In case you haven’t heard, in the midst of a cold, snow-laden February, the city of Ithaca New York crossed out their own logo, did a home page takeover for Key West Florida and stated, “That’s it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West Anyone?”.
For most of us that’s worthy of a chuckle. It’s a human statement…heck, anyone living north of the Mason-Dixon line has probably thought that at some point. Despite some sour-grapes reactions like the one from upstate New York ski resorts, the press was positive, light hearted and got Ithaca far more press than keeping their usual home page up ever would have. In fact, it crashed their servers with inbound traffic. But it wasn’t just good press, it was good online marketing and here’s why:
- Skiers are going to find ski resorts with or without VisitIthaca.com.
- Unless you’re in the coffin business, users respond well to fun brands.
- Online Marketing is about the user, and not all users want Ithaca weather in February.
So why is this brilliant messaging and not just a PR stunt? First, they are seen not as a dull municipal mouthpiece like most regional tourism boards. They are speaking like human beings to exactly what many users are thinking right now: Ithaca is cold…if I’m going on vacation I’d like it to be warm.
But here is the brilliant part: the Ithaca tourism board is thinking about year-round visitors. If they can get lots of press in the middle of the slow season, users are more likely to think of them as they plan for when they are travelling. When it’s spring or summer and users are thinking of a weekend getaway, they might just remember Ithaca as a fun town based on their marketing. Can you say that about Utica or Syracuse?