In 2001, independent research showed that North Dakota lacked awareness as a destination. Since that time, Odney has partnered with North Dakota Tourism to build its successful Legendary brand. Since 2003, visitor spending has quadrupled from $63.2 million to $236.4 million, tax revenue generated by visitors also quadrupled from $4 million to $17.8 million and the average return on investment was $92 in visitor spending for every $1 invested in advertising. But in a time of ever-increasing competition to attract visitors, it was time to showcase the product in a new way.
Odney was excited to elevate the Legendary brand to gain increased national attention. Tourism is North Dakota’s third largest industry behind energy and agriculture. As commodity prices have fallen, the need for diversified economic opportunities is stronger than ever.
Research continues to show that the state’s rich blend of history and culture set against its beautiful scenery and North Dakota’s variety of fun things to see and do is what attracts traveler interest. The “Legendary” brand has worked because North Dakota is a land of legends - Theodore Roosevelt, Lewis & Clark, Sakakawea, Custer and Sitting Bull, among others.
In 2016 Odney developed a plan to leverage a current North Dakota legend, actor Josh Duhamel. He provides the rare opportunity to partner with a trending celebrity to enhance advertising efforts. He is also a tremendous state ambassador in his own right through his personal social media posts, comments on talk shows, and investment back in his home state.
With one of the lowest marketing budgets in the country, the added star power Josh Duhamel brings is critical to getting attention for the 2016-17 campaign. Moreover, Josh Duhamel’s energy and thirst for fun are both unique and inspiring, just like North Dakota. (His two-year-old son, Axl, was a pretty cool addition, as well.)
The North Dakota Tourism campaign enticed travelers with a glimpse of the state through Josh Duhamel’s eyes. His personal background in and love for North Dakota align with North Dakota Tourism’s focus areas of outdoor adventures, history, and city experiences. There was also special emphasis placed on Theodore Roosevelt National Park to connect with the National Parks 100th anniversary.
Through this series of television, print, out-of-home, digital and social media ads, as well as the Travel Guide and Hunting & Fishing Guide, it is not only the beauty of North Dakota that rings through, but the personality as well. In 2018, North Dakota Tourism ran a combined display and video campaign highly targeted to the interests of its key travel audiences, including the addition of paid social media marketing. Each ad theme had a unique URL where travelers could find custom content aligned to their interests—plus the ability to request a free vacation guide and sign up for e-news.