Bahamas Pushes ‘Island Hopping’ in First Fallon Ads

Publicis Groupe’s Fallon touts the Bahamas as a nation of islands—rather than an island nation—in its first work for the Caribbean country’s Ministry of Tourism, which aims to show that the destination has something to offer for everyone.

“People think of them as one or two islands, but actually they’re about 700 islands, which sets them apart [from other destinations],” said Todd Riddle, group creative director at the Minneapolis agency.

Fallon’s five-month, $10 million effort launches this week with TV spots on national cable networks, print and outdoor, as well as a redesigned Web site. The work introduces the theme “Island hopping” for the Bahamas, which, like the rest of the region, suffered a drop in tourism last year. The Bahamas slid about 6 percent, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

In the spots, a traveler—via fanciful special effects—jumps from island to island, engaging in activities such as swimming with dolphins, exploring ruins, and talking with locals in cities and remote locales. The idea is to stand out from the typical sun-and-sand advertising of other Caribbean destinations, Riddle said.

“The same way that Hawaii has island- hopping, in many respects that is what we are doing,” said Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, the director general of the Ministry of Tourism. “We want to get people to look at the Bahamas again and again.”

TV and print ads direct viewers to a Web site that provides information on the country, 360-degree views of noted sights and interviews with locals. Users also can plan trips on the site.

Fallon subsidiary Duffy Design in Minneapolis created a colorful logo that shows the Bahamas archipelago. The logo, a significant part of the agency’s pitch last December, will appear in all communications.

Previous Bahamas advertising was of the more typical fun-in-the-sun variety. The nation had worked with Bozell in New York and Irma S. Mann in Boston.

The dip in Caribbean tourism has led several islands to refocus on advertising. Barbados and Bermuda launched efforts in January from ISM in Boston and Arnold in New York, respectively. Jamaica is reviewing its $10 million tourism account. The region spent $80 million on ads in 2002, nearly twice as much as in 2001, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Tourism makes up about 60 percent of the Bahamas’ gross domestic product, Vanderpool-Wallace said. Visits from January through August were up 2 percent, reflecting an overall trend following the post 9-11 downturn, said James Cammisa, travel analyst and editor of the newsletter Travel Industry Indicators.

“Investing advertising dollars in a new campaign when you have this kind of tail wind working for you makes a lot of sense,” Cammisa said.