At the State of the Nation address just the other day, South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa said that there is no reason why tourism can’t double in size…because we have the most beautiful country in the world and the most hospitable people…and he called upon all South Africans to open their homes and their hearts to the world.
Ramaphosa’s call brought me back 15 years to halcyon days mixed with marketing magic that resulted in tourism more than doubling from 4,5 to 10 million. My role was to lead integrated planning to find a big brand idea that would mobilize design, advertising, PR and publicity. Before briefly presenting the strategy, let me emphasize that it was not of course formulated by me in isolation – but in collaboration with agency and client teams.
Firstly, I remember trawling through books of research to land on some interesting target differentiators. We’d go for the explorer not the just visitor. Those that go where the masses don’t, the ones who scratch below the surface. We’d go for the participant not the spectator, those who want to experience new worlds not look at them through glass windows. We’d go for travellers not just tourists. Those who want to expand their world through travel not just lay in the sun. Travellers who crave the excitement of discovering and living new possibilities and are prepared to travel to the ends of the earth to find it. [Figuratively and literally, as South Africa is a long - haul destination indeed]. In the end this all got drilled down into one word and one goal. We’d win the hearts of “Wanderlusters”.
How we’d win started with a wide and deep competitive analysis that predictably and quickly got narrowed down to three destinations. First Australia where the myth of the outback as popularized by Crocodile Dundee mixes with one of the most exciting cities in the world, Sydney. Second “incredible India” famed to get the pulse racing as you travel through an extravagantly beautiful land populated by mysteriously spiritual and fascinating people, not to mention foods that spice your life. Thirdly our competitor was Africa herself. Half our American target for example calls “South Africa”, “Africa”; and others might well be drawn to, any of the wide - open savannahs [like Kenya] where wildlife roams aplenty.
Clearly the pillars upon which to build our world for Wanderlusters had to be more relevant and more appealing as well as differentiating. This is when quant mixed with much qualitative research, informed opinion and gut feel came into play.
The first pillar of our brand house we called “Awesome Sensory Impact”: an IMAX like experience that envelops you, expands and wows your senses, makes an indelible impression and lets you feel fully alive.
The second pillar we called “Real Wonder”: a wonder emanating from the real wild as opposed to Animal Kingdom at Disney, a wonder elicited by the adventure of Africa, a wonder that comes from experiencing the soul of Africa and being spoiled by the unspoiled.
The third pillar we called “Fusion and Beat” to describe the fusion of a diverse people and breathtaking places in a relatively small space. Beat of course is about the call of Africa, the drums and the song that for example inspired Paul Simon’s Graceland.
The final pillar upon which our house was built is “Freedom and Humanity”. This is the cradle of humankind where the human touch is deeply felt and where hospitability takes on new meaning. This is the place liberated by a giant of a man, Nelson Mandela. A place as free as the big blue skies, filled with stars at night. A place where feelings are set free.
Awesome sensory impact, real wonder, rhythm and beat and freedom and humanity would be the magnets that would draw Wanderlusters. Now that we had cracked the message, we needed to lock down on the messenger or the personality of the brand; the voice that would call the Wanderlusters.
Being an Archetypes inspired adman this was a no - brainer. We would adopt the “Explorer” brand personality. The messenger of our message to the Wanderluster would come from the Explorer, the Adventurer, the Wanderer. Someone who refuses to be fenced in. Someone in restless pursuit of not only finding new and different destinations but also be driven to never stop seeking self – discovery. This brand personality we knew would make a deep emotional connection with our audience.
Ideas aren’t some magical thing that pop out of nowhere. They are nothing more of less than new combinations. Brand Ideas are found by combining the People targeted with the Positioning with the Personality.
So we combined:
Wanderlusters, that is travelers not tourists, explorers not just visitors, participants not spectators X
The new and different explorer destination that expands the traveler’s world through it’s awesome sensory impact, real wonder, fusion and beat and freedom and humanity X
Someone who lets you see for the first time again, who reconnects you to realness, who lets you feel free and human and who breaks your daily rhythm to bring the beat back into your heart.
The big brand idea that came out of this combination was:
BREAKING NEW GROUND.
No doubt different brand custodians will have different ideas. But this one stands the test of time and may be of use to the tourism people charged with meeting President Ramaphosa’s challenge.