New campaign touts Wilson’s assets

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More than 5,000 people viewed Wilson’s new tourism logo on social media within just a few hours of its launch.

Now everyone is invited to learn more about the new marketing campaign during an unveiling from 3 to 5 p.m. today at the Wilson Visitors Center, 209 Broad St.

“Tourism and community leaders agreed that a refresh of the nearly decade-old Wilson Visitors Center marketing assets was needed to better tour all that Wilson already offers,” said Sandra Homes, center director. “Refreshed advertising and a new digital presence will help position us for visitor growth in the years to come.”

Officials began the process of rebranding about a year ago, hiring Raleigh-based branding agency Clean to complete a strategic and research-based campaign.

“What we learned as we went through this process is that the tourism dollars are very competitive, and tourism is a crowded market. So in the past, it was common to have ads run a pretty picture saying ‘come here,’ but that won’t be successful in 2018 and beyond,” said Rebecca Agner, Wilson communications and marketing director. “With the unique attributes of Wilson, we knew we had to have a campaign that matched that. It had to be smart, it had to be digital, and it had to include all we have to offer.”

In that spirit, the “Simply Wonderful” slogan has been replaced with the campaign dubbed “Prepare to be surprised.” A four-color whirligig logo around Wilson, North Carolina, also was replaced in favor of a three-color more abstract logo with the city name and state underneath.

“The new campaign shares firsthand experiences of surprising visits to Wilson through the perspectives of various types of travelers who share a curious explorer mindset, including pit-stoppers, art-seekers and tournament attendees,” a news release states. “The campaign is intended to impart the feeling of word-of-mouth recommendations and a ‘personal journal’ feel. The initiative is whimsical and artistic, and the strategy is a notable step away from traditional scenic destination advertising.”

The project cost about $100,000 and is paid for by the occupancy tax through area hotels. The bill covers the market research and focus groups, campaign development as well as advertisements in a variety of magazines.

In addition to the two permanent billboards for Wilson at the intersection of N.C. 97 and N.C. 58 as well as N.C. 581 and N.C. 42, Wilson now will have nine other billboards on Interstate 95. The new whimsical advertisements are expected to be installed on the billboards in the coming weeks.

“Being in the hotel industry, we often hear from guests that they thought Wilson was just a town off the interstate, but there is so much more here,” said Dennis Johnson, general manager of the Comfort Suites and chairman of the Wilson County Tourism Development Authority Board of Directors. “With breweries, local restaurants, rose gardens, the botanical garden and the whirligigs, we have a variety of things for visitors to do and see.

This new marketing campaign helps us get that word out and opens the door for endless possibilities.”

For more information, visit http://wilson-nc.com/.