A brand voyage

destination MARKETING

A brand voyage
In the late 80s, when the late Walter Mendez, National Creative Director of Mudra, scripted the tagline, ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala Tourism initiated a trend in state tourism marketing. The stunning visuals of the ad campaign became the envy of other State Tourism Boards and shaped  marketing destination history in India. Currently, the tourism scenario in India is vibrant with a proliferation of various tourism boards and a significant increase in competition.

Every state or country is jostling to lure vacationers to come and visit them through catchy taglines, glossy ad campaigns, brand ambassadors, robust branding, TVCs, social media, advertising, effective PR, direct marketing aids and an appealing web presence. Some of the unique Indian ads and taglines which stand etched in my memory are those of the tourism boards of Diu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and the Government of India.

The mantra behind Kerala’s successful tourism campaign has been diversification and innovative content. “Before brand fatigue set in, we breathed new life into the brand, and spun a winning tourism campaign around the theme. The taglines and theme-based commercials like ‘Water Colours’, ‘Your Moment is Waiting’, and ‘The Great Backwaters’ depicting ‘God’s Own Country in a new light’ are a beautiful amalgamation of words and captivating visuals. They stimulated interest among travellers, brought accolades to Kerala Tourism, and placed the brand on a pedestal,” reminisces Harshan T K, chairman of Stark Communications.

Explaining the concept behind the 3-minute commercial, ‘Your Moment is Waiting’, Stark Communications Director Swarup B R, says, “A refreshing break from the ‘beach, backwater and greenery’ theme, it portrays the transformational journey of an evolved, sensitive traveller through the landscape of Kerala — a journey that brings the traveller face to face with archetypal characters, her own self and her subliminal bond with nature. These are glimpses of delicate moments, gentle epiphanies and deep insights that alter and enrich her.” Equally impressive is ‘The Great Backwaters’ campaign shot using advanced aerial photography techniques which catapulted the state’s backwaters into the league of the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Following the runaway success of Kerala Tourism, other states revamped their ad campaigns. Ogilvy & Mather crafted a series of stunning ads for Madhya Pradesh (MP) Tourism which has ‘Heart of Incredible India’ as its tagline. While the earlier ‘Bioscope’ ad showed shots of the state’s attractions viewed through a bioscope, another unique ad used ‘eyes’ as the creative route to narrate the journey of the traveller in Madhya Pradesh. One cannot forget the background score of ‘MP ajab hai, sabse gajab hai’ as you watch the TVC depicting the myriad tourist attractions through ombromanie (art of performing a story using images made by hand shadows). But my favourite is the TVC campaign depicting what the state can offer through a riot of colours with a perfect blend of the earthy track. In slow motion, as the colours envelope tourists, they take the shape of key tourist destinations such as Kanha tigers, Khajuraho sculptures, Mandu’s Jahaz Mahal, Sanchi Stupa and Ujjain’s Mahakal Aarti. These campaigns, unlike some state tourism ads, have no celebrity on board.

Equally successful is the Government of India’s tourism slogan and campaign, Incredible !ndia, reflecting the rich Indian tapestry incredibly rich in colour and content. It certainly fits the bill for the various landscapes, the overall offer from destinations, its people and its travel icons. Bowled over by the tagline ‘Incredible !ndia’, media consultant Asha Nambisan says, “The word ‘Incredible’, and the use of the exclamation mark in the logo is a subtle and appropriate touch which heightens expectations and curiosity, tells you there’s awe and wonder to be seen and experienced in this destination, and conveys the mind-boggling depth and intensity of the Indian experience.”

Gujarat’s tagline ‘Khushboo Gujarat Ki’, captures the many essence and flavours of the vibrant state, promoting it as an escapade for people of various tastes and age groups. The Amitabh Bachchan-Gujarat tourism synergy is the best example of the effect of selecting the right brand ambassador for the right product. The presence and baritone voice of Amitabh Bachchan, the ambassador for Gujarat Tourism, has done miracles for Gujarat. On a subliminal level, Bachchan’s personality tries to define Gujarat tourism; lofty, vibrant, multi-dimensional, dependable, and multi-faceted. It tries to put forward that Gujarat has everything to satiate experience-hungry tourists. Be it religious tourism, adventure, wildlife, heritage or festivals, they have it all. It is beautifully intertwined with the imagery and voice-overs... and together, the ads successfully help in building the brand as a fresh, beautiful, never-seen-before destination in the mind of viewers.

Visibility is the key

Diu, the new kid on the block, is infinitely different from the run-of-the-mill destinations and depicts itself as something much more than just a getaway. The ad campaign aesthetically portrays the mood and the serenity of the place. It whets the appetite for the destination by withholding some information and creates a tantalising tease. The ad reiterates that pretty pictures don’t make a destination, but experiences make a destination.   

Elated with the success of the campaign, Ashish Kundra, Administrator, Daman & Diu, says, “Diu is a pristine beach destination of India which carries a rich legacy of Portuguese heritage and architecture. This island destination, hitherto unknown by the discerning Indian traveller, captures the USP of Diu — which is a pervading sense of calm. “Ilha de Calma” became the tagline, which in Portuguese stands for Island of Calm”. “The visual imagery, music, and the campaign was subtle and evoked a sense of calm, capturing the mystique and enigma of the place. The campaign used a mix of electronic, digital, print, radio and outdoor media and aroused significant interest in the upwardly mobile Indian traveller,” says Abhik Santara, VP, Account Management.

There are light-hearted campaigns too. For instance, ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ was a superhit which turned into a viral meme circulating in many social networking websites highlighting the FUN element in everything that is Filipino. “While the images show the beautiful vistas and interesting wildlife, the text shows that it is the people that make it all a uniquely fun, uniquely Filipino experience. We have branded Philippines as a FUN destination and we have capitalised on our content and everything that is FUN in the Philippines to present a unified brand image of the country,” said Sanjeet, India Representative, Philippines Tourism.

The tagline, ‘Jump Into Ireland’, captures the essence of a holiday in Ireland and highlights its iconic experiences and warm, friendly people. “It is designed to convey a sense of playfulness and reflect the immersive nature of a holiday in Ireland. It exhorts the visitor to be spontaneous, indulge in the unexpected, and to embark on a holiday with an unplanned  itinerary,” says Huzan Fraser, India Representative, Tourism Ireland.
Thailand’s viral video sensation entitled ‘I Hate Thailand’ has proved that an ‘unbranding’ advertisement is more impactful than a conventional branding commercial. The short film features James, a tourist who visits Thailand for a planned week-long holiday.

He loses his bag and then gets rescued by a local village girl who recovers his possessions with the help of other villagers. The film ends with James saying he was wrong to have ‘hated’ Thailand when he did not know the country well enough. He ends up staying two years. Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa, the acting TAT Governor and TAT’s Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East and America) said, “The intention of this video is solely to depict renowned Thai hospitality, demonstrating that Thais are ready to be good hosts, and offer a helping hand to tourists who need help.”

Image is everything

“With the use of attractive and eye-catching imagery, Tourism Australia’s global consumer marketing campaign, ‘There’s nothing like Australia’, highlights some of the very best attractions, high quality experiences, and manages to touch upon hearts leaving people smitten,” says Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager India, Tourism Australia. The images are a true reflection of the country’s spirit and beautiful surrounds which lures one to travel to Australia. The campaign has created a positive halo effect for Australian tourism. Apart from television and print advertising, the out of home media campaign includes elements such as a turtle with moving fins on hoardings, branding of bus shelters at key locations, use of digital screens at airports, kangaroo cut-outs on mobile vans and at popular malls.

Oman Tourism’s slogan, ‘Beauty has an address’, stands out and catches the attention of the audience as one always associates the word ‘beauty’ with something good. The brand call conveys tangible and evocative personal experiences when visitors discover that beauty has an address. “Our communications are evocative and experiential in style and tone. We often contrast heritage and modernity, authenticity and quality, nature and indulgence. The word ‘beauty’ is used both as a ‘header’ and as a ‘descriptor’,” says Lubaina Sherazi, Country Representative, OMAN Tourism. The Brand elements are a dhow (purple) symbolising heritage and culture, turtle (marine green) symbolising rich marine life, the silhouettes of mountains (light blue) and the smoke from frankincense (Salalah green).

Realising that having a consistent branding strategy is indeed important, Malaysia and New Zealand have not changed their taglines since the launch in 1999 as a long-term image-building process to position it in the international travel arena. Consistency is the USP of Tourism New Zealand. Its unique combination of landscapes, people and activities cannot be found anywhere else in the world — hence it is a “100% Pure New Zealand” visitor experience. In line with this, the campaign promotes New Zealand’s tourism offering, not the country.

“The spirit encapsulated by the tagline ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ has been with each and every one of us and become entrenched in the public’s consciousness. It has projected Malaysia as a microcosm of Asia, home to a unique potpourri of Asian cultures and a land of natural beauty, many cultures, wonders, festivals and celebrations,” says Y BHG Dato Haji Azizan Noordin, Deputy Director General (Promotion), Tourism Malaysia. “We will continue to use the ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ branding. And whenever we travel overseas and tell people we come from Malaysia, they sing back to us the sign-off lyrics of the signature tune of ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ TV commercials,” adds Noordin.

“France’s pro-active slogan, ‘Be There! Do That!’ is a unique invitation to embark on a totally different French adventure for an offbeat, out-of-the-box French holiday. Keeping in mind the dynamic spirit of the campaign, the creative featuring striking visuals accompanied by a short yet descriptive text aims to capture the essence of ‘Be There! Do That!’,” explained Keshwar Bhagat, Promotions Manager, Atout France. Each visual essays a wealth of experiences possible in France, such as hot air ballooning over French vineyards, rafting at the foot of the Alps, cooking with French chefs in Provence, vinotherapy sessions in resplendent vineyards or encounters with lions and bears at a driving distance from Paris.

What makes the #MeetSouthAfrica campaign incredibly powerful is the message that travellers make heartfelt connections with South Africans, rather than just enjoying the scenic beauty of the place. “To resonate with Indian travellers, we have customised the outdoor campaign to make it more local by highlighting South Africa’s unique experiences in local languages in a contextual manner,” explained Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, South African Tourism. The campaign includes media mix, comprising large-format hoardings, bus shelters and ambient media such as malls in strategic locations to further enhance consumer reach.

Slabber further said, “Jonty Rhodes, former South African cricketer, is the absolute personification of South Africa. His huge fan-following in India, credibility, stellar cricketing career, continued association with India, and his love for travel, adventure and South Africa, made him the perfect ambassador to promote South Africa’s varied tourism experiences to Indian travellers. He wears his love for both South Africa and India on his sleeve and seamlessly translates the wonders of South Africa to our Indian audiences.”

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) reworks their catchphrase every few years, hoping a sparkly new slogan will reignite travellers’ interest. Chang Chee Pey, Executive Director, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, STB, said, “We have adopted a customised visitor-centric marketing approach to address the needs of the target audience in key markets. As Indian travellers display a strong preference for families to travel and bond together through shared learning experiences, the fourth phase of STB’s ‘The Holiday You Take Home With You’ marketing campaign with the tagline ‘Leave as Mum & Dad, and return as superheroes’ in India invites parents to discover their inner ‘superhero’ and re-live their family ‘Super Moments in Singapore’.”

But a catchy tagline can only perform the duty of arousing interest in an audience as it is a marketing tool. Eventually, the destination should be worth the slogan to woo visitors.

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