Officials: North Dakota Legendary campaign increased tourism

BISMARCK—North Dakota’s tourism industry grew by $927 million after the launch of an advertising campaign highlighting the state’s legendary figures and potential for adventure, the state’s tourism director said Tuesday.

The North Dakota Legendary brand is now in its 10th year and helped create more awareness of North Dakota and what it has to offer, Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman said.

Advertising has featured Theodore Roosevelt, Lewis and Clark, and Sakakawea. The brand has also focused on North Dakota’s scenery, culture and adventures, inviting visitors to come and create their own legends.

Nonresident spending grew from just over $3.5 billion in 2002 to about $4.5 billion in 2010, according to North Dakota State University research of the state’s tourism growth. Tourism is North Dakota third-largest industry, behind agriculture and energy.

The success of the campaign isn’t by accident and involved constant research to refine the state’s messaging and strategy, Otte Coleman said.

Since 2002, the total investment in the Legendary advertising campaign was $17 million, according to the Tourism Division. The division is investing about $2 million in media buys this year and spent similar amounts in recent years, Otte Coleman said.

The target market is the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana and South Dakota, as well as Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada. The Tourism Division also does niche marketing nationally to promote the state’s outdoor activities.

The return on investment during the 10 years of the Legendary campaign has ranged from $55 to $123 for every dollar spent on paid advertising, Otte Coleman said.

Jamestown has benefited from incorporating the Legendary brand into its marketing efforts, said Nina Sneider, executive director of the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation. The city gets “more bang for our buck” by having a partnership with the state, she said.

“The Legendary brand has been very valuable to all of the attractions in the state,” she said. “It’s easy to incorporate into our marketing.”

Tourism officials from across the state are participating in a Travel Industry Conference this week in Bismarck.