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The 2024 Poppy Award Finalists ... and Winners!

By David Lytle 02/08/2024

Visit California received hundreds of submissions this year for its biennial Poppy Awards that recognize some of the best work in the industry. After rounds of reviewing so many outstanding entries, industry judges have arrived at the list of finalists. Winners were announced on Tuesday, March 12, at the Poppy Awards gala that closed out Outlook Forum in Greater Palms Springs.

Best Content Marketing: Business

Belmont Park: Belmont in Bloom — WINNER

The nearly 100-year-old amusement park on San Diego’s Mission Beach created the eight-weeklong festival in 2022 targeting local millennial families to give them something new to do as the weather warmed up in the spring. The park partnered with content creators, local artists, mixologists, musicians and others, providing floral-themed experiences, resulting in increased visitor attendance and local media coverage.

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa: Visual Events Storytelling

The property is known for its savvy events calendar, creating unique experiences for hotel guests and attendees. Its twist on "Alice in Wonderland" became a Halloween night party called the “Mad Hatter’s Mischief Tea Soiree,” while its Greenfinch Bar transformed into the floral-powered pop-up In Bloom. Combined, these brought in additional revenue and increased organic social media impressions.

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground: House of the Retro Future

Leaning into the nostalgia for Disneyland’s House of the Future and Southern California’s embrace of midcentury modern design, the Howard Johnson redesigned a marrying of the two. With dedicated familiarization trips, influencer visits and the hotel’s Director of Sales fondness for wearing a custom-made "space girl" costume for public meetings, the room has become a fan favorite of the property, driving higher-than-expected bookings.

Palisades Tahoe: Surf Report

California’s largest ski resort wanted to provide the best on-site experience for its visitors wanting to better understand the 6,000 skiable acres. Enter the “Surf Report,” a fun and informative take on coastal surf reports, but now on a mountain. The resort's athletic team filmed live from the slopes regularly, providing information about weather conditions and runs. The video was shared widely on social media channels, providing an additional content stream for skiers and snowboarders.

Best Content Marketing: Destination

San Francisco Travel: A Royal Welcome  — WINNER (tie)

San Francisco Travel and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) partnered with Virgin Atlantic Airlines to crate a cheeky campaign tying the United Kingdom’s Queen’s Royal Jubilee to two drag queen stars from "RuPaul's Drag Race UK," Kitty Scott-Claus and Vanity Milan. The campaign boasted San Francisco’s welcoming and inclusive spirit, promoted SFO as a leading gateway into the state and drove consumers down the funnel to book packages and rooms via video segments shared on social media and tour operator sites. LGBTQ+ publications provided an additional boost, increasing views by more than double the expected target.

Visit Greater Palm Springs: An Oasis for All  — WINNER (tie)

After conducting internal assessments and learning sessions about diversity, equity and inclusion, Visit Greater Palm Springs knew it needed to now turn outward to the sometimes-overlooked travel segments. To that end, the DMO partnered with Cory Lee, a wheelchair traveler; Lily Yu, a deaf traveler; several members of the LGBTQ community and local members of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians — with each traveler creating video and blog posts highlighting how all travelers are welcome in Palm Springs and what their specific audiences can enjoy there.

Visit Oakland: Oakland Vegan Trail

To embrace the growing plant-based culinary movement, Visit Oakland created the Oakland Vegan Trail to highlight the abundance of vegan eateries found in town. Working with a popular Bay Area-based food writer, Visit Oakland created a fun interactive map highlighting a multitude of cuisines found at brick-and-mortar restaurants, pop-ups, farmers markets, and more, providing travelers with a unique lens on Oakland while also creating a new community for locals.

Visit Sacramento: Breaking Bread

Sacramento’s DMO wanted to highlight the diversity of the farm-to-fork movement’s capital and to keep Sacramento top of mind for culinary travelers,  so it turned to a video production team to create a 10-part series called “Breaking Bread.” The high production docuseries interviews chefs who discuss covering procurement, stimulating the local economy, the importance of farm workers, diversity and culture, and mental health — making the show about much more than what you’ll find on your plate.

Best Strategic Partnership: Business

Palisades Tahoe: Toyota + Palisades, “Made for the Mountains”

Targeting the Palisades’ audience of high-income households who seek adventure, the property joined forces with Toyota and Olympic icon and freestyle skier Jonny Moseley. While driving a Toyota truck through snowy roads leading to the resort, Moseley, in a voiceover, tells his story of coming to Palisades every winter since he was a kid. The campaign, launched during the Super Bowl, was viewed in over 35 million homes.

Parc 55 San Francisco – A Hilton Hotel: Bloom 55

Parc 55 partnered with the Union Square “In Bloom” campaign by creating an over-the-top floral-themed pop-up car called Bloom 55 in an underused space in the hotel’s restaurant. Mixologists created eight specialty cocktails, and the house chef created a menu of Bloom Bites that guests could indulge in. The Instagrammable space drove up sales of drinks and food by double digits.

San Francisco Giants: MLB Mexico City Tourism & Hospitality Showcase  — WINNER

The San Francisco Giants joined the San Diego Padres and Major League Baseball, along with their respective DMOs with support from Visit California — to host multiple groundbreaking events across two days in Mexico City. The events connected with media, planners and tour operators within Mexico — California’s largest international group of inbound travelers. The showcase was highlighted by two Giants-Padres MLB games played in Mexico City.

Best Strategic Partnership: Destination

See Monterey: See Monterey + USGA: Inaugural U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach

The U.S. Women’s Open — the oldest women’s golf tournament and the one with the largest purse, came to Pebble Beach Golf Links for the first time in July 2023. See Monterey partnered with USGA and Pebble Beach Company, using the event as a global platform for destination promotion and an opportunity to use the tournament to tell women-led stories from around Monterey County. A new content series called “Monterey Pro V Pro” showcased not only the athletes but other women at the top of the game in Monterey, including an award-winning baker and a classic car enthusiast. While embracing golf, the campaign demonstrated that there was so much to Monterey beyond the links.

Travel Paso: Travel Paso + Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Sponsorship

The two organizations came together in 2022 to support the rebound of tourism. Travel Paso is the destination marketing organization stewarding the region to benefit its lodging partners, and the PRWCA is a cooperative marketing alliance made up of wineries, vineyards and related business. Joining forces, the two groups organized four separate events, each a different touchpoint across the tourism landscape: a three-day retreat with Wine Enthusiast magazine, a wine tasting road show visiting four key out-of state markets, a consumer facing event at PayPal Park in San Jose and the co-sponsorship of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

Visit Ventura: A Small-Town Story of a Big-Time Event: The Journey of X Games 2023 Coming to Ventura  — WINNER

Visit Ventura set three goals for itself while hosting a huge event for partner the X Games: deliver an impressive economic impact on the local economy, engage the local businesses and community and elevate Ventura as a smaller beach town that can host a large-scale event, all while celebrating the roots of surfing and skateboarding in California. Sustainability is woven into Ventura’s ethos, and Visit Ventura was able to expertly demonstrate that by relying on public transportation partners, including Amtrak, Ventura County Transportation, Metrolink and others, and a local bike and skateboard shop (among 40 businesses who participated). This first-of-its-kind partnership for everyone involved managed to get thousands and visitors around while keeping an additional 3,000 cars off the road during the event — there was even a bike valet and a free skateboard check to make it easier for visitors to get there by any mode.

Best Public Relations Campaign: Business

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club: 2023 Summer Racing Season

The nation’s only seaside racetrack has continued to work with its longstanding agency Mari + Gold to spread the message that Del Mar is a must-see Southern California destination, as well as a leader in horse racing safety. In addition to a traditional PR campaign, the agency held preseason VIP party for influencers and media, hosted FAM trips and coordinated filming an episode of Netflix’s "Selling the OC." The work garnered more than 200 placements in traditional media plus dozens of live on-air interviews.

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA): Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Actress and Animal Advocate Betty White

Beloved actress Betty White worked with the L.A. Zoo since 1974. As she neared her 100th birthday, the zoo planned a huge celebration for her. Unfortunately, she passed just days before her birthday. The zoo quickly pivoted to create a celebration of her life, announcing the Betty White Memorial Rose Garden, the self-guided Betty’s L.A. Zoo Tour, the Betty White Tribute Fund and the Betty White Conservation Hero Award announced at the annual Beastly Ball. Fundraising campaigns garnered nearly a quarter million dollars, and the number of applications for zoo volunteers surged as part of the “Betty White effect.”

LEGOLAND California Resort: MINILAND San Diego  — WINNER

Master builders at the Southern California theme park created a miniature version of San Diego. To boost coverage of the new exhibit, the builders also included the LEGO likeness of key reporters, anchors, radio personalities and the mayor. who were then invited to place their LEGO selves in the installation. The buzz enabled the park to secure placements in local and regional media as planned, but it grew to include national coverage in multiple outlets.

Mission Pacific Beach Resort: Mission Pacific and The Top Gun House Debut

The resort, along with its sister property, The Seabird Resort, unveiled the fully restored Victorian cottage featured in the 1986 blockbuster "Top Gun" starring Tom Cruise. The house is now home to the bakery HIGH-pies. The reveal was timed to coordinate with the opening of the movie’s sequel and to highlight the hotels’ development, a major tourism boon for Oceanside. Press coverage was awash with the Top Gun House with mentions in local, state and national outlets.

Best Public Relations Campaign: Destination

San Francisco Pride: Don't Get It Twisted: How Dee Snider KISSed Off SF Pride

Dee Snider, former lead singer of glam rock act Twisted Sister, was all set to headline at San Francisco Pride to reclaim the act’s hit, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which had been recently co-opted by conservative politicians. But, just hours before the event, Snider takes part in a transphobic exchange on Twitter with Paul Stanley from the band KISS. How should Pride handle this? SF Pride, working with PR firm Bospar, released a statement, "We have mutually agreed to part ways, but appreciate Dee seeing this as a teachable moment and a reminder that even allies need to be educated to ensure that they are not casually promoting transphobia. To all our allies — we want to call you in — not call you out." That statement prompted more than 300 media stories discussing the harm of transphobia — and helped the organization with fundraising efforts.

Sonoma County Tourism: Pause and Effect

Sonoma County Tourism sought to weave together its dedication to sustainability and its renown as a wellness hot spot. The Pause and Effect campaign was designed to appeal to this niche audience — travelers who are passionate about sustainability, wellness and well-being, self-discovery and improvement of themselves, and meaningful and conscientious experiences that allow them to also improve the regions they visit. The DMO partnered with NBC’s "TODAY Show," South by Southwest (SXSW) and key influencers to generate awareness and excitement. Media coverage helped Sonoma generate more and longer stays with travelers, increase their daily spend and cement Sonoma’s brand as a responsible and restorative destination.

Visit Newport Beach: Big Game Getaway Campaign  — WINNER

When Super Bowl LVII came to Glendale, Arizona, Visit Newport Beach saw an opportunity when Phoenix area residents began listing their homes on short-term rental sites as a way to make a little money and get out of town to avoid the crowds. With a short lead time, the DMO decided to lure those Phoenix people to Newport Beach with a targeted campaign, the Big Game Getaway. Visit Newport Beach joined with its hotel, restaurant and recreational partners to collaborate and curate exclusive Super Bowl-themed packages and experiences to entice Arizonans to travel. The end result? Rooms booked were up year over year, and website traffic from Arizona tripled in under a month.

Best Influencer Campaign: Business

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground: MarketEARs Program

This property’s influencer program is designed to elevate its brand, emphasize authenticity, showcase inclusivity, educate potential guests, drive revenue and foster enduring relationships with the influencers. Through incisive Google analytics, strategic use of hashtags and keywords, a multitiered influencer list and other tactics, the MarketEARs program drives increased revenue and a diversified client list.

Mendocino Railway | Skunk Train: Journey Through the Redwoods: The Skunk Train Influencer Adventure  — WINNER

Visitors to Mendocino can ride either a train or a railbike deep into the redwoods to reach their final destination — The Glen Blair Bar, an isolated tavern in the middle of nowhere where patrons can eat and drink while sitting by a firepit listening to live music. The Skunk Train sent a slew of influencers on the journey to inspire content creation to share on social media channels. The results? Triple-digit growth for social media channels, double-digit growth in site traffic and gross revenues, and the brand's single biggest revenue day ever.

San Francisco International Airport: DownieLive at SFO

To celebrate the recovery of air travel from Canada, SFO sought out a clever and affordable way to remind them that SFO was a state-of-the-art and welcoming airport to California. Airport officials invited Mike Downie, best known for his train videos featured on his DownieLive YouTube channel, to create video content about the airport. Downie captured his ride on a fireboat, a visit with the Wag Brigade, the secrets of SFO like a yoga room, and the state-of-the-art technology that makes the airport hum. The content was distributed across multiple social media channels, which received hundreds of comments and hundreds of thousands of views.

Best Influencer Campaign: Destination

Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau: Cuisine & Couture Series

Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau debuted Cuisine & Couture, honoring the destination’s intersection of couture fashion, fine cuisine and some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. The four-part video series pairs an online fashion influencer with a celebrity chef to prepare a couture-themed dish coinciding with real-world fashion events such as the Met Gala and New York Fashion Week. The pair dish on trends while cooking and sipping side by side. The series saw a large increase in social media engagements and ample pickup by print and digital publications.

Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea: Coastal Grandmother with Visit Carmel

Postpandemic, Carmel-by-the-Sea worked to set itself apart from other West Coast destinations as travel was on the rise by leaning into a popular Tik Tok theme: The Coastal Grandmother. The trend focuses on an aspirational lifestyle inspired by the early 2000s Nancy Meyers movies: cozy interior design, classic personal style and romantic hobbies such as afternoon teas, book clubs and trying new recipes. To reach a new Gen Z audience of travelers, Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea invited @lexnicoleta, the coiner of “coastal grandma,” to visit and create content for her TikTok and Instagram channels — including a trip giveaway. Earned media saw pickups in Fodor’s, the Washington Post and other publications.

Visit Long Beach: Longbeachize Influencer Partnership  — WINNER

The DMO tapped Brian Addison — former food journalist for the Long Beach Post who now runs his own site, Longbeachize, continues to cover the local dining scene — to create video content to be shared on both brands’ outlets. The video series features casual conversations between Addison and chefs in their restaurants' kitchens, talking about their cuisine, their culinary history and anything else that might arise. Visit Long Beach wanted to emphasize the relationship Addison has with the Long Beach food scene to provide authentic content. It worked. The first video — declaring the chicken wings from the Cambodian restaurant Shlap Muan the best in the area — went viral overnight, boosting the restaurant’s revenue.

Visit Oxnard: A Taco Story

To introduce the revamped Oxnard Taco Trail, Visit Oxnard worked with former Miss California USA, TV host and personality Natasha Martinez and content creator Wade Holland to produce a short film, “A Taco Story.” The two eat their way through town, meeting loveable local characters. The short ran in select Los Angeles and Oxnard movie theaters. It was also promoted by the two influencers’ sizeable social media following. The film won several awards and received seven-figure social media impressions.

Visit SLO CAL: Dylan Efron: Home Again

Visit SLO CAL joined forces with hometown hero Dylan Efron, an actor and social media influencer who grew up and attended college in the county and still has family there. Efron has a huge social media following across YouTube, Instagram TikTok. Working together, they created a three-part video series showcasing Efron visiting his favorite haunts and discovering new ones, talking with local farmers and vintners and highlighting SLO CAL’s laid-back lifestyle. To amplify the campaign, the partnering agency also pitched Efron to national media outlets for interviews.

Best Crisis Recovery

Mammoth Mountain and Visit Mammoth: A Winter for the Ages

When Mammoth Mountain received 900 inches of snow in a single season, it was provided with a unique yet fraught opportunity. Burnishing Mammoth Mountain as a major snowpacked ski resort would give travelers east of the Rocky Mountains a reason to make that flight. At the same time, all that snow is a weather emergency often blocking roads and creating dangerous situations on the ground for visitors and locals alike. Partnering with Visit Mammoth, the two organizations were able to successfully bring in record numbers of travelers while also accurately reporting the precautions people needed to take when in the area.

See Monterey: Monterey is NOT an Island: Winter Storm Response & Recovery  — WINNER

Severe rain brought heavy floods to the area, prompting a local official to say, “Monterey is an island.” As this made the rounds of media, travelers began canceling reservations. To change the narrative, See Monterey worked to bring influencers and reporters in to see that Monterey was still there in all its natural beauty. To support Monterey’s agricultural sector affected by flooding, the DMO created the Artichoke Trail, which garnered significant national media attention. Additionally, it created a “book direct” campaign to revive hotel reservations. The program was a resounding success, not only in terms of statistics but in the positive image it conveyed.

Visit Big Bear: Welcome Back to Big Bear

Historic snowfall delivered by several atmospheric river events left Big Bear closed off from the world, with only one road partially opened to allow rescue workers and road crews access to the region. As the region opened back up, Visit Big Bear launched a campaign to bring winter sports enthusiasts back by offering free gifts — including free lift tickets to local ski areas, free tickets to a snow tubing park and dining certificates — to anyone who booked travel. Outreach via social and traditional media sent the message that Big Bear was open and achieved a 10-to-1 return on investment.

Destination Stewardship & Sustainable Travel: Business

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Sustainability is a core value for the property, which is reflected in the numerous programs the Ranch at Laguna Beach operates, including a tree planting project, a concerted efforted to eliminate all single-use materials and running a small chicken farm that provides fresh eggs daily for pasta. The on-site café is ocean-friendly, and the property has generated nearly half a million dollars in donations to organizations that give back to the community, garnering earned media placements in national publications.

Rush Creek Lodge & Spa at Yosemite: Trade Trash for Spa Treatments  — WINNER

Rush Creek Lodge is located in Groveland, a gateway town to Yosemite National Park. This stewardship program was aligned with the 20-year anniversary of Yosemite Facelift, the renowned annual parkwide cleanup. Through its outreach, the lodge was able to entice 55 people to pick up 899 pounds of trash throughout the Groveland area, while inside Yosemite 1,051 volunteers collected a whopping 10,432 pounds of trash. During the five-day event, volunteers were educated on the unique hurdles rural areas face when it comes to litter and the lack of any commercial recycling facilities.

Sonoma County Farm Trails: Gravenstein Apple Fair

Farm Trails, the nonprofit dedicated to keeping “farms forever,” hosts the annual fundraiser and set a goal of being 95% zero waste during its 50th anniversary year. The organization achieved this in several ways: providing vendors real flatware to distribute with food sales and glass containers to distribute with alcohol sales, establishing hydration stations to avoid the need for single-use water bottles and working with 60 volunteers who manned Zero Waste stations. They helped attendees sort their waste into appropriate containers:  compostables, garbage, recyclables, reusable glass and flatware — and even one for pig food. Nearly 15,000 people attended the weekend celebration and generated only three cubic yards of trash — the equivalent of the bed of a small pickup truck.

Destination Stewardship & Sustainable Travel: Destination

Mono County Tourism: How to Poo Like a Pro in the Eastern Sierra  — WINNER

Rural Mono County faced a real problem with an abundance of human and dog waste left across its trails and in dispersed campsites. To eliminate bad behaviors and educate visitors to make a sustainable decision while in market, Mono officials created a video series about the unique outdoor challenges people face while experiencing the wilderness, including how to go to the bathroom properly and other camping etiquette topics. The “Poo Like a Pro” video went viral due to frank, but funny, presentation style, and the “Camp Like a Pro” campaign is used now by several government and DMO agencies across the Eastern Sierra and is at the centerpiece for every visitor center.

Sonoma County Tourism: Destination Stewardship and Resiliency Master Plan

Sonoma County Tourism became the first California destination (and only one of four nationally) to undergo a comprehensive destination assessment from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, an organization that establishes global standards for sustainable travel. The results revealed where the DMO was succeeding and where it had room to grow, all of which guided its master plan for being good stewards of the destination, its people and its cultural heritage.

Visit Greater Palm Springs: Nine Cities, One Oasis: Building a Tourism TEAM of Champions

The Visit Greater Palm Springs team worked on developing TEAM GPS, a comprehensive initiative to address the challenges faced by a post-pandemic industry. Working with the College of the Desert's Partnership and Community Education program, the TEAM GPS program offered online courses to equip hospitality workers with postpandemic skills. By June 2023, more than 750 TEAM Champions had completed the program, signifying the program's positive impact on the local workforce.

Best Group Meetings Marketing

San Diego Tourism Authority: Meet America’s Brightest City

To enhance and broaden perceptions of San Diego as a top meeting destination among key meeting planners and C-suite executives and to drive room sales, SDTA officials put a spin on the city’s long-running tagline, “American’ Finest City.” The campaign was deployed through a full-funnel campaign initiative and showcases that while San Diego is known for its sunshine and good vibes, it’s also been a hotbed of innovation for decades and is an inspiring place for groups, meetings and conventions of all sizes. After activation, the campaign has helped the sales team reach well above its target.

See Monterey: All In  — WINNER

With this campaign refresh, each headline throughout the creative toys with the idea of being “all in” through creative wordplay including lines like “ALL INcredible” to showcase the natural beauty found in Monterey County and “ALL INhale” highlighting open-air venues. “ALL INvited” emphasizes the welcoming nature of the destination and the significance of everyone having a seat at the table. Using the phrase “all in” provided a flexible and powerful device in the advertising campaign, proven out by an increase in site traffic, RFP submissions and rooms sales.

Visit Greater Palm Springs: The Oasis Is Real

In the spirit of Visit Greater Palm Springs’ brand positioning, “Find Your Oasis,” this new campaign inspires event planners and executives to consider Greater Palm Springs for their upcoming meetings and events, showcasing the destination as an oasis for creativity and connecting. The media plan collateral is racking up impressions, and website traffic has grown.

All Dreams Welcome

San Diego Tourism Authority: Tourism Accelerator

The San Diego Tourism Authority’s groundbreaking diversity program, the Tourism Accelerator, is designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the local tourism industry. The program ­— a first of its kind in the industry ­— provides free SDTA membership, education and networking opportunities to local tourism and hospitality businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans and LGBTQ+ folks. Ten participants will receive $14,000 in complimentary benefits and services. Through the access and relationships built, businesses reported “this program changed my life!” Business owners reported being nearly overwhelmed with the amount of new business, orders and partnerships formed.

Visit Oakland: Celebrating Black History Month in Oakland

Working closely with Oakland’s businesses and partners, Visit Oakland was able to organize a multitude of events throughout February. By meeting with community partners to assist with planning, Visit Oakland was able to alleviate some scheduling overlap with events that were taking place simultaneously. This allowed for greater attendance at all events and created more reasons for the tens of thousands of people to come to Oakland for multiple nights. Occupancy rates rose as well as the average daily room rate.

Visit Sacramento: Unapologetically Queer. Unapologetically Sacramento  — WINNER

Visit Sacramento formed an LGBTQ+ advisory board to gain insight into the needs, challenges and community impact of queer Sacramentans and discovered that the people are what set the city apart from other California destinations, rather than specific attractions or services. The campaign collateral was created after interviewing a dozen local members of the LGBTQ+ community to highlight their authentic and diverse stories all housed on a dedicated landing page.

Best Paid Brand Campaign Under $1 Million: Business

Kissel Uptown Oakland: Kissel

This hotel opened in 2022 in Oakland’s historic Auto Row District and wanted to quickly establish its luxury brand, its place in the local community and the Unbound Collection by Hyatt as a desired brand. It designed its interior to reflect the history of Oakland through a series of edgy lifestyle images which also lived on its vanity site, ran digital ads highlighting the rooftop bar and on-site restaurant and placed ads in targeted publications such as San Francisco Business Times. Additionally, the property ran ads on Google’s platform, including engaging video ads, which grew traffic and bookings to the property.

Palisades Tahoe: Two Mountains, Now United  — WINNER

Centering around the Base To Base Gondola project that connected two mountain resorts — Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows — the Two Mountains, Now United campaign sought to intrigue and capture the interests of high-end adventure travelers with the goal of increasing bookings and generating bookings that last longer. Through creating storytelling, travelers were invited to join in on a narrative that featured the two mountains as part of California mythology. Messaging happened all throughout the marketing journey, including while on property.

Best Paid Brand Campaign Under $1 Million: Destination

Discover Torrance: Unbelievable, but True in Torrance

To separate itself from the larger Los Angeles area, Torrance set out to highlight local culture that makes it unique. The campaign’s careful use of statistics helps educate visitors on why they should choose Torrance on their next Southern California trip and shines a light on the attractions distinctive to Torrance. That campaign’s goals including turning day trippers into overnight guests, driving bookings during midweek and increasing overall occupancy rates. Through a series of tactics, including an Instagram filter that allowed users to “see” themselves in Torrance, the campaign held an above range occupancy rate year over year.

Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea: A Work of Art

This integrated multimedia campaign encouraged travelers within the drive market to see every aspect of the destination as a work of art. Video ads included local artists painting scenes of Carmel-by-the-Sea as they transitioned from painting to photography. The campaign drove a double-digit increase in bookings year over year.

Visit Lake Tahoe: Awe and then Some  — WINNER

Formerly Tahoe South, Visit Lake Tahoe decided to create an entirely new brand that embraced the values of residents and businesses along the south shore of Lake Tahoe. The beauty of the area (the “awe”) is what draws visitors in, and all the opportunities to ski, hike, dine and more are the “then some” that keep them there. Once the Visit Lake Tahoe brand was announced, locals embraced it fully, and through ad campaigns, visitations are up significantly.

Best Paid Brand Campaign Over $1 Million: Business

California Academy of Sciences: World’s Largest Dinosaurs

The objectives for this campaign were to increase awareness of "The World’s Largest Dinosaurs" and to drive attendance and revenue through sales of admission tickets and memberships. The campaign deployed a variety of tactics including print, digital and radio ads, wraps of buses and bus stops and paid social media. All the ads compared sauropods featured in the exhibit to a variety of San Francisco landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies and Oracle Park (the other Giants in town). The show had huge boost in attendance compared to the previous year’s special exhibit, and visitors via survey stated that they saw or heard advertising that made them want to see the show.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance: San Diego Zoo 2022 Wildlife Explorers Basecamp Launch  — WINNER

Wildlife Explorers Basecamp is the largest expansion in the San Diego Zoo’s history, converting the old children’s area into an interactive and immersive nature experience. The objective was to drive attendance and convey the breadth and depth of this new area and to hit specific metrics, including exceeding the record attendance for the previous opening of a new area in 2017, driving awareness before zoo trips and exceeding food revenue at a new café. An integrated multimedia campaign — including digital, TV, radio, out of home, paid social and print — featured kids watching themselves transforming into animals, and there was a special live activation of a two-story-high porcupine puppet. The campaign exceeded all expected metrics.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance: San Diego Zoo Safari Park: A Moment Can Change a Lifetime

A Moment Can Change a Lifetime was created to drive attendance to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park during its 50th anniversary in 2022 and highlight how this visit changes the lives of both the visitor and the wildlife they connect with. The objectives for this campaign included driving attendance, increasing revenue, keeping the park top of mind for parents, celebrating the anniversary and building awareness of the large conservation mission. As a result of this multipronged campaign, the Safari Park enjoyed a record year for both attendance and revenue.

Best Paid Brand Campaign Over $1 Million: Destination

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board: Now Playing

The Now Playing campaign showcases the incomparable breadth of attractions, experiences, entertainment and accommodations found only in L.A. while also being ownable, authentic, and inclusive. Spots showcase that Hollywood magic with full production values, celebrity appearances (both on film and animated) — essentially rolling out the red carpet for visitors. The campaign has generated a significantly increased revenue stream for the destination, and it's received recognition by a myriad of ad and news publications.

San Diego Tourism Authority: Happy and You Know It  — WINNER

In a time when people were seeking comfort and happiness as the world opened back up, leaning into the nostalgia of a well-known children’s song “If You're Happy and You Know It” allowed San Diego to highlight the uncomplicated, easygoing and sunny nature of the destination. The campaign drove maximum awareness of the brand, educated consumers about the variety of experiences and positively impacted in-market travel. The campaign spot drove higher room bookings and longer stays in a place that visitors view as a very happy place.

Visit Redding: Redding. Set. Go.

This campaign aimed to educate travelers about Redding as the gateway to great outdoor adventure in Northern California, treating Redding not as the only destination but the heart of a region that includes Castle Crags State Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mount Shasta and the Sacramento River. Tactics included fun swag, such as brochures, maps and stickers, and influencers served as brand ambassadors by creating and delivering content across social media channels. The campaign drove two record-breaking fiscal years in a row for transient occupancy taxes, reinforcing Redding as the base camp of Northern California adventure.


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