Summer ad fling a precursor to rebranding Connecticut

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was introduced today as the “tourism governor” at the kickoff of a quickly assembled summer advertising campaign, but a better measure of his right to that title will come later this year as his administration forges a marketing identity for the state.

“We are in engaged in selecting a team to run that effort, to brand Connecticut, to have a campaign that will be long-lasting in duration and help sell the state for tourism, for culture, for a great place to live, a wonderful place to have a business and grow a business,” Malloy said. “That’s the message we want to get out.”

As a college student, Malloy helped with the research that led to the iconic “I love New York” advertising campaign, an effort to make New Yorkers feel better about their then-struggling city and state as it tried to draw in tourist dollars in the 1970s.

“That campaign came when New York was flat on its back,” said Christopher “Kip” Bergstrom, the executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. The campaign generated tourism business and improved New York’s image, he said.

As a candidate and now as governor, Malloy has insisted that promotion dollars are a well-spent investment that increases tourism and helps the state sell itself for economic development. His first budget includes $15 million for tourism, while his predecessor cut the tourism marketing budget to $1.

The marketing campaign announced today at the Connecticut Science Center is funded with $800,000 in corporate donations and $1.6 million in re-allocated state funds. It targets women ages 25 to 54, whom Bergstrom described as family decision makers on vacations, in metropolitan New York and Connecticut.

The “One Tank Getaways” campaign includes a series of 30-second radio spots and ads in the New York Times, as well as a new web site. They promote the state’s attractions as being an easy drive, just one tank of gas away.

The ads group attractions by theme, such as spas and other weekend getaways for couples.

Matt Fleury, the president of the Science Center, said his institution one of many tourist attractions that cannot afford advertising in the New York market, but can benefit from the summer advertising campaign.

“This early roll out is just a precursor as to what is to come,” Malloy said. “We will be working with the best of the best to put a long-lasting campaign together.”

Bergstrom said the state has underperformed New England and the rest of the nation in tourism in recent years, but the industry still generates $11.5 billion in spending, $1.15 billion in tax revenue and employs 110,775 people.