Destination Marketing: Tapping Into Desire

Much of what we do in advertising is based on desire. And when it comes to selling a destination, it’s all desire. Not “like,” “hope” or “want,” but desire. It is need plus passion, times longing. You know… Desire.

And often, it doesn’t take much to tempt the power of desire.

A co-worker of mine used to say that laundry detergent and tourism were very much alike. Laundry detergent commercials tried and true vehicle has always been the side-by-side comparisons of dirty shirt versus dirty shirt. See how Soap A got the shirt cleaner than Soap B. From time to time they diverge from the program and get more conceptual or lean on lifestyle, but they always return to the side-by-side comparison.

Likewise with tourism.

Tourism’s tried and true vehicle has always been pretty pictures. Gorgeous footage, beautiful photographs or more experiential communications have been the bread and butter of the industry. And sometimes that’s all it takes. For years, the “Pure Michigan” campaign has positioned that state as a beautiful place – scenic, magical, pure – just by showing off what’s there. That and the eloquent script is all they need.

It’s this simple formula that is making me want to be a drug addict.

On a regular basis, I see Pax Prentiss sitting on a beautiful couch, tempting me to get clean at Passages Malibu. And I gotta say, it looks amazing. Passages Malibu – and Passages Ventura – are rehabilitation facilities founded by father and son, Chris and Pax Prentiss. And this holistic paradise is more upscale vacation spot than medical facility. And neither Chris nor Pax are doctors. Pax was a heroin addict who was helped out of addiction by Chris years ago. That experience inspired the duo to help others.

But they have smartly marketed their passion and built an empire. And how do they do it? They’ve made it a gorgeous destination. And yes, the business of controlling addiction is very serious, and, of course, I don’t really want to be an addict. But the experience seems so relaxing, caring and over-the-top wonderful, it triggers the desire to visit.

It’s a powerful feeling that is helping people. The same powerful feeling that makes a trip to Ireland, Costa Rica or India something beyond want. And all you have to do is share the beauty. Share the desire.