Tourism Campaign “Extraordinary Alexandria” Shows Increased Return for City of Alexandria, VA September 30, 2014
Claire Mouledoux,, 703-652-5367
September 30, 2014

Tourism Campaign "Extraordinary Alexandria"
Shows Increased Return for City of Alexandria, VA

Alexandria, VA - A big departure for Alexandria, Virginia's tourism marketing is paying off, a newly released study shows. One year ago, tourism officials launched the "Extraordinary Alexandria" campaign with dramatic new visuals, a diversified media strategy and an expanded target market that includes millennials. The campaign reflects the new energy of this "Old Town" getaway just outside Washington, DC.

An independent study found a 171:1 return-on-investment (ROI) for "Extraordinary Alexandria," an increase from a 130:1 ROI found by a 2010 study of the prior campaign. The new study, conducted by Destination Analysts, determined that for every dollar spent by the City of Alexandria on campaign advertising, $171 was generated in visitor spending at local businesses and $6 came back to the city in tax revenue, up from $4 in city tax revenue per ad dollar in 2010.

Visit Alexandria launched the campaign in September 2013, showcasing a cosmopolitan scene of chef-driven dining, boutique shopping, the arts and romance, while staying true to the city's authentic historic setting. The campaign is grounded in story appeal, featuring the people of Alexandria and delightfully surprising visuals.

The media strategy that formerly relied heavily on print advertising has been shifted to favor digital and is now diversified to include online television and a broader mix of traditional placements including print, outdoor billboards and DC Metrorail ads. And, as Alexandria's visitor product has evolved, it was the right time to broaden the audience scope to include a younger demographic. Millennial and Gen X professionals ages 25 to 40 have been added as a second target audience to complement Alexandria's traditional audience of affluent adults ages 45 to 64.

The ROI study found that the "Extraordinary Alexandria" campaign doubled ad recall, reflecting the effectiveness of the new look and diversified media strategy. Among households surveyed in the 400 mile radius of Alexandria, 23% recalled seeing an "Extraordinary Alexandria" ad, a boost from the prior campaign which had a 10% recall. More than two-thirds of survey respondents felt that the "Extraordinary Alexandria" ads were effective.

Economic and Community Impact
The "Extraordinary Alexandria" campaign is believed to have mitigated the impact of a tough year that included the government sequester, a 17-day government shutdown and a harsh winter that discouraged travel.

According to 2013 visitor spending figures release by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Alexandria's numbers held at a strong $738 million, compared to a record high of $739 million in 2012. Tourism has a vital community impact for the city. In 2013, visitor spending generated $24 million in tax revenue for the City of Alexandria, helping to fund needed resident services. Visitor spending contributed $5,000 per resident in economic activity and reduced the average tax bill of every household by more than $300. Tourism supported over 6,000 jobs in Alexandria and plays a key role in the success of the city's strong community of independently owned shops and restaurants.

Extraordinary Alexandria Year Two
New "Extraordinary Alexandria" ads were revealed alongside the ROI and visitor spending numbers at the Annual Meeting of Visit Alexandria on September 29, 2014.

The new ads feature the theme "Minutes from Washington, DC, yet a world away." The signature ad of the campaign's second year is an image of the King Street streetscape with a woman and her dog inspired to dance as a musician performs nearby. The ad is intended to evoke the rejuvenated and carefree feeling a visitor experiences while in a city known for its authentic and uncontrived local character. Locals may recognize the featured jazz musician as Alexandrian Vaughn Ambrose; the dog is Cool Luke, beloved pet of the owner of dog daycare business Your Dog's Best Friends.

The new ads are running in digital, print and outdoor billboard executions, while a new video is appearing in rich media digital placements and leading into online television shows. Ads from the campaign's first year have also been reimagined with a new graphic treatment and will be rotated throughout the ad campaign to keep the presentation fresh and engaging. More videos will be rolled out as the year proceeds.

The campaign's ROI findings were presented by Erin Francis-Cummings from Destination Analysts, a firm whose clients around the country include San Francisco, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, Washington, DC, Charlottesville and AMTRAK.

The Annual Meeting was sponsored by Burke & Herbert Bank. With a 162-year history in the community, Burke & Herbert Bank was recently named the official bank of Visit Alexandria as part of a new marketing partnership.

Visit Alexandria) is a private nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to generate tourism and meetings that increase revenues and promote the City of Alexandria, Virginia and its assets. Tourism contributes both to the economic health of the city and quality of life for its residents.

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