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Luquire’s Newly Released Campaign Takes An Uncommon Competitive Approach to Increase Leisure Visitation to North Carolina 

Integrated advertising and communications agency Luquire and longtime client Visit North Carolina recently launched “For Real, Visit NC,” a research-driven brand campaign showcasing the deeply authentic experiences North Carolina has to offer travelers with the state’s wealth of natural wonder, authentic attractions, creative culture, colorful history and genuine character. 

To catapult the state’s volume of visitors, the campaign takes a surgical approach to advertising, leaning into data-informed insights on what visitors love and want in a post-pandemic world, capitalizing on the opportunity to be relevant and familiar by changing creative to reflect seasonality, and tailoring messages to geographic and audience preferences.  

Luquire’s annual trends research helped inform the campaign’s direction, most notably the finding that connection, authenticity and a people-first, consumer-second mindset are the key drivers behind a brand’s ability to connect with consumers today. Specifically, data showed travelers are leaning away from the less real, touristy kind of experiences or anything that diminishes the cultural narrative and unique spirit of a place in favor of locally driven experiences. From the cumulation of an evaluation of brand strengths, and competitor and audience insights, the campaign concept emerged: “Social media pressures, fabricated destinations and manufactured fun have become the norm for travelers. If travelers are looking for richer experiences, they need real experiences. For Real, Visit North Carolina.”  

Meeting this moment, “For Real, Visit NC” takes on an edgier-than-expected tone shaped by insight that prospective visitors see North Carolina as relaxing, welcoming and authentic, with experiences that are accessible to all kinds of travelers. Rooted in the genuine authenticity that’s the cornerstone of the travel experience in North Carolina, the tone and personality of “For Real” purposely reflects a bolder approach – one not often, if ever, executed by state tourism offices – and is intended to break through the increasing clutter in the travel marketing space. The campaign features visuals of some of the most beautiful, exciting and authentic places in North Carolina, juxtaposed by an in-your-face headline that describes the opposite – a place or activity that feels inauthentic or over-touristy. 

“Part of Visit North Carolina’s mission is to position the state as a preferred destination for travelers in order to maximize economic vitality statewide, and it’s exceedingly rewarding when that business objective strategically correlates with such a human-centered insight, a desire among visitors to uncover authentic North Carolina experiences and hidden gems,” said Wit Tuttell, Executive Director of Visit NC.   

Tuttell sees the campaign as an effective way to increase the value of the state’s tourism industry, which contributed $2.5 billion in state and local tax revenue and saw a record-setting $33 billion in visitor spending in 2022. He expects immediate and longer-term payoffs from the “For Real” messaging. 

“We want tourism to grow in a balanced and responsible way,” he said. “The campaign is designed to reach visitors who are more likely to stay longer, spend more while they’re here, and return more frequently. With a message that’s grounded in the state’s natural appeal, we look forward to a significant return on investment as well as the satisfaction of sharing what we love most about North Carolina.” 

To showcase the breadth of deeply authentic North Carolina experiences, the Luquire and Visit NC teams identified and captured assets at more than 40 locations, attractions and businesses in 20 counties throughout the state. Future iterations of campaign production, which will span creative needs and audience interests across all four seasons, will showcase even more North Carolina gems. 

“In this era of segmentation and personalization, not every ad is intended for every traveler or mindset. We’re leveraging our audience research to craft and target the right message to the right traveler mindset at the right time,” said Luquire Chief Creative Officer Glen Hilzinger.  

One important insight uncovered as the campaign developed was the rise of the sustainably conscious traveler. Roughly half of consumers say they would be willing to pay extra for more sustainable travel options, and nearly 70% say they are willing to sacrifice convenience to be a more sustainable traveler. While North Carolina’s natural beauty likely comes to mind first, organizations and businesses statewide are oriented in practices that reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices travelers can enjoy, such as the North Carolina Oyster Trail, the rise of “green” breweries and distilleries, and more. This summer, the “For Real” campaign will debut messaging featuring some of North Carolina’s sustainable practices to drive greater affinity with prospective travelers. 

The “For Real, Visit NC” campaign will run year-round, with heavier emphasis in paid media promoting travel in the summer and fall months. Organic content will be generated ongoing to complement the campaign’s seasonality and will be tailored to target audiences to further illustrate North Carolina’s deeply authentic and differentiating experiences. Visit North Carolina can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok and at visitnc.com.


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