Deschutes paid for tourism “wonder” spot

The county funded a small part of Oregon’s $2.3 million “Seven Wonders” campaign

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin / @EGlucklich

Since March, an ad campaign has touted the “Seven Wonders of Oregon,” in a series of commercial spots airing across the West.

Smith Rock State Park earned a place in the mult million-dollar Travel Oregon tourism campaign, along with other state landmarks, including Crater Lake National Park, the Oregon Coast, Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge.

And it turns out every taxpayer in Deschutes County played a small role in making that happen.

The $2.3 million ad campaign included a $25,000 contribution from Deschutes County’s general fund, tourism officials said this week. The local contribution also included $50,000 from the Central Oregon Visitors Association, which is funded through tourist stays at hotels and resorts in the county. County commissioners approved the $25,000 payment in November, Administrator Tom Anderson said.

The commercials started airing in March and are expected to run through June, both in Oregon and regional markets such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boise and Vancouver, B.C.

Anderson called it a good opportunity to boost Central Oregon’s visibility.

“It was a unique and potentially very beneficial campaign to increase tourism” in the region, he said Thursday.

Travel Oregon officials said Smith Rock would have made the list even without the county support. But paying for the $2.3 million Seven Wonders campaign meant lobbying for financial support from Central Oregon and other areas across the state, spokeswoman Judiaann Woo said.

“Travel Oregon has a cooperative approach,” Woo said. The Legislature created Travel Oregon as a tourism promotion agency in 2003, and it’s funded through a state tax on hotel stays. But Travel Oregon also asks for financial support from local governments and tourism groups.

“That basically allows regions to have a greater voice collectively than as individual entities,” Woo said.

Portland ad firm Wieden+Kennedy produced the 30- and 60-second commercials, touting the state’s natural landscapes. A narrator wonders aloud why none of Oregon’s destinations is included in lists of global getaways, as footage of Smith Rock and the other landmarks flash on the screen.

“All we can figure is whoever named the Seven Wonders of the World never set foot in Oregon,” the commercial’s narrator states.

The Central Oregon Visitors Association was eager to support the campaign, Alana Hughson, the agency’s president and CEO, said Thursday.

Travel Oregon approached various tourism groups last summer to drum up support for the campaign, and she said her association was one of the first to step forward.

“We said, ‘We absolutely want to leverage that campaign,’” Hughson said. “For a small region like Central Oregon to say we can be part of a campaign with such high production values, and reach new people with a relatively small investment was a great opportunity.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com