Nebraska tourism

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

22 October 2018

Nebraska tourism campaign kicks ass

Oh, the poor people of Nebraska. The Nebraska Tourism Commission unveils a kick-ass campaign, and residents think it sucks.

“This’ll get folks flocking here in droves…NOT,” wrote one commentator, according to The Washington Post. Said another, “Our tourism sucks because everybody says we suck and they just roll with it.”

Nebraska tourismMaybe Nebraska does have a tourism problem. Some of its citizens are failing to see that this Nebraska tourism effort is one of the best campaigns we’ve ever seen from a destination.

“Honestly, we’re not for everyone” is the kind of sophisticated branding rarely seen in any category, let alone destination and tourism.

Instead, most destinations just highlight the location’s attractions. Like that’s how anyone chooses. “Come see our wonderful trees!” “Look out for that creek!”


You think Las Vegas is so coveted because it’s in a desert and houses casinos? Of course not, otherwise Atlantic City (with its advantage of being on the water) would be rolling in riches.

No, Las Vegas woos tourists because it appeals to a specific kind of traveler with an emotional bent. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” perfectly encompasses the appeal of Sin City. It defines the traveler, not the destination.

“Kudos to Nebraska Tourism. By saying the state is not for everyone, it’s created a powerful emotional reason to check out the state for the next trip.”

What the Nebraska tourism campaign gets right

The Nebraska tourism campaign doesn’t feed into stereotypes as some locals claim. It says Nebraska is a little different, which is enough to prompt tourists to consider the Cornhusker state.

More importantly, the campaign serves as the foundation of branding geared to create preference. You only create preference when you say who you are for and, more importantly, who you are not for.

Nebraska tourismAll great branding suggests that. Apple built its empire by saying “Think Different,” which suggests you’re outside the mainstream as an Apple customer. “Just Do It” by Nike says other people don’t wipe away the nonsense and get on with it. But you do.

And here’s a little secret about this approach. By saying who you are not for, you create a need among your target audience to actually want to belong in that group. You ask yourself, “Why not me?” In fact, the answer becomes, “That IS me.”

Kudos to Nebraska Tourism. By saying the state is not for everyone, it’s created a powerful emotional reason to check out the state for the next trip.

The price of clarity is someone taking offense. If Nebraskans think the campaign should highlight its features and say it’s for everyone, then tourism there will definitely die. Guaranteed.

See more posts in the following related categories: Tourism branding


  1. Michael G Turner

    Totally agree, Tom. There are people who would never, ever visit Nebraska, and Nebraska shouldn’t waste time trying to interest them. They should aim at people who MIGHT go. As it happens, I am one of those people. I have thought about visiting Nebraska. I have visited eastern Wyoming several times and have considered popping over the border to see what’s over there in Nebraska. But it hasn’t ever worked out. I need a nudge. The line “Honestly, it’s not for everyone” is PRECISELY what I want to hear about a destination. That’s just me. But I am the kind of person who might actually buy a plane ticket and spend a week out there. So, yes: by defining itself so clearly, Nebraska has prompted me to start thinking about making my 2019 trip a trip to Nebraska. Score one for the brilliant campaign by the canny marketing team that came up with this. And, as always, kudos to the client who recognized a great idea and approved it, probably knowing they would be inviting disparagement from less imaginative commentators.

  2. Neil Hopkins

    I love the approach – it’s a brave move but one based on a great understanding of human nature (FOMO, multiple different forms of identity etc).
    However, I can’t quite decide about ‘Honestly’. It feels as though ‘Nebraska. It’s not for everyone’ is stronger (partly due to the syllable formation being 3-6 rather than 3-3-6 which feels a bit unbalanced to my mind).

    What I’m not so fond of is the accompanying images/text. While the slogan is really, really strong (‘Honestly’ notwithstanding), the images are nothing particularly new. Lots of tourism campaigns have played with the ‘Another rainy day in xyz’ against a sunny backdrop and similar.
    It’s not a new device and, in my opinion, it detracts from the strength of the proposition offered in the headline copy.

    Perhaps generation 2 of the work will see a stronger interpretation of the slogan – we shall see.


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