Tourism Ireland Marketing focus identifies our Green image as vital for future success
The Irish Times
7 January 2012
WITH THE slogan “Jump into Ireland” and a soundtrack courtesy of Snow Patrol, Tourism Ireland launches its 2012 overseas advertising campaign on Monday when a series of television advertisements will debut in the subdued but critical British market.
The three 30-second ads will also air in the French and German markets, while a 60-second spot is destined for British cinemas later this month.
For Mark Henry, director of central marketing at the all-island body, the advertisements are the product of almost a year of consumer research, agency pitches and consumer testing that culminated in the filming of the campaign in 12 locations across Ireland in October.
Tourism Ireland’s research suggests “brand Ireland” hasn’t been damaged by negative headlines from the EU-IMF bailout, but converting interest in visiting Ireland into actual tourist numbers is hampered by a lack of time-specific draws.
“The interest in Ireland overseas is not about a lot of specific things, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York. It’s about green landscapes, it’s old world – not in a bad way, but it’s not a particularly vibrant image that says ‘visit now’,” says Henry.
“It’s green and it’s going to still be green in 10 years.”
The British can keep its domestic tourism business up by pointing to similar “old world” landscapes in Scotland, Wales and elsewhere, he points out. “We need stronger competitive differentiation, a new narrative for Ireland.
“People want to feel a sense of wonder, they want something stimulating and immediate. ‘Joyful immersion’, that’s the jargon. At the same time, it has to be genuine, it can’t be false.”
The three ads were created by Publicis UK and shot by the award-winning music video and commercial director Daniel Wolfe. Director of photography on the shoot was the Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan, recently lauded for his work on Andrea Arnold’s film Wuthering Heights.
A Snow Patrol album track with the somewhat awkward title of Berlin plays underneath the voiceover. “We wanted to steer away from traditional music,” says Henry. “That’s been done already.”
One of the three advertisements focuses on Connemara, featuring the inside of an Irish pub and the line “meet some of the locals ... eat some of the locals if you want”, as the camera cuts to a close-up of the local crustaceans.
“Real” Connemara fishermen and pub-dwellers, rather than actors, were used while, to comply with various advertising regulations, particularly those in France, there is no actual alcohol in the pub scene. “There’s a few glasses, but no alcohol.”
Professional cyclists, styled in “dad” clothes, were employed for the second spot, which showcases activity holidays in Kerry, while the third advertisement focuses on Northern Ireland, which is set to have a big year for tourism promotion in light of the centenary of the Titanic’s sinking.
The anniversary is already generating numerous opportunities for visitor-luring events, media spin-offs and marketing hooks. Yesterday, for example, Titanic Belfast, the shipbuilding exhibition due to open in March, launched an “audition-style” recruitment drive – dubbed “the T-factor” – to find 70 frontline employees.
As a result, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board is increasing its contribution to Tourism Ireland’s total marketing budget, which is expected to come in a little shy of last year’s €45 million.
Within this, the advertising spend – television, radio, print and online – will be approximately €15 million, according to Henry. That’s not enough, for example, to pay for television advertising in the US but it’s still enough to put together a campaign that’s estimated to reach an audience of 200 million.
“We’re fairly confident the campaign will help visitor numbers turn around. Indeed, they have already turned around,” says Henry.
Early estimates suggest 7.4 million people visited Ireland last year, up 7 per cent from 6.9 million in 2010 and ahead of Tourism Ireland’s expectations. In 2012, it has a target of 7.8 million, or a further 5.5 per cent increase.
The Jump into Ireland campaign is Tourism Ireland’s first in three years and is destined to evolve over the next three years to feature Derry – set to be the UK’S City of Culture in 2013 – and popular landscapes such as the Cliffs of Moher. Shooting resumes in April.
While the campaign has scored better in “likeability” tests than its predecessor, Go Where Ireland Takes You, future economic conditions in Ireland’s main tourist markets remain the big unknown that could put the kibosh on all the thoroughly researched marketing messages.
“Although we grew ahead of the global tourism market last year, short weekend breaks from the UK are down. Our biggest challenge is our biggest market – Britain.”