Travel Alberta gets first overall tourism brand

What do wild horses, skiers and dinosaurs have in common? They all play a part in Travel Alberta's new TV spots.

Experiential and emotional are the hot buttons in travel marketing today, and both were on brilliant display Monday in Banff as Travel Alberta introduced its new brand to 700 enthusiastic industry professionals.

The organization unveiled several visually stunning and emotive TV spots at its annual conference, which will kick off its winter marketing campaign next month. All the usual icons – mountains, horses, cowboys and skiers – were present, but filmed and paced to allow viewers to share in the emotion of the experience.

The spots are set to music composed and performed by local Alberta musicians and end with the brand slogan: Remember to breathe. Royce Chwin, Travel Alberta’s managing director of global marketing, said the images and the tagline are  “powerful expressions” of what makes Alberta attractive to visitors.

Today’s travellers are looking less for specific sites and more for unique experiences, explained Chwin. The challenge was creating a brand that reached out to consumers and explained the Alberta experience, much as Newfoundland’s well-known campaign reflected the unique history and lifestyle of that province. “We needed to peel back the layers and capture the authenticity of Alberta. We wanted to give consumers some goose bump moments.”

The result is a series of beautiful and evocative images that exalt the Alberta landscape, but also invite viewers inside to share the experience. The images, shot with an experimental new camera that in one spot catches a single snowflake melting on a child’s tongue, were compiled into a three-minute video and several 30- and 60-second TV spots. These include a wild horse roundup, a mother and child skating on frozen Lake Louise, a skier alone on a mountain and a young girl touching the teeth of a dinosaur in the Royal Tyrell Museum. One of the most vivid shows a laughing family riding in a dog sled as the wild-eyed animals, tongues lolling, charge right into the camera lens.

The spots will debut in early November in southern California before being rolled out in Canada later this year. In 2012 they will appear on Air Canada’s seat back TVs as well as in the UK (Alberta’s largest international market).

The campaign also includes print ads, posters and other print materials  from Calgary’s Karo. A new website launches in two weeks in addition to a social media component by Vancouver’s Village & Co.

Though Travel Alberta has had logos, slogans and brand promises before, this is its first overall tourism brand, said CEO Bruce Okabe. “And not having a brand in this competitive market is like going into a street fight with one arm tied behind your back.”

UPDATE: Here’s the campaign’s “Remember To Breathe” online video.

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