Who: Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism, with Target Communications.
What: “The Tale Blazers,” a new tourism video series (when there is very little tourism, more below) that is part of the ongoing “Storytelling” campaign. It’s a series of four 25-minute episodes.
When & Where: There’s currently no paid media support for the series, which debuted on the tourism body’s digital content hub, TallTrueAndTangled.com, in late March. The hope is that people will discover the content organically, says O’Dea.
“We’re still getting very high visitor numbers and long [dwell] times on our site, so that’s why we made it available,” says Target founder and director of strategic and creative planning Noel O’Dea. “We have it in the bag, so we may as well let people enjoy it. If they find it, great; if they don’t, they’ll find it when we get back to whatever normal is going to be.”
Why: The campaign aligns with the storytelling approach that has become a core component of Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism’s marketing over the years. The 60 or so content pieces on TallTrueAndTangled.com have proven hugely popular, generating over 300,000 online reading sessions, and more than 27,000 e-book downloads in its first year.
“Just like everything from Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism, these aren’t commercials… They’re laid out there as entertainment, and we hope people find them enjoyable and inspirational,” says O’Dea. “We’re putting it out there as an alternative to Tiger King.”
How: Each episode follows two longtime friends, Marlee and Mirella, as they travel around the province in a VW Microbus “in search of stories.”
Each episode is dedicated to a specific area of the province: Terra Nova, Baccalieu Trail, St. John’s and Gander. The videos were shot over several months last year, and the plan is for Tale Blazers to be an ongoing part of the province’s communications strategy.
Production was handled by Target, both as a way or keeping costs down but also to ensure it reflected the province’s down-home values, says O’Dea. “We wanted it be real and authentic rather than highly-polished, but we didn’t want it to be The Blair Witch Project either.”
The COVID effect: The original plans for the series included paid promotion and inclusion on Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment system, but Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism pulled all of its advertising when the COVID crisis hit. “When the world gets closer to being normal, we will look at how we can support it, but it’s getting zero media or other support dollars,” says O’Dea.
And we quote: “We love creating advertising that doesn’t look or feel like advertising. We like to create stories that people want to hear and see, that can sweep people off their feet. It’s never about the latest bling; it’s about baking in humanity” —Noel O’Dea, founder and director of strategic and creative planning, Target