For the five years prior to Siddall landing the Virginia Tourism Corporation business, the Commonwealth was losing market share to other states. This was anything but good news considering 0.01 percent of that market share equaled $30 million.
Independent research showed awareness wasn’t the problem. Sixty-nine percent of the target audience was familiar with Virginia’s prime attractions. However, their “emotional connections” with such destinations as Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach were waning. And while rival states were increasing their tourism expenditures, Siddall was given the task of generating 600,000 inquiries with a media budget of less than $1 million.
Siddall’s research indicated that Virginia, famous for its historic attractions, had to reposition itself as a more contemporary vacation destination. That meant reinterpreting those well-known attractions in new and exciting ways while still playing on the romance and equity of “Virginia Is For Lovers.”
To do so, the agency created 14 four-color spreads, each presenting an unexpected quality or experience that is unique to Virginia. Then Siddall added new components to tourism, including the sponsorship of the “Virginia Is For Lovers” car in NASCAR’s Busch Grand National Series, which reached approximately 100 million ESPN and TNN viewers.
As a result of strategic media placement, the Corporation received over 700,000 inquiries, exceeding their goal of 600,000. Siddall created a fulfillment system that delivered more than just the expected travel guidebook. For instance, inquiries generated by the African-American targeted ad also received the Pathways to Virginia’s African-American Heritage brochure.
But perhaps the best news was the fact that as inquiries shot up, the cost to deliver them went down 25 percent from the previous year.