Travel Manitoba pulls on heartstrings for new tourism campaign

Who: Travel Manitoba, with UpHouse for creative and strategy; Enjoy Creative and Wookey Films for video production.

What: “Canada’s Heart is Calling,” a new “refreshed” tourism brand platform that puts the emphasis on how tourists will feel when they visit Manitoba.

When & Where: The campaign is live now on TV, digital video, social, print, outdoor and cinema, along with some travel trade and travel media. The campaign is targeting both local, national (Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwestern Ontario) and international travellers, including those in the US, UK, Germany and Australia).

Why: The new brand platform is intended to help the province stand out as a tourist destination and reinvigorate an industry upended by the pandemic. Travel Manitoba has a goal of $1.6 billion in tourist spending for 2024, growing to $2.5 billion by 2030.

Since 2013, the province has been using “Manitoba: Canada’s heart… beats,”  but a new provincial tourism strategy called for a refresh, and for a brand that could be more adaptable for tourism businesses, social media and influencers, said UpHouse co-owner Kiirsten May. “The strategy also identified that the brand felt a bit cold; the client wanted the brand to feel more welcoming and create an emotional connection to target audiences,” she said.

Manitoba offers outdoor adventure, sports and entertainment, and arts and culture, but rather than spotlighting those attractions, the strategy was to focus on how those attractions make visitors feel.

“[T]he travel space has become more competitive as destinations try to capture some of the pent-up demand for travel since the long COVID years,” said Linda Whitfield vice-president, communications and stakeholder engagement for Travel Manitoba. ”The new brand allows us to go beyond showcasing the experiences we have to offer and really speaks to the emotions that those experiences elicit.”

How: UpHouse was asked to refresh the logo and update the tagline, but keep the words “Canada” and “heart,” explained May. “[A]nd develop a framework for producing creative assets in a way that leveraged Travel Manitoba’s extensive video and photo library. They did not want to go out and shoot all new footage for a brand campaign.”

The launch spots showcase the different ways the province can give your heart what it needs: To reflect, to race, to sing, be quiet and travel.

Visually, the spots employ mostly existing footage to present a montage of experiences and attractions, but cut together to fit the various themes, with different music chosen for the desired mood and message. “The songs convey what hearts can expect to feel when they travel to and within Manitoba,” said May. “[T]he ‘Race’ ad consistently pumps people up thanks to the musical talents of The Ripperz.”

“When your heart needs to race,” includes footage of wakeboarding behind a powerboat, and four-wheel off-roading, while “When your heart needs quiet” shows spa days, sunsets, and romantic campfires.

“Manitoba’s tourism product has significantly evolved over the past eight years, and this campaign reflects that greater diversity of activities and attractions,” said May. “We used to never talk about how cold Manitoba could get. Now we celebrate winter, and our winter product is a major tourism attraction.”

There’s also a new merchandise line—from hoodies and hats to keychains and mugs—that was developed with Manitoban artisans, while local illustrator Jonato Dalayoan contributed to some of the other supporting brand elements.

And we quote: “As our economy emerges into a new era of growth, this campaign will help ensure Manitoba’s tourism industry continues to be a key contributor to our economy and the growth of our communities.” — Premier Heather Stefanson.

David Brown