Colorado tourism account comes back home thanks to Karsh/Hagan: We heart Colorado

Colorado has awarded its new tourism contract -- and surprise, surprise, a Colorado company has the key role in a deal that's now been split between several companies: Karsh/Hagan, founded in 1977, when John Denver tunes were enough to attract tourists.

To win the account, which had been in the hands of out an out-of-state company that devised such uninspirational slogans as "Let's Talk Colorado," Karsh/Hagan came up with a "We heart Colorado" pitch that other locals may not have loved -- but they all applauded the concept of bringing the contract back home (witness these comments on the Denver Egotist).

While looking for more news on the announcement, I came across this on the Karsh/Hagan web site:

You bet we're listening, Westword!

Dear Patricia Calhoun at Westword,

Thank you so much for being as passionate about tourism and Colorado as we are and we're glad you like our VISIT DENVER campaign.

We especially liked your #1 way to "improve Colorado tourism," bring some color back to Colorado:

1) Ditch all the earlier, awful slogans for marketing this state and return to "Colorful Colorado." Hang a campaign on those words that highlights some of this state's colorful locations and characters -- which we have in abundance, starting with our new governor. It worked with the Visit Denver "Ask the Locals" campaign...

We heart that idea.

Here's the release from the state:

Marijuana Deals Near You

Colorado Tourism Office Announces New Marketing Contracts

DENVER (May 2, 2011) - The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) today announced the agencies selected for five of its marketing-related contracts. Colorado Tourism Office Board of Directors approved the selection committee recommendations for four contractors - Karsh/Hagan, MMG Mardiks, Miles/Weaver and Cellet Travel Services Limited- to promote the state up to next three years.

"The bid was extremely competitive for each of the contracts, and we were very pleased with the creativity presented by all of the agencies that participated in the RFP process. In the end, the selection committees chose the most strategic and creative plans that can help us grow our market share, increase visitation and tourism spending," said Richard Scharf, chairman of the Colorado Tourism Office Board of Directors.

Denver's Karsh/Hagan was selected as the lead brand agency for the Colorado Tourism Office and will be responsible for brand development, creative production, media planning and buying for the CTO's domestic advertising campaigns.

"Our team is excited and ready to go," said Pocky Marranzino, co-president, Karsh/Hagan. "Research shows that many potential visitors think Colorado is just mountains. Our job is to leverage our great mountains and also promote all of the other amazing things to see and do in our beautiful state." Marranzino added, "We have a great track record with a number of different tourism clients and we are going to put that experience and knowledge to work quickly and intelligently."

Incumbent New York-based public relations agency MMG Mardiks, which has managed the CTO's public relations and social media programs since October 2006, was selected to continue as Colorado's public relations agency of record.

"Over the past four years, we have developed an innovative, buzz- and business-building PR program in partnership with the Colorado Tourism Office. Together we have positioned Colorado as a true world class destination in top-tier national and local/regional traditional and digital media channels," said Charles Mardiks, managing director, MMG Mardiks. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to build on this momentum and to continue to showcase this great state."

Denver's Miles/Weaver was selected for two of the CTO's contracts. They will continue to oversee the state's publishing contract for the Official State Vacation Guide. Miles/Weaver is also the newly named agency responsible for the interactive contract overseeing COLORADO.com, the state's official visitor information Web site.

"We're very excited to see our relationship with the Colorado Tourism Office continue and grow into the online area," said Peter Koclanes, President, Miles/Weaver. "Colorado offers so many great vacation ideas, to be selected to help the CTO share this with the world is an honor and responsibility we take very seriously."

England-based Cellet Travel Services Limited was selected to continue as the agency of record in marketing Colorado travel destinations to travel trade, media and consumer markets in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"We are truly honored to continue to represent such an amazing destination, and over the next few years there will be outstanding results for Colorado from the UK and Ireland," said Yolanda Fletcher, marketing director, Cellet.

In 2009, visitors contributed $689 million in state and local taxes. Without tourism spending in Colorado, every family would roughly have to pay an additional $364 in taxes. Tourism creates jobs and is one of the largest industries in the state, employing more than 144,000 people.

"From a marketing standpoint, it is important to focus on economic development and stay consistent and competitive in the marketplace, particularly during a time when other states are cutting tourism funding," said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office. "I am confident our newly selected marketing agencies will provide opportunities to increase Colorado's market share and visibility."

ABOUT COLORADO Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 26 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state's breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments, and 54 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet. For more information or a copy of the 2011 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit www.COLORADO.com or call 1-800-COLORADO. Media are invited to visit the Colorado Media Room at www.COLORADO.com/mediaroom. Visitors can also follow Colorado's social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Foursquare, on the Colorado Connect page at www.COLORADO.com/connect.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Denver mayor's and District 8 races just 36 hours away -- from the end of election round one."

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