Newfoundland & Labrador ‘run wild’ to kick off tourism campaign

Who: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, with Target for strategy and creative; School Editing, Alter Ego for post-production, and music by TA2 Sound.

What: “Run Wild,” a TV spot to kick off the key travel booking season.

When & Where: The TV ad is running nationally for 13 weeks, first as a :60, and later as a 30-second cutdown. Digital and social are also running now, with a 15-week print campaign starting in February, and other elements to follow (see below).

Why: Target and N&L Tourism hit on a winning formula 15 years ago, and are keeping it going this year: stunning visuals of cinematic landscapes, charming soundtracks and poetic voiceovers.

The campaign picks up from last year’s “No Song Unsung” campaign, which they describe as “the province’s articulation of Carpe Diem,” to create an emotional urgency to visit. But rather than shoot a new TV ad this year, the spot is made entirely from existing footage. All of the video captured by Target over the years has a “timeless quality,” said creative director TJ Arch. They decided to use that to their advantage this year.

Was this about budget? “Not because we didn’t have enough budget, but because we have big appetites,” Arch told The Message. Which is to say there’s more in the works—including an online video series next month, an unspecified “cultural piece” in March, and some “fun” transit creative in May. “The use of archival footage was partly because that old film taken from helicopters is just gorgeous and timeless,” he said. “And partly because it allowed us to keep some powder dry.”

How: The ad puts the spotlight on Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site high on many Canadians’ must-see list. It seamlessly stitches together digital footage shot as recently as last summer with other 35mm film from as far back as 2008. The voiceover is provided by three-time Gemini award winner Leah Pinsent. “This is a place where imaginations can run wild,” she says. “Maybe it’s time to come set yours free.”

More of a good thing: Arch said they haven’t felt the need to change the creative approach much because, in short, it works. It has won more than 400 awards over the years and, more importantly, built strong brand equity and sustained growth both in terms of visitors and spend.

“But I think it’s more than that,” said Arch. “We’ve always strived to strike a balance between ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and ‘don’t get complacent.’

“We don’t have a dogmatic brand book or guidelines—the brand is more authentic and organic than that. But we know who we are. As a brand, we don’t chase trends or try to be something that we’re not. Was it Oscar Wilde who said? ‘Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.’” (It was.)

David Brown