Louisiana is officially marketing Mardi Gras for the first time in the festival’s more than 300 year-old history.
Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne announced the start of the state’s first Mardi Gras tourism campaign in early January in hopes of attracting a broader range of visitors during this year’s unusually long festival season.
Mardi Gras season begins every year on Twelfth Night (January 6) and ends on Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday falls particularly late this year, March 4, giving the state at least 2 extra weeks of celebration. The festival won’t end in March again until 2019.
The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of celebrations outside of New Orleans.
“You probably have a concept in your head of what Mardi Gras is, but it’s so much more than that,” says Jacques Berry, a spokesman for the lieutenant governor. “Every city and town in Louisiana have some kind of celebration.”
The state invested $300,000 in a combination of print and online ads that will be distributed in nearby drive markets including Mississippi, Arkansas, and parts of Texas. The campaign is limited to those areas to maximize their impact.
“People aren’t going to hop a plane because they saw an ad,” says Berry. “But they may get into the car.”
A special section of the Louisiana Tourism website is dedicated to highlighting the Mardi Gras activities happening outside New Orleans’ French Quarter. The visitors bureau of each region is responsible for updating their section of the site with activities happening throughout the festival season.
New Orleans Marketing
New Orleans isn’t concerned about the impact of Louisiana’s new campaign. It views Mardi Gras marketing as a waste of money.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau saves its ad spend for times of the year when the city is emptier.
“We don’t have to market Mardi Gras,” the city’s tourism spokesperson says. “It literally sells out every year.”