Does St. Louis need to sell itself to locals?

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by Diana Zoga / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 3:52 AM

(KMOV.com) - For the next few weeks, St. Louis television and radio audiences will hear commercials urging them to "visit St. Louis."

In one ad, a computer generated 737 glides past the Cathedral Basilica, Forest Park, and other St. Louis landmarks as a voice over artist says, "You could fly to Venice.... or Paris... or even Copenhagen.  You could fly all over the world, but why? When you could just come to St. Louis".

The ads were not produced with a St. Louis audience in mind.  They were made to air in other markets that include: Memphis, Chicago, Indianapolis, and the Quad Cities to boost tourism to the region; but the St Louis Convention and Visitors Commission says the ads will also target St. Louis audiences for the first time this May.

If you're using you're mobile device, click here to see the ad

Brian Hall, the Chief Marketing Officer for the St. Louis CVC, said the ads are running in St. Louis to show people how the region is marketing itself.  Hall said the commercials are also part of an effort to boost "civic pride".

"When people hear about new developments and they hear about new activities that are coming on line, they're a little bit skeptical.  They're tough to convince," said Hall. "We think these commercials will break through that and show people that, indeed, there are cool things that are happening in St. Louis."

In 2007, the St. Louis CVC was working on the "St. Lou--is All Within Reach" campaign and did some market research.  Hall said that the CVC was assessing image attributes and tested what people believe about St. Louis.

"We found that the image attributes or the image evaluations of St. Louisans were actually lower than people outside of the community,” Hall said.

Jessica Barber, who moved to St. Louis from Tampa, said locals in St. Louis have often questioned the move.

"They say, why would you move here?  I say, the people, the art, the culture, the architecture," said Barber.

"I've grown up here my whole life and you take it for granted that it's just here," said Christina Ruby.

News 4 also showed one of the ads to Chef Ivy Magruder, of Gamlin Whiskey House.

"You're asking the wrong guy,” Magruder said.  “I have a lot of civic pride already. “I left and came back for a reason.  I have a lot of pride in St. Louis. I think it's more than the local sports scene. It's the local community," said Magruder.

The ads began airing on St. Louis TV and radio stations on Monday and are expected to continue through May 18.  The St. Louis CVC paid to produce the ads for other markets.  The non-profit St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation took two of the commercials that were already produced and paid $70,000 to buy local ad time.  

Hall said he expects the group to run a new set of tourism ads in St. Louis this fall. Hall said it is too early to determine if the ads will reverse people’s perception of St. Louis.

"An appropriate amount of time needs to be spent on the problems so that we can overcome them and address,” Hall said.  “At the same time, we need to be reminded of what's good and virtuous about this destination so that we can celebrate that and lift it."

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