WCTC enlists Burson for DC branding effort

WASHINGTON: The Washington, DC, Convention and Tourism Corporation (WCTC), the marketing association for DC businesses, has hired Burson-Marsteller to develop a new branding campaign to update its long-running "The American Experience" campaign.

WASHINGTON: The Washington, DC, Convention and Tourism Corporation (WCTC), the marketing association for DC businesses, has hired Burson-Marsteller to develop a new branding campaign to update its long-running "The American Experience" campaign.

Designed to highlight more than just the museums and national monuments frequently associated with the city, the new branding strategy, to be developed under a one-year, $1.8 million contract with Burson, will potentially showcase everything from the city's extensive park system to its popular restaurants and culturally diverse neighborhoods.

The campaign has yet to be finalized, but Burson director Gail Walters, who is managing the WCTC account, said a number of "stakeholder groups" will likely be targeted, including business travelers, meeting planners, international visitors, and even regional residents who view the city as a "getaway" destination.

WCTC SVP of marketing Victoria Isley noted that her group has conducted extensive quantitative and qualitative research over the past six months, both nationally and internationally, to better understand what aspects of the city should be highlighted.

"We have not looked at a brand strategy of this magnitude since at least 1998, which is when 'The American Experience,' our current brand positioning, was rolled out," she said. "What we've been finding in research is that there are much more compelling emotional connectors [to visitors]."

Key to outreach will be www. washington.org, the WCTC Web site for which the organization has also hired DataNet Systems and Pappas Group to rebuild under a one-year contract worth about $300,000.

"A lot more people are making their travel arrangements online, so our strategy will have to incorporate... new technology and [acknowledge] a shift away from the way people traditionally made decisions about how and why they travel," Walters said.

Isley did not provide details on the selection process, though she said her group, which most recently worked with the now shuttered Eisner Communications, had not had representation for at least a year.

Burson has in recent years worked with WCTC on a few limited projects, including following the 9/11 terror attacks.

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