Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
"Kentucky Unbridled Spirit" Brand Again Shows Strong Growth

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, October 24, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Cindy Briscoe

Research after two years is strong

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today unveiled research that demonstrates, in the past two years, the “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” brand has improved the perception of the state and has increased the likelihood that more people will visit the commonwealth.

The research, conducted for the Kentucky Department of Tourism by Jerry Henry and Associates, showed that awareness and appeal of the brand continues to improve.

“Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” still has the highest levels of awareness of any state brand tested.  Awareness of Kentucky’s brand averaged 54 percent among consumers in the 10 states tested (Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and West Virginia). In Kentucky, 71.3 percent correctly identified the state brand, compared with 66.5 percent in 2005.

Governor Fletcher unveiled the new research during the Kentucky Tourism Industry’s Annual Conference in Louisville.

“We created ‘Kentucky Unbridled Spirit’ to showcase Kentucky as different and unique – the perfect place to visit or to do business,” said Governor Fletcher. “This research confirms that our efforts are working.”

Research shows an 8.6 percent increase in the number who said they were somewhat or much more likely to visit Kentucky since the brand was launched. According to the research findings, the perception and appeal of “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” is higher than that of every other state tested. The brand also reinforced the positive images people have of Kentucky.

Researcher Jerry Henry was impressed with the brand growth that his research showed.

“Some of the most influential taglines in history were slogans such as ‘We Try Harder’ (Avis, 1962), ‘Got Milk,’ (California Milk Processing Board, 1993,) and ‘Think Different’, (Apple 1998). Given the high awareness, appeal and comprehension of the “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” brand, this slogan may one day take its place on the list of the elite,” Henry said. “In many cases, people who live outside Kentucky know Kentucky’s brand better than they know their own.”

“Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” was unveiled in November 2004 after winning a popular vote among Kentuckians.

“With a limited advertising budget, the ‘Kentucky Unbridled Spirit’ brand has enabled us to stretch our marketing dollars and tell Kentucky’s story to a worldwide audience,” said Randy Fiveash, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Tourism. “By using ‘Kentucky Unbridled Spirit’ as our advertising platform, we can relay a more professional and more consistent marketing message. That same message is reinforced and strengthened by consistent use throughout the state.”

The brand currently appears on state stationery, Web sites, state vehicles, advertising signage and promotional materials. In addition, hundreds of cities, counties and local tourism and economic development organizations have added the brand to their materials. “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” also appears on some high profile venues, such as a 5 million gallon Marathon Petroleum storage tank in Catlettsburg and the Lambert Land Maze near Owensboro, and is included in promotional materials for dozens of private companies. 

Since its implementation, some $500,000 in “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” merchandise has been sold. In addition, worldwide news reports on the “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” brand have netted the state millions of dollars in free publicity. According to a conservative count made by New West, more than 1,500 media stories have been catalogued to date, providing a total media value in excess of $2.8 million. 

“My hat is off to those who have adopted ‘Kentucky Unbridled Spirit,’” said Governor Fletcher. “This is a brand of the people, chosen by the people. The brand will continue to pay huge dividends as we grow Kentucky’s economy.”