The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) and its new agency VML are introducing a new advertising campaign with a unique selling proposition for a country trying to attract visitors: the country isn’t set up well for tourists.
The Central American country has few all-inclusive luxury resorts. The region doesn't offer all-you-can-eat buffets. And Panama isn't meant for those that need hand-holding. In short, there are tourists and there are trailblazers. And Panama is looking to attract the latter.
"In Panama, there are a lot of hidden of gems that you must work for to experience," says Sean Burns, executive creative director, VML. "A lot of locals haven’t seen the best parts of the country because it entails going off the beaten path."
The creative - shot by filmmaker Vincent Urban - suggests the “lush rainforests are for wanderers, rugged mountains for explorers…and forbidden islands for adventurers seeking the last vestiges of an untamed world."
"We set out to create an identity that was uniquely Panama – but more than people realized it was," says Burns. "The work is an invitation into discovering what this incredible country offers."
The WPP-owned agency is promoting this campaign via broadcast channels, PR, and print ads and pamphlets. Media also includes in-flight, paid Facebook and Instagram, digital display ads and YouTube pre-roll. Emails and other media direct people to the VisitPanama.com.
This strategy is designed to convert people into becoming Panama enthusiasts while they’re looking for flights and researching more “cliché” destinations like Cancun, or Costa Rica, says Burns. "Importantly, while people are in flight to any number of destinations via Copa Airlines fleet of planes, they’ll be exposed to how great Panama is – which might just be enough to draw them to Panama next time."
The Panama Tourism Authority hired a VML to get an outsider’s take on their country. Last year, the National Tourism Council (CNT) and the ATP authorized a two-year budget of $20 million to develop an international advertising campaign. "We’re part of their target audience - U.S., Canada, Spain and they brought us to the table to create a unique perspective," says Burns. "Previously, the PTA had been creating advertising based on how they see their country. We portrayed Panama in a way they never would have."