City visitors group launches $1.3M ad campaign

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The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association said Wednesday that it has launched a $1.3 million summer advertising campaign targeting eight Midwestern markets.

The campaign, which targets television, Internet, radio and billboard audiences, features a series of ads highlighting local attractions. It begins Monday and will continue through August.
Ads spotlight the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Zoo and the NCAA Hall of Champions.

The eight target markets: Chicago; Cincinnati; St. Louis; Columbus, Ohio; Louisville/Lexington, Ky.; Peoria/Decatur, Ill.; and Champaign/Bloomington, Ill.

Carmel-based Strategic Marketing & Research Inc. estimates that last year’s leisure travel campaign by ICVA induced 746,000 visitors to central Indiana and netted $289 in spending for every $1 spent in advertising. Last year’s campaign, however, ran only in Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Louisville.

“This year we will be in more markets with greater frequency for longer duration,” ICVA spokesman Warren Wilkinson said in a prepared statement. “It’s also important to note that we will increase our penetration in Chicago, where we had great success last year.”

ICVA’s summer travel campaign follows an announcement by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development on Friday that it will rely more on social media outlets to promote state destinations.

Lawmakers who passed a biennial budget during the special session last year sliced the state’s annual contribution to the tourism department in half—from $4.8 million to $2.4 million.

The department’s financial woes have worsened even more, however. Because state revenue continues to fall short of projections, only about $2 million will be spent this year on tourism. The rest has been placed in a reserve fund to protect against future budget cuts.

No radio and television advertisements to promote Indiana attractions aired last year, and they won’t this year, either. Instead, the tourism office is using social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter as a “cost-effective” way to stretch its dollars.

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