Discover Halifax wants visitors to rub salt in their wounds

Who: Discover Halifax, with Trampoline Branding for strategy, creative and media; Village Sound for audio.

What: A national campaign with a specific focus on urbanites. It’s based on research showing that this group in particular is keen on coming to the region for  “a big, relaxing gulp of sea air,” said Discover Halifax’s vice-president of marketing and visitor experience Clare Tidby.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, aimed primarily at people living within 100 kilometres of an airport offering direct flights to Halifax (with a particular focus on Southern Ontario and Alberta’s urban markets). Campaign elements include digital video, social media, programmatic audio, in-flight video on domestic and international Air Canada flights, and out-of-home in select markets.

Why: While the tourism marketing organization is working with a larger budget than in the past, it’s “not so much that we could afford to be uninteresting,” said Tidby.

The budget is also not large enough to convince people of something they don’t already believe about the region, she said. “We wanted to lean in on what they know about us—that we’re quaint and charming, have access to the sea, that we’re closer to nature, and unfussy—and deliver it in a compelling fashion,” she said.

The creative elements also reflect the brand’s new persona and tone. It is based on interviews with about 70 people responsible for promoting Halifax, who were asked questions like “If Halifax was a person, where would they eat and play? What would they do on the weekend? What are they reading? What type of restaurant do they go to and what do they order?” etc.

“Combined, we got a lot of gems that have allowed us to speak more confidently and find our tone,” said Tidby. “Some of those gems were that ‘Halifax is a young person with an old soul.’ That ‘Halifax is like your older sibling’s friend who plays in a band but is still really nice to you,’ and that Halifax is ‘a little bit salty.'”

The target audience is people who look to a vacation as an opportunity to refresh, said Tidby, “rather than get the right selfie in the right place.”

How: The creative is built around a series of stills and video spots that tell a story about how the region’s inherent characteristics, such as sea, salt and fog, shape not just the region’s physical characteristics, but its people, too. They use expressions featuring intrinsically negative connotations, such as “Wear yourself down” and “Rub salt in your wounds,” which in reality speak to how these attributes can be a balm for stressed-out visitors.

In “Rocks,” for example, the voiceover explains how the boulders that make up the region’s coastline have been shaped and smoothed by the relentless pounding of the waves. “The elements in Halifax can soften you, make you a little less rough around the edges,” says the voiceover.

Destination Halifax tested the headlines with key stakeholders prior to putting them in market. The goal, said Tidby, is to position the region as an “elixir” for busyness.





Chris Powell