Alternatives to ‘Start Your Engines’ Marketing Campaign Discourage Daytona Tourism Leaders

DAYTONA BEACH — Tourism executives are ready to head to the garage with Daytona Beach’s “Start Your Engines” marketing campaign unveiled in the wake of the 2020 pandemic downturn, but they aren’t yet happy with potential alternatives .

An option to replace the NASCAR-oriented “Start Your Engines” campaign revolves around Daytona Beach’s long-time self-proclaimed designation as the “world’s most famous beach,” a slogan affixed to an arch worthy of a “photo op.” above the beach ramp at the main tourist gateway to Atlantic Avenue and International Speedway Boulevard.

The proposed campaign, “Famous For More Than You Think”, was one of two potential marketing plans presented this week at a workshop meeting of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority board by the marketing firm of Myrtle Beach, SC advertising authority, The Brandon Agency.

A draft of a “Famous For More Than You Think” tourism advertising proposal for Daytona Beach. Board members of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority offered mixed reviews of new concepts presented at a workshop meeting this week to replace the current “Start Your Engines” tourism campaign.

The county-appointed HAAA Board of Directors, which oversees and funds the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, is considering concepts for a $790,000 marketing campaign aimed at attracting more affluent, high-income visitors with income $150,000 or more annually.

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In sample images depicting a draft of the “Famous” concept, beach scenes and poolside images photographed at the Hard Rock Hotel were accompanied by taglines that included “Famous for so many amazing ways to do nothing” ; “Famous for seven-day weekends”; “Famous for that Friday feeling any day of the week.”

A preliminary version of a draft "Famous for more than you think"  tourist advertisement for Daytona Beach.  Board members of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority offered mixed reviews of the new concepts presented at a workshop meeting this week to replace the current

A draft of a “Famous For More Than You Think” tourism advertising proposal for Daytona Beach. Board members of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority offered mixed reviews of new concepts presented at a workshop meeting this week to replace the current “Start Your Engines” tourism campaign.

One of the strengths of the proposed concept is that it ties in with the established tagline “The World’s Most Famous Beach,” said Andy Kovan, Brandon’s director of strategy and research.

“It also speaks to everything we (the destination) have to offer beyond the beach,” Kovan told the board. In addition to initial appeal to high-income travelers, the idea could also reach a wider audience, he said.

Brandon also teased a potential second campaign, “You Need a Beach Vacation,” which referenced the lifestyle changes that surfaced as a result of the pandemic. Samples of this idea, built around similar beach images, were accompanied by messages such as “Time to zoom out”; and “You can’t get this from a streaming device.”

The second concept reflected the consumer mindset “in a very relevant way,” Kovan told the board. “It’s also a very sustainable idea. I think it goes beyond the pandemic, beyond the current situation. »

A preliminary version of a proposal "You need a beach vacation"  tourist advertisement for Daytona Beach.  Board members of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority offered mixed reviews of the new concepts presented at a workshop meeting this week to replace the current

A draft of a “You Need a Beach Vacation” tourism advertising proposal for Daytona Beach. Board members of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority offered mixed reviews of new concepts presented at a workshop meeting this week to replace the current “Start Your Engines” tourism campaign.

Council members were less enthusiastic.

“It doesn’t blow my mind,” Linda Bowers, board member and regional sales manager for Avista Hotels & Resorts, including four properties in Volusia County, said of the proposed ideas. “That just doesn’t resonate with me.”

Androse Bell, board member and general manager of the Hard Rock Hotel, also expressed concern about unwanted perceptions related to the destination’s reputation as a location for rowdy special events that could be triggered in the mind. potential visitors through the “Famous” concept.

Likewise, he expressed a desire to move beyond messages alluding to the pandemic.

“A lot of people are just sick of it,” Bell said. “For me, it (the campaign) creates this trigger of, ‘Why are we talking about this again?'”

Brandon will test both campaigns with a sample audience before the proposals go to the board for a vote at its March 23 meeting.

Roadmap presented for the long-term tourism plan

In addition, the board received an update from MMGY NextFactor, the Canadian travel and tourism consulting firm hired by the board last fall to help develop a long-term tourism strategy.

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Shelly Green, an MMGY consultant, walked board members through a series of suggested changes, goals and timelines related to forming a three-year strategic plan.

Along the way, Green offered a suggestion for a new, streamlined mission statement for the Daytona Beach CVB, as well as a new vision statement. The latter sparked a brief, unresolved debate over whether to label the destination’s visitor experience as “transformative” or “memorable”.

In results of an MMGY survey conducted last fall of 151 representatives of the Daytona Beach area tourism industry, local government, business leaders and visitors, the destination scored lower than the average in its dining, shopping and entertainment options, its health and safety concerns and its offerings in arts, culture and heritage options.

Overall, the destination was characterized as having more weaknesses than strengths by all sectors of survey respondents, ranging from tourism industry representatives to local community leaders and visitors.

On Wednesday, Green outlined a proposed timeline to address those issues.

Proposed target goals include completion of a brand study and development of a new brand for the destination by 2023; the creation of an advocacy committee to articulate and promote the advertising authority’s priorities; and an initiative to strengthen collaboration with economic development leaders, local government agencies and professional organizations.

The HAAA board is also expected to vote on MMGY’s strategic plan at its March 23 meeting.

The board pays the consulting firm $50,000 for a period that includes 160 hours of professional fees and travel expenses. The fee does not include expenses related to the organization of meetings, retreats or community events related to the development of the strategic plan.

Founded in 2015, NextFactor has developed strategic and destination master plans for various Florida markets, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Naples and New Smyrna Beach.

This article originally appeared in The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Daytona Beach Vacation Ad Ideas Discourage Tourism Leaders

William L. Hart