Sarah Olsen

You’ll See. U C. Union County.

The tagline is part of a video campaign the Union County Chamber of Commerce is launching next week to entice tourists to visit Union County.

A new 30-second commercial will be posted weekly on the Chamber’s Facebook page during the next three weeks. Each of the commercials focus on a different aspect of Union County — agriculture and industry, arts and entertainment, and activities. Two longer 1-minute commercials will be released shortly after the three shorter spots.

“(We wanted something) short and snappy but visually representative,” said Bob Kavanaugh, the Union County Chamber of Commerce executive director, who first envisioned the project.

In the past, the chamber advertised Union County in magazines such as Travel Oregon. According to Kavanaugh the ads, which were “not full page deals,” cost up to $600 dollars to place.

“The ads were not an effective use of tourism dollars,” he said.

Kavanaugh got the idea to use the web as an advertisement platform from observing what he called the “bowling alley effect.” When the chamber posted a picture on its Facebook page of the new bowling alley under construction downtown, the photo received more than 20,000 views. The ability to track the number of views made an impression on Kavanaugh.

“You can’t really quantify tourism numbers,” he said. “But with these videos you can quantify views and shares. It’s actual data.”

Motivated by the opportunity to advertise the county in a way that measures the campaign’s effectiveness, Kavanaugh partnered with Brent Clapp Media Services of La Grande. The partnership resulted in three short commercials and two versions of a longer commercial. One version has captions and the other version does not.

“We started planning the commercials in late June and finished a week ago,” Kavanaugh said. “It was an impossible deadline.”

To jumpstart the creative process, Kavanaugh and William Bowman, the senior producer at Brent Clapp Media Services, spent a week thinking of activities and other aspects of the county that would be appealing to tourists. At the end of the brainstorming session, everything had been sorted into the three main categories.

In order to accurately represent each category Kavanaugh, Bowman and the rest of the production crew traveled throughout the county. In order to create what Brent Clapp, owner of Brent Clapp Media Services, called “shareable shots,” the group used a camera for ground photography and a drone for filming aerial shots. Kavanaugh said he contacted local residents to appear in the commercials, and they were all enthusiastic about the project.

“It was a labor of love,” Kavanaugh said. “(None of the residents) asked to be paid.”

Along with featuring people who live in Union County, the commercials are narrated by a resident of La Grande. Originally it seemed unlikely a local voice actor could be used. Kavanaugh said the realization had been disappointing because he didn’t want to “farm anything out.”

However, Clapp remembered a demo that he received from Cody Dickerson, a newcomer to La Grande.

“He was a (fresh) voice no one recognized,” Clapp said.

The inclusion of local faces is not the only noticeable feature, however. The videos also sport a memorable tagline: “You’ll see. U C. Union County.” The tagline was an essential piece of the campaign for Clapp.

The catchy play on words was Bowman’s idea. He described his thought process as an “exercise in mindfulness.”

While Kavanaugh is pleased with the final results, he knows the timing isn’t perfect. Posting the commercials at the end of the summer is not timely, but he hopes those either going on a late summer trip or planning their vacations for next year will be influenced by what they see in the commercials.

Residents of the area will also notice the absence of Eastern Oregon University in the commercials. Kavanaugh said his crews were unable to get a shot of students on campus due to the summer break.

“It was a hard call (to omit the university), but we are committed to capturing some footage of EOU (for future commercials),” he said.

In the meantime, after all the completed videos have been posted on Facebook, Kavanaugh plans to “boost” the campaign by posting the commercials on state and regional travel websites such as Travel Oregon and Northwest Travel. Kavanaugh will not share the videos with a wider audience until the residents of Union County have had a chance to see them first.

“(Local residents) deserve it,” he said, explaining the decision. “We want (the commercials) to speak to local residents first.”