David Bowie Tribute or Tourist Promo: What Makes a Good Video?

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One of the more interesting regular occurrences when writing blogs about tourism in Croatia is the release of the latest official promotional video. As I cover large parts of Croatia with my writing, I have got to see lots of newly promoted videos, the good the bad and the truly terrible. Unless it is truly excellent, I never pass personal comment, rather inviting others to give their opinions. It is always a great spectacle.

If the video is terrible, there are always the diehard patriots who post insightful social media comments such as ‘Bravo!’ or ‘I (Love emoticon) Destination name’. And those who object to the video are VERY vocal.

If the video is great, the same diehard patriots post the same inane comments, but in greater numbers, and the haters still find aspects to object to. The whole culture of how an official tourist video is received is one I find mildly fascinating, and one which I have wanted to blog about for years, but never quite found the opportunity. Until now.

Everyone has their favourite shocking video of course, and I think you would have to try REALLY hard to beat the Space Odyssey video from the Split Tourist Board a couple of years ago. Just what were they smoking? ‘I have been waiting for you’ is an extra-special extra-terrestrial special that would have been fitting as a David Bowie tribute. View it below.

We asked a professional for his opinion:

“Tacky, the message completely misses the mark resulting in an awkward atmosphere. It contains info on how to get to Split – that’s so 80s, which is followed by catastrophic transition effects from one scene to the other – 90s technology. You have no idea whether the space man is marrying a Split woman or the other way around. No style whatsoever technically speaking, and the quality is disastrous.”

From those intergalactic heights, in the words of Yazz, the only way is up, and TZ Split released their most recent promo video last month under the catchy title, It’s Joy, It’s Split. Minutes after its release, the private messages with opinions started flying. 30,000 kuna was the alleged cost, and you can view it here.

Our professional contact again:

“The clip of the first scenes is good, the rest is horrible, although it has better technical execution than the space one. You cannot even see the city – that is the biggest problem. The music and editing not good – music a bit depressing but it is technically correct Too much focus on the actors (obviously amateurs), and there is no mention of Ultra (maybe because the only 3 good scenes are a blatant copy of the Ultra after movie). Horrible, cheesy and pathetic – awkward to watch.”

Over the years, I have noticed something interesting when reacting to a bad or average video – nobody wants to be the first to say it is crap. Messages invariably would start with ‘what did you think’? 

It was the latest It’s Joy, It’s Split video that inspired this post. It is not that there was anything terribly wrong with the video (at least to the untrained amateur that I am), it just left me with a fairly neutral feeling about the destination, and in the words of one commentator “Where was Split in the video?” As much as I love Hajduk, seeing a group of football fans walking down the street and taking a tourist to a football match seemed a strange thing in a tourist video. 

I also asked a PR professonal to comment on the two Split videos, as well as to ask them to provide links to successful videos, either in Croatia or internationally. We are all here to learn, and any advice they gave me I publish here in the hope that it may be taken on board by the various powers that be. 

The PR expert explained to me in the first sentence why the Split video had not impressed me. 

“It all revolves around evoking emotions and creating a desire to experience a destination. No goosebumps means you failed. Don’t understand the message – failed again. Like the Split one.

“It has to evoke emotions, convey a clear message, show which target audience it’s supposed to attract and be centered about the city, country or main subject. Visually compelling of course so fast moving images are now a must and no longer than 4-5 minutes. It has to convey sounds, aromas and the feel of the destination. And it’s always better to make a series of promo films dedicated to different messages than to try and can everything into one because it loses focus becomes confusing messy and boring.”

According to my PR expert, 66% of travellers watch online videos when they’re thinking of taking a trip and 65% watch videos when they’re choosing which destination to visit (source 2015 Google Travel Study). That’s the reason why they’re important. Something for the five Hvar tourists boards to consider, where no promo video exists at all. Just thing about the concept of sharing the costs and doing one video for the whole island… 

The suggestions for great promo videos elsewhere were really interesting. We start in Sweden.

Stockholm – not a tourism promotion per se, more about the city, but what a clever and innovative concept. 

And perhaps my favourite. With all the chaos in Greece in the last couple of years, how about this one for using the backdrop of the crisis to contrast it with the famous Greek hospitality to entice people to Crete? A really fabulous concept. 

A Letter to the New Year – Portugal. A country which is creeping into my tourism awareness with my time online.  

But coming back to Split, it is such a photogenic city and with such a great tourism story to tell, that it can’t be that hard to produce a great video, can it? The New York Times gave a great snapshot in its ’36 Hours in Split’ video last year.

Presumably the New York Times had a high budget, but here is a video produced by a small Split business. The topic is activity tourism in Split and surroundings, but it gives – to me at least – a more dynamic feeling to the destination. I was not surprised to learn it was made by those timelapse masters, Romulic and Stojcic

The other reference point which has won international acclaim and an international gold medal is the Heart of Adriatic from the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board. Not only does the video (at least in my opinion) cover the region well, it has also been viewed more than 2 million times after effective marketing from the regional tourist board. There is little point making the best video in the world if nobody is going to see it.

Tourism promotion videos are an essential tool in the age of modern tourism. There is plenty of (Croatian) expertise ready to deliver world class concepts and final products. The knowledge is out there. It would be great if we started to get those goosebumps with the release of new official tourist board videos. One doesn’t have to start in Space to make a dramatic point, especially in a country as stunning as Croatia.  


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