Tourism P.E.I. hopes to attract visitors to the Island this year by focusing advertising mainly online, showcasing the province as a premier Island destination.
The department unveiled its 2013 marketing strategy during the annual tourism conference in Charlottetown Thursday.
A mix of ads, promotions and unique publicity campaigns will focus on the beauty of the province’s coastline, its culinary offerings, golf courses and local culture.
Brenda Gallant, director of marketing for Tourism P.E.I., said the 2013 strategy builds on last year’s messaging, but this year is putting a stronger focus on P.E.I. as an Island.
“Certainly the fact that we’re an island isn’t something that people didn’t already know, but it really hasn’t been a strong focus of the campaign, so this year we really made it front and centre while still really pushing those key demand generators of culinary, golf and culture.”
This year’s ads refer to P.E.I. as simply ‘the Island’ and showcase photos of couples and families enjoying the province’s iconic beaches and red cliff vistas.
Messaging focuses on P.E.I. being a place of respite where memories are made.
“It takes four hours to drive from one end of the Island to the other, but somehow it’s easy to lose yourself for days,” says one of the ads.
Marketing will concentrate mainly online with 40 per cent of advertising allocation going to digital displays and search engine marketing.
Another 17 per cent of the advertising plan is dedicated to broadcast, but will not include TV commercials.
During the presentation to industry stakeholders Thursday, Gallant stressed the realities of P.E.I.’s budget constraints and that it simply cannot afford expensive TV ads.
“I know everybody wants us to do Newfoundland and Labrador style commercials, but there’s a lot of money spent on those. We don’t have that.”
Instead the province is working with networks such as NBC, CTV and the Golf Channel on more ‘broadcast integration.’ This is where P.E.I. plays host to a television show or is the subject of a dedicated feature within an existing program, just as Come Dine With Me Canada did by filming in the province last summer.
This gets a bigger bang for the province’s buck when it comes to broadcast promotion of Prince Edward Island as a tourism destination, Gallant said.
“It’s more effective to be integrated into a television program than it is to have those ad buys, unless you have those big budgets and show up quite a bit in all the shows.”
Tourism P.E.I.’s marketing budget is not finalized yet, but will likely be around $4 million, which Gallant says is a small cut from last year.
To try to get the most out of this budget, several creative marketing strategies will also be used.
Events involving travel media will be held in P.E.I. and in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. These events will promote the Island as a premier culinary destination with a specific focus on a new trend of foraging for food before preparing a gourmet meal.
The province will also be sending food trucks to locations across Ontario, Quebec and to Halifax where people can experience P.E.I. through a taste of mussels and fries and play a round of golf on a video game console.
A few other outside-the-box ideas are also being explored, including elevators covered in ads about P.E.I. and potential opportunity with Air Canada that has not been finalized yet, but if it goes ahead will “be on the six o’clock news in mid-May,” Gallant said.
“We’re constantly pushing the envelope because our budgets are smaller than anybody else’s except the Northwest Territories… but we still always have an idea that others haven’t done, so we have to be creative.”
Stompin' Tom Connors was remembered during the Tourism P.E.I. marketing launch Thursday by an airing of a commercial used years ago to promote P.E.I. that featured Connors singing the telephone number for visitor information: 800-565-7421.
Tourism P.E.I. Marketing Director Brenda Gallant says this number is actually still in service because the ad was so effective, people still use it to this day.