I recently read an article in the Chicago Tribune about a lesser known beach town in Rhode Island. The author ruminated on his decision to write the article, knowing that his words would attract people to his hidden gem. He wanted to hold that place close, preserve it, and have it be everything he always experienced each time he traveled there. In the end, he figured a few extra tourists wouldn’t spoil the spot he held so sacred. The way he described the feeling of the place, the food, the sunsets, the water, the outdoor showers (who doesn’t love a good outdoor shower after a sunny, sandy day at the beach!), the slow pace, and the sense of family, took me back to my summers as a child. We traveled to the northeast every summer to visit my grandparents who lived in Cape Cod, MA. Those summers fostered some of the best memories of my life. But what is it about those vacations? Is it the place? The experiences? The time with family? The pace? The innocence? Maybe it’s a combination of those things. A good vacation marketing campaign captures all of it.
Travel and vacation destinations are big business. When a marketing campaign does an amazing job at grasping and relaying the sense of time and place, it can stop you in your tracks. One really great campaign that stands out to me is Pure Michigan. The commercials are narrated by Tim Allen and are done in such a way that even the pace of the commercial relays the pace of the place, all in 30 seconds. It doesn’t feel rushed, and the imagery and narrative make you take notice.
Every time a travel commercial comes on the television I find myself stopping to watch, and longing for a vacation, maybe to Michigan! Pure Michigan is by no means a new campaign. It was launched in 2008, but it was so successful they also revamped their logo and website to match the theme, and it has had the legs to stay relevant into the present. It wasn’t simply a one-off summer campaign that was done once the leaves started to change colors!
A more recent campaign that really grabbed me, mostly for its humor, is the Las Vegas “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign. In one of the commercials a woman comes home from Vegas and tells her husband how much fun she had, pulling out her sketchbook to show him her “sketches” instead of photos of all that happened while there. It’s impactful because it’s so appropriate for what we think of Vegas. They never show a single image of Las Vegas. It was the feeling and reputation they captured. Maybe this campaign won’t quite have the staying power of Pure Michigan, but the wit and relevance sure do make it memorable.
Another campaign with a clever twist, is the new Sweden Airbnb campaign. In Sweden there is a national concept of “freedom to roam” meaning anyone has the right to access, walk, cycle, or camp on any land (with exceptions of private residences, and a few other restrictions). According to the site sweden.withairbnb.com. . . “it’s a home with all the necessities and amenities that any great home should have. It’s a place where you can eat berries from the ground, sleep under the stars, swim in the lakes and roam freely. To make this home available for everyone, Sweden has listed the entire country on Airbnb.” It’s a revolutionary idea for a country, and it’s causing quite a stir.
Vacation marketing must convey the magic of a place, and answer the question, “Why go there?” at a deep level for viewers. Marketing can’t create unique vacation experiences, but it sure can help you find the place to make those memories happen.
Maybe it’s the fast times we live in, always rushing from one demand to the next, always tuned in to technology, that makes us long for a slower time, where we can actually take a few breaths and feel the sun on our face and the sand beneath our feet. Vacations provide just that, a respite. So with summer just around the corner, remember to take a moment, or several moments, to pause and recharge. Better yet, take a vacation! Don’t let the days slip by. Grab your family and head to that special summer spot that lets you feel reconnected, and don’t forget to find an outside shower to rinse off your sandy toes.
Erin Rogers, Creative Director at Jet Marketing
Erin is currently researching her next vacation destination and would love to hear all about your favorite spot!