Find Yourself - Newfoundland & Labrador


Sustained Success (GOLD)

Client Credits: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
Carmela Murphy, Director of Marketing
Andrea Peddle, Manager of Advertising and Communications
Denise Seach, Advertising Officer
Brett Thornhill, Advertising Officer

Agency Credits: Target
Tom Murphy, Creative Director
Jenny Smith, Creative Group Head
Bruce Hamilton, Art Director
Jeff McLean, Art Director
Jenny Smith, Writer
Terri Roberts, Writer
Randy Diplock, Writer
Dejan Vucicevic, Digital Imaging Artist
Heikki Kuld, Agency Producer
Catherine Kelly, Group Account Director
Ernie Brake, Account Director

Crossover Notes:
Crossover Notes: All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2012 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 5. The Total Brand Experience.
Crossover Note 10. Conventional Wisdom — should it be challenged?
Crossover Note 17. Turning a liability into a strength.
Crossover Note 25. Brand Linkage (when should the brand name appear).

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):January 2009 - June 2011
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: January 12, 2009
Base Period as a Benchmark: Calendar 2008

a) Overall Assessment
Around here, there’s no such thing as an accidental tourist. Confronted by real and perceptual barriers of travel distance, time, and cost, it takes deliberate planning and a determined effort to visit Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) - the most easterly point in North America.

Competing with a large number of well-known, well-funded national/international tourism destinations, the challenge to engage and lure travellers to this off-the-beaten-path location is even greater - especially during times of economic recession.

In 2009, the global recession left few travel markets unscathed, and Canada was no exception, as the total travel market fell 7.1%. In the US, the value of the travel market fell 16%. The economic climate impacted travel spending patterns, as consumers searched for more value and downsized their trips. Travel fell for 14 straight months before starting to rebound in the last three months of 2009. [Footnote 1]

During this time, close to half (48%) of Canadians planned to spend less on summer vacations, with many citing economic distress as the determining factor (including 51% of respondents in NL’s primary market of Ontario, an area hit hard by heavy job losses). [Footnote 2]

One year later, the tourism industry continued to face uncertainty and significant challenges resulting from the worldwide recession, weakened consumer demand, reduced industry revenues, unemployment, volatile oil prices, influenza, security threats, and the ever-increasing cost of travel. Overnight trips to Canada increased 2% in 2010; however, influenced by a rising Canadian dollar, outbound trips by Canadians increased 9%, removing tourism dollars that may have been spent domestically. [Footnote 3]

During frugal economic times, NL continued to target segments of the market still likely to travel; those looking for a specific experience.
The following factors also had to be considered when charting a course for the province:

Barriers to Travel: The only way to get to the island of Newfoundland is via air or sea. And the challenges don’t end there, They include a short tourism season of ~75 days (June to August), capacity constraints during peak season, the increasing cost of travel by auto, and negative perceptions of the weather.

Competitive Landscape: Domestic travel in Canada has become increasingly competitive due to a greater focus on marketing Canadian destinations to Canadians, particularly in Ontario. An increasing number of global destinations that are well-funded, heavily advertised, and well-known are also vying for travellers’ attention (not to mention the favourable exchange rate for Canadians travelling outside of the country).

Awareness of NL: Overall awareness has been rising, but NL still ranks behind most Canadian, US, and international travel destinations. This is especially true for our priority target in Ontario who are bombarded with vacation advertising that far exceeds NL’s annual media budget of $4-5 million.

b) Resulting Business Objectives
Using 2008 as the Base Period (BP):

- Increase annual non-resident visits above 480,100.

- Increase annual tourism revenue above $369.3 million.

- Increase interest in NL as a travel destination.

- Evoke a rich, emotional response - a rewarding and magnetic feeling about this amazing place.

c) Annual Media Budget
Over $5 million

d) Geographic Area

Footnote 1: Travel and Tourism Outlook 2010:

Footnote 2: 48% of Canadians to spend less on vacation. Lower spending can impede overall economic recovery.

Footnote 3: Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation Backgrounder Year-End Provincial Tourism Performance 2010 and Early Tourism Outlook 2011:

a) Analysis and Insight
G.K. Chesterton once said “The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

Our biggest opportunity group doesn’t see themselves as tourists, but as increasingly sophisticated travellers seeking unusual places and experiences off the beaten track. They are looking for an antidote to the stress and plastic composition of urban life and modern times, and are interested in discovering an unspoiled natural environment. They are curious people, in search of unexpected, intriguing, and authentic destinations versus contrived and commercial tourist destinations.[Crossover Note 17]

We focused on two groups: 45+ (skewed) and 25-34 (secondary) years of age. They tend to be singles and couples with no children living at home (e.g., pre-nest or empty-nest) with above-average household income, with a higher-than-average proportion who are university educated.

The primary focus was Ontario (GTA and Ottawa), while secondary markets included Calgary, Halifax, and English-speaking Montreal.

It was vital that NL remained overtly creative in its approach to advertising, delivering an extremely relevant message at a time when the audience needed it the most. Unlike competing tourism destinations, our campaign romances the experience of being in NL versus an inventory of products - i.e., places to go, sights to see, and things to do. [Crossover Note 10] The deeper the emotions and feeling prospects have about a place, the stronger the motivation to find out more and to visit. That’s the difference in securing a powerful and enduring competitive advantage. And that’s why NL is for the traveller and not the tourist.

b) Communication Strategy
Not only did NL Tourism evolve the story of NL, it used the ‘Find Yourself’ campaign (in conjunction with ‘Fresh Air’ escapes) to redefine advertising in the category, differentiate the brand, build equity in priority markets, and provide the frequency and impact required to move the audience along the communication hierarchy - from awareness, interest, and predisposition to action (inquiry or visit).

a) Media Used
- National television, including in-flight (Air Canada/WestJet)
- Cinema (2010/11 only)
- National and regional newspapers, including free-standing inserts (FSI) in The Globe and Mail
- Network and geo-targeted online media

b) Creative Discussion
Why would anyone want to visit NL? It’s far away. There isn’t a single mega theme park. Strangers often talk to you. Well, these are exactly the kinds of reasons why you should come. The ‘Find Yourself’ campaign reflects the uncomplicated and somewhat spiritual feeling you get when you’re in NL, evoking a rich and emotional response and desire to visit. [Crossover Note 5]

The creative consisted of big ideas carried across all media. Television was the cornerstone. To deliver emotive impact three new TV chapters were developed in 2009 based on unique selling points: ‘Architecture’ (creativity), ‘Vikings’ (L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, UNESCO), and ‘Gros Morne’ (National Park, UNESCO). Sixty-second and thirty-second ads were designed to romance, reflect, and express NL's unique brand positioning and personality.

In 2010, ‘Ancient Land’ (featuring Canada’s newest National Park - the Torngat Mountains) launched as a unique two-minute spot. Bringing out the true beauty and character of NL, the ad continued to show what this place really is - a natural, yet surprisingly exotic destination that goes far beyond the packaged, programmed tourism products other places offer. Sixty- and thirty-second versions were also developed. [Crossover Note 25]

Newspaper addressed travel barriers and further romanced the stories being told on TV - moving the audience further along the decision-making continuum and closer to booking travel to NL. Through an exclusive partnership with WestJet, airline fares from target departure cities (Toronto, Montreal, etc.) were highlighted in the creative.

Multiple online executions, including expanding big box ad units, closed the loop for those wishing to research/plan their escape to NL. Video and flash elements drew attention to the ads, which gave users the opportunity to read more, join NL on Facebook, order a free traveller’s guide, or explore Air Canada airfares online.

As travel season grew closer, an FSI launched in The Globe and Mail to highlight packages/fares to NL (in partnership with WestJet). Creative executions were smart, inventive, and memorable, using unmistakable travel imagery such as boarding passes and airplane windows reproduced at actual size.

In summer 2010 a partnership with brought the 'Fresh Air' message to life. Those visiting the Toronto weather pages were invited to: (1) cool off; (2) clear things up (air quality); (3) dry off in NL to escape the searing temperatures, smog, and humidity of summertime in Ontario. Voken, roadblock, and rich-media ad units were developed.

c) Media Discussion
Media ran during key vacation planning phases:
– Trip planning: January - March.
– Decision making: March - August.
– Tactical influencers: Summer months (e.g., fresh air messaging during smog alerts in Toronto).

Messaging primarily appeared in Ontario (GTA and Ottawa), with support in Calgary, Halifax, and English-speaking Montreal. Having a competitive share of voice during in-market dates was imperative, as NL was competing with travel destination budgets much larger than its own. Highlights:


In 2009/10, Specialty channels formed the foundation of the media buy in an effort to generate cost-effective national exposure, sustain adequate weight, and allow psychographic targeting via program selection. Regional/local buys supported efforts on National Specialty stations and delivered reach to key markets.

In 2010, the approach was refined in an innovative way. The campaign launched with a two-minute version of ‘Ancient Land’ (sixty-second and thirty-second spots were also part of the buy). Running exclusively for one week, the ad helped create media domination and water cooler buzz while evoking a rich, emotional response. (See also 'Half Hour' and '500 Years' added to the campaign in 2011.)


This larger-than-life medium, showcasing an award-winning television spot, was added to the plan in 2010. A partnership was formed with Cineplex: five theatres with the highest propensity of affluent viewers 45+ were selected, and the gap was narrowed even further by advertising in adult-only films. Cinema complemented television with increased reach and frequency against the primary target, and let light TV viewers see NL creative on the big screen.

Research conducted at the end of the buy showed exceptional total recall (85%) and strong brand association (93%) – both scores exceeding the national average; 39% of all who saw the ‘Vikings’ ad were ‘more likely’ to want to take a vacation in Newfoundland and Labrador – the highest purchase influence of all measured campaigns in 2010.

The Weather Network Partnership - Fresh Air Online Media

Multiple rich-media ad units targeted travellers in a high state of travel readiness, eager to escape the summer in Toronto. Impressions were delivered during key periods of heat, smog, and humidity (vokens, expanding big box units); Fresh Air roadblock ads ran only when the temperature in Toronto exceeded 25 degrees. Despite appearing during select periods the Fresh Air ad units delivered more than 60% of the total audience response from during the entire campaign.

a) Sales/Share Results
In the face of an economic downturn, and concerns that 2009 would be a difficult year, NL’s performance outpaced national results and those of other Atlantic Canadian destinations. Automobile/airline visits increased by 1.5%, and overall tourism revenues climbed 1.4% (to $374.6 million) - quite a feat, considering that the Canadian travel market fell by 7.1% over the same period. NL also built momentum, as interest in the province as a travel destination increased 22% and web traffic increased 25.4%.

These results were instrumental in setting the stage for 2010. Compared to 2008 as the Base Period, annual visits increased 8% to 518,500, and annual tourism revenue rose 11.2% to $410.6 million. Interest in NL as a travel destination also soared, increasing by 34%, and this momentum continued in 2011. 2010 had been the most successful year for tourism in the province's history, yet for Jan - June 2011 automobile/airline visits beat this performance, rising by another 3.3%.

Business Results Period highlights:
• For the first time in history, annual visits surpassed the 1/2-million mark in 2010 and visitors outnumbered the population of the province (509,739).
• Tourism revenues topped the $400 million mark for the first time in 2010 - and as noted above continued to grow in 2011.
• Web traffic increased 40% since 2008, eclipsing the 1-million mark annually for the first time in 2009.

In ‘The World at Six’, a national CBC radio broadcast, NL was called "an advertising juggernaut from which the rest of Canada should learn.” And feedback from the target audience poured in:
• “Absolute perfection in tourism advertising.”
• “Some of the most evocative creative that has ever been done for any location in Canada… I have never felt so motivated to see your beautiful province.”

For the second time in three years, NL was a finalist for the 2009 Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s Marketing Campaign of the Year. The campaign went on to win a number of coveted national/international awards including a Craft Lion at Cannes, a Platinum Adrian at HSMAI (Finalist for Best of Show), Best of Show at ICE, and multiple wins at Marketing, Extra, Applied Arts, and ADCC.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion
2008 was one of Canada’s worst years for tourism. 2009 was expected to be very challenging -- as the global credit crunch and continuing stock market losses left many Canadians uncertain about general finances, including plans for travel.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, consumer confidence had fallen in early 2009 to its lowest level since Canada entered its last economic recession in the early 1990s.

By the end of 2009, industry reports were dismal: total tourism revenue fell 5.0% from 2008, international arrivals to Canada from CTC core markets decreased by 7.8% and total receipts from these same markets fell 7.3%. Total domestic tourism revenue fell 4.1%, and Q2 2009 (the key decision-making period for travel) was the fourth consecutive quarter that Tourism spending declined in Canada - representing the longest downturn in almost 20 years.

In the face of this, each market targeted by the ‘Find Yourself’ campaign delivered increased automobile/airline visits for 2009, with Quebec (+4.76%) and Ontario (+2.05%) leading the way. These same markets also reported substantial increases in automobile traffic: +14.83% and +7.78% respectively.

Entering 2010, the industry continued to face challenges from the worldwide recession, yet
NL delivered beyond expectations, outperforming results reported by each of the other Atlantic Canadian provinces.

IN summary, there was a direct correlation between the campaign and the business response.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels: Annual ad spend in 2009/10 was lower than in 2008. In 2009, NL’s media budget decreased by more than 17.5%.

Pricing: There was no unusual price discounting on travel to NL during 2009/10 by travel providers or provincial tourism operators.

Distribution Changes: Targeted geographic markets were consistent: Ontario (GTA and Ottawa), along with Calgary, Halifax, and English-speaking Montreal.

Unusual Promotional Activity: While the campaign was in market, there was no price cutting or high-value promotional activity.

Other Potential Causes: It’s important to consider the impact of the Canadian dollar and the price of oil during the BRP.

A continued strengthening of the dollar impacts the choice of travel destinations - i.e., a strong dollar makes the US and popular sun destinations more attractive, and poses a significant threat to domestic travel and spending. From January 2009 - December 2010, the value of the dollar rose 22% ($0.816 to $0.992); correspondingly, outbound travel by Canadians increased 9.4% in 2010. [Footnote 4] Still, NL persevered.

Oil prices, which drive fuel costs and expenses for travellers, continue to be volatile, and rising costs are putting the squeeze on transportation companies and consumers. During the BRP, the price of crude oil increased 114% ($41.74 to $89.04 US per barrel). [Footnote 5] These prices create headaches for a number of industries, including airlines. Despite this, airline visitors to NL increased by 31,900 in 2010, while associated expenditures increased by $35.3 MM.

Footnote 4:

Footnote 5: