Teaming with the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, Cape Town Tourism invited Facebook users to send their virtual profiles on a “holiday” to Cape Town.
Based on users’ answers to various questions, their Facebook profiles could then experience customized itineraries in the South African city, with the players receiving regular illustrated updates on how their profiles were spending their virtual time seeing the sights and perhaps relaxing at the beach.
Those enrolled in the game — more than 8,000 players in all, who hailed from South Africa, the UK, the U.S., Canada, India, Germany and elsewhere — could share their virtual experiences and invite their Facebook friends to play as well.
The interactive campaign resulted in an estimated half million total impressions on Facebook — which, not incidentally, is a hugely popular site among baby boomer travelers.
All those players, and thousands of other Facebook users who followed along, are now prospective Cape Town visitors. And the savvy marketers at Cape Town Tourism have contact information for all those who signed up. You can bet they’ll follow up with these folks, offering further enticements for visiting their city.
It wasn’t all fantasy — three players won real trips to Cape Town (where, presumably, they could reunite with their profiles) and take in the sights in the flesh. Besides relaxing at the beach, activities could include visiting nature preserves (including a penguin colony), touring Cape Town’s diverse neighborhoods, having a look at Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) and riding a cable car or hiking up Table Mountain, which overlooks the city. (Find more activities here.)
I’ve only seen Table Mountain and Cape Town from the inside of an airplane, while landing at the airport there, but the sheer beauty of the place has remained seared in my memory for years. It’s high on my list as a destination to explore off the tarmac.
But Cape Town’s attractions aren’t that widely known outside South Africa, and the city can use a boost to its own public profile around the world. Wide-reaching, fast-moving, highly interactive — and relatively inexpensive — digital campaigns like this can certainly help do just that.
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