With help from Simu Liu, Destination Toronto runs first post-Covid campaign in U.S.

Who: Destination Toronto, with Bensimon Byrne for creative, Scarlett Street for production, and Wavemaker for media.

What: “You Gotta See What We See,” the tourism marketing organization’s first campaign in the U.S. since the pandemic. The video content series showcases Toronto through the eyes of “passionate insiders,” including MCU star Simu Liu.

When & Where: The campaign launched in mid-July with advertising (a YouTube-based :30 has garnered more than 5.2 million views) and teaser formats for the video series, which debuted this week. Paid media (YouTube and social only) will run through October, targeting key markets including New York/New Jersey, San Francisco/San Jose, Chicago and Washington D.C.


Why: In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, Toronto welcomed nearly two million American tourists, who spent almost $1.36 billion.

With the pandemic over (it is over, right?), or at least with travel restrictions eased, Destination Toronto knew in the spring it could create a campaign to try and start bringing back some of those tourists. “This had to come together very quickly,” said Paula Port, Destination Toronto’s vice-president of global marketing.

How: Destination Toronto has been working with local content creators and influencer/ambassadors to the city for a few years now. “That’s really the content that we know visitors want to see,” said Port. “They want that insider perspective. They want the local point of view.”

The content series is an extension of that, with five well-known Torontonians, including Liu, who were all excited to share what they love about the city. The actor has become world-famous for starring in the Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings, but is truly passionate about the city, said Port.

“We’re fortunate that we live in a city that has the those type of passionate ambassadors, and Simu was one of them,” she said.

“Toronto has played such an integral role in the launch of my career,” said Liu in a release. “I owe everything to the arts and theatre scene here. It’s an incredible community for the exchange of ideas, cultural perspectives and extraordinary stories.”

Liu’s video is live now at the Destination Toronto site, as is that for Nick Liu, chef and owner of DaiLo. Three other videos will go live in the coming days: Mariah Amber, host for the Toronto Raptors; Santee Siouxx, a Dakhota and Odawa content creator who focuses on Indigenous history, representation, cultural appropriation, and sustainable brands; and Sonia Mangat, host and reporter on CTV’s Etalk and the morning show CP24 Breakfast.

And we quote: “Toronto is best experienced by engaging with its people, neighbourhoods, cultures, festivals, cuisine and more. Our role is to share the stories from this incredible city—in this case directly from those who know and love Toronto best—to fuel curiosity and inspire exploration.”—Scott Beck, president and CEO of Destination Toronto.

David Brown