Tourism

David Mering ’81, Founder and CEO, MeringCarson advertising agency

We've all heard the stereotype that Californians are just a bunch of dreamers with their heads in the clouds and their feet not so firmly planted on the ground. And there is nothing wrong with any of that, according to David Mering ’81 (Communication Studies), founder and CEO of Sacramento advertising agency MeringCarson.

David MeringLEADERSHIP ADVICE: "Have a point of view and take a stand. We'd all rather disagree with someone who has a strong conviction than feel like we don't know what they stand for or what they're about."

Mering and his team have taken California clichés and amplified them with their edgy and popular "California Dream Big" campaign for Visit California, the nonprofit that helps develop the state's tourism marketing programs.

"Our job is to sell California to the world," Mering says. "We first started working with Visit California around 1999, but it was really after 9/11 that there was an emphasis on encouraging people to go out and live their lives. As a result, there were a lot of opportunities to produce work that was very powerful and impactful. For me, that was the launching point for a renewed focus on the power of tourism."

In addition to MeringCarson's star-studded TV spots depicting the lives of true California dreamers, the agency has an expanded portfolio that includes specific travel destinations within the state. "Our work with Visit California allowed us to gain a lot of exposure within the tourism industry. As a result, we have done work for San Diego, Mammoth Lakes, Napa Valley, Disneyland, Santa Cruz and Pebble Beach."

Celebrating its 30th anniversary and with billings expected to reach $100 million this year, MeringCarson is as much a driver to the Sacramento region as it is to the state. Based on Tourism Economics statistics, more than 256 million people visited California in 2015 resulting in $120.7 billion in total direct travel spending. And those numbers are expected to increase over the next few years.

"That has a massive direct economic benefit to the state," Mering says. "Not only does it generate significant sales taxes, it has the ancillary benefits of job creation and construction, including new hotels and improvements to theme parks."

Mering shines when it comes to promoting the Golden State. Just don't ask the fifth-generation Californian to pick a favorite vacation spot.

"That's one of the hardest questions I get asked. What's not to love about every region of our state? It's a wonderful eclectic hodgepodge of people, places and geography. The fact that we're lucky enough to market it and tell stories about the places I'm passionate about simply makes it the best job ever."

Need some inspiration for your next vacation? Watch the "California Dream Big" commercials on Visit California's YouTube channel at youtube.com/VisitCA.

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