"Pure Michigan" Launches Online Store After Budget Cuts

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

It could be months before you see another "Pure Michigan" ad on TV.

"We're not able to do any fall advertising," said Travel Michigan Vice President George Zimmermann. "As it stands now, we won't be able to do any winter advertising."

In the meantime the campaign will focus on social media and a new retail venture online, which was launched Tuesday.

"The main reason for doing this is to promote the Michigan brand, to get that message out farther," he said. "But it will not solve our financial problems."

Zimmermann estimates the online merchandise store, which is selling everything from clothing to sporting goods to memorabilia, will only produce around 1% of their budget.

The popular tourism campaign "Pure Michigan" took a dramatic budget cut this year -- from $17 million for 2010 to $5 million for 2011. Zimmermann says that's a sixth of what the program really needs. He says last summer the ads brought more than two million out of state visitors to Michigan.

"They raised $600 billion for Michigan businesses and spent more than $40 million in Michigan sales tax," said Zimmermann.

That money's important to keeping local Lansing attractions alive. Tourism in greater Lansing employs 7500 people, according to Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing for the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Places like Cooley Law School Stadium...the Capitol...Impression 5 Science Center," Padot said, naming a few attractions she said depend on tourism.

Zimmermann believes anyone who comes to Michigan will come back. But it's a matter of attracting those first-time visitors.

"But we need that momentum," she said. "We need to keep that advertising out there to keep that going."

Zimmermann says the ads are ready to go, but air time is pricey. He says the fight is not yet over. He hopes to win back some funding when the Legislature reconvenes in November.

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