Hey America, your northern neighbour is calling

Live! With Regis and Kelly travels to PEI, while the CTC covers US storefronts with Canadian vacation stories.

Canada’s new mantra when it comes to enticing Americans to visit seems to be “go big or go home.” These days, when we want Yankee tourists, we spend a million on a celebrity visit, plaster social media on U.S. storefronts or buy out an entire issue of an iconic magazine.
Nothing piques interest quite like celebrity chit chat. Live! With Regis and Kelly has often taken the show on the road, to the likes of Las Vegas, Miami, the Bahamas and now…Prince Edward Island. In July, the show broadcast from Charlottetown thanks to the juggling of marketing bucks to make a million-dollar investment. Aired over four days, the show brought in star power like Stephen Moyer of True Blood and country band Lady Antebellum, and included a spoof of Anne of Green Gables and local PEI cuisine.
Brenda Gallant, director of marketing at Tourism PEI, credits the province’s deputy minister of tourism, Melissa MacEachern, for nailing the idea during brainstorming. To expand awareness beyond Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, they took a cue from an integration done last year with the Golf Channel reality show The Big Break, which successfully positioned PEI as a golf destination. To go broader, they needed to find the right show.
“We were looking at daytime, a 40+ market and female-skewed because [they’re] making the decisions on travel. We wanted to make sure the viewership had passports,” says Gallant.  “The Regis and Kelly audience was just the market we were looking for.”
So far, the strategy seems to have paid off. PEI was the number two Google search on the first day the show aired, Anne of Green Gables made the top 25 downloadable books, hits on the Tourism PEI website increased 233% and there has been a 500% increase in newsletter requests. And here at home, CTV saw its largest Regis and Kelly audience ever at nearly one million viewers for one episode. Gallant says that ad value and media exposure was already worth $5 million before the first episode even aired.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is finding folks with discretionary spending by taking over storefronts across the U.S. Readers love travel stories because they provide a snapshot of an authentic experience, so the CTC is aggregating vacation microblogs and photos of real people, and posting them on giant interactive displays in major American cities.
Four storescapes, developed by DDB Vancouver, share online conversations, pics and videos with passersby in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, who can zoom in on comments via a touchscreen. Street teams carrying iPads encourage passersby to interact with the board and help them participate in a contest for a trip to Canada by tweeting @keep_exploring. The storescapes are part of a broader campaign encouraging Americans to travel here through TV, print and online executions. OMD Vancouver handled the media buy.
Another first for Canada was a buyout of an issue of the New Yorker in advance of the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto. To entice Americans to think Canadian when debating where to spend their investment and tourism dollars, the New Yorker worked with Cobourg, ON.-based Dodd Media Sales to fill the June 28 issue with cover-to-cover Canadian advertisement. The ads came from an array of northerners including several provinces, the CTC, RBC and U of T’s Rotman School of Business, covering more than 20 pages of the weekly. In 2005 Target bought all the ads in the magazine, but this marks the first time in 85 years that all ads fall under one theme. Leave it to Canadians to work together for a common goal.