By nearly every measure the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board’s “Stay Wild” ad campaign was far and away its most successful advertising campaign, helping lead to the busiest season in Jackson Hole Mountain Resort history.
On March 21 the Travel and Tourism Board released a new edition of the video campaign in hopes of sustaining this past winter’s momentum into the spring, Jackson’s slowest time of year.
This winter, according to the Travel and Tourism Board, website visits to VisitJacksonHole.com increased by 3 percent, its social media pages garnered an additional 4,300 fans and, perhaps most telling, flight bookings were up an astounding 187 percent.
Colle McVoy, the Denver advertising company that created the “Stay Wild” campaign, is set to present a breakdown of the advertising metrics at the Travel and Tourism Board’s monthly meeting, which starts at 3 p.m. Thursday.
While some of the gains can be attributed to the lack of snow virtually everywhere except Jackson, Adam Sutner, marketing director for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, said the “Stay Wild” campaign raised awareness and piqued people’s interest in coming to Jackson. The snow totals, midseason deals and events like Rendezvous Festival enticed them to actually purchase a plane ticket.
While no one expects the spring campaign to be as successful as its winter counterpart, largely due to the increased traffic brought by good snow, the numbers are already showing signs of promise for spring.
“The winter campaign just finished, and all of the metrics we track were up over last year, so we’re optimistic for the spring campaign,” said Kate Sollitt, the Travel and Tourism Board’s executive director. “Bookings in May are already looking pretty strong, and we’ve gotten a lot of press for this spring campaign, but April is a tricky month. A lot of the hotels are closed, and there’s limited access to the national parks, so we’re really just looking at May to mid-June with this campaign.”
The spring campaign is also designed to attract a different kind of customer.
The winter effort highlighted the differences between the adventurous, free lifestyle of Jackson Hole and mechanized, monotonous city life by contrasting images of people with giant smiles skiing, fishing and snowmobiling with people staring blankly at computers, wiggling through crowds and stacked atop one another in apartments.
A stirring speech from Charlie Chaplin’s only speaking role, in the film “The Great Dictator,” hammered the message home.
“Don’t give yourselves to brutes,” Chaplin says, “men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men — machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.”
The spring campaign, on the other hand, relies almost entirely on the idyllic images of the spring awakening in Jackson Hole. Set to the melodic Fleet Foxes song “Sun Giant,” the commercial, which will be shown only in theaters before the start of a movie, shows ice breaking up on the Snake River, young bears and buffalo frolicking at the base of the Tetons and clear starry nights beneath blooming aspen trees.
“Our ‘Stay Wild’ campaign this winter was pretty powerful,” Sollitt said. “It was a high-energy piece that set this message of getting away from the crazy, frenetic life of the city to unplug in Jackson and find your inner wild. The spring campaign maintains that ‘stay wild’ messaging but takes a totally different approach. It’s a dialed-down, calmer messaging that focuses on enjoying the nature and wildlife more so than skiing and extreme sports. I think it’s a perfect balance for spring visitors.”
Just a few weeks into the spring campaign, Sollitt said, website visits are up over last year, as are click-through rates and calls to central reservations.
For those who see the marketing campaign as an oversaturation, she said, “the travel industry is very strong right now. Tourists are coming, one way or another. Our job is to manage when the visitors come and to manage their experience.”