DMO Stories

Destinations are always seeking a unique take on marketing, but one particular region of the United States has taken a particularly distinctive approach to this ongoing conundrum.

Fairfax County in the United States is not particularly well known outside of the country itself. It certainly isn't considered to be a traditional tourist location, and most people would struggle to name anything significant about the destination. And in fact a large percentage of the non-US population has probably never even heard of the place.

Visit Fairfax and the Founding Fathers

With this in mind, the local tourism marketing board, Visit Fairfax, decided that the Virginian destination needed to promote itself in a particularly memorable way. So the organisation decided to enlist some historical help from some of the most significant figures in American history.

The history of the United States is indelibly bound up with revolutionary efforts to displace British rule. Central to this effort were the Founding Fathers of the United States; a group of revolutionary figures in the nation who are typically credited by historians as having been especially important in the establishment of the United States as an independent nation.

These historical behemoths are generally credited with playing a central role in the production of the United States constitution. This document continues to play a major part in US politics, outlining the principles on which the nation is built. To this day, American presidents must play close attention to the United States constitution and its ethos, and the current US president, Barack Obama, made particular reference to his scholarly understanding of the US Constitution during his initial election campaign.

So Visit Fairfax decided to enlist the help of the Founding Fathers in order to promote the destination. The campaign was developed to showcase the particular qualities of Fairfax County, with an intention of generating buzz and gaining attention for the region.

QR Codes Cutouts

In order to achieve this, Visit Fairfax Took a nifty technological approach. They placed static posters of Founding Fathers in high-traffic urban areas within certain targeted cities, and turned into an innovative interactive experience. By utilising QR codes and video recording, Visit Fairfax was able to deliver a marketing message as if it was emanating direct from the Founding Fathers themselves. Such figures as Thomas Jefferson were turned into a phone and interactve way to convey a message about Fairfax County to potential tourists and customers.

This has been an extremely successful campaign for Visit Fairfax, and the DMO has been duly rewarded for their innovation and originality that it has shown in this Founding Fathers-based campaign. One such element of recognition was the honours which were bestowed upon Visit Fairfax at the Adrian Awards.

Visit Fairfax took home six Adrian Awards, including an overall Best of Show for Digital Marketing for its Historical Figures campaign. The awards were given out at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Annual Adrian Awards Gala in New York City. This was particularly appropriate, as New York was one of the primary urban focuses for the campaign, along with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Visit Fairfax campaign is another example of the effectiveness of interactive mobile experiences, and the promotion of marketing campaigns via social media. The Visit Fairfax Founding Fathers campaign truly became a viral aspect of the DMO’s operations, and has helped put the Virginian county on the travel map in the last couple of years.

Impressive Results

Thus, some of the results related to the Visit Fairfax campaign are extremely impressive. The DMO was able to achieve a 2,711 percent increase in Facebook visits, along with a 1,000 percent increase in new page likes. This was not merely a short-term phenomenon either; Visit Fairfax was also able to achieve a 1,463 percent increase in lifetime engaged users, with 16 million overall media impressions.

Overall, the campaign generated increased traffic to the website, with conversion of $760 per click to the site. This translated into a projected $7 million in revenue to the county and a 150:1 return on investment. Based on these figures, there is no doubt that this was an extremely effective, impressive and cost-effective campaign.

Ultimately, the Fairfax campaign is an attempt to combine contemporary mobile technology with traditional historic roots to create a striking impression on consumers. Considering the vast amount of interest that it has generated, it would be extremely difficult to argue against the campaign’s success.

The Visit Fairfax campaign underlines the way that innovative mobile material can be used to generate attention for a marketing campaign, and also how creating viral social buzz is central to successful contemporary tourism campaigns.


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