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Visitors Bureau wins prize

BY Lucas Robinson - lrobinson@chronicle-tribune.com

Grant County is being recognized for it’s achievements in tourism.

On Tuesday, March 6, the Grant County Visitors Bureau was awarded the “Best Leisure Travel Promotion” for Indiana. The bureau’s campaign “Classic Cool” received the prize through a competition held by Midwest Living Magazine and awarded at the Indiana Tourism Conference, according to a press release.

“We felt really good about that,” said John Lightle, the executive director of Visitors Bureau, who hailed the bureau’s success despite their comparative size to other tourism bureaus in Indianapolis and South Bend.

Out-of-state tourism experts judged Midwest Living’s competition. Judges were impressed by Grant County’s “return on investment,” according to the press release, and “complimented the creative design stating that it played into Grant County’s history and was well thought-out and executed.”

The bureau’s campaign, “Classic Cool,” incorporates Grant County’s place in Americana and 1950s culture, and was designed with the help of the Fishers-based Propeller Marketing Group. From James Dean to Garfield-creator Jim Davis, the county’s vintage history of “unique retro icons” allowed the campaign to stand out in competition. One image used by the campaign shows a woman clad in the signature fifties style, applying lipstick in the rearview mirror of a classic turquoise and red vintage automobile.

Lightle said the red and turquoise colors tied in with Grant County’s numerous car shows and the “James Dean period and the Rebel (Without a Cause) movie.”

“We have many great niche attractions across the county and lots of stories to tell. The new look allows us to tell all those stories in a compelling way,” Lightle said. “It makes visitors want to check out what’s happening in Grant County.”

The campaign is also rebranding Grant County and appealing to tourists by advertising its distance from Indianapolis. Images publicize the county as “90 minutes north of Indy.”

This helps drive tourism because “not a lot of people are aware of where the county is located,” said Lightle. “We’re 90 minutes from Indianapolis so that gives people a perspective for day trips.”

The visitors bureau is using technology both new and old to market Grant County across the Midwest. On top of radio ads that play in all 92 counties of Indiana, the bureau utilizes “digital target marketing.” Such technology allows the bureau to gather data and identify individuals and communities who might have an interest in visiting the county. Targeted ads are then used to promote tourism to specific, responsive audiences.

Last year, the bureau’s tourism campaign was “Real Great County.” Although the themes of the fifties and James Dean have been used in past campaigns, the actor’s relation to the county remains “quite a draw for this community” Lightle said.

“You have to change your brand periodically to get peoples attention again,” he said. “We went with the “Classic Cool” concept because it hadn’t been used for a while.”