A cheeky new online ad campaign aimed at enticing more tourists to Ottawa touts the capital as a great place to “munch some tail” – as in BeaverTails – while extolling the virtues of local craft beer that “puts hair on your chest.”
The campaign website also encourages visitors to “try Canada’s favourite threesome” of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal while promising tourists that Ottawa is “more than a one-night stand.”
Ottawa Tourism, Destination Toronto and Tourism Montréal launched the promotion on Friday to rev up the friendly rivalry between the nation’s capital and the country's two largest cities.
The campaign’s centrepiece is “The City Friends with Benefits Song (Escape),” a riff on the 1979 easy-listening classic “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).”
While conceding that “wearing pants may feel wrong” for would-be travellers who’ve been housebound during the pandemic, the song and accompanying video have a clear message: it’s time to get dressed, hit the road and pay a visit to your neighbours.
Each verse trumpets the merits of a particular city, with highlights of a trip to “Torono” (“just don’t pronounce the second T”) including a heart-pounding jaunt on the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk and a look at the sharks in the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.
Visitors to Montreal, meanwhile, can learn a “new word or two” in French, such as “pamplemousse,” while they stay up “night and day” indulging in the city’s famed nightlife and dining out at its restaurants.
Ottawa gets plenty of its own food and drink shoutouts, with shawarma on the list alongside BeaverTails and beer.
“You always see us on TV, but, oh, there’s so much more,” the lyrics note, suggesting Ottawa is far from the drab government town critics accuse it of being.
“You can shop, eat, learn stuff,” the song goes on, showing images of the ByWard Market interspersed with shots of museums and whitewater rafters on the Ottawa River.
It’s the first time the marketing organizations have worked together on a promotional campaign, and it comes as the industry is trying to climb out of a pandemic-induced downturn that has cost each city billions of dollars in lost tourist revenue.
The promotion is now running on social media and video platforms such as Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. In addition, Air Canada and VIA Rail are offering 20 per cent off travel between each city for a limited time in conjunction with the campaign.
$2.6B revenue loss
Ottawa Tourism says the pandemic is expected to cost the city as much as $2.6 billion in lost visitor spending by the end of 2021. The agency says it will be relying on tourists from nearby centres – especially Toronto and Montreal – to help kickstart Ottawa's recovery.
Ottawa Tourism spokesperson Jantine Van Kregten said the tri-city campaign has been in the works since last year.
"Tourism being what it is, we'll take anybody who wants to come to Ottawa," she said on Friday afternoon. "But the target market is a little younger and a little more mobile – more easily able to go on a quick weekend getaway without a lot of planning. We deliberately wanted to have fun with it, not take ourselves too seriously."