Cape Town Tourism winter advertising campaign a marketing failure!


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: Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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7 replies on “Cape Town Tourism winter advertising campaign a marketing failure!”

  1. You are spot on Chris this is shocking stuff.
    Considering that Cape Town is so design-centric this ad does nothing to reflect that. Regarding your comment re: the art director cringing, I doubt that there was a AD involved. This looks like it was made up in-house by the paper, does it have an agency reference on it? I would be very surprised. The lack of consideration in ensuring special offers, legible addresses etc would hint that this was a last minute ad, such a shame when you consider the media placement costs.

  2. Chris, I agree fully once again… This just looks like cheap junk mail one finds squeezed into the fence and not even placed in the mailbox. My apologies, this is very expensive junk mail.
    I must say that junk mail does have a place in advertising, and that place is the bin.
    Lisa Clark, Ogilvy Cape Town Account Executive for Cape Town Tourism, admitted that the ad was ‘very busy’… You are who you associate with, and Ogilvy are letting themselves down here.

  3. Mary, Mary quite so contrary. Spot on girl. Cape Town – the design Capital of the World!!!

  4. Snap David, was thinking the same about Cape Town’s Capital of Design and Inspiration – none here at all.


  5. Thank you for your support Mary.

    Lisa told me that they designed some of the Cape Town Tourism members ads, and that others were sent as is by their members. ‘Last minute’ is the operative word – Lisa admitted this too, in receiving material from Cape Town Tourism in the last minute.


  6. I think a chimpanzee with a box of crayons could do a more enticing winter ad .
    Shame on Oglivy.

  7. Very poor show for Ogilvy Peter – retail advertising is the pits generally, but they just reached a new low!


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