World Cup Campaign

World Cup Campaign

Learn about Croatia National Tourist Board's entry for Best Communication Strategy 

Entered by Croatia National Tourist Board 

The Croatia National Tourist Board [CNTB] is responsible for promoting and creating the identity, and enhancing the reputation of Croatian tourism. The CNTB is also tasked with educating consumers about the destination and delivering a fair distribution of tourism throughout the region. One of the biggest challenges is that most travel consideration to Croatia is linked to the coast and limited to high season, with little understanding of the immense variety available throughout country and the shoulder, pre and post-season opportunity.

The CNTB is always looking to capitalise on any opportunity that can help break through the noise created by competing destinations. Using sports as a means of marketing the destination is something the CNTB has pursued over the last few years, evidenced by the introduction of a dedicated sports marketing manager into the team. In July 2018, the FIFA World Cup saw the Croatian national team defy all odds and make it to the tournament final against France, thrusting Croatia into the global spotlight. This provided unforeseen opportunities to build a strategic and structured educational programme to promote Croatia as an aspirational destination all year round.

Social listening during the world cup showed a spike in positive sentiment towards the destination which the CNTB wished to maintain as long as possible. A spike in engaged social chatter allows a brand to lead conversations to a point where consumers learn more about a destination, becoming advocates. With an algorithmic shift toward “meaningful engagements” - particularly on Facebook – such a spike also enabled relevant conversation in high volumes, improving the CNTB social channel’s status in the eyes of the platform and ensuring a more positive outcome for organic reach moving forward.

The CNTB capitalised on the World Cup success of the Croatian National football team with an integrated social and PR approach. As the team made their way through the competition and focus on the country grew, the CNTB ensured an ‘always-on’ stream of content that positioned the Croatia Full of Life owned channels as a hub for discussing and sharing comments and content related to travel in the area. The evolving content plan discussed “preparing for the final like a Croatian” and invited people to learn more about the amazing produce and food, exciting wine scene and wanderlust-inspiring traditions of the Croatian people. Furthermore, the CNTB used the growing notoriety of the players to educate consumers on the various regions within Croatia in a series which discussed each player’s upbringing and talked more about the regions they were from and the tourism offering each stakeholder was eager to promote. The social campaign came to a head with one final key message that, win or lose, Croatia would be always be celebrating and everyone was welcome and invited to join.

Sitting alongside the above was the story of Yuri Cortez. During their goal celebrations in the semi-final against England, the Croatian team knocked over Salvadorian photographer Yuri Cortez and the uniquely positioned photographs were quickly picked up by international press. Seeing the story’s potential, the CNTB were quick to react and invited the photographer and his family to come to Croatia and experience everything the country had to offer. What ensued was a heart-warming story which unfurled live through the social channels of Yuri and the CNTB as well as the international press. Over the course of his week’s visit, aside from speaking to press at each stop, Yuri enjoyed correspondence from the Croatian team players and even met the President. He enjoyed local flavours, sights, sounds and became a true advocate of Croatia in front of consumer and press eyes – a series of key messages distributed through this authentic, timely story.

The World Cup campaign saw an incredible increase in awareness of the destination and a growth in perception – both from a sentiment and destination knowledge point of view. The campaign created a community of social media fans which has been sustained since, ensuring an increase in overall organic reach. Over the course of the activity an increase in engagement and reach was seen across all regional Facebook pages with certain markets performing particularly well - the UK saw 457% more engagements. From a PR perspective, headlines were generated on an international scale, from the invitation for Yuri Cortez to visit Croatia and interaction from the football stars themselves. Headlines appeared in several key markets, including the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy and headlines even appeared in El Salvador too, potentially opening a new travel market.

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