While they salt streets, we salt margaritas - FOX 13 News

While they salt streets, we salt margaritas

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Visit St. Pete-Clearwater keeps thinking up new ways to get attention in the tourism industry's biggest winter season feeder markets: New York, Chicago and Toronto.

Those are also some of the most expensive markets for traditional radio, television and print advertising. So breaking into them without breaking the bank requires some creativity.

"You can complement traditional advertising with more kind of guerilla tactics like this to get people's attention in a more economical way," VSPC's David Downing explained.

Downing was referring to some old tactics and some new tactics, such as "snow stamps": Impressions that can be imprinted on light dustings of snow on big city sidewalks.

"When there's a fresh snow we have a team of 40 that will run out and put these stamps into the snow," Downing said, conceding pedestrian traffic will quickly obliterate the messaging -- so there will be lots of snow stamps.

Another tactic relies on heavier snow, but should be somewhat more enduring: snow sculptures in places such as New York's Central Park.

"Big sculptures, like eight feet high, of a beach scene and the St. Pete-Clearwater logo in them," Downing said.

Those will reinforce hundreds of signs on commuter trains, subway stations and city buses. The messages are tailored for the specific market, like "Wake up in a city that never sleeps" in New York.

Very short videos are played on elevator video screens, which also display the current temperatures in New York (or Chicago) and St. Petersburg.

VSPC coffee cup wraps have been deployed. A contest for a free beach vacation is now on every carton of Florida's fresh orange juice.

"Twelve million cartons over a three-month period, nationally," Downing said.

All of which compliments traditional advertising.

"A lot of it is trying to get in the face of the people who are there, but there's a second part of it that's more about social media and about people talking about what you're doing from a perspective of ‘Wow, that's kind of cool,' " Downing said.

He said New Yorkers are tweeting about a message comparing salting margaritas to salting sidewalks, a coveted response to marketers.

Pinellas County's tourism bureau always targets the crowd that is "in season" from February through April -- that means the snowbirds.

In the summer, Tampa Bay and Orlando are the biggest feeder markets, so that is where advertising dollars will be directed.

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