Gatlinburg_Free_Parkway_Trolley-11-1Recently I attended the “Gatlinburg Tennessee Tourism Summit” where each year cities roll out their marketing campaign for the coming year.   I have been in advertising for many years; and when it comes to creativity, believe me when I say I have seen the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

I would like to congratulate Gatlinburg TN for doing all the right things when it came to this year’s marketing and media campaign. They took their time, planned well, listened to the creative minds, managed three separate agencies, harnessed the collective marketing mental resources, and produced a campaign that MOVES you. This campaign has reached an “emotional nudge.”  There are certain sights, sounds, and smells that are so intimate that they are difficult to define.  A good example of an emotional nudge is that feeling you get when you smell brownies baking at your grandmother’s house.

Being a student of history and  passionate about all forms of marketing and advertising, it took just a few moments for me to realize that this campaign is an iconic representation of  two of my marketing mentors.  The video aspect of this campaign reminded me very much of a Hal Rainey experience. I have always loved Hal’s commercials. Recently, I  discovered more about who Hal Rainey is by watching a wonderful documentary “Art & Copy.” His commercials always seem to be spoken in a story-teller fashion;  with an all-knowing voice that leads you through a voyage where your imagination kicks in and you are along for a fantastic adventure.  Listen to the music; feel the words that are spoken… this is not a 30-second commercial;  this is 30-second ”religious experience.”  It moves the viewer to see, feel, and experience, thus freeing the viewer to ponder, which nicely leads to a  purchase.

The video is an impressive representation of how best to feature your product.  As we move further into the marketing campaign, the overlap and cohesive nature of digital and print media continues.

Gatlinburg-does-it-right-BoardsJPGFeaturing a minimalist approach to its print and intercept marketing campaign, Gatlinburg also had me reminiscing about the legendary Bill Bernbach of Doyle, Dane & Bernbach.  Bill was the master of getting to the heart of what a product was about.  He understood that people want to know about a product; but you as the marketing expert must be creative and succinct in what you are doing to get the viewer involved so that they become emotionally vested in the fewest words possible.  Many try to copy this style of marketing; but they rush it and the product and the campaign suffer for it.  If you were a child of the 60′s I guarantee that you were exposed to the work of Doyle, Dane & Bernbach who took marketing to new levels by taking then unheard chances of throwing status quo out the window.  Here, every point of Gatlinburg copy has been masterfully written; each word is strategically placed to either build an emotion or elicit a desired response.


Again, congratulations to the Gatlinburg Department of Tourism on a job well done!  I can not wait to see what the rewards will be from this clean and uplifting approach to visiting the Great Smoky Mountains!