Summer Marketing Campaign for Panama City Beach is LOADS Better This Year

by March 28, 2009 • 9 comments

As many of you remember, I (along with many of our contributors) was very vocal in the obvious failure of the Summer White Sale campaign that was rolled out last year.  Although the idea wasn’t quite right, it was the creative that I was so outraged by.  We spent a lot of money for an all around crappy campaign.  Now, with that lovely negative intro, this year’s campaign looks MUCH better.  The creative is way stronger.

I have some exclusive footage of what some of the animated banner ads may look like posted to my Facebook Fan Page.  Check it out. Be sure to become a “fan”.

I’m going to keep this short and let you see some of the advertising ideas.

You may, from time to time, notice I use words like “loads” or “brilliant”.  Today’s random fact of the day about Jason Koertge is that I LOVE Harry Potter (actually our whole family does) and I have a secret desire to speak with a British accent.  I know, lame, but I don’t care.

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1 Jerry Eyler March 28, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Ths shots do look pretty good. Have they started running yet?

Jerry

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2 Jellen March 30, 2009 at 8:52 pm

This campaign is night and day in difference from last year’s. I like the image of PCB it portrays. Much better.

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3 Kirk Lancaster March 31, 2009 at 8:06 am

The Difference Between “Real Fun Beach” and “Summer White Sale”: 5 reasons why “Real Fun Beach” will work and 2008’s “Summer White Sale” wasted a lot of money.

1. “Real Fun Beach” tells you exactly what Panama City Beach is, has been, and will always be.

It is what “the Beach Lovers Beach” was trying to be, but never was.

It replaces the long time, halfway official “world’s most beautiful beaches.” Claiming to be the world’s most beautiful beaches is a little too broad and boastful to hang our hat on, even though it’s a very true claim to me and thousands of others who love it here.

2. They got the domain name! YAY! “RealFunBeach.com” is a beautiful, easy to remember, easy to type, tells-you-what-it-is domain name.

3. The sub-concept — I’ll call it “Yesterday: Real, Today: Fun” since I don’t know what the staff and agencies call it — is equally brilliant. Its message says “one day you’re in your real world: worker, parent, student, etc., and today you can be in the fun world at the Real Fun Beach. This is perfect bait for fishing in PCB’s honey hole, Atlanta. A fast five hour drive from the real world to the fun world.

4. The “Yesterday/Today” idea can be used and reinvented in so many great ways. This is a concept that can grow and thrive for years, because it’s so flexible in letting us compare real world vs. fun world.

5. The offline campaign ties in perfectly to the online campaign. Go figure. Read Jason’s article on the online campaign for more info.

And the “Summer White Sale”? It had none of this. Nothing to differentiate PCB, nothing to transform the mindset of the consumer about PCB (it actually reinforced negative perceptions of being a cheap, lower-class destination). Nothing that could grow and live on as a brand, nothing that could really help us move forward with a new image. It never had a chance.

A few concerns (only 3!) with this new campaign:

1.
Real. Fun. Beach.
Using. Periods. For. Emphasis. In. Headlines.
Way. Over. Done.
But. Maybe. It. Still. Works.
Heck. I’ve. Done. It. Before.

2. The cute little names for our tourists, Sandy Bottom Bunch, Soul Searcher, etc., are clever and can be expanded to define more types of visitors. Another great concept that could live on for years.

But since local tourism businesses will now have the ability to target these segments directly through the CVB site, who’s to say a big bar can’t clutter my “Soul Searcher” page when I expect only “relaxed and laid” back results for my vacation planning? Perhaps the CVB has a plan in place for this, but then they’re walking a fine line by telling one business that they do not qualify to market to the “Sandy Bottom Bunch.” This is another perfect example of why government entities and tax dollars should not be used to run business and marketing campaigns such as this one. This campaign, in a perfect world, would have been developed by one of the large accommodation providers or a coalition of private businesses such as the Greater PCB Chamber.

3. I am convinced that Jennifer Barbee and company will accurately measure online traffic through all the major channels, and probably help with offline measurement as well. With all this new data coming and being properly measured, don’t we all get to have a copy of that information? All bed tax dollars are spent equally and fairly for the benefit of the Bay County tourism industry, right? And since it’s run by the county, all citizens get access, right? And even tourists – who suffer the burden of the tax equally with the collectors – should get a peek since they helped fund it, right?

One last thing. The team did some research for this campaign in Atlanta. The professionals discovered what this hack in Lynn Haven has been telling you for 3 years: Atlanta does not know us, and the Atlantans who think they know us don’t know the real us. The fact that they’re already our number one market is irrelevant. Here’s something I’ll bet on in 2009 and 2010…there are many more potential visitors in Atlanta, Georgia (repeat visits included, of course) than there are the rest of the world. Call me crazy, but that’s just how it is when you add a little real world common sense to all the marketing research and data.

Now, with Real Fun Beach, I suggest all of you bed tax collectors jump on board with this idea, aim 5 easy hours up the road to Atlanta, use “Real Fun Beach” in your advertising, call your guests “Soggy Bottom Bunch” or “Dark Sharks” or whatever is being promoted on the web site and REALLY BUY INTO THIS THING TO MAKE IT WORK.

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4 Jack Bishop March 31, 2009 at 9:11 am

Thank you to all the people that kept Y Partnership’s feet to the fire. This creative was a team effort with a lot of help from our community. In this case community impute helped, in fact was critical. Thanks Buddy!!!

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5 James March 31, 2009 at 7:15 pm

You certainly can’t say the campaign is too narrow!

PCB is trying (maybe too hard) to cater to ALL types of vacationers. This could lead to some confusion — maybe even a bit of disillusionment for those who have already categorized the beach as either “the family beach” OR “spring break central.”

Witness today’s mention from a “pop-culture” national columnist:
“The head honchos at the Panama City Fox affiliate in Florida, WPGX, will NOT be airing the new Osbournes: Reloaded variety show. Since when is Panama City, home to some very un-family friendly Spring Break debauchery, wholesome?????”

Can it be both a family beach AND spring break central?? I dunno.

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6 Jellen March 31, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Don’t narrow the potential draw so much that only Atlanta is the target. That would be too limiting. With the larger airport, northern markets will want to fly in for a few days in the fall (and spring if the college crowd goes away). People who fly in generally have more disposable income than people who need to drive.

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7 Kirk Lancaster April 2, 2009 at 11:58 am

Until I see a big fat plane land daily from places such as Chicago, New York, or overseas, then Atlanta is by far our best market and opportunity to build new guests and repeat visitors. For the record, I don’t see the direct flights happening. I hope it happens to fulfill all the airport lovers’ visions, and because it’s a done deal; but I wouldn’t put my money on it.

Don’t worry though, the TDC would never focus just on Atlanta. I’m suggesting that to advertisers who don’t have large budgets. Go fishing where most of the fish are. If you have a limited amount of fuel and bait, you’re smart to take your boat to the closest, biggest, best fishing hole, right?

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8 Kirk Lancaster April 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm

P.S. If those big planes are coming here straight from Chicago, New York, and overseas, you can bet your bottom dollar that most of those passengers will head straight across Phillips Inlet into the Land of the Loaded. That airport will benefit Walton county’s economy way before it will benefit Bay’s.

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9 Jellen April 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Planes land daily with people from the north. Sadly, they have to change planes in either Atlanta or Memphis right now due to the limited air service. It takes almost all day to fly in which limits the number of people who are willing to do it. I know people who have been flying to PCB from northern states for over 30 years, sometimes just for the weekend. Yes, Walton County has more to offer but it’s more of a mid-income market rather than a market for the wealthy. Bay County just needs to up its game a little and not see limitations where it should see potential.

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