1. Business

In marketing campaign, yetis remind tourists that Pinellas winters are not abominable

Pinellas County's marketing campaign this winter featured yetis frolicking in some of the area's best known locations. The campaign was sprung on northerners in an effort to get them to visit here. Photo courtesy Visit St. Pete Clearwater.

Published Apr. 2, 2016


Pinellas County's tourism marketers continued their streak of clever campaigns by sending in the yetis this winter.

Clad in tropical bathing suits, sunglasses and beach towels, people dressed as yetis danced in Times Square, attended Cupid's Undie Run and Chicago's Polar Plunge, took selfies and gave lots of high fives.

The yeti campaign by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater was dispatched to New York, Boston and Chicago to market St. Petersburg and Clearwater to Northerners during the coldest months of the year. It is the first year the agency targeted Boston.

The campaign encouraged potential vacationers to visit, which is filled with photos and videos of the hairy white beasts playing volleyball, enjoying margaritas and doing yoga in Clearwater and St. Petersburg. The message: "If Yeti can say goodbye to the cold, so can you. Be like Yeti: escape to the sun this winter."

Last year, VSPC arranged for snowmen to be built in Northern city streets. Each snowman held a witty sign urging people to visit Pinellas County — promoted by the hashtag #winterblows.

"It has to be something that pushes the envelope a little bit," said Pinellas tourism chief David Downing. "It has to be something that no one is doing."

He said that the agency looks to build on its previous campaigns and this year wanted something more "mobile" and interactive than a snowman.

The trick was finding the right costume.

The yetis "had to be striking, but we didn't want children running and screaming from them," Downing said.

In years past, VSPC has used April Fools' Day as a marketing vehicle.

Last year it launched a weeklong campaign called Grouper Week, reminiscent of Discovery Channel's Shark Week, to promote dining at local seafood restaurants. April Fools' 2014 brought us the manafin, a dolphin/manatee hybrid that went viral.

But this is the year of the yeti.

The $2.5 million winter marketing campaign, which included advertising on buses and about 1,400 elevators, ran from the beginning of the year until the end of March. VSPC tallied more than 500,000 yeti views on social media, Downing said.

Downing said the agency will be launching a pilot campaign in Seattle this summer and is already starting to plan next winter's campaign.

"It's a growing sector. Every year there are more destinations we compete with and every year we have to find new ways to give our brand a leg up on our competition," he said.

Contact Alli Knothe at Follow @KnotheA.


  1. The 70-acre MOSI site on Fowler Avenue is under consideration as a location in case Hillsborough County pursues the idea of establishing a movie studio here.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  2. More construction is on the way to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, thanks to $19.75 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to rehabilitate the airport’s runway. (Times file photo)
  3. Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The state added 22,500 jobs in August.
  4. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  5. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.
  6. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  7. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  8. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  9. The Aldi store located on 1551 34th St N, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018, features its updated layout. JONES, OCTAVIO   |  Tampa Bay Times
    The store will re-open after renovations on Thursday, Sept. 26
  10. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-LIGN works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.