Not Mickey Mouse: Collier's brand as the 'un-Disney' Florida destination appears to be working, tourism leaders say

Paradise's efforts to market and advertise Collier County as "Florida's last paradise" proved successful.

A Collier County tourism research report conducted by Research Data Services Inc. shows that Paradise Advertising and Marketing's work

out-shined the ads created for other tourist destinations that compete wiith Collier County, or the "paradise coast."

"The ads ranked above and beyond anybody else," said Walter Klages, president of Research Data Services Inc. "Most importantly we got a reconfirmation of our branding."

The Collier County Tourist Development Council hired Paradise Advertising and Marketing to come up with a successful marketing and

advertising campaign to highlight Collier County's uniqueness as the "non-Disney Florida," or the "un-Florida Florida."

"Every indication we have is that promotional efforts have been successful in a very tough economy," Klages said.

The six different television advertisements showed views of the airboat rides in the Everglades, sun bathers on secluded beaches in the Ten Thousand Islands area, couples embracing romantically while watching a sunset and diners enjoying a meal on the edge of the beach.

“Welcome to the Florida that goes beyond what you’ve ever imagined,” one advertisement’s voice over says. “A destination that is the true essence of a tropical escape. Welcome to the paradise coast. Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades: Florida’s last paradise.”

The research report included focus groups online and in-person and compared Collier County it’s competitor destinations, which include Fort Lauderdale, St. Petersberg and Sarasota.

According to the report, the Web site, www.paradisecoast.com, was the only shortcoming in the advertisement and marketing campaign and didn’t rate as highly in comparison to the competition’s Web sites.

The 15-second-long television advertisements focus on one specific area of the “paradise coast,” such as the snow-white sugar sand on the beaches or fishermen standing on kayaks.

“What we’ve done this time is something very different,” said Dave Di Maggio, principal, vice president and creative director at Paradise Advertising and Marketing. “For each spot we have concentrated on one aspect of the destination.”

According to a research report conducted by Research Data Services Inc., the total fiscal impact of tourism on Collier County in 2009 was $1.12 billion.

"It is a very significant impact and I think that's really what matters," Klages said of the fiscal impact, which was down 9.6 percent from last year. "The tourism industry is probably the single largest

contributor to the economy of Collier County."

The advertisements included slogans such as “paradise priced perfectly” to highlight hotel deals and promotions.

Overall, the TDC members were pleased with the positive results.

"Our Collier County ads ranked the best of all our competitive set this year," said Jack Wert, Tourism Director of Collier County, who liked the variety of the Television ads. "I'm very excited about this whole concept. It tested well. We know that the customer thinks it's good."

Wert is hopeful, confident that the advertisements will lure more tourists to Collier County this year.

"We're very confident that this year is going to be different, and we'll continue to be one of the leaders in our competitive set," Wert said.

E-mail Sarah Donovan at sdonovan2@gmail.com.

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