Motorists enduring 110-degree heat are likely to do a double take while driving southbound on McClintock Drive near Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe.
Pasted on a billboard are pictures of mountains and the Denver skyline with the words “Forecast: Cool Days, Cool Nights, www.Denver.org.”
The Valley is one of three metro areas targeted this summer for the largest tourism advertising campaign ever undertaken by the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In addition to 14 billboards around the Valley, the bureau is placing television and newspaper advertisements in local media and running 30-minute television shows about Denver this weekend on two Valley stations.
The Valley ranks in the top 10 markets for generating vacation and business travelers to Denver, and the bureau hopes the ad campaign will boost those numbers even higher. The other targeted markets are Omaha, Neb., and Albuquerque, N.M. “We selected these markets because our research shows that they are primary markets for sending visitors to Denver, and they are cities where we have enough budget to really penetrate the market,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of the bureau.
The size of the $3 million campaign was made possible by Initiative 1A passed by Denver voters in November, which raised the city’s lodging tax by 1 percentage point with the money to be used for tourism and convention marketing.
In addition to advertising aimed at the three cities, the campaign includes advertising in national travel magazines and inserts in newspapers in other major cities including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. But the three target cities are getting the most thorough treatment.
If the blitz is successful in convincing more Valley residents to cool off in the Mile High City, the visitors bureau could do it again next summer, said Dan Magill, the bureau’s vice president of marketing.
Carolyn Pendergast, director of marketing for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the local organization also identifies key markets to target in its advertising to attract visitors to Phoenix, but Denver isn’t one of them,
“We do it seasonally,” she said. “In the summer it’s within the state and southern California. Into the peak winter months the focus is still on California along with major population centers like New York, Illinois and other Midwestern states. We have identified them as where the most visitors to greater Phoenix are from.”
She called the Denver effort “an aggressive campaign,” adding that the Valley is likely to be targeted by more destinations as it continues to grow.
“We see an increase in travel as a benefit to everyone, not just as city competing against city,” she said.