case study -Send Your Facebook Profile to Cape Town

Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa after Johannesburg. It’s the most popular destination in South Africa for tourists. However, there are undiscovered treasures, ‘off the beaten track’, which are unknown to most people visiting Cape Town. These insider spots don’t appear on the wellknown travel sites like Trip Advisor, Expedia, etc. Even Google and Wikipedia have little or no information about these special locations. The official tourism agency for Cape Town – Cape Town Tourism decided to reveal some of the city’s ‘hidden treasures’ to tourists.



Beyond the general goal of attracting more people to the city, Cape Town Tourism actually wanted to build a database of potential visitors from Europe. This database would be later used for sending promotions; it would be an asset for the future. Nicholas Wittenberg, the Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather talks about the goal: “I reckon that 90% of people who come to South Africa, come to Cape Town. Some tourists come to Cape Town and then go to the Northern part of the country where the game reserves are and then they leave. Their goal was to achieve a certain amount of people within their database and they exceeded that.”


The idea was to reveal unknown spots in Cape Town to potential tourists. The agency came up with the idea of sending people to Cape Town ‘virtually’. It was a very ambitious project right from the beginning because all these places had to be found, photographed, filmed, to construct a virtual holiday, which for some could actually become a real one.



The slogan ‘Send Your Facebook Profile To Cape Town’ says exactly what this campaign was about. After a quick registration process through Facebook, people were able to construct their own 5-day virtual holiday in Cape Town. All the activities accompanied by pictures were posted on their timelines. The posts looked so real that it actually seemed that the person was on a vacation in South Africa(!) .


The campaign was built on a Facebook platform. The Virtual Cape Town holiday app ran in a separate tab. In order to make it feel as real as possible, the team shot over 150 videos, wrote over 400 first-person authentic status updates and took over 10,000 snaps! Special online videos showed various Facebook profiles enjoying well-known attractions in Cape Town…


To encourage product trial, the agency sent out mysterious ‘Ambassadors’ to appear in public spaces. They handed out pamphlets which encouraged people to vote on Facebook and to get involved.


The campaign was very extensive. Cape Town Tourism invested significantly in this project. Nicholas Wittenberg reveals their digital media plan: “The media plan included ad banners on various sites in Europe, mainly travel-related sites. Travel related demographics within Facebook for Europeans. That was the strategy around that campaign. Mass media and banners were used in order to ignite the campaign. It was all digital: display ads on various travel sites and Facebook display ads.”


Research conducted in 2012 shows that 76% of people post holiday pictures and status updates on Facebook. Additionally, people trust recommendations from their friends. This is why the driving emotion for this campaign was envy! Social media connects a huge number of people who are all potential targets. Seeing friends’ travel updates has a big impact. Therefore, this campaign cleverly tapped into this truth.

After registration, the player received a special ‘Boarding Pass’ and could start ‘exploring’ Cape Town. Every little detail could be posted on their timeline – what they saw, what they ate, where they partied… the list goes on. As the ‘holiday’ unfolded, some lucky people received real gifts from the places their profile visited. At the end of the holiday, each contestant received a personal video with all their profile’s holiday highlights. The game ultimately attracted 8,212 players, mostly from South Africa, the UK, USA, India and Germany; all key ‘feeder’ countries for Cape Town tourism.


The players were competing for an actual prize – a paid trip to Cape Town. So all their virtual adventures could actually become real. One international and one local winner got the chance to go on the (real-world) 5 day all-inclusive holiday. The top prize was won by Canadian, Jan van der Leeuw, with a return trip and hotel stay going to Nadia Jeffries from the UK.



Source: Best Marketing



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