At the start of "Sweet Home Alabama," Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant shouts "Turn it up!" And that's what the state of Alabama plans to do with its new tourism campaign.
At a state tourism conference Monday on the Alabama coast, Gov. Bob Riley announced Alabama's tourism agency will use the line "Sweet Home Alabama" to market the state in 2008.
State Tourism Director Lee Sentell said the line — used first in the Lynyrd Skynyrd song in 1974 and then in the 2002 movie starring Reese Witherspoon — will be featured throughout the state's $4.5 million marking program next year.
The campaign symbol is a red, blue, yellow and white logo with the words "sweet" and "home" flanking the stylized word "Alabama."
Sentell said tourism marketing campaigns often spend millions on brand recognition. "This one is instant," he said.
But just to be sure, the tourism agency had Luckie and Co. of Birmingham research the phrase along with others. Some 71 percent of out-of-state residents an 65 percent of Alabamians favored the phrase over the other choices, Sentell said.
Sentell said the agency plans to sell Sweet Home Alabama T-shirts and caps in retail outlets. Besides a $25,000 licensing fee, it will pay Universal Music a 6 percent royalty on logo merchandise, he said.
No decision has been made on incorporating the song into the campaign, officials said.
Universal Music is a unit of French telecom company Vivendi.