9 ‘Stay Home’ campaigns that are rooted in place DNA

A recent report by Destinations International and MMGY Travel Intelligence found that 95% of surveyed destinations in North America had reduced or postponed planned marketing expenditure due to the pandemic - and we're sure that this is a statistic that will resonate around the globe. We’ve highlighted many of the ways that destinations have been evolving their role beyond marketing since the outbreak, but what about the destinations who have been finding creative ways to continue sharing their values with the world?

Since early on in the outbreak, UNWTO’s key message has been “Staying home today means travelling tomorrow”. This idea of shared responsibility has been echoed and amplified around the world, and we’ve seen a number of carefully crafted posts and beautifully shot videos emphasizing this message. But to really sell your values to the world, your message needs to be deeply rooted in your place brand’s DNA. It has to feel authentic to land correctly.

We’ve been keeping an eye out for destination marketing and investment promotion approaches that walk the line between remaining true to their place brand identity and acknowledging the sensitivities of the COVID-19 crisis. These are nine of our favourites…

1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder: Travel Manitoba

Travel Manitoba picks up UNWTO’s #StayHome, but the whole video is imbued with a hopeful optimism, overlaid over stunning vistas of the Canadian landscapes.

It’s gorgeous, it’s sensitive, and it stays absolutely true to the Manitoban values of conviviality and open-armed generosity. The video resonates as genuinely heartfelt.

2. Bringing Britain to you: Visit Britain

One of Britain’s greatest exports is its culture – as Conrad Bird stated, the UK is a soft power superpower. And in the face of adversity, the British brand has remained firm. From recipes for classics such as Hot Cross Buns and Scottish shortbread to curated Spotify playlists all the way to streams of critically acclaimed theatre productions, Visit Britain is encouraging the global community to explore the best of British culture – all from the comfort of your living room.

Twitter post from Visit Britain with a hot cross bun recipe

3. #MOvsCOVID: Missouri Partnership

Technically speaking, this isn’t a 'stay home' campaign. But it is an excellent example of a campaign that’s successfully leveraging brand values during COVID-19. Innovation is at the core of the Missouri brand, and they’ve been celebrating this originality and invention by promoting the innovative work of their partners.

LinkedIn post from Missour Partnership on COVID-19 innovation

Missouri Partnership have highlighted their talent and innovative spirit to prospective investors, all while remaining relevant to the new the COVID-19 reality we're living in. and

4. Eindhoven, Eindhovenaren: City of Eindhoven

Literally translated as ‘Eindhoven, people of Eindhoven’, this video is a rallying crying for the residents of the Dutch city.

Alternating between shots of the empty city and self-isolating locals, the campaign calls for locals to remember their no-nonsense practicality, their unstoppable spirit – and to keep thinking, creating and innovating while they do the right thing by staying at home.

5. Love you soon: Visit Mexico

In many ways, Mexico was still finding its footing following the unexpected dissolution of their Tourism Promotion Fund. But the newly reborn and private-sector funded Visit Mexico has hit all the right notes with a campaign that calls out for global camaraderie as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vibrant and energetic, the video highlights the Mexican strength of spirit while uniting the states under a single message of hope.

6. Papatūānuku (our earth mother) is breathing: Visit Auckland

The New Zealand nation brand is built on a strong foundation of integrity and destination stewardship; these principles are evident in its largest city and economic hub, Auckland. We’ve spoken before about how destinations can take a sustainable approach to their recovery and it’s great to see these environmental values at the forefront here:

The video reaches deep into the Māori history of the region, and encourages people to take this moment of quiet to listen to the sounds of the world around us.

7. Focus on being: The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

In just twenty seconds this video tells you everything you need to know about the wellness attribute of the islands all while sharing a positive message of mindfulness during these stressful times. It’s short, sweet and succinct, and showcases some of the beautiful vistas of the Caribbean islands.
LinkedIn post from Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

8. Celebrating Sangkran and the Thai spirit: Amazing Thailand

It’s hard to pin down one thing that Thailand are doing well – because their social feeds are full of positive energy. From ideas to get the most out of staying at home to ways to celebrate Songkran [Thai New Year] customs from your house, they’ve created an energy of positivity that encourages their residents to live their best life now. Yes, in the future we will be able to travel again, but that doesn’t mean that right here and now we can’t be living our best lives while at home.

Twitter post from Amazing Thailand about the Wai traditional greeting

While consistently encouraging best practice during COVID-19, Amazing Thailand continues to promote both their heritage and their vibrant positivity.


9. Remote Tourism: Visit Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands have been consistently wowing us with amazing campaigns for the last three years. First there was Google Sheep View in 2017. Then there was Faroe Islands Translates in 2018. And last year, the island closed for a weekend except for a select number of voluntourists who were helped the locals to repair damage to tourism sites around the islands. So we've been keeping our eyes out for a campaign from the Faroe Islands, and needless to say, we weren't disappointed.

Having asked tourists not to visit in the light of COVID-19, the locals - like many of us - have found themselves with unexpected time on their hands. So Visit Faroe Islands has begun working with their residents to create remote tourism opportunities - where you can control where they walk from the comfort of your house.

It's engaging and innovative, it has engaged the local community, and most importantly, it creates that personal connection that is so often missing from digital tools. Like all of their recent initiatives, it's inspiring and demonstrates the enduring resilience and creativity of the islanders.

And a bonus... 900 voices: Singapore Tourism Board

Singapore has been praised for their rapid response to COVID-19, and we were lucky enough to be able to speak with their CEO, Keith Tan, about the work they've been doing. While this wasn't organised by the Singapore Tourism Board, it is a fantastic example of how a destination can amplify the positive actions and messages of their residents.

If this isn't the living embodiment of Singapore's brand 'Passion Made Possible', then I'm not sure what else would count. The notion of being united even as we're isolated is one that we've seen running through many campaigns, but nowhere has that been bought home as effectively as seeing 900 Singaporeans coming together to sing about their homeland.

With tourism at a standstill and global investment strategies under threat of looming recession, it’s encouraging to see that a clear place brand strategy is helping destinations to navigate this crisis. While we stay at home today, we can still dream about tomorrow, and being able to position yourself and your values clearly in this crisis will be key to paving the way to a more resilient future.

Related reading

Hall of fame: Best place marketing and place branding campaigns

The politics of space, culture, and placemaking for post-COVID place branding

7 top tips for destination marketers and investment promotion during the COVID-19 pandemic

Beyond marketing: How DMOs and EDOs are evolving their role during COVID-19

Missed the event in person? Don't worry...

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.