Who is Vairis Strazds?
I’m the creative director of NORD DDB Riga (that’s our new name after joining the NORD advertising agencies network). Our common goal is breaking brands into pop culture.
One of the best ways to promote and discover a city is through a guide. “Insider’s Guide to Riga”, is a series of short videos that aims to promote the city of Riga, using as guides, local celebrities and fictional characters who are telling us witty stories.
The success of this campaign is due to 3 essential factors so that we can say that creativity has no limits: the client: Live Riga; the advertising agency: DDB Latvia; and the film production company: nonsense.tv.
In 2019 the series was distinguished as the Title of the World's Best Tourism Film by the international Committee of Tourism Film Festivals (CIFFT) endorsed by UNWTO, ETC, CATA and CTO.
From the CIFFT Blog we prepared 3 interviews to know more about the success behind the campaign. For the second interview, Hugo Marcos spoke with Vairis Strazds, creative director of DDB Latvia, the agency responsible for the campaign development.
HM: How was the creative process of Insider’s Guide to Riga?
VS: Insider’s Guide to Riga become one of our agency’s dream project — international scale, open minded and trusting client, enthusiastic and super professional production team. But even in the most favourable circumstances anyone involved have to push hard to achieve best results both creatively and businesswise. We started with data from international research, worked on personal insights and only then started to develop ideas for scripts, characters and genre of our films. Each script improved through writing, rewriting, and sometimes seemingly never-ending editing.
HM: What were the main challenges during the creative process?
VS: There were moments where we realised that our ambitions conflicted with budget realities but that is common situation in almost with any video production. Usually it’s challenging to deal with busy schedules and intense training routines of professional athletes, but in our case both Alona and Mairis proved to be amazing professionals on film set too.
Two things stood out from all the feedback — the cinematography was universally praised, and the idea was deemed refreshing.
HM: What were the goals for Insider’s Guide to Riga? In your opinion, did you reach them?
VS: Our goal was to find an original solution to promote Riga as a travel destination, cutting through the noise of conventional travel communication. I’m glad Insider’s Guide to Riga videos don’t exploit shock or provocation to stand out, instead showing sense of humour that is both specific and accessible internationally.
HM: Can you explain us the marketing strategy of the Insider’s Guide to Riga and give us some insights regarding the impact on the public and media?
VS: The strategy is based on the insight that travellers are increasingly valuing personal experiences and flavours of local life. We focused on local lifestyles, letting the audience feel the real Riga through its people. We integrated world class sports celebrities in order to create a bigger buzz. The campaign was well-publicized in local media and internationally, even stirring up some controversy locally because of the fictional characters. It was talked about in travel and advertising websites and blogs home and abroad. Two things stood out from all the feedback — the cinematography was universally praised, and the idea was deemed refreshing.
HM: What would you say is the key to good story-telling to promote the assets and attractions of a tourism destination using Video?
VS: The key is honesty. It’s much harder to access than it sounds because it’s only human to want to make a good impression. In order to do it we naturally tend to show buildings and attractions we are proud about and think they’re worth something. But maybe we’re the only us who see these assets such way. Good storytelling happens when you drop all pretentions and desires to prove something and be honest about yourself.
HM: Which key performance indicators we must consider to measure the performance of a Travel Video Marketing initiatives?
VS: For us the number one indicator always has been people’s reactions to our videos — if they’re getting watched, shared, commented, we’re doing it right. Especially if the number of international visitors also grow every year. It’s also important that local people are excited about video marketing initiatives as they play crucial role in spreading the message through their various professional, cultural or interest-based communities worldwide.
HM: Insider’s Guide to Riga series won several international awards around the world in Tourism Film Festivals. How important are these awards for DDB Latvia?
VS: Insider’s Guide to Riga is NORD DDB Riga’s one of most awarded campaign. We’re happy our work gets recognition for right reasons, so we can build our reputation as capable team of creative professionals that can crack tough marketing challenges and achieve results by using our assets — understanding of human nature and rules of storytelling.