, Derry, New Hampshire

April 18, 2012

New tourism campaign gets mixed reviews

By Cara Hogan

The state Division of Travel and Tourism wants visitors to fill in the blank.

After a year of research and $130,000, New Hampshire last week launched its new campaign, complete with new logo and slogan: "Live Free and ..."

"The concept is Live Free and Discover or Live Free and Ski," said Lori Harnois, the division's marketing manager. "It allows people to put in their own emotional idea of what they like to do on vacation."

The new slogan replaces "You're going to love it here." Tourism officials hope even more people will be drawn to the Granite State, enticed by the new campaign.

There's a new logo, which incorporates green mountains, blue water and NH in flowing script.

"The logo incorporated the key attributes that consumers had told us why they visit New Hampshire, for its mountains, lakes, seacoasts and many trails," Harnois said. "We try to encompass all of those elements and put it into the logo."

For local business owners, the new slogan could bring the promise of more tourism dollars.

Bill Parnell, president of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said he likes the new concept.

"I like the idea, playing on Live Free or Die as a marketing technique," he said. "But I'm not sure it's really targeted for the Derry/Londonderry area, so much as for where people are more likely to vacation. This is clearly directed at the lakes and the north and the seacoast."

But, he said, any tourism is good for the state.

"It gets people into our state and, with any luck, stopping into our towns, even as simple as stopping in at a restaurant on the way up," he said.

Some residents weren't as enthusiastic, saying it was disrespectful to play with the state motto.

"I despise it," said Alison Gagnon, 56, of Londonderry. "It's supposed to say Live Free or Die, nothing else. I love our state motto. It's not pretty, it's direct and that's how we are in New Hampshire."

Others, like Bob Gamlin, 88, of Londonderry, said low prices — not logos — that bring people to New Hampshire.

"I don't think the state should have spent a year and money on this," he said. "The slogan doesn't matter."

But some residents thought the new campaign would be successful, including Carolyn Lombard, 49, of Derry.

"How about Live Free and Relax?" she said. "I think it's going to work. I know when I see ads to come visit other states, I think 'Oh, I've never been there and I want to go.'"

She said the new logo represents the beauty of the state.

"I love the blue water and the green mountains," she said. "I'm from Massachusetts and it's so much calmer here. It's a great state."

Wayne McClain, 64, of Londonderry said he didn't love the slogan, but thought the goal was admirable.

"If it works to bring more people to the state, great," he said. "Tourist dollars, sales tax dollars, restaurant and hotel money, I hope it brings all that in."

Harnois said the money spent on the campaign is a long-term investment for the state.

"It's a goal of ours to make it as strong a campaign as the 'I Love NY' campaign or 'Pure Michigan' or 'Virginia is for Lovers,'" she said. "Those campaigns were all very successful and we see them as good role models."

New advertising will start this summer. The logo will be incorporated into the welcome and information centers and Welcome to New Hampshire highway signs.

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