Creating A Dream, Not Selling Reality

The New Colorado Office of Tourism CampaignFor some reason, Colorado tourism campaigns repeatedly appear to be geared towards a small subset of the US population, many of whom already live in or frequent Colorado; hiking, biking, and outdoor enthusiasts.

I’m starting to think that the people who are hiring these agencies aren’t actually thinking outside “the box” of our state, with regard to a target audience – if they would widen their scope, they would realize that these ads only appeal to a small minority of the overall vacationing population.

Don’t get me wrong – the imagery and videography in the ads are beautiful, and kudos to Karsh and Hagan on the work they did… but there is so much more about our state that would appeal to, and resonate more strongly with, the actual majority of the vacationing population. If Colorado wants to get more tourists to visit here – more than just the people who happen to hike and ride bikes – then they should really try to appeal to the masses.

Show them a thriving nightlife in LoDo. Show them the numerous professional sports teams and stadiums. Show them amazing concert venues, an abundance of small breweries, museums and a world-class performing arts complex. Show them ghost towns and mine tours. Show them beautiful, thriving college towns. Show them an abundance of festivals across the state. Show them vineyards and the beautiful mountain towns, that are much more than just skiing destinations. Show them casinos, water parks, golf courses and amusement parks. Show them Mesa Verde, zoos, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Native American history, Royal Gorge and Four Corners.

Give them specific destinations to research and make reservations at – the things that most actual tourists do, when they think about coming to visit Colorado. Show all the amazing things that Colorado has to offer… not just some open fields, mountains, and a couple people with flower-strewn hair, backpacks and spandex – we are so much more than that.

- tmaaz

Ah, the comment section of your local paper.  Clearly the bottom of the critical-thinking bucket.  Take the word-for-word comment above from the cleverly named tmaaz speaking about the recent launch of the updated Colorado Office of Tourism campaign.  Which, to be fair, it not perfect, but pretty damn good.

Rational or not, this the type of argument that DMOs and CVBs face in their own community when trying to introduce and explain advertising choices.

You did not show enough!  What about our festivals!? Why is everyone in spandex?

The reason why the ads don’t show everything is because most visitors already have everything in their own hometown.  Not to mention the fact that this guy wants to run either a print campaign with 47 creative versions or one hell of a TV spot.

The difference is dream v. reality.

For a state like Colorado, who is targeting Dallas, Chicago and Phoenix with this campaign, they need to create a desire, a need, a dream to visit Colorado.

People don’t dream about visiting an Applebee’s in another state.

Okay, some people do.  Weirdos.

But most people don’t want to travel half-way across the country, get to second base with a TSA officer, put up with the lack of shitty airline food, try to decipher your street signs all while listening to their kids ask when are we going to get to the Aurora Applebee’s!

People want to picture their ideal destination when dreaming about a trip.  It does not matter if they actually hike or not.  Or if they look good in spandex or not.  Just the idea of leaving the sprawl that is the Phoenix metro area (sorry guys, it is) and escaping to the mountains of Colorado, the fjords of Norway or the beaches of the Bahamas is what dreams are made of.

Yes, when I get to Oslo, I am going to hit up the local McDonalds…just to see the Norwegian take on the Quarter Pounder with Cheese…but I am not dreaming about.

That is the difference between creating a dream and reading from brochure.

Sports teams, breweries, museums, festivals…yeah, we got those back home.

Show me something I have been dreaming of.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.