Brand Saga: Kerala Tourism, a testimony to the power of storytelling in the digital world

Kerala Tourism advertising journey

The concluding part of the Kerala Tourism advertising journey explores how stories from the state down south, keep us on the edge of our seats every time a new campaign hits the floor.

Last week we deep-dived into the scenic locales of Kerala through ad campaigns that aimed to make it a must-visit on every traveler’s bucket list. Much of that was achieved until 2015 when the national and global population became very well versed with the significance of God’s own country and its enthralling beauty. Here we take a look at campaigns that held stories so gripping that the Kerala Tourism advertising journey got catapulted to a whole new level over the years.

Building Brand Kerala- Kerala Tourism Advertising Journey

In 2014, Kerala Tourism rolled out a set of evocative films inspired by true stories that reflected the new possibilities from Responsible Tourism initiatives which were opening up in the state. The campaign titled ‘When the World comes to Kerala, New Worlds open up’ was conceptualized by Stark Communications and produced by the Kerala Institute of Travel and Tourism Studies (KITTS) for Kerala Tourism.

The ad films directed by Anwar Rasheed of Anwar Rasheed Productions were launched as a part of Kerala’s Responsible Tourism initiative launched by UNTWO Secretary-General, Taleb Rafai at the World Travel Mart in London. They were aimed at evoking pride in the culture and traditions of the state’s land, create awareness about preserving its priceless ways of life and celebrate the new possibilities and journeys that responsible tourism opens up in the villages of Kerala.  

Starring real people and site-authentic stories of tourists visiting local communities, sharing homemade meals, and watching and engaging in cultural performances, the films reflected the idea that when the world comes to Kerala, new horizons open up.

After a successful stint with ‘The Great Backwaters’ launched on a global stage and ‘New World’ campaign, the Kerala Tourism board joined hands with its long-standing creative partner Stark Communications to launch ‘Its time for a break – Visit Kerala’ in 2015.

The series presented Kerala as a natural antidote for urban Indian families living 24×7 with technology and the internet. With screens of different sizes and shapes fast taking over the minds of kids, urban families realize that it’s time they gave their young ones a break amidst nature – in Kerala.  

With an objective to inspire urban Indians to take a much-deserved break, the TVCs ‘Kitchen Caper’ and ‘Virtual Insanity’ also drew attention towards the Ayurvedic beauty and a perfect escape from the urban monotony.

As per the board, the ‘Visit Kerala’ initiative was kickstarted to garner new and retain the regular voyagers to the state and also to make it one of the top destinations and popular among different target segments. The films were produced by Nirvana Films and helmed by Vivek George Thomas.

The TVC launch was supported by a 360-degree integrated communication plan including spots on top GECs, news, kids, and movie channels on television followed by print ads, radio spots, and outdoor advertising. Social media was abuzz with the hashtag #VisitKerala to boost campaign promotion.

Later in 2016, Kerala Tourism launched a two-month-long ‘Green Carpet’ campaign with a focus on high-end maintenance, safety and sustainability, infrastructure, waste management, and other economic and environmental factors in the state. The campaign launch was supported by short films on key destinations like Kochi, Munnar, and the state’s wildlife.

The same year saw Kerala Tourism conducting high-energy roadshows in Australia advertising the best of ‘God’s Own Country in the hub cities of Melbourne and Sydney to tap deeper into what is the sixth biggest tourist market for the state.

In its bid to draw Arab tourists to the State, Kerala Tourism launched the ‘Yalla Kerala’ (Yalla in Arabic means let’s go) campaign in important West Asian markets in 2017. The campaign aimed at attracting travelers from the emerging markets of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman.

As per the information provided by the tourism board, Airport translates showcasing the rich natural attractions of the state were set up in the airports of Dubai and Saudi Arabia. In addition to this, in-flight and travel magazines, and the media in Dubai and Saudi Arabia were being used to attract tourists under ‘Yalla Kerala’.

Directed by cinematographer Sameer Thahir, the ad film ‘A Reading Room with a View’ was created as a promotional tool for Kochi Muziris Biennale, one of India’s biggest contemporary art expo, and was the only film nominated from South India. The film was a part of the ‘Live Inspired’ campaign which was launched nationally and internationally.

Conceptualised by Stark Communications, the as was considered as the beginning of Kerala’s strategic move in positioning the state as an art and culture hub, hence linking it with a host of festivals across a spectrum of arts.

During 2018, God’s own country, otherwise high on tourism footfall, suffered a setback owing to the devastating floods which caused economic instability. In these trying times, Samsonite took up the initiative to launch the campaign focusing on reviving Kerala tourism.

The #KeralaIsOpen campaign by Samsonite was conceptualized by Autumn Mumbai and captured the essence of how every individual involved in the tourist sector from taxi drivers, lodge managers, elephant mahouts, among others are eagerly waiting to offer their welcome their guests.

Next up, under the Promotional Campaign in Europe 2017-18, Kerala Tourism planned to utilize all forms of promotional tools under various categories, including television campaigns (INR 3.5 crore), Out of Home (OOH) campaign (INR 2.5 crore), Consumer Travel Mart (INR 1 crore) and Kerala Blog Express (INR 50 Lakhs). (Source: INVC)

Through its ‘Human By Nature’ campaign, Kerala Tourism portrayed the real, yet fascinating interplay of humans and nature in a land known for its open, inclusive way of life.

 

Drawn from powerful human stories, the film was shot with a predominantly real-life cast. Set across five different terrains, the film carefully strives to stay away from the trademark slickness of a typical commercial in its tone and treatment.

The series was revived under #KeralaTales taking forward the ‘human’ touch to another level. The new videos offered a broader and spectacular snapshot of the state delivering an emotional experience for the traveler who will see the world of Kerala from the eyes of a local.

From portraying the zest of a 60-year footballer to the infamous backwaters to the secret behind authentic ‘chai’ and trippy monsoons to the massive green landscapes, the videos truly tell the scintillating #KeralaTales.

Over 16.7 million tourists visited Kerala in 2018 as against 15.76 million the previous year, recording an increase of 5.93 %. Cut to 2020, amidst the havoc cast by the pandemic, Kerala Tourism by the end of the year released a film ‘Change in the air- Mamma’s Trip’ inviting travelers to visit Kerala and breathe some fresh air.

The ad conceptualized by Stark Communications was crafted with the insight that it was now time to discover new vistas and viewpoints. It’s time to step out into the endless green valleys, refreshing waterfalls, and mist-covered mountains of Kerala. It’s time for a #changeofair.

At the start of 2021, Kerala Tourism conducted a travel initiative led by ten influencers from around the country who carried out a media campaign to attract domestic tourists in the post-COVID era. Rani George IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism, flagged off the Kerala Blog Express, titled ‘My First Trip 2021’ which was held from March 25 to 29, 2021.

 



The influencers followed different itineraries for six nights and five days, facilitating the production of exclusive content for Kerala Tourism. The images, videos, and literature generated by them were shared on social media platforms as #MyFirstTrip, announcing to the world that destinations in God’s Own Country continues to be open for tourists.

While the previous editions of the Kerala Blog Express had only international bloggers and social media influencers, ‘My First Trip 2021’ had only domestic influencers and was aimed at providing additional impetus to the current domestic marketing initiatives of Kerala.


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