Cannes Lions

Hear the Music

BRAND USA, Washington dc / BRAND USA / 2019

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

Since 2010, Brand USA has been tasked with positioning and marketing the USA 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, which 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.

To do this, we licensed three iconic American songs and challenged local artists in 15 US cities to cover one in a way that uniquely represented their hometown and its musical stylings.

We launched with five artists covering Bobby Freeman’s iconic 1958 hit “Do You Wanna Dance”. We continued to evolve the idea with five more artists covering “What I like About You” by The Romantics and five more covering “Boogie Shoes” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

What started as an exercise in capturing the essence of a place through song resulted in a completely new way of seeing the familiar.

Strategy

To combat perceptions of unwelcomeness, we tapped into the powerful voices and experiences of real people in the US to help tell our story – all through the lens of music. The power of these many voices all telling their unique stories allowed us to break down the idea that America could be represented by a single point of view.

Up against a strong USD that was making a trip to the US cost prohibitive for many around the world, we also needed to introduce a sense of urgency to visiting the US.

To do this, we documented our selected artists telling us in their own voice what made their hometown special and unique. This narrative helped us showcase the rich diversity of authentic American cultures, giving potential travelers a new way of looking at familiar places that they couldn’t resist.

Execution

In April of 2018, we were finally able to unveil our efforts to travelers in nine international markets (UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, South Korea, India, Mexico and Brazil).

At the foundation of this idea were: fifteen music videos featuring our artists, a series of five-minute videos telling the story of a place and its musical influences, and two longer form episodic videos detailing how our artists created and produced their song.

To grab people’s attention on social, we created 6-second bite-sized teasers to entice viewers to visit our content hub and discover more.

On our hub, travelers could continue exploring with articles detailing how individual genres evolved in America and find itineraries to turn their wanderlusting into a reality.

Additionally, we partnered with Spotify in order to reach people when they were already thinking of music with in-app advertising and playlists inspired by the sounds of different US destinations.

Outcome

By all measures our campaign was a huge success: we saw a 37% lift in consideration to visit the US.

A robust PR strategy resulted in nearly $6MM worth of earned media coverage, reaching nearly 70MM people around the world. On Spotify, just under 30K people listened to our playlists for a total of 98K minutes.

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