Anatomy of “The Oregon 150 Challenge” Campaign

The Oregon 150 Challenge

The Oregon 150 Challenge

In celebration of Oregon’s 150 years of state-hood, Travel Oregon has launched a special promotion designed to stimulate spring and summer travel by encouraging locals to “rediscover” Oregon as a destination. As part of the “Take the Oregon 150 Challenge,” visitors to Oregon during the sesquicentennnial are called upon to prove their love for the Beaver State by experiencing trips across five categories (Events, Outdoors, Food/Drink, Attractions and You Pick) and prove their have experienced all five categories by uploading a photo or documenting their travels with a brief summary in writing. Travelers completing the challenge will receive an official certificate and email from the governor congragulating them on their work and declaring them a “certified Oregonian”. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A few weeks ago, we brought to you an AdAge story that highlighted how state tourism agencies are recalibrating their tactics to spotlight  value and in-state and/or regional campaigns.    Today, I am honored to spotlight Travel Oregon’s effort to address current economic conditions and build immediate demand for spring and summer travel in Oregon…the Oregon 150 Challenge.

Created with the help of our friends at Wieden+Kennedy, the campaign was originally conceived as an in-state marketing campaign to leverage the year-long celebration of Oregon’s 150th birthday this year; however in response to the economic downturn facing the Oregon tourism industry the effort was significantly ramped up to increase demand and stimulate travel to and within Oregon during our peak season (April-Sept.).

The Oregon 150 Challenge inspires visitors to “take a road trip with a purpose” and encourages them to use Oregon’s 150th birthday as a spectacular excuse to get out and explore their favorite nooks and investigate a new cranny or two, while taking advantage of special deals all over the state.   The crux of the challenge for consumers is to visit just five of the thousands of the beautiful places in Oregon across five categories (Foodie stuff, Outdoors stuff, Attractions, Events and a “You Pick”) to be eligible to win a “Grand Oregon Tour” and to get an “Official Oregonian” certificate signed by the Governor himself!

Elements of the campaign are:

  • Inspiration – In-state: The cornerstone of our in-state outreach is a 30-second TV spot, the “love letter” that aims to tug at Oregonians’ heartstrings with its nostalgic and romantic montage to the state;  in-state outreach is also supplemented by radio and online display and search efforts
  • Invitation- Regional: For out of state friends in key drive markets of Seattle, Sacramento, and Spokane, we’re using print (pdf), radio and online display (pdf) and search advertising with the key message that spring/summer is the perfect time for a “close-to-home” road trip in Oregon
  • The Destination: The ultimate destination for the campaign is, which leverages the wealth of content across into a simple, elegant and visual trip planning tool utilizing Google maps.  Once folks have signed up, they can use the  search tool to start narrowing down their list of destinations or use one of eight suggested trips to complete the challenge.   We’re using ajax to serve up the content within the application and all of the data is “pulled” via XML feeds from the main hub and updated nightly.

Challenges: Anytime you have six-weeks to launch a major regional campaign and limited dollars, the challenges can be monumental (to say the least!).

  1. Our initial challenge was the content and more specifically the mapping; close to 450 of the 30,000 destinations on our site had absolutely no geo-code information. Yup, mapping tools apparently cannot find descriptive listings such as “CITY NAME Fair Grounds” or “3-miles from the La Grande I-84 exit” – so the initial focus was to manually (painstakingly) update these listings using various online geo-code finders (thanks Bryant & Rhiannon).
  2. The second and probably more crucial challenge was the messaging; how do we leverage the state’s birthday to come up with the appropriate messaging and a unified campaign site that serves both Oregonians (wanting to earn their “Oregonian” stripes) and out-of-state folks who are simply looking for travel ideas, trip planning tools and deals?
  3. What are we measuring?  The ultimate goal of the campaign is to stimulate demand for travel and maintain or exceed travel bookings to Oregon.  The measurables are thus: spring/summer room nights (compared to ’08 and with competitive set), overall response to advertising, number of consumers registering to  play the contest, number of consumers finishing the contest, overall engagement across the platform and finally a measurement of “buzz”.
  4. Social Media: We’re continuing to figure out how to make the entire campaign more “sociable”; while time and budget didn’t allow for deeper and more meaningful integration with the Facebook/Twitter API’s, consumers can invite and share their trips with friends/family and write reviews/comments on the places they’ve visited.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.