May 11, 2009 in City

Montana’s proud to have nothing to offer

By The Spokesman-Review
Travel Montana photo

This poster featuring Glacier National Park is part of Montana’s new “There’s nothing here” ad campaign. Travel Montana
(Full-size photo)

Montana’s state tourism board is trying to make something out of nothing.

Its tourism agency, Travel Montana, will spend $800,000 this year to place ads in glossy magazines extolling the open, scenic splendors of the Big Sky State.

In an attempt to be different, the ads shout “There’s nothing here,” next to poster-perfect images of Glacier or Yellowstone national parks. One of the ads explains Montana has “Nothing but a landscape so big and open and rugged it stretches your soul.”

Katy Peterson, consumer marketing director for Travel Montana, said the ads are meant to inspire tourism from people who appreciate the state’s wide-open, untrammeled quality.

“We want to capture the attention of people who appreciate what we’ve got: unspoiled, spectacular nature that stretches for hundreds of miles,” Peterson said.

This campaign evolved after the state’s travel officials realized past marketing for the state left potential first-time visitors uncertain about what Montana had to offer.

The ads will appear in Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler, Backpacker and other magazines.

Focus group testing has found people are caught or surprised by the “nothing” wording, she said.

“It’s meant to stop people in their tracks. We want them to read the ad,” and see Montana as different from other states in the Rockies also boasting they have rugged natural attractions, Peterson said.

Tourism is the second-largest industry in Montana, she said.

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