IPod giveaway costs Tourism P.E.I. $30,000

Ryan Ross
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Prince Edward Island doing what it can to get noticed on a shoe-string budget, says Tourism official

Some passengers on a recent Air Canada flight got more than a bag of peanuts for their trip after Tourism P.E.I. gave them all IPods as part of a $30,000 marketing event.

Brenda Gallant, director of marketing for Tourism P.E.I., said the province has one of the smallest tourism budgets in the country and is always looking for opportunities to draw people's attention.



"In order for us to compete we try to be as creative as we possibly can," she said.

On Thursday, two Island musicians played for passengers who were waiting to board their flights while people dressed up as Anne of Green Gables, a chef, a golfer and a Father of Confederation met them in the departure area.

When it came time to board, an Air Canada employee was met with cheers after she said everyone on the flight was getting an IPod with pre-loaded videos and photos about P.E.I.

It was all thanks to Tourism P.E.I. at a cost of about $30,000.

Along with the IPods, the province gave one of the passengers a $5,000 trip for four to P.E.I.

Gallant said the giveaway was part of a larger media buy with Air Canada to get into the airline's online display ads along with its in-flight broadcast and magazine.

That larger purchase led to the province wanting to do something different that went above and beyond the media buy, she said.

"We came up with this concept and Air Canada went for it."

The Air Canada media buy cost the province $200,000.

Gallant said the IPod giveaway coincided with another campaign that will run most of the summer that encouraged the passengers to enter a contest for another trip to P.E.I. and to tell their friends to do the same.

By people registering for the contest, Tourism P.E.I. will be able to get names added to its database and in turn provide those people with further information down the road.

"$30,000, though I do recognize it is a lot of money, in the advertising world, unfortunately, it doesn't buy very much," Brenda Gallant, director of marketing for Tourism P.E.I.

Gallant said the partnership with Air Canada means the airline will send the province its own social media measurements after the giveaway.

The province already has its first measurement with the video on YouTube, which reached about 11,000 views as of Monday afternoon and surpassed the goal of 10,000 Gallant said Tourism P.E.I. had set as a target.

Gallant said the IPod giveaway was a one-off event because it wouldn't be as effective if it was repeated because it wouldn't be newsworthy.

Air Canada filmed the event and Gallant said the province's focus was raising awareness about the province through social media.

"The more people talk about a unique marketing venture it gets people talking about Prince Edward Island," she said.

Gallant said an event like the giveaway draws more attention to the province than traditional advertising and she felt it was great value for the money spent.

"$30,000, though I do recognize it is a lot of money, in the advertising world, unfortunately, it doesn't buy very much," she said.

Opposition tourism critic James Aylward was not so sure about the value and while he said he didn't want to detract from tourism marketing, he wondered what sort of value there was in giving away an IPod.

Aylward compared the giveaway to staged events like those held by talk show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.

"I think we're trying to be Hollywood."





Organizations: Air Canada

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Green Gables, Hollywood

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Recent comments

  • Ryan
    June 05, 2013 - 13:05

    The main reason this province's tourism has been steadily on the decline is due to the fact that there is no attraction to coming to the island other than beaches you have to pay 40$/car load, and a bunch of crap about a fictional character from a book. Any concerts that are brought here only attract people from the Maritimes who are fans of the bands, and that's only if they don't happen to be playing elsewhere in the Maritimes on their particular tour. Cheap tourist traps, mostly all owned by a handful of people, does not make for a healthy, or welcoming, tourist location. The only reason that we have to rely on tourism as Islanders, is because we as a province are not able to provide jobs to where approximately 17,000 islanders are out of work 9 months of the year. But thank goodness we have Summer jobs that we can drive 1 1/2 - 2 hours for every day to make minimum wage for 3 months, then get denied our EI when work no longer is available. Back on point, this publicity stunt was not successful. It provided a an exciting experience for "Air Canada" customers, by giving them all a new "Apple" product. Of those people, one person won a free trip for 4, valued at 5000$. As for getting any sort of virility on their video, that is not a lot of views when it comes to youtube. Most of which I can guarentee you are islanders who were told about it, and wanted to check it out. If you want to improve the tourism numbers on this island, you need to start by giving people exciting reasons to come here and spend their money, not by trying to bribe them with flashy new toys. Perhaps tourism is going down because people are getting bored with the same old "attractions" that have been around for 30+ years, and that there's nothing exciting to the younger generations. And I'm sure all the negative publicity, that actually has been noticed outside of the Maritimes, is starting to finally catch up to us.

  • I,m sure it won't get printed
    June 04, 2013 - 22:55

    You people are talking about the Tourism dept like you all forgot about what happend last year. Our Gov does not care about tourism,it,s a joke. They always put the biggest moron in charge of it so they can get the Money to there Friends. Will you People ever lern. The Island slogan should be,come to the not so friendly Island and don,t have too much fun,we,ll be watching you. Oh yah, we will also ban liqueur from Concerts to make sure you don,t have to much fun. I love there other advertisement about doing business on the Island. It is a great place to do Busness. How manny other places can you go to,rip them off,change the name of your Busness and come back and rip them off again. Come to the Island and do Busness,where you can rip us off twice.

  • Carrie D
    June 04, 2013 - 21:47

    I have long advocated that the four Atlantic provinces pool their marketing budget and use the NL ad agency as they are the only ones producing quality tourism ads/promotions. Assign one team per province but use the creative juices of that agency AND combine media buy budgets into one so you can get a better bang for your advertising buck. But then, that would make sense .... and you wouldn't be paying for expensive empires who don't have a bloomin' clue about tourism or how to market the province.

  • cost benefit analysis
    June 04, 2013 - 20:18

    Plane full of passengers flying Toronto to Montreal - estimate 100 people x $300 each = $30,000. Plus cost for $200,000 marketing buy with Air Canada. Plus cost for flying the fiddlers, actors, etc. to Toronto - say $2000 expenses x 10 people = $20,000. Suddenly we're into the $0.25 million range. That's a lot of money for very very questionable benefit. This stunt was pulled either yesterday or today and it rates barely 1 page of links on Google for each search attempt I tried (on multiple different browsers & using IP spoofing too). That means it didn't work. It never trended on Twitter. FaceBook was flat. Your entire promo didn't work. In fact I would be very surprised if 3 people out of that entire plane change their summer travel plans of going to the cottage in Muskoka or Mont Tremblant or the Eastern Townships and decide to take in the bumpy roads and expensive over-rated 1970s-era depressed tourist traps of PEI. Face it folks, PEI is in its tourism decline just like so many coastal resort towns in the UK, continental Europe and the eastern seaboard of the U.S. There is no reversing it. Stop wasting our money trying to plug the dyke like the little Dutch Boy. And this Brenda Gallant.... she's been behind so many questionable wastes of money in recent years under Ghiz. I would like to see Access to Information requests on all of her dealings, her Deputy Minister, her managers, etc. There appears to be a pattern of abuse here similar to Senator Duffy's dealings. We need complete and 100% transparency and I would like to see correspondence on everything she has touched in recent years.

  • Romeo
    June 04, 2013 - 18:43

    To those of you who are trash talking this idea are either from away or haven't been there long. I am 50 years old and grew up on PEI. I have seen years where it was pouring rain and Islanders took in campers. I have seen businesses come and go. But no matter what happens if the people don't come, Island businesses will fold. That means YOU could end up with no job. So maybe instead of complaining about the adventure you should just forward the article to everyone on your contacts list or post it on Twitter, maybe put it as your status. Or maybe take your ideas and send them to Tourism PEI where YOU can do some good.

    • Chris
      June 08, 2013 - 14:40

      So that we can all be embarrassed at how our province chucks around money in vain attempts to be seen? And then generate NEGATIVE publicity through a marketing event? Yeah, that's an island I want to show off. Your nostalgia for rainy summers does even less to get tourists to the island.

  • lovepei
    June 04, 2013 - 16:33

    the government should put the money towards the opening of Anne House, to me that is more important then providing IPODs, what a joke

    • Piet Hein
      June 04, 2013 - 19:14

      LOVEPEI, you are probably not aware, but the Anne of Green Gables house is owned and operated by Parks Canada, which is the federal government. The provincial government has nothing to do with it.

    • lovepei
      June 05, 2013 - 13:01

      @PIET HEIN What difference does it make? There is only one taxpayer.

  • Betty Pickens
    June 04, 2013 - 12:37

    Oh dear....I thought a more definitive sign showing travellers how to reach PEI from New Brunswick Highway would be too expensive to spend money on.....but when I saw this promotion, I just am dumbfounded!!!! Wonder how a person can get into the Tourism Department I have lots of great Ideas on how to promote the Island and some of them wouldn't cost a penny!!

  • Jordan
    June 04, 2013 - 12:00

    The people who are saying this was a bad idea don't have a creative bone in their body. It's easy to focus on the $30,000 price tag and all the potential negatives, but when you're in marketing you have to think of ways to stand out and create a buzz by doing something creative. This was a great idea, and if you watch the video you will see it was a success. The potential spinoffs is what makes it a great idea, and I'm sure there will be many.

    • What the?
      June 04, 2013 - 17:21

      Jordon, if you think that watching a video can determine the success or failure of a marketing initiative, Islanders better hope you're a just junior in high school, or not in marketing! Imagine what Kevin Leary would say to anyone who said, "The potential spinoffs is what makes it a great idea, and I'm sure there will be many." Right, death by wishful thinking!

  • Moe
    June 04, 2013 - 11:51

    Yes, we are all talking about it but is all our comment positive! Do we really want to be known as the province that has poverty but can pay people to visit us ?

  • Tackz Mulla
    June 04, 2013 - 10:59

    How is giving gifts to those who are already coming here going to bring people who have never been here.....?? Better spent giving discount fares and reduced acommodations and meals to those who are thinking about coming through advertising at out of province events.

  • Tourist
    June 04, 2013 - 10:21

    First of all Terry the flight was between Toronto amd Montreal..... And I believe there is a simple business rule that states one has to spend money to make money and being that many tax dollars come into the provinvial treasury through tourism money on advertising ( which is expensive) needs to be spent, But I guess some islanders are too dumb and backwards to know this......oh well maybe the Newfoundland Tourism Board is smarter than PEI's...look at all the money they spend to attract tourist....

  • Sharon W.
    June 04, 2013 - 10:10

    No problem wasting 30 thousand dollars on something stupid. But unable to help pay for a Police presence in city schools..........go figure.

  • Townie
    June 04, 2013 - 09:44

    @Don Yeah, it has all us islanders talking about it because we are mad at this waste of money when we have no money. Wrong target audience.

  • David
    June 04, 2013 - 09:39

    I wonder what all of the people here poo-pooing this initiative think is appropriate tourism marketing in 2013. People don't read magazines or print newspapers anymore. Web ads are useful, but there are a million places doing tourism marketing and PEI is not *that* amazing to stand out without a push - like an iPod giveaway and the news it generates. PEI can't afford TV in most markets and direct mailers are becoming less and less effective as people refuse bulk mail. As usual, the commenters on The Guardian lean traditional, status-quo while the world changes around them. It's no wonder PEI is in the bottom third of the country in virtually every metric - the world has changed but PEI still feels that our traditional ways are right, evidence be damned.

  • Roger
    June 04, 2013 - 09:35

    Oh Yay. This is stupid. Purely a waste of money that everyone will forget tomorrow. And Air Crapada sucks. Bring back jelly centered cookies!!

  • Next?
    June 04, 2013 - 09:35

    Be it 30 or 30 000 or over thirty million dollars for Plan B, the same information needs to be generated. Afterall, to spend money without an accountability system is, at best, amateurish. That said, it appears that there is an intention to measure the results of the expenditure by using performance indicators. If this is so, will these results be reported to the tax payers? We wouldn't allow young children to spend money without some degree of accountability, why the hell would we allow the government to spend tax dollars without telling us if the expenditure worked or not? It's here that we need good government and better investigative journalism.

  • William W.
    June 04, 2013 - 09:13

    What a DUMB and STUPID idea. This Liberal Govt needs to be turfed before the province goes Bankrupt.

  • Enough
    June 04, 2013 - 09:10

    Enough with the negativity people. Are you not smart enough to realize that you have to spend money to make money? Sure, we could stop spending money on tourism and spend it on other things that the province needs but at the end of the day, if we don't have tourism, this island will have to stop putting the money that it does into things that we need because we won't have any left. If we lose our tourism dollars, where are we then. I feel sad for people who can only see the negativity in things. Your lives would e a lot happier if you sat back and realized that not everything is a bad idea.

    June 04, 2013 - 09:08

    If you are going to make a commerical make one that people can understand the words people are speaking. The only way to get tourists to come to PEI is for tourism operators to get off their bank accounts and start paying for advertising and stop waiting for the taxpayers to pay to get people to use their facilities. The old Island ways must change if this place is to survive.

  • SG
    June 04, 2013 - 09:05

    (That larger purchase led to the province wanting to do something different that went above and beyond the media buy, she said."We came up with this concept and Air Canada went for it.") (The Air Canada media buy cost the province $200,000.) All in All the Total Cost was in the close vicinity of $235,000. Gallant said the IPod give away coincided with another campaign that will run most of the summer that encouraged the passengers to enter a contest for another trip to P.E.I. It's Savings on Accomodations that Visitors prefer!

  • Ontario Islander
    June 04, 2013 - 08:35

    I loved watching the video of this and knowing that they will all be curious enough to look at the photos loaded on the iphone. Publicity for PEI should be positive and make the island inviting. Believe me the rash of drunk drivers, impaired driving deaths including the tourist killed while on a bike ride has put some negative outlooks on our little province. I personally have no problem with this or the new tourism ad.

  • Mike Roberts
    June 04, 2013 - 08:33

    The same people who complain about this promotion are the same people who complain in the fall when the tourism numbers come in and they are below expectations. Good on PEI for trying something new and different - they don't always hit the mark but at least they are trying different things. Past events like Regis and Kelly and Big Break, PEI are risky ventures but they are all contributing to the brand awareness of the island. I am grateful, that people like Brenda are ignoring the negativity and taking calculated risks to create something special for the tourism industry in PEI.

  • Hard to Believe
    June 04, 2013 - 08:18

    Its hard to believe . Fools & our money sure part easly . How in God's name can something like this be done when the province is so far in the RED & hasn't any money for the necessary services required for PEIslanders them selves . Our MLA's should be proud of themselves . I wouldn't advise anyone of them to visit my door real soon unless the yellow & white van comes with them . Discussing .

  • Townie
    June 04, 2013 - 07:55

    Hmmm smallest Tourism budget eh?? I wonder if that has anything to do with YOU BEING THE SMALLEST PROVINCE!!!!!!!! Usually campaigns cost thousands of dollars but they reach thousands of people, so costing small amounts per person. This one cost of $30k for 130 people. Anyone who reads this news won't think "Hey, lets go to PEI. They gave away free iPods once." all they will think is "Idiots, haha". What is the next non smart thing this government is going to do?

  • Absolutely Foolish
    June 04, 2013 - 07:53

    What an absolute waste of money! What a joke...

    • Don
      June 04, 2013 - 08:29

      Not a waste at all...everyone is talking about it.

      June 04, 2013 - 09:25

      Don.. The ones talking about it are already here on the Island.The $30,000. giveaway of Ipods is $230. per person who were already coming to the Island.The objective in tourism is to bring people who otherwise wouldn't come.Just think of the cost of attracting one million tourists.As far as paying Air Canada $200,000 for a media buy,forget it. Why not Westjet, more people use it. If I see one more woman playing a fiddle, I'm going to scream.The $230,000 spent doesn't include the staff that was flown in for this event. I wonder if AC gave them a discount on the flights? Probably not. What they should have done with that $230,000 was to give it to an Ontario Ad agency to come up with a program instead of trying to do it themselves when they are not qualified.

  • Waste is waste
    June 04, 2013 - 07:42

    Great to be such a wealthy province. This kind of waste is very difficult for this old senior living on a fixed income to fathom. Have we gone totally mad!

    • Stephen
      June 04, 2013 - 09:34

      It's not waste at all. If PEI spends $1.00 on promoting the province, which results in $5.00 of additional tourism dollars, then it money very well spent. This $30,000 marking strategy generated news coverage, discussion and tons of national awareness. This is what every company wants to happen with their ad campaign. Radio/TV ads are ignored, but news sticks with people. I'm betting many more people will consider a vacation to PEI who might otherwise have overlooked the idea. All of that means more money for the province and it's citizens.

  • don
    June 04, 2013 - 07:23

    brenda why not offer all expense trips to all who wants to visit PEI? free meals,hotel,car,airplane ticket. we need a complete new staff at tourism PEI. and i mean fire them ALL.

  • cromwell
    June 04, 2013 - 06:43

    A totally meaningless and expensive promotion! The report carefully avoids providing the salient information, but the flight was from Toronto to Montreal - Charlottetown was never part of the flight plan. This largesse cost beleagured Island tax-payers $30,000. Miss Gallant really needs to give her head a good, long shake and re-think her tourism strategy.

    • Terry
      June 04, 2013 - 08:50

      If the aircraft is already going to PEI, then it sort of defeats the purpose. Furthermore, it would have a high concentration of Islanders already on the flight so your logic is totally ridiculous.

  • Bmac
    June 04, 2013 - 03:10

    "IPod giveaway costs Tourism PEI 30,000.00?" Shouldn't that read "costs PEI taxpayers 30,000.00?" Playing free & loose with our money again,now people who see this on Youtube will be nothing but pissed when THEY don't get an IPod on a flight. Good to see Island musicians working though...

  • Poor Planning
    June 04, 2013 - 02:10

    I love in the clip where the woman claims, "This is a plane trip she will not soon forget." Ummm, you are not suppose to remember the plane trip, you are suppose to be gushing about the pretty pictures on the IPod you can't figure out, so you give it to your grandchild who wipes it and loads it with Justin Beiber.