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North Dakota Tourism sees rise in Web traffic from Duhamel ads

BISMARCK – North Dakota Tourism has already seen a boost of exposure from its new relationship with actor and Minot native Josh Duhamel, the agency’s director says.

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The state’s tourism division said website traffic to was up 290 percent within 24 hours of the Jan. 7 announcement that Duhamel, 41, would lend his voice to a new ad campaign. Of the 4,945 visitors that first day, 84 percent had never been to the website before.

“We got a lot of interest and a lot of traction in January when we haven’t really even started the campaign yet, so by all indications, it was definitely a success,” said Sara Otte Coleman, tourism division director.

Duhamel will be the voice of six ads, she said. One ad, a TV spot that promotes hunting, fishing and outdoor activities, is now running on outdoor networks and stations.

The others will start airing in early May, Coleman said, and will target audiences in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Montana, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Coleman said Duhamel’s large number of fans, especially on social media, has helped the publicity push. He has more than 3.5 million Facebook fans and more than 790,000 Twitter followers.

“That has helped engage his fan base to make them more aware of North Dakota,” she said. “It’s just getting new eyes on North Dakota.”

The feedback so far has “all been positive,” Coleman said, though some have suggested Duhamel should be on camera and not just voicing the ads.

She said Duhamel was paid $6,600 for each of the six ads, adding up to a total of $39,600. Still, that’s a “very discounted” rate, she said, and is actually less than it would have cost to get a union voice talent – who wouldn’t bring Duhamel’s North Dakota ties or popularity to the campaign.

“I think if Josh had had it his way and didn’t have a lot of people that obviously work for him, he probably would’ve done it for free,” she said. “But instead, they just gave us a really good rate, so we appreciate his willingness to work with us.”

Coleman said buying the airtime for the 2014 ad campaign added up to about $2.5 million. Tourism officials will research the effectiveness of this latest round of ads later this year.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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