Hotels in Mazatlan, Mexico have an image problem. Ten years ago, the region was best known as a top tourist destination, with palm trees, sandy beaches, and the clear blue ocean. Today, its reputation has been damaged by drugs and violence. After all, drug kingpin Joaquin "El Capo" Guzman was captured in late February in a Mazatlan hotel.
Now, after a competitive review in which at least three other agencies submitted proposals, the Mazatlan Hotel Association has decided to remain with Ogilvy PR, a division of WPP, as its agency of record.
"Ogilvy PR has helped shift perceptions and balance the media conversation for Mazatlan," said Frank Cordova, Secretary of Tourism, Mexico. "We look forward to continuing and growing our relationship with Ogilvy PR to cement Mazatlan as a leading tourism and investment destination in Mexico."
Still, it is unusual that incumbents reclaim the account, but Ogivly appealed to Mexican executives by focusing on traditional metrics rather than Facebook likes or Twitter hashtags. "The team put together a plan that focuses on driving tourists to Mazatlan," says Jennifer Risi, Managing Director of Media Influence, Ogivly PR.
The account's progress is determined by its ability to drive tourism growth and foreign investment in the region and shape its reputation in the media.
Both sides are preparing to launch a national branding campaign expanding on Ogilvy's previous work over the past two years and centering around the culture of Mazatlan. As such, Carnival (Mardi Gras) will be a key-selling point. Although some 225 Mexican communities celebrate the holiday, Mazatlan is the host to one of the largest and best-known festivities. And Ogivly conducted outreach and interviews around Carnival 2014, where Mazatlan hosted record-breaking numbers.
In addition, the national branding effort will leverage press trips and festivals to the region, as well as coordinate visits by key influencers to America and Canada. "Our duties will always be to promote and education the American and Canadian audiences on why Mazatlan is one of the premier Mexican destinations," says Risi.
Led by the agency's Media Influence team, the account will be serviced from Ogilvy PR's New York office. The agency has long ties with Mexico. Ogivly PR completed its work with the Government of Mexico in 2012 in conjunction with the inauguration of a new government. Last year, the Mexico Tourist Board spent $43.3 million to promote the country.