Destination Marketing in a New Era

By 31 March 2021May 3rd, 2021Marketing

Destination Marketing in a New Era

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By Julie King

Interview with Luís Araújo

In this third blog, Luís Araújo, President of Turismo de Portugal, updates on how marketing the destination has evolved as a result of the pandemic and some of the lessons they take forward for the future.

I have noticed from the very onset of the pandemic, that the style of marketing in Portugal has shifted from the inspirational marketing of the past to more human connected emotional campaigns, and storytelling, which are more authentic. We are certainly seeing this shift in trend in this new era.

One of your campaigns that really captured my attention at the very beginning of the Pandemic was, ‘It’s Time to Stop,’- it was very cleverly produced and lately the other one that stood out for me was your ‘Only You’ campaign. Both of these have a beautiful story to tell focused on human connection, and they showcase Portugal’s diversity so wonderfully. Can you tell us more about your thoughts behind those campaigns, the process that you went through and the impact that they had?

Those were very difficult times, back in March, people felt lost and empty. It was challenging, sending six hundred people home from the office with difficulties of connectivity because everything was new. We never had Zoom, at least in my site. We had teams but no Zoom, and we have twenty-five delegations abroad. We have people spread across the entire world, and we were worried about everyone. So that came from the heart, the ‘Can’t Skip Hope,’ because we made a campaign two years ago, which is ‘Can’t Skip Portugal.’ 

This was a very effective campaign because the word Portugal only showed at the end of the movie. And we decided not to showcase the main attractions in Portugal. It was a movie that said, we’re here for you; if you want to travel; if you want to run away from your wife or your husband or have a party. If you want to enjoy culture, we’re here for you. Our purpose is very clear, we welcome everyone, and we respect any difference. That’s our purpose as a tourism destination. 

So that was made with the pieces of those movies, it was recorded from home. Everyone was at home when doing the assemblage. It was touching to see the movie for the first time – we couldn’t even speak and we said, ‘Oh my God, this is exactly what I’m feeling.’ Thats  the kind of marketing we want, the marketing that people connect with because that’s exactly what I see. 

So from that, we evolved to promoting people because we can’t promote Portugal as a country to visit. We evolved and because that was the time of the national book fairs we changed our ‘Visit Portugal’ into ‘Read Portugal.’ And we started promoting a campaign on our books and books from our writers or books that talked about Portugal. This was very touching also and it was very effective. And of course, almost 100% of our campaigns are digital. We don’t do TV and we don’t do newspapers. 

It’s straightforward for us to change the kind of campaigns we’re doing and the ‘Only You’ campaign is very simple. We were opening in June, so we decided to create a campaign. It had been quite a long time since we created a campaign for the Portuguese, so we decided that the campaign would be based on a love letter. The music, ‘Only You’ would be sung by foreigners in Portuguese saying that only the Portuguese could profit from the beauties of Portugal. We started with the campaign, with the foreigners, and then we started thinking that anything that we tell to a Portuguese, we have to tell it to the world. 

So the second movie is about Portuguese singing in five languages. English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, of course, Brazil because it is one of our biggest markets. We made the same song with different actors singing for those, foreigners telling them that Portugal would never leave them. It’s a kind of evolution that you take on top of your campaigns. And now we have a third movement, which will be the most emotional one, but I can’t tell you about that one yet. 

But it was very effective. And the campaigns have been a huge success. Annually we reach 170 million people in the world, in more than 130 countries. And the most interesting is that we campaign in twenty-one countries. And we reach 130 organically, which is proof that our message touches everyone they can.

“Can’t Skip Hope, the first campaign was translated into five different languages by people we don’t even know. They just took the movie from South Korean to other languages. They translate it because they felt connected with the movie and decided to translate it into their own languages.”

I believe you were one of the leading countries that came out with this style of campaign, and a lot of others followed, after that. 

There was a big discussion internally because being a tourism destination and telling someone it’s time to stop is not easy. But sometimes you have to be open and describe exactly what’s on your mind.

The biggest lesson that we can take for the future is that you have to be transparent about things. You can’t just promote something, because you have a beautiful country or you need tourism because our GDP depends on 15% on tourists. You just have to be honest and say this is what’s happening in Portugal. 

We have a PowerPoint that we send to every delegation, which is called Trust and Transparency and it showcases how many tests we do per week, how many infected people we have? What is the situation in the hospitals? Everything. And of course, now it’s increasing because it’s increasing in the entire world, but we don’t hide it, it is what it is. 

And it’s, it’s not a matter of whether you can travel to our country as it’s very safe. We’re a population that complies more with the rules. If you go to a supermarket without a mask, there will surely be a Portuguese person addressing you and saying, ‘Can you please put on your mask because here we do that.’ I think that was part of the success that we have had in controlling it so far. 

In the next blog, Luis explains how they’re innovating and marketing to rebuild and reshape tourism in Portugal. 

“As an industry we weren’t solving the problems that really mattered. We were disconnected from each other and not leading the way.”

Julie King
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