State Arts Branding

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State Arts Branding

States that have been successful in promoting their music, arts, or theater offerings include Texas, Alabama, and Connecticut. These states have specifically had success promoting their music and theater offerings. Several cities have also been successful in promoting these areas as well. Those cities include Cincinnati, OH, which enjoyed success from an arts-focused campaign, and El Paso, TX and Napa Valley, CA, which both received awards for their arts-focused marketing promotions.


To identify successful state marketing or branding efforts related to music, theater, or arts, I culled numerous tourism, travel, and arts-related awards programs, including the National Council of State Tourism Directors Mercury Awards, Americans for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. I've also searched individual state tourism boards and councils in search of marketing campaigns. My research suggests that few states have done marketing or branding that targets music, theater, or arts, as these focus areas tend to be associated with particular cities or regions of a state. To find examples to meet the requested criteria, I had to reach back more than two years. While success metrics proved largely elusive, I have provided as much information as possible on the success of each campaign. Due to the dearth of state examples, I have also provided a few city examples.


Texas promotes its music heritage in many ways. The Texas Music Office is solely focused on promoting Texas is "the #1 place for music business." Their "Music Friendly Community" certification program helps Texas communities promote the music industry in their area. The state's 2018 tourism strategic plan includes the development of a Texas Music Destination Guide, which will "help travelers plan their own road trips to explore the state’s music venues, live music events, and monuments/museums."

In 2016, Texas Tourism launched a new ad campaign, "Texas.
It’s Like A Whole Other Country®," which included several focused messages. This campaign followed a 2013 campaign that focused on music and the cowboy lifestyle. To promote the state's music scene, the message "Some experiences can't be downloaded" was used in its print advertising. While I found no specific success metrics for the state's music- or arts-focused marketing efforts, the overall Texas Tourism promotional efforts saw an $8.15 per $1 invested return on investment (ROI) and resulted in state tax revenues of $282 million. Furthermore, 54% of non-resident travelers were aware of the advertising campaign. The overall campaign was also well represented at the 2016 Addy awards.

In 2014, Connecticut launched its "Play! In Connecticut: Fall Theatre Festival" campaign, which is still being used. The campaign seeks to promote the state's five Tony Award-winning theater companies. The campaign's advertising agency, Adams & Knight, won an award for the campaign at the Advertising Club of Connecticut Awards Show. I was unable to find any success metrics associated with the campaign, though the campaign's four-year endurance (2014-2018) suggests a level of success.

Though a bit dated, Alabama's 2011 Year of Music Campaign won the U.S. Travel Association’s National Mercury Award in 2012. The campaign also won two Gold Addy awards. The state apparently focuses on various cultural aspects each year, having designated 2007 as the "Year of Arts," another award-winning campaign. While this state's campaigns are a bit older than others, I've included it because it was one of the few state examples I found that specifically targets the requested focus areas, including both arts and music. I looked at the state's annual reports for tourism, but they did not call out the results of this campaign, specifically. However, tourism spending in the state increased in both 2012 and 2013.


The Regional Tourism Network partnered with ArtsWave in a new cultural tourism campaign in 2016 to promote awareness and engagement with the area's arts and cultural offerings. In the campaign's first year, it added $14 million in revenue from the previous year and saw an increase in arts and cultural visitors from 100-500 miles outside the local region. On average, these visitors spent $878 per every 3.2 people and stayed three nights.

Americans for the Arts awards its Destination Marketing Award (DMA) to communities throughout the US that have marketed their region as an arts destination. The most recent awards noted at their website are for 2015. In that year, Destination El Paso and the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department were awarded the DMA for budgets under $3 million. They have enjoyed a successful decade-long partnership in promoting El Paso as a cultural and arts destination. Their efforts have resulted in a 66% increase in events that have contributed $6.4 million to the local economy.

In the over $3 million budget category, the partnership between Visit Napa Valley and the Arts Council of Napa Valley was awarded the DMA for the Arts in April campaign, a month-long event that showcases the cultural assets of the area and featured local wineries and artists. The campaign resulted in an increase in the number of local events and a 24.5% increase in revenue from lodging.


In conclusion, Texas, Connecticut, and Alabama have successfully marketed their cultural offerings, including music and theater. Cincinnati, OH experience a boost in tourism dollars and visitors after the cultural tourism efforts of the Regional Tourism Network and ArtsWave. El Paso, TX and Napa Valley, CA have also enjoyed success in promoting their cultural offerings.