art exhibit at Reno AirportIn this over marketed, one-to-one, reach-the-customer world, it is always interesting to see a different, and perhaps more effective approach emerge. I have always been fascinated how art is used and integrated into advertising and messaging. From a tourism destination perspective photographers have been around to capture the authenticity of a destination, that sense of place.  One only needs to look at the beauty of Ansel Adams or Georgia O’Keefe to understand how they viewed and interpreted places that inspired you, perhaps even to visit.

My fascination with travel photography probably goes back to reading my parents’ National Geographic magazines as a kid.  My career in tourism marketing has provided me with the opportunity to see and use some incredible photography in destination advertising.

But what happens when you can feature travel photography as it is – without advertising?  We recently worked with some of our clients to do just this. The Reno Tahoe International Airport recently finished a renovation that features new restaurants, shops and security, and in the process the Airport Authority also created a gallery to exhibit local art. Combine that space and the fact that Lake Tahoe plays host to a number of world class photographers including Cory Rich, Hank de Vre, Keoki Flagg, Ian Ruhter, Scott Sady and Court Leve, and the result is a unique convergence of photography that captures the authenticity and sense of place of Lake Tahoe, reaching hundreds of thousands of people in person and through social media.  It tells a story from the perspective of the photographers, and resonates because it is authentic.  A commercial message simply cannot reach and resonate with people in the same way.

Classic marketing and advertising tells us we should reach out to find out what message a specific segment is inclined to hear and listen to. At SMG we believe that message starts with the local community, understanding what they love to do, their passions and what is authentic to them. What better way to find that than through the eyes and images of a local artist?