By Jen Bookhout
After nearly eight years in Nashville, Logan Mize still can’t seem to shake the Kansas dirt from his boots. But that’s all right – he doesn’t want to.
“No matter how far I get away from it, I can’t ever seem to get away,” Mize said with a laugh. “It follows me everywhere, and I love that because I do love the state, and I loved growing up here.”
The Clearwater native recently became the Kansas Tourism Brand Ambassador for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), a position that came about after Mize reached out to KDWPT. Previously, KDWPT typically focused more on the older demographic, KDWPT Tourism Marketing Manager Richard Smalley explained.
“When we started this conversation with Logan, we noticed that his demographics were younger,” Smalley said. “It was an audience that we weren’t reaching really well, so we thought that this was a really good opportunity to reach out to that, and country music is so big right now that we just thought it was a natural fit.”
For Mize, helping focus a spotlight on the Sunflower State was something he had long been considering. And with so many ties to Kansas – a wife from Andale, and a song co-writer from Hays – it seemed inevitable.
“I always thought that was really cool, the idea of promoting a certain place or being associated with something that kind of gives people an idea of what you’re about,” Mize said. “So, it was a small idea at first and then it kind of grew into this, and became a lot bigger than we thought it was going to be.”
Much of Mize’s music uses his home state as a canvas to be built upon, he explained. His song “Sunflowers” draws specifically on an iconic Kansas symbol, making it the front-runner selection for KDWPT’s Travel Kansas 2014 “There’s no place like Kansas” campaign video.
“We really loved his music,” Smalley said. “The song, “Sunflowers,” that we’re using just really seemed to fit well with where we wanted to go with our marketing campaigns.”
Together, KDWPT and Mize hope to increase interest and tourism in Kansas. The goal is two-fold, focusing on encouraging Kansas residents to get out and travel around their state, and promoting Kansas as a tourist destination for those outside the state, Smalley explained.
“Tourism is an $8 billion industry in Kansas; it’s an important industry for the state, and we just want to grow that,” Smalley said. “I mean, the bottom line is economic development.”
Mize will help advance the “There’s no place like Kansas” tourism campaign through his musical performances, his website and social media. At out-of-state concerts, there will be promotional items on display, as well as T-shirt giveaways, Smalley said. Additionally, Mize’s website features information about Kansas tourist destinations, while the Travel Kansas website features information about Mize.
Mize is already using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the places he visits when he is in Kansas, he said. Also, one of his equipment trailers has been branded with a graphic wrap referencing the campaign.
The next major promotional event will be Country Stampede at the end of June. Mize, KDWPT and Country Stampede are uniting to present a platform for the campaign. In addition to T-shirts, Kansas destination pamphlets and other promotional merchandise, KDWPT will host a sweepstakes to win VIP tickets and a meet and greet session with Mize at Country Stampede, Smalley said.
“It’s kind of exciting for us to do this with Logan; I’m not sure any other state’s ever done anything like this before, so we wanted to make a little bit of a splash with it,” Smalley said.
Mize is also excited about the partnership. He has long been disappointed by attitudes he has encountered regarding Kansas, even from Kansans themselves. Often, he’s heard Kansans say there is nothing to do here or that they can’t wait to get out and live somewhere else, he said. Mize believes Kansans can discover the beauty of the state simply be learning to appreciate their surroundings and exploring what the state has to offer.
“I think just having a little bit of pride and ownership in the state — you know, you go to other places and that seems like it might be a little bit more present, but I’d like to be a part of building some of that here in Kansas,” Mize said.
For more information about KDWPT’s tourism campaign, visit www.travelks.com, or visit www.facebook.com/TravelKS. For more information about Logan Mize, visit www.loganmize.com.