By Piper Anderson
At RLF, we spend much of our time brainstorming and executing smart ideas that solve our clients problems creatively. We value our own ideas, but we also like to take the time to appreciate – and sometimes be inspired by – the interesting and engaging ideas that come from other agencies.
Some of the more creative and engaging ad campaigns in recent years have been promoting destinations. But I’m not talking about the typical dramatic travel video. (You know the kind– brightly colored and shot with perfect panoramas and sweeping architecture. The kind that gives you goosebumps as the narrator’s voice lilts in tune with the sweeping arc of a bird’s wing… that kind of ad.) These typical travel videos are nice, buy they’re also cliché. And in the oversaturated tourism market, you need a bit of spunk to stand out.
That’s why I chose five travel campaigns over the last few years that have caught my eye with their creativity and messaging. From cities to states to whole countries, these destinations dug deep and stood out.
Campaign credits: Tourism Australia
A major hit at the 2018 Super Bowl, this ad tricks people into thinking it’s a blockbuster movie trailer until the very end. Graced with superb casting (read: Chris Hemsworth) and a delightfully comedic tone, this ad doesn’t just make viewers smile: It defines Australia’s tourism personality. The ad curates an Aussie vacation as one navigated by a playful, happy-go-lucky spirit amidst gorgeous landscapes and contemporary cities. It also doesn’t hurt that the ad hearkens back to Crocodile Dundee, an 80s film that introduced countless movie-goers to the land down under.
Graubünden: The Great Escape and Village Phone
This campaign takes the award for most creative. Graubunden, a rural region in Switzerland, drew attention to its pastoral tranquility with two interactive stunts that blended technology and locals’ personalities. The first campaign set up a livestream at a Zurich train station, where passers-by could chat with a friendly man sitting in front of a mountain landscape. He even printed people free tickets to the region so they could visit– and many did.
The other effort took place in one of the quietest towns in Switzerland. To prove this designation, the town installed a phone booth in its square and invited people to call– insisting that any one in town would be able to hear it ringing and come running to answer it. More than 30,000 phone calls came in over 6 days, leading to free trips and conversations with locals. These innovative tactics generated a lot of buzz for a little-known region.
Oregon: Travel Oregon 360°
With fantastic branding and endearing print ads, Travel Oregon has always been a great model for tourism PR done right – but its 360° campaign really stands out. How could it not, when a robotic talking salmon takes the leading role? He stars in videos where viewers can virtually explore the landscape, all the while listening to his comical advice on everything from dune riding to wine tasting. The 360° campaign is quirky and memorable in the best way.
The 360 introduction video is below.
If you’re interested in more trailblazing content, check out their gorgeous website animation that seeks to encapsulate Oregon’s magic.
Los Angeles: Everyone is Welcome
Campaign credit: Discover Los Angeles
Sometimes, the best part of PR is when it has a fulfilling purpose. The team behind Discover Los Angeles’ “Everyone is Welcome Here” campaign must have felt similarly, because the ads take a firm stance against the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban. Their videos, which follow a floating paper airplane through LA, celebrate diversity and tell travelers that people from any and all countries are welcome in the City of Angels. The vibey song and youthful feel of the videos position LA as accepting – a perfect place to let your guard down and make memories.
Toronto: The Views Are Different Here
Campaign credit: Tourism Toronto
Toronto’s stunning campaign incorporates fresh typography and tantalizingly short clips in a mélange of a video that highlights Toronto’s multiculturalism. The title of the ad is a sly nod at Drake’s then-new album, and the rest of the ad gets only more relevant with references to gay pride and the LGBTQ community (“love is love is love”). The piece moves fast and fluidly, sucking the viewer in with enticing glimpses of iconic architecture and exciting experiences. After watching, the viewer is left with a conviction that Toronto is cool, diverse, and a solid bet for adventure.
Honorable mention: Sweden, which listed itself as an entire country on Air BnB. Talk about cross promotion!
Greenlighting bold ideas is risky for clients, but the campaigns shown above demonstrate that a little strategic risk-taking can be incredibly rewarding. These travel videos are different, and that’s what I like about them. After all, different is the whole point of travel. You visit new places to see different cultures and landscapes and taste different foods. Sometimes, you visit new places with the hope that you will be different, that you will come home with a new perspective, wise and weathered, colorful stories in tow.