The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Is This The Worst Tourism Ad Of All Time? …
September 9, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Crap Campaigns In History, Marketing Fail

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 [1] you don’t give them any clue to what they can/should expect and [2] 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.

31 Comments so far
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Plenty of excellent points in this Robert. I especially like the unknown/unexpected perspective on vacation choice. I had not considered that before and it feels right. Very interesting. But let’s talk about the Falklands. Really?

Comment by Lee Hill

It was a governement initiative designed to make the place less attractive to Argentina.

Comment by John

They haven’t tried to take the islands back since he visited.

Comment by George

campbell is the nuclear threat. worse, his shit doesnt physically kill anyone but it mentally wipes them off the fucking planet.

Comment by andy@cynic

A lot of noise and a lot of hot air. Yeah, sounds just like Rob.

Comment by DH

I told you that. You mean my every word isn’t the most important thing in your life Lee? How very disappointing. Ha. My Dad wanted me to go so I could learn how politics was used to manipulate popular opinion rather than be led/guided by it. After arriving at a windswept, desolate island full of sheep and arrogant locals, I knew what he meant within the first 20 seconds.

Comment by Rob

your dad was a fucking fine man.

Comment by andy@cynic

Little bit of politics there.

Comment by John

Who do you think you are John, Ben Elton?

Does that mean you like Queen now?

Comment by Rob

I must also say I agree with your comments about national tourist campaigns and the Polish ad featured in your post. As I said, a lot of good points in this post.

Comment by Lee Hill

I would be honoured except it would be hard to argue against even for the most contrary person on earth.

Comment by Rob

no it fucking wouldnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

All great points Robert that I wholeheartedly agree with. Out of interest, when was the last time Lowe last created one of your favorite brand building ideas?

Comment by George

lowe used to be fucking great. now they should be spelling their name low.

Comment by andy@cynic

When Lintas was changing its name they ran into a problem in India. There it was ‘Standard Lintas’ (as in the flag).

The new agency name would have been ‘Lowe Standard’ …

Comment by Ian Gee

I can beat that …

When I worked at Principals in Australia, LOWE tried to buy them and so they would have been known as LOWE Principals.

Comment by Rob

i cant tell you the number of times ive been to poland and had my way blocked by a couple of lovers having a flamboyant fucking sandwich in the middle of the street.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

“Find out why” is the lamest kind of communication. The most literal call to action that overlooks the fact that you have to give the user some reason to act in the first place.

Comment by John

And no an image (even if it were any good) doesn’t provide that reason. Because they haven’t even bothered to connect it to the copy.

Comment by John

You should review work in the ad magazines.

Comment by Pete

I have never been so insulted.

Comment by John

I’ll find out why when Lowe pay for me to do it.

Comment by Pete

Yep. It’s like those ads that end with “Why Not?” and I always find myself shouting at them, “Because you’re not worth the money!”

Doesn’t anyone know the basic selling rule that if you’re going to ask a question, you have to make sure it’s something that makes saying ‘no’ difficult to do!?

Comment by Rob

“Find out why it’s worth reading this blog”

Comment by John

Wow, it’s like they didn’t even try.
I wonder what the target audience was… as it screams ‘Middle-ground safe travelling for people who want to show off they have seen the world, but don’t actually want to experience anything that might seem vaguely unfamiliar or interesting.’
I’m sure Poland is far more than that.

Comment by Rob (other one)

Occasional lurker here.

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the Google Translate attempt at copy.

Comment by LuoAnLai

Hello there and thanks for saying hi. I think the reason for that is no one gives a damn about what I say. The fact you have mentioned it means you [maybe] do and for that you are now my favourite person in the World.

At least for today.

Comment by Rob

Regular readers are used to bad grammar.

Comment by John

Google translate can’t work out what you write in english so I’m not going to trust it can do it in chinese.

Comment by DH

My Polish friend looked at the ad and laughed. I’m not sure why but I don’t think it was for Lowe’s creativity.

Comment by Bazza

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