I am very fortunate to have travelled a lot in my life.
For work. For pleasure. For family.
And in those travels, I’ve often experienced amazing people, places and cultures.
Of course there’s been the odd horror-show, but that’s more because of an individual dickhead spoiling things than the country/city being fundamental bad. Though I won’t be going back to the Falkland Islands in a hurry … it made Luton look like Monte Carlo.
Anyway, maybe it’s because of my love of travelling, but I have always found ‘tourism’ campaigns fascinating.
Sadly, I mean fascinating in the ‘car crash’ sense of the word.
As I wrote here, most tourism campaigns are utterly, utterly horrible … shoving as many images of ‘things to do’ as they can cram into a 30 second ad as they try desperately to show they have something for everyone without actually realising all they’re really doing is saying, ‘we’re exactly the same as everyone else’.
That’s why I’ve always held the NZ ‘Pure’ campaign and – to a lesser extent – the Philippines ‘more fun’ campaigns in high regard.
Instead of trying to claim they offer everything, they’ve focused on one core, inherent cultural value and built everything off that.
Let’s be honest, it’s hardly groundbreaking strategy … but the fact so few nations and cities have adopted this approach means NZ and the Philippines have disproportionally benefited from simply doing their branding right.
The reason I say this is because I recently came across this:
Putting aside the fact LOWE were somehow involved in this and should know better – especially as they were behind some of my favourite brand building ideas of all time – the fact is it’s just a lot of shit isn’t it.
I’ve been to Poland. I liked it. But if someone asked me to describe it, the image I would convey would not – in any way – reflect the image that is being shown in that ad.
And even if it was true … how is it any different from countless other scenes shown in the tourism ads of Rome, Paris, Lisbon and Madrid.
To name but a few.
But there’s something more than that.
You see Poland gets a bad wrap in England.
When I was there, I heard way too many people be disparaging about the people of that nation – mainly because they associated them with “taking British jobs”, which is not only utter shit, but massively disrespectful. Especially when the people claiming to be wronged come from a nation that took people’s entire countries.
But my point is this.
Whether people have a bad – or wrong – impression of a nation, expecting them to cough-up their hard earned cash so they can ‘find out why it’s worth visiting’ is a pretty flawed strategy, ESPECIALLY when  you don’t give them any clue to what they can/should expect and  you don’t represent a value or belief that is unique to your culture.
As much as people may like to say they love ‘the unknown’, the reality is – especially when it involves spending money – we tend to prefer ‘the unexpected’ because it tells us we will have some sort of frame-of-reference for what will go on, which in terms of making a choice, gives us the confidence to take that step because we feel we’re not going to end up being put in a position where will will look – or do something – totally stupid.
Like going to Poland in the hope of seeing a couple having over-extravagant high-tea on a table covered in flowers that is located in the middle of the street.
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