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New Tampa Bay tourism brand: Less milquetoast, more bravado

Introducing Tampa Bay's branding campaign — with its tag line "Unlock Tampa Bay: Treasure Awaits" — Tampa's new tourism chief Santiago Corrada hopes to pitch this market with the same "bravado" that makes his hometown of Miami and Miami Beach so appealing.

Tourists heading to cosmopolitan Miami inevitably experience the exotic sights of nearby Miami Beach, while Miami Beach visitors also enjoy the pleasures of Miami.

That's how tourism needs to work in Tampa Bay, says Corrada, where Tampa tourists and conventioneers can enjoy the city and spend time in Pinellas County and its beaches. And vice versa.

"We should be on the rooftop shouting what we have," Corrada says.

Miami/Miami Beach boasts a powerful image in the minds of global tourists and conventioneers.

Tampa Bay's image pales in contrast. "Nothing pops," says Corrada.

The new branding campaign unveiled Thursday to business leaders at the Tampa Convention Center has the potential to change that.

Here's the trick. Will the Tampa Bay region devote enough resources to an aggressive marketing campaign to influence the people it wants to lure here?

For starters, a small-scale brand campaign will kick off in June and July issues of magazines devoted to meeting and planning. And folks along the Gulf Coast and in South Florida, key parts of the summer leisure market here, will also see ads starting Saturday.

More ambitious advertising for the larger winter tourist season kicks off in the fall. The ad campaign features an image of a keyhole while urging viewers to "unlock" the broad array of things to do and see in the region.

"This is an important week for Tampa Bay to rebrand tourism," says Doug McClain, marketing vice president of Tampa Bay & Co. As part of that rebranding, Tampa Bay & Co. officially was just renamed Visit Tampa Bay.

The brand campaign, the work of the Tampa marketing firm Spark, involved a year of research, focus groups and creative brainstorming. Spark came up with "Seize Life Daily" as a broader branding "position statement." But the message meeting planners and consumers will see in ad campaigns is "Unlock Tampa Bay: Treasure Awaits."

To Spark's credit, the brand is sharp, clever and well developed. It has potential.

Newly named Visit Tampa Bay admits that Spark had pushed the brand campaign beyond the organization's initial comfort zone.

"Fortune favors the bold," says Spark CEO Tony Miller. Tourism is increasingly a global and competitive business. Tampa Bay needs to dial it up — to create its own identity — if it wants to remain a draw for visitors looking for new things to do and also seeking rest and relaxation.

Business visitors here typically spend one night and about $375 a day. Tourists view Tampa Bay as a gateway to the Gulf Coast; a third stay overnight in the area, spending $279 a day.

Convincing business and tourist folks to stay an extra day or longer is part of this strategy to make Tampa Bay more compelling.

On Thursday evening, unveiling the "Unlock Tampa Bay" brand, Corrada appealed for help in spreading the word. "We ask you to help us dare to be different."

Contact Robert Trigaux at trigaux@tampabay.com.

New Tampa Bay tourism brand: Less milquetoast, more bravado 05/30/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 30, 2013 8:24pm]

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