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New tourism ad makes Calgary look like, well, almost anywhere

So why are so many people calling the ‘viral’ video a huge success?


 

A new video promoting the City of Calgary has been making the rounds on social media sites this week with many people calling the soulful montage a “viral success” for Calgary tourism – despite having under 1, 000 views on YouTube.

The generic tourism ad is part of the ‘Be Part of the Energy’ campaign, which aims to attract business and tourists to Alberta’s biggest city, and has been discussed at length on Canadian news outlets, including Global News, CTV and the CBC. Is the ad reflective of a new, more cosmopolitan Calgary? Is the new ad too youthful? Is it fair to baby-boomers and senior citizens? Is this the image that Calgary wants? Will this be a game-changer for Calgary? Has Calgary arrived?

A more relevant question may be, why is a broad and derivative ad fueling so many questions? While the spot is certainly attractive and well-edited, it is a tourism ad. Like most tourism ads in Canada, it showcases a bevy of young, multicultural people running, jumping and slow-motion laughing in the sunlight – not exactly controversial stuff.

Like most tourism ads it also shows a broad and sweeping picture of urban life that says very little about Calgary in particular. Should it surprise anyone that in Calgary, people attend business meetings and go jogging? Does it open your eyes that Calgary has attractive restaurants and Frisbee enthusiasts? That Calgary girls shop and Calgary boys  drink beer? While there are a few cowboys and mountains shots, 80 per cent of that footage could just as easily be an ad for Vancouver, or Kansas City, or Winnipeg, or Saturday.

In the end, the most interesting travel ads (like Newfoundland’s, for example) will always show off the things that are unique to visitors and boring to locals. It doesn’t matter how many restaurants you open, Calgary, you’re always going to get more attention for your fabulous set of mountains. Own it.

Or don’t.. The point is, if you want to attract tourists to your city for a relaxing vacation, you’ve got to loosen up and stop second guessing yourself.


 
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