123W’s quirky vision for Seattle Southside

Who: Explore Seattle Southside, with One Twenty Three West for strategy and creative.

What: “Curiously Wonderful,” a new brand identity and campaign for the regional travel authority that highlights its “little left of centre” attractions.

When & Where: The campaign launched late last month, and is running in targeted regions in the U.S. and Canada using a mix of digital video, social, digital display and out-of-home.

Why: Comprised of SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines, Seattle Southside sits about 15 minutes south of downtown Seattle.

The campaign is intended to get people coming to Seattle or the Pacific Northwest to visit this “unique area,” said Ashley Comar, vice-president of marketing and communications with Explore Seattle Southside.

The goal is to get them to venture beyond the usual Seattle tourist attractions, like the Space Needle and Pike Place, and perhaps stay an extra day and find some of Washington State’s “hidden gems,” she said.

How (the brand): The new brand identity is built around a stylized “S” with three coloured bars, one for each of Seattle Southside’s three different regions. The “S” takes on different colours and appearances to reflect the various attractions found in each of Seattle Southside’s three different regions. The new brand identity is being extended across the Seattle Southside website and social channels, as well as its app, business cards, etc.

How (the creative): The creative approach reflects consumer research indicating that, coming out of the pandemic, people are more interested in “quick hits of adventures,” rather than a big trip, said Explore Seattle Southside CEO Mark Everton.

An anchor video propels viewers forward through some of the region’s attractions, including The Museum of Flight, the Burien UFO Festival, a “scandalous” fish statue, and unique mom and pop restaurants. Rather than using stock photography, One Twenty Three West created illustrated versions of the various attractions.

The campaign also includes an ongoing TikTok series called “A Guide to Microadventures in Seattle Southside,” a “super sped-up series” that playfully provides viewers with a travel itinerary for the region.

And in keeping with the campaign’s theme of “microadventures,” One Twenty Three West also created a video highlighting a micro travel kit, featuring drastically scaled down versions of already travel-sized toiletries like deodorant, toothpaste, etc. “There’s something funny about making a slightly smaller version of something that’s already supposed to be small,” said associate creative director Jesse Wilks.

And we quote: “The branding has been built to flex and nod to all the quirky fun things you can explore. And whereas most tourism campaigns feature photography, it was our goal to do something different, so we leaned into the illustration world.” — Rob Sweetman, founder, One Twenty Three West

Chris Powell