“Pure Michigan”

Maximizing Marketing ROI in Tough Times

In 2004 Longwoods was hired by Travel Michigan to evaluate the state’s regional tourism branding effort, “Great Lakes. Great Times.”

Our image and brand research showed that, despite the campaign’s efforts, Michigan’s image remained poor amongst those who had not visited the state. In particular, respondents in Michigan’s primary markets expressed doubt about whether the state was an appropriate destination for families.

The old campaign: "Great Lakes, Great Times"

The problem with the “Great Lakes” campaign was that it focused on listing Michigan’s amenities – things to see and do— and did not resonate with travelers, who were inundated with similar messages from other regional destinations.


The news wasn't all bad. Michigan is blessed with the riches of unspoiled nature and, not surprisingly, our research revealed that people who had already traveled to the state considered it a high-caliber vacation destination.

Unfortunately for Michigan, however, the research also showed that few people outside the region had visited recently.

Michigan clearly had great tourism potential, but the “Great Lakes” ad campaign was not doing enough to differentiate the state from its regional competitors. It also missed the mark with one of its key segments: families. And with a marketing strategy set to reach only a regional audience, the state was also missing out on exposure to national travelers.
In 2006, armed with a mandate to address these marketing shortfalls, Travel Michigan hired ad agency McCann Erickson to rebrand the state and develop a national campaign. Their mandate was to:

  • Go beyond listing Michigan’s tangible attributes, and create a focused, emotional message that resonated with the family values of Michigan’s core audience
  • Expand the message beyond the state’s regional audience, and put Michigan on the leisure traveler’s map across the United States
  • Ultimately, increase visitor spending in Michigan and, by extension, boost tax revenues to the state
In 2006, McCann Erickson and Travel Michigan test-launched the new “Pure Michigan” in three regional markets. The response was resoundingly positive, and the campaign soon went national.

When Longwoods evaluated the new national campaign, we found that it dramatically increased unaided awareness of Michigan as a place in the Midwest U.S. that travelers would “really enjoy visiting” and in a matter of months, Michigan moved from 9th place in the regional market to 2nd place.
Among national travelers, the campaign greatly enhanced the state’s image, both overall, and on many specific attributes that drive visitation, including its image as a family destination.

2009 Impact of National Advertising on Michigan's Image Michigan_Chart
“Pure Michigan” is a pure delight. Every time we watched a commercial during the peak summer travel season last year (and now again in 2009), we felt the urge to jump right out of the seat in our living room and make a beeline for Michigan. It didn’t matter where. Just anywhere, as long as it was Michigan.
Lewis Lazare, Advertising Critic, in The Chicago Sun-Times

Featured Press

Pure Michigan Campaign Wins David Olgivy Award
The Pure Michigan tourism campaign won a prestigious David Ogilvy Award for Excellence in Advertising Research. Pure Michigan’s advertising agency, McCann Erickson Detroit, shared honors with its media arm, Universal McCann, and research partner Longwoods International.
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Pure Investment: Ad campaign pays off for Michigan
Pure Michigan ads deliver increased tourist dollars and revenue for the state Images of sparkling blue lakes, seas of sand and golden leaves dotting rolling hillsides will continue to lure tourists to Michigan as well as encourage residents to jump in the car and explore their own state...
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The new campaign: "Pure Michigan"

Summer Campaign

Fall Campaign

Winter Campaign

To see all the “Pure Michigan” television and radio ads, visit Michigan’s Official Travel and Tourism Website.


We are absolutely thrilled and honored to receive four Mercury Awards, in recognition of the Pure Michigan campaign … There are millions of Americans who know little or nothing about the vibrancy, heritage, culture, arts and entertainment in our great cities … The Pure Michigan campaign is designed to introduce to the nation the attributes that make Michigan such a popular and unique destination.
George Zimmermann, Vice President, Travel Michigan

Longwoods ROI research was also able to determine that, in 2009, the $7.8 million national advertising spend generated:

  • An additional 681,000 visitors to Michigan as a direct result of seeing the ads
  • An additional $250 million in visitors spending (37% more per trip than regional visitors)
  • $17.5 million in incremental state tax revenue for the state
In short, every dollar of public funds spent on the national campaign in 2009 returned $2.23 to the Michigan state treasury. Furthermore, the 2009 national campaign generated a huge lift in intentions to visit Michigan in 2010.

The people of Michigan fell in love with the campaign, and “Pure Michigan” became the rallying-cry of a state battered by economic troubles. “Pure Michigan” was not only a critical tool for keeping many of the state’s small businesses afloat and bringing in much-needed out-of-state tax revenue when the state's economy was faltering under losses in the auto sector and the economic crisis ... it was also a reminder to Michigan’s residents of all that was great about the state.

This powerful in-state response – from media, consumers, tourism industry and politicians on both sides of the aisle – has led to increased funding, despite Michigan’s fiscal challenges. Today the campaign can be found in nine regional markets and on almost a dozen national cable networks during key travel months.

Longwoods continues to track the year-over-year success of the "Pure Michigan" campaign.


Related Press

State: Pure Michigan campaign prompted 4.6 million trips in 2015

Tourism agency releases new data to estimate Pure Michigan ROI LANSING — The state says its signature Pure Michigan marketing campaign had its best-ever results in 2015, prompting more than 4.6 million trips to the state. The data, based on survey results from Toronto-based research f
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‘Pure Michigan’ brand strong even after Flint water crisis, Gov. Rick Snyder says

Gov. Rick Snyder said on Apil 19, 2016 that the Flint water crisis has not affected the Pure Michigan tourism brand. LANSING, MI — Early numbers indicate that Pure Michigan tourism hasn’t been affected by the Flint water crisis, Gov. Rick Snyder told reporters at the Pure
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Pure Michigan campaign encourages tourism

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – The Governor’s Pure Michigan conference on tourism highlighted the continual growth and success of the campaign over the past ten years. In 2015, out of state visitors spent nearly $1.4 billion in communities and at local businesses around the state. “Lot’s more p
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Pure Michigan a strong investment in state’s economy

The Pure Michigan campaign continues to generate a strong impact for the state’s economy according to data released today at the 2016 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism. In 2015, 4.6 million trips were made to Michigan as a result of exposure to the Pure Michigan campaign
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Detroit comeback story to be featured in 2016 Pure Michigan campaign

LANSING — Detroit’s post-bankruptcy story will be a highlight of the Pure Michigan marketing campaign in 2016, as the state tries to redirect its image from a city in transition to an outright tourist destination. The city will be the star of a 30-second national television commercial
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Travel Michigan leader who oversaw Pure Michigan campaign to retire this week

When Zimmermann came to Michigan in October 2001, the agency spent just $5.7 million annually promoting the state as a vacation destination. If Travel Michigan were to ever get more funding, it needed to boost business, and Zimmermann knew it had to prove its case. By 2004, Travel Mic
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State Says Pure Michigan Campaign Drove $1.2 Billion Visitor Spending

A new report on Michigan’s 2013 tourism industry from the Toronto-based tourism research firm Longwoods International says the state’s Pure Michigan campaign drove more than 4 million trips last year, producing $1.2 billion in economic impact.   Read more on CBS Detroit
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Pure Michigan lures more out-of-state visitors; campaign targets Canada, Germany and England

Pure Michigan’s advertising campaign attracted more than 4 million out-of-state visitors in 2013, an increase of roughly 300,000 over 2012, according to a study released Tuesday at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism held near Traverse City. “These res
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Pure Michigan campaign helped attract more out-of-state visitors this Fourth of July, hotels say

LANSING — Several years ago, about 80 percent of the cars parked at Baymont Inn and Suites in Mackinaw City would boast Michigan license plates, and 20 percent would come from out of state. Now, it’s more like 25-35 percent Michigan with the rest out-of-state, said Dan Trotochaud, own
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Pure Michigan results in $1.1 billion in 2012; Bay Region benefits also

The Pure Michigan campaign had its biggest impact to date in 2012, attracting 3.8 million out-of-state visitors to the state, who spent a record high of $1.1 billion at Michigan businesses, according to a report by Longwoods International. The report found the Pure Michigan campaign g
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Pure Michigan Campaign Brought $1 Billion in Tourism in 2012

The “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign was a rousing success in 2012, according to new figures released on Monday. The report, compiled by research firm Longwoods International, estimated that the campaign resulted in 580,000 more trips to the state than in 2011, and generat
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Pure Michigan campaign big hit in 2012

Data from research firm Longwoods International LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) – The Pure Michigan campaign had its biggest impact to date in 2012, according to a research firm. Longwoods International specializes in tourism advertising return on investment. The group released its report
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Study: 2011 Pure Michigan Campaign Generated Record $1 Billion

LANSING — Last summer’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign motivated 3.2 million trips to Michigan last year, where those visitors spent $1 billion at Michigan businesses, generating $70 million in Michigan tax revenue. That’s the word from a new study of the campaign by Longwoods Int
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Study: Pure Michigan ads attracted record number of out-of-state visitors

The state received $4.90 for each dollar spent on Pure Michigan adver- tising in 2011, says Longwoods International, a travel consulting firm. (michigan.org) A state of Michigan-sponsored study finds that last summer’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign attracted a record number
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Ad campaign draws out-of-state travelers to Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Pure Michigan marketing campaign is drawing waves of first-time travelers from outside the state and will be increasingly crucial as the industry seeks to expand, leaders said Monday. Representatives of tourism-related business, consultants and governme
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Investment pays off: ‘Pure Michigan’ brings in tax dollars

The state’s “Pure Michigan” campaign has been the source of both acclaim and angst. Touting Michigan’s year-round wonders to prospective visitors from throughout the United States and beyond, the tourism initiative has been praised as creative and effective. But it also has been the t
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Michigan aims to take Pure Michigan campaign global

Now that the acclaimed Pure Michigan marketing campaign has boosted the state’s tourism profile nationally, Michigan aims to take the brand global. Or at least to test some ideas for luring more visitors from Europe and Asia. And why not? “With the number of flights into Detroit every
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Pure Michigan Tourism Campaign Brought In $1 Billion In 2011

After launching its newest ads for the Pure Michigan tourism campaign earlier this month, the state tourism group Travel Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation revealed the campaign brought in a record $1 billion dollars for state businesses last year. And on Monda
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Pure Michigan campaign recognized for research

The Pure Michigan tourism campaign has been recognized by a national research foundation. Travel Michigan announced Wednesday that pure Michigan won the prestigious David Ogilvy Award for Excellence in Advertising Research, awarded by the Advertising Research Foundation. “We are
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Pure Michigan Tourism Campaign Wins Top Award From Advertising Research Foundation

LANSING, MI — (Marketwire) — 03/23/11 — Pure Michigan was recognized by the Advertising Research Foundation last night in New York City. The Pure Michigan tourism campaign won a prestigious David Ogilvy Award for Excellence in Advertising Research. Pure Michigan̵
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Snyder OKs extra $10 million for Pure Michigan ad campaign

DEARBORN – Gov. Rick Snyder is sold on selling the state, signing a bill into law Thursday giving an additional $10 million into the popular Pure Michigan advertising campaign. In a state facing a $1.4 billion deficit in the coming budget year, Snyder said the tourism campaign h
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Pure Michigan tourism campaign gets new lease on life

Pure Michigan is pure lucky. Pure Michigan money paid for regional winter advertising this month and will pay for a spring-summer nationwide cable-TV ad campaign. Forbes magazine named Pure Michigan one of the top 10 travel advertising campaigns of all time. / January 2010 photo from
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Michigan legislators hear of ‘Pure Michigan’ success from testimony at Muskegon luge complex

NORTH MUSKEGON — For the Republicans now controlling state government, the Pure Michigan tourism campaign appears to be the kind of spending they can support. Matt Gade | Muskegon ChronicleState Rep. Frank Foster, R-Pellston, discusses Pure Michigan tourism funding as state Sen. Goeff
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Pure Investment: Ad campaign pays off for Michigan

Pure Michigan ads deliver increased tourist dollars and revenue for the state Images of sparkling blue lakes, seas of sand and golden leaves dotting rolling hillsides will continue to lure tourists to Michigan as well as encourage residents to jump in the car and explore their own sta
Continue Reading →

Pure Michigan campaign saved by lawmakers

Lansing, Mich. (WZZM) The Pure Michigan ad campaign will continue after state lawmakers approved money overnight for winter and spring advertising. The State House approved a bill early this morning that will free up an additional $10-million for the campaign. The money will come from
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‘Pure Michigan’ cancels winter campaign

Gov.-elect Snyder pushes for action from lawmakers Don’t look for those inspirational “Pure Michigan” ads next month promoting our state’s snowy wonderland destinations. They’re about to be canceled, Travel Michigan announced today. The reason? “Pur
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Lawmakers look for way to afford Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign

Casey Jourden says the Pure Michigan TV ads — those dreamy, 30-second promos of vacation splendor — boosted business at least 10% at her new campground near Muskegon last year, even drawing travelers from the East and West coasts. “A lot of people have seen the adver
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Chopping Pure Michigan funding hurts tourism jobs

Imagine a state-funded program that creates and supports thousands of jobs and generates $2.86 in new sales tax revenues for every $1 invested by Michigan taxpayers. The program exists — at least for now: It’s the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. Unfortunately, Pure Mic
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Pure Michigan Campaign Wins Top Awards

US Travel Association Honors Pure Michigan with Four Awards LANSING, Mich. — And the winner is…Pure Michigan, the state of Michigan’s official travel and tourism campaign. The Pure Michigan campaign brings home a record four Mercury Awards, Best State Tourism Television Co
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Winter campaign reflects tourism spending boost

The launch of a $7.4 million winter campaign represents the first major initiative for Travel Michigan since legislators gave a significant, one-time boost to promoting the state as a travel destination. Amid a difficult economy, Travel Michigan has a tough task ahead and will need to
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Funding boost could become permanent

A major boost in funding for tourism promotion for the next few years provides the industry another test to further prove the business case for a permanent spending increase. If the return on investment pans out during the period and tracks favorably with data for recent years –
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Michigan gets serious about tourism

Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s proposal to pump $60 million over two years into tourism and business promotion is a sign the state is finally taking the industry seriously, travel promoters say. Part of a $1.8 billion economic-stimulus package included in the governor’s 2009 bud
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