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Best & worst tourism campaigns

- September 14th, 2009

Some tourism campaigns are certainly more successful than others.

Case in point: the iconic I ♥ NY campaign. Used by the state of New York for more than 30 years, the recognizable logo has made its way onto countless souvenirs and is nearly as famous a symbol of the state as the Statue of Liberty.

Other campaigns have fallen flat in comparison. I think of 2008′s South Carolina Is So Gay pitch. The ad garnered plenty of positive attention in England among the LGBT travellers it was targeted toward and “AdWeek referred to this ad as ‘the year’s most talked about tourism ads,’” Ian Johnson, CEO of ad creator Out Now, pointed out in a comment on this blog. The slogan didn’t sit well with some South Carolinians, though, who viewed it as a political hot potato, and the campaign was quickly shut down by the state’s tourism department.

These are my three favourite tourism campaigns and three of the worst. What tourism campaigns would make your list?

The best:

1. Locals KnowCanada

Using photos and video submitted by Canadians to YouTube and to the Canadian Tourism Commission directly, this 2009 campaign highlights the best hidden travel gems across the country.

2. What Happens Here, Stays Here – Las Vegas

This campaign proved to be quite lucrative for Las Vegas, with the slogan entering our vocabulary, our movie theatres and cementing Sin City as the ultimate naughty adult destination.

3. Come Walkabout – Australia

Shot by director Baz Luhrmann, the incredibly moving – and effective – campaign touches many North Americans who find themselves all too often caught up with work and everyday drama to appreciate the beauty and joy in the world around them.

The worst:

1. Toronto Never Smelled So GoodToronto

As the city’s summer 2009 garbage strike came to a close, Tourism Toronto tried to capitalize on the attention the city was receiving and even inject a little humour into the matter with a print campaign claiming Toronto had never smelled better. Unfortunately, parks and public areas still smelled pretty pungent after being used as garbage dump sites and some Torontonians disagreed with the campaign, saying it reeked of desperation.

2. Hey, Hey This is Queensland – Queensland, Australia

Starring candidates from the Best Job in the World contest, this ad caused a stir among some Aussies who said the ad portrayed them as a “monkey state” and criticized the use of the Monkee’s song because the group is not Australian.

3. Hot Israel – Israel

Tourism officials in Israel wanted to shift the world’s focus on the nation away from violence and war and launched a sexy campaign to instead draw attention to the nation’s – attractive women? The government even funded a steamy photo shoot for Maxim magazine. An Israeli ad agency similarly decided to promote the country with a racy ad considered to be offensive to some women. The accompanying slogan – “No Wonder it’s called the Holy Land” – likely didn’t sit well with religious groups either.

- Nicole Feenstra

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1 comment

  1. compareaholic | September 21, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Yep, there have certainly been a few failures out there. I visited Toronto just after the binmen strike and let me tell you, it was not pretty. It stank and I don’t know why anyone thought that was a good campaign to run.

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