Rashmi Menon

Brand Owner's Summit: Building Brand Gujarat

Gujarat Tourism commissioner Sanjay Kaul narrated how the state reinvented its advertising strategy to launch a campaign with Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador.

Gujarat Tourism's recent television commercials, where Amitabh Bachchan urges people to various tourist places in the state, has received rave reviews. Taking inspiration from Kerala, Gujarat began promoting tourism in a big way in 2006. Sanjay Kaul, commissioner, Department of Tourism, Gujarat, spoke about the challenges that tourism faced and how advertising helped tackle them during a presentation at the recently concluded Brand Owner's Summit held at Ahmedabad on February 8-9.

Brand Owner's Summit: Building Brand Gujarat
The event was powered by monster.com, supported by associate sponsor Bestow and dinner sponsor Khushi Advertising.

While Gujarat attracted spiritual tourism due to various temples, it wanted to promote other tourist destinations such as the beaches in Kutch and adventure tourism. The department ran its campaign informing people about various tourist attractions in the state through the print medium from 2006 to 2008. "However, they were not very catchy," Kaul revealed, adding that it also tried to promote several places as family destinations.

Then, in late 2010, the department felt the need to propagate the state as a tourist destination in a big way. Amitabh Bachchan was brought on board as its brand ambassador, who in turn insisted that he would play the role only if the state got in Piyush Pandey to work on the films. The films were produced by Sujit Sarkar (director of Vicky Donor). This collaboration resulted in the campaign 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki'.

"The campaign connected all the state's attributes and worked very well for us. The first TVC was released in early 2011. We chose niche channels and prime time slots," Kaul said. The campaign was also carried out on radio, across all popular FM stations at frequent intervals, niche magazines and the Metro connecting to Delhi Airport was wrapped with the Gujarat tourism branding. "This kind of concentrated targeted approach no other state had done," he claimed.

Recognising the importance of the digital medium, Gujarat tourism also aggressively used social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and a number of mobile apps. This year, the department will showcase the ad videos in multiplexes, too. "Our objective was that if the branding could translate to recall, it would eventually lead to footfalls. Currently, the compounded annual growth rate for domestic tourist arrivals is 16 per cent and for foreign tourist arrivals is about 30 per cent," Kaul said.

Interestingly, the campaign has also resulted in awareness creation within the state, leading to a sharp spurt in Gujaratis travelling across it.