We promoted one of the most visually stunning destinations in the world with an audio-only campaign, by teaming up with the most recognisable voice in Australia – Siri.
For regional communities that are heavily reliant on tourism, 2020 was devastating. To stimulate economic recovery for The Whitsundays, selling dreams was not enough.
We had to address all stages of the holiday planning journey, to build aspirational desire of The Whitsundays and convert holidaymakers from considering to booking.
Australian domestic tourism marketing is a sea of sameness. Sandy beaches, day spas, sunset cocktails, all splashed across every video touchpoint you could imagine.
As a holiday destination, The Whitsundays enjoys relatively high recognition amongst Australians. The challenge it faces is preference. International border closures drove intense competition among Australia’s domestic destinations, with significant advertising investment. Tourism Whitsundays did not have the resources to fight a share-of-voice battle. Driving visitation required outsmarting, not outspending, competitor DMOs.
Our quest for distinction started with understanding how Australians were making decisions in 2020. The migration to mobile searches had accelerated. Further, the use of voice to initiate searches had become mainstream. And the influence of Authority Bias had gained in prominence as consumers increasingly questioned who they could trust.
We found our solution at the intersection of these category and behavioural trends to create something truly distinctive.
How do you promote one of the most visually stunning holiday destinations on earth when you’re out-shouted on video and OOH? Simple. You use audio.
How do you gain attention and authority when the use of high profile celebrities and influencers had become a category cliché? You use a spokesperson that no one has ever seen.
For Tourism Whitsundays, we sought out a celebrity no advertiser had ever used before. One that influences 10 million Australians every day: Siri. We’d learnt that Siri was a Whitsundays resident. Voice artist Karen Jacobsen had returned from New York to The Whitsundays during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our strategy was to leverage one of most widely recognised and trusted voices on the planet to grab Australians’ attention, and put The Whitsundays on top of the wish list.
An audio-led approach also presented an uncontested media channel, and the opportunity to create distinctive messages that would both inspire and drive immediate action.
We scripted creative radio concepts that would best leverage the powerful Siri audio mnemonic and recognisable voice. Skirting away from copyright issues with Apple, copy never actually use the name Siri, but did include the line “Siriously in need of a holiday”.
This became the foundation to the ideation and delivery of clever brand and tactical messaging in a humorous and engaging way. The scripts were set in familiar situations and made light-hearted references to mobile phone phobias (e.g. “those rumours I’m always listening may be true”).
To drive leads and set people on the path to booking, the ads needed a strong call to-action. The voice of Siri saying “Take advantage of the incredible deals and experience the Wonders of The Whitsundays” made the listener feel confident booking a holiday to The Whitsundays.
We used the full force of the radio networks to amplify the message across broadcast and digital radio. We pushed the focus on audio further with the inclusion of Spotify and impressions were skewed towards IOS devices.
Using such a high-profile celebrity also opened up opportunities for earned media. The story was picked up by print and digital news media, providing further exposure for The Whitsundays.
The move to an audio focus was a resounding success, smashing expectations and setting the region on a course to recovery.
Within three weeks, the campaign had delivered 430 holiday bookings with a value in excess of $500,000. By March, over 7,000 bookings had been made, which delivered over $12.8 million in trackable revenue at an unprecedented 21:1 return on media investment (almost ten times the ROI benchmark).
The increased visitation has delivered broader economic benefit to The Whitsundays across hospitality, transport and retail sectors, conservatively estimated at $20.96 million. It also boosted employment and community morale.
Further proof of effectiveness comes from Tourism Whitsundays’ commitment to continue with Siri in 2022. This year she’ll make the move from small screen to big screen, telling cinema goers to turn off their phones before the feature film commences, while inviting them to put themselves on airplane mode as well.