Web Anchors Effort to Promote Scotland to U.S. Travelers

The Internet is part of a $2 million multimedia advertising effort from VisitScotland to draw U.S. travelers to Scotland in a market enamored of England, Italy, France, Germany and Ireland.

Key to this overture is the site at www.toscotland.com, which highlights accounts from three U.S. couples sent to photograph and record their experiences in England's northern neighbor. Mail, banners, e-mail, guerrilla and event marketing, a toll-free number, print ad inserts and radio support the site.

“Our mandate is to promote tourism from the United States to Scotland, and very important in that is to generate qualified responses to our communications methods with the intention that people who respond will also convert into visitors to Scotland,” said Milton Kapelus, executive vice president of VisitScotland's U.S. agency, Green Team Advertising, New York.

The agency, whose contract recently was renewed for another three years with the option of an extra two, knows from experience. One-third of respondents to VisitScotland promotions in the past three years went on to visit Scotland.

That means VisitScotland has built a database of 450,000 U.S. names and an active subscriber list of 85,000 to its opportunity-based online newsletter. It hopes now to add to those numbers.

Consider the new marketing approach. Instead of sending directors and photographers, Green Team chose three couples to represent the target demographics in their 20s, 30s and 40s — essentially, typical U.S. travelers.

These travelers were given a loose itinerary of the tour around Scotland along with cameras, journals and recorders to chronicle their experiences. The agency culled from more than 1,500 images and put together this year's campaign with supporting anecdotes.

Green Team's campaign breaks just ahead of April 6 to coincide with Tartan Day, a congressional recognition of the Scottish contribution to America. For about a week culminating on Tartan Day, four taxicabs from Scotland will roam New York's Manhattan borough, wrapped in tartan. The cabs will distribute literature about traveling to Scotland, and with incentives to visit toscotland.com.

In other aspects of the effort, ad inserts will run in magazines like Conde Nast Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine and Travel & Leisure, and online at www.nytimes.com and www.travelocity.com.

The print ads draw attention to travel and airline packages alongside sketches of destinations like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dunnottar Castle, Glamis Castle, Isle of Skye and other rugged or urban aspects of Scotland.

These ads have eye-catching visuals of Scotland with headlines like “Edinburgh and Glasgow — two different cities, two different characters, one warm welcome.” Other ads are headlined, “Real travelers. Real tales from Scotland.” The tagline is simple: “Scotland. Welcome to our life.”

Also, responders to mail will receive e-mails or brochures. The e-mails will link to toscotland.com and so will the banners. Like the print ads, the other media will urge consumers to read about the real travelers' adventures in Scotland.

“The toscotland.com site that we've developed is a gateway to the official VisitScotland site at www.visitscotland.com,” Kapelus said. “The main difference that we seek from other tourist sites is that we keep it interesting and entertaining with games and sweepstakes and relevant information about visiting Scotland.”

The campaign targets not just the 14 million Americans of Scottish origin, for whom there also is a separate genealogy-based effort aimed at helping them trace their ancestry. It also vies for others for whom Scotland is a second-tier destination to London, Rome and Paris.

Then there is the Irish issue.

“Ireland has a budget in the U.S. which is probably five or six times more than Scotland's,” Kapelus said. “In some years it's been 10 times more. So they've been able to get their voice heard and message out there with a lot of impact and frequency. Scotland has a relatively modest budget, so our task is more challenging.”

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