Adelaide L!VE - Tourism Tasmania's ex-CMO on what makes good destination marketing

By Ruby Derrick | 12 April 2024
Emma Terry on stage at AdNews Adelaide L!VE.

Tourism is a real catalyst for change - often the first contact point before someone engages with the destination, South Australian Tourism Commission CEO Emma Terry said on stage at AdNews Adelaide L!VE.

Destination marketing should be about place and culture, the ex-Tourism Tasmania CMO said. Great marketing often throws away the playbook and challenges a category norm.

"We're within this case of 'my beach is better than your beach'. When you're doing the domestic marketing that might be true internationally, but domestically, these are all different beaches from all different states across Australia.

"But you've got to get to the story behind the beach because we've got so many opportunities in so many beaches everywhere."

Great marketing has a different angle that really sticks in people's minds, she said.

"You've got to do what's right for the brand. If the brand happens to be disruptive, be disruptive. If it's not, don't be. If it requires a montage, do the montage… as long as it speaks to who you are and you've got a deep understanding of it.

"South Australia is very different to Tasmania, it's not trying to be a cookie-cutter. It's once again those philosophies; how you see marketing, how you see the world and how you see tourism that are at play here."

Terry led the Come Down For Air platform when she was CMO of the organisation.

"This was a piece of work that was about being true to who Tasmania is. Tasmania sees themselves as Tasmanians before they see themselves as Australians. You've got to pick up on that cultural piece. They gave us permission to play in this space; it was their stories and their point of view of the world that led to Come Down For Air," she said.

In developing the brand platform, Terry says originally, the concept was very passive and much more about the open spaces and the peace and serenity, with a Tasmanian character being so critical to that.

"The actual poetry within it was just as fundamental to give you the sense of the place of Tasmania and the character of Tasmania as well," she said.

Keeping with the point-of-view philosophies, Tourism Tasmania's platform spoke as much to Tasmanians as it did for its audiences elsewhere, said Terry.

"That campaign has helped with state pride visitation, which showed the links between brand creativity and place and then how those actually lead to outcomes.

"This work amplified what Tasmania was doing and what it was trying to achieve at the time. That's what good destination marketing can do."

With the more recent Off Season platform for Tourism Tasmania, Terry says that because Tasmanians love to get out and about in winter, the team leant into that notion, instead of trying to convince people that it wasn't cold.

"What we're trying to do is take us out of the category. Instead of trying to go with red wine by the fire, or 'escape summer', let's just lean in and play to that because it feels right for Tasmania and the brand as well. So that's what we did. And the team is still doing it."

This is then an opportunity to bring about its place and the story for South Australians

For the South Australian Tourism Commission, which supports the AFL 'Gather Round', Terry said it's very South Australian in the sense of people coming together and enjoying a great time.

"We have an opportunity from a destination marketing perspective to build on that momentum and storytelling and deliver those broader benefits for South Australia," she said.

"Destination marketing is often that first contact point. But we need to build those strong, enduring foundations first and dig deeper beneath the functional."

It starts with understanding SA's distinct culture, agenda and story. This has to come first, before any work, said Terry.

"You don't use the same methodologies that you would use in product marketing. It's a real journey for marketers, particularly experienced marketers to flip their mind from what they're used to seeing, like brand pyramids and focus group outputs, to something a lot more messier and complex.

"It's themed and it's nuanced and you have to work really hard to get to the core of it, which is more place branding techniques."

That's a discipline in its own right, says Terry. After the work with audience pieces, then comes the work on a long-term destination brand platform for the state, she said.

"One that endures, that you can build on over time. One that industries can use and tell their story within and one where every region can also share their story.

"When you've done the deep work, you'll see that it doesn't matter if you're from Port Lincoln or Mount Gambier or Coober Pedy;  there's a story that connects everybody, and everyone can connect into that story, which strengthens the voice as well."

The result, said Terry, is a destination brand that reflects the character and philosophy, as well as the place.

"We want the beautiful beaches and nature underpinned by that deeper story of the state, with the South Australian point of view on the world that we want to bring to life," she said.

The brand is already valid and the story's already there.

"It just needs distilling and bringing together. It will exist beyond any marketing construct - because it's actually already there, we just need people to gain a better understanding of it," she said.

#L!VE Adelaide is powered by co-curators AADC, AMC. Supporting partners NINE, Quantcast and Foxtel Media. And associate partners TorchMedia.

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