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America's first tourism ad campaign: Will it bring back visitors?
The U.S. never felt the need to lure guidebook-toting foreigners to the Statue of Liberty or the Golden Gate Bridge... until tourism plunged in the wake of 9/11
Roseanne Cash, backed by a conspicuously diverse band of musicians, plays under the Brooklyn Bridge in a new American tourism advertisment that all but screams: "All are welcome."
Roseanne Cash, backed by a conspicuously diverse band of musicians, plays under the Brooklyn Bridge in a new American tourism advertisment that all but screams: "All are welcome."
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his week, America launched its first-ever tourism ad campaign in Japan, Canada, and Britain, and is planning on expanding the feel-good media blitz in the coming months to Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, and South Korea. In one ad, a guitar-strumming Roseanne Cash, backed by an almost-too-diverse-to-be-believed band of musicians, beckons tourists to "come and find your land of dreams" over burnished shots of vintage Cadillacs, elderly dominoes players, and wedding celebrations — largely in lieu of classically tourist-friendly activities. (Watch the clip below.) The campaign, including print, web, and video ads, was created by Brand USA, a partnership between the U.S. government and a group of American companies. It's part of an effort to reverse a 10-year decline in tourism triggered by 9/11, when new travel restrictions and procedures spurred vacationers to go elsewhere. But will the campaign actually succeed?

It could help improve America's global image: Over the past decade, the U.S. has developed a global reputation "for being unwelcoming," even "arrogant," and the campaign could encourage foreigners see the country in a more favorable light, says Mark Johanson at International Business Times. Brand USA went out of its way to omit "all nationalistic plugs," and even the U.S.A. logo, a composite of multicolored dots, steers clear of "any hint of patriotism." The strategy just might work to "help lift the nation out of the economic doldrums."
"Brand USA launches America's first global tourism campaign"

But the U.S. faces an uphill battle: "It's tough selling a nation as vast and diverse as the U.S.", says Jim Byers at The Toronto Star. The ad throws everything at you, including "hikers parachuting off brilliant, orange-red cliffs, shots of a baseball game, a native American dance ceremony, whitewater rafters," and more. Only time will tell if feel-good music and multiculturalism is enough to tie it all together.
"No red, white, and blue in new U.S. tourism campaign that promotes music, adventure, and multiculturalism"

Either way, it's about time the U.S. ran tourism ads: American tourism may have fallen off because of "a public relations deficit," says Andrew Bender at Forbes. "Whereas seemingly every other country has some kind of government-sanctioned tourism promotion board," the U.S. has gone without for its entire 236 years of existence. And Brand USA, while affiliated with the government, isn't even funded by taxpayers: Its annual budget of $200 million comes from "private sector investment and the fee that's assessed on foreign visitors."
"To attract tourists, America gets a theme song"

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