By Kaley Fech
Capital News Service
“Pure Michigan.” “Honest-to-Goodness.” “Find It Here.”
Can you name the state that goes with each slogan?
That first one and “Only in Minnesota” are quite clear about the states they represent. Less obvious state slogans from the Great Lakes region include “Are you up for Amazing?” and “Pursue Your Happiness.”
No matter the phrase, all state slogans seek to attract tourists.
“Tourism had a $20 billion impact on our state’s economy in 2016,” said Lisa Marshall, the communications director for Travel Wisconsin
Michigan officials boast of a similar $20 billion tourist industry, second only to manufacturing.
And in Minnesota tourism was valued at $14.4 billion in 2015, according to Alyssa Hayes, a public information officer for Explore Minnesota.
State tourism officials use slogans to make their state stand out as they compete for the same tourists.
“Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota have a lot of the same tourist products,” said Marshall. “So we want to be different. Who are we compared to Michigan? Who are we compared to Minnesota?”
In Wisconsin the answer is supper clubs, Marshall said. Supper clubs are a class of restaurants all their own in Wisconsin, widely known as the place to go for a great atmosphere, delicious prime rib and a brandy old fashioned.
“We did an ad campaign last year that was based on supper clubs,” Marshall said. “We have hundreds of them, and that’s something that’s really iconic to Wisconsin.”
Some states embrace their slogan.
When the Pure Michigan campaign was launched in 2006, the state was going through a recession, and a lot of the news coming out of the state was negative, Grinnell said. The campaign helped change people’s perception of Michigan.
“Pure Michigan became a point of pride for the state in a time when we really needed that,” Grinnell said. “The entire state has really embraced the Pure Michigan campaign.”
The campaign was a collaboration between the advertising agency McCann Detroit and the staff at Travel Michigan, Grinnell said. It was the result of research that was done to understand how people felt about Michigan.
Other states use slogans that are more transient. A recent article in State Legislatures magazine reported Wisconsin’s slogan as “When you’re having fun, we’re having fun.” But Marshall says that’s not the case.
“We don’t really do slogans,” Marshall said. “We had a lot of slogans before 2011 and we kept changing them. A new tourism secretary came in 2011, and she thought we were sloganed out.”
Instead, Wisconsin uses taglines in advertising that change from year to year, Marshall said. This year’s tagline is “When you’re having fun, we’re having fun.”
The slogan is only one piece of the the state’s overall brand.
“Our brand is the brand of fun,” Marshall said. “People come here because they want to have fun. When you come here, you’re free to be yourself and have fun.”
Pennsylvania’s brand is the pursuit of happiness.
“The slogan is simply the public moniker for our brand,” Hemming said. “Our brand says that in Pennsylvania, a vacation or getaway is an active, self-styled adventure – a pursuit. Visitors of all ages can choose from an unrivaled collection of opportunities to explore, discover and experience.”
It’s a concept that also applies to “Pure Michigan,” Grinnell said.
“It really is the overall brand for the state,” she said. “I think it has become so emblematic of Michigan and so recognizable outside of the state that it’s almost a shorthand way to talk about Michigan.”
Nearly half of visitors to Pennsylvania arrive within one week of seeing a tourism brand advertisement for the state, said Emily Hemming, account director at Tierney, the agency that does advertising for Pennsylvania tourism.
“These numbers prove that advertising the Pennsylvania tourism brand in neighboring states and in the commonwealth leads directly and immediately to increased travel to Pennsylvania,” she said.
One of the big ways states use their slogans for marketing is through social media.
“On Instagram, #puremichigan is the most used tourism marketing hashtag,” Grinnell said. “Over 4 million people have used that.”
And Minnesota has engaged in the hashtag war that enlists “scroll-stopping” images.
“Residents and visitors alike use #OnlyinMN on social media for Minnesota travel inspiration,” Hayes said. “#OnlyinMN has nearly 700,000 uses to date.”
It’s not about the words when it comes to a slogan, it’s about the feeling people get when they see them, say those in the business of marketing states.
“Our brand is not about the words ‘Pure Michigan’ as much as the emotions the campaign evokes,” Grinnell said. “We don’t have a hard sell. We don’t say plan your vacation in Michigan. It’s all about the memories, the moments, the emotions you will feel in Michigan, and that has proven to be very very powerful.”
And those other Great Lakes slogans? Here’s the key:
“Find it Here”
“I ❤ New York”
“Pursue Your Happiness”
“Are you up for Amazing?”
“Only in Minnesota”
“When you’re having fun, we’re having fun.” (but only for 2017)