The last decade was an especially tough one for Michigan: The state had the highest unemployment figures in the country for four years straight, peaking around 14 percent. Over the last decade, the population in 15 of its 20 largest cities shrank. It faced the near collapse of the auto industry and a national bailout.
But the state is working to change its luck with tourism. Right in the middle of all its economic woes the Pure Michigan campaign was born. Its advertisements on radio, TV, and billboards celebrate the “kick-back and relax” spirit of the state, encouraging visitors to “take time to smell the roses,” or in this case, “take time to walk along the thousands of miles of freshwater coastlines.”
The Pure Michigan ads celebrate the state’s traditions: "Hundreds of lakes, thousands of rivers and streams, begging you to hang up, gone camping, gone swimming, gone sailing…”
Turns out, reminding people that they can feel good in Michigan works. According to a study by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the market research group Longwoods International, 2 million new visitors came to Michigan in 2010, spending an additional $605 million.
Critics of the campaign say cash-strapped Michigan shouldn’t be dishing out money to advertise for private tourism companies, but others, like Mark Canavan, argue that the campaign is earning its keep. For every $1 it spends to promote the state, it brings in over $3.
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