Those adverts for countries must be expensive. You know the ones – bland happy looking tourists wander the most inoffensive tourist highlights of your country. The kids are having fun, the wife looks adorable, the husband is glad to get away for his city desk, etc. etc.. I’m sure most ad campaigns run by countries try to save money by making their ads universal too – “We’ll just get a voice over and tag line in each local language” – but then you still have to buy TV or billboard space in every country you’re trying to draw tourists from. Plus, the problem is, by trying to appeal to everyone, every cultural nuance, you end up not very appealing to anyone.
The only exception to that rule I’ve seen is Iceland’s recent country advert offering. Perhaps ripping out your entire government and starting again allows for a country to take a few more risks. But then again, maybe it only appeals to me. Perhaps the rest of their potential tourist market is still unimpressed.
An advert produced by a local agency in each country would help, but why not go a step further? Why not let the people from each country document what they see as the best bits for their peers back home? I normally post a lot of photos to flickr – daily moments of life – same with twitter and the other media fragments of online life. When I travel my photo taking rate goes right up. I’m seeing new things everywhere, I have an eye of an outsider in each place. But my sharing of these images is held back. I don’t have my normal high bandwidth home and work internet, and my phone is roaming, so I switch off web access there too.
So my suggestion: country-wide advertising people, divert the money from your next big ad campaign in to supporting (or forcing) all of the mobile phone operators in your country to not charge visitors for roaming. I promise the tech savy ones will start producing a much greater flow of excited, holiday-mood content, just right, and pre-targeted for their friends and families back home. That’s got to be 100x better than Arnold Schwarzenegger in a suit.