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Tourism campaigns can be a necessary evil in promoting travel to a certain place, sometimes an entire country. I refer to them as an “evil” since it can be quite the challenge to make such campaigns eye-catching and convincing. With that in mind, there are several types that tend to surface in the tourism promotion process.

First, there is what many of us would consider a classy ad campaign — beautiful cinematography and cultural depth that evokes deep-seated emotions. An exceptional example is the breathtaking Incredible India video from India & You’s 2018 campaign. Balanced, composed, up-close shots of details such as flags blowing in the wind paired with a delicate voice singing in a language you can’t quite understand — this combination has a way of transporting you to India in a very visceral way.

Now, there are many more approaches beyond this inspiring montage to create a promotional tourism campaign. If you remember the Super Bowl from February 2018, Australia had a campaign that was based on the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee (and if you haven’t seen the ad, I highly recommend it). At the beginning, it plays like a movie trailer, tricking you into thinking there will be a remake or yet another sequel. But once Chris Hemsworth starts mentioning just a few of the amazing attractions that Australia is proud of, you begin thinking a bit differently…until Danny McBride breaks the fourth wall and admits that it’s not a movie: it’s a tourism advertisement. Comedy aside, it caught your attention, didn’t it?

In a similar vein, New Zealand began the “#getnzonthemap” campaign in a hilarious, conspiracy-based promotion ad. Comedian Rhys Darby calls prime minister Jacinda Ardern with the grave news that New Zealand has been left off of world maps all over the world. Desperate to get to the bottom of the issue, he takes charge and investigates. This is a two-part series, so I won’t ruin it for you, but again, the comedic impact keeps you watching and convinces you to consider New Zealand as a tourist destination.

My interest in this topic was actually spurred by a fresh-off-the-press Quartzy article by Rosie Spinks titled “The Tourism Slogan ‘Be Taken By Albania’ Intentionally References Kidnapping.” Wow. If that isn’t going to grab your attention, what will? Upon reading the article, you’ll find that Albania was simply following in Lithuania’s footsteps by making a bold — and borderline spooky, in this case — but intriguing slogan to promote tourism. Spinks writes:

“You might assume that the country’s tourism board chose ‘Be Taken by Albania’ without thinking about the unfortunate double meaning: They wanted you to ‘be taken’ by the country’s dramatic coastline and welcoming residents, not evoke kidnapping, sex trafficking, criminals, or organized crime networks. The nation hopes to attract 10 million visitors annually, after all.”

She then goes on to mention that they were, in fact, riffing off the 2008 film Taken, directly calling out Liam Neeson for essentially giving their country a bad name. Their promotional video delves into the topic a bit further, arguing that “[c]ountries that are off the beaten tourism path are often unfairly stereotyped by their depictions in films and popular culture.” Making a statement that garners the attention of writers like Spinks is exactly what can help put these overlooked countries on the map of potential tourist destinations.

While you certainly don’t need to make such an extreme effort to promote travel to your destination of choice, this is absolutely some food for thought. Maybe take a bit more of a risk when deciding on your promotional content. Our advice would be to toe the line between the ridiculous and the safe…and to send us your ideas!

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