Business Elevated Podcast (Episode 54)
This podcast series features business and government leaders discussing what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. This episode includes a conversation between Pete Codella, director of marketing and communications at GOED, and Tyler Sohm, VP and executive creative director at RUMOR Advertising.
Welcome to the Business Elevated Podcast, where we discuss what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. Did you know Utah is frequently ranked the best state for business by Forbes? This podcast is a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Pete Codella: (0:22) Hello and welcome to the Business Elevated podcast. I am Pete Codella, the director of marketing and communications at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, also known as GOED. With me today is the VP and executive creative director at RUMOR Advertising, my friend Tyler Sohm.
Tyler, thank you for being with us. We’re together today to give an update on the In Utah campaign, which your agency pitched and went through the RFP process with state purchasing and we selected your agency, and we’ve been working together since June.
Tyler Sohm: (0:58) It’s been an awesome time. We’ve seen a lot of progress in this campaign and the ability to provide a real positive message to the people of Utah.
Pete Codella: (1:08) That’s right. And that’s the purpose of what the In Utah campaign is for. It’s that what’s good for you is good for Utah. The campaign included Healthy In Utah messaging, Learn & Work In Utah. We’ve partnered with the Utah Cultural Alliance on Now Playing In Utah, and we’re working with another organization on an upcoming Made In Utah as part of the campaign.
So Tyler, would you like to share with us the main campaign goals and objectives?
Tyler Sohm: (1:38) The purpose of In Utah was always to help elevate, educate, and engage Utahns about the importance of positive thinking through the coronavirus pandemic. First of all, helping Utahns build their consumer confidence. There’s a lot of negative messaging out there with coronavirus.
People don’t feel great all the time about their health. It’s kind of the overall feeling out there in the world. This campaign is built to elevate our thoughts and feelings and realize there is a lot of good going on. We also wanted to educate people about their responsibility to follow the local health guidelines and CDC guidelines, to be able to have our businesses be open and continue to enjoy the services and entertainment and recreation areas in the state that we love so much in Utah.
It’s also a way to help engage economic development initiatives, as we all work together to help reactivate Utah’s economy through and after the pandemic. Some of the ways we do that is engaging partners and other community members to recognize the importance of these things as well. We spent a lot of energy and effort in the process to elevate, educate, and engage with this In Utah campaign.
Pete Codella: (3:02) And I’ll point out, I think as Utahns, we’re fortunate our state’s economy has received so many accolades. We’ve been ranked the best state for business many times. Just by Forbes in the past decade. The fact that Utah was doing well economically when this pandemic hit, I believe, will help us weather the storm.
And once we’ve got that COVID vaccine and we’re out of the pandemic, I think Utah will be able to accelerate and hit that economic reactivation like you talked about Tyler and be an example to the nation. One of the main things at our office in economic development that we look at is consumer confidence. How strong is Utah’s consumer confidence? The good news is, compared to the national average, we’re doing quite well through the pandemic. So some of those things that you touched on helped us, our good health, our high-quality of life, the work-life balance is incredible in Utah. It’s different from larger cities on the coast.
Tyler Sohm: (4:11) One of the cool things about the In Utah campaign is that it’s been able to be expanded into a lot of those areas that you just talked about. As we spoke originally about Dine In Utah, Shop In Utah, Play In Utah, Stay In Utah, all these different ways that we can expand that campaign.
You know, Pete, the In Utah campaign has been versatile, and it’s helped us support these objectives. The healthy messaging and helping people gain additional education for better employment through Learn & Work In Utah. As you’d mentioned earlier, it’s been an opportunity to help Utahns be even better than they may have been before by promoting these messages.
Pete Codella: (4:55) Our Healthy In Utah campaign included messaging that’s still out there now to get a flu shot. That is something that can help. The community stays healthy and helps prevent overwhelming our health care system with an additional respiratory virus this winter. The flu shots are really important for all Utahns.
Let’s talk a little bit about some of our success with the campaign. Congratulations to RUMOR Advertising and my office on being a recipient of the 2020 Gold Davy award. That’s an advertising industry award, and we received the award in the category of cause marketing. That’s pretty awesome that we got a national award for the work that we’re doing.
Tyler Sohm: (5:44) And I imagine those awards will keep coming. The work has been exciting as we partnered with amazing organizations to make sure that this happens. Our local television and radio stations have been phenomenal, providing support for our Flu Shot Fridays and for our other promotions that are going on to promote local businesses. It’s staggering when you look at the advertising impressions and website visitors over the last six months.
Pete Codella: (6:14) Why don’t you talk about some of those successes and metrics?
Tyler Sohm: (6:17) Some of these numbers are just awesome. We’ve had over 400 million impressions from all the different advertising campaigns for In Utah. That is a lot. It’s great to expand our reach in all rural areas, as well as here in the Metro areas.
Pete Codella: (6:39) We know that people need to see and hear things multiple times. But I’d venture to say that with Utah’s population we’ve covered it a few times with that 400 million.
Tyler Sohm: (6:50) And those impressions are coming on television, radio, and social media. It’s been a wide variety of messages that have gone out, all supporting the idea to elevate our economy and help us move the needle when it comes to consumer confidence. We’ve had over 300,000 unique visitors to the website, with many of those being repeat visitors.
Pete Codella: (7:20) That website address in InUtah.org.
Tyler Sohm: (7:24) InUtah.org and for our Spanish speaking friends, enutah.org. We have over 200 businesses around Utah who have signed up as In Utah partners, which is great. And we’re always looking for more. If you’re listening to this podcast and would like to become a partner, head over to inutah.org and get connected with us. We’d love to have your partnership. We’ve presented the campaign and talked with over 50 economic development and local governments. We are trying to engage our chambers of commerce and other people and organizations to get involved in the campaign at a grassroots level. We’ve had over 125 appearances and interviews on television, radio, and different web panels in English and Spanish. Incorporating minority audiences, and making sure we’re talking to them, and providing the right messaging to all people across the state is something we have focused on with this campaign.
Pete Codella: (8:33) I’d also point out that was part of our scope of work last summer. We wanted to be sure this In Utah campaign was presented initially in both English and Spanish. I think that’s a strength of the work we’ve done.
Tyler Sohm: (8:47) I agree, from the get-go. When we launched the website, it launched in both languages simultaneously just a few short weeks after the campaign was awarded to our agency. From the beginning, that’s been one of our main focuses. We ran approximately 25 television, public service announcements, and radio spots both in English and Spanish. We’ve also collected over 30 In Utah’s success stories that we’ve posted on the blog. And there’s more to come. Again, if you’d like to be featured, please reach out to us and let us know your success story, and we’ll put it out there on the website for others to read.
Pete Codella: (9:37) It’s an opportunity for any business that’s listening to this podcast. If you’ve pivoted or changed or created new products or services through this pandemic, we want to hear your story and publicize it. If you reach out to us through our website, InUtah.org, there’s a form you can fill out, and then we’ll work with you to come up with a story. You can submit some images or even videos. We’ll publish it and promote it on social media. And we can even put some paid money behind it.
I’ll mention that the campaign is paid for through federal CARES Act money. So this is part of Utah’s strategic decision to focus on and elevate Utah’s economy using that federal relief money.
Another part of the campaign was masks. We secured about 25,000 masks that say In Utah on them. A lot of them have been distributed through partner organizations and media promotions. Some were distributed directly through our friends in the Mexican Consulate office here in Utah to workers throughout the state. And we put a form online and shared that through social media. We went through about 10,000 masks in a couple of days, mailing them from our office to Utahns. So a lot of families and even businesses requested up to 25 masks.
Tyler Sohm: (11:00) Pete, we had a little game internally at the agency where we played the ‘In Utah in the wild’ over the holiday break. We took note when we were out shopping and other things to see how many times we saw In Utah masks. That was really fun to see. Distributing 25,000 masks across the state with this campaign was another opportunity to share the message of In Utah. They’re all bright colors, and they’re fun and trying to help take a positive spin on something that we all have to deal with. Hopefully, we won’t have to for much longer, but we understand that the opportunity to share a positive message is out there.
Pete Codella: (11:49) And that was our initiative and effort to support a healthy response to the pandemic. It’s important for us to build consumer confidence and go out in public and wear that mask. And who knows how long that might continue. It’s a new reality for all of us. But it’s important to do so that people feel safe and can engage in the economy.
Last month we had a strong focus on Shop In Utah. You’re probably familiar listeners with the Shop In Utah grant that was managed by GOED. It awarded grant money to businesses that were impacted by COVID-19. They had to show a loss of revenue and then with the grant, they had to agree to give 50% of it to their customer. There were many buy one, get one offers, places you eat and all those types of things. Tyler, we had an ad campaign that supported that. Do you want to talk about that?
Tyler Sohm: (12:53) In December, and leading into December, we felt it was important to remind all of Utah to Shop In Utah. As we have gotten used to shopping on Amazon and looking for gifts that are going to be shipped to our house and those things, sometimes we forget about our local businesses. This is a large-scale mass media approach to remind people to shop in Utah for gift ideas or those amazing products and services. And with the concept that it’s a Christmas gift that keeps giving it to our community. It gives back to those businesses who are trying their hardest to stay open and doing all the right things by providing exceptional service. I loved watching the news and seeing people who were going out of their way to buy gift cards from local businesses to give to other people. It became a viral thing, and we love seeing the community jump on the idea of helping support local businesses. It’s a perpetual ball that keeps rolling.
Interestingly, I had my 20th wedding anniversary over the holiday break. And I was looking for a place to take my wife for dinner that was open. It was great to see that if you went to the website and mentioned the Shop In Utah offer, they would give you 50% off your meal. That was a great way to save on that expensive anniversary dinner.
Pete Codella: (14:56) You are a smart shopper. We had our 21st-anniversary last year, so we’re just a year ahead of you. But like you say, that Shop In Utah initiative embodies what we want to do within Utah. Get Utahns out and engage safely in the economy in a safe way to support those local businesses. I wanted to look up the amount of money that went into those Shop In Utah grants because the Legislature increased the funding. We had more demand than we had funding. We went through $62 million into Utah’s economy, and half of that went to Utah consumers as a discount. That is a great strategic use of those federal CARES Act dollars. Kudos to the Legislature for that.
Let’s talk about January. Some of the things that we want to promote In Utah have to do with outdoor winter recreation. We’ve got some ads running that say Ski In Utah, give Utah’s economy a lift. Talk about that, Tyler.
Tyler Sohm: (16:00) This is really fun. It’s strange because this year, especially in the Salt Lake Valley, there’s only been one or two snowstorms that have caused problems on the roads. But the mountains have still been able to get snow.
Pete Codella: (16:16) Kind of winter snow hits the mountains and leaves the valleys clear.
Tyler Sohm: (16:22) Yes. I think we could use a little bit more, but now the kids can do school online. There are no more snow days, so they don’t care anymore.
Pete Codella: (16:29) I’m so glad I’m out of school.
Tyler Sohm: (16:33) We all prayed for those snow days. But now I think they’re all anxious to be in school.
Pete Codella: (16:41) That’s one of the forever changes from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tyler Sohm: (16:46) However, they’re all unsure. Some students still call their snow days because they want to hit the slopes. One of the coolest things about the state of Utah is our winter sports industry. Not just skiing, but all of the backcountry, Everything that we have to offer. And a lot of people move here specifically for that. So that you know, all the resorts in Utah are open. There are 15 awesome resorts you need to try that are all taking very good precautions to get people up there.
Our campaign in January focuses on the idea of Ski InUtah. In a typical year, you may go downhill a little a few times. This year, maybe you’re feeling like things are going downhill a little. We’re telling people that when their feelings are downhill let’s take it to the slopes. Get up there, and you’ll boost your energy skiing or snowboarding. And you’re also giving the economy a lift. We love the play on words the campaign has. We are excited to help support Ski In Utah and our local ski resorts in their effort to get more people up there. It’s amazing to me when I meet someone on a lift that is from the state of Utah. They’re almost always from somewhere else, and they come here because of the amazing skiing that we have. I grew up skiing. I love it. I’m a huge fan. I don’t get out as much anymore because I’m working on In Utah campaigns. But it’s amazing.
For all those who maybe have never been skiing or snowboarding or tried it, make 2021 the year. Get out there and learn. All of the ski resorts offer lessons. Support the resort, support our economy. And I promise you that you’ll wonder why you waited so long. We have this new work ethic that people are working from home. Maybe just log into your Zoom meeting from the ski lift. Just don’t turn your camera on. And people will think that you’re home doing work. It’s a great opportunity to get out there and support our local resorts and have an amazing time while doing it.
Pete Codella: (19:33) Yes, All of those resorts are making snow, and they’re open, they changed the way they do things to accommodate the current situation, just like our restaurants and other businesses. This winter or spring, decide to support Utah businesses by Dining In Utah or Playing In Utah. As Tyler said, Stay In Utah. It’s a great opportunity to take a few days, travel an hour or two to explore someplace different. We have so many state parks. We have all the national parks, and if you’d want to drive south, you can get to a little bit of a warmer climate. Just get out and do things In Utah.
Tyler Sohm: (20:18) Spring break isn’t that far away for most families with kids in school. Most families have been looking at opportunities to go out and maybe do something different. We’ve been pent up for so long. Now is the perfect time to look at something a little closer nearby. Many of the exotic destinations are still heavily regulated by travel and COVID restrictions. Why not stick around, stay close to home, and explore. We invite everyone to stay local and support businesses.
Pete Codella: (21:10) If you can think of your travel and recreation plans for 2021 and what you can do in Utah. That would help our economy if all of us chose to do things in Utah.
Other items we’ve produced as part of the campaign include business stickers that you may have seen on some windows, Locally Owned In Utah, or Produced In Utah or Grown In Utah. We’ve also have different activities, community, and industry badges we’ve produced. And we have little stickers that you may see on water bottles or on car windows and things like that. We already mentioned the success stories that we’ve published on inutah.org. We’d love to publish more. Reach out to us if you’re interested and hashtag #InUtah. It should be all over social media. You can search for it. I haven’t looked at the number to see how many posts we have with that hashtag, but it’s thousands. People share experiences and things they’re doing In Utah. We encourage all of you to do that and help us elevate Utah. And the other thing I’ll mention, there are other states with offices of economic development. Many members of our leadership team have been with their colleagues from other states through virtual meetings, and people have seen InUtah, and they’re very complimentary.
Congratulations to your agency and to all our partners who are helping us. Do you want to share any future thoughts for In Utah? What do you think 2021 may hold? And then I’ll share some parting words.
Tyler Sohm: (22:48) One of the other things you’ve mentioned is we have those stickers and badges that you can get. To our business partners that are listening, if you want to promote In Utah for your customers, or you’re a chamber of commerce and want to get involved, we have a store. You can request stickers, t-shirts, hats for your organization. It’s been fun to see some of these In Utah stickers on laptops and stuff.
Pete Codella: (23:31) One of my favorite ideas you presented was a little onesie for a baby that says Made In Utah.
Tyler Sohm: (23:45) Yes. That store URL is store.inutah.org, and you can find all of those materials there. We’d love to help you fulfill that order. You mentioned that Made In Utah onesie. I saw a news report the other day that because of all the people staying inside during the pandemic, there is likely going to be a baby boom here in 2021. So we may want to stock the shelves with those Made In Utah onesies. It’s proof that mom and dad stayed home.
Pete Codella: (24:17) We have baby boomers. I wonder if COVID is going to have some kind of name for its generation?
Tyler Sohm: (24:24) I don’t know, maybe Corona babies.
Pete Codella: (24:29) It’s been great to work with you, Tyler, and RUMOR Advertising. It’s been awesome to see all the support and the partners who’ve worked with us. Many of them have been on those media television appearances with us and talked about what they’re doing In Utah and how they’re supporting Utah jobs and families and helping our economy.
I’ll share some optimism we saw at the inauguration recently. Gov. Spencer Cox. It is a challenging time, and there is some unrest. Things are going on that are different from what we’ve experienced before, but the future is bright. We have an opportunity, specifically in Utah, to be examples to the country, both in our discourse and how we collaborate and work together, especially in our business environment. Our great state has a lower tax rate with great policies towards business. It’s just a great place to do business. And as Utahns, we can support Utah small businesses that drive our economy. It’s important for us to support them. I think the future is bright for us in Utah. Tyler, any parting thoughts?
Tyler Sohm: (25:49) We appreciate, as a small business ourselves, the opportunities to support local businesses. We are trying to make Utah a better place. In the most recent census numbers, it looks like Utah has been the fastest-growing state over the last 10 years. I just read through some of those data points. It’s amazing. We’ve got a lot of people coming to our state because Utah is an amazing place. As we work together to create a strong economy, I think that we’ll have a lot of opportunities-both for ourselves and our children and the future of the state of Utah.
It’s interesting to know that it’s the 125th anniversary of the statehood of Utah. It’s been cool to see the different events popping up this year. We’re all doing it a little bit differently, but as we get out and we support the arts and our restaurants. We’re going to support growth, manufacturing, and people trying to bring their businesses to Utah because of all it has to offer.
We’re looking forward to 2021 and expanding the In Utah campaign to many different areas to help support this economic growth. So thanks again for letting us be part of it.
Pete Codella: (27:19) It’s great to talk to you, Tyler. And for those of you listening, get out there and have some fun In Utah. And thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening to the Business Elevated podcast, a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Listen to other episodes where you get your podcasts or at business.utah.gov.