Explore Minnesota’s #OnlyinMN campaign wins Mercury Award at the Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations conference

U.S. Travel Association recognizes state tourism office for best integrated marketing campaign

ST. PAUL, Minn., 2017-Sep-06 — /Travel PR News/ — Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion office, won a prestigious Mercury Award at this week’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference in Minneapolis for its successful #OnlyinMN branding and integrated marketing campaign. The award, presented by the U.S. Travel Association, recognizes the 2016 spring/summer campaign as the best among state tourism offices with similar marketing budgets.

The #OnlyinMN campaign debuted in April 2014 as a way to showcase the unique and authentic experiences that Minnesota has to offer. Before that time, only 18% of Midwesterners described a Minnesota vacation as “very appealing.” Fast forward two years, and the evolved 2016 spring/summer campaign generated incremental visitation of 3.5 million people, $388.8 million in incremental traveler spending, and a record 9-to-1 return on investment (Longwoods International).

“It’s a great honor to have the #OnlyinMN campaign recognized as one of the best in the country,” says Explore Minnesota director John Edman. “This innovative and robust campaign has been gaining momentum each year, and I take great pride in knowing it has inspired millions of people to visit Minnesota and experience all our state has to offer.”

In partnership with Minneapolis-based advertising agency Colle + McVoy, Explore Minnesota’s Mercury Award-winning campaign featured three new TV spots; Instagram-inspired MNstagram Booths that traveled to Kansas City, Denver, Chicago and the Minnesota State Fair; a golf marketing campaign in Dallas, and more. The $3.5 million campaign’s success can be attributed to a variety of factors, including expanded market reach, a strategic mix of traditional and digital marketing mediums, and cutting-edge creative strategy.

Explore Minnesota’s advertising markets include: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Chicago Denver, Kansas City, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Thunder Bay, Ontario. A full summary of the 2016 spring/summer integrated marketing campaign can be viewed here.

2017-18 Campaign Highlights
Now in its fourth year, the #OnlyinMN campaign has taken an emotional shift, focusing on deeper experiences and leveraging one-of-a-kind Minnesota destinations and events. A new TV spot debuted during the 2017 Super Bowl broadcast, focusing on the many events big and small that can be the driver of a whole trip. Other tactics in the 2017 spring/summer campaign included digital billboards, rich media and interactive mobile efforts, print and radio ads, and paid social media tactics.

To date, the popular #OnlyinMN hashtag has been used more than 660,000 times, and Explore Minnesota has amassed nearly 400,000 fans on social media, inspiring travelers and residents alike to experience new things and share what they find in real time.

The new TV spot for spring/summer 2018 will make its debut during next February’s Super Bowl broadcast, a time when Minnesota will be in the global spotlight as the host state of the big game. Explore Minnesota has plans to bring greater Minnesota to downtown Minneapolis, giving Super Bowl attendees a taste of what the state has to offer year-round.

About Explore Minnesota 
As the state’s tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state’s tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. A council of representatives from the state’s tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota with tourism businesses and organizations.

Tourism is a $14.4 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state’s economy. The leisure and hospitality industry—a major provider of tourism services—employs nearly 260,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota’s private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 17 percent of the state’s sales tax revenues. Minnesota welcomes nearly 70 million domestic and international travelers annually.

See what’s happening right now, only in Minnesota, at exploreminnesota.com and join the movement via @exploreminn on Twitter and Pinterest, or @exploreminnesota on Instagram and Facebook, using #OnlyinMN.

SOURCE: Explore Minnesota

Media contacts:
Alyssa Hayes (Ebel), Explore Minnesota, 651-757-1857 (O), 651-276-8738 (C), alyssa.hayes@state.mn.us
Erica Wacker, Explore Minnesota, 651-757-1862, erica.wacker@state.mn.us