Thinking Outside the Box
Punta Gorda / Englewood Beach, Florida
Branding: It’s What’s on the Outside That Matters
In the fall of 2013, Aqua won a highly contested RFP to become the creative agency of record for the Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands Visitor & Convention Bureau. In February of 2016, Aqua was tasked with evaluating the county’s tourism brand and making subsequent recommendations.
What followed was an extensive period of discovery (consisting of an inventory of the destination’s various visitor activities and attributes), a study of the competing destinations and how they positioned themselves in the marketplace, in-depth primary research of potential visitors involving focus groups in different markets (Tampa, Chicago, and Indianapolis), and more.
The main takeaway from all our research was that the area offered the state’s most robust set of outside experiences, and potential visitors liked the area’s pristine beaches and unique, natural environment. Therefore, it was decided that the new brand must include an emphasis on outside activities and settings. The new brand and its tagline, “Our Best Side is Outside” was launched in the fall of 2016. Additionally, it was also determined the destination name needed to change, becoming Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach and the bureau renamed to the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB).
Getting Outside the Typical Campaigns
For the 2018-2019 FY, the destination needed new annual campaign. Obviously, based on everything we had done to brand the destination in 2016, we recommended focusing the new campaign on the area’s offering of outside activities. However, in our research for other clients, and by following developing trends in the tourism marketing sector, we’ve recognized travelers are seeking a unique vacation experience that validates their own belief that they themselves are unique, one-of-a-kind people who therefore would take a vacation that’s different from everyone else. Wanting to still promote the area’s outside activities and landscapes, especially the beach, and communicate to travelers this is the off-the-beaten-path vacation destination unique and different people are seeking, we created the now award-winning campaign, Outsiders Welcome.
But, how would we communicate this Outsiders Welcome message? Wanting to define what Outsiders are – people who enjoy being outside, doing things their own way, and are looking for something different – we decided our campaign materials, heavily revolving around online video, needed to feature people who represented Outsiders. While we initially thought to hire talent, we later decided to feature area locals who already embodied the Outsider mentality. This added a much-needed sense of authenticity to our campaign, and turned locals into destination ambassadors. They were business owners, outdoor enthusiasts, a little quirky, and most were literally born and raised outside the destination, but fell in love with the area when they visited. Six Outsiders were selected for round one of the campaign, and six one-minute videos were produced featuring one of the Outsiders talking about a specific outside activities such as paddleboarding or going to the beach. Two thirty-second videos were created for pre-roll and ad placement purposes, and a dedicated campaign webpage, OutsidersWelcome.com, hosted all the videos as well as blogs written by the Outsiders.