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Brand USA’s Board of Directors formally approved the appointment of Chris Thompson as the organization’s new executive director, CEO, and president today. The board includes executives from Visit California, Amtrak, Sabre Holdings, Star Alliance, Marriott and others.

“We’re labeling this as Brand USA 2.0 and taking the organization from a startup to a fully functioning marketing organization,” said Thompson after the board’s welcome. “We want to become the number one destination marketing organization in the world.”

Thompson replaces Jim Evans, who stepped down from the CEO post in May 2011 after only a year at the helm.

Moving forward

Thompson explained in an earlier interview with Skift that the organization will focus on building a platform that assist industry partners — city, state, corporate, and individual stakeholders  — in furthering their own marketing efforts. Santa CruzAnnapolis, and Virginia Beach have already signed up to push their promotional packages through Brand USA’s distribution channels in foreign countries.

Although the federal government is the largest and most important of Brand USA’s partners, Thompson says he aims for “more robust engagement with the private sector…to bring in their collective wisdom.” The organization is currently working with more than 260 partners.

The organization confirmed plans to rebuild its website and build up its digital presence in 2013, but provided no further details of what that would look like.

Visit Florida replaces Chris Thompson

Thompson previously served as CEO of Visit Florida, which announced the appointment of its former CMO, William Seccombe, as president and CEO earlier this week.

Visit Florida came under scrutiny from a government watchdog during the CEO search process for spending $45,000 on national recruiting firm.


Photo Credit: Brand USA plans to revamp its digital presence in the coming year. Brand USA /