New Orleans opens its arms to the Lone Star State.
According to the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC), tourism in New Orleans is responsible for 78,000 jobs, and one out of every four people in the metro area works in the tourism industry. The corporation, led by Mark Romig (who is also the voice of the New Orleans Saints), is the city’s official leisure travel marketing agency — created to foster jobs and economic growth by developing the tourism industry in New Orleans.
Last year, NOTMC launched a new campaign called “Follow Your NOLA.” Its purpose is to help people discover the true spirit of New Orleans by promoting different neighborhoods and authentic experiences that move beyond local clichés. The campaign’s frequently used slogans include “There’s always something to see and do in NOLA”; “Whether it’s great food, music or art — there’s something for everyone to discover in New Orleans”; and my favorite, “Come as you are. Come as you want to be.”
This past month, Spears Consulting Group, in partnership with several other agencies that represent NOTMC, brought the campaign to life with the Follow Your NOLA food truck. Fully branded in campaign artwork, the food truck launched on May 2 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It then traveled to Houston, Austin and Dallas during National Tourism Week to promote leisure travel to New Orleans and to kick off the 2014 NOLA marketing campaign.
The goal of the truck was to allow citizens in neighboring Texas to experience a taste of New Orleans and to entice them to visit. But this was no ordinary food truck. A spinning NOLA compass (modeled to look like New Orleans’ iconic symbol, the fleur-de-lis) traveled along with the truck. The fleur-de-lis compass is also the cornerstone of the Follow Your NOLA campaign. Visitors to the truck were able to discover “their” New Orleans by spinning the compass and landing on a theme that represented something in NOLA — like flavor, rhythm or spirit.
Live performances included Big Chief Donald Claude of the Blackfoot Hunters (dancing in full regalia), B.I.G. AL Huntley of Hot 8 Brass Band and the beautiful Victory Belles of the National World War II Museum.
On the road in Texas, chef Brian Landry of Borgne (a John Besh restaurant) prepared three fabulous dishes: Chappapeela duck confit, Louisiana white shrimp with sweet-corn orecchiette and white shrimp and andouille gumbo.
Thousands of visitors engaged with the brand on social media using hashtags #FollowYourNOLA and #TasteOfNOLA to document their experiences.
Now that NOTMC has engaged with neighbors in Texas, they would like to know how locals and readers of New Orleans Living follow their NOLA. Follow the campaign on Facebook at facebook.com/neworleans, and add your own posts on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #followyourNOLA.