Ottawa’s Own: Tourism campaign vies for younger visitors to Canada’s capital

Ottawa Tourism forgos Peace Tower for local entrepreneurs, artists in new videos

Ottawa Tourism has unveiled a new series of promotional videos that’s as notable for what it doesn’t show as for what it does.

Launched Monday night at the Mayfair Theatre, the new Ottawa’s Own campaign features six mini YouTube videos spotlighting what makes the nation’s capital a great place to visit and live – and there’s nary a Peace Tower or National Gallery of Canada building in sight.

Instead, the videos focus on up-and-coming local artists and entrepreneurs who are the antithesis of the stereotypical public servant.

Ottawa Tourism spokesperson Nives Scott said the $25,000 campaign produced by local marketing agency Blackiron is targeted at millennials, specifically those living in the Toronto area. The GTA is the capital’s biggest source of visitors, she said, and the videos are designed to give young residents of Canada’s largest urban centre a glimpse of “aspects of the city they don’t really know about.”

The six individuals or groups highlighted in the videos are whitewater kayaker Seth Ashworth; Andrew Bassett and Jeremie Thompson of Little Victories Coffee Roasters; Randy Hogg, owner of Black Coffee Apparel & Goods; Liz Mok of Moo Shu Ice Cream & Kitchen; mural artist Ryan Smeeton; and Ottawa City Woodshop’s Andrew Szeto.

In the 90-second productions, the video subjects open up about why they think Ottawa is a cool place to call home.

“I can’t think of any other city I’ve been to that feels more like a big little city, where everybody knows each other, kind of, but it’s still a city,” says Thompson, explaining why he and Bassett chose to set up their coffee brewhouse in the capital.

Over the next six weeks, Ottawa Tourism will promote the videos on various social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. CEO Michael Crockatt said he hopes the campaign will inspire both local residents and out-of-towners to look at the capital in a new light.

“Our city is full of passionate creators, makers, entrepreneurs and artists who are not only dedicated to making our city a better place, but who also get inspired by Ottawa to make things happen,” Crockatt said in a statement.

“We know that their stories will resonate with viewers and encourage them to come to our city and find out what Ottawa is all about.”

The new campaign comes as local tourism officials try to fight off a “2017 hangover” in the wake of last year’s $40-million Canada 150 celebrations that featured headline-grabbing events such as La Machine and the Kontinuum sound and light show – spectacles that won’t be in town to draw visitors this year.

Talks are already under way to bring some of those events back on a more regular basis, but tourism boosters acknowledge funding could them could be a challenge. A new four per cent hotel tax that debuted on Jan. 1 to replace a voluntary levy is expected to help offset some of the costs.

In December, the Conference Board of Canada predicted that overnight tourist visits would increase 1.5 per cent in 2018 to 5.45 million. That’s on top of the 5.5 per cent increase recorded in 2017.

Ottawa Tourism plans to extend the Ottawa’s Own campaign by adding more videos in the coming weeks. Nominations can be submitted at the Ottawa’s Own website until April 30.