Of tourism advertising and @my_rajasthan campaign

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I find tourism campaigns fascinating. The basic principles of marketing communication (or any communication for that matter) are the same across product categories. They all need to persuade us humans to change mindset or trigger a behaviour. These principles are unlikely to change for another million years as they deal with basic human behaviour mostly – which hasn’t changed in a million years. However, tourism advertising is a bit different because the ‘product’ cannot be changed drastically for brand positioning and advertising. A consumer product or service can be tinkered with by adding ingredients and features before developing the right positioning – you know, extra processing power or whole wheat or whatever. But a country or tourist destination is what it is – topography, landmarks, nature, climate, people. The infrastructure and services can be improved but the basic character of a place is what marketers need to work with. The challenge is to find that unique, relevant aspect about a tourist destination and present it in a refreshing new, compelling manner.

Very early on in my career I got a chance to see how a campaign for Mauritius Tourism created a positive impact for the country brand in terms of tourism (No.13 in this list of ads) and brand perception. Classic tourism campaign slogans have been memorable for years now: I ‘heart’ NY (for New York City),  Truly Asia (for Malaysia) and ‘So where the bloody hell are you?‘  (for Australia) to name a few. Such campaigns, when done well have a huge economic impact – tourism is one of the largest generators of employment in the world. In this context, Rajasthan’s new campaign to attract tourists is driven by economics (apparently Rajasthan gets less tourists than Angkor Vat in Cambodia or the Louvre Museum in Paris).

I saw the films first on Nirvana Films’ Facebook page and was hooked.

Agency: Ogilvy

The logo too has created a lot of buzz:

While some of my advertising friends found the campaign to be underwhelming, I liked the strategy and creative. My views:

  • The ads pass the first requirement of any advertising – they are noticeable. I haven’t seen in on TV amidst an ad break but I am sure even in that environment the ads break clutter. All the ads are riveting and the twists bring a smile. Even if there is no ‘story’ as such (as in the Huansthan film) just the visuals make for compelling viewing
  • The logo is a work of genius. The best of logos tell a story in a split second and this one does a fantastic job. It also works as a wrap up of the central idea of the ad
  • Even though the tag line is in Hindi, I guess the communication is eventually aimed at foreigners . Their view of Rajasthan could be limited to sand dunes and camels – the campaign entices them with ‘there is more’

Despite the PR buzz, I am surprised at the relatively low view count of the films on the official campaign channel on Youtube (also the URL of the official campaign website missing in the About tab there). Also, given the category, a lot more can be done on platforms like Instagram – with 5 posts and 75 followers since launch, it is a missed opportunity. All this makes me feel that our campaigns are still video and TV dependant. Contrast this with:

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