In the summer of 2009, the recession was in full force. Research showed the lowest intent to vacation in years. Thirty-one percent of Americans polled said that the economy had forced them to cancel, postpone or reduce the amount of vacation they would take that year.
We knew we had to develop a campaign that not only created a sense of urgency for tourists to travel to Ocean City, but also gave them “permission” to spend during tough economic times. Market research confirmed our belief that it was crucial to emphasize the value of the resort destination, as well as the variety of activities it offered.
MGH created a fully integrated marketing campaign that literally moved the conversation away from avoiding vacations to making them imperative. We created a character named “Rodney,” an Ocean City lifeguard whose job it was to rescue people from their daily, stressful and even boring lives – and take them to Ocean City. It was the right message for the right time, positioning the resort as a refuge from recessionary woes.
After the nation recovered from the depths of the recession, we built on people’s affection for the Rodney character and broadened his message. He became a trusted tour guide, an advisor on how to spend your valuable vacation days, and more. Outside of television commercials, he made appearances up and down the East Coast and helped spread the word about Ocean City.