2017 Strategy Awards: Ontario Tourism’s search for the familiar

The interactive campaign encouraged people to guess the locations of the imagery used.


Silver: Game Changer
Bronze: Creative Catalyst
Bronze: Turnaround Strategy

When something is familiar, it’s natural to take it for granted. Ontario is no different. It conjures up images of Niagara Falls, the CN Tower and trees. For Canadians, it seems too familiar, with nothing new or intriguing.

Research revealed that when it comes to travel, people look for the unfamiliar, seeking experiences that are different from where they live and what they know.

The Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC) realized that to change Canadians’ perceptions of Ontario, it needed to focus on the lesser known people, places and experiences in the province, which contradicts the conventional approach to tourism marketing of focusing on well-known landmarks.

Working with FCB, the brand created a campaign showing imagery of Ontario (without revealing it was from the province), challenging Ontarians to answer the question: “Where am I?”

The team launched a ten-day teaser campaign using 60-second TV spots, video and social media.

The creative led people to a microsite to guess the locations, where a built in geo-guesser using Google Maps API created a virtual game of “hot and cold.”

The team released a new clue each day and on July 2, they revealed that the places and experiences were actually from Ontarians’ own backyard.

One in 309 Canadians from 480 cities participated in the online guessing game (only 13% guessed correctly). After the big reveal, travel to and within the province increased, with overnight visits tripling, summer trips nearly doubling and the campaign returning $7.23 cents for every dollar spent.

Brand | Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation
Agency | FCB
VP, chief strategy officer/senior planner | Shelley Brown
VP, planning director | Heather Segal
Senior strategist | Anastasia Tubanos
Digital strategist | Shelagh Hartford