Montreal vs. Belgium

I always think it a bit odd when a city outsources to another place to brand their city. While I understand the challenge of coming up with a strategy when it’s something so close to home, I think many destinations miss the opportunity to showcase their own homegrown talent. So when I came across Sid Lee‘s campaign* for Tourism Montreal, it feels more like insider information from a local perspective, rather than someone else trying to build on stereotypes. (One of the worst examples ever in my mind is the Baltimore “Get in on It” campaign that from a local perspective totally missed the ball and failed to capture the true spirit of the city). Tourism Montreal has big budget videos mixed with low-budget more personal videos to show the city across different levels, and if you check out the videos on the Sid Lee site, I like how they use local expertise and “local insiders” to promote the city. Similar to the Blog Moi Paris project they use these local personalities to help create their content for their blog, building interest for different types of travelers. Perhaps it’s because I first discovered the project on Sid Lee’s site, and it’s their own packaging of the project, but I really like the energy surrounding Tourism Montreal.
Well, there’s energy and then there’s energy. When Lindsey pointed out the new ThePlaceTo.be campaign for Belgium, I like the idea of the mysterious “where are they talking about” and the subtle .be to represent Belgium, and the use of interesting typography. But overall the campaign feels a little too hip, and flashy, where the website opens with a fun, but big and loud video, and there are so many moving buttons it’s hard to know where to click. While I don’t mind the idea of having to get a little lost and exploring (it took me awhile to even realize they were talking about Flanders), and maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to see these ideas implemented in a tighter more navigation friendly site where there is a basic framework that you can see a bit more while videos are loading and to help establish a bit more hierarchy. Overall it definitely helped peak my interest in taking a weekend trip to Belgium, and clearly my demographic is the target audience, but is it all too much? (BTW, if you’re reading this post while at work, turn your sound off on your computer before opening this site!)

Recently I also posted about the Bourgogne “Pas de Touristes” campaign. What are your thoughts on this new style of branding? Seen any other places doing interesting things lately?

* to access project on the SID LEE site go to: work – portfolio – brand communications [bottom] – scroll

{Tourism Montreal images via Sid Lee; sidewalk photo by LostinCheeseland; Place to Be screenshot}

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