Inspiring a Route 66 Dream

Route 66 Activation in London

by Mary Twomey

The first stage of a traveler’s decision-making journey is “dream”. They need to be inspired with something that gives them a taste of a destination. Coming up with new ways to do that is a challenge—but we found a winner when we brought a little of Route 66 to London’s Regent Street Motor Show.

ROUTE 66 CASE STUDY IMAGESArtboard 1 copy v2

Inspiring a Route 66 Dream

The first stage of a traveler’s decision-making journey is “dream”. They need to be inspired with something that gives them a taste of a destination. Coming up with new ways to do that is a challenge—but we found a winner when we brought a little of Route 66 to London’s Regent Street Motor Show.

Get Your Kicks

The Perfect Way to Talk with Our Market

London’s Regent Street Motor Show is an annual showcase of motoring, including veteran, vintage, classic, and modern-day cars. The family-friendly event attracts more than half a million people to a pedestrianised area of Regent Street between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus. We knew it could be a great way to show off one of Illinois’ greatest attractions: Route 66. Route 66 resonates with people. It really is the “mother road” of the United States, and since people in the UK love cars, and love road trips—particularly those people at a motor show—we knew it’d be a really good fit for the market.

Shifting Route 66 Across The Pond

We had to make sure whatever we did had a high impact on a low budget.

In the build-up, we got ourselves featured on the Motor Show website, in the official program, in the announcement press release, and in e-blasts to the Motor Show’s database. 30,000 programs were printed and distributed at the event and around the area, with five full-color pages dedicated to Route 66.

Then the most important part: our event display had to sell the unique Route 66 atmosphere.

When you think Route 66, you probably think big, classic American cars—so that’s what we got. We knew locals would already be bringing some to the event, so we talked with them, and were able to get them put on each corner of our space. It automatically helped draw people in, at no extra cost.

On the tent, we recreated the Route 66 Pontiac, Illinois mural. On top, we planted American flags, so you could see us from across the event. We took recycled petroleum barrels, painted them black, and put our logos on them. We went to a scrapyard for old tires. We were able to bring them together to make it look very authentic—here were the things you’d see on a Route 66 roadside. It actually looked like you were there.

Even with some bad weather, we had a steady group of people in and out, taking pictures, and asking questions about the destination. We had maps of Route 66’s path through Illinois, to help them plan their road trips. And we provided them with flyers promoting tour itineraries from Enjoy Illinois’ UK tour operator partners.

We wanted to keep in touch with visitors via email, so we signed them up for an Enjoy Illinois database—with the opportunity to win a four-night holiday to Illinois as a token of appreciation. This got us several hundred new contacts.

People enjoyed the experience, and appreciated that we had folks from Illinois there to talk with and answer questions. It showed the commitment Illinois is willing to make to welcome them on over.

Knowing The Market

And we have to do that little bit extra to welcome them over. We know that when foreign tourists think of the United States, they’re probably going to think of your New Yorks, your Los Angeles, your Las Vegases first.

But we know that if you want to see what America is really like, you should go to the Midwest and meet some true, regular American folk. You just have to get that message to them.

When you showcase a destination, it’s about knowing who your market is, knowing how to talk to them, and knowing what to say. That’s why we were so successful with this. We met them somewhere they were already going to be, with an offering relevant to them, and the folks who could answer their questions and encourage them to visit.

We enjoyed the interaction with the people so much, and there was so much of it, that we’re looking to do the whole thing again. Watch out for Route 66 in London—but if you can’t wait, come and experience it in Illinois right now!

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