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Case Study

Taking an American Icon to the Next Level

Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Taking an American Icon to the Next Level

There are many great American visitation destinations, but only a few have risen to the level of “iconic.” When Visit Lauderdale (the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau) decided it was time to take their destination to the next level, they chose the one agency with the track record and expertise to move them forward – Aqua.

A Bold Vision

The competition included some of the nation’s biggest and strongest marketing firms but our unmatched record of creating Florida destination brands and achieving historic visitation results ensured the perfect partner for Greater Fort Lauderdale’s bold vision for their future. Aqua was awarded the intended advertising account, along with the public relations and social media account work. The scope of the entire account included Visit Lauderdale, Port Everglades, FLL (the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport) and the Broward County Convention Center. The previous agency had positioned the destination as “Florida’s discount destination” and marketed only to adjacent counties.

Once officially named the agency of record for Visit Lauderdale, we launched headfirst into creating exceptional new work, programs, and brand approaches for the destination, improving KPIs and ROIs almost immediately. We recognized the need to balance their marketing approach by targeting a higher net worth audience in more distant markets of lift. We launched crisis management initiatives to guide them through the pandemic, created a campaign to entice a new niche market of luxury travelers, and most important, created and developed an entirely new destination visitation brand, positioning the area as affluent, fun, quirky, inclusive, sexy and provocative.

New Campaign Images

Welcome to Whatever Floats Your Mega Yacht

The new branding “Welcome” campaign used new photography and videos that boldly invited travelers to consider visiting the evolved Greater Fort Lauderdale, highlighting its new cosmopolitan offerings. Each ad in the campaign welcomed different travelers, from thrill-seekers and chill-seekers to cocktail connoisseurs and culinary explorers, reinforcing the positioning that the destination welcomes everyone under the sun. The ads showed diverse visitors enjoying diverse experiences signature to Greater Fort Lauderdale, from cruising the world’s yachting capital to revelry at a chic rooftop bar. Some ads had a provocative edge to further entice prospects to visit the landing page to learn more. The audience was strategically targeted and effectively reached through a variety of publications offering print, digital, video and social components, and included boating-themed and high-end publications such as Travel + Leisure; Yachting; Power & Motoryacht; Robb Report; Modern Luxury; T, The New York Times Style Magazine; Conde Nast Traveler; Southern Living; Town & Country and AFAR. Digital components included emails, advertorials, page takeovers, oversized banners with videos, native articles and Facebook and Instagram ads.

Everyone Under the Sun Image

Welcome Everyone Under the Sun

Stacy Ritter, President/CEO of Visit Lauderdale, and other leaders on the CVB team felt passionately about the area’s diversity, inclusivity and accessibility. And the new branding campaign reflected that. “This campaign goes to the heart of what makes our community great – the people and our diverse offerings. We now have a strong campaign that truly reflects who we are and shows how special Greater Fort Lauderdale is in every bold, beautiful, and surprising way,” says Ritter. “We are graciously welcoming everyone, and I mean everyone, to come join us and experience our tropical paradise rich with culture, flavor and unique experiences. Our diversity is our strength, and we are proudly telling this story to the world.”

GFL Print Ads

The destination’s commitment to inclusion is front and center with ads starring locals with disabilities, members of the area’s LGBT+ community (Greater Fort Lauderdale is Florida’s LGBT+ capital), people of a diverse age range and various racial and ethnic identities. People from more than 170 countries speaking 147 languages call Greater Fort Lauderdale home. Together, they make up the rich tapestry of Greater Fort Lauderdale, 31 municipalities strong. They are the welcoming committee for anyone and everyone who comes to visit.

Spa Couple

#2 in Florida

The campaign exceeded all expectations and produced tremendous results: Greater Fort Lauderdale had the second highest leisure occupancy in Florida, which surpassed the destination’s major contenders within its competitive set, including Orlando, Miami and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach. The destination’s increase in hotel demand also surpassed Orlando, Miami and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach. The campaign took home several awards, including the coveted “Henry” (best of category) for print advertising and special event/PR at the annual VISIT FLORIDA Flagler Awards, solidifying the destination’s new dominance as a leading draw for visitors in Florida.

Going Viral

Additionally, the campaign generated unprecedented buzz organically – the press and public reacted and it took off and went viral. It garnered earned press coverage in both the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami New Times publications. From there, the story was then picked-up and syndicated to numerous outlets including The Bakersfield Californian, The Kansas City Star, The News Tribune, Marietta Daily Journal and more for a total estimated viewership of over 19 million.

Additionally, other top earned, press garnered highlights included those from Miami Herald, MSN, Yahoo! News, Newsmax, Florida Trend, Travel Pulse, Multicultural Travel News, Travel Industry Today, and Business News Index.

In total, the estimated circulation for the year was more than 1.1 trillion with a total estimated ad value of $2.6 million.

New Images

#9 in Nation

The numbers continue to speak to the success with recent results for 2022 over 2021 showing Tourism Tax Collections up 33%, Average Daily Rate up 24%, Hotel Revenue up 38% and REVPAR up 27%. Greater Fort Lauderdale’s percentage of change is now outpacing Miami, Palm Beach/West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa/St. Petersburg. The destination is ranked 9th nationally and ranked 10th for hotel demand nationally.

“Aqua has taken our destination into bold, new directions, and helped us achieve record-setting results for our destination,” says Stacy Ritter, President/CEO of Visit Lauderdale.

“And we’re just getting started,” says Dave DiMaggio, President/CEO of Aqua.

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