Florida and New York City had the same problem. Tourism marketing experts in both vacation meccas fretted about the younger demographic.
Marketing pros said Florida was increasingly viewed as a hot spot — for grandparents. New York City intimidated millennials.
The solution? Pop stars.
A private-public tourism agency worked out a deal in 2014 with Taylor Swift to translate the Big Apple for her fans. A year later, Florida’s private-public agency inked a deal with rapper Pitbull to make beaches seem cool.
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But while New York City is gushing over Swift’s outreach, Florida is reeling from the fallout of its contract with Pitbull.
How did one deal go so bad when the other was such a hit?
Tale of the tape
New York City
Agency that struck deal
NYC & Company
Pitbull (Armando Christian Pérez)
Celebrity Tourism Ambassador
Global Welcome Ambassador
2 (2013, 2016)
11 (2010, 2012, 2013, 2016)
$20 million (6th highest hip-hop artist)
$170 million. (No. 1 all genres)
Perform in Miami on nationally televised New Year’s Eve Show
Perform at nationally televised New Year’s Eve party in NYC
Do short promotional videos promoting Florida tourism
Do short promotional videos promoting NYC tourism
Use social media accounts twice a month to promote Florida
Use social media accounts to promote NYC
Music video required to show Florida beach scenes
Promote NYC at concerts
Promote Florida beaches at concerts
Did it work?
It did get Visit Florida’s brand out to 100 million Pitbull fans who might not have seen the message, but it led to the requested resignation of the head of the agency, Will Seccombe. The Florida Legislature is now threatening to shred the agency’s budget, partly because some lawmakers dislike the explicit content of Pitbull’s music.
New York City media excoriated the agency for picking Swift, a Big Apple neophyte born in Pennsylvania, as an ambassador. But the New York Post argued picking Swift wasn’t about appointing a bona fide New Yorker, but rather reaching a new audience via a newcomer such as Tay Tay. As the Post put it: “If anyone can make the urine-soaked street corners appealing to tourists, it’s probably Swift.”
Sources: Forbes, NYC, Visit Florida