South Carolina Tourism Pulls Back From Gay Market
So Not Gay: South Carolina Tourism Pulls Back From Gay Market
Decision described as ’disappointing’ and ’anti-gay’
London (OUT NOW) -- July 11, 2008 -- The body responsible for South Carolina Tourism has backed out of a lesbian and gay advertising campaign currently running in the UK directed towards lesbian and gay travelers.
The Amro Worldwide “So Gay” campaign has been widely praised by the gay and lesbian community for helping to remove the sting of “So Gay” as an intended insult, by turning it into the strong positive that gays and lesbians feel the phrase should be, and applying it to increase tourism to various US destinations.
The “So Gay” campaign was designed by the leading gay marketing specialist, Out Now, and features five leading US travel destinations.
Today the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department (SCPRT) said that despite previously approving it, they were now pulling out of the campaign, and were not going to pay for it. They also said they had asked the advertising be removed.
Andrew Roberts, CEO of Amro Worldwide said that the decision by SCPRT was one that was disappointing, and went on to say the “So Gay” campaign was an important one for several reasons.
“Amro Worldwide helps to arrange the travel arrangements for some of the 3 million gays and lesbians living in the UK,” Roberts said. “Our work helps local business in each of the regions we send travelers to. We were heartened to see many strongly supportive remarks included amongst reader comments made in the reporting of this story in the US media. Targeting gay travel is all about treating this particular group of citizens with equality and respect -- something we consider very important in our dealings with all of Amro Worldwide’s customers.”
Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now, the gay marketing agency that designed the campaign said that the amount of money paid was miniscule compared to the value the campaign brings to the local South Carolina tourism industry.
“Before today I would have said that many of the 3 million gays and lesbians in the UK making travel plans would now have been adding South Carolina to their list of travel possibilities as a result of this campaign,” according to Johnson. “That number will drop dramatically from here because the SCPRT seems to want to side with those who are anti-gay, against a campaign designed to sell tolerance and respect, as well as sell gay travel. From the perspective of the many hundreds of South Carolinian businesses that rely in part on gay tourism for their survival, this is not a moral issue in any way. It is a business issue. Pure and simple.”
Johnson added: “Latest research suggests that around 5% of the South Carolina taxpayers can be expected to be lesbian and gay. I can’t help wondering what they would make of this campaign. It seems almost bizarre to suggest that spending a handful of dollars -- less than $5,000 out of a total taxpayer budget of $10.5 million -- to attract UK gay travelers to consider visiting South Carolina is somehow too much . By rights, the amount allocated to gay tourism spend in the annual budget should be over $500,000 were all these South Carolinian gay taxpayer dollars to be allocated proportionately in the budget to attracting gay ’fellow travelers’ to visit.”
Ian Johnson is presenting the Out Now Gay Marketing Masterclass at the leading travel marketing event, WTM World Travel Market in London in November 2008.
“I did find one remark reported to be made by Sen. David Thomas (R-Greenville) to be of great concern,” said Johnson. “He says that the Amro ’So Gay’ campaign goes against South Carolina ’core values’. Given that the campaign is all about attracting business to the State, through furthering principles of equality and respect, his comments leave me wondering just what types of ’core values’ Senator Thomas thinks South Carolina stands for.”
Amro Worldwide is one of the world’s market leaders in selling travel for lesbian and gay people, and was established in 2001 at a time when the general market for travel was at an historical low.
“We really do hope people will still feel able to travel to South Carolina,” said Roberts. “I think the destination has so much to offer any traveler, and that was all we wanted to do -- to let gays and lesbians in the UK know that there is much to see and enjoy in the State. It will be a shame if the actions of SCPRT today causes people to stay away causing their local tourism industry to suffer as a result.”
The Amro Worldwide ’So Gay’ poster campaign runs on escalators in Leicester Square, and in elevators at Covent Garden London Underground stations, from June 27 until July 12, 2008.
Out Now Consulting is a leading global gay marketing specialist agency, founded in 1992. Clients include Barclays, IBM, Toyota, Citibank, German National Tourist Office, Visit Britain, Lufthansa and Time Inc. Magazines. Out Now recently won the “Outstanding Interactive” category in New York at the ’Images in Advertising’ awards for an online campaign for their client Lufthansa.
Amro Worldwide has carved a leading edge niche in the specialist expertise of ’gay travel’ during the past seven years. Amro is ATOL bonded, and offers clients the flexibility to ’order’ up their next holiday online with Amro Collection -- or take advantage of the extensive knowledge of Amro’s personal travel consultants via the Amro A La Carte service. Amro management has personally stayed with every property they sell, giving rise to their corporate motto: Gay Travel - Tried, and Trusted.
Tel: UK office: +44-(0)20-8123 5288
UK cell/mobile: +44-(0)7906 553 990
US office: +1-310-878 4878
+44-(0)7703 114 302
To view and download images from the campaign, visit
For further updates on this story:
visit Gay Market News
- Contact Information
- Ian Johnson
- Out Now
- Contact via E-mail
This news content may be integrated into any legitimate news gathering and publishing effort. Linking is permitted.
News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.