SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA — Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) today announced the second phase of the roll out of its new “Life Opens Up” brand. The online advertising campaign began Jan. 7.
“Life Opens Up” plays on the idea of letting wine breathe — or open up — and applies it to the many experiences travelers will discover in Sonoma County.
The campaign, which uses wine-tasting terminology to describe Sonoma County, is designed to connect with visitors on an emotional level. It’s built around the brand promise of connecting people to unpretentious, down-to-earth experiences. Its voice is reflective of the destination itself: casual, confident, approachable, passionate, and grateful.
SCT, the destination marketing organization for Sonoma County, worked with its agency, MMGY Global, to create the brand and advertising that is based on surveys and focus groups of more than 1,000 consumers, residents, and stakeholders. What resulted is an understanding that Sonoma County is perceived to offer a different style of luxury to both potential visitors and residents — one that is intimate, organic, and engaging.
The approximately $1 million advertising buy was developed to connect with both loyal and new visitors. While the campaign includes the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento markets, the majority of the spend will be targeted to potential travelers from markets served by nonstop flights from Sonoma County’s airport (STS): Los Angeles (LAX), Orange County (SNA), Phoenix-Sky Harbor (PHX), Portland (PDX), Seattle (SEA), and San Diego (SAN). Direct flights from Denver (DEN) will begin in March and from Dallas (DFW) in June.
Additional global reach will be realized through a partnership with the Matador Network and ongoing content creation posted to SonomaCounty.com. Incorporating full marketing integration, SCT continues robust domestic and international media relations and social influencer outreach helping ensure the brand messages are conveyed via highly relevant earned media outlets.
The market mix is determined by a number of factors, including access to the destination and potential for visitor spending, current conversion activity by market, the market potential, as well as consumer travel planning and buying behaviors.
“Phase two is primarily a digital buy, honing in on various personas that represent key targeted audiences. The buy, running now through June, employs creative elements that closely match consumer preferences for visual and social sharing elements,” said Todd O’Leary, SCT’s vice president, marketing and communications. “As with all our advertising decisions, we’re looking for measurable results that allow for maximum efficiency. In addition, we’re now working with Arrivalist, a new technology, that allows us to determine campaign effectiveness in driving destination bookings and even travel within the destination based on the marketing messages.”
The paid media objectives for the campaign is to increase brand awareness in a cluttered media marketplace, and to deliver efficient media and targeted impressions. The goal for phase two is to introduce the brand, increase overall consumer engagement via website visitation, social media impressions, and video views.
Overall, the campaign is designed to shift the market share by featuring destination activities and experiences as distinguishing factors from the competition.
SCT plans on the brand rollout to bolster the tourism economy for the destination. Total direct travel spending in Sonoma County was nearly $2.1 billion for 2017, according to the most recent annual Dean Runyan Associates economic study performed for Visit California. The tourism and hospitality sector supports 22,700 private employer jobs in Sonoma County, more than one in 10.
“Tourism is an important economic driver for Sonoma County,” said Claudia Vecchio, president/CEO of Sonoma County Tourism. “As a destination, we continue to show a return on our investment in tourism marketing, which translates to local jobs and revenue for local businesses and government services.”
Beyond the business of tourism, the Life Opens Up brand helps define Sonoma County for potential visitors, from simply talking about the destination’s assets to showing how they provide transformational experiences.
“This brand campaign is designed to help the world understand that Sonoma County is a place that welcomes all travelers,” said Vecchio. “We are a place of growers, creators and artisans, whose open-mindedness, inclusiveness, and hospitable nature is matched only by the people who come here. Everyone is welcome to the table and encouraged to make it their own.”
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Experience Sonoma County, where Life Opens Up. Just as wine “opens up” when it’s allowed to breathe, Sonoma County inspires visitors to open up to new experiences. Just 30 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma County is one of California’s top food and wine destinations, home to more than 425 wineries ranging from rustic to regal. Hike among towering redwoods, cruise along rugged Pacific coastline and get to know inviting small towns. Or, just sit back and take it all in. Because here, you’re free to go your own way.
For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call 707-522-5800.
Director of Global Media Relations
Sonoma County Tourism
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