Vibrant ads attract visitors to Wilson

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In the five months since Wilson launched a rebranding campaign for tourism, 21.6 million people have been exposed to the area through digital and print media, including a 244 percent increase in users to www.wilson-nc.com/.

“What I love about these illustrations is that they are so rich and colorful, so they stand out regardless of the context they are in,” said Joanna Choma, an account supervisor at Clean. “The copy is pretty compelling and the ‘Prepare to be surprised’ headline is in all the illustrations that have some surprising element of Wilson people might not have known about.”

Officials began the rebranding process in 2017, hiring Raleigh-based branding agency Clean to complete a strategic and research-based campaign. In October, tourism leaders debuted the first couple of ads geared toward art-minded visitors and those coming to Wilson for youth sports.

Last Tuesday, Clean updated the Wilson tourism board about two other sets of ads — one for those stopping in Wilson on road trips and another focusing on the city’s growth — along with a mock-up of the new website that will go live in April.

“The ‘Growing City’ theme will build on the homepage when you arrive, and that really encourages this interactive experience,” Choma said. “As you scroll down, things move apart for events that are on a loop and constantly updated in real time. We’ve built some suggested itineraries if you are here for the day or for the weekend, but what is great is you can scroll through with other visuals popping out along the way.

“The idea of the site is for a fun surprise with every click.”

Andrew Lada, senior media strategist at Clean, said the reception to the first few months of the campaign has been positive, and efforts are underway to anticipate a shift in the way users search the web with an estimated 30 percent done vocally by 2020. Lada said because people speak differently than they type, keywords for effective advertisements have to become more conversational in tone.

“The approach for the campaign this year is to continue the presence. It is flighted, so it is not full-bore all the time, and we’re ramping it up and down as needed,” Lada said. “We’re increasing the presence in the spring and summer, but strengthening our awareness to make sure we reach people at the right time on the right device with the right message.”

Wilson Tourism marketing, events and sports coordinator Drew Barker said he’s seen a 45 percent increase in engagement on Facebook posts with each post reaching 10 percent more people. He highlighted the impact sharing posts on social media can have on a post’s reach.

“When I see it on mine, it might say we have 500 impressions, but after it is shared just three times, I see those impressions quadruple,” Barker said.

Dennis Johnson, general manager of Comfort Suites and chairman of the Wilson County Tourism Development Authority Board of Directors, said he and other hotels have seen an increase in traffic in recent months. The nine hotels on Interstate 95’s Exit 121 reportedly had a 19 percent increase in occupancy in February compared to the same month in 2018.