Untangling Newfoundland & Labrador’s “A Tangled Tale”

Untangling Newfoundland & Labrador’s “A Tangled Tale”

By Chris Powell from The Message

Who: Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism, Target Marketing & Communications, Sparks Productions.

What: A gorgeous 90-second spot entitled “A Tangled Tale.” It is the 18th chapter in the tourist organization’s beloved “Find Yourself” campaign.

When/Where: The eight-week campaign debuted on Jan. 18 and is appearing both online and on TV, with a focus on well-travelled audiences (more on that later). “You’re not going to see us on mainstream sitcoms or reruns of Three’s Company,” says Target president Noel O’Dea. The targeted buy includes the U.S. Eastern seaboard and Canadian markets boasting easy air access.

How: “A Tangled Tale” showcases two of the province’s most famous attributes—its stunning natural beauty and proud storytelling tradition. The spot is built around an evocative script written by Target copywriter Dave Sullivan and directed by series mainstay Paul Santana, whose reel includes the tourism body’s “Symphony” and “The Mad Ones” spots.

So what, stock footage of fjords and icebergs? No way. While library footage is a staple of tourism advertising, “A Tangled Tale” was assembled from footage shot along Newfoundland’s south coast over the course of three 14-hour days. “Every word in the English language is in the dictionary, but if you’re going to write you have to choose the right combination of words to be authentic,” says O’Dea. “In the case of writing with visuals, we need to find scenes that are similarly real and authentic and not just something off-the-shelf.”

A 90-second spot? You don’t see that often: Marketers’ natural inclination is to create awareness and affinity through frequency, but O’Dea says that Target’s strategy is built around establishing an emotional connection through storytelling, even if longer executions mean viewers see the spot less often than a typical ad. “It means sacrificing frequency for emotional impact and involvement,” he says. It can take some convincing, however. When Target chose to run a 120-second ad a few years ago, broadcasters were initially incredulous, says O’Dea.

It’s aimed at travellers, not tourists: According to O’Dea, one of the signature achievements of the “Find Yourself” campaign is that it has changed the profile of visitors to Newfoundland & Labrador. “It’s written for people who are very literate and well-educated,” he says. “They’re sophisticated and experienced travellers who have been to South America, to Asia and other exotic locations all over the world.” Tourists typically travel to places where they’re comfortable with the activities; travellers seek out experiences that are distinct and memorable. “What you see [in Newfoundland] is what’s here,” says O’Dea. “People come because it’s an antidote for all of the manufactured experiences that exist in the tourism industry.”