Arizona Office of Tourism attracts visitors with social media campaign

The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) is getting trendy to attract out-of-state visitors to the state.

Spring is a beautiful time in Arizona with more than 44 days of sunshine and average temperatures in the mid-60s, unlike other states where winter lasts well into March.

AOT is offering Chicagoans and New Yorkers some of the state’s sunshine through its new “upbeat and friendly social media campaign” #AZSunToShare.

“What we noticed just from monitoring social media posts from a year ago [is] there were a lot of Chicagoans and New Yorkers expressing their discontent with winter on social media,” Scott Dunn, AOT senior director of content and communications, said. “We thought this was a natural extension of a campaign we had done in the past called Random Acts of Sunshine… [where] we went to Chicago and brand ambassadors actually handed out hot chocolate or hand warmers to communicate that Arizona is this warm, welcoming place.”

According to Dunn, the campaign’s main goal was to create a sense of positivity around Arizona.

Similar to Random Acts of Sunshine, AOT would mine social media for posts complaining about winter and then send them small presents including gift cards, Navajo blankets, Arizona sweatshirts and t-shirts, hand warmers, personal heaters, light therapy lamps, and more.

“If people were complaining about it being gloomy and dark, we would actually send them some figurative sunshine,” Dunn said. “It was a wide range of gifts all sort of geared at making people feel happy or comfortable. It was pretty rewarding to be able, in real time, to make people happy.”

In certain instances, they sent individuals spa packages, spring training tickets or plane vouchers. One lucky individual was a 19-year-old photographer from Chicago, who won tickets to Arizona to take pictures in warmer temperatures:

“We don’t want to advertise at people, we want to talk to them, and those conversations [are] seen by others,” Dunn said.

The campaign – which ran from March 4 to 6 for New Yorkers and March 6 to 8 for Chicagoans – generated 9.7 million impressions and roughly 4,000 interactions, most of which were positive.

“This kind of social media allows us to engage people that traditional advertising can’t… It was a wild success,” Dunn said.

Emily Richardson

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