This was certainly an interesting challenge. But! After digging into the research, we discovered those people who had actually visited already found Americans to be surprisingly welcoming (*raises monocle, strokes imaginary beard). Energized and inspired with this insight, we embarked on a strategy-based content campaign that showcased both the warmth and relative affordability of destinations across the country.
We crafted a content series based on a simple approach that could be replicated in every corner of the country: find charismatic people who love where they’re from, and ask them to show us around. Authenticity was key; these were real residents, not actors. And they weren’t reading from a script. They were telling us about actual places they know and love. (We kept the bloopers in to prove it!)
In casting, we selected the most lovable, outgoing people bursting with hometown pride to show off three types of locations per state: one gateway city, one smaller city, and a more rural destination where nature-lovers can bask. To give travelers some “bang for their buck,” we talked about all the cool things to do within a day’s drive of the airport, from dining to festivals and entertainment. And we always asked about the strange things — anything unique or off the beaten path. You know, the things visitors really want to know about.
Over the course of three seasons, we completed a campaign that featured every state, territory, and district within the USA. We empowered local tourism offices with a content model they could replicate, year after year, to showcase what’s beloved by their locals, while effectively and authentically bringing locals into the fray of welcoming the foreign travelers that would support the very businesses they love. In addition to film, we shot thousands of photos with our Instagram-famous photography team, equipping destinations with scalable content that’s inherently social.
Ultimately, the campaign enabled Brand USA to capture premium content from every corner of the country, and generated some of the most-watched content on the brand’s newly launched TV app. Most importantly, it engaged social audiences across multiple screens, increasing brand awareness and driving traffic to the Brand USA website — and flights to destinations across the United States.
To emphasize the focus on each community member’s individual superpowers, we explored three unique approaches to how "characters" can exist within this theme. Each character, designed in a comic-book style, represents the varying abilities each community member is working on, and these characters bring joy and color to every brand touchpoint from the walls to business cards and printed reports. Arriving at a final identity, we further workshopped ways to bring that special energy to the Therapy Heroes space, which is uplifting and optimistic, playful, and forward-facing. We can’t wait to see the results come to life when Therapy Heroes open their doors!
It’s so easy to tell a story about something you love, and I’ve fallen in love with every single place we’ve filmed for Ask A Local except ONE (but I’ll never say which)! There’s something magical that happens when you roll up to a new town, and you really get to talk to the locals about what they love in their own backyard. It’s almost like seeing your enthusiasm for their hometown reactivates something in them that makes them look around with new eyes and realize that they have a lot to be thankful for. It’s a cool phenomenon, and I highly recommend it!
Although our filming was limited to LA, we cast people from various parts of the country, and filmed them in a place that most looked like their respective hometowns. We supplemented their interviews with actual photography and footage from their hometowns, and the result proved to be a scalable and engaging campaign concept.
In our first season, we filmed in 3 locations per state: a gateway city, a smaller city, and a rural area. Within each of these regions, our goal was to show the wide range of activities travelers could experience, while avoiding any obvious landmarks that would already be known. This was to feel like an insiders' look! We used photography to compliment the interviews, punctuating the recommendations like flashbacks or memories to the places referenced.
In our second season, we filmed the areas most severely impacted by the brutal hurricane season of 2017. This posed a unique challenge to show areas that appeared to have fully recovered, when in fact, the recovery was still underway. While we were met with unique hurdles of verifying the post-hurricane existence of recommended businesses and experiences, frequent power shortages presented unique filming difficulties.
That said, this season was incredibly rewarding because the areas most severely impacted by the storms are also the areas of the US that tend to be most reliant on tourism, and we were honored to be able to support their recovery.
In our third season, we began to shift the narrative model. We became less reliant on photography, and spent more time filming across fewer locations. We also focused not just on getting local recommendations, but by getting a little more of a backstory on our local cast, in order to create a more engaging throughline and a sense of connection with the audience.