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I Have a Dream

February 27th, 2009 · No Comments · Destination Marketing

Social Media MarketingCould it really be true that only a year has passed?  It seems like it was all a dream.  Let me tell you about it.

I once dreamed that I’d be harnessing the web for Business Intelligence and Brand Marketing.  You see, in this fantasy, I was building a Mythological Brand.  Much like a Priest, my Mission-in-Life would be to Spread the Word about The Brand.  Mobilizing my Army of Disciples, we would march forth with Our Message.  Because We Believe that it is only through Our Brand, that Self-Actualization can be achieved.

Ah, I’m probably being a little dramatic.  What I really wanted mention was how some folks have decided to go all in.  I’m talking about going 100% OnlineTourisme Montréal is abandoning the traditional advertising vehicles and committing their entire advertising spend on digital efforts.  Wow!  According to HBR:

Rather than indulgent risk taking, Tourisme Montréal’s decision was the result of a reduced budget forcing tough choices – where would they get best results from a more modest spend?

It sounds kind of serious.  They are hiring bloggers.

Marketing Magazine reported today that Tourisme Montréal wants to hire a “small army of bloggers, videocasters and networkers to promote tourism in the city.”

Wait a minute, wasn’t that my dream?  Oh I see.

Together with agency of record Sid Lee, Tourisme Montréal will be hiring five “brand ambassadors” who will blog, post videos online and use social networks to promote the city as a must-see destination.

From March to December 2009, they will be the “Montreal connectors” on topics like food, arts and culture, nightlife, shopping and the gay scene.

Each ambassador will have a dedicated page on Tourisme Montréal’s website to blog and videocast. They will also use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Yahoo Answers and other blogs to connect with possible tourists. They will report on what’s hot in the city each week.

“Our connectors will also have a dedicated cellphone which people can call anytime,” said Emmanuelle Legault, director of communications at Tourisme Montréal. “They will answer people’s questions and, if they can’t pick up, they will always have a message to let people know what’s happening in the city.”

This is when the cold sweats start.  5 agency ambassadors hacks all plugged-in with all their stuff.  Hardly an army.  Good God, Yahoo Answers?!  How much you want to bet they will start crafting their own “questions” after they realize the idiotic pleas for beta they will have to wade through.  I like the part about how there will be “a message” – professionally produced, right? – when they “can’t pick up”.  You know, like when they are busy chowing down, going to live “art” shows, at night, or buying stuff for their friends.  Sounds like a sweet gig.

You also have to wonder just how honest these bloggers will be. Will they relate bad experiences as well as the good? Will they just omit the bad stuff? Being a government agency, Tourisme Montréal will be under a lot more scrutiny than any private body. Since so many restaurants, stores and hotels are stakeholders, it will be interesting to see how they balance authenticity with marketing.

Montreal is most definitely an awesome city.  For many, many reasons.  But like any other big city, there is a nasty streak too.  I don’t see why marketers are expected to be honest about their product weaknesses.  They are marketers!  I also don’t see why they can’t aggregate UGC which favors their product.

Sid Lee didn’t say how much each blogger will be paid for this, but I imagine it will be much cheaper than the $1.5 million price tag of Tourisme Montréal’s campaign last year, which included a very sleek website with HD video.

Now we’re talking. You see, it is entirely possible to be 100% digital and old-school at the same time.  I realize they are talking Canadian Dollars, but still.  Some might find it hard to imagine that it would be possible to spend that much money on a website (plus production), but they likely got off lucky.

Canadian tourism is in a serious situation right now.  Last years weakening of the US Dollar killed American travel north.  At the same time, the Canadians themselves abandoned their own tax dollar subsidized destinations (infrastructure, marketing, etc) for US locales.  Add the current economic situation and you can appreciate the pending crisis.  I completely agree that digital is the future.  But launching yourself on a digital raft with no turning back is a scary thought. It will be really interesting to see how this all works out.

I’m going back to sleep.  Maybe someday my dream will come true.

Other blogs talking about this:

Tourism Montreal hiring bloggers – Check out the ad and a video editorial.

Tourism, ambassadors and stupid flash websites

One key metric I’d suggest for a Tourism promotion site is how many ambassadors used it to invite friends and family with targeted content.

Thoughts about Montreal’s ‘army of bloggers to promote the city’

Keep It Authentic

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