8.12.2011 Downtown Partners Chicago

Chicago convention & tourism bureau unveils new brand strategy

The first true branding effort highlighting the city of Chicago as a global visitor destination was officially launched this month by the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB). The initiative is aimed at significantly increasing the number of visitors to Chicago, resulting 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.


“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.”


“CCTB’s new campaign includes multiple elements that we will be able to utilize in our efforts to promote Chicago as a premier global business destination,” said Rita Athas, President of World Business Chicago. “The strong message that Chicago leads in numerous arenas, is one that resonates with many of the Bureau’s partner agencies, and one we can all use moving forward.”


Components of the effort target regional, national and international audiences, including the UK, Beijing and Shanghai markets. Public relations efforts in these markets have already proved successful and will be expanded to Mexico and Canada in early 2012.


On a national level, print materials incorporate benefits of the recent historic labor agreements at McCormick Place. Visits with key travel media are also planned throughout 2012.


The regional audience will be influenced by an aggressive television and online campaign totaling $1.8 million. This effort features television and digital advertising, media relations and a targeted distribution of Chicago's Official Visitor Guide in markets including 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.”


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 group, led by the CCTB, has raised more than $500,000 to expand the new Chicago advertising campaign.


A new ChooseChicago.com with enhanced 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.


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.


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