Wednesday October 25, 2023

By Catherine Neville

ST. LOUIS - Explore St. Louis’ award-winning St. Louis celebrity campaign is a star-studded marketing strategy to entice tourists to visit and enjoy everything that St. Louis has to offer…and it’s working.

Just in from Strategic Marketing & Research Insights (SMARI), an independent research organization that specializes in travel and tourism, are impressive results. Respondents totaled 2,885 adults in targeted Midwest markets who were surveyed using a web-based methodology.

Key findings include:
• The campaign registered awareness among nearly 12 million households throughout Midwest target markets
• The ads achieved excellent communications ratings including: shows St. Louis as a place to have fun; shows a place that has something for my whole family; captures the spirit, vitality and energy of St. Louis; makes me feel St. Louis is a place that is welcoming
• 75% of those aware of the campaign found the ads engaging, and 6/10 said the ads are truly memorable
• The ads successfully raised awareness of sporting events and activities, appeal to couples/adults, historic sites and landmarks and the dining/food scene
• Viewed in the context of intent to visit St. Louis and competing destinations, the campaign positions St. Louis tied with Chicago for first among Midwest cities
• Trips to St. Louis influenced by the advertising accounted for 6% of total room demand for the period to March – September
• The campaign generated estimated visitor spending for the St. Louis region of $610 million
• Chicago is not only St. Louis’ largest feeder market by visitor volume, but also the most efficient where we achieved 49% awareness costing just $0.25 per ad aware household
• Campaign ad awareness in Kansas City was 69% and Memphis reached 73%

Most recently showcasing Jayson Tatum in an ad, Explore St. Louis launched the celebrity campaign in 2017 to promote the city as a top travel destination. The series of TV spots features celebrities such as Sterling K Brown, John Goodman, Jenna Fischer, Ozzie Smith, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Andy Cohen, Nikki Glaser, Jenifer Lewis and Becky Sauerbrunn. This campaign has received awards from the Missouri Division of Tourism, two Mid-America Emmy Awards and the HSMAI Adrian Awards Best in Show. To view all the commercials, visit