Local and state tourism groups use coverage of NBA Finals to attract travelers

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The entire NBA Countdown overlooking the Deer District.

As the national spotlight turned to Milwaukee during the Bucks’ historic run in the NBA Playoff, VISIT Milwaukee and Wisconsin Travel make their own effort to engage out-of-state travelers.

Tourism entities during the NBA Finals each aired television commercials featuring a range of visually appealing summer scenes, from the downtown Milwaukee skyline at sunset to boating on the northern lakes. of Wisconsin. The 30-second ads were primarily shown in drive-through Midwestern cities, all of which are the target of ongoing marketing campaigns to help the national and local tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

VISIT Milwaukee began broadcasting its’Powered by the people‘commercial in the last two games of the Eastern Conference final in the The metropolitan areas of Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis. During that time, the ad racked up 500,000 impressions and the Visitors Bureau saw a 75% increase in traffic to its website, surpassing increases in web traffic in May and June, said Peggy Williams-Smith, President and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee.

“It’s a chance to highlight more of Milwaukee than what you see on TV, so we think we’d be remiss if we didn’t take advantage of it now,” said Williams-Smith.

When VISIT Milwaukee purchased additional commercials for Games 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the NBA Finals, it replaced Chicago with St. Louis due to price increases in the Chicago market. The high prices also prevented VISIT from running the ad to towns further afield in the country.

“A national place during the semifinals was $ 290,000, and I’m still operating on a pandemic budget,” she said. “I don’t have the marketing funds. ”

Williams-Smith said she would have loved to advertise to a national audience, but focusing on the Midwest region allowed more ads to run for “a third of the price.” Additionally, running TV ads in cities that VISIT is already targeting through other marketing campaigns is more effective than entering a whole new market for a limited time without a tracking plan.

Plus, a national event like the NBA Finals is a golden opportunity for another kind of marketing that money can’t buy: earned media. During the finals, this is in part thanks to the 200 members of the national and international media who visited Milwaukee to cover the excitement.

Whether it’s a live preview on National TV of Deer District fans going wild after a Giannis Antetokounmpo dunk or a B-roll showing the downtown Milwaukee skyline, “(the exhibition) definitely lifts the city up and people see it looks like a place they want to visit, ”she said.

Travel Wisconsin predicts that about 1.5 million people will see its’Find wonders this summer‘commercial, which was broadcast in Games 2, 3, 4, 5 of the NBA Finals and will be broadcast in Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) of the final in seven target markets: Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Davenport , Cedar Rapids, Madison and Milwaukee.

These cities are part of Travel Wisconsin’s 2021 ad campaign in 12 markets, identified by its exclusive “propensity to visit model” to target travelers with the highest visit value, according to a press release. As part of this strategy, TV ads are “awareness drivers” – often associated with digital marketing through web browsers or social media.

“This is really a bigger, strategic, deeper investment in tourism and the rebound that we hope – and already see – and just another huge opportunity to pitch in front of an audience that we believe is most likely to be interested in the message we’re saying, ”said Anne Sayers, acting secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

Travel Wisconsin airs its advertising during the finals at an estimated cost of $ 5,921.43 per ad, which varies by market.

“It’s expensive, but we’re paying for the opportunity to speak to a target market in a unique circumstance, so it’s a really special opportunity that we don’t want to pass up and that the Bucks make it possible for us,” said she declared. “It’s a team effort.

Sayers said the campaign as a whole is already generating a comeback: Anecdotal data shows the number of overnight trips to the state this year exceeds that of 2019, which was a record year for tourism in the state.

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