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How an Integrated Marketing Campaign Got People in a Southern State of Mind

Gen Fuller - Senior Copywriter

When singer-songwriter Darius Rucker pays homage to a perfect day in his song, “Beers and Sunshine,” he’s got South Carolina on his mind.

A Charleston native, Rucker’s love of the Lowcountry has influenced his entire musical career, from his days at the University of S.C. where he helped form Hootie & the Blowfish to his solo country albums. Songs like “Southern State of Mind,” “Lowcountry” and “In a Big Way” provide a glimpse of that laid-back, no-need-to-rush lifestyle that keeps Rucker’s heart in South Carolina.

Rucker’s love of his home state made him a natural fit for a partnership with SCPRT and the Discover SC campaign, for which he became the official ambassador in 2020. A core tenet of Discover SC’s ongoing work is showcasing the undiscovered within the discovered while supporting local tourism partners by highlighting iconic experiences and unique attractions in each tourism region of the state.

Since its launch, we have integrated Rucker’s likeness and messaging across all paid media tactics, including print advertising, linear and CTV commercials, cross-platform display and video, OOH, terrestrial radio and streaming audio, social media and the cover story for the state’s official vacation guide. A dedicated landing page at and several articles were created to highlight Rucker’s favorite places to stay, play and dine in Hilton Head, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Greenville.

With Rucker heading out on a spring tour, we saw an opportunity to create a targeted, multi-channel sub-campaign tailored to boost awareness and maximize exposure of the Discover SC campaign in select markets along the route, leveraging the buzz among his fanbase a week prior to and after his concert date(s) in:

  • Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbus (OH)
  • Boston, New York
  • Milwaukee, Minneapolis
  • St. Louis, Indianapolis
  • Chicago, Detroit
  • New Orleans, San Antonio

Identifying Our Target Demographic

The overarching Discover SC multi-channel media campaign flights run year-round with heavier spending from August to November and February to May. With the incremental funding SCPRT secured for further recovery efforts, our FY21/22 media strategy targeted 83 DMAs within a 750-mile radius and newly identified markets outside of the radius with a multi-media campaign that includes traditional and non-traditional media tactics to best reach our target audiences where they consume media. Our targeting includes:

  • Adults 25-54 with HHI $75K+ or $150K+
    • Frequent Travelers
    • Leisure/Family Travelers
    • Outdoor Enthusiasts
    • Cultural Travelers and Foodies
    • Entertainment Seekers

To leverage the partnership with Darius Rucker, we rotated in Rucker-specific creative among our legacy Leisure creative across all media tactics through the campaign’s entirety, including print, digital, OOH, linear TV, CTV and more.

Location Location Location

The sub-campaign marketing targeting Rucker’s tour markets was rolled out in two phases, both of which included digital marketing in OLV, standard display, audio streaming, social, rich media and mobile IP targeting. Select marketing groups in Phase 2 also included terrestrial radio, CTV, OOH bulletins, urban panels, rideshare screens and mobile billboards in select marketing groups.

These marketing efforts were targeted at audiences with a higher affinity for Rucker, music/country music and travel content, which included targeted layers (where applicable) to reach: adults 45-59, heavy radio listeners, heavy tv viewers, outdoor adventurers, cultured nesters and music enthusiasts.

Additionally, we used mobile IP and location-based targeting in-market and around concert venues, targeting audiences who are travel intenders, outdoor enthusiasts and county music lovers. We strategically placed various OOH marketing in high-traffic areas, including digital billboards, digital rideshare screens and urban panels in Chicago and mobile billboards in Indianapolis and San Antonio.

We also selected our media partners based on their high affinity and alignment with the demographics of Rucker’s fan base.

A Powerful Campaign Yields Impressive Results

The Darius Rucker campaign creative has delivered higher than benchmark media performance, generated significant hotel booking revenue and increased search volume traffic across our target markets.

Ads with Rucker-specific creative garnered up to 17% higher click-through rates (CTR) than SCPRT’s average benchmarks for digital displays, high-impact units and paid social.

The media investment for Darius creative across Discover SC’s Leisure media was more than $1.3M made up roughly 30% of the Discover SC campaign across digital, print, CTV and Linear TV. The creative was run in 83 total DMAs, except for Linear TV which included only five DMAs. Our digital marketing garnered over 73 million impressions while CTV had more than 10 million.

Excluding the sub-campaign marketing, the projected hotel booking revenue through Adara IMPACT tracking is more than $47 million which encompasses 41% of Discover SC’s total booking revenue.

The two phases of marketing targeting Rucker’s tour markets had a total spend of just over $600K. Combined, these two phases garnered more than 74 million impressions, 57K clicks, 6 million views, and nearly 170K engagements. We also saw CTRs higher than SCPRT’s average for CTV and paid social within these markets.

The projected hotel booking revenue from the sub-campaign is almost $4 million, with 45% of bookings from geo-targeted areas.

The Darius Rucker campaign was recently recognized as the top integrated marketing campaign across all competing state tourism offices at the annual US Travel Association’s Mercury Awards in August 2022.

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