“Doosri baar,” says a young girl in her anglicised Hindi after jaunting across the length and breadth of India, on being asked if it is her first time here. And that is how the international version of Incredible India’s latest campaign concludes. The tagline runs, “Find what you seek.”
Almost a decade after its launch in 2002, the ‘Incredible India’ campaign has turned a new chapter — this time targeting the international and domestic tourists in two separate adverts. For Indian travelers, the message is “Go Beyond.” It is not just the tour operators and hotel chains but also the tourism ministry, which seems to have taken note of the rapid growth of India’s domestic tourism story.
Advertising India is the top priority for the new tourism minister Chiranjeevi. “My efforts would be to make tourism India’s main economic and political agenda taking all state governments, union territory administrations and stakeholders on board and establish India as round the year destination,” he says.
Launched at the recently concluded World Travel Market 2012 in London, the new campaign has been created by Ogilvy and Mather. The creative agency had launched the campaign for the first time. “The core message of Incredible India remains but the overall campaign has evolved,” says Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, Ogilvy and Mather.
The tourism ministry this year has earmarked a fund of Rs 267 crore for promotional activities around ‘Incredible India’. The ministry is also likely to hire a private media planning company for devising its strategy for a print-online-television-radio campaign.
Travel industry however is not so impressed. While the campaign itself has been received well, travel and hospitality companies are more concerned with on-ground activity. “We need to spend more money on infrastructure and lesser on advertising,” said Deep Kalra, chief executive officer, MakeMyTrip.com. “We raise high expectations with our campaigns but when the tourist comes down to our country, the experience does not match up.”
For instance, the Taj Mahal experience according to travel companies gets spoilt en-route due to poor roads in Agra, even though the newly built highway provides a much smoother ride. “Besides, other than seeing the Taj Mahal or Fatehpur Sikri there are no other options for the traveller to extend his stay in these cities,” said Kalra.
Tourism ministry is trying to come up with measures to improve infrastructure by supporting the development of tourism circuits, taking up the clean India campaign and investing in skill development of people employed in travel trade. Government has been allocated Rs 1,210 crore for 2012-13 aside of the marketing spend for all other activities including infrastructure development. “We are hoping that next year more funds will be allocated for these activities. We are focusing on a holistic development of the tourism sector starting with the campaign,” a senior tourism ministry official told.
Infrastructure aside, ad gurus don’t think India has managed to come close to marketing itself when compared to Malaysia’s Truly Asia campaign or There’s nothing like Australia.
Tourism ministry is planning to take the campaign on the TV and radio sets and beyond of Russia, West Asia, the US and Europe among others in the days to come.
With the global economic slowdown casting its shadow on the foreign tourist arrival growth, government is pinning its hopes on the new campaign to generate more buzz and help the tourism sector find what it seeks!