New tourism jingle may be a hit for Md. Marketing: New ads aiming to draw visitors to the state are unveiled at conference in Western Maryland and are well received.


CUMBERLAND -- The release of the state's new tourism advertising and marketing campaign had people singing along and literally dancing in the aisles yesterday at the Maryland Governor's Tourism Industry Conference.

The $3.1 million campaign retains the tag line, "So many things to do, so close together," which has been used to promote the state for three years.

New print advertising features cartoon-like bubble thoughts filled with scenic views of the state coming out of buses, cameras and other inanimate objects.

But the television spots, with their catchy jingle "1 (800) MD is fun" seemed to make the biggest impression with attendees -- especially once the lyric sheets were distributed. More than 300 people from the tourism industry went to the three-day conference at Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort in Western Maryland.

"It's very high-energy," said Ron Eyre, president of Eyre Bus Service Inc. "It's so all-inclusive. In 60 seconds, it includes the whole state in an upbeat, fun way."

That element was a key component of the campaign put together by Trahan, Burden & Charles Inc., a Baltimore advertising and public relations firm. Earlier this year, the company was awarded a $35 million contract to handle advertising and marketing for the state's Department of Business and Economic Development for the next five years.

"I think we're going to a new level of innovation," said R. Dean Kenderdine, assistant secretary, division of tourism, film and the arts for Maryland, where tourism has a $6 billion annual economic impact.

The television spots are evolving, though a version was created to show off the jingle and give conference-goers an idea of the finished product. The spots are scheduled to begin running about March.

State officials hope to receive 150 inquiries for each $1,000 spent on media. This campaign will include about $2.8 million in media, according to George Williams, director of the state's office of tourism development.

"Instead of just doing a nice Maryland commercial, we want to do a nice commercial that makes the phone ring," said Allan Charles, executive vice president at Trahan. "The whole key here is we want people to hum the 800 number."

The campaign is designed to target people within a 400-mile radius of the state -- more than the 300-mile radius used in the past. Primary markets are Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana and Illinois.

For years, Maryland has spent less on tourism than many of its competitors. Virginia's annual budget for tourism spending is $21 million, and Pennsylvania's is $18 million. In contrast, Maryland's budget for fiscal year 1999 is $10 million. "I think that's where great creativity can give you an edge," Charles said. "You're hoping it's like David vs. Goliath. Our slingshot is this catchy song."

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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