Christopher L Thompson, President & CEO, Brand USA, shares his perspectives on Brand USA’s journey so far as well expectations from India
Prior to Brand USA, the people that were carrying the load of promoting the US were individual destinations at the city and state levels, and the brands that represent the parks and experiences. It was their responsibility, through their own brands, to tell the story of USA. But of course that’s limited to their brand and their destination. It doesn’t necessarily promote the US in its entirety, or beyond the gateways that they recognised worldwide. We hence felt the need for a body that will promote the USA overall, be the main curator of content, to be able to add to what individual brands were doing and bring everything under one roof.
The setting up of Brand USA has helped in communicating and presenting USA as a ‘well curated’ story in its entirety. It became a major diplomatic tool to change the perception of the US. I am very pleased with the response from the industry that we represent and also the relationship that we have been able to create with our federal partners. We have a shared vision and a commitment to make it successful.
We have witnessed a growth of 10 per cent in inbound travel from India till date this year. We are expecting 962,000 Indians visiting US in 2014 compared to 859,000 in 2013. We are hopeful of crossing the targeted one-million mark by 2015. By 2021, we hope to have 1.5 million Indians visiting. Between 2013 and 2018 Indian visitations is expected to grow 54 per cent. These numbers will easily put India among our top five growth markets.
We started with our strategy to have a representation office here. We have established trade relations through training programmes through our India office. We hope to launch direct consumer TV commercials in the Indian market from 2015. The DiscoverAmerica.com launch coincided with consumer, co-op and trade media ad campaigns in key source markets worldwide. In the last two years, we expanded our footprint significantly and now want to optimise the deployment of our resources. We want to get more aggressive and go straight to the consumers.
The Act has ‘by-partisan’ support available in both the chambers of Congress and the same will get smooth passage whenever it hits the respective floors after pulling through the committees .It should get passed in the next couple of weeks and the Brand USA will get an extension for five years.