Whisper, and people lean close to hear what you have to say.
That’s what the new tourism slogan for South Mississippi does, and hundreds of people gathered at Jones Park on Monday night to hear the announcement of the brand that was a year in the making.
“Coastal Mississippi: The Secret Coast,” is the new phrase and it rolls out across the Gulf South on Tuesday morning.
“It’s time that we accept that not too many people know about us,” said Milton Segarra, executive director of what was Visit MS Gulf Coast, which now will do business as Coastal Mississippi.
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“Why not maximize that?” he asks. “If we’re a secret, we’re a secret.”
The campaign is designed to inspire visitors who want to travel to largely undiscovered destinations, and the advertisements show people enjoying the uncrowded beach and bayou, the casinos and seafood.
This was by far the best of three slogans that were market-tested, Segarra said, and is designed to “Turn potential visitors into visitors and visitors into repeat visitors.”
In recent years, tourism has grown 1 to 2 percent on the Coast. He said the goal of the campaign is to reach double-digit growth in the next 2-3 years.
As part of the nearly $1 million advertising campaign to launch the brand, 40 billboards across Louisiana, north Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle will target the market within a five-hour drive. Other advertising will be directed around air packages with Delta and American Airlines to Atlanta, Charlotte and other destinations that are an easy flight to the Coast.
The change in brand is a way to differentiate South Mississippi from the many other vacation destinations, Segarra said.
“This place surprises people,” he said. Most people in the region who were surveyed said they don’t remember seeing any advertising for South Mississippi. Yet when they arrive they find 12 coastal towns, each with its own personality, Segarra said.
The new slogan is a little different than how other destinations are being marketed, he said. Coastal Mississippi isn’t telling people to “visit,” “meet” or “discover” as so many destinations do, he said. Instead the new slogan rolls like waves, offering images of sand, boating and shrimp.
“We have something special here,” the campaign says, “and we just can’t keep it to ourselves.”