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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

PAGI Sool NuaIceland and Ireland have a whole lot more in common than the 6 vowels and consonants they share. They’re both islands in the northern hemisphere. They both have reputations as great places to party. They have both experienced recent economic meltdowns and recovered, or are recovering. They both produce rock musicians in inverse proportion to their demographic sizes. They also do destination marketing with poise and panache and, in a pretty competitive choir of leading men and well established destination divas, their voices often soar effortlessly and mellifluously higher than the pack.

Here’s why …

Dublin Now

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.53.38Dublin, Ireland’s capital, has been singing the high notes on and off some some time now. The Destination Dublin Task Force, comprising a broad church of stakeholders from inside and outside the tourism and hospitality communities, has published a plan that, by 2020, will place the city firmly amongst the high performing EU destinations and high up on the esteemed ICCA rankings. Meanwhile, the public entities have been getting on with the job and creating some great niche positioning. The Dublin Now Project sets out to connect savvy GenY travellers – labelled “social energisers” by the marketers  – with the rapidly evolving new destination experiences available in the capital.


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.56.37Failte Ireland, Ireland’s National Tourism Development Authority, has done a great job at bringing together a plethora of businesses, initiatives and projects not usually categorised under “tourism and hospitality” and aggregating their work and activity as innovative tourism product aimed at a digitally aware and culturally discerning visitor. These visitors are “un-tourists” who will always seek to go behind the scenes, to live like a local, to uncover authentic experiences that may even be raw and edgy.


The principles behind the Dublin Now Project were much in evidence at the #LoveDublin event at the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre this week when Fáilte Ireland facilitated a networking opportunity for 250 overseas tour operators and the same number of local trade. The period facility, dating from the 1730s and now home to 40 shops, bars and restaurants, provided the perfect backdrop for an informal night of truly amazing food and drink, courtesy of Pygmalion, while showcasing a broad spectrum of Dublin’s artistic and cultural delights.


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 15.04.56It was an event of astonishing artistic contrasts – the stunning neo-classical facade juxtaposed by the equally stunning DJ Mo Kelly and her dazzling decks, the intricate ceilings by eighteenth century stuccadore extraordinaire Michael Stapleton and the contemporary jingle jangle of alt-folk combo, The Young Folk. Many of the stores and ateliers remained open so this culturally curious audience could forage and explore, discovering, perhaps, Louise Rawlins magnificent Irish Couture or the delectable Spirit of Dublin, an intriguing new artisan whiskey from Teelings.

Be Live and Be On-Line

These days good destination marketing projects need to be live like #LoveDublin but also on-line like a recent, highly innovative campaign from Iceland called “Iceland wants to be your friend”.  Outsourced to digital media agency Takk Takk by the Icelandic National Tourist Office, this digital campaign operates off the URL and across Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Vimeo and a blog site. It’s an utterly charming, entirely compelling campaign that tells the story of a country in a child-like voice that’s engaging, funny, quirky and mildy eccentric – a bit like Iceland, maybe?!

Disarming Simplicity

Despite the disarming simplicity of the brand personality in this campaign, the campaign successfully positions Iceland as an accessible, friendly but ultimately highly motivational and desirable destination with reassuringly upscale features. This is what you see on the home page:

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When you insert you details you quickly receive this follow up communication:

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No Shouty Hyperbole

There’s a beautiful downbeat humility about the copy that cannot but draw a smile while, simultaneously and siren-like, drawing you effortlessly into the destination and insinuating it positively in your heart and mind. What an amazingly disruptive campaign when compared with the shouty hyperbole that most destinations opt for. It’s no surprise that this campaign was recently awarded at the Social Media Tourism Symposium in Finland.

The rich depths of the campaign emerge where you scoot around the other social platforms. Vimeo, for example, is a veritable treasure trove of user generated video content of travel experiences in Iceland while the Blog presents posting categorises according to people and places.

The homepage for the Iceland campaign is here but you should also check out Takk Takk the nice people who created the campaign. They’re here.

For Dublin Now our friends at Fáilte Ireland have created an amazing archive of incredible material. Check it out here

Pádraic Gilligan is Managing Partner of SoolNua, a boutique consultancy working with destinations and enterprises on MICE related marketing and training.









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