North Dakota Tourism unveils 2016 ad campaign and thanks partners

Last week, we debuted our new tourism advertising campaign for North Dakota and it is shining a national spotlight on our state. This campaign will run in our key markets of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois and the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada. It’s our invitation for non-residents to come and experience the lively, adventurous, friendly and fun places found throughout the state.

Tourism is an economic buoy in North Dakota. We know that visitor dollars impact every county in the state. We know that tourism in North Dakota has increased nearly 40% since 2000. And we know we can continue that growth. In the short time since the campaign announcement, North Dakota Tourism has had more than 160 stories run in at least five countries! The publicity value is still being tabulated and the impressions are expected to exceed 900 million!

With this campaign, we stepped up our production – investing in content and quality that stand out from our competition. We are honored to work with actor Josh Duhamel, who is a fan of North Dakota in every way. We’ve been working with Mr. Duhamel since 2013 and have seen the impact he has in getting people to take notice of North Dakota in ways that wouldn’t be possible without him.

I would like to recognize the creative and strategic work of Odney, our advertising agency since 2001. Creative directors Jeanne Nelson and Mike Bruner have produced a campaign that we’re excited about and North Dakotans should be proud of. I extend my thanks to the entire team at Odney and at North Dakota Tourism. Additionally we acknowledge the work of film director of photography, Jeff Stonehouse, photographer, Tyler Stableford, and our behind the scenes photographer, Jesse Nelson.

As we unveil this campaign, we want to thank the local organizations and personnel that contributed.

Our production began in the Badlands. Within four days, we filmed and shot in eight locations around Medora, Bismarck and Washburn. That could not have been accomplished without the help of Justin Fisk and the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, Chief Ranger Dean Wycoff and his staff at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Rob Schilling and Babete Anderson of the U.S. Forest Service. Thanks to Dakota Cyclery, as well as the hospitality staff, who prepped 4:30 a.m. breakfasts and 10 p.m. dinners for sunrise and sunset shoots.

We are also thankful for the collaboration of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department – and all of the staff and many volunteers who participated on-camera and behind the scenes. Thank you to the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau for its hospitality and to Capital RV and Kupper Chevrolet for providing vehicles for Duhamel’s use.


The extensive Fargo production involved remarkable collaboration. Thank you to the Fargo Police Department, including Lt. Matt Sanders, Sgt. Shawn Gamradt and Sgt. Kevin Pallas, for making our production secure. The Downtown Community Partnership under Mike Hahn worked tirelessly and completed unthinkable tasks – Sam Olson went well above and beyond! Thank you to City of Fargo traffic engineers for their “can do” attitude and the Fargo District of the ND Department of Transportation for its assistance with our street closures. We also thank the Fargo Fire Department and Scheels for their support.

Special thanks to the staff at the Fargo Theatre, Studio 222, the Fargo Convention and Visitors Bureau and members of the NDSU and UND cheer teams for their time and energy. Thank you to Eric Watson at Mezzaluna, who even delayed his vacation in order to help, and to Doug and Katherine Burgum for their hospitality. Thanks also to the volunteers who appeared in the shots. We love showing real North Dakotans!


After nine days of production, our photo shoot came to a close on Devils Lake. In true North Dakota fashion, the questions that we had for the North Dakota Highway Patrol and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department were all met with a “can do” attitude. Thank you to Devils Lake Tourism and Woodland Resort for their collaboration and assistance and to the staff at the Devils Lake Regional Airport.


All locations for the campaign were carefully selected based on the most recent visitor research and key motivating assets for visitors. We recognize Minot is where Josh Duhamel grew up and returns home to often, and would have liked to have shot there. We hope to work with Josh on future efforts highlighting his hometown roots and the visitor attractions in the Magic City. Grand Forks is another city we wish we could have added to the schedule. We were happy to showcase the University of North Dakota fans and the UND hockey cheerleaders, who played a lead role in the city experience ad. While we were also unable to shoot in Williston, Theodore Roosevelt National Park will be featured heavily in the ads as the 100th anniversary of the National Park system will be promoted heavily throughout the year. The history ads also represent the many rich historical attractions like Fort Union and Fort Buford.

I wish we had the resources to shoot in more locations, however, additional locations and trip experiences can be found in our publications, websites, PR efforts and social media. To view the campaign, please visit