Last weekend I was privileged to contribute to the Human Brochure – a world first initiative by Australian Capital Tourism to promote the nation’s capital city, Canberra.
When I told my friends that I was going down to Canberra for the weekend, they invariably asked: “Why..?”
You see, Canberra has a reputation among Australians as being boring. As the home of yawners such as Parliament and the High Court, Canberra is associated with porky politicians and pompous legal types.
Paradoxically, Canberra is also notorious well-known for its sale of X-rated erotica, its decriminalisation of cannabis, and its availability of pyrotechnics. Yep, our very own Amsterdam.
But like most places where people haven’t actually been, its reputation is about 20 years out of date.
And the Human Brochure set out to prove it.
The idea of the Human Brochure was to invite 250 social media-savvy people to Canberra; feed them; shelter them; and cart them around to several major tourist attractions. In return, we were asked to “spread the word online” about “all the great things” we got up to.
I joined the Arts & Culture stream. We were treated to national treasures such as the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and Canberra Glassworks – not to mention lunch at Two Before Ten, dinner at Mezzalira and z’s at the Diamant Hotel.
That may sound excessive (and yes, we were spoiled out of our minds) but it all boils down to how much you value word-of-mouth marketing. The point of the exercise was for us to share our thoughts, opinions and experiences with our followers on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
Sure, Australian Capital Tourism could have pumped the money into yet another traditional advertising campaign, but we all know how they’ve been tracking. Instead, they tapped into the power of personal influence.
Here are a few of my tweets…
I was mindful not to sound like an over zealous salesman. I endeavoured to present only genuine thoughts and share only real experiences. Luckily that was easy to do because I thoroughly enjoyed just about everything!
I did provide some constructive feedback to the National Museum (it conspicuously omits Parramatta, one of Australia’s most important historical places), and I suggested the NFSA play more of its precious footage to visitors (they have since pointed me to their excellent YouTube channel).
But miniscule gripes aside, I expect the Human Brochure will prove to be a roaring success. Not only was the glory of Canberra amplified throughout the social media metasphere, but the initiative itself was the subject of interstate media attention.
Time will tell whether ROI is achieved. My prediction is that other tourism boards will copy the Human Brochure concept, and that will be the ultimate endorsement.
Regardless, I can say hand on heart, I had a wonderful time in Canberra.
Even without the porn, weed and fireworks.