WASHINGTON: Destination DC, the city's official tourism agency, launched “Date Nights DC: A 28-Day Stimulus Plan for Love & Relationships,” a campaign that encourages dating around Valentine's Day.
Keeping in line with the Obamas' popular "date nights," the initiative aims to highlight the city's attractions among DC and East Coast residents during a February tourism lull, explained Victoria Isley, SVP of marketing at the organization.
The budget for the campaign is $200,000, 50% of which will be spent on advertising, 25% on PR, and the remaining on Web production.
“This is really our first foray into this with the off-season business in February,” she said. “If we were going to have Date Nights DC promo, we thought how can we do it in a very Washington way?”
The in-house marketing team created a new government-themed agency, called the Department of Love and Relationships, led by renowned sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who is serving as the campaign spokesperson and the agency's “secretary of love and relationships.”
As part of the campaign, the team also launched www.datenightsdc.org, a microsite that features a searchable database with 80 date ideas specific to neighborhood, theme, and group, including family, friend, girlfriend/boyfriend, and LGBT, among others.
Isley explains that the organization especially hopes to reach the LGBT community, as the city is close to passing a same-sex marriage bill in the coming weeks.
“We definitely wanted to make sure that we were addressing the LGBT market, particularly on the cusp of such a milestone,” she said.
The site also includes an interactive “Date Concierge” powered through a partnership with the Washington Area Concierge Association; user-generated videos chronicling relationships between people who met and married in DC; a top romantic spots list; and deal offers from hotels, restaurants, tours, and attractions for “date-friendly” experiences.
The launch on January 14 featured a press conference with Dr. Ruth, where she was officially sworn in as secretary by DC councilmember-at-large Kwame Brown. The group will also hold events for travel media in the coming weeks, including a lunch at Blue Hill in New York, an Obama date night spot.
The organization worked with The Pappas Group on some of the digital components of the campaign.
Updated on 1/20/09, 10 a.m.