It's an innovative idea and we think it works really well. Although we might have suggested some additional activity around it - some podcasts, a Facebook page, put all the videos on YouTube...
Just as a footnote, while searching around for links to write this post I came across an article by Hank Williams (not this Hank Williams) who argues that by behaving just like dear Veruca, we are all responsible for the torrid state of the economy.
Ah well. Watch the videos on Virgin's site and they might just cheer you up.
Last night was a rare old night for watching travel programmes on TV. Competing for the prime-time 9pm slot were Paul Merton in India (Five) and Griff Rhys Jones in Greatest Cities of the World (ITV1).
From the ITV press release: “Griff Rhys Jones gets under the skin of three of the greatest cities on earth for a new three part documentary series. Exploring a day-in-the-life of New York, London and Paris, Griff paints a landmark portrait of each metropolis revealing what gives each city its unique identity. He works with garbage men in New York, gives a cut and blow dry to a poodle in Paris and tries his hand at bell ringing in London.”
Garbage men? Poodles? Has this got anything to do with tourism? Maybe not, but it seems that it’s all we have to look forward to nowadays if we want to see decent programmes about travel.
In the Independent, TV reviewer Tom Sutcliffe gives it a bit of a hard time: “It takes a rare dedication to the obvious to open your New York travelogue with a cityscape and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, as Woody Allen famously did in Manhattan, and then simply not bother to undercut the second-hand romanticism with any kind of self-deprecating joke.”
After Griff’s opening line of: "Over the next 24 hours, I intend to explore this town and try to understand what really makes New York New York", Sutcliffe goes on to wonder at the brevity of such a programme, no doubt designed for today’s average channel-surfing viewer. "Twenty-four hours? There are people who've lived there all their lives who wouldn't pretend to know.”
Following up his earlier series in China, Paul Merton is playing his part in keeping Michael Palin’s shoes warm by presenting a five-part series from India. He met a lot of bizarre characters, poked fun and generally looked bemused for an hour.
Tim Teeman in the Times argues that there’s nothing wrong with this light-hearted approach. “Bite-sized pieces of eccentricity help us sofa-bound viewers (ooh look, crazy place that India; ooh look, crazy place that New York),” but asks: “Did we find out anything new about either place?”
“Merton, in khaki summer suit,” says Teeman, “didn’t look to be having much fun. He was almost knocked over a few times on the teeming streets.”
The battle of these two celebrity travelogues saw Griff's amble around New York come out on top, with 3.4 million viewers and a 15% share compared with 1.8 million and 8% for Paul Merton, according to unofficial overnight figures.
Merton's show was on a par with his previous journey for Five, Merton In China, which attracted 1.9m viewers and an 8% share in May 2007. BBC1 was the winner at 9pm, however, with drama Silent Witness picking up 6.1 million viewers and a 26% share across an hour.
So the viewing public have spoken. And given the choice between Paul Merton, Griff Rhys Jones and Emilia Fox, I know which one I would rather…
Eagle-eyed viewers would have also noticed the premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s new Australia adverts, replacing the controversial "Where the bloody hell are you?" campaign.
The ad, features a stressed female executive being urged to "go walkabout" by a young aboriginal boy. It’s quite a departure from the previous campaign.
The ad is part of a A$40m (£15m) global ad campaign that will run in 22 markets until the middle of next year. Tourism Australia is spending a further A$10m globally on promotions around the launch of Luhrmann's forthcoming film, Australia, which stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
The UK is the first international market in which the ad campaign will run. You can watch it here.
I just thought I would welcome someone to the blogosphere. Jen Hoffman is a new employee of the New Mexico Tourism Department (a client of ours) and has just start her own blog at newmexico.org/jensblog. Jen has started up her blog to inform anyone who's interested in the Land of Enchantment and hopes to tell her own personal stories about living and travelling around there with her new job - already she's posted a great account of fishing in the Pecos River.
As you all know, for any organisation (including tourist boards) a blog is a superb way to keep in touch with potential and existing consumers - but also with employees, particularly if you have multiple offices. Meaning we'll be reading the blog avidly over here in the UK office - a great additional way for us to keep up to date with what's going on!
The Swedish Institute have made admirable efforts at promoting this, with the launch of a Music Room on their site. It includes all kinds of multimedia, news, pics and blogs, and you can listen Swedish musical talent from any genre. They've now got blogs on the site from Peter, Bjorn and John and The Shout Out Louds while they tour Brazil - pretty impressive that they've managed to include content from the bands themselves, if you ask me.
So now we know that Sweden 'wants you to dance' - but does that make you want to visit?
I recently took a group of music journalists over for Jersey Live Festival - our client Jersey Tourism is keen on promoting the event, which has grown exponentially in the five years it has been running. It now attracts not only some of the biggest acts, but the most in vogue too. Something worth shouting about for an island that has had a less than 'hip' image for a while.
On the festival site, it quickly becomes apparent to the media and bands that Jersey has more than its fair share of attractive young people, but what about the island itself? Most bands on the festival circuit fly/drive in on the day they play, spend one night in a hotel or their tour bus and are off again without seeing anything of the place they've just visited. So we organised for New York's indie-pop chart botherers We Are Scientists to come out with our journalists on a rib (that's rigid inflatable boat to non-seafarers) and see some of the Jersey's beautiful coastline.
Aside from making a funny photo story and interview situation, with the results up on YouTube the band's fans can see their heroes had a great time too. Prior to the trip the drummer was asking how long we would be out - I got the impression they may be a little too used to being forced into bizarre in situ interviews - but after we docked a good 45 minutes later than planned the whole band were in great spirits and nothing but grateful.
I asked bassist Chris Cain if they had been asked to do anything similar at other festivals - the answer was no, never, and that it was great to get to see something of the place they were playing. He also asked whether Guernsey was just as good looking, of course (being the loyal PR I am) I said it wasn't. Perhaps I shouldn't have gone into quite such detail about the friendly inter-island rivalry though...
A few of our clients have their own YouTube channels. It's always worth adding video content online - for a tour operator like Exodus it can give a real feel for the atmosphere of a certain trip. If a potential customer is wavering, a video can often be the clincher that makes them book.
There are lots of YouTube channels out there, some better than others.
This video is a short montage of a recent Exodus group climbing Kilimanjaro.
As a follow up to my last post, I thought it was worth writing a little more about sports tourism. Sport is a major force in society and the sports tourism sector contributes over £1.5 billion a year to the UK economy. High profile events as the Olympics, Ryder Cup, Formula 1, Wimbledon and the Rugby Six Nations all attract increasing numbers of people wanting to travel both as spectators and to participate in sporting events and tours. See this article from the Independent travel section highlighting the many different ways to experience the Olympics.
We worked with the Piedmont region of Italy in the run-up to the 2006 Winter Olympics to heighten awareness of the region’s new skiing facilities: see this coverage in the Telegraph, and here in ABTA Magazine, and read here how much importance Piedmont attached to the 2006 Winter Olympics as a whole.
The recent America’s Cup in Valencia (a client of ours) gave us the opportunity to secure large amounts of PR coverage for the city in a wider range of media. We are delighted that the America’s Cup will be once again hosted by Valencia in 2009.
Soft adventure for beginners, like-minded singles and the older market is booming, and serious adrenalin-seekers think nothing of going to the other side of the world to find the best hiking trails, biggest surf; or most thrilling dive; no one is too old or too young.
I blogged last year about the decline in terrestrial TV opportunities for publicising travel in the UK. Although it's coming back for a one-off special next week, gone are the days of Wish You Were Here...? and BBC Holiday.
I think the web is going to replace this pretty quickly. We recently helped arrange for Telegraph journalist Adrian Bridge to visit Sydney (New South Wales is a client of ours) and he took some time out to try and learn to surf. But he didn't just come back and write about it, which would previously have been thye norm - this time he took a camera and produced a short film, which can be watched on the Telegraph's website.
The film gives a good introduction to Bondi, and shows Adrian wiping out several times before he finally manages to stand up for a few seconds (with the aid of his instructor 'Big Wave Dave'). And it's all topped off with some informative voiceover and some twangy, Shadows-type music. Added to his article, it presents a richer impression of the destination and the experience.
The Telegraph has been producing these 'Real Trips' pieces for a few months now - another good example is the film showing Charles Starmer-Smith and Francisca Kellett racing to Paris to review the new Eurostar service from St Pancras. They're an excellent addition to the mainstream travel articles, both in-paper and online.
Happy New Year everyone. The old blogging got a little slow towards the end of 2007, but let's not allow that to happen again, eh?
I just know you're all going to love New Mexico's advertising campaign. New Mexico, if you didn't know already, is going to be home to Spaceport America, the world's first space port. Yes, really! Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic will take off from the facility in the New Mexico desert from 2010.
Add to that the fact that New Mexico has a long history with space and aliens - charting back to the story of a supposed UFO crash in the desert near Roswell in July 1947. The military said it was a weather balloon, but that never stopped the tale from establishing a spot in science-fiction folklore.
So, what better theme for their TV advertising campaign than aliens from outer space? Click here to visit New Mexico, Earth. The ads show how office-bound aliens deliver the message that New Mexico truly offers the best vacation experience in the universe.
There are two ads to watch, and also a peek behind-the-scenes.