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Even if Cirque doesn’t work as well, using U.S. global cultural soft power as a promotional pull is the right idea. Now it is up to the creative implementation, which if Brand USA’s history so far guides us, makes us skeptical.
The marketing agency responsible for promoting USA as a tourism destination has been a mixed success since it started the campaign last year, and now it believes it has found the next stage beyond schmaltzy videos and ads. Brand USA is launching a new “USA Live Entertainment platform” which if you cut through the jargon means it will now feature live entertainment inside U.S. as a promotional tool, to pull visitors in.
Live entertainment — concerts, theater, sports, music etc — have long been a pull for domestic tourism in U.S. and in an unorganized add-on way, for foreign tourists as well. Now this new effort will market the American cultural and entertainment assets in a more organized way.
As part of that effort, the first move is a new tie up with the entertainment juggernaut Cirque du Soleil, for “leveraging the creative assets of Cirque du Soleil along with its loyal customer following to generate excitement about entertainment as a major destination motivator for international travelers.” In other words, use Cirque in promotions — both trade and consumer — to pull in international visitors, starting Q4 of this year.
Commercial brands have been eager to tie up with Cirque of late, hoping that the estimated $1 billion machine will help spur their own brands as well. Google and Microsoft, among others, have tied up with the Montreal based company for custom promotions and services.
But is this the right move for Brand USA, when Cirque is already a huge brand worldwide and has shows in 22 different shows in 40 countries around the world? Could it have been another iconic American show with less presence outside U.S., or sports events, which are very venue specific?