Skift Take

San Francisco's tourism board is experimenting with a new medium to take on a formidable obstacle: a negative media perception.

The San Francisco Travel Association is making its first investment in connected TV advertising as part of its latest campaign to speed up its sluggish recovery and combat negative perceptions about the city. 

The connected TV investment amounts to $1 million and is part of a larger $6 million campaign launched on Tuesday called “Always San Francisco,” said Lynn Bruni-Perkins, chief marketing officer for San Francisco Travel Association. 

Other advertising investment avenues include digital marketing, out-of-home advertising, influencer collaborations and linear TV. The campaign will target domestic and international markets. Connected TV advertising will focus on the domestic market due to licensing limitations for songs that appear in the ad.

The aim of the campaign is to challenge the skewed news narrative and negative perceptions of San Francisco, said Bruni-Perkins. Last month, The New York Times published a piece highlighting the flight of large downtown businesses like Whole Foods, issues with public safety and high office vacancy rates. 

Those perceptions aren’t helping the city’s tourism sector’s slow recovery. A return to 2019 visitors numbers is not’ expected until 2025, said San Francisco Travel CEO Joe D’Alessandro.

The Always San Francisco campaign emphasizes the Golden City’s locals, thriving food and music scene and celebrates iconic attractions.

Most of the funding support for the campaign came from the city and Visit California. The money enabled SF to finally dip its toe into TV. “Typically we haven’t had campaign budgets of this size,” said Bruni-Perkins. “Now we actually have the funds available to make an impact with TV.”

SF joins the growing list of tourism boards investing in streaming to reach travelers. Travel South Dakota, Discover Puerto Rico and Explore St.Louis, for example, have each devoted more dollars and larger shares of their marketing budgets to connected TV. 

Like other tourism boards, SF values its targeting precision. “They really can hone in on people who are maybe avid travelers and would be interested in the destination just based on their other viewing habits and stuff,” said Bruni-Perkins.

Another bonus of connected TV is that it reaches audiences no matter where they are because people view it on their phones, televisions and other devices, said Bruni-Perkins. “People might be at the beach watching it on their phone versus versus having to be in the home and turning your television on,” she said


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Tags: advertising, california, destination marketing, marketing, san francisco, Visit California

Photo credit: Photo Credit: Romain Briaux on Unplsash Romain Briaux / Unsplash

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