COVID-19 is battering tourism but Santa Fe comes out swinging with new campaign

The marketing team and its AOR Vladimir Jones rewrote an initiative in the face of a global pandemic.

COVID-19 has dropped a bombshell on the tourism sector.

Obviously, people aren’t traveling. So the industry is scaling back on its marketing efforts -- or temporarily shutting them down altogether. 

Experts from Havas noted tourism was among the first categories to pull media spend. But they also warned that one of the worst things brands can do right now is go dark. The smart brands are already pivoting to connect with their consumers and stay relevant. 

Tourism Santa Fe is one of those. 

It worked with agency of record Vladimir Jones to create a simple but effective campaign currently playing out on Instagram.

Even though people can’t travel right now, they can still experience the infamous Santa Fe Margarita Trail in a way that’s very personal, via content cemented in unique recipes and bartender videos. 

View this post on Instagram

It is always #NationalMargaritaDay in Santa Fe #TheCityDifferent | SantaFe.org ??: @rosewoodinnoftheanasazi

A post shared by Visit Santa Fe (@cityofsantafe) on

"We’re grateful for our ongoing partnership with Tourism Santa Fe and the trust and collaboration that made this pivot possible," said Meredith Vaughan, CEO of VJ, AOR for the brand since May 2019.

"Coronavirus has called on our team to be even more adaptable and nimble so we can make a big impact for the brands we support in the moments that matter. This is one of those moments."

Prior to the pandemic, VJ had planned media for Tourism Santa Fe to inspire trips from key fly and drive markets. In mid-March, the team saw the need to dramatically U-turn and began concepting a new way for people to experience "The City Different." The Margarita Trail is among Santa Fe's most well-known activities and, to some extent, one that people can experience remotely. 

Tourism Santa Fe is coordinating with area restaurants and bartenders to capture recipes and how-to videos. VJ is then preparing the materials for an ongoing Instagram story to match the "Uncover Your Different" brand refresh that went into market last September. 

In recent years, Santa Fe has attracted an average of two million overnight visitors annually. New Mexico tourism generates more than $6 billion in economic impact every year.

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