U.S. Travel Group Begins $100 Million Agency Search

Organization Aims to Attract More Visitors From BRIC Countries

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Madison Avenue shops are pitching an interesting account this summer: America.

The U.S. Corp. for Travel Promotion, which bills itself as a partnership between the public and private sectors with the mission of promoting increased international travel to the U.s., is on the hunt for a global agency to help boost tourism to the country. The organization is especially eager to find new ways to draw more visitors to the U.S. from the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), executives familiar with the situation told Ad Age .

It's a fast-moving pitch that began last week as a request-for-proposal document was circulated to agencies. The CTP declined a request for comment about the agency search, but industry executives said teams have already held meetings with contending shops, which are understood to be large network agencies.

The CTP is conducting the pitch in advance of funds it is expected to receive in October to devote to marketing. According to people familiar with the situation, the overall marketing budget for the account is expected to be about $100 million.

The organization's website states that its board of directors is working on "developing a marketing plan that is designed to achieve the maximum return for the industry and the country." It also promised that any programs that will be implemented will be "fully transparent, inclusive and accountable to the industry and public."

Among the executives who sit on CTP's board are: George Fertitta, former ad exec and now CEO of NYC & Co.; Mark Schwab, senior VP-alliances, international and regulatory affairs at United Airlines; Al Weiss, the recently retired president of worldwide operations for all Disney Parks and Resorts; David Lim, chief marketing officer at Amtrak; and celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi.

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