Content Marketing Blog

3 tourism campaigns that deserved to go viral

Viral marketing campaigns in tourism – lots of buttons, lots of likes, lots of reach. Excellent.

Too bad it almost never works.

Tourism marketing is big business. Almost no stone is left unturned in the quest to fill airplane seats, hotel beds and the shady spots under beach umbrellas.

The themes are pretty familiar: tropical sun, smiling hostesses, bikini-clad girls and their Ken-doll partners – but when was the last time you actually took notice of these bread-and-butter answers to tourism marketing?

What’s worse – could you even tell where these ads were trying to entice you to visit?

When tourism marketing is done well however, that’s another story.

Great tourism campaigns bring out the very meaning of viral, zipping from laptop to mobile phone, tablet to PC, without hope or chance of stopping them.

A groundbreaker caretaker

In early 2009, Tourism Queensland made waves with its now world-renowned ‘best job in the world campaign’.

Situations vacant ads were placed in multiple languages around the world for a six-month contract as an island caretaker. The job description included cleaning the pool, feeding the fish and exploring the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s most postcard-worthy and iconic locations.

It was fresh, exciting and showed all of the amazing attractions of the Reef in a way no one had ever seen before, and had more success in going viral than Y2K.

And Tourism Queensland has been running successful versions of the same campaign ever since.

Melbourne shows the world how it’s done – literally

Not one to rest on its laurels, Australia recently upped the ante and threw every travel cliche out the window with the remote control tourist campaign launched in Melbourne in October this year. It only took five days for this innovative and daring idea to make worldwide headlines and reach hundreds of thousands of viewers across the globe.

Four Aussies took to the streets of the city to show viewers at home what Melbourne really looked like from a visitors perspective, with the help of head cameras and modern technology – and not an airbrushed, sun-kissed couple in sight.

With two of these guides operating at any one time, anyone who tuned in via the website was able to interact with the remote-controlled tourist, offering questions, comments and suggestions for activities through social media.

The campaign saw 8,726 requests through this platform, and viewers watched as guides held 41 conversations with bearded men, attempted 79 accents, took 62 selfies and got up to other general malarkey all while showcasing the real – and exciting – sights of Melbourne.

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It’s not just locations that are at it

Once you start thinking of ways to do things a little differently, there’s no telling where a bit of innovative marketing might get you.

Check out the paint job on this fleet of planes by small-time travel provider Kulula Air. Rather than your usual smiling air hostess, sparkly design and luxurious seat materials, Kulula takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to branding.

With phrases such as ‘This way up’ adorning the Boeing 737-800 and instructions for ‘Flying 101’ plastered across another plane, the company doesn’t just show you a smile, it makes you smile. Right before you hit that ‘share’ button.

Let’s make it go viral!

So how can you do it – make that one campaign that gets shared, loved and talked about, the campaign that ‘goes viral’?

Who knows.

Plenty of people will tell you they know. Plenty of places will tell you how, but in reality, if anyone really knew the formula, they’d already be doing it all the time.

If you want these kinds of results, you have to invest in real creative talent and not be afraid of the big ideas.

Imagine how the team at Tourism Australia reacted when someone first pitched the idea of a real life job as a caretaker of an island to promote the country. As with many iconic campaigns, the success of this campaign was just as much a product of the idea itself as the willingness of Tourism Australia take a punt on it.

Going viral isn’t about making something you want people to share. It’s about making something people will want to share.

Call it semantics – call it whatever you want – just don’t think you can call it until it’s already ‘gone viral’.

By Hayley Clark

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