BISMARCK — Film actor Josh Duhamel will continue serving as the voice and public face of North Dakota, the state's tourism department said Tuesday, Dec. 31.

The Minot native will be paid $175,000 over the next two years to support tourism in the state, said Heather LeMoine, the department’s marketing and research manager. The actor's contract extension with the state was first reported by the Associated Press.

Duhamel has appeared in advertisements and played the role of spokesman for the state since 2013. The department paid the "Transformers" star $365,000 to promote the state over the last two years. Previous ads have featured Duhamel strolling through downtown Fargo, biking the Maah Daah Hey Trail and hiking in the state's top tourist destination, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Actor Josh Duhamel motions to the Fargo Theatre as he stands next to the wood chipper from the thriller "Fargo," on Sunday, August 16, 2015. Rick Abbott / The Forum
Actor Josh Duhamel motions to the Fargo Theatre as he stands next to the wood chipper from the thriller "Fargo," on Sunday, August 16, 2015. Rick Abbott / The Forum

LeMoine said Duhamel is a great promoter because of his notoriety and "natural advocacy" for his home state. Market research suggests that many people don't know much about North Dakota, and Duhamel puts a familiar face to the state, she said. Duhamel also goes "above-and-beyond his contractual obligations" in promoting the state during interviews, she said.

The actor recorded voiceovers last summer to be used in an upcoming television advertisement, but Duhamel did not do any on-site acting work or photo shoots in North Dakota for the new ads, LeMoine said. The new TV ads will be the agency's first in four years, she said. Under the new deal, the state will also be able to use Duhamel's prior advertising work for the state.

Like previous campaigns featuring Duhamel, the new print and TV ads will mostly appear in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but the department has also made efforts in the last few years to tap into the Chicago market, LeMoine said. The new ads will put a spotlight on downtown Fargo and the Pembina Gorge, she said. The department will announce the full $2.9 million advertising campaign next week.

North Dakota is historically one the least visited states in the country, but LeMoine said the tourism industry has seen positive trends in recent years. About 22.6 million people visited the state in 2018, a 5% increase from the previous year. LeMoine said visitors spent $3 billion last year, and the industry supported nearly 42,000 permanent jobs.