Last Sunday my eye caught a full page advertisement for Cape Town, in the Travel Weekly supplement of the Sunday Times. Its content, headline, media placement, and advertising frequency point to a marketing failure on behalf of the tourism industry of Cape Town.
At its AGM last year Cape Town Tourism announced with loud fanfare that its marketing would include a winter advertising campaign, in which its members could offer their specials, and that it was offering special packages via Thompsons Holidays. One would have expected the campaign to run throughout winter, as we are not even midway through winter, and it is exceptionally quiet so far, worse than the same months last year, which was deemed a ‘tourism crisis’. Utilising Ogilvy Cape Town, one of the country’s top advertising agencies, one would have thought that the agency would have found a creative way to design the advertisement.
The advertisement looks like a dog’s breakfast, which should have made the art director cringe, being individual special offer ads placed higgledy piggledy within a template of a headline and a footer with contact details. Even Lisa Clark, Ogilvy Cape Town Account Executive for Cape Town Tourism, admitted that the ad was ‘very busy’ – one wonders why she allowed her client to place such an ad, the agency being the custodian of its client’s brand image and reputation.
Our critique of the Cape Town Winter advertising campaign is the following:
1. The headline ‘Come and discover why Cape Town warms up in winter’ does not communicate that Cape Town is ‘warm’ due to its specials, and does not change the perception most Johannesburgers have about Cape Town, namely that it is wet and cold all winter long!
2. The footer refers to ‘weekend packages’ – it’s school holiday time now, so surely the Cape Town tourism industry would love to have tourists for longer than a weekend!
3. Ironically, with the pay-off line ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’, the ad is placed in the travel supplement of the Sunday Times, filled mainly with ads for international destinations, not a place locals would be likely to look for local destination ads.
4. The advertisers themselves appear to have little marketing understanding, some not having a website address and/or telephone number in their ads, for a call to action! Cape Town Tourism itself is not branded in the ad, even though its contact details are provided, so one would not know which company is co-ordinating the deals and taking bookings for them. Identity of the advertisers is also poor in most ads, the Table Mountain Cableway not being identifiable in its crass ad, trying to communicate far too much. The exception is the classy looking ad for the V&A Waterfront’s ‘Master of the Trade Routes Culinary Challenge‘ ad, but it does not communicate that there are excellent restaurant special offers. Its website address is almost unreadable, being so small.
5. Not all ads contain special offers, which is what the ad is meant to communicate
6. The frequency of three insertions only, this ad having been the final one of the three, is ineffective in making any impact on the target market.
Cape Town Tourism may just as well not have bothered to run this advertising campaign, it being so badly done from a creative, production, and media perspective, reflecting how weak the marketing calibre of Cape Town Tourism is. It reflects cutting marketing corners, cutting back on its marketing program which it shared with the industry earlier this year. The tourism body receives R42 million a year from the City of Cape Town to market our city!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage