N.L. tourism campaign features montages, homages and a slew of awards

Picture perfect

N.L. tourism campaign features montages, homages and a slew of awards

Pink gingham aprons and homemade quilts flapping on a line, waving welcome to a stiff onshore breeze. A child clattering a stick along the pickets of a winding fence just for the joy of making noise. An old man steering a dory through the moorings of a tranquil harbour. Definitely Newfoundland.

But definitely not your run-of-the-mill tourism ads. In fact, the concept of everyday life being used as a tourism draw, be it ever so gloriously portrayed in hues vibrant enough to put Technicolor to shame, was met with some scepticism by the tourism industry when the Find Yourself campaign was first unveiled by the Newfoundland and Labrador Ministry of Tourism in 2006.

Of course, that was before the series of ads won 147 awards. Those awards include the country’s most prestigious advertising award, a Grand Prix Cassie (Canadian Advertising Success Stories), a Gold Cassie, two Tourism Industry Association of Canada Marketing Campaign of the Year awards and a Canadian E-Tourism Award for Best Website. Not to mention a host of awards at this year’s Adrian Awards in New York – including two platinum awards – given to the best of the gold winners. And the promotion isn’t over yet.

The campaign is in the hands of Target, a St. John’s-based advertising and marketing company that has been named one of the 10 best in the country. It’s the only east coast agency to ever win a Cassie Grand Prix. Target is also one of only 11 agencies in Canada to have won a Gold Lion in the 55-year history of the Cannes International Advertising Festival – the Oscars of the advertising world. Clearly they know what they’re doing.

The tourism spots are marketed through print, radio, television and online advertising, as well as social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can even find their minute-long montages of an idealised island life beckoning from airplane entertainment screens. Since the beginning, 14 chapters of the television campaign have been launched including the most recent ones, “Iceberg Alley” and “Secret Place”, which focus more directly on the province’s natural beauty.

Tourism statistics prove that the unconventional campaign is working. Despite a challenging global economic environment, non-resident tourism visitation to the province has grown eight per cent since 2008 and tourism spending has grown 11 per cent during the same period. In 2010, half-million non-resident visitors came to the province. That was an increase of 7.3 per cent over the previous year and marked the first time that tourism numbers reached the half-million mark. That same year, tourism spending reached $880 million. Accommodation occupancy rates rose by one per cent at a time they were decreasing in other markets.

It’s estimated that about 13,000 people in the province are employed in the tourism industry directly, and the industry supports over 2,400 small and medium-sized enterprises. Those numbers are substantial for a province with a population of just 511,000 people.

According to the Department of Tourism, the news isn’t just good for the tourism industry. It has also had an impact on those economic sectors that promote the province as a place to invest, live and work.

Why do the ads strike such a chord?

“The positive portrayal of the province’s landscape and people has resonated with the local tourism industry and residents, and exudes the sense of pride we have in this amazing place we call home,” says Tourism Minister Derrick Dalley.

Clearly, with all those awards and a host of new visitors, it’s not just residents who see themselves happily partaking of the simple life so eloquently portrayed. Visitors from all over are looking for a welcoming place to hang their hats – and their aprons… if only for a little while.

By Denise Flint

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