Sevier County's ad effort in Chicago yields results

Jul. 10, 2014 @ 05:23 PM

Sevier County has successfully built brand awareness in Chicago with "Integrated Fly Smokies," an  advertising campaign promoting the Great Smoky Mountains region, according to Amanda Marr, marketing director for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

"We believe this campaign was a good first move to more actively promoting the Smokies (and the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville) as a whole to the Chicago market," Marr noted via email on Thursday.

The $300,000 advertising campaign ran from May 5 until the week of June 16 and was funded by Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, the state and McGee Tyson Airport in Knoxville. The cities combined to contribute $100,000, which the state and the airport each matched.

Frontier Airlines brought nonstop flights from Chicago to McGee Tyson earlier this summer after campaigns from the airport and other local partners, including representatives from Sevier County. The results of the first summer will be used when officials from Frontier decide whether to bring the low-cost flight back.

The advertising campaign, which was implemented by Bohan Advertising and Paramore | the Digital Agency, encouraged individuals to request more information about the area and to purchase low-fare airline tickets, all while entering a sweepstakes for a getaway to the Smoky Mountains.

After the marketing campaign began, there was a nine percent increase in bookings originating in Chicago for the Frontier Airlines flight.

A mixture of traditional and digital media was used in the campaign, including television commercials, radio spots, outdoor boards, print ads, display banners and paid search ads.

Representatives from Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg traveled to Chicago as the marketing campaign began, and they met with travel counselors at 24 AAA offices in and around Chicago, as well as members of the press from eight different media outlets.

While in Chicago, the three cities sponsored the Family Fun Fest portion of the Do Division Street Festival, which draws about 50,000 people annually, and representatives were able to speak directly to the target audience: mothers.

"It was a strong move for us, and talking to people there, they're very interested," Marr said. "Even those who don't fly here, the eight-hour drive is not as big of a hurdle for them."

jold@themountainpress.com