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By: Connie Nelson
Wilmington Cape Fear Coast Convention and Vistors Bureau

First and foremost, this exciting new campaign is a work in progress. It will evolve as more visitor research and tourism partner/stakeholder input crystallizes. It will become final in late August after it has been presented to and approved by the TDA Board. In September, the TDA will present the campaign to the tourism industry, at which time we will provide local travel partners with a marketing “package” that will include logo, files and a branding, positioning and messaging usage guide to ensure marketing consistency across the tourism industry.

As the official destination marketing organization for New Hanover County, it is the Tourism Development Authority’s (TDA) responsibility to promote four distinct entities. In destination marketing, the primary objective is to promote the destination from a geographical perspective. The secondary objective is to create a sense of place in the mind of the visitors. In this day of GPS technology, it is imperative to lead with an actual destination name over that of an obscure brand name. The beach towns have graciously set aside individual destination marketing to allow the dominant destination brand – Wilmington – to take center stage. For the first time in more than 20 years, Wilmington is being positioned as the lead “portal” through which vacationers locate, consider and eventually experience our vacation paradise. Name recognition is exponentially enhanced by branding the single destination “Wilmington, NC”, versus an obscure name like ‘Cape Fear Coast’.

The tag ‘Historic River District & Island Beaches’ elevates value by suggesting in one place – Wilmington, NC – a visitor can experience a unique collection of tourist assets from the river to the sea. This tagline is meant to more clearly define the area when advertising and marketing to reach visitors in a cluttered communications and digital age and to position against competitors who use the dominant city’s own name for marketing. Defining the single destination with the tag of ‘Historic River District & Island Beaches’ as opposed to ‘Cape Fear Coast’ quickly indicates an historic and entertainment district located on the river and multiple beaches that offer multiple vacation opportunities. The destination website and marketing materials will further extend the messaging to detail all product assets. In a spirit of cooperation and unity, the TDA Board, which includes elected officials from the three beach towns and the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County, have agreed on an umbrella brand that will add their considerable coastal assets to Wilmington’s ‘portfolio’.

Overall, both tourist and stakeholder support of the new campaign/brand direction has been statistically and overwhelmingly positive, providing the TDA clear and powerful direction for marketing the collective destination.

We love the residents of Wilmington and the Beaches and we value their passion and pride. However, and with the utmost respect, the target audience is the visitor (a.k.a. our customer) and how they would most relate to a more clearly defined brand and tag line.



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