Connecticut is not a theme park or resort, but it‘s the birthplace of the constitution and so many more inventions, social revolutions, and innovations. Think Sam Colt, Eli Whitney, Igor Sikorsky, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Mark Twain.
That’s why after four months of research, $500,000, and interviews with 1,500 residents it wasn’t afraid to adopt a “Still Revolutionary” brand.
None of the other 12 original colonies have claimed it as their position, so “it is ours for the taking,” said Kip Bergstrom, director of culture and tourism, said.
But he admitted that claiming to be a place of history can be tricky.
“It can tar you as a place that’s fossilized, stuck in the past,“ Bergstrom said at a press conference Monday to announce the new campaign.
“But in our case our history is the history of change,“ he said. “Connecticut has been at the center of every political, social, cultural, economic revolution in the history of our nation.”
He said statistics show that two-thirds of people who travel want to add a cultural experience to their trip. He said Connecticut has something both for people who want to enjoy a beach and for those looking for that cultural experience.
But what Connecticut has is not easy to see. “You have to work to find it,” Bergstrom said.
Unlike Boston where they painted a red line down the more than two mile Freedom Trail for tourists to follow, Connecticut’s path may be a little more difficult to navigate.
“This campaign will be a way to celebrate our history. Our history of innovation, our history of change, our history of leadership and it will tie very closely about how we want to be perceived by the rest of the world,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.
Malloy said the state has years of neglect to make up for in telling its story because under his predecessor the tourism budget was cut to just $1. At that time the state also canceled its membership to Discover New England which promotes New England mostly to international visitors. Restoring Connecticut to that map was one of the first things Malloy did as governor.
As a candidate, Malloy said he would put $15 million toward marketing the state as a tourism destination. In total Malloy’s budgeted $27 million over the next two years for marketing tourism in the state.
About $7 million of the money will go toward buying advertising space on television, radio, web sites, and in train stations in New York and Philadelphia through Labor Day. A new ad campaign and advertising purchase will be unveiled for the fall season.
About $22 million of the $27 million will go to Chowder, Inc., a New York City marketing firm, who will also be working with South Norwalk-based Media Storm and Waterbury research firm The Harrison Group. Fleishman-Hillard a communications company headquartered in St. Louis will also be involved in the campaign.
“What we wanted to do was build a campaign that had legs,” Malloy said. “We referenced the New York campaign in the past…there’s lots of additional stories to tell about Connecticut’s leadership in the nation.”
This campaign is “not just about tourism, not just about hospitality. It’s about getting our step back in Connecticut,” Malloy said.
Malloy has been a proponent of historical tourism—not just because he’s a history buff which he demonstrated Monday by retelling the story of the British Raid on Essex in 1814—but because of it’s ability to increase economic activity
Connecticut tourism generates about $11.5 billion in spending, $1.15 billion in state and local tax revenue and employs nearly 111,000 workers, according to 2011 statistics.
But the slogan goes far deeper than Connecticut’s past. Malloy said it also talks about the revolutionary accomplishments the state is making in its future in the area of stem cell research with the investment in Jackson Laboratories.
He said it’s part of a much greater campaign to redefine “who we are.”
“There are just these amazing stories that for whatever reason we stopped telling decades ago and so I think we can have an opportunity to tell them, and in doing that tell stories of the great museums, the great attractions, the great theaters, the great universities, as well as these industrial complexes that have to be understood,” Malloy said referring to Colt and Sikorsky.
The two-minute video which has been edited down for shorter television advertisements can be viewed online at the www.CTVisit.com web site. The soundtrack for the advertisement features an original score “Better With You” which was commissioned specifically for the ad and it features the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and UConn student, Dinelle Glaze. The video which they showed at the press conference includes scenes from the Mystic coastline, Essex Steam Train, Gillette Castle, and the Goodspeed Opera House.