Keep Exploring (Canadian Tourism)

Services--General (BRONZE)
Best Insight (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Canadian Tourism Commission
Greg Klassen, SVP Marketing Strategy & Communications
Ernst Flach, Executive Director Global Marketing
Gloria Loree, Executive Director Global Communications
Charles McKee, Vice President International
Rupert Peters, Regional Managing Director Core Markets
Siobhan Chretien, Regional Managing Director Emerging Markets

Agency Credits: DDB Canada
Cosmo Campbell, Creative Director
Dean Lee, Creative Director
Josh Fehr, Creative Director
Art Directors: Murray Falconer, Brandon Thomas, Chris Moore, Colin Hart
Copywriters: Kevin Rathgeber, Cameron Warden, Jeff Galbraith, Neil Shapiro,
Jarrod Banadyga, Jessica Schnurr, Mark Sissons
Michelle Kitchen, VP Business Director
Jason Snider, Media Planner
Erin McWhinnie, Media Planner & Buyer
Jonathan Ebsworth, Media Buyer
Account Management: Bryce Sparks, Dana Rudelier, Geoff Wilton, Shannon Cherry,
Shannon Frame, Marty Yaskowich, Jennifer Green, Sara Caissie
Broadcast Producers: Sue Bell, Katherine Mutzke
Digital Producers: Erica Jonsson, Kimberly Holden, Zerlina Chan
Print Producers: Gayle Robson, Courtney Smith
Community Cultivators: Chris Walts, Kumiko Ide, BJ Vicks, Veronica Heringer

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 2. Brand Truths.
Crossover Note 9. Turnarounds.
Crossover Note 10. Conventional Wisdom—should it be challenged?
Crossover Note 25. Brand Linkage (when should the brand name appear).
Crossover Note 28. Media Learning.

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


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):January 2010 - June 2011
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: May 2010
Base Period as a Benchmark: Calendar 2009

a) Overall Assessment
Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy, and while the global pie is getting bigger with more international travellers, Canada is losing market share primarily due to an ever increasing number of countries investing in tourism marketing as a means to attract export revenue.

In just seven years through 2009 Canada saw its international visitors decline by 22% from 15.6 million to 12.8 million. This plummeted Canada’s ranking from top 5 to 15 in foreign arrivals, according to the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). [Crossover Note 9]

While many potential travellers identified Canada as a destination on their short list, this was not converting into more visits as other more exotic locales were capturing their attention.

With Canada on the global stage after its successful hosting of the 2010 Olympics, the CTC set out a new 2010-2015 strategy to “harvest the afterglow” and turn awareness of Canada into visits. The strategy included shifting the marketing investment to international markets with the highest potential for revenue growth and return on investment.

The target was identified as long haul, high-yield travellers – those who stay longer, spend more, and are less likely to be impacted by the recession.

Trying to sell Canada as a vacation destination in a world of exotic tourism locales posed a challenge, and we had to recognize that we were competing with countries, and even US states, which had proportionately much larger tourism budgets than the CTC.

b) Resulting Business Objectives
- to reclaim and capture Canada’s fair share of international tourism growth.
- to increase attributable export tourism revenue from $1.3 to $5.3 billion by 2015.

c) Annual Media Budget
Over $5 million

d) Geographic Area
US, Mexico, Europe (UK, France, Germany)

a) Analysis and Insight
Through annual quantitative studies by the CTC’s Global Tourism Watch, we found that Canada was stereotyped as all beautiful scenery and outdoors but a bit one-dimensional. [Crossover Note 2] International travellers didn’t have enough of a sense of the breadth of experiences Canada could offer.

We also knew that people’s travel decisions were increasingly being inspired by friends and larger online communities: travellers just like them. And while we like to believe strongly in the power of advertising, the power of this “peer to peer” word of mouth had become exponentially greater in the tourism category. [Crossover Note 28]

Our insight was to rally our strategy around the sharing of authentic “traveller-to-traveller” experiences so that potential visitors could discover through the stories and recommendations of their trusted fellow traveller that Canada is a destination that shared their passion for exploration.

The invitation to “Keep Exploring” (a sentiment integral to the essence of travel for our customers) would give them the emotional commitment to choose Canada over other exotic locales.

b) Communication Strategy
Our strategy was to develop a social-media inspired campaign that showed authentic traveller experiences in a style mimicking the way consumer’s research their own trips.

All elements would lead to the Keep Exploring interactive blog, the hub of the campaign, which used social media to allow consumers to get a richer picture of the travel experience and join and share the conversation.

The invitation was to be captured with the brand positioning line and call-to-action “Canada. Keep Exploring.”

a) Media Used
A multi-media, multi-language campaign through integrated media channels including:

• Newspaper print
• Television
• Online ads
• Magazine
• Web site/blog micro site
• Social media cultivation

All media would lead to the Keep Exploring interactive website (UK Example:

b) Creative Discussion
In television, instead of spending large sums on lavish production, we did the polar opposite; sourcing traveller videos from YouTube and using this user-generated content to tell a series of stories. [Crossover Note 25] In one :15 second spot, we hear the amazed laughter of skiers high up in the chairlift as they watch a bear wander on to the ski mountain and slip-slide down the slope underneath them. In another, we hear the surprised exclamations from a sea kayaker and see an inquisitive seal jump onto her kayak to say hello. With the exception of our CTC clients it was viewed by the industry as a huge risk to use unpolished, raw user-generated videos, rather than the typical tourism scenic film. [Crossover Note 10]

Print emulated Flickr and Facebook, and in major newspapers the front cover was taken over with “spadea” wraps that look like an online blog, including QR codes that live-linked to long-form content on the Keep Exploring site.

An innovative approach to online advertising was unveiled; the culmination of collaboration with Google Maps and Street View technology to transport travellers virtually onto real Canadian streets and experience things to see and do with a simple click of the mouse. Each online execution directs travellers to additional information on the Keep Exploring campaign site.

c) Media Discussion
The plan was to launch the new user-generated content (UGC) in the US for May-September 2010 with a media budget of $12 million.

With learning from the US campaign, the plan was adapted for other international markets in September 2010 through June 2011, including Mexico with a media budget of $200,000 and Europe (UK, Germany, France) with a media budget of $6 million.

As noted, all media elements led to the Keep Exploring interactive website (UK Example:, the hub in the campaign.

Newspaper was a key driver as it allowed for multiple messages and frequency. The “spadea” front cover wraps carried branding messages with strong imagery, as well as tactical messaging with travel industry partners. QR codes elevated the newspaper to an interactive medium that drove the consumer to our Keep Exploring micro site blog.

Television was used to build mass reach by taking advantage of top programs, while :15 second creative increased efficiency and built frequency.

Print magazine also built mass reach and enabled placement in travel and leisure verticals.

Online reach was delivered using portals and news sites.

a) Sales/Share Results
The Keep Exploring campaign has propelled Canada to being named #1 country brand in the world, bumping the US from the top spot. (Source: the 2010 Country Brand Index [CBI] by FutureBrand, in a study of more than 3,000 international travellers from 9 countries.)

Also in 2010, international visitors made 15.9 million trips to Canada, up 2% compared with 2009. This was a solid contribution to the 3.4% increase in spend by overnight visitors to $11.9 billion.

These marketing efforts delivered a Government approved ROI analysis of 101:1; for every dollar invested, $101 was generated in tourism export revenues.

The first six months of 2011 have seen continued momentum with increased visitation from the majority of core international markets.

This is the first step in our efforts to capture Canada’s fair share of the international tourism growth, and achieve CTC’s target of increasing its attributable export tourism revenue from $1.3 to $5.3 billion by 2015.

Additional Information:

For the US specifically the 2010 Ad Tracking & Conversion Study is available at the time of submission:

• The campaign generated approximately $187 million in export tourism revenue from an estimated 436 thousand travellers taking or booking a trip to Canada.

• It delivered a 60% recall rate amongst long-haul travellers, comparable to the 2009 campaign which had double the marketing budget.

• Each individual medium outperformed 2009 (Television at 74% recall; Magazine at 46%, Online at 27%, Newspaper at 19%.)

For the UK, Germany and France the Ad Tracking & Conversion Study will not be available until later, but the individual campaign elements are recording solid performance, with highlights including:

• 48,000 QR code scans from the print and newspaper ads, which is above expectations for this relatively young mobile tactic

• Over 200,000 visits to the Keep Exploring site with triple the page views per site visit

• Online ads outperforming industry interaction benchmarks, delivering 2.58%-4.53% averages

• A significant increase in Facebook fans as a direct result of the Social Media efforts
(UK +1056%; Germany +900%; France +637%.)

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion
• The new marketing approach is the only major factor available to explain the rise in CBI rank from 12th place in 2006 to 1st in 2010

• Canada is competing in the global tourism market with countries – and even US states – which have proportionately much larger tourism budgets than the CTC, so this ranking is all the more meaningful.

• Results supported by the Advertising Tracking and Conversion Studies and the Global Tourism Watch demonstrate the increase in Canada’s tourism brand resonance with consumers as a direct result of the marketing campaigns.

The marketing investment to further support the campaign has been approved. It is being adapted for Australia, Korea and Japan and will continue with new creative in Europe and Mexico for the latter half of 2011.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels: CTC’s spending levels in 2010 and 2011 were significantly lower than prior years due to government’s reduction in tourism funding.

Pricing: No unusual price discounting occurred.

Distribution Changes: Market priorities were shifted and more focused on select international long-haul markets, but the marketing investment was reduced versus prior years.

Unusual Promotional Activity: No unusual price discounting or high-value promotional activity was activated.

Other Potential Causes: There were no advantageous factors within the tourism industry that would have swayed travellers to choose Canada versus other exotic competitive locales, and in fact the rational barriers were heightened with the recession impact and the strong Canadian dollar.