Since writing a few posts on the “Not in Columbus” convention and tourism campaign, I’ve found myself in an ongoing offline debate about what works and what doesn’t in tourism advertising. Since I have little or no experience in the category, I’ve been educating myself the blogger way: search, click and play.
No question, it’s a tough business. Glamming up the decapitated mountains of West Virginia, differentiating one artsy desert community from another, making even a big-ass mall seem like a destination.
It’s no wonder we want to laugh at ourselves.
But doing humor well…. That’s tough. The campaigns that do it well deliver three key things consistently:
- Communicate a vibe, a personality of the place
- Quickly transition from a self-effacing laugh to the good stuff
- Make it easy for you to see yourself in them (either in the story or in the place)
My two favorite examples of campaigns doing it well couldn’t be more different:
Minneapolis' Unconvention Campaign.
Sponsored by the city's groundswell - a group of independent organizations, businesses and people - and centered on the playing host to the Republican convention, this integrated print and Web campaign is laugh-out-loud funny and still delivers on all the criteria above.
Maine's "It's Got to Be Maine" Campaign
Sure, it's one thing to do independent well. But, what about official advertising? The kind that has to go through channels and committees and compromises?
I like Maine's campaign because it survived the gauntlet relatively intact. It pokes a little fun at the state, but in a personal, inside-joke kind of way. And, once its campy humor stops you, the fast-paced montage communicates a wholly unexpected vibe. WKB Spier produced this campaign. You can see more examples in "the work" section of their Web site.