Cassadee Pope's new single is a tourism marketer's dream.
Summer, the bright and sunny title track from the rising country singer's new EP, is all about young love in Clearwater Beach, from its opening line ("Rolled in as wild and free as a Clearwater Beach-at-17 memory") to its video, shot almost entirely in and around Clearwater Beach.
In the cinematic clip, you can see Pope cavorting on the beach in a bikini, checking out surf shops and bars and riding a bike near Pier 60. Prominently featured businesses and locations include the Opal Sands Resort, StarLite Cruises and the Bait House. There's even a sand sculpture of a dolphin that says "Clearwater Beach."
For tourism officials, it all seems almost too good to be true. But behind the scenes, it's all been in the works for a long time.
Plenty of artists have filmed music videos in Pinellas County over the years, including Coldplay (The Hardest Part) and Carrie Underwood (Wasted). Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, which operates the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission, had been talking to the team that manages Pope and other artists about bringing another shoot to this part of Florida.
"It has to be the right theme," said David Downing, executive director of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. "There were some presented to us that didn't really fit our brand. We're a beach destination."
When she played Clearwater's Fun 'n Sun festival in May, the video came to fruition.
"She's a Florida girl, which is important to us," he said. "It's a good demographic for us. She's up-and-coming. It doesn't hurt that her single with Chris Young (Think Of You) did so well. She's attached to some good things. So we figured, this is gonna work well for us."
As part of their partnership, VSPC will host a private beach concert by Pope in November. Contest winners will fly in for the show from all over the United States and Canada, giving Clearwater Beach radio, digital and social media exposure in more than 20 large markets. Downing said VSPC was contractually assured the words "Clearwater Beach" would appear in the video (hence the dolphin sand sculpture), and her team would "do everything else they can" to promote the region in other ways.
Kinda makes you wonder about that "Clearwater Beach-at-17" lyric, doesn't it?
"As far as I know, that was all Cassadeee," Downing said. "When I heard that line, I'm like, Whoa, that's hard-wiring the destination to the song."
It's entirely possible that Pope — who co-wrote the song with Kelly Archer and Emily Shackelton — would give a coastal Florida town a shout-out in one of her songs. Before going country and winning Season 3 of NBC's The Voice, she rose to fame in the West Palm Beach pop-punk band Hey Monday.
"I wrote it from personal experience. I mean, there's been those summer romances, growing up in Florida by the beach," Pope told ABC Radio. "When I wrote the song, I felt like this video has to be very vivid and it has to go along with the lyrics because they're so colorful and they really tell the story specifically."
Downing is happy that Pope and Clearwater Beach will be promoting one another over the next few weeks — including an appearance at Wednesday's CMT Music Awards, where she'll perform with fellow Florida tourism ambassador Pitbull.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Summer video, released June 2, already had some 430,000 views on YouTube.
"You always have to be careful when you hitch your brand to a person," Downing said. "Given the parameters of this relationship and who she is, and her track record so far, and her being a darling of America for her appearance on The Voice, and that her career is really on the ascendancy right now, we couldn't be more pleased."
-- Jay Cridlin