The Montana Mercantile Tour visited Chicago and Minneapolis, and it's now entering Seattle to boost tourism to big sky country.

The Montana Mercantile Tour visited Chicago and Minneapolis, now entering Seattle, to boost tourism to big sky country.

dio, a nationwide experiential marketing firm, is currently running a multi-market advertising campaign on behalf of Montana Tourism. After stints in Chicago and Minneapolis, this marketing tour is entering Seattle on May 21.

“Montana Tourism asked us to bring a memorable experience into key markets to help boost tourism to big sky country,” explains Elizabeth Shaffer, dio’s art director. “We drew inspiration from the famous Polebridge Mercantile and created, from scratch, a completely turnkey experience.”

A food truck was transformed into a mercantile building, then set among a concrete jungle in the urban locations the Montana team is targeting. dio has staffed the mercantile tour with trained, professional, cowboy-boot-wearing brand ambassadors who engage passersby and educate participants about the vacation opportunities that exist in Montana.

“With our campaign partners, we are able to offer made-in-Montana huckleberry ice cream and bison jerky to those who visit the experience,” says Shaffer. “In return, we ask that they take a selfie at the site and upload to social media using the hashtag #idratherbeinmt.”

During the first five days in the Chicago market, the campaign had already received a possible reach of over 793,000 people on Twitter alone with nearly 300 Twitter mentions. In addition, over 400 Instagram photos were also shared during those first few days, many receiving ‘likes’ and engaging comments. Social publicity is an important key to this experiential campaign.

In addition to the food truck-turned-mercantile, the campaign site features a 3D photo mat that helps transport visitors to a Montana vacation in their selfies and a real bison head which the team has lovingly nicknamed, ‘Billy.’

“Our team has been receiving a lot of positive feedback, including comments that lead us to believe there will indeed be an increase in travelers to Montana from these markets,” reports Shaffer.

The mercantile will be traveling around Seattle through May 25. Everyone who sees the mercantile is invited to stop in order to interact with the team, take and post a selfie and of course, enjoy some free ice cream or jerky.

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About dio

dio is an experiential marketing firm specializing in unique consumer engagements that build brand awareness, drive sales and create brand loyalty. For more information, find us online at


No one can resist “Billy” the bison.


The mercantile attracts a lot of eager travelers.


Selfies posted to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook are turned into social capital…for ice cream or jerky!


A 3D photo mat transports mercantile visitors into big sky country.