In response to a regional branding initiative for southeastern North Carolina that is being touted as a vehicle for regional economic development, the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee voted down the initiative.
At the WBMAC’s Tuesday, Aug. 13 meeting, committee member Sue Bulluck said she was concerned about a branding campaign that would bundle New Hanover County with the other, less economically developed counties immediately surrounding it.
“I have very strong concerns about a regional branding that would take what we have done as the strongest county in the region and take funds out of our individual units to spend with a new set of consultants to rebrand the region,” Bulluck said. “I happened to be at a breakfast this morning with some politicos from south of us and they were jumping with joy with the thought that New Hanover County would bond with Brunswick. The only winner there is not [New Hanover County].”
Shawn Braden, Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Vice President of Marketing, said CVB President and CEO Kim Hufham has been in several meetings with representatives from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the primary organization behind the initiative.
“They have not mentioned asking money from us at all and we have made it very clear that we will not change any of our branding,” Braden said. “They have assured us this is not a tourism branding but an economic development initiative, but then they throw out looking at things like Nashville and places that are tourism dependent so we are not sure on that.”
Braden said the group is still trying to determine the objective of the initiative.
Wrightsville Beach Alderman and WBMAC liaison Darryl Mills said he had planned to speak against the branding initiative at the next Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting because he felt it would dilute Wrightsville Beach’s image. Mills said he would present the board of aldermen with the WBMAC’s resolution not to contribute any money or time to the initiative at this time until it is developed further.
Following a recent photo shoot, Clean Design — the CVB’s advertising agency — unveiled drafts of new Wrightsville Beach tourism advertisement that will run online and in print in the coming years.
The photo collection included shots of the north end mailbox, the John Nesbitt Loop, surfing and standup paddleboarding. Along with those images, Clean Design account manager Stephanie Perri said the wording of the ads would be targeting both empty nesters and families by using phrases like, “When the kids are away the adults will play,” next to a picture of the Loop and, “Explore our channels, DVR everything else,” with a picture of a SUP in Banks Channel.
Water will be a main fixture in all of the ads and Perri said Clean Design would also be working to show potential visitors little-known features about Wrightsville Beach to make a trip there appear more dynamic than just a day at the beach.