BBDO Takes ‘Path Less Traveled’

BBDO seeks adventurous travelers in its first television campaign for the Panama Tourism Bureau.

Three 30-second spots breaking to-morrow under the tagline, “Panama, the path less traveled,” are aimed at what Dave Stanton, senior vice president and group creative director at BBDO, called “travel pioneers.”

The campaign, Stanton said, is based on the strategy presented last year when the Atlanta agency, a unit of Omnicom, won the estimated $10 million account.

“No one knew what Panama was other than [Manuel] Noriega and the [Panama] Canal,” said Stanton. “We identified the pioneer as the person most open to what Panama has to offer.

The media buy, limited to Animal Planet, National Geographic and Outdoor Life Network cable TV fare, mirrors that thinking.

Print, launched earlier this year in Smithsonian, Natural History, Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine and trade publications Recommend Magazine and Travel Agent target high-income adventurers, bird-watchers and “eco-tourists.”

“It’s a mind-set, not a demographic,” said Stanton. “Panama is for someone who wants a story to tell.”

The commercials, directed by Patrick Solomon of Fusionfilms in Los Angeles, focus on young travelers finding adventures along the way. “Each spot takes you on a journey where you’re not quite sure where you are,” said Stanton.

“In “Casco Viejo” (“Old City”), a tourist is diverted from his path when a boy chasing a soccer ball runs in front of his taxi. It soon does not matter where the man was heading because he ends up in a pick-up game in the city’s oldest courtyard. A voiceover provides a counterpoint: “Right now a couple in matching T-shirts is taking a picture of a monument through the tinted glass of a tour bus window.”

Stanton said he and senior copywriter Carlos Ricque simplified the narration to work on different levels. “The visual is so big and simple that the tone in the voiceover made the spots look like more than a pretty hike,” Stanton said.

“Chiriqui” follows a tourist group traveling into a pristine rain forest. The voiceover: “In the distant parking lot the driver of a crowded tram is asking people to remember that they’re parked in Flippy, Row 17.”