NC’s Count On Me NC campaign, a mutual pledge and public health initiative empowering guests and businesses to help keep everyone safe and protected during the pandemic.
With a laser focus on its mission and responsibility to unify and lead North Carolina’s tourism industry, the Visit NC team responded in full force to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Luquire worked jointly with Visit NC to develop a strategic, comprehensive marketing and communications recovery effort to return North Carolina’s $26.8 billion tourism economy to health in a safe and responsible manner.
With research indicating consumers were growing fatigued with the contentious political debate over safety protocols, the team worked to find a way to bring a more straightforward, even light-hearted approach to promoting social distancing, washing hands and wearing a face covering. The Luquire team developed an engaging 60-second jingle and animated video featuring lead character “Sunny” learning the wisdom of adhering to those protocols.
Executed in English and Spanish, the campaign elevated awareness and adoption of safety protocols among North Carolina residents and the “bold traveler” audience in contiguous states through a multi-channel program including public relations; paid and organic social media; TV and radio; streaming video and audio; gas station TV; print; out of home digital billboards, train wrap, and posters accompanied by the motion-activated jingle in restaurant restrooms; and a toolkit for partners to amplify COMNC.
Nearly 15,000 unique businesses statewide completed 68,000 COVID safety training courses and logged about 500,000 website sessions – little steps that compounded to make a big difference. In the end, the results spoke for themselves. Third-party research indicated 75% of North Carolina residents were more likely to wear masks and 68% more likely to avoid large gatherings because of campaign efforts.
The campaign resulted in 284 million paid media impressions and 228 million organic impressions, which equated to nearly $1 million in added-value exposure. And COMNC helped the state land $5 million in additional CARES Act funding, fueling the expansion of Visit NC’s co-op marketing efforts allowing 130 North Carolina industry partners and all 100 counties to gain exposure and further complement COMNC.
“It takes a great amount of trust between a client and its agency to be willing to dive headfirst into the unknown and recalibrate a year’s worth of plans into developing and executing a health and safety campaign to meet a global pandemic,” said Luquire Chief Creative Officer Glen Hilzinger. “But that’s exactly what our two teams did. And the end result was magic – lifechanging and lifesaving magic.”
“I am proud of the role Luquire played in helping Visit North Carolina achieve this incredible honor,” added Scott Gilmore, Luquire’s director of travel and recreation brands. “We’ve always known how special this state is, and while awards are wonderful, seeing the people of North Carolina come together over the past 18 months to help keep their neighbors safe and healthy is the real prize.”