Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents August 2014 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Tourism Colleagues and Friends, 

I hope you all are enjoying these last warm days of summer. Things have certainly heated up for the Department as we launched the new Tennessee branding campaign in July. As promised in last month’s newsletter, this August newsletter is focused on the branding campaign.

I’m delighted to introduce you to “Made in Tennessee.” Taking a few lines from our campaign copy: It’s a feeling. A spirit. Found in every string played. Every road traveled and memory made. It’s the beauty, music and experiences that can only be “Made in Tennessee.”

Please take the time to read the articles and watch the videos. Also, visit the toolkit on tnvacation.com to see how you can be part of the campaign and enhance our initiatives.

You will see our first two television spots – “Beauty” and “Family” – which have been airing in Little Rock, Jackson, Birmingham, Paducah-Cape Girardeau, Atlanta, Louisville, Cincinnati, Greenville (SC), and St. Louis. Our new “Music” and “Tennessee Experiences” spots will hit the airwaves in the coming weeks for fall.

I think you will love our first Tennessee branded content video featuring Dolly Parton performing a one-of-a-kind acoustic version of “My Tennessee Mountain Home” and the Kicinski McCoy family of Nashville. The mother, James, is the writer behind the nationally-popular Bleubird blog. The family packed up and experienced the magic and adventures of a Tennessee vacation in the Smokies. This is the first of many long form videos that will introduce all regions of this beautiful state to the world using digital platforms.

October is just around the corner, and with it, the 2014 Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism, Oct. 8-10 in Knoxville. The event marks the first official industry-wide conference for the new Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association. The speakers and special sessions look fantastic. You’ll find a detailed article on the conference in our newsletter. I look forward to seeing you in Knoxville!

On a personal note, I hope each of you take some time to join our millions of visitors enjoying this incredible place we call home. Everyone needs a vacation – the benefits go way beyond creating great memories, as important as that is. Vacations give us the chance to recharge and refocus our energies for all the important areas of our lives. You make this happen for so many others; it’s important you make it happen for yourselves.

Enjoy those wonderful memories that can only be “Made in Tennessee!”

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

First Wave Of Newly Branded “Made in Tennessee” Tourism Campaign Hits The Market

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development rolled out its much anticipated marketing campaign July 9, introducing the powerful branding “Made in Tennessee” in an effort to bring global attention to the state’s tourism assets. Tourism is Tennessee’s No. 2 industry, with a $16.2 billion economic impact to the state.

Prior to the launch of the campaign, qualitative research was conducted in the following markets: Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Louisville and St. Louis. This research tested the “Made in Tennessee” line and sample-creative in how both resonate with consumers, as well as how it compares to “We’re Playing Your Song.” Here are highlights of the results:

  • Among out-of-state markets, the platform was seen as portraying Tennessee as offering unique experiences you can ONLY find in Tennessee.
  • Made them feel Tennessee would be welcoming and a place they would want to visit.
  • It conveyed the idea of making memories in Tennessee. The line communicates a sense of pride in Tennessee’s heritage that permeates across the state and is not focused on just one area.
  • Strong sentiment that the tagline made them proud of what Tennessee has to offer.
  • Instills a desire and intent among both in-state and out-of-state travelers to visit and/or explore Tennessee.

Tennessee’s five tourism pillars: Music, Beauty, Family, History and Experiences, are the central themes of the new campaign. The “Family” and “Beauty” spots, along with the “Music” spot, are in-market via TV, digital and/or social channels. The creative captures the emotion and inspiration of a Tennessee family vacation and the scenic beauty that can only be “Made in Tennessee.” Tennessee’s music is captured and the voiceover enforces the message of our music being, “The soundtrack of America…Made in Tennessee.” With more than 60 locations filmed during the creation of the campaign, and more scheduled over the coming months, the creative content will continue to evolve as distribution channels grow over the life of the campaign.

Highlights of the “Made in Tennessee” campaign include original music written and performed by Nashville musicians and producers, as well as music from Tennessee bands, such as The Apache Relay and The Black Cadillacs. The voice of the campaign is Rivers Rutherford, a Tennessee-born singer/songwriter responsible for penning numerous No. 1 country hits. Tennesseans and Tennessee visitors are the featured talent. Future campaign assets enlist two famous Tennesseans, entertainment icon Dolly Parton and international rock star Jack White. The meticulous attention to highlighting all things “Made in Tennessee” brings the authenticity of Tennessee to life, frame by frame.

It’s a feeling.

A spirit.

Found in every string played.

Every road traveled and memory made.

It’s the beauty.

The music.

The experiences.

That can only be…



Family: www.tnvacation.com/made-in-tennessee/family

Beauty: www.tnvacation.com/made-in-tennessee/beauty

Music:  The Music Made in Tennessee

The goal of the brand campaign is to build awareness and inspire travelers interested in a memorable vacation that can only be “Made in Tennessee.”

Explore more at tnvacation.com, and join us by following @TNVacation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. #madeintn

How Can You Be a Part of the Made in Tennessee Campaign?

For the launch of the new campaign, we put together a few simple guidelines in order to keep things consistent. From voice to asset downloads to social sharing, let this toolkit be your guide to anything and everything “Made in Tennessee.”

Get the full Made in Tennessee toolkit.

The “Made in Tennessee” Campaign Strategy and Co-op Timeline

The strategy for the “Made in Tennessee” campaign is to fully integrate media, public relations, email, search and the co-op/partnership marketing channels. Through this strategy, the goal is to:

1.      Generate awareness of the new “Made in Tennessee” brand in key markets.

2.      Engage the target audience through video placements (online and broadcast)

3.      Create multi-channel synergies that generate earned opportunities for additional reach and exposure.

The five pillars will roll out across summer and fall media flights, with the spring flights focusing on all five pillars: family, scenic beauty, music, experiences and history.

The following markets represent where we will place media over the course of the FY 14-15 campaign:

Core/Maintenance Markets




Little Rock

Paducah-Cape Girardeau

Greenville, Spartanburg, Asheville, Anderson

Priority/Growth Markets

Atlanta (core and growth)

St. Louis


Large-Market Digital Extension





Through the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, the spots will air in every county in Tennessee via TV and radio, over the course of the year.

Co-op Marketing Plan Timeline

The Partnership Marketing Program will follow a similar timeline. However, the details are in development, and the full plan will be included with the co-op plan roll-out during Governor’s Conference in October.

July – August:     Finalize 2015 co-op planning

September:    Review and finalize the strategy with the marketing sub-committee

October:    Communicate co-ops to the industry during Governor’s Conference

November – January:   Creative production and program finalization

February – March:     Co-op program is activated in market

For any questions or additional information, please contact Jennifer Littlejohn at Jennifer.Littlejohn@tn.gov or 615-741-9025.

Dolly Parton’s “My Tennessee Mountain Home” Creates The Soundtrack And Back-Drop For The Perfect Family Vacation

Dolly Parton For this short film, we invited Nashville-based lifestyle blogger James Kicinski McCoy and her family to take a trip to East Tennessee and share their experiences with her more than 1 million monthly Bleubird readers. Always up for an adventure, they packed their bags and headed out on a four-day vacation.

Our documentary film crew followed the family day and night, capturing every moment they experienced. With a one-of-a-kind live acoustic performance by Tennessee’s most-celebrated songbird, Dolly Parton, as the soundtrack, the result is a beautiful, truly authentic short film.

You can watch the short film here: https://vimeo.com/101644018, or read James’ blog entry about the full experience here: http://bleubirdblog.com/2014/07/our-tennessee-commercial/.

In addition to the Bleubird blog post, Tennessee social channels have been promoting the video and driving people to a featured online experience at www.tnvacation.com/bleubird/. This special landing page was created to take inspired travelers through the family’s journey and provide additional information on all the places they explored. And to top it all off, Rolling Stone also wrote a feature article on the video that you can read here: www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/dolly-parton-welcomes-families-home-to-tennessee-exclusive-video-20140724.

Made in Tennessee PR Campaign Raises Volunteer State’s Profile In Key Regional, National and International Markets

On the heels of a successful in-state launch, news of the “Made in Tennessee” campaign graced the pages of The New York Times July 29, drawing national and international attention to the campaign.

To extend awareness for the campaign and promote specific Tennessee destinations and attractions, TDTD and VML have partnered with the tourism industry to leverage the Made in Tennessee advertising buys and secure guest appearances on local television affiliates in key markets.

As of the deadline for this newsletter, Erin Donovan from Visit Knoxville has appeared on “WYFF News 4 Noon” in Greenville, S.C. and Jonathan Lyons from the Memphis CVB has been a guest on “Fox 16 Good Day” in Little Rock, Ark., each promoting Tennessee as an accessible location for last-minute summer vacations.

Candace Davis from Chattanooga CVB will soon appear in taped interviews on “Better Mornings Atlanta” and “Atlanta Plugged In” on WGCL-TV. More guest opportunities are in the works, ensuring greater integration between paid and earned media as the Made in Tennessee campaign progresses.

PR has been instrumental in amplifying other elements of the campaign, as well.

The Kacinski McCoy family of Nashville, featured in the 30-second “Family” television commercial, appeared with entertainment icon Dolly Parton in a three-minute video featuring an original recording of Dolly’s “My Tennessee Mountain Home” with images of the family’s vacation in East Tennessee. The video received front-page coverage on RollingStone.com, which draws more than 22 million unique visitors each month, as well as placements in regional and in-state media outlets.

A second wave of the campaign, featuring television spots “Music” and “Experiences” will appear on regional television stations and websites targeting regional visitors, as Tennessee shifts from promoting family vacations toward a heavier focus on weekend travelers.

Outstanding Speakers to Be Featured at Governor’s Conference

One of the goals of the 2014 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism, Oct. 8 – 10 in Knoxville, is to feature the very best in nationally-known and highly sought-out speakers.  And with this year’s incredible line-up, that goal has been reached!

Teri Yanovitch, who will be leading the Super Seminar on Wednesday, Oct. 8, is a dynamic and insightful speaker whose powerful combination of customer service expertise and real-world quality management helps her move organizations from the status quo of “business as usual” to creating a culture of excellence. Teri honed her skills with the best of the best. As a former Disney Institute keynote speaker and seminar leader, she shared the best practices developed by the Walt Disney Company with global organizations. The author of two best-selling books on creating a culture of service excellence, Teri has become one of the nation’s most sought-out consultants on merging best practices in customer service and quality management into a comprehensive system for designing and implementing world-class service on every level.

Inky Johnson, former UT athlete and inspirational speaker, will share his phenomenal story of courage and overcoming adversity as the keynote speaker for lunch on Thursday, Oct. 9. For Inky, a routine tackle during a 2006 football game at Neyland Stadium turned into a life-threatening injury, and nothing has been normal for him since.  Not with a paralyzed right arm. Not with daily pain. Not with constant physical challenges. His dream had always been to play professional sports, so you might think his injury would have destroyed his motivation and crushed his spirit. But that's only because you don't know Inky. The survivor of an underprivileged past and a refugee of poverty and violence, Inky loves to impart how "inspiration" affects people from within and giving them the ability to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible.  Through his walk and his talk, Inky Johnson embodies and imparts a truly inspirational message.

How do you describe Mitch Joel, the keynote speaker for breakfast on Friday, Oct. 10?  Well, Marketing Magazine dubbed him the "Rock Star of Digital Marketing" and called him "one of North America's leading digital visionaries." In 2006, he was named one of the most influential authorities on blog marketing in the world.  As president of Twist Media, one of North America’s largest digital marketing agencies, he has also been named Canada's Most Influential Male in Social Media, one of the top 100 marketers in the world, and was awarded the highly prestigious "Canada's Top 40 Under 40". Most recently, he was named on iMedia's 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators in the world. He has been called a marketing and communications visionary, interactive expert and community leader. He is also a blogger, podcaster, passionate entrepreneur and speaker who connects with people worldwide by sharing his marketing and innovation insights on the state of business. And now, he's coming to share his incredible insight with the Tennessee hospitality and tourism industry!

Add to this incredible roster of speakers Commissioner Susan Whitaker who, as the opening keynote speaker on Thursday, Oct. 9, will be sharing her annual State of the Industry address and Department of Tourist Development presentation, and Governor Bill Haslam, who is invited to present his annual Address to the Tourism Industry at the closing luncheon on Friday, Oct. 10. Truly, this is a conference you won’t want to miss!

Complete information on conference speakers, educational programming, schedule, registration, lodging and more can be found by clicking on the “2014 Governor’s Conference” tab on the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association website at www.tnhta.net.

Industry Updates

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Iphone Apps Have Launched! 

Head to iTunes today and download the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways free interactive iPhone apps. All 16 trails in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative, are now available for download on iTunes or by visiting tnvacation.com/travel-apps/.

Tennessee Sampler Postponed Until Spring 2015

After additional discussion within the department, and based upon some recent communication with various partner destinations and attractions, we have decided to postpone the Tennessee Sampler PR and Sales missions until Spring 2015. We are still very excited about the original plan to conduct calls, appointments, and host a “Made In Tennessee Showcase” in the greater Chicago, and surrounding Great Lakes region.

New dates for the Chicago Tennessee Sampler will be determined within the next few weeks, and will likely be locked-in for March or April 2015.  We are taking into consideration other industry and education-related date conflicts in those months and will update everyone as soon as possible.  Thank you for the great feedback concerning Tennessee Sampler, as it further reinforces how fortunate we are to have an engaged and communicative relationship with our Tennessee partners. 

4 ways to build engaging videos

Everyone loves a good online video binge. Video has a tangible impact on whether prospective customers go on to engage with a brand. According to eMarketer, 72% of people who watched videos as part of marketing materials went on to research the product further, 54% visited the brand's website and 46% purchased the product. The key is understanding what your video needs to achieve. Know your purpose. Long before anyone picks up a camera, it's crucial to know what you want to get out of your video. Make sure you've outlined an overall strategy and how each video fits into that plan. Videos designed to generate leads, make sales, entertain or increase awareness of a product are very different and need to be approached that way. Full article.

Tennessee Lt. Governor Ramsey, along with other dignitaries from Tennessee and Virginia, cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.

Stay Connected Twitter Facebook YouTube TripTales Partner Login