Marketing and promotion for governmental economic development and tourism initiatives in the U.S. is pretty much impulse- and ego-driven. It’s usually tactical – creating “stuff” – and, it works like this:
- Economic development, tourism, and events people – many of them political appointees lacking in experience and credentials in the area of expertise – persuade government leaders that they need to “get the word out” about all the cool things they want to promote. Why? It demonstrates that they are doing something at their desks.
- A quantity of money is allocated by the government.
- Requests for proposals are issued to find video, website and social media “experts.” The fallacy is that it is the lowest bid that’s selected, regardless of quality.
- Tactics are confused as strategies. The signature approach in many if not most cases is to create “things,” like videos, websites, and a Twitter account. Deliverables, as they are called. In order words, tactics but too often no innovative strategic plan with sustainable approach, purpose or measurable outcomes.
- “Things” are created, and the bureaucrats move on to find something else to spend money on.
That’s in the U.S. I know because I have witnessed it countless times. Too often, the “stuff” … the tactics … are predictable, typical and dull … and fade away quickly.
So, with that background, here are two economic development/travel and tourism videos that are world’s apart in quality and strategic purpose.
The best economic development/travel and tourism video and campaign, in my opinion, is Haifa, Israel. It is produced by the Haifa Tourism Bureau. Their video – shot in stunning high definition, brilliantly edited and featuring original music – has been viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube, and is pure eye-candy, shared and shared by countless people on social media. I bet you will want to view Haifa’s video more than once.
On the other hand …
The absolutely worst effort I have ever seen is a fairly new website/video/social media campaign by the Arlington, Virginia, Convention and Visitors Bureau. It has the lifeless slogan, “Stay Arlington.”
The Stay Arlington website has a comparative ranking, according to Alexa.com, of 5,202,288 at this writing … or, to put it into perspective … zero visitors. Zero. None. Zip. No one is visiting their website, according to the most popular website measuring tool. Their Twitter account has a paltry 1,007 followers, which is nothing.
But, it is their Stay Arlington video that I find to be so embarrassing. I grew up in this county. It’s my hometown. And, I am stunned and insulted by the amateurishness of this fuzzy LOW-resolution video that looks like something produced in 1970s style and cobbled together from a hodgepodge of video sources. The video has been viewed 23 times on YouTube.com, at this writing.
A spokeswoman for Arlington County blamed it all on budget cuts – “due to a large funding reduction (approximately 60% compared to FY 2011) – she said. I was told the video was done by someone for free. Arlington, clearly, got their money’s worth – an image that reflects a financially strapped county across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Arlington has a batch of videos on YouTube.com, and each has fewer than 50 or 60 views.
Arlington County, Virginia, has a video/website/social media program that is unfortunately unique in that it generates no detectable attention … no visitors to the website … no viewers of the videos. It casts no footprint of awareness, anywhere. I have never before seen any program that is such an utter failure.
There is no excuse, in my opinion, for such poor brand and image management, and I know that Arlington spends a bundle of the whole basket of “things.”
In today’s digital era, our world is too competitive, too noisy, and too crowded for mediocre, unimaginative and “typical” efforts. Organizations can control whether they stand in the spotlight of awareness or the shadows of obscurity. Places like Arlington actually cause self-inflicted damage to their brand images with such amateurish tactical “things.”