By Donald Wittkowski
“Want to know what it’s going to be like this summer?” the narrator says invitingly as the video begins.
A map of the eastern United States then appears and the camera zooms in on a small town at the Jersey Shore.
“The forecast is fun … in Sea Isle City,” the narrator continues.
The 30-second video is one of the centerpieces of Sea Isle’s newly unveiled family-friendly $100,000 marketing campaign that features the theme “The Forecast is Fun!”
Although it is only February, Sea Isle tourism officials are getting the message out that vacationers should already be thinking about the summer season at the shore.
The new video serves as a teaser, showcasing Sea Isle’s beaches, recreation and dining attractions while beckoning tourists to “start planning now for summer fun and memories that last a lifetime.”
“Plan your next family vacation in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, and enjoy the best that the Jersey Shore has to offer,” the narrator says. “From sunrise to sunset, entertain the family with our beautiful beaches, delicious dining and family-fun activities.”
Posted on Sea Isle’s Facebook page, the video is part of a publicity blitz that combines more traditional forms of advertising such as billboards, print ads and visitor guides with a social media strategy.
“We have tried to spread it across different mediums,” explained Diane Merson, Sea Isle’s tourism representative.
Merson and Mickey Coskey, Sea Isle’s marketing consultant, also plan to promote the city at a series of Cape May County-themed travel shows across the country and in Canada.
Coskey recalled the response that she got from people while representing the Cape May County seashore towns at the Philadelphia Flower Show last March.
“Everybody who went by loved Sea Isle, so it’s a nice way to gauge how people are feeling,” said Coskey, the owner of Seven Mile Publishing & Creative LLC.
On a typical summer weekend, about 50,000 to 60,000 visitors will pour into Sea Isle, a barrier island with a year-round population of 2,100. During peak summer holiday weekends, such as the Fourth of July, the number of tourists will soar to 65,000 to 75,000, city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.
Sea Isle wants those visitors to keep coming back, so it has crafted an advertising campaign that focuses on its family image. In the process, the city hopes to gain an advantage on other seashore towns in the fierce competition for tourist dollars.
“I think it’s family-friendly. It’s not as commercialized as some of the other towns. I think parents like that,” Merson said of Sea Isle.
On Christmas Day, Sea Isle’s Tourism Commission got an early start with its marketing campaign by placing a digital billboard on the Walt Whitman Bridge in Philadelphia that entices visitors with a summer beach scene and the words, “New Year’s Resolution – Spend more time in Sea Isle City.”
Since then, the Tourism Commission has ratcheted up its campaign by putting up two more strategically located digital billboards on the I-95 corridor in Philadelphia to lure tourists to Sea Isle.
Demographic figures from 2017 showed that 38 percent of the visitors on Sea Isle’s tourism website, www.visitsicnj.com, are people who live in Philadelphia. Forty percent of the web visitors live in New Jersey, 7 percent in Washington, D.C., and 4 percent in New York.
Recognizing the growing importance of digital marketing, Sea Isle is beefing up its website, Facebook page and other social media. The Facebook page will include a “countdown to summer,” featuring a different photo of Sea Isle every day to tempt tourists.
Sea Isle is also heavily promoting its popular “Polar Bear Weekend” celebration Feb. 16-18. The festivities will include an array of visitor-friendly events. Based on the turnout in previous years, thousands of self-proclaimed polar bears are expected to take a frosty plunge in the ocean on Feb. 17 during the weekend’s headline event.