Chambao 'Ahí estás tú' - 'Andalucía te quiere' ad, a classical of emotional connection.


I have had my doubts about the value of advertising Mallorca and Balearic tourism. Not promotion in general, but specific advertising of the type that once upon a time used to fill the Boxing Day ad gaps between the horse racing or the ‘On the Buses Christmas Special’. Those were the days. When holiday publicity meant Fred Pontin coming out of a TV screen with his advice to “book early” and brochures the size of the telephone directory. It was all you had to go on.

The means of destination publicity are so great nowadays that the conventional approach of an advert seems old hat. The target markets are so much more diverse, while consumer habits in terms of how information is sought and received are totally alien to a holiday business which for 1970s Mallorca ploughed most of its efforts into advertising to a British television-viewing audience. The UK was then the biggest and most important market, and if the ads weren’t enough, there was always the amenable relationship between TV shows and local tourism authorities. When ITV’s ‘Wish You Were Here...?’ launched in January 1974, where was Judith Chalmers on a pedalo and with a glass of champagne? Where else? Magalluf.

But I am willing to accept that my doubts are misplaced. There is plenty of evidence that supports the tourism ad. An example of how a region can be successful comes from the States. In North Dakota, a campaign under the title of ‘Legendary’ was shown to not only have generated a return of 100 dollars visitors’ spend for every dollar spent on advertising, it also created a halo effect which went way beyond tourism. A place to live, a place to start a career, a place to start a business, a place to attend college, a place to purchase a second home, a place to retire - all benefited from that tourism advertising campaign.

I recognise that North Dakota is not exactly Mallorca. But the article which explained the benefits - from Forbes in the US - referred to a “successful branding statement connecting the state to potential travellers in an emotional and authentic manner”. It was the emotional tag that made this all sound more relevant, and that’s because emotions can be so powerful in the advertising of destinations and brands.

In 2011, Thomson produced an ad, ‘Time for a Holiday’, that was pure emotion, a masterpiece of tugging the holiday heart strings. But it was for Thomson as opposed to a place. Can you emotionally invest in a tour operator? Maybe you can. Thomson (aka TUI) will know one way or the other. When it comes to a destination, this emotional connection seems far more likely, and it has been proven to be the case.

Rafael Nadal was Mallorca's tourist ambassador in the summer of 2020 to attract visitors
Rafael Nadal's ad wasn't terribly inspiring

For Mallorca there has been a general absence of advertising for some years. The financial crisis led to an axe being taken to the general tourism promotion budget. Apart from an effort with Rafael Nadal on a yacht - all a bit predictable and uninspired - there hasn’t been anything obvious. When the axe was taken and a limited budget was for a focus on trade fairs, did this have any discernible negative impact? Nope.

The Partido Popular tourism minister at the time, Carlos Delgado, was more or less of the view that advertising didn’t matter. He was probably right, and this was before destinations were being subject to the full force of Instagram, of wannabe influencers, of YouTubers and TikTokers.

However, leaving promotion to a largely informal network isn’t necessarily the best approach when there is a need to take control of the messaging. There are destinations which come up with some remarkable ads. Take Andalusia, for instance. Its ‘Andalusian Crush’ ad, replete with ‘Game of Thrones’ influences and actor - Peter Dinklage - is brilliant. Yet for all its outstanding qualities, does it grab the emotions in the way that a previous ad did? ‘Ahí estás tú’, a fantastic song by flamenco-fusion band Chambao, was accompanied by a series of images of Andalusia. The song was loaded with emotion, so was the ad. It was sensational.

Andalusia likes to take control, but Andalusia doesn’t have a specific message to get across. Mallorca and the Balearics do, and it is one that demands a connection, a strong emotional connection, for the islands are making a plea for responsibility.

For me, I’m sorry but inviting visitors to make a pledge in signing up to a responsible tourism manifesto doesn’t do it. It isn’t a means of creating genuine engagement, the vital emotional connection that is necessary to press home this responsibility. In the same way as the tourist tax failed to be supported by engagement when it was introduced and subsequently relied on tedious short website reports about water cycle projects, this could end up going a similarly mechanistic way.

Being responsible means being emotional. Powerful messaging is required, and the right sort of ad can convey this with far greater intensity than words on a website. If Andalusia can spend 38 million euros on a remarkable ad campaign, the Balearics can do likewise.