A need to move beyond alliteration
FOR so many new tourism destinations these days, it seems that the first marketing step to be taken (after direct flights and duty free out-lets) is coming up with an catch-all adjective that starts with the same letter as the destination’s name.
So we had Surprising Singapore, In-credible India, and in a bit of a twist, Malaysia - Truly Asia and Fly-Buy-Dubai, which looked to rhyme rather than alliteration. But turn the pages of a travel magazine today, and a holiday seems like a whole new experience – from Australia asking 'Where the Bloody Hell Are You?' to Greece suggesting you 'Discover The Greek In You'.
And it's not just the conversation tone that's different – travel ads have discovered that they need to differentiate or die.
In Edinburgh, the branding of the ancient Rosslyn Chapel happened with the launch of first the book, and then the movie, of The Da Vinci Code. How much did it help that the book contains pivotal scenes set there, and the movie was shot there? Visitors to the chapel went up by 300 per cent after the film was shot there. A neighbourhood restaurant even changed its name — calling itself The Grail Restaurant, and incidentally strengthening the branding of the town as Da Vinci's Code Town.
Or take Las Vegas — the gambling centre of the US, which had, over the years adopted multiple positionings of Sin City, Convention town and family destination. A more focused campaign with an escapist ‘What Happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ tagline was a hit: making it to talk shows, sitcoms and general conversation as a punchline. But more critically, the Las Vegas tourist authority says that the more focused positioning of the city's campaign led to a 25 per cent increase in tourist arrivals.
India, which adopted the Incredible India tagline, accompanied by travel porn location shots, has since narrowed the scope of its campaign, using the same tagline. Its latest ads, running in New York's Times Square, among other locations, now focus on India as the home of yoga – a move that led marketing strategist Marc Babej to describe it as one of the smartest tourism campaigns around.
It's an inevitable shift, with the profile of leisure travellers broadening, even as they look for more specific travel experiences.
Blanket descriptions of natural beauty and unique culture, are, in the words of one British creative director, a big yawn. Much more successful at upping tourist numbers have been branding campaigns that took a more off-beat, and focused approach. Like that Polish plumber.
by MA Rodrigues