Manitoba's $1.45-billion tourism industry has a new slogan, a new swagger and a new plan for targeting travellers from both near and far.
Travel Manitoba launched a new marketing campaign Thursday that capitalizes on Manitoba's location in the heart of Canada, the warmth of its people and the vast variety of cultural and outdoor experiences available here, many of which are unique to the province.
"We're launching a new tourism brand that we're confident will inspire a sense of awe in our target audiences and pride in the hearts of all Manitobans," the organization's president and CEO, Colin Ferguson, told the campaign launch at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.
The tourism industry's new catchphrase is "Manitoba: Canada's Heart Beats."
Travel Manitoba hired local advertising firm McKim Cringan George to come up with the new $2.4-million campaign, which will see the province's attractions showcased in television ads during the Winter Olympics, in-flight videos on international flights and through social media.
The promotional campaign will appear in the new year. It will coincide with the opening in 2014 of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the completion of the Journey to Churchill exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo and what's expected to be a banner year in Manitoba's music industry.
Ferguson said the advertising and marketing strategy is based on extensive research and focus-group testing. Its key target markets are Alberta, northwestern Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Secondary markets include the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, with emerging markets in France and China.
The organization is so pumped by its new campaign it believes it can leap to fifth (from seventh) place among provinces as a place where tourists park their cash by 2020.
Four television ads have been produced so far, in each of Canada's official languages. They highlight Winnipeg attractions, the province's natural beauty, its polar bears and cultural activities.
"So far, the reaction has been euphoric. People love it," said Ferguson. He said the new ads compare well with the successful ones touting Newfoundland as a tourism destination.
A promotional video showcasing the ads and the thinking behind them received enthusiastic applause at Thursday's launch from business people and those representing a broad range of tourist destinations.
Chuck Davidson, president of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, said the tourism industry now has a clear brand and a clear direction that will attract investment. "I think it's awesome," he said.
Angela Cassie, director of communications and external relations with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, said the new campaign is based on solid research and the types of tourists it is targeting "align with everything the museum has to offer."
Paul Turenne, executive director of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association, said the new slogan "hits the mark."
"The brand is very professionally produced. It looks good," he said, adding he hopes the province would boost its investment in tourism in light of the promising new campaign and the industry's importance to the economy.
Filmmaker Lisa Meeches, executive director of the Manito Ahbee Festival, which celebrates indigenous culture, said the new slogan and advertising are "quite reflective of everybody in this province."
Does the slogan Manitoba: Canada’s Heart Beats really sell the province? Join the conversation in the comments below.