It’s Manitoba’s time

For years, Manitoba’s tourism industry had struggled to raise its profile and attract visitation. The challenge was two-fold: the province had a lacklustre reputation in Canada, and lacked a reputation altogether, globally, even though Canada was a respected tourism destination. Our job was to paint an authentic, compelling and awe-inspiring picture of all that Manitoba’s tourism industry has to offer, leading to increases in visitation and visitor spending in the province.

We were also challenged to foster buy-in to a new messaging platform among Manitoba’s tourism operators. These partners collectively stood to benefit from more tourism activity, but were skeptical about a single tourism platform helping to elevate their individual operations. 

What they told us: We’re the Canadian-est

To develop a robust profile of our target travellers, McKim took a deep dive on research using a combination of Traveller Quotient data from Destination Canada, consumer profiles from Environics, and in-person interviews with tourism operators and influencers. The data reflected that Canadian tourists (including Canadians themselves) were seeking immersive experiences — the kind in which they can take part — not those that can be watched from the sidelines.  

We learned that Canadian travellers seek ‘quintessentially Canadian’ experiences, and that Manitoba offers far more of these experiences than most travellers realized. The rugged Canadian Shield, the Arctic ocean coast, the iconic prairie expanse, the vibrant and sophisticated urban centre — Manitoba had much to offer what travellers were actively seeking.

 

What we saw: An opportunity to inspire with the best

Even with so much to offer, we knew that a montage-style approach was unlikely to inspire visitation. When a tourism organization attempts to tell everyone everything, consumers have difficulty coming away with a clear idea of what it is that’s being offered. 

Our strategy was to lead with Manitoba’s most unique experiences: an Arctic safari, pristine hunting and fishing, and a largely-undiscovered cultural hotbed. We would define Manitoba’s identity within the Canadian tourism landscape. Once visitors arrive or inquire, we would share the broader offering.

We also saw an opportunity to leverage an already strong global identity for Canada into the brand for Manitoba. We developed the consumer-facing brand Manitoba: Canada’s Heart… Beats to directly link the province to Canada, and elevate its geographic position as the centre — the heart — of the nation.

 

Manitoba, Canada’s Heart… Beats

To ensure industry buy-in, Travel Manitoba first shared the creative platform to tourism operators. A video that featured several tourism operators espousing the tenets of the creative platform was screened simultaneously at three events held in Manitoba municipalities.

Marketing campaign assets were also unveiled at these events and circulated to media who publicized the new creative platform to Manitobans prior to its launch in market. This managed reveal helped ensure that the internal audience had the opportunity to buy into the creative, and learn about the consultative process that informed it, helping to secure in-province advocacy for the campaign.

The campaign launched in key markets in the weeks following the media events. A combination of print, online, and video media were used to reach potential travellers and share focused messages that featured the province’s untamed tourism offerings.

A targeted media campaign was launched in Calgary – a market that media research suggested was home to a significant proportion of our target Canadian travellers. In addition to other campaign assets, McKim helped take over a light rail station and train car in that city to showcase Manitoba’s tourism offering, which in turn meant the media itself became an immersive experience.

Shortly after the campaign’s initial launch, a major infrastructure project was completed in Manitoba — the Canadian Museum for Human Rights — the first national museum located outside of Ottawa. As a new pillar of the province’s tourism offering, supplementary campaign assets were developed. This was the first campaign extension following the initial launch, proving that the creative platform was nimble enough to evolve with Manitoba’s growing tourism industry.

Results

From the industry 

A reimagined funding model for provincial tourism

The consultative approach and unveiling of the Manitoba, Canada’s Heart… Beats creative platform sparked an industry revolution. Cross-promotion between operators and regions significantly increased, and the province’s tourism marketing funding model was reengineered to accommodate this wave of collaboration. This eventually led to a province wide municipal and regional branding initiative in which McKim played a central role.

20%

increase in U.S. visitations.

Sold-out0

featured experiences.

Increases0

in air travel, hotel occupancy.

Activity increased for Manitoba tourism operators, and for other industries used as benchmarks for tourism activity. U.S. visitation to Manitoba increased by +20.2%, significantly outpacing the increase in U.S.-to-Canada visitation (+7.9%). Feature experiences, such as Arctic safari bookings, sold out the year following the campaign. Domestic and international air travel to Manitoba increased. Hotel occupancy was up compared to the previous year.

 

For the campaign

Awareness of Manitoba as a tourism destination increased in all the markets where the campaign was released, particularly in Calgary where awareness jumped from 12% to 32%. Travel Manitoba recorded a 135% increase in web traffic, and tourism operators across the province also reported online traffic increases. . 60% more traveller inquiries were received as well, as people sought more information about visiting the province — an indication of both interest and intent.

20%

awareness in Calgary (AB) increased from 12% to 32%.

135%

spike in website traffic.

60%

increase in traveller inquiries.

Thanks in part to the enduring success of the Manitoba, Canada’s Heart…Beats brand, Manitoba has received strong acclaim at home and abroad. In 2019, Lonely Planet named Manitoba as one of its Best In Travel regions. The campaign received a number of advertising awards, including a Gold award for tourism at the World Media Festival. Destination Canada has since referenced the campaign as a best practice case study for other regions in the country.

Best in Travel0

Lonely Planet (2019)

Gold0

World Media Festival

Best practice0

Case study - Destination Canada