Cannes Lions

Brand USA Public Relations Campaign

OGILVY, New York / BRAND USA / 2018

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The “Trump Slump” narrative was a reminder that storytelling remains a critical tool to impact perceptions and, ultimately, travel decisions. To demonstrate a welcoming destination, we deployed a new narrative to showcase the inspiring people, places and moments that make up the traveler experience in the United States that the world has long adored. Also, we had to be a credible source of information at a time in which the media was focused on both actual and contemplated policy changes.

Our “campaign architecture” was to:

• Share “Big Picture” Stories to enhance the credibility of the organization in attracting international visitors.

• Create “Moments in Time” by securing global, national and in-market media around initiatives and milestones.

• “Own” the Conversation with a “unifying” voice through a global news bureau.

• Leverage Programs and Advocates to amplify the narrative.

• Communicate policy as an important component of welcoming visitors to the USA and correcting misperceptions.


Proving that Travel Transcends Politics, we leveraged a strategic mix of data, content and third-party validation, influencing a cross-section of consumer, mainstream, business and travel media.

Working across four pillars we drove a steady stream of coverage to establish and reinforce our narrative:

• Taking on the so-called “travel ban,” took the bold step to own the conversation by unveiling proprietary global consumer sentiment data with a three-tiered exclusive – Associated Press, Travel Weekly and BBC World News. Building on this moment and official monthly tourism data, we consistently offered fresh, timely perspective.

• Elevated our profile, showcasing the range of our C-suite and leveraging third-party validators.

• Connected with consumers launching Brand USA’s second giant-screen film, “America’s Musical Journey,” starring chart-topping singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc (“I Need a Dollar,” “Wake Me Up”) showcasing the diversity of the USA.

• Consistently corrected misperceptions about the nature of policy changes and settled the conversation.


Some sources predicted as much as a 20 percent drop in international arrivals to the United States. While we are waiting on final 2017 figures from the U.S. government, we expect that the drop will be negligible at worst while visitor spending remained consistent with record 2016 levels.

• Heard Around the World: Brand USA spoke with “one voice,” ensuring market penetration in 14 countries. Travel Transcends Politics was translated in more than five languages, anchoring supporting messages about the USA’s welcoming nature and the diversity of its people, places and experiences. Secured 226 placements, earning $2,255,916,563 in media impressions (+41% YOY) and $276,500,453.40 in earned media value (+99% YOY).

• Brand USA on Solid Ground: Among questions about the future of Brand USA funding, we steered the narrative back to our work to market the USA and drive economic growth and jobs in communities of all shapes and sizes.

• Drove 2017 ROI: Brand USA’s combined marketing and PR campaigns generated 1.16 incremental international visitors with a total economic impact of $8.5 billion and support for 54,212 new jobs.

• Made a Giant-Screen Impact: Since its Feb 2018 release, AMJ is playing in 19 North American markets, with plans to exceed 100 globally. Opening to positive reviews, AMJ won “Best Audience Recommendation Film” at the 2018 Beijing International Film Festival and has been featured globally in top-tier outlets in Canada, China, Mexico, USA, UK, Brazil and more. Secured 167 placements earning 556 million in media impressions and $47 million in earned media value.

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