Greater Philadelphia Tourism & Marketing Corp., Pen Pals


A turn-of-the-century looking gentleman writes a letter with a quill pen, "My dearest beloved, how I long to be with you again, to see your radiant smile. Please journey to Philadelphia, where we will be at liberty to meet this Monday, at Independence Hall, as the clock strikes six."

The fellow is now seen wearing his best formal wear (complete with ruffled shirt and Paul revere-style black cap), standing on the steps of Independence Hall, searching for the face of his affection. A young woman walks by, slyly flirting with him (and suggesting heterosexuality), but he looks on past her.

A female announcer says, "Philadelphia and its countryside have a long history of making everyone feel welcome and free."

As the man holds flowers and checks his watch, his male companion sneaks up from behind.

As the men walk away together, the tagline announces, "Come to Philadelphia. Get your history straight and your nightlife, gay." (Saying "gay" in the tagline especially calls out to the audience, in case anyone missed it in the old-fashioned imagery.)

The spot cleverly suggests gays have been around for a much longer time than they've been in the news, and yet is subtle, perhaps so as to not upset mainstream viewers.

With a $1 million advertising buy in gay media, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism & Marketing Corp. promotes Philadelphia and its countryside with this gay commercial -- making the City of Brotherly Love the first travel bureau to go into broadcast with a gay message -- print and internet advertising. It is only the second non-gay-owned effort (after Orbitz) to explicitly target gay viewers on TV.

Gay travel advertising has become an increasingly competitive category, with cities across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia in the running. Philadelphia's approach takes the plan to a new level in media (since all other such efforts are in print media), and creative selling points. Unlike other cities which offer gay friendliness in their ads, this one adds Philadelphia's distinction from popular gay destinations as a city rich in history.

The commercial is to run on Comcast-owned cable operators in cities such as New York and Boston on channels including Bravo, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1 and 24-hour gay network LOGO.

After the launch of the campaign, GPTMC reports gay travelers are spending 30% more than they did before the effort debuted, up from $179 per day in 2003 to $233 a day in 2004. Gay Tourism 2005, a 30-page research study conducted by GPTMC)and Community Marketing, Inc., also revealed that for every $1 GPTMC invested in gay tourism marketing, $153 returned in direct visitor spending. Gay travelers spend $54 billion a year in the United States on travel, per Community Marketing Inc.

"The Gay Tourism 2005 report gives unprecedented insight into the powerful economic return that gay travel can bring to a destination," said Deborah Diamond, Ph.D., GPTMC research director in a press release. "We were surprised to learn that gay overnight visitors spend nearly double that of our general overnight visitors, $233 compared to $101 respectively."

Gay Tourism 2005 also contains a groundbreaking section dedicated solely to the region's lesbian visitors. This first-of-its-kind study revealed that compared to gay men, lesbian travelers to Philadelphia:
-Spend the same per day
-Are more likely to be younger
-Tend to travel with partners rather than with friends
-Are less likely to recall gay advertising

In addition, gay men stay longer in Philadelphia (on average 2.4 nights), while lesbians stay for a shorter period of time (just 1.8 nights).

Gay Tourism 2005 is a follow-up study that took place in February 2005, and had more than 2,636 respondents. Of those who answered specific questions about lesbian travel, 871 identified themselves as lesbian, while 59 identified themselves as bisexual. Of the total 2,636 respondents, 533 people reported having been to Philadelphia and its countryside in the past year.

User Comments
Jackie Bikeo
This commercial is a landmark! Who is doing that voiceover? She has got an awesome voice!

I was intrigued by the vocal tones of the voice over, they seem to inspire an "everywoman" quality... making one realize that gays are everywhere and everyone.

Jessie Ruffino
I think this commercial is excellent. I particularly like the way the woman speaks during the voiceover. Who is it?