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Albuquerque the brand gets a makeover


ACVB is launching a new branding strategy with the tagline “Change your perspective.” (Courtesy ACVB)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The agency responsible for attracting visitors to Albuquerque has announced its first major branding refresh in 14 years, replacing the longtime “It’s a trip” tagline with “Change your perspective” and debuting a comprehensive campaign meant to highlight the city’s distinctive blend of culture, history, cuisine, art, blue skies and high-desert terrain.

The Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau and its advertising agency partner McKee Wallwork + Co. revealed the new approach Tuesday.

“We really believe this campaign offers a motivation to travel,” said Tania Armenta, ACVB’s chief operating and marketing officer. “It hits the sweet spot. … People travel not only because they want to see different things, but because they want to see things differently. They seek a change in perspective and that’s something that Albuquerque does very well.”

ACVB made the announcement even though its future as the city’s convention sales and destination marketing contractor remains unclear. Its latest contract with the city formally ended June 30 and, for the first time, it has competition for the work. Three other bidders joined the ACVB — which earlier this year saw its performance called into question by the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association — in pursuing the city’s next contract, and an ad hoc committee is currently evaluating those proposals in order to make a recommendation to city council. A mayoral spokeswoman said Tuesday there is no set date for that recommendation.

A three-month extension has kept ACVB on the job for the time being.

Despite the uncertainty, Armenta said the organization proceeded with the unveiling because it had been in the works since early 2014 and because the city has seen progress in hospitality industry job growth and lodger’s tax collections.

“We’re experiencing great momentum in the destination and thought it was important to continue moving forward,” she said.

The new brand comes after more than a year of study and planning, including a nationwide survey. Research indicated that travelers most likely to consider Albuquerque included Baby Boomers — a tried-and-true advertising target — and younger adventure seekers.

623-03477094Those groups in particular travel for personal enrichment and new experiences, and McKee Wallwork’s Steve McKee said the Albuquerque brand should reflect that it can provide both. During the campaign’s unveiling, he cited the ways Albuquerque sets itself apart — from its unfettered vistas and its sun-dominated sky to its food and diversity. The “It’s a trip” campaign promoted many of the same assets but McKee said the new approach strengthens the message.

“I actually think we’re taking it up two notches,” he said.

The new campaign has individual ads geared toward both the Boomers and a younger audience. The creative arsenal includes ads that highlight the city’s cultural offerings and others that focus on outdoor recreation.

Some ads take the “change your perspective” theme literally, like a billboard with a giant chile pepper. As drivers get closer, they’ll note that the pepper is actually a chile-shaped landscape photo of Albuquerque.

06-ViewfinderThe campaign was built for use across a variety of channels, including print publications, billboards, websites, social media, direct mail and airport kiosks.

Tuesday’s presentation highlighted a number of possible strategies, like running Albuquerque ads before YouTube videos featuring The Shins — a band with local origins — and placing special viewfinders in high-profile public places to give users a glimpse at Albuquerque’s offerings.

“We think that this can be enhanced for many years,” Armenta said. “There are so many options here and we really are taking a look at a wide variety of (marketing) tactics.”

This marks the first brand makeover since “It’s a Trip” debuted in 2001, though Armenta said the organization tweaked that campaign in 2005 to strike a less playful, more sophisticated tone.