Best & Worst Travel Marketing Campaigns

It’s approaching the holiday season. Exciting times for everybody to take some time to themselves. Hopefully to travel to wherever you want. After the last nearly two years we’ve had, we deserve a good get away to a foreign country. But if you’re still unsure and worried or maybe just prefer home, I’m going to talk about the best and worst travel marketing campaigns countries have put forward to encourage tourism. Some have good intentions but maybe are just not appropriate for the masses. Some are amazing and show the real strength and beauty of a country and its culture. And some are just dreadful. 

Now before you tut at me for the image above, let me explain. So this is for the Australian Northern Territory tourism advertisement. The imagery shows the huge red rock of Uluru which rises dramatically from the Central Australian desert and is one of Australia’s most famous attractions. In the front is some controversial typography. The phrase reads as “C U In The N T” an abbreviation of “See You In The Northern Territory”. However, as anyone can see, it also reads as an extremely explicit expression. In Australia the term is used more frequently than in the western hemisphere. Because of this the campaign does associate the advertisement with the country successfully. Also the NT in the text, is a play of the already used logo for promotion of the area so works well with establishing the geography. Now although the campaign was a success and is very humorous with Twitter responses saying “Didn’t know the NT named their campaign after you?” and “Should I get a postcard of this for the kids? Lol”. The SA (Southern Australia) confirmed the state government had nothing to do with the campaign. A spokesperson saying “It’s so not us”. The two entrepreneurs who created the Northern Territory campaign, Adam Blackburn and Blaze Tripp, however say “We’re just a couple of blokes that are knocking up some ideas.” I do feel that there could have been a sensitivity to their audience, like the American’s that have a particular distaste for the choice of word and make up over 1,300 of Australia’s tourism. However I really do have crude humour and I do see it as a joke and it definitely worked well in gaining traction.

On 14 April 2010 a volcanic eruption started under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland. The ash and damage caused by the volcano were globally reported and most news were inflammatory and excessive to the truth. Due to this within days a wave of cancellations began across all sectors. In this time the tourist arrivals of the country plummeted by 22% in April alone. However, how the professionals required tackled the issue led to a more successful peak season than expected. The Icelandic government, the City of Reykjavík, airlines Icelandair and Iceland Express, Promote Iceland and about 80 other tourism-related companies joined forces to counter the worldwide impression that travelling to Iceland was dangerous. They started by launching the campaign “Inspired by Iceland”. With the message of “Iceland has never been more awake and there has never been a more exciting time to visit the country.” To encourage people to share their stories and memories of visiting Iceland. With an attempt to change the focus from the catasphrophic effects of the volcano into a mass media attention aimed at the safety and beauty of the country. All promoted heavily on the campaign’s website, Inspiredbyiceland.com. The campaign was launched on 3 June with even Stephen Fry tweeting “Despite what you might think, Iceland is as alive and charming as ever.” The campaign was a massive success with a survey conducted in the UK, Germany and Denmark indicating increased interest in Iceland as a destination. So impactful that the figures for travellers coming to Iceland equaled the same number for 2009 with only a 0.6% decrease.

An example of something that even for its time was seen as a backwards campaign was 2009 Denmark’s tourism agency via a YouTube advert on the VisitDenmark channel. The advert was a three-minute-long video clip showing a young, blond woman with a baby called ‘August’ where she says he is the result of a brief fling with a foreign tourist. The video shows her saying she is trying to find August’s father. She says ‘We met one night a year and a half ago when you were on vacation here in Denmark. And then decided to have a drink and, yeah, it’s really embarrassing but it’s more or less what I remember. I don’t remember where you’re from or even your name. The next morning when I woke up, you were gone. I just want to let you know that August is here and he exists. I feel I owe that to both you and him.’ It has been revealed that the woman is an actress and was accused of promoting promiscuity and labelled ‘grotesque’ by one Danish newspaper. The campaign was labelled as promoting the country as a place to go and have unprotected sex with strangers. The advert was removed from YouTube and had 800,000 hits. A sociologist, Karen Sjoerup said “You can lure fast, blonde Danish women home without a condom.” and the Economy Minister Lene Espersen said the video “Presented a not very well-thought-out picture of the country.” VisitDenmark manager Dorte Kiilerich said “’I regret that the film has offended so many people.” He then went on to explain that the intent had been to tell “A nice and sweet story about a grown-up woman who lives in a free society and accepts the consequences of her actions.” I believe this advert had to taste at all and made no sense for promoting tourism except encouraging unruly and promiscuous men that don’t accept the consequences of their actions.

In 2016, The Swedish Tourist Association and INGO, a Stockholm based agency, gave the country it’s own telephone number. To celebrate 250 years of free speech, the number was open to anyone and everyone around the world. When they call they automatically connect to a random Swedish citizen, who has signed up online at the time. They can talk about any subject and anything in Sweden, in doing so encourage visitors. The campaign was successful and received more than 170,000 calls from 186 different countries. The campaign also generated 9 billion impressions online and made a value of nearly £110 million with a media spend of zero. Even Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven was a Swedish ambassador and member and was accepting calls. I think this idea is ingenious and is a creative and different way of promoting the tourism of the country while also not spending that much money on the campaign. 

Stewart Russell-Moya

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