Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Canaries: The Brand That Won

We're coming to that time of year when they start handing out awards. In the case of the Asociación Española de Anunciantes - Spanish Association of Advertisers - they've already dished them out.

The Spanish word "eficacia" can be a touch problematic. It can mean both efficiency and effectiveness. As anyone with any managerial and business experience will know, there is a difference between the two. There can be efficiency in doing things well and in an organised fashion, but the effectiveness doesn't necessarily always follow - the results, and good results at that. Let's just say, for the purpose of the association's awards, that "eficacia" is the happy combination of the two.

The awards bear the title of "Eficacia en Comunicación Comercial". They are the highest professional recognition of advertising achievement in Spain. They are the only awards that focus on the results of advertising communication. Efficient ways meet effective ends.

The gold award for "most innovative strategy" went to a tourism brand - Islas Canarias, the Canary Islands. It picked up other awards - another gold for #StopBlueMonday and a bronze for "La sonrisa del sol", the smile of the sun. Since 2015, the Canary Islands' brand has amassed more awards than any other Spanish tourist brand: over thirty national and international prizes. In the Canaries they clearly know a thing or two about efficiency and effectiveness.

A year ago I highlighted the official website for Canary Islands tourism. Hellocanaryislands, I concluded, was a superb website. Its innovation was matched by its simplicity. Contained within it was an adventure in an almost Disney style. It appealed to children and to adults. The adventure told the story of wonders to be discovered on the various islands. And it did this, moreover, in multiple languages. Not three or four, but fifteen.

Promotur, which is the tourism agency in the Canaries, has been credited by the advertisers association with having developed a tourism brand that is superior to all others. What it doesn't do is carry out one single campaign. A key reason for having gained the award is that over the course of a year there are 250 individual promotional actions, using the same fifteen languages as on the website. The effectiveness lies in the detail - the micro-segmentation of content, targeted at specific market segments. Through innovation and creativity, Promotur is delivering a brand concept which stands out from all the other advertising noise.

While the mechanics of the advertising clearly impressed the 170 or so judges, there is the fact of this brand concept. The Canaries as a single entity are in a sense easier to brand than, say, the Balearics. At a most basic level, just think about it for a moment. The chances are that you refer to the Canaries rather than specific islands, whereas you would be most unlikely to refer to the Balearics. Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and the others have their individual identities and images, yet it is proving and has proved possible to apply a unity. And this unity manifests itself in another way. Messages from the advertising will vary according to the time of year, but the climate in the Canaries offers a consistency to support these messages. The brand is thus seamless.

The contrast with the Balearics is great. The abandonment of attempting to convey a Balearic brand is being further advanced by the transferring of promotional responsibilities to the islands. The need for this was recognised by the previous government. The Balearics are not the Canaries. There simply isn't the same attachment in terms of consumer perception. It's Mallorca which matters, or Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

In the Canaries they are enhancing an already enviable brand of all-year tourism by micro-managing the tourism market with messages and images to add ever greater strength to the brand from revealing the diversity that exists on those islands. In the Balearics they are deconstructing a brand through a distancing from what has always sustained the brand, be it individual island or the Balearics as a collective. This deconstruction is based on a brand proposition of shaky attributes, those of a winter that conflicts squarely with the solid foundations of sun and beach.

This is being done, moreover, without coming close to criteria that the advertisers association appreciates about the Canaries. The brand thinking in the Balearics might be chaotic, but it's not as if there is (theoretically) any absence of technological knowhow. Biel Barceló has been celebrating the ParcBit fifteenth anniversary, the technology park once destined to be a centre of tourism technology excellence. So where is it? And where also is the social media "guru", appointed by Barceló as director-general of technology at the ministry of tourism, innovation and research? He's a mystery figure, of whom we know little and even less in terms of results.

The Balearics, we can conclude, will not be invited to the association's 2018 awards.

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