North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development

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North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development

301 N Wilmington St.
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
Telephone: (919) 733-8372
Fax: (919) 715-3097
Web site:



In 1998 the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development, previously known as the North Carolina Division of Travel and Tourism, continued an advertising campaign ("Heritage") undertaken in 1997 by Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy (LKM) of Charlotte. The campaign's primary focus was the state's heritage, and it stressed historic events that had occurred in North Carolina, as well as natural resources and cultural sites of interest in the state. Prominent among the advertising was a print ad celebrating the Civil Rights movement with a black-and-white photograph of a formerly segregated lunch counter and the caption "Here, four brave people refused to move. What they did moved an entire nation." Television advertising, along with some radio and public relations work, accompanied the print ads. The tourism division's annual advertising budget was estimated to be between $2.5 million and $3 million.

Advertising played up North Carolina's varied heritage, and a number of ads focused on its significance in African American history. The state made a strong push for overseas visitors, particularly business travelers from Great Britain, and under the leadership of Gordon Clapp, the tourism division greatly expanded its offerings. In July 1998 North Carolina's efforts paid off with a prestigious award from the nation's tourism directors. "When 50 people in the advertising community recognize your work," LKM creative director Jim Mountjoy said in a press release, "it tells you that your work has hit the mark creatively. But when the top 50 people in the tourism industry single you out, it tells you that strategically you are dead-on."


Outsiders have been coming to North Carolina since a group of settlers sent by Sir Walter Raleigh established the first English colony in North America on Roanoke Island in 1585. That first settlement ended after just 10 months and was replaced by a second colony in 1587. But this colony, where Virginia Dare became the first child of English parents born in the New World, was ill-supplied: when reinforcements arrived from England in 1590, they found Roanoke deserted. Thus began the legend of the famous "Lost Colony."

Of course the English were not the first people in North Carolina. For centuries the state had been inhabited by a number of Native American tribes, most notably the Cherokee and Catawba. Thus when twentieth-century novelist Thomas Wolfe set out to create a fictionalized version of North and South Carolina, he called them Old and New Catawba. Carolina was named after King Charles II in 1663 and officially separated into North and South Carolina in 1712.

The Revolutionary War added new legends to North Carolina history. There was the so-called Mecklenburg Declaration, a statement of rights and independence from Great Britain supposedly created by the citizens of Mecklenburg County in May 1775, though its authenticity was doubtful. North Carolina was the site of a battle on February 27, 1776, at Moore's Creek Bridge, which has been dubbed the "Lexington and Concord of the South." On April 12 of that momentous year, North Carolina's Provincial Congress adopted the Halifax Resolution, authorizing its delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia "to concur with the delegates of the other colonies in declaring independency." Thus North Carolina became the first of the 13 colonies to issue an explicit directive calling for independence.

In 1861 North Carolina threw its lot in with a less successful independence effort, and though the Civil War left it much less battle-scarred than neighboring Virginia, slavery and segregation created scars of their own. By the mid-twentieth century, however, North Carolina had emerged as one of the more cosmopolitan southern states, and television's popular Andy Griffith Show—not to mention its many spin-offs—celebrated the state's easygoing way of life. The late twentieth century saw an increase of business, education, and scientific interest in the state, particularly in the "Research Triangle" formed by the capital at Raleigh and the neighboring cities of Durham and Chapel Hill.

North Carolina also had a growing film industry, placing it third in the nation after California and Florida. Partly for this reason, the North Carolina Division of Travel and Tourism changed its name in 1998 to the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. By then, the tourism division had worked with several advertising agencies. In July 1976 a relationship with the firm of Loucheim, Eng and People, Inc., had ended badly, with a legal action in which the state attempted to recover $145,000 in damages. According to its claim, the state had been overcharged for costly print ads and television spots that barely mentioned North Carolina. McKinney & Silver of Raleigh won the account later in 1976 and held it for 15 years, until LKM became the agency of record.


The state of North Carolina and its tourism division made a number of efforts targeted to specific market segments; for instance, in 1994 the state spent some $8 million to attract British visitors. American Airlines had recently established direct service between Raleigh/Durham and London's Gatwick Airport, and this, combined with British Airways' service to Charlotte, spurred on the campaign. Cellet Travel Services in Great Britain handled the marketing initiative.

Harry Hoover, vice president of public relations for LKM, told Barbara J. Mays of Travel Weekly in March 1997, "Our new research shows that our visitors expect a restful, relaxing vacation and beautiful natural scenery." Hence tag lines such as this one, promoting the barrier islands along the coast: "Out here, we haven't burned our bridges with the 20th century. We just never built them." Another ad, promoting remote retreats in the mountains of western North Carolina, asked, "Remember how, when you were a child, you had your own secret hiding place?"

The principal thrust of North Carolina's 1998 tourism marketing was heritage. Along with its "four brave people" ad, celebrating four black Greensboro Colleges students who in 1960 refused to leave a segregated lunch counter, the state drew attention to its rich African American history. Advertising promoted sites such as the Mattye Reed African Heritage Museum, the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, and that city's Parrish Street. The latter was known as "the Black Wall Street" because of the many successful African American businesses that started there during the 1920s, among them the largest black-owned enterprise in the United States, the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.


Clapp told Jim Osterman and Katy Eckmann of Adweek in 1996 that North Carolina faced "stiff competition right in our own region." A number of neighboring states, in particular Tennessee and Virginia, had much larger tourism budgets, and indeed Virginia was the home of what was undoubtedly the most successful state tourism campaign of the twentieth century: "Virginia Is for Lovers." Created by Martin & Woltz of Richmond in 1969, the campaign proved to be enormously popular during the 1970s, and though Virginia later tried to replace it with other efforts, the classic slogan kept coming to the fore. In 1999 Virginia celebrated the campaign's 30th anniversary with renewed promotion.

North Carolina's advertising budget of $2.5 to $3 million was certainly a modest one, given the fact that a single North Carolina county devoted about as much—$2.5 million—to its own tourism advertising. This was Buncombe County, site of Asheville, a city in the mountains of western North Carolina with a thriving arts community and tourist attractions such as Biltmore Estates, the Thomas Wolfe house, and the luxurious Grove Park Inn. Of course promotion for Buncombe County and other areas within the state could only benefit North Carolina, and for that matter, competition between states often gave way to cooperation. Thus in 1999 Clapp told Travel Trade Gazette UK & Ireland that the state was working with South Carolina and Virginia to set up a network of "heritage trails."

Clapp organized the January 1999 Travel South Marketplace, a convention that brought together the tourism divisions of 12 southern states, along with buyers from all over the world. Included were Alabama, which in the late 1990s had a $5 billion-a-year travel industry; Arkansas, which had devoted considerable sums to the renovation of sites in Little Rock and Hot Springs; Florida, always one of the nation's top vacation spots; Georgia, then in the process of adopting recommendations from a study called "A Vision for Georgia Tourism 2000 and Beyond"; Kentucky, which offered visitors a Great Kentucky Getaway Guide; Louisiana, which celebrated its 300th birthday in 1999; Mississippi, where tourism was growing on the strength of gambling and riverboat tours; South Carolina, which had recently published a guide called South Carolina Adventures—Nature-Based Packages; Tennessee, a state with an $8 billion-a-year tourism budget; Virginia, where the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of George Washington's death coincided with the "Virginia Is for Lovers" anniversary; and West Virginia, which had recently launched its "West Virginia: Full of Wonder—Plenty of Wild" advertising campaign.


One of the complaints North Carolina lodged against Loucheim, Eng in 1976 was the fact that the firm's advertising for the state was loosely targeted. The legal action cited, for instance, a four-page ad in Glamour magazine featuring models in expensive designs from Sax Fifth Avenue, with only peripheral mention of North Carolina. The agency had also spent $22,000 on two 30-second spots and a billboard during the 1975 Peach Bowl football game—more wasted money, in the state's view.

Efforts by McKinney & Silver and its successor, Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy, were much more successful. In fact, agency president John Ketchum started with McKinney & Silver, where he had worked on the state account before leaving the firm in 1988. In the five years between the time North Carolina hired LKM in 1991 and the time of an agency review in 1996—state law required a review after five years—LKM's advertising had earned several Addy Awards, along with recognition from the Kelly Awards and The One Show.

In April 1996, after LKM bested three other agencies to retain the account, Clapp announced that the advertising effort in coming years would address two major areas, in the words of Osterman and Eckmann in Adweek: "'heritage' tourism, which promotes the state's history and its natural and cultural resources; and stepped-up tourism awareness programs, particularly in public relations."


In October 1998 the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development launched a program to match up young pen pals across the state of North Carolina. Formed in cooperation with the state's Department of Public Instruction, the program began with some 1,400 fourth-graders, and organizers planned for greater expansion in coming months.

According to a press release accompanying the launch, Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development director Gordon Clapp said, "This program encourages students to learn about their home state and what is has to offer. By sharing … experiences across the state, young people can gain fresh perspectives while reinforcing what they learn in the classroom."

North Carolina elementary schools received a "Pen Pal package," complete with recommendations on how to best implement the program. The packet included a brochure on North Carolina, suggestions of topics on which youngsters might correspond, a list of related websites, and other material. "We have already matched up several fourth-grade classes," Clapp said, "and will continue to do so as we receive more information from interested teachers."

Though the 1998 tourism campaign included electronic media, the primary thrust was print, with black-and-white artwork. In fall 1985 a pair of studies reported by Gilbert R. Yochum in the Journal of Travel Research found that black-and-white newspaper advertising was more effective than the same sort of advertising in magazines. Both studies showed that newspaper ads tended to draw tourists who spent more money than those attracted by magazine ads; by comparison, a radio campaign in Virginia Beach, Virginia, proved to be less effective than either variety of print advertising. Nonetheless, North Carolina's 1998 campaign included ads in the magazines Southern Living, American Heritage, and Smithsonian, as well as spots on the Arts & Entertainment network (A&E) and Cable News Network (CNN). These moves, according to Mark Harrison of LKM, were targeted to potential tourists who would spend the most money in the state.

Print ads, most of which LKM introduced in 1997 and continued in 1998, stressed both the historical and the natural heritage of the state. One ad, referring to the famous Lost Colony, was headlined "The first English settlers vanished into the mists of history here. We've been looking for them ever since." Other advertising promoted Kitty Hawk, where Wilbur and Orville Wright launched the first airplane in 1903; and Fort Macon, site of an important Civil War battle. One of LKM's most prominent print ads noted that "according to geologists, North Carolina was once connected to Africa"—thus promoting the many exotic species at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.


Clapp won praise from Susan J. Young of Travel Agent in mid-1998 for "significantly enhanc[ing] the look and feel of the state's tourism product." Among his most notable undertakings was the adoption of the "Heritage" theme, complete with a network of historic sites linked by "heritage trails"—some actual hiking trails, some driving routes—between Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The heritage trails program, Young noted, would be fully operational by 2000.

"It's a whole new way of promoting North Carolina," Clapp told her. "One of the gratifying rewards is bringing together diverse groups of people who thought they had nothing in common, such as environmentalists, economic development representatives, and cultural resource people. It's exciting." Later in 1999 the state would introduce garden tours throughout North Carolina, and Clapp expressed an interest in creating African American and Native American trails as well.

Meanwhile, LKM promoted North Carolina's hiking trails with an ad headlined "Colossal upheavals, landslides, and brutal glaciers make for darned fine hiking trails." Seven of its ads, which "focused on North Carolina's scenic beauty and relaxing atmosphere," according to a July 1998 press release, won the agency and the state the "best print advertising campaign" and "best individual print ad" at the annual conference of the National Council of State Tourism Directors in Palm Springs, California.


Barile, Suzy. "State Struggles to Maintain History." Triangle Business Journal, August 21, 1998, p. 27.

Koonce, Burke III. "State Travel Unit Reviews Ad Shops." Triangle Business Journal (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina), March 22, 1996, p. 6.

Mays, Barbara J. "Officials Hope New Ads Provide Tourism Boost." Travel Weekly, March 31, 1997, p. M21.

"North Carolina Advertising Wins Top Tourism Awards." PR Newswire, July 16, 1998.

Osterman, Jim. "15 Years of Travel Ends." Adweek (Southeast edition), May 4, 1998, p. 8.

Osterman, Jim, and Katy Eckmann. "Loeffler Ketchum to Defend N.C. Tourism Turf 'n' Surf." Adweek (Southeast edition), March 4, 1996, p. 2.

――――――. "N.C. Tourism Renews Contract." Adweek (Southeast edition), April 22, 1996, p. 2.

"Pen Pals Begin Exchanging Lessons in NC History, Culture." PR Newswire, October 1, 1998.

"Visitors Relive the Past." Travel Trade Gazette UK & Ireland, March 15, 1999, p. 53.

Yochum, Gilbert R. "The Economics of Travel Advertising Revisited." Journal of Travel Research, fall 1985, pp. 9-12.

Young, Susan J. "Blazing Tourism Trails." Travel Agent, May 18, 1998, p. 12.

――――――. "On to Greensboro." Travel Agent, December 14, 1998, p. 126.

                                                Judson Knight

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North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development

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North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development