Villing & Company

Pure Michigan: To Everything There is a Season – Including the Use of Broadcast Advertising

I know the case I’m about to make flies in the face of much contemporary marketing wisdom. Consumers today are in control. They want to determine when, where and how they will be receiving information from marketers and the intrusive nature of traditional advertising just doesn’t fit that model. In addition, broadcast television and radio advertising, by definition, casts too broad of a net to meet the targeted efficiency needs of contemporary advertising.

But there are exceptions to every rule and a time for every purpose under heaven.

Case in point: the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. I’m sure everyone who reads this has seen or heard some of the commercials. What some of you may not know is that the voice of the campaign is none other than Tim Allen. You know, Tim, the Toolman, Taylor. Santa’s Clause. Buzz Lightyear. Who knew that this comedic Michigan native could turn advertising copy into pure poetry.

Ah, but you digress, Thom. No, not really. The power of the campaign is the way the message evokes such powerful emotion through well-crafted words and images, through such superb story-telling.

Today wasn’t business as usual; today we made mermaid tails at the shore.
Today was what summer was meant to be, where we can run barefoot on golden sands.
Today wasn’t just another day at the beach. Today was pure Michigan.

Complement that poetry with the music from Cider House Rules and beautifully composed images and you have one outstanding campaign. It is some of the best brand-building and richly presented advertising I have seen in a long time. Not edgy. Not built on the latest whiz bang special effects. Just exquisitely crafted and choreographed advertising. Broadcast advertising.

That’s fine, you say, but does it work? Consider this. Last year, the campaign attracted 681,000 visitors from outside the region. Those visitors spent $250 million and produced another $17.5 million in extra taxes, which according to USA Today, represented a return of $2.23 per national ad dollar.

In the late nineties, our agency was a finalist several times for the Indiana Department of Tourism business. At the time, I was very concerned about the national trend in tourism marketing away from broadcast advertising because of the perceived difficulty in measuring impact. To be sure, the Internet was already becoming a factor in tourism decision-making, a trend we recognized and wholeheartedly supported. My concern was losing the means of stimulating interest and driving traffic to the sponsor website by not utilizing the power of broadcast media – especially television.

The Pure Michigan campaign is a compelling reminder of what broadcast advertising can do when the medium matches the message. And it is a great case study in the power of integrated marketing communications. Tell your story to build awareness and interest. Then let the consumer do the rest through the brand’s website and digital media outlets.

Of all people, maybe Kid Rock said it best in his ode to northern Michigan “All Summer Long”:

We didn't have no internet
But man I never will forget
The way the moonlight shined upon her hair

Filed Under: advertising

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