Sunday, 16 August 2009

If the Face Fits

Who is the face of North West tourism? And who would make the best brand ambassador to encourage tourism to the region?

I ask the question because the North West Regional Development Agency is seeking to recruit two "high profile faces" as part of a new PR push to raise awareness of the region as a short-break destination this autumn.

Currently, Radio 2 presenter, author and professional Wiganite, Stuart Maconie is handling the task of fronting the campaign.

Maconie lives in Birmingham, although he spends much of his free time in Cumbria.

The micro site, Stuart's Stories has presented travel diary-style pieces that also ran as press advertorials, and a series of podcasts narrated by Maconie to download to your iPod.

It is reported that the campaign has to date produced up to £7.5m worth of coverage, reaching an estimated audience of 15m people.

And, to be fair, he does make an engaging case. I've downloaded a couple of the podcasts myself and have at home a copy of Short Stories for Short Breaks, the accompanying booklet.

But the quest is now on for "high profile brand advocates to create interest and credibility."

The new campaign is set to run from September to the end of the year, with an option to extend it through into 2010.

Writing for How Do, the Northwest media website, Russell Craig, Group Head of External Communications, Manchester Airports Group, suggests:

"... some more renowned North West luminaries such as Albert Finney, Ted Robbins, Victoria Wood or my personal vote - Glossop's favourite son and national porn baron, Paul Raymond."

Who do you think? Ken Barlow from Corrie? The drummer from ill-fated Chester indie band Mansun? Post-Big Brother Terry Christian.

Or should we just give Mark E Smith from The Fall the gig and stand by for an autumn of shambolic ramblings, fisticuffs with journalists and a bust up resulting in Smith sacking the whole band.

I'm making light of light, but there is a serious point here. Cynical as I am about any personality-driven pieces in the newspaper travel sections (not Chris Tarrant goes wild salmon fishing in Canada again, please!), I can see the value of a 'face' in this instance.

By giving the editorial a personal, first-person slant from somebody who commands respect due to profile, expertise, or the ability to express themselves in an informative and entertaining, or ideally all three, it does lend gravitas to the campaign.

After all, readers always relate better to editorial that feels like a mate telling them a story down the pub, rather than a big-money corporate behemoth ramming the message down their throat. At least I do.

So, suggestions then.

Post them below and I'll put them on air on City Talk Breakfast with Duncan Barkes this Tuesday at 7.45am.

1 comment:

  1. I don't like celebs fronting travel, myself. I think I'm unusual about this, though. The problem is that the celeb is associated with a particular type of programme. If I don't like the programme why should I care what the celeb thinks?

    However, I know that I'm in a minority here. So I would say if you're looking for a celeb, go for the one who has the widest exposure, and who most people are likely to recognise. You won't please everyone, but at least they'll be recognisable.