Maine Office of Tourism wins Mercury Award for social media campaign

The Maine Office of Tourism received a prestigious 2017 Mercury Award at the annual U.S. Travel Association’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference in August for excellence in tourism marketing. Maine won the award for the category Social Media, in recognition of their 2016 Instagram Influencer campaign.

“We congratulate the team at the Office of Tourism for this national recognition of their work in support of Maine businesses,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “My administration fully supports activities that help showcase Maine as a terrific place to visit, study, work and invest.”

The Maine Office of Tourism (MOT) aims to drive demand for travel to the state of Maine through a robust marketing program centered on the core human value of originality. This brand platform is expressed through “The Maine Thing” campaign. As the Maine brand continues to grow and visitation increases year-over-over, MOT looks for meaningful and credible opportunities to permeate Maine into consumers’ daily lives. One such effort was the 2016 social media influencer campaign involving the eight regions of Maine.

The Office of Tourism, working with its marketing agency BVK, brought a group of prominent Instagram photographers to Maine for a week in summer 2016 to experience the truly authentic culture, people and landscapes of the state, while producing a compelling visual narrative to promote the destination along the way. The influencers were selected based on their alignment with Maine’s platform of originality, outdoor-centric content and sizeable network of over 2.3 million combined followers.

MOT sent the five Influencers to each of the eight regions of the state to capture photography of its unique offerings through their personal lenses – their “Maine Thing.” The Influencers published sponsored posts daily on Instagram and Facebook to promote the state using the campaign hashtag #MaineThing, while tagging each region and @VisitMaine for additional exposure. Their weeklong experiences were later documented and showcased in an evergreen feature on, The Maine Thing Quarterly. Photography assets captured during the program were also used to produce new landing pages on to highlight each of the state’s eight regions. Beyond that, MOT offered a compelling co-op advertising component that allowed regional participation, photography generation and paid advertising.

“Receiving this Mercury award will only reinforce our efforts to share information about Maine’s assets in a way that resonates with today’s audience and delivers results for Maine businesses,” said Steve Lyons, director of the Maine Office of Tourism.

Tourism is one of Maine’s largest industries, supporting more than 100,000 jobs in 2016, about 15 percent of employment in the state. Household income generated by tourism industry jobs in Maine that year totaled more than $2.5 billion.