'Hidden gems' campaign targets Detroit area customers

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Windsor Star/Dave Battagello



A new marketing campaign to attract shoppers to the Windsor region from southeast Michigan was launched Monday in an effort to once again create a steady flow of customers from across the border.

“It’s a multi-platform, cross-border marketing initiative targeting Americans and reminding them of the value of coming over to Windsor,” said Greg Plante, chairman of Pillette Village BIA and organizer of the initiative. “It’s to inform them of all the hidden gems they can discover and great experiences they can have.”

Windsor was a frequent destination of Detroit area shoppers and restaurant visitors throughout the 1990s, but thickening of the border and new U.S. passport requirements starting in the early 2000s brought the visits to a grinding halt.

The new campaign is a $70,000 joint venture of BIAs from across the Windsor and Essex County area and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.

It differs from previous campaigns which have focused on large events or venues such as Caesars Windsor, Plante said.

“This is geared toward individual businesses,” he said. “This is geared toward day trippers and reminding them how Windsor is a great suburb of Detroit — and in many cases is a shorter distance or takes less effort for them to visit.”

The campaign’s primary tool is a website morewindsor.com. It highlights many of the individual business districts and retailers available throughout each area. It also explains how to obtain an enhanced drivers licence if an individual from across the border does not wish to pursue a passport.

“We are hoping to make people realize how an enhanced driver’s licence makes it easy to cross and is not as difficult to obtain as they may think,” Plante said.

The campaign also includes print and radio advertising, plus other social media promotional efforts.

“The value this provides is huge,” said Windsor city councillor Rino Bortolin, who is also chairman of the Windsor Business Improvement Areas Advisory Committee. “It reminds people of the option coming to Windsor and hopefully puts it in the forefront of their mind.”

The campaign’s primary focus is to convince people in Michigan, “the border is not as bad as you think,” he said.

“As Windsorites we often go over to Detroit,” Bortolin said. “We need to remind people the opposite in coming this way into Windsor is just as easy.

“We want the casual visitor — and not just those having a special occasion. We want them to come several times a month looking to enjoy a restaurant or visit a unique shop. How people coming here can get more for their dollar and have a great experience.”

The campaign will continue until October when it will then be assessed on its effectiveness and whether changes are required for future campaigns, Plante said.

“We will evaluate its success and determine what adjustments to make to get the best return,” he said.