Louisiana Tourism Expands Their Successful "Pick Your Passion" Campaign

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AdNation News interviews Jay Dardenne, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana regarding the state’s latest strategy.

Louisiana ranks eighth in the country in terms of its social media success, and Dardenne says, 'We're increasing our commitment to digital.'

Interview with Jay Dardenne, Lieutenant Governor, State of Louisiana.

After a record-setting year for tourism in Louisiana in 2012, the trend has continued for 2013, according to Dardenne. Though final numbers are not in yet, he says "we're optimistic that 2013 will be even better." He says that the "Pick Your Passion" campaign, which launched in early 2012 and promotes the variety of destinations and activities in the state, has been successful. "This year, we're cranking up our spring campaign that will be a little broader in scope and emphasize the cultural diversity of Louisiana. "

The Spring campaign will run in print, digital and some TV, Dardenne adds, though he said he could not yet be specific about markets. In 2013, the Tourism division ran advertising in drive-to, states as well as in Chicago, Atlanta, and Quebec, Canada. This month the division is also running advertising for its Mardi Gras celebrations in different cities of the state. Dardenne says those ads will run in February and March in drive-to states. Also, the 300-year-old central Louisiana city of Natchitoches will be celebrating its tricentennial this year, and receiving more marketing emphasis, according to Dardenne. At city of approximately 18,000, Natchitoches was established in 1714 as the oldest permanent settlement of the Louisiana Purchase.

Louisiana ranks eighth in the country in terms of its social media success, and Dardenne says, "We're increasing our commitment to digital."

Louisiana tourism also supports "Duck Dynasty," the hit A&E television series that portrays the lives of the Robertson family, who became wealthy from their family-operated business selling duck calls. The show is shot in West Monroe, Louisiana. A&E has reported that the show has broken several ratings records on both A&E and cable television as a whole. The fourth season premiere drew 11.8 million viewers, which A&E claims was the most-watched nonfiction cable series in history. In December, after a controversy over a statement made by Phil Robertson causing his suspension from the show, Dardenne said publicly that Louisiana would help connect the show with new producers, if necessary. However, Robertson has since been reinstated to the show.

Dardenne, who was elected in 2010, is the unofficial head of Louisiana tourism, which is unusual for a Lieutenant Governor. By law in the state, the Lieutenant Governor oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, as well as the Library, Museum and Parks systems. Dardenne came into office six months after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf Of Mexico, in the Spring of 2010. He says that, as part of its reparations to the state, BP paid $30 million dollars to support tourism, and that money was split among Louisiana's parishes.

The Lieutenant Governor's recently published "Strategic Plan for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 through 2018-2019" states that one of the three major goals for the Tourism division is to "market Louisiana as a preferred retirement destination, help local communities develop their own marketing efforts; and connect the statewide marketing effort to the local community."

Louisiana funds its tourism office "entirely with a designated revenue stream," Dardenne says, noting that the stream amounts to a very small percentage of the state's sales tax. That revenue stream totals around $23 million, but this amount is also vulnerable to the state legislature moving it to support other needs in the state.

Dardenne is a veteran of Louisiana politics. He represented East Baton Rouge Parish in the State Senate from 1992 to 2006 before winning a special election for Secretary of State in 2006. He was elected to a full term as Secretary of State in 2007, then won a special election in 2010 for the office of Lieutenant Governor, to replace Mitch Landrieu (who became Mayor of New Orleans). In 2011, he was re-elected to a full term as Lieutenant Governor. Dardenne notes that there are no term limits for statewide officials in Louisiana, except for the Governor, who is limited to two terms.

-Rob Garver

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