State doesn’t spend much on promotion |

State doesn’t spend much on promotion

Kathryn Reed, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Promoting Tahoe on a shoestring budget is one thing; try doing it for the entire state.

That is just what Mering and Associates of Sacramento does. The same ad firm that came up with Blue World for this area is responsible for selling California to the rest of the country as well as to fellow Californians.

California spends $4.5 million a year promoting tourism. This dollar figure is minuscule when compared to other areas. Even that amount is still threatened because of the continued budget chaos in Sacramento. Florida spends $45 million a year, Hawaii $30 million, Texas $20 million and Las Vegas between $20 million and $40 million, according to Greg Carson of Mering and Associates.

“We took over the California account in 1996. We learned that when you sell a vacation you sell memories, not just things to do,” Carson said. “We realized we needed to capitalize on the California attitude.”

The premise is one becomes an honorary Californian when they come here. A television ad shows what is deemed to be the average man tooling around the state, doing all those fun things — playing at the beach, getting a massage, sipping wine, cycling.

After 9-11 things got a little dicey for ad firms. Fun seemed to be a taboo word. The state knew it needed to get people out and about. Mering came up with ads targeted to residents in the state, promoting what is contained within the state’s borders.

Carson said people have told him the ads have had a healing effect. They strike a balance between patriotism, being a bit tongue-in-cheek and the need to have fun.

Pebble Beach is another client of Mering’s. A full page ad was put in the Wall Street Journal that played on people’s emotions. The campaign is that Pebble Beach is not just a golf course, it’s about the stories you have to tell once you leave the links.

As Carson said, it’s about Jack Nicklaus on 18, Tom Watson on 17 and Tiger Woods on 6. Golfers get it, duffers probably not. But the copy in the ad about dads and sons bonding is compelling to most.

When it came to marketing Tahoe, Carson said, “Consumers realized the lake is the area’s most valuable asset.”

That is how the Blue World evolved.

“You are not only in Lake Tahoe, you are in another world,” Carson said.

— Kathryn Reed may be reached at or (530) 541-3880, ext. 251.

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