Gone are the fire-breathing lady and Tarpon Springs sponge diver.
A new advertising campaign Pinellas tourism officials will launch next year pitches the county as a family-friendly destination with both beaches and cool cultural activities like the Dali Museum. It replaces the "ambassadors" campaign that for the past two years featured a cast of eccentric characters representing Pinellas attractions.
The new focus aims to grab the attention of visitors arriving at Tampa International Airport. The campaign will include the first-ever paid advertising in shuttles that run between the main terminal and four gate terminals. Ads play on air travel themes. One shows a beach chair and the message, "Our seats never have to be returned to their upright position."
Tags with an image of surrealist Salvador Dali — and directions to the museum in St. Petersburg — will hang from the rear-view mirror of each Hertz rental car picked up at the airport next year. Hertz rents thousands of vehicles per month at TIA, said D.T. Minich, the county's tourism director.
For the new campaign, an ad agency photographed real people on beaches as they kite-surfed or paddleboarded through the waves. That gave ads the real-life feel of a YouTube video, a look that appeals more to consumers than staged, air-brushed images, Minich said.
The county's $6 million tourism advertising budget campaign will target traditional feeder markets in the Northeast and Midwest in January and February, then focus on Florida for the summer season.
Steve Huettel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8128.