Rethink, Bowen Island Want You to ‘Tell Your Friends It’s Awful Here’

By Erik Oster 

Vancouver-based agency Rethink launched a tongue-in-cheek “Tell Your Friends It’s Awful Here” tourism campaign for Bowen Island in British Columbia.

Basically, the idea is that while they’d be happy to have you visit, Bowen Island’s draw is its unspoiled natural beauty, so, you know, don’t go blabbing to everyone about how great it is. In fact, tell them it’s awful.

A series of minimalist animated spots communicate the idea from the point-of-view of a deer, eagle, seal and slug mascot. The ads delivered by the deer and eagle stick to the message summed up by the tagline. As the deer explains, “Of course it’s not actually awful, but we don’t want this little piece of paradise overrun by humans.” The slug and seal spots, meanwhile, stick to extolling the virtues of the island, with does of goofy animal humor thrown in.

The campaign also includes a series of print ads which talk up Bowen Island’s dining options or scenic outdoors before delivering the “Tell Your Friends It’s Awful Here” tagline.

“We love to show off our island, but we don’t want it to be overrun with tourists,” Rethink founder and Bowen resident Chris Staples explained to AdFreak. “We want visitors, but only if they really ‘get’ what makes Bowen special.”

“The last thing anyone wanted was a traditional marketing campaign,” added Gordon Ganong, chair of the Economic Development Committee. “Residents and business owners are very proud of this place and more than a little protective. They wanted a community brand that welcomed people, but in a very quirky, slightly defiant way.” bowen-island-6bowen-island-5