Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism is unveiling a brand new look and feel for its marketing efforts. The fresh look debuts Wednesday in a new ad campaign placed in a variety of leisure, meetings and conventions, and sports industry magazines.

The "Columbia, SC: The New Southern Hot Spot" brand with its "Famously Hot" tagline will be replaced with the brand "Columbia, SC" and a new tagline, "The Real Southern Hot Spot," according to the Authority's Director of Communications Andrea Mensink. "The 'Famously Hot' tagline will live on locally and will continue to be a feeling that visitors experience once they’re here."

As for changing "The New Southern Hot Spot" to "The Real Southern Hot Spot," Mensink says, "that speaks to the friendly, approachable and warm personality of the destination. Also, we’re not new after more than 8 years." She adds, "The new look reflects where the city is now and where is going."

The new look, coupled with the new ad campaign, will show Columbia as:

  • An affordable Southern destination with a wealth of buzz-worthy attractions and events;
  • A city in transition, ripe with the fresh ideas, energy and aspirations paired with intellectual, cultural and political diversity;
  • An urban experience without the big-city hassle in close proximity to abundant natural beauty and recreation opportunities; and
  • A combination of rich, Southern history with contemporary thinking and progress.

The changes were based on wide-ranging research, including conversations with from visitors, meeting planners, community stakeholders, local governments, attractions and hotels, as well as a competitive audit, industry conventions analysis and site visits to Columbia.

A few common themes emerged from their research:

  • Columbia’s geographic location can be a source of great strength. An extremely large population of leisure travelers lives within a relatively easy driving distance.
  • There is an opportunity to increase traveler familiarity with Columbia. Regional visitors generally see Columbia as an appealing destination with a variety of strengths.
  • Columbia is seen as an inspirational destination by many regional travelers, meaning more travelers are interested in coming here than have actually visited.

PHOTOS: The Real Southern Hot Spot