Lt. Gov. Nungesser Picks His Passion: Feeding Your Soul
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and Chef Emeril Lagasse hold a T-shirt displaying Louisiana’s new brand slogan.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser
Louisiana isn’t for spectators. It’s for participants – for those that want to feed their soul and not only live the moment, but also to become the moment. That’s according to extensive market research that led Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser to switch the state’s brand from ”Pick Your Passion” to “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association’s annual meeting at The Hilton Double Tree in Lafayette, Louisiana, Lt. Gov. Nungesser announced the state’s seven-year-old brand “Pick Your Passion” was being replaced.
Starting Mardi Gras, Tuesday, Feb. 13, the new brand “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul” will start being used to promote Louisiana nationally and internationally, and Lt. Gov. Nungesser tells Leslie’s List why:
Leslie Snadowsky – Branding and selling Louisiana seems like a fascinating job. What motivated you to revisit Louisiana’s previous brand of seven years, “Pick Your Passion,” and switch it to “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul?”
Lt. Gov. Nungesser – When I first took office, a lot of people were asking when we would revisit the brand. A lot of people felt that “Pick Your Passion” didn’t say or represent Louisiana. We wanted to let the data drive our slogan. The new “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul” brand was created after six months of research, testing and analysis led by Miles Partnership, a strategic marketing company focused exclusively on travel and tourism. It replaces the previous brand, “Pick Your Passion,” which had been used for the past seven years and wasn’t resonating as strongly within the state’s target markets.
LS – What did your market research find, and why is “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul” a stronger message nationally and internationally?
Lt. Gov. N – The process began in July 2017 with a Louisiana Image Study conducted by Longwoods International, the world’s foremost travel research company, and led by Longwoods chairman George Zimmerman, the former State Travel Director from Michigan responsible for the successful “Pure Michigan” campaign. The results of that study showed Louisiana had a strong image across a number of attributes when paired against competitors like Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.
During the next phase of work, 11 on-camera interviews of influential travel industry stakeholders were conducted, and an online survey was sent to all members of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. An additional Google online consumer survey sent to 250 prospective travelers gathered their insight on how brand assets were perceived.
In September, Downs & St. Germain Research conducted two focus groups in Dallas, Atlanta, Denver and Toronto to gain a deeper understanding of the perceptions consumer had of Louisiana by having them review the new brand description, mood boards, logos, taglines, fonts and sample ads. One of the Toronto groups also was conducted in Mandarin to survey non-English speaking participants as well.
Downs & St. Germain Senior Partner Phillip Downs said they tested six logos and the winning logo scored highest in every single focus group and in every single demographic. He said in his 30 years of research experience, no logo for any destination or brand had achieved this level of dominance against all other logos tested.
LS – Please quantify the six-month investment of hiring Longwoods International, Downs & St. Germain Research and strategic marketing company Miles Partnership to conduct research and convene focus groups to come up with the new slogan vs. the amount of additional tourism dollars you expect the campaign will generate in return?
Lt. Gov. N – Four different companies submitted proposals in 2017 for the re-branding of the state tourism brand. The Office of Tourism marked-up and rated all four proposals and eventually selected Miles Partnership. Longwoods International and Downs & St. Germain were part of the contract with Miles Partnership as we all felt their surveys, studies and market research would be paramount to a successful and effective brand development. We expect to generate millions of dollars in media coverage as the result of this new launch. In fact, we’ve already had one cost analysis performed, and the press coverage following the brand launch on Tuesday, Jan. 23, garnered more than $4.5 million in PR value (The Washington Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times equating to nearly half that amount). By having the new brand to market Louisiana, we expect to generate free earned media around the country and the world for years to come. It’s more work to do things like we are doing on Mardi Gras Day with our four-city brand launch, but the coverage and the benefits we will receive from doing it are well worth the work.
LS – Which states are Louisiana’s biggest competitors, and why do you think we have the upper hand?
Lt. Gov. N – The results of that study showed Louisiana had a strong image across a number of attributes when paired against competitors like Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. These states were the competitive set that we used to analyze our data and compare the state. We have the upper hand since we have the best food, music and bountiful seafood out of the Gulf.
Our best asset is our people. We treat people like they are family. Whenever we meet with travel agents, the love for Louisiana shines through. In our tourism trips around the country and the world, we include people from all over the state. This includes plantation homeowners, swamp tour guides, convention and visitor bureau leaders, and it is the personal touch that excites travel agents to send their clients to Louisiana.
LS – “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul” immediately conjures up something we all love Louisiana for – its great food! Please explain why this particular slogan’s concept is multidimensional and means more than just red beans and rice.
Lt. Gov. N – “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul” will be a highly effective call to action, because it appeals to both locals and visitors alike. This exciting new brand will offer travelers a new outlook – that you may come to Louisiana hungry, but you’ll leave with your soul full of all the rewarding experiences we offer. There is truly nowhere else in the world that can feed your soul like we can.
LS – Tell us about the official Mardi Gras debut of the new “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul” slogan and the events you’re planning around the nation.
Lt. Gov. N – The new brand will be rolled out on Mardi Gras Day in a big way, with branded “Louisiana: Feed Your Soul” food trucks serving a taste of Louisiana in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Washington, D.C. While it may be just another Tuesday in the rest of the country, these Louisiana-wrapped trucks will hand out king cake, beads and cups to promote the new brand while creating unique, memorable and high-profile experiences in these markets.
The trucks and their Louisiana ambassadors will be stationed in high-traffic locations for the lunch rush and happy hour crowds, and will move around to maximize exposure while in each city. Food truck guests will also be able to register for a chance to win their own trip for two to come feed their soul in Louisiana.
I will be on hand handing out king cake in Washington, D.C. We hope to attract national and international press on Mardi Gras Day. In addition, we plan to attract bloggers, radio, and magazines to all of our locations. We will have our tourism partners from around Louisiana at all four locations.
LS – Selling Louisiana sounds like an enjoyable job, since the state has so much to offer. What have been the biggest challenges along the way, and the biggest rewards?
Lt. Gov. N – I truly have the best job in the world, promoting the greatest state with the best people. The best reward is working with such passionate people that love the state in every corner of the state and in every town and city. The biggest challenge is continued budget cuts and a very competitive market. Looking back at tourism, in 1957, Michelin Tire put out the first tourism guide and in that short period of time, it has become big business. As we compete for tourism we have to continue to be creative to get more bang for our buck. We must roll up our sleeves and get our great partners from around the state to engage with those people we hope to lure here.