Apple road trip ad boosts Santa Cruz profile nationally

San Jose Mercury News

SANTA CRUZ – A new Apple video advertisement is making a local splash opens with two young people in a snowy New England town asking their iPhone: “What’s the best way to Santa Cruz, California?”

“It’s created quite a buzz,” said Don Lane, Santa Cruz mayor. “I was glad someone showed it to me because I don’t watch TV very much.”

But during a sit-down with a televised basketball game, there it was, he said.

“One of the main messages of the ad is there are all these people in cold places and they want to come to a beach and Santa Cruz is the place to go,” Lane said.

The brief ad depicts a couple using Siri, the expanded voice control feature on the iPhone 4S, to help them navigate the challenges of a cross-country road trip to the West Coast. They get lost and ask Siri where they are. They run out of gas and Siri tells them where the nearest stations are and they look up at the sky and ask about constellations before ending up on an exquisite rocky Western Coast in Big Sur.

The new technology responds to numerous voice commands, providing GPS location data and directions, as well as proximity to nearby gas stations, general data and trivia, and simple tasks.

The iPhone ad provided three routes to Santa Cruz, the most direct, two day, two hours covering 3,160 miles via I-80 West. How they ended up in Big Sur isn’t clear. Perhaps the Santa Cruz coastline wasn’t iconic enough for the final shot in the ad?

Siri’s other features include scheduling meetings, sending messages and placing calls by voice. The ad was one of two that debuted last week on the Apple video website apple.com.

Regardless of where the couple ended up, the ad also builds on the “California Dreaming” cache that the local Visitors Council uses in targeted marketing campaigns, says Maggie Ivy, chief executive officer of Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council. Noting that the organization just released a new travel application for handheld devices, Ivy said, “The timing was perfect. We couldn’t have planned it better if we tried!”

“It’s just one more example of a wave (of) national attention that Santa Cruz has been getting lately,” said Chip, head of Downtown Association of Santa Cruz. “It makes sense that Apple would feature Santa Cruz especially as a destination for young ‘hip’ technologically in touch people.”

Does the ad actually increase our “hipness” profile?

“It certainly adds to iPhone’s hipness to be linked with us,” said Chip, who hopes to one day soon see an Apple Store in Santa Cruz. “I think it does provide a certain level of reinforcement for those of us who believe Santa Cruz to be one of the coolest places anywhere.”

Hopefully, Santa Cruz boosters say, it will draw more attention to our coastal town. The YouTube video of the ad has been viewed nearly 1.4 million times.

“The ocean shot at the end was probably Big Sur, but the ad has reinforced the idea that Santa Cruz is a really great destination to 20-40 million people,” Chip said. “That could translate to a noticeable bump in tourism this summer.”

And, for those who await Apple’s advance, it shows Santa Cruz is definitely on the radar.

“We were joking that we should send the ad to Apple,” said Lane, who has been among those hoping to see a local Apple store. “They can ask Siri how to bring an Apple store to Santa Cruz.”

 

This article appears here.

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