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Florida tourism agency hopes rapper Pitbull attracts millennials

Pitbull, the Miami rapper known for his spirited dance music, will take on the role of state tourism ambassador, hoping to thrust Florida to the top of the millennial generation’s travel ticket.

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, announced Pitbull as its new spokesman during the Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism Tuesday at the Tampa Convention Center. More than 1,100 travel experts are meeting in Tampa this week to discuss all aspects of the tourism industry, including marketing strategies and successes.

Pitbull, 34, a legend in the pop music scene for more than a decade, will promote Florida with videos on a Jumbotron before his concerts, both nationally and internationally. He’ll also market the state’s nightlife and fun venues through his Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.

Pitbull replaces Clearwater’s daredevil motocross champion Ricky Carmichael, who for the past year has worked to woo millennials to the Sunshine State with his YouTube videos on airboating, wakeboarding and more. Before Carmichael, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse promoted the state through a program on the Cooking Channel that highlighted not only dining opportunities but also entertainment and travel.

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, will sell the state in a subtle way — selling without making it sound like he’s selling, said Visit Florida spokeswoman Kathy Torian.

And with Pitbull, whose entire music career centers around fun party music, there’s an extra bonus, she said. Not only will he pull in the millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2000, but he’ll also bring along his Hispanic fan base.

Visit Florida did not release information Tuesday on how much Pitbull will be paid for his promotional work.

The lyrics to some of Pitbull’s best known songs, written for the YOLO (you only live once) crowd, might raise Mom and Dad’s eyebrows — think “Give Me Everything” and “Timber.” But his music is mainstream enough to get him gigs as the pitchman for some high-profile brands, including Bud Light, Fiat and Dr Pepper. He also is a regular concert guest on NBC’s “Today” show.

“It’s not going to be a marketing campaign so much as he will become a Florida ambassador and will do a number of different projects” for Visit Florida, Torian said.

Specializing in a genre of Southern party rap called crunk, designed to get people moving, Pitbull found superstardom in the early 2000s working with icons such as Lil Jon and, later, Chris Brown and Sean Paul, according to his Billboard biography. Two of his songs made their way into the “2 Fast 2 Furious” movie soundtrack.

With hits such as “The Anthem,” “Don’t Stop the Party” and “We Are One,” Pitbull, a first generation Cuban-American, has produced a number of his songs in Spanish or mixing Spanish and English verses.

Pitbull launched his own Sirius XM radio station, called Pitbull’s Globalization, this year.

yhammett@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7127

Twitter: @Yvette_Hammett

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