Travel Manitoba’s new marketing campaign goes for the heart

New insights for the climb up Canada's tourism ladder

New insights for the climb up Canada’s tourism ladder

Travel Manitoba is competing for a bigger share of Canada’s tourism dollars with the launch of an ambitious marketing campaign developed by its agency of record, McKim Communications Group.

The campaign has a 2014 budget of $2.4 million.

The new strategy focuses on delivering an emotionally resonant message, said McKim president and CEO Peter George. That’s a departure from previous, more “tactically driven” campaigns. This one will position the province as an “awe-inspiring” yet quintessentially Canadian destination with the tagline “Manitoba: Canada’s Heart… Beats” (a nod to its location in the heart of the country).

The campaign, which has been in development for 18 months, began with extensive research by Environics. They found that Manitoba’s tourism offerings fit into two main categories—accessible wilderness and cultural oasis—and that’s what McKim aimed to convey with four evocative, though slow-paced TV ads.

One commercial, currently available on YouTube and TravelManitoba.com, highlights a polar bear viewing out in Churchill’s wintry landscape, while another begins with, “Welcome to the middle of nowhere.”

When asked if these snowy, isolated scenes reinforce outsiders’ preexisting expectations of Manitoba, George contends that there’s still a lack of awareness about what the province offers.

“When I was in Churchill last winter, most of the other travellers were from other countries. Most had heard about polar bears, but they’d never heard about Manitoba,” said George. “They also said the Churchill experience was the best wildlife safari they’d ever been on, so that gave us a unique jumping-off point we thought we could leverage.”

The TV ads will be carried during broadcasts of Sochi 2014 and the Juno Awards, as well as on Air Canada flights. Although the media plans are still being finalized, George said they will also target national daily newspapers and online/social media.

This is the biggest travel/tourism marketing campaign that McKim has developed. The agency has worked with clients such Mosaic (the potash supplier), the University of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro.

According to Statistics Canada, the top four provinces for tourism revenues are Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta—with Manitoba ranking seventh (behind Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan). Travel Manitoba’s goal is to move into fifth place by 2017.

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