By Ashley Keetle, Group Account Director, 360i

View the new campaign

The goal of the campaign is to attract overnight visitors to Buncombe County. We at 360i collaborated with Explore Asheville to develop a strategic approach that shaped the campaign and the media plan that supports the messaging.

In developing the foundation for the campaign, our strategy included the following three aspects:

1. Attract the right audience that shares the values of the Asheville area.

  •  To do this, 360i took a data-driven approach. We combined existing audience data with third-party and 360i proprietary data tools to expand on existing targets. As a result, we added 20 million more people to target through media.

2. Drive relevance with the audience.

  • Through the research we conducted, we know our target audience has a lot of things they have to do in their everyday lives. They are craving a break from their everyday lives for time to do things they want to do. Asheville offers this break and provides them with a wealth of things they want to do. The message was crafted with this audience insight in mind.
  • The audience insight also drove the Brand Purpose: “ASHEVILLE IS THE CITY FOR FREE SPIRITS. It is the counterpoint to the pulls of pragmatism.” The brand purpose is the thing we can own in the minds of visitors.
  • Additionally, we’re reaching them on the media platforms that our audience is spending time on, such as TV, digital media, streaming TV, streaming radio and social media.

3. Portray the Asheville area authentically.

  • It was paramount that we conveyed the authentic spirit of the Asheville area. We did this through the following:
  • We prioritized platforms that allow for sight, sound and motion in order to showcase the beauty and vibrancy of the area and all there is to do.
  • We worked with local people. From the cast of people featured in the campaign, to the crew behind the scenes to the team at Echo Mountain who created the music, we worked with locals because they know the area best and contribute to the spirit of the community. Participants were paid at market rate.
  • We filmed real events, including the Friday night Drum Circle.
  • We showcased a variety of experiences to illustrate the full breadth of things to do, including arts, music, the food and beverage scene, and the mountains/outdoors.

Ultimately, the campaign is intended to give travelers the permission to let their spirit run free.


As part of the campaign, we developed a new tagline and brand new TV and online videos and digital and social units.

  • Tagline. The new tagline is: “LET YOUR SPIRIT RUN FREE.” Letting your spirit run free means being spontaneous and open, embracing the small and big surprises that Asheville is sure to offer up. The creative elements of the campaign embody this notion.
  • TV & Video. We created a variety of video elements including a 60-second long-form video and multiple 30-second spots to run across TV, streaming video and online video, and digital platforms. We also created shorter-form videos including multiple 15-second and 6-second lengths that focus on a specific pillar, like music or the outdoors. We are targeting these short-form videos to people we know are interested in these pillars.
  • Online Display Advertising. Online banners featuring key scenes from the campaign have been created for each pillar including Arts, Music, Outdoors, and Food/Beverage. They will run on thousands of sites across the web, targeted specifically to our defined target audience. Our digital plan is always on throughout the year, and includes a robust prospecting and retargeting strategy to drive awareness with visitors and drive intent to visit.
  • Social Media: Facebook and Instagram ads drive awareness amongst our target on social platforms they naturally are spending time on. Additionally, these units drive traffic to com so target audiences can learn more about the destination.
  • Video & Still Photography: Through our video production and two photo shoots, we were able to capture a wealth of images to use for many years down the road.

360i will continue to refresh the campaign based on insights gained from media performance.


The FY20 Media Plan will drive awareness for the Asheville area through mass reach channels such as TV, digital, social and radio. It will also intercept the passion points of our audience through targeted media platforms like digital and social. We’ll intercept them with messages when they are online and serve content that is relevant to them.

We are partnering with media platforms that include:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pandora and Spotify
  • Travel partners like Trip Advisor and Adara.

Additionally, we have custom content partnerships with:

  • Matador Network
  • TrueX
  • The Vox sites SBNation and Eater.

These partners will be creating robust and engaging custom content highlighting key attributes of the Asheville area.

Specifically, the Matador Network will tap into their influencer network to create custom video content showcasing authentic experiences in Asheville, and also includes an integration with the popular outdoor retailer REI. Matador and REI will promote the content to their audiences, who have a high propensity to visit Asheville and the surrounding area.

We also broadened our market selection this year.

  • Continuing: Core Drive Markets – Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem, Atlanta
  • Continuing: Venture Markets – Washington D.C., Knoxville, Charleston, Cincinnati, Nashville, West Palm Beach, Orlando. Tampa
  • Added: New Markets – Including Birmingham, Columbus Ohio, New York, Chicago

Overall, 360i will deliver more than 800 million impressions with the campaign that began in August and will run through June 30, 2020.