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Ad Comparing SD To Mars Part Of New State Image Campaign

A new workforce plan from the State of South Dakota aims to change the Rushmore state’s image around the region. Economic development leaders are launching a media campaign in surrounding states on May first. Radio and television ads are set to air in specific communities, and a companion website launches that day. One of the videos promoting the state is already garnering attention.

Part of a new campaign to promote quality of life in South Dakota draws some contrast with people who want to travel to Mars without any hope of returning.

Pat Costello with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development says the state needs to create a buzz. So, is the Mars media spot working? 

"Well, you tell me. If we put in our press release that the state is actively for people to come to South Dakota to live, to fill jobs, would we be on Fox News? Would we be on CNN? I think it’s working. I think it’s created a buzz," Costello says. "There may be some snickering going on somewhere about, ‘Oh, life in South Dakota, you know, maybe that’s only marginally better than Mars.’ I don’t know. Whether there is or isn’t doesn’t matter. We’re on the discussion table, and that’s what we needed because we weren’t on the discussion table before."

Costello says market research shows people from nearby states don’t even consider South Dakota as a place they could live. He says that’s the point of the new campaign: to inform people that the state is more than a few tourist attractions.

"When they think of South Dakota, they think of Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Corn Palace. They think of tourism-related pictures in their mind. When we want to get people to start thinking about South Dakota as a way to live, to have a good quality of life, to picture themselves having a family, having a great job, being engaged in their community and those things," Costello says.

Costello says a new website launches May first to help change the outside image of South Dakota.

"The digital media, which is 58 percent of our buy, is North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Then in certain markets within those, we’re going to augment that with some TV and radio, and those markets are going to be Mankato, Duluth, St. Cloud, Cheyenne, Fort Dodge and Mason City," Costello says.

The campaign targets people between the ages of 25 and 44. Advertisers are focusing on people who are single or married but without children, because that demographic has more interest in moving to better jobs and recreation opportunities.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).