Cannes Lions

America's Musical Journey

BRAND USA, Washington dc / BRAND USA / 2019

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Film

Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

Since 2010, Brand USA has been tasked with positioning and marketing the United States as a tourist destination in countries around the world. At first glance, this should be a relatively straightforward and easy task. After all, when you can take in the wonder of the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite National Park, and Las Vegas all in just one vacation, the choice should be a no-brainer.

But in recent years, international tourism to the US was dealt a one-two punch:

First, as the US rebounded from the 2008 financial crisis, the rest of the world remained in a deep global recession, making a trip to the US too expensive for many.

Then in 2017, there was a perception among international travelers that the US was unwelcoming contributed to negative sentiment.

What we needed was a new way to inspire wanderlusting around the world in the wake of our new reality.

Idea

Something magical happens when music and place come together. A relationship is forged where one takes inspiration from the other, resulting in a piece of art that becomes so inherently associated with that place that they become inseparable. We just needed to harness that magic.

In America’s Musical Journey, Aloe Blacc (award-winning singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, actor, businessman and philanthropist) traces the footsteps of our country’s musical legends such as Louis Armstrong and Elvis Presley, is dazzled by the talent and passion of tomorrow’s up-and-coming stars of and delves deeply into the unique sounds that pulse through cities and small town in the US.

Strategy

As a destination for tourists around the world, the US doesn’t suffer from a lack of awareness. Everyone knows us, for better or worse, and is exposed to America in lots of different ways. Whether it’s growing up or binging American pop culture and entertainment or through news coverage of our politics, the opinions of travelers are often beyond our control.

To combat this, we leveraged one of these drivers of influence – pop culture and, more specifically, music – to connect with locals in different countries. After all, music is a universal language. We tapped into the insight that a common denominator for travelers is an interest in American music, giving us a competitive advantage in a category that’s often lacking compelling points of differentiation.

Execution

America's Musical Journey was roughly 45-minutes long and premiered on February 16, 2018. To date it has played in nearly 125 theaters around the world.

The film used native IMAX technology, which allowed us to fully immerse potential travelers in a way that would be impossible with traditional screens or by implementing the technology in post-production, which is what is often done.

Outcome

Audiences around the world agreed: America's Musical Journey was a hit.

Not only did we receive over 2 billion impressions impressions worldwide, the film was also the winner of multiple awards including Gold World Medal at the New York Festival TV & Film Awards, Best Audience Recommendation Award at the Beijing International Film Festival.

When audiences were surveyed, 80% said they wanted to travel to one of the cities or regions featured in the film, nearly 90% said they were “likely” or “very likely” to recommend the film to a friend or family member, 92% said they were interested to learn more about the musical genres and artists featured in the film, and nearly 80% said that the film helped them to understand the diverse cultural influences on American music “a lot” or “a great deal.”

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