America rebrands to drive tourism

The organization responsible for driving international tourism to the US has rebranded under a new name: Brand USA.

The organization responsible for driving international tourism to the US has rebranded under a new name: Brand USA. Called the Corporation for Travel Promotion when Congress created it last year, Brand USA is working on the country's first global marketing campaign.

Brand USA launched Monday at the World Travel Market in London, along with the consumer website DiscoverAmerica.com. The site features videos, photos, travel tips, and a USA logo comprised of multicolored dots.  

In a video introducing Brand USA, the organization unveiled its key message: “The United States of awesome possibilities welcomes everyone.” Brand USA will highlight the country's “freedom, diversity, inclusivity, and boundless possibilities,” the video said. The international campaign, set to launch in March 2012, will focus on four areas of tourism: the outdoors, urban excitement, indulgence, and culture. The organization also plans to enlist brand ambassadors and champions from people who live abroad to encourage friends and family to visit the US.

Several WPP Group agencies are handling the Brand USA account, including Hill & Knowlton for PR, JWT for advertising, MediaCom for media services, and Brand Union for brand identity. The budget for the account is estimated to be $200 million.

The group hopes a surge in visitors to the US will create more jobs and spur economic growth.

“We all have a sense of urgency [in launching the campaign],” JWT CMO Beth Waxman-Arteta told The New York Times.

Conveying its message of “boundless possibilities” might prove a challenge to Brand USA, as many Americans continue to voice their dissatisfaction through the Occupy Wall Street protests and other demonstrations around the country. Still, the 2011 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index, released last month, found that the US continues to hold the best national reputation worldwide.  

Xiaoyan Zhao, director of the Nation Brands Index at GfK, told PRWeek in October that the US ranked first again partly because of worsening economic and political trouble across Europe. She cautioned that strong national brands such as the US were less appealing to a younger generation.

“[This generation] is more open to new models and information,” Zhao said.

If Zhao is right, it will take more than a new name for Brand USA's campaign to succeed.  

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