Sharp-Edged Ads Aim at Homegrown Travelers

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- As the battle for the dollar escalates, a number of communities on the West Coast are engaged in internecine warfare.

On the tourism front, Northern California hot spots are heating up campaigns to woo locals who are planning short, close-to-home vacations.

Sonoma County
The Sonoma County Tourism Program named San Francisco shop Grant, Scott & Hurley agency of record for a magazine campaign scheduled to break later in February. The creative, expected to run in Western editions of about 20 magazines, will look at Sonoma through the eyes of professionals such as a chef.

"The long-term trend -- even before Sept. 11 -- has been toward shorter vacations, more often," said Brain Hurley, principal at Grant, Scott & Hurley. Sonoma wants to be considered more than just a one-day option on a par with Tahoe or Yosemite, he said.

Sonoma's rival to the south, the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, meanwhile, has hired Sacramento agency Glass McClure Advertising for a $1 million plan to drive visitors to California's central coast.

Tacoma vs. Seattle
In the Pacific Northwest, the city of Tacoma's economic development department has taken off the kid gloves with an estimated $200,000 print, radio and outdoor campaign trying to poach business from neighbor Seattle. In the campaign, from Augustus Barnett, Fox Island, Wash., a cartoon character called "Nat Worth," a private eye, points out Tacoma's more affordable office space, easier commutes and quicker permitting process.

The billboards are done in the style of an old-fashioned comic book, with the title "The Wired City."

The in-your-face campaign has generated calls not only from prospects, but also from Seattle executives as well, asking the city it shares an airport with to take the billboards down, a spokeswoman for the Tacoma effort said.

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