“Your trip begins at michigan.org.”
Any Michigander with cable television knows those words all too well. Accompanied by beautiful, picturesque scenes, a pretty piano piece, and a soothing voice talking about all of Michigan’s greatest qualities, the Pure Michigan advertising campaign is the stuff of legend. Countless parodies have been made of the ads, and they’ve been joked about by many, but the nostalgia the ads bring have still had success amongst viewers.
However, it’s looking like the ads might not get their chance to spread the delightful joys of Michigan much longer. The budget for the 2011 fiscal year was cut to $5.4 million from its initial $30 million, and state tourism officials recently announced the advertising campaign would be cancelled if they didn’t receive a funding boost from the state government. With a lame duck Congress about to be adjourned, they likely won’t obtain any more funds.
Cheesy as they might be, the Pure Michigan ads have worked for Michigan in the past. In an independent study, it was found that the campaign brought 5 million new out-of-state visitors during summers 2006 to 2009, and those visitors spent $1.3 billion in Michigan businesses and paid $93 million in Michigan taxes. Essentially, for each dollar spent on the advertising, the state got $2.94 back.
The campaign’s achievements haven’t gone unnoticed. Forbes Magazine named the campaign one of the ten best tourism ad campaigns of all time in 2009, and was recognized by the U.S. Travel Association as the Best State Tourism Advertising Campaign.
From this data, cutting the program entirely doesn’t make any sense. The main goal is to rebuild Michigan’s economy, and when something is clearly working towards promoting that and is doing so effectively it should be nurtured as such.
Some would argue there are better things for the state to be spending its money on at the moment, but when there is a significant profit to be made off a program, it’s certainly something that should be supported. Tourism is a huge aspect of Michigan’s economy, with visitors spending over $15.1 billion annually, creating $850 million in state taxes and supporting at least 142,500 jobs for Michigan residents. If this industry could be grown, it could give Michigan the extra revenue needed to fund other projects affected by the budget crisis.
Many lawmakers say they support the campaign, but they aren’t sure how to fund it because of the state’s budget problems. Governor-elect Rick Snyder supports the campaign and said he would make it a priority to fund the campaign in January if the issue is not solved before the session closes. Good thing, too – with a budget in crisis, the more revenue the state can get from taxes, the better.
Regardless of how silly the advertisements might seem to Michigan residents, they should still be glad if they get the chance to see them on television in the upcoming year. Even if one’s heart isn’t moved by the beauteous shots of waterfalls, bustling cities and nostalgic activities, it should be moved by the idea that such advertisements could help bring Michigan back to a more pleasant economic state.