Visit Newport Beach Finds Success with Creative Tourism Campaigns

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Scene from the Visit Newport Beach 2023 Super Bowl commercial. Photo courtesy of Visit Newport Beach.

Tourism returned to Newport Beach in a big way in 2023, much of it due to the efforts of Visit Newport Beach, the city’s Destination Marketing Organization.

Last year Visit Newport Beach devised seven different promotional campaigns designed to lure visitors to Newport Beach.

“We are living in a world with short attention spans and short memories, so unless we are constantly coming up with something interesting and new, attention spans go elsewhere,” explained Visit Newport Beach President and CEO Gary Sherwin. “There used to be a time when you could run a campaign for a year or more, but we can’t do that anymore. You have to be able to constantly go in with something interesting that captures eyeballs and makes people pay attention, so we are always trying to reintroduce new things into the marketplace.”

Visit Newport Beach indeed had a lot of eyeballs on its 2023 campaigns. The organization began the year by launching a creative campaign in anticipation of Super Bowl LVII that offered a big game getaway to Arizona residents that are already looking to leave town. The multi-faceted campaign provided Grand Canyon State residents a glimpse of what to expect if they wanted to escape the football frenzy back home, from exclusive accommodation packages to weekend itineraries that included luxury Newport Beach experiences such as watch parties and special offers.

The final activation of the destination’s multi-faceted six-week Super Bowl campaign aimed at Arizona residents concluded with Visit Newport Beach making its NFL debut with its first-ever Super Bowl commercial that aired on Fox10 in Arizona during the live broadcast of Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12.

Visit Newport Beach President & CEO Gary Sherwin at the 2022 Newport Beach Film Festival. Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Newport Beach Film Festival.

The commercial staged a football watch party on a yacht in Newport Harbor to showcase the kinds of experiences only available in Newport Beach. The voiceover used fun football catchphrases tailored to the Super Bowl audience that let Arizona know Newport Beach is “wide open” for visitation year-round.

About the same time, Visit Newport Beach introduced its Winter Leisure Campaign designed to lure visitors to our idyllic seaside destination instead of the crowded ski resorts. The digital marketing campaign was dubbed “Stay at Sea Level” and offered nautical inspirations for visitors who hoped to hibernate at a seaside resort or enjoy a different type of ski experience (think jet ski) on the water.

According to Sherwin, the Stay at Sea Level campaign was “a call for visitors to choose the sea over the slopes and reimagine their definition of the perfect winter getaway. Newport Beach is the ideal refuge for a winter warm-up.”

The “Stay at Sea Level” campaign ran through March 31, and had three versions using language that reframes winter vacations from the mountains to the sea: “Choose Boats Over Coats,” “Choose Seas Over Skis” and “Choose Tan Lines Over Lift Lines.”

The campaign includes digital placements in Los Angeles, San Diego, the Bay Area, Las Vegas and Arizona.

Soon after that campaign ended, Visit Newport Beach invited travelers to “Float With Us,” the theme of the spring campaign designed to entice visitors to experience the water-centric experiences in Newport Beach that encompassed our harbor, estuary, resort pools and beaches.

A family having fun in Newport Beach as part of the “Experience More” campaign. Photo courtesy of Visit Newport Beach.

After that came a summer campaign called “Experience More,” which invited travelers seeking an exceptional escape to come to Newport Beach.

According to information from Visit Newport Beach, the marketing campaign promised to exceed expectations by offering “a wealth of unparalleled adventures for an extraordinary summer vacation.”

The summer promotion reached key markets in Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Dallas, Arizona, Salt Lake City, the Bay Area and targeted audiences nationally.

Up next was an innovative fall promotion called the Newport Beach Vacation Club, a destination-driven “membership” where travelers could experience Newport Beach like private club members and sign up to receive exclusive access to luxury experiences and offers curated for members only.

While the membership benefits were exclusive, the Newport Beach Vacation Club was inclusive, so every visitor was a member and had access to elevated luxury experiences, such as a Scotch & Cigar Yacht Charter, Buddies Golf Getaway, and Champagne and Caviar tasting on a Duffy boat.

There was also an exclusive line of merchandise, launched just for the Vacation Club.

“In the last 10 years this has been one of the buzziest campaigns we have ever done,” noted Sherwin. “People want to be part of exclusive experiences. If you look at the Newport Beach community in general, you have yacht clubs, country clubs, and people love being part of those beautiful experiences that are unique and exclusive to them, something they can talk about—but not everyone is able to get into these clubs, so we said let’s create a club and give it an air of exclusivity but open it up to anybody. You can join our club and get access to uniquely Newport Beach experiences.”

Sherwin said his organization talked to researchers and looked at data to see what current trends are and discovered that people want to spend money and time on great experiences, so Visit Newport Beach created exclusive experiences that are elevated beyond the ordinary. Sherwin said people have gravitated to it.

“It’s a way to play into what the consumer wants—something exclusive, which is already associated with Newport Beach. Hats off to our team for concepting this. The word of mouth was amazing.”

The final campaign of the year for Visit Newport Beach, launched in November, was “50 Days of Festive Fun.”

Billed as one of the nation’s longest-running destination-wide holiday celebrations, “50 Days of Festive Fun” was an all-encompassing celebratory experience that included the myriad holiday events taking place in Newport Beach through January 5.

“This was the first time in the city’s history that we put all of the holiday activities together in one place,” said Sherwin.

A daily calendar of holiday events at 50daysoffestivefun.com includes everything from the Roger’s Gardens Christmas boutique to the Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes, and of course the 115th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and the accompanying Ring of Lights Home Decorating Competition.

The custom-built campaign landing page acted as Newport Beach’s holiday headquarters including a curated gift guide and itineraries for food lovers, fashionistas, trendsetters, families and couples.

As Sherwin noted a year ago, “Newport Beach more than a lot of places came out of Covid much more resilient and in better shape. Even during Covid we were able to sustain ourselves. It’s a testament to Newport Beach being a drive market, and it’s a healthy city with a healthy lifestyle.”

And Newport Beach has a healthy tourism industry that the world was exposed to on January 1 during the Rose Parade with Visit Newport Beach’s float, aptly titled “Jingle on the Waves,” the longest float entry in parade history.

The float was a tribute to the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, essentially creating a parade within a parade. The design showcased iconic Newport Beach landmarks like the Fun Zone Ferris Wheel and the Balboa Pavilion. Adding to the historic ties between Pasadena and Newport Beach, former Rose Queens who call Newport Beach home rode on the float.

To see what else Visit Newport Beach is up to, go to www.VisitNewportBeach.com.

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