Pop Culture Marketing in Tourism
These days, pop culture rules the world -- particularly when it comes to marketing. And the travel industry is no exception. Pop culture tourism is officially a thing. From 50 Shades of Grey hotel packages to Game of Thrones tours, the smartest brands and destinations are capitalizing on hot pop culture trends to attract travelers and earn media attention. Here, we look at some of the best and brightest tourism campaigns, the savviest brands and the smartest ways to take advantage of the trends.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pop Culture Marketing in Tourism
Pop Culture Marketing: How to Maximize the
Hottest Trends for Your Destination
What You Need to Know
• What is pop culture marketing? How does it play into
– Pop culture marketing through the decades
• How you can jump on the proverbial bandwagon, even if
you‟re not a filming locale (yet!)
• How destinations can create pop culture ties via social
– Best ways to stay savvy – pop culture tracking and
• Case studies – Gatsby, 50 Shades of Grey and Game of
• Brainstorming – what assets of your destination can
you sell to trend-savvy tourists?
What is Pop Culture
These days, pop culture is everything. And with the advent of social
media, trends are spreading quicker than ever, inspiring consumer
behavior and big-time spending in the blink of an eye. But pop culture
and marketing going hand in hand is not a new phenomenon. For
decades good advertising has influenced society and vice versa, and
that‟s a bandwagon you want to jump on!
As a brand and a destination, it‟s to your benefit to stay on top of what‟s
hot. By capitalizing on trends and patterns in media and entertainment,
you can up your city‟s numbers and put those proverbial heads in beds.
From Game of Thrones-inspired tours to Breaking Bad souvenirs to
Great Gatsby parties, destinations are raking in the visitors and the
cash. Next up – you!
Visitors Use Social Media to
Make Travel Decisions
• 76% of travelers worldwide use travel review sites to
plan their trip
• 48% of travelers worldwide listen to family and friends
for advice on trip planning
• 93% of travelers worldwide say booking decisions are
impacted by online reviews
(*Source: Trip Advisor Trip Barometer study 2013)
Social Media is Going Visual
• With the rise of Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and other
visual, photo and video-heavy mediums, imagery is the
wave of the future.
• Brands score big by utilizing visuals – particularly
40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.
Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than
those who don't. (Source: AnsonAlex)
Visual content drives engagement. One month after the introduction of
Facebook timeline for brands, visual content (photos and videos) saw a 65%
increase in engagement. (Source: Simply Measured)
Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than
Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. (Source: Shareaholic)
85% of the US internet audience watches videos online. (Source: comScore)
Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product
video. (Source: Internet Retailer)
44% of social media users are more likely to engage with a brand or a
product if they post a picture. (Source: ROI Research)
Why do people love images? What makes a powerful image?
Case Study - Cavendish Hotel London – Vine
• This hotel was an early
adopter of the Vine video
platform and launched a
Valentine‟s Day contest
asking users to submit
romantic vids via the
• Winner scored an uberromantic package for the
They received all kinds of creative submissions –
plus press mentions galore
How can your
video in an
Case Study – Texas Tourism
Travelin’ Texas Board
• This statewide CVB created a board as a
community effort with city CVBs.
• By collaborating, each CVB‟s Pinterest
account is able to gain additional exposure
by adding to the robust (and extremely
popular) shared board.
• The board has 10,410 followers, and is a
group effort between more than 15 CVBs,
and many of the pins receive 30+ repins.
Their pins are popular, with some being
repinned 70+ times
How can your
Killing It With
Tourism Australia - Instagram
More than 151,000 followers
• Their photos are breathtaking, and
showcase a whole host of assets across the
destination. They are obviously frequently
out and about taking shots – as well as reInstagramming images from other users.
• Many images receive 10,000+ likes and
hundreds of comments.
• They actively utilize hashtags and
frequently mention other Instagrammers.
Visit Savannah - Pinterest
25,000+ Followers and Lots of
• They have 43 boards, and it‟s obvious that a lot of
time and energy goes into their cultivation.
• Most boards are shared efforts, and for some they
actively accept requests from individuals and
organizations to share in the pinning.
• Their pins are creative, and they‟re not afraid to
get a little off topic or find unique twists on
Savannah culture, from a Paula Deen board to a
running board to a board dedicated to doors.
• They utilize a distinctive and friendly voice – and
that goes for all of their social media platforms.
Explore Georgia - Vine
Showcasing the State
• They‟ve hosted contests. For example, they
just held a “Homegrown With a Twist” video
contest, where they solicited videos
demonstrating what people love about
• They showcase different assets, from
sunflower picking to museum exhibits to
• They highlight stakeholders and mention
them by name via their social media handles.
Anatomy of a Meme
• Memes are a way of
experiences and cultural
norms – primarily
• Memes can be images,
• Memes can also be
• Memes can be created by
companies or come about
organically – the key is
harnessing something the
public can relate to.
• What makes a meme
or video go viral?
Successful Meme Examples
Funny Meme: Dos Equis
creates Most Interesting Man
in the World character – he
goes viral as a meme and
brings additional attention to
Viral Video: Couple sings amazing
karaoke on Jay Leno‟s Pumpcast segment
– video goes viral, couple makes the
rounds on national TV. Turns out they‟re
actors, but that doesn‟t take away from
the video‟s success.
Successful Meme Examples
Broad topical meme: “said
nobody ever” memes are
widespread and can
repurposed across a whole
host of topics
Beautiful imagery/quote meme: By
picturesque image with a meaningful
quote, these memes are perfect for
showcasing a destination or location
Pop Culture Marketing
Through the Decades
Since the advent of advertising, companies have
managed to launch memorable campaigns that
become an integral part of pop culture in their own
These slogans and campaigns became a part of the
lexicon – both influencing and being influenced by
The good news? Nowadays, memes can
accomplish the same thing without the
necessity of spending millions on an ad
Diamonds Are Forever
• Frances Gerety wrote "A Diamond Is Forever" for
an advertising campaign for De Beers in 1947, and
wrote all of the company's ads for 25 years.
• “Diamonds Are Forever” was such a ubiquitous
phrase it became the name of a James Bond flick.
Where’s the Beef?
• Where‟s the Beef?” was so popular the
little old lady from the commercial
recorded a single.
• “Pardon Me, But Do You Have any Grey
Poupon?” was famously parodied in
• The “Got Milk?” campaign has featured
every major celebrity known to man and
spawned countless spinoffs/copycats .
What’s your favorite ad slogan or campaign
ever? How have you seen it influence pop culture
or vice versa?
No Films? No Worries.
• When it comes to tourism, pop culture marketing
often piggybacks on a destination where a film, TV
show or book was set. But even if you‟re not lucky
enough to have the latest Hollywood blockbuster
set up shop in your city, there are plenty of
• You can utilize pop culture trends to promote
various aspects of your destination – and show the
world how your city, state or county is the new
hotness. This requires getting creative – but you‟re
creative geniuses – you can do it!
Work with Film Commission
• Communicate with the State Film Office:
– Work with the State Film Commission by
being "film friendly" - take a proactive stance
towards encouraging filming.
– Develop relationships with the major film
studios, international and local PR companies
and advertising agencies.
The Boom of Pop Culture
• Vampires & Zombies
– Vampires and zombies
inspired millions of travelers
to cure their blood lust by
retracing the steps of popular
• Twihards invaded the tiny town
of Forks, Washington.
• True Blood fans visit Shreveport,
located near the fictional
Louisiana town of Bon Temps.
• Fans of AMC's Walking Dead
and the movie "Zombieland"
searched for the undead in
Coweta County Tourism
“The Walking Dead”
In March, the AMC show “The Walking Dead” aired its episode titled “Clear,”
which was filmed entirely in Grantville. The locations included in the episode
were the Mayor‟s home and the historic freight depot.
The freight depot was transformed into the King County Cafe. Throughout
the episode, viewers could also see some of the unique buildings located in
Grantville, including the roofless ruins of the city‟s former cotton mill.
Since that episode aired, tourists from other states and even other countries
have traveled to Grantville to see sites featured in the “Clear” episode.
In response, the Mayor has been offering free tours for those traveling to
Grantville to see the locations from the show.
According to the Mayor, the tours and the people they are bringing into
Grantville have already attracted two new businesses and created other jobs
in the city.
Pop Culture Vacations
• Duck Dynasty (before their recent
controversy) wasn‟t just bringing high
ratings to A&E, the show was also
bringing tourists to West Monroe,
Louisiana where the Robertson family
lives and films their reality series.
• To make things easier for those tracking
down the Robertson‟s local hangouts, the
tourism board has created the “Official
Duck Commander Hometown Tour.”
• The tour includes an online brochure
with 26 locations featured on the show,
including the Duck Commander Store
and Warehouse, Haskell‟s Donuts,
Debbie‟s Snowballs, and Danken Trail.
Keeping Track of Trends
To utilize pop culture trends, you have to be in the
Be social media savvy.
Follow top influencers on Facebook, Twitter
and Instagram to see what they‟re talking
about. This is KEY.
To attract the public‟s interest, you have to
know what the public is talking about.
1. Know the hottest movies, books and TV
shows at any given time – and have your
team brainstorm weekly ideas
surrounding them – hotel specials,
destination-wide watch parties, themed
FAM tours, etc.
2. Find creative ways to newsjack, or jump
on the bandwagon of a new trend or topic.
Real time marketing is an excellent way to
– For example, during the season finale of a
popular show, you could create a real-time
meme that ties together your destination and
the show‟s plot. People love to see witty, off
the cuff marketing efforts.
3. Wrap a deal or campaign around a pop
culture trend or occasion.
– For example, if a popular show is airing its
finale, announce that you‟ll offer a special deal
or package IF something specific happens, IE,
a character dies, gets arrested, etc.
4. Create themed content for your blog,
website and social media that is in keeping
with current trends.
– For instance, you could create a list of ways to
make easy Halloween costumes of your
favorite characters in Orange Is the New Black
for a local party, etc.
Case Study #1: Gatsby in
• The Great Gatsby is an iconic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald – and it‟s
old. But, a new Hollywood version starring Leo DiCaprio was
released this year, which led to a huge influx of interest in flapper
• While the film drew tourists to the filming locations, the site of
Fitzgerald‟s grave and other Gatsby-relics from Australia to Long
Island, it also gave destinations a chance to host themed
parties, events and soirees to get in on the action.
Case Study #2: 50 Shades of Grey
• Everyone‟s favorite S&M romance novel spurred a
ton of tourism – both for the location of the novels
(Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington) and
for hotels in other areas who jumped on the pop
culture trend and began coming up with catchy
• From the Personality Hotel chain in San Fran and
beyond to the Heathmann Hotel in Portland,
smart accommodations have been offering options
for couples titillated by the books.
Case Study #3: Game of
• While the locale for this popular HBO
show is fictional, Northern Ireland has
been used as a filming location – and
they‟re taking full advantage.
• The tourism board has been luring visitors
via a filming locations guide and other
A Few Other Tourism
Examples We Dig
creative with a
culture tie in!
Philly references a hugely popular MTV show
and ties it back to their cultural offerings – even
though the show has nothing to do with Philly.
sends an open
letter to the
cast after a notso-hot reference
made on the
way to turn a
Stay Savvy, Be Creative
In the end, pop culture marketing is all
about thinking outside the proverbial box –
coming up with creative ideas based on
common themes and widespread trends,
and real-time reactions.
Be quick, stay savvy and get those creative
• You can always give us a shout – we‟re chock
full of „em!
• (Smoke signals work, too)