Kentucky may be home to 95% of the world’s bourbon but there’s only one Bourbon Capital of the World and the people from Bardstown, Kentucky want everyone to know it. As the world’s thirst for bourbon continues to grow and nearly 2,000 distilleries dot the landscape across the country Bardstown wants the world to know that if you are looking for an authentic bourbon whiskey experience that ‘Bourbon Comes from Bardstown.’
That’s the lead message that the Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist & Convention Commission wanted to get out there with their latest award winning marketing campaign.
“Winning a national travel award like the Destiny is a huge victory for Bardstown Kentucky,” said Mike Mangeot Executive Director of the Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist & Convention Commission. “Our goal was to create a campaign that would shed light on our friendly town while showcasing what all the beautiful bourbon town has to offer to put us on the map.”
The judges commended the winning campaign for its clear and strategic effort to target a specific niche in the market with tactics felt to be authentic, defendable and that captured the unique character of the destination.
Sharing the Story of Bardstown’s Bourbon History
Bardstown is a small town with just over 13,000 people located less than an hour’s drive from Louisville and Lexington and just over a couple hours from Cincinnati, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee. The Scottish settlers who arrived in Bardstown in the late 1700s recognized that the region’s limestone-filtered spring water and fertile soil made for the perfect place to grow corn and wheat and distill American whiskey. Since that time, the area has been home to a number of bourbon distilleries.
The tourist and convention center worked with Doe-Anderson to come up with a laser-focused campaign with a single message – Bourbon Comes from Bardstown. The success of that campaign was recently recognized with a national Destiny Award from the U.S. Travel Association at its annual ESTO conference. The Destiny Award celebrates this year’s best creative work for destination marketing and promotion. In this case Bardstown was recognized for Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign with a budget of less than $500,000.
With the insight that Millennials are the driving force in authentic travel experiences the campaign sought to target males ages 25–34 and introduce Bardstown as a unique and immersive bourbon-tasting experience with an authentically local vibe. The campaign focused on metro markets with populations of more than 1.5 million that are a one-to-three hour drive from Bardstown. They leveraged digital media and out-of-home opportunities to reach neighborhoods where the target Millennial males eat, drink and play.
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Combined with a retro-hip visual treatment, this message was plastered over billboards, posters, bus shelters, t-shirts, table tents and coasters in target bars and restaurants. Photography by a Kentucky native brought Bardstown to life in a captivating way for online audiences who weren’t familiar with the town’s scenic beauty. It reminded younger drinkers that best bourbon comes from the place that has been making it for over a century – Bardstown, Kentucky.
The effectiveness of the campaign was evaluated based on website traffic. Traffic was segmented by acquisition channel and digital efforts (display, native, social, and paid search) along with organic search (for out-of-home). Outbound local business links were also tracked as further interest evaluation metrics to the Visit Bardstown website.
The digital efforts of the campaign also drove 23,490 sessions to the website, which accounted for 23.8 percent of the total traffic during that time period with organic search traffic increasing 23.6 percent year over year.
What Does a Parade Look like in the Bourbon Capital of the World?
If you’ve ever wondered what a parade looks like in Bardstown we’ve got the answer right here. Here’s a snippet of a parade of bourbon trucks rumbling down the streets of Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World.