After months of planning, filming, programming and other efforts, we’re excited to unveil our breakthrough campaign for Visit North Carolina that celebrates why people vacation in North Carolina while showcasing all they can experience when they get here.

Titled “Firsts That Last,” the innovative campaign features real-life travelers making their first visit to North Carolina, each experiencing something for the first time – seeing a waterfall, enjoying the ocean, or exploring authentic farm-to-table life in central North Carolina.

“Research shows more than 80 percent of people who visit North Carolina for the first time return again,” says Scott Gilmore, our director of travel and recreation brands. “So this campaign is designed to make an emotional connection with people who have an affinity for North Carolina, but for whatever reason have never visited, by showcasing the kinds of memorable firsts to be experienced here.

The campaign’s two TV commercials were cut from three longer online videos that were filmed documentary style, with crews shadowing the real-life visitors as they explored destinations throughout North Carolina. The travelers were selected by an outfit that specializes in finding non-actors for TV shows and commercials based on two criteria: they’ve never visited North Carolina, and they’re seeking something from a vacation experience that aligned perfectly with LGA’s strategy.

In addition to the TV spots, the campaign includes print, digital display, paid search and social, streaming video and out-of-home media, plus a completely revamped VisitNC.com that features long-form videos showcasing each of the real-life travelers’ “firsts.”

“Traditional tourism marketing can focus too much on demographics, but we really wanted to tap into the mindsets that inspire travel decisions,” says Scott. “Travel is a means of achieving a feeling – whether it’s relaxation, connecting with loved ones, or being energized by your surroundings. ‘Firsts That Last’ shows real people having real experiences that produce real emotional reactions – a truly authentic expression of what North Carolina has to offer.”