Last week, AP reporter James MacPherson wrote that North Dakota Tourism was working to extend its contract with actor Josh Duhamel.

Since 2013, Duhamel has been the face and voice of ND Tourism. In exchange, he's been paid over a million dollars, averaging nearly $300,000 every two years.

To be clear, I’m a fan and think he’s done a good job promoting our state.

But tourism is North Dakota's third-biggest industry and with visitor numbers down 21% and spending down nearly 31% in 2020, we need a fresh approach.

It’s simply harder to make an impact in advertising with the same talent for nearly a decade. Even Taco Bell didn’t use Duhamel year after year to promote their Nacho Fries when they hired him in 2018.

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So how else could ND Tourism promote North Dakota?

1. Enlist new homegrown stars. Why not Molly Yeh, Carson Wentz, Tigirlily or Tonia Jo Hall?

2. Embrace the movie and TV series Fargo. Maybe Frances McDormand or Chris Rock would film some ads for $300,000?

3. Enrich the website. The number of visits to the state's tourism website jumped 51% in 2020. Can we add virtual or augmented reality to keep visitors engaged?

In short, our third biggest industry shouldn’t be marketed in 2023 like it’s 2013. ND Tourism’s marketing should be as original and powerful as the state itself. While Josh Duhamel has been a great partner for the past eight years, maybe it’s time to find new talent in North Dakota.

Matt Fern lives in Bismarck.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.