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California Launches ‘Playful’ Tourism Brand Campaign

Photo of man jumping into a pool with a beach ball nearby.
Photo of Caroline Beteta.
Caroline Beteta

When it comes to efforts to draw tourists to the Golden State, California doesn’t play around—until now, that is.

Visit California, the state’s tourism marketing arm, launched a “Let’s Play” campaign that stresses the famously laid-back state’s ability to de-stress visitors. The new brand identity was born out of Visit California research that found 85% of consumers across six global markets agree that it is important to incorporate play into their lives, and 43% believing that vacation “is the only time I have to really let go and play.”

The new global brand platform replaces the decade-long “All Dreams Welcome” initiative and features a 30-second “Let’s Play” television spot and a three-month, $32.8 million integrated campaign airing across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., Australia and China.

[Related: Dream Big: California Leads the Way for Memorable Meetings]

“The CTA [call to action] with the old campaign resonated for 10 years and still does, but this is more direct,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “People are working hard and don’t have time to play, and California is the ultimate playground.”

Photo of woman on beach with a beach ball over her foot.
Visit California's "Let's Play" campaign Newport photo. Credit: Visit California.

Visit California also cited research from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, whose recent study of consumers across the U.S., United Kingdom and China found that post-pandemic-era consumers are creating a “joyconomy” evidenced by the following findings:

  • 89% see fun as a necessity that keeps them going in tough times.
  • 83% are seeking out experiences that bring them joy and happiness.
  • People want more joy (72%), hope (71%) and inspiration (62%) in their lives. 
Visit California's "Let's Play" campaign Hollywood photo.
Visit California's "Let's Play" campaign Hollywood photo. Credit: Visit California.

Further, a new study from the National Institute for Play found that play is as vital to humans as sleep, and that “the pandemic and its aftermath, our nation’s extreme political polarization, global geopolitical conflicts and the climate crisis contribute to unprecedented, widespread levels of anxiety, depression, addiction and hopelessness. Play is part of the solution.”

[Check out our Visit California page for more news and updates about the Golden State]

Visit California’s website,, now features a quiz for users to identify their “play style” under eight categories:

  • Collector
  • Competitor
  • Creator
  • Director
  • Comedian
  • Explorer
  • Mover
  • Storyteller

Meetings Should Be Playful, Too

The nonprofit tourism marketing organization took its new tagline to heart during its annual Outlook Forum in Greater Palm Springs, March 11-13.

Photo of Caroline Beteta speaking at Visit California's Outlook Forum 2024.
Caroline Beteta speaking at Outlook Forum 2024. Credit: Visit California.

“We tightened up the sessions and allowed for more networking time, and there were activations—hiking, painting, pickleball, lattes by the pool, bowling,” Beteta said. “It was phenomenal. The interaction between the sessions—we just didn’t imagine how important they were. We had so many instances for people enjoying the time because those activations created time for interaction and lasting relationships.

“That’s what’s needed going forward in post-pandemic meetings—you have to mix it up,” Beteta continued. “You’ve got to be able to work and play at the same time, otherwise people won’t take the time and the money to go to meetings and events.”

The campaign seems to be resonating with its intended audience. Beteta said it registered a 75% positive rating both across generations and internationally.

[Read our special California meetings guide]

“There’s a lot of tumult in the world. We’re consumed 24-7 by the media—it’s all bad news, all the time, and I think that’s why it has resonated—and we have authenticity of product,” she said. “We are the ultimate playground, and then there’s this pure delight in this call to action to break away from the tumult.”

And how does Beteta play when it comes time to unplug?

“I do a lot of hiking, and I can never be inside exercising—never,” said Beteta, a Southern California native who now lives in Sacramento. “I have a chocolate lab that I have to walk every day, and I snow ski and I love water sports. Being outdoors—oxygen is what I love. Pure oxygen. Fresh air.”

California offers all of those things in abundance.


Visit California

Access this next: All of the Latest Meetings and Events News in California

Visit California's "Let's Play" campaign Sequoia National Park photo.
Visit California's "Let's Play" campaign Sequoia National Park photo. Credit: Visit California.
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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.