States try to lure tourists with catchy slogans

NEW YORK - AAA says more than 36 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home on Memorial Day weekend.

If you're unsure where to go, there are 50 state tourism departments eager to host you. Each has its own pitch, including a new one out this week: "Visit Nebraska. Visit nice."

The state of Nebraska wants you to visit and it's spent three months and $75,000 researching its new slogan. Here's what it unveiled earlier this week:

"Visit Nebraska. Visit nice."

The state of Nebraska has unveiled a new slogan that officials hope will entire tourists to visit.. CBS News

"The purpose of this campaign is to get people to come off the interstate highway when they're driving through Nebraska as fast as they can, but nice isn't going to get them off the highway," said Professor Sharr Prohaska.

Prohaska, who teaches about branding and tourism at New York University, says there is a technique to creating a successful slogan.

"You have to catch them. It's like fishing. You have to have something that just catches them right away," she said.

How can a state know if an ad is successful?

"For every dollar that goes into their advertising, the return on that dollar can be anywhere from in some states as low as $48, in some states around $330," Prohaska said.

Some ads have been so successful they've gone international, like Virginia's ad proclaiming it "is for lovers" and New York's famous "I (heart) NY" campaign. Ten years ago, advertising firm R&R created the "What happens here stays here" slogan for Las Vegas.

It isn't just that the ads are clever- they can generate tourism dollars. From 2012-2013, all 50 states combined spent more than $450 million for advertising and promotion, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Nationwide, tourism generated $888 billion in direct spending last year, the association says.

An unsuccessful ad gets pulled almost immediately, like Washington state's "SayWa" campaign, which was retired in just six months. Alaska's "B4UDIE" ad that lasted about 30 days.

Prohaska says branding a state in just a few words isn't easy.

"When there's so much competition you have to stand out. You have to distinguish yourself," Prohaska said.

Her fear is that people who see Nebraska's new ad won't have anything nice to say.