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Chicago has New Brand and Marketing Strategies

Chicago has New Brand and Marketing Strategies

The first true branding effort highlighting the City of Chicago as a global visitor destination was officially launched today by the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB). The goal of the branding initiative is to significantly increase the number of visitors to Chicago, which will result in new jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and increased tax revenues for the City.

The overall brand strategy incorporates a bold and confident “voice” casting aside the city’s old moniker “The Second City” by leveraging the city’s leadership position in a wide range of areas, including dining, theater and cultural attractions. The CCTB partnered with Chicago-based firms, including Downtown Partners Chicago for creative; M|Buy, Inc. for media buying; Orbitz Worldwide for booking engine, and The Royal Order of Experience Design for website redesign, as well as industry leaders Slingshot SEO and Miles Weaver.

“Chicago is an international destination for both tourists and businesses, who come to enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and unmatched assets,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I support all efforts to promote the city as a destination for the world, and look forward to working with the Bureau and other partners so both residents and visitors can enjoy all our city has to offer.”

The economic benefits of a healthy tourism industry are vast, including job creation, improved retail, restaurant and hotel commerce and increased tax revenue, according to Don Welsh, CCTB president and CEO. Chicago’s visitor industry is directly responsible for 124,000 jobs, $11.1 billion in direct spending and $616 million in tax revenues.

“Revenue stemming from leisure and convention travel plays a crucial role in ensuring that Chicago remains a strong, vibrant and global city,” said Welsh. “For the first time in our history, the City of Chicago has a unified, cohesive image and voice to enhance our marketing efforts, attract visitors and drive new tax revenue.”


Various components of the overall effort target regional, national and international audiences. Outreach to international markets including the highly desirable UK, Beijing and Shanghai markets via proactive public relations efforts has already proved successful and will be expanded to Mexico and Canada as early as the first quarter of 2012.

On a national level, print ads and a tip-in brochure featured in leading meetings/convention trade publications incorporate benefits of the recent historic labor agreements at McCormick Place. Face-to-face visits with key travel media are also planned throughout 2012.

The new advertising campaign is expected to influence the regional audience, those who live within a day’s drive of Chicago via an aggressive television and online campaign totaling $1.8 million. This effort features unprecedented television and digital advertising, proactive media relations and a targeted distribution of Chicago’s Official Visitor Guide. Regional markets include Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and St. Louis.

With marquee assets such as America’s tallest building, outstanding restaurants, theaters, and museums, Chicago is clearly among the premier visitor destinations in the world,” said Bruce Rauner, chairman of CCTB’s board of directors and Chairman, GTCR LLC. “As a result of the branding effort, we are taking an important step towards harnessing the city’s many accolades and attractions into impactful tourism spending in Chicago.”

Chicago’s first-ever television spots supported by a digital campaign will launch in early January 2012 and run through early March followed by the summer campaign beginning late May and running through mid-August 2012. The winter campaign will appear during prime time programming on network and cable stations in the regional markets, as well as during marquee sporting and entertainment events, including the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards and the National Football League’s AFC and NFC Championship games.

The regional campaign features a cooperative effort with the support and investment of five of the city’s core institutions and attractions, including Broadway in Chicago, The Field Museum, Museum of Science + Industry, Navy Pier and Shedd Aquarium. Together, this cooperative led by the CCTB has raised more than $500,000 to expand the new Chicago advertising campaign.

A new with expanded editorial, stronger social media integration and more visitor experiential content, as well as significantly improved search engine optimization (SEO), will be featured as the call-to-action on all broadcast and digital advertisements.

The CCTB will report on the campaign’s advertising effectiveness, including what influenced the travel and a comprehensive economic impact analysis detailing visitor spend, trip length by market approximately six weeks following the end of the winter and summer campaigns.
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