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Why are we moving? Basically, Blogger failed us and never responded to our emails and requests. A clear example of poor customer service...too bad, we liked Blogger.

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Troy and Mo

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"South Carolina is So Gay"

A state employee has resigned and officials have disavowed an international advertising campaign that led to calls for an investigation of tourism posters proclaiming “South Carolina is so gay.”

The campaign, which plastered the London subway with posters advertising the charms of South Carolina and five major U.S. cities to gay European tourists, landed with a resounding thud in South Carolina, where the issue of gay rights has long been a political flashpoint. >>Full Story

Thoughts// We've been scratching our heads on this one. Despite whatever you think of the creative, the tag line, or how this was allegedly only approved by "a low level staffer", this story nevertheless raises some interesting questions about the precarious nature of being a state tourism agency.

With gay travel estimated to be a $64.5 billion market by the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, how does a state tourism agency legitimately—using public funds—communicate to this audience in a meaningful way?

Once a decision has been made to pursue the gay tourism market, how do you sustain and defend the decision?

Tell us what you think! We'd love to hear from you on this one.


Tressia said...

The main point that I took away from this article is that yet again I'm shown that marketers don't understand the value in knowing their audience. Whether it's public speaking or marketing, in my opinion, the golden rule is know your audience.

I think it's particularly challenging for a state tourism agency to launch a GLBT-focused campaign because of the variety of regions that comprise a state and it's clear to me that not enough research was done in this case.

A market should be sought after because it makes sense - not because they have copious amounts of money to spend. To me, this is akin to the Las Vegas experiment some years ago where Vegas tried (a little too hard, in my opinion) to position itself as a family-friendly destination. Overall, Vegas isn't where I'd think to take my family on vacation, but there might be a couple of select areas that would be.

I think a couple of alternate approaches to communicate this message would be to either incorporate the GLBT message into the overall diversity message (look at everything and everywhere you can go in our state) or partnering with those bureaus where GLBT travelers truly are welcome and assist those bureau efforts.

As for the question of sustaining and defending the decision, it should be no different than any other market that an agency/bureau is trying to attract to a region/state. When asked, an agency/bureau who has done its due diligence can effortlessly communicate why the market is being pursued, provide the backup and the results of the campaign thus far.

Tressia Gehrke
Online Marketing Manager
Travel Portland

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