In 2016, spending on the “Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air” campaign to get tourists to come here totalled more than €1.3 million, €250,000 of which came from Dublin City Council.
Was the campaign a success? Did the advertising bring us more UK tourists (and their money)?
“It’s actually too early to say …. we are still collating the results and will be analysing them over the coming weeks,” said Keelin Fagan, head of Dublin for Fáilte Ireland.
One of the more visible parts of this campaign was an article headlined “Dublin the Beautiful” by British writer Will Self.
“I could see the spires and domes and burgeoning towers of the city centre – see how they were cradled in this great bowl of sea and bay and sky, and finally understanding was achieved,” Self wrote. “I thought to myself: you’re in Dublin, that’s where you are – and it’s beautiful, so very, very beautiful.”
This article appeared on the Guardian’s website, and apparently in the Observer Magazine. In both instances, as is best practice for “native advertising”, when advertisers pay newspapers to run ads that look like articles, it was clearly labelled (“Paid for by Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air”), using the ad campaign’s logo.
The online version of the article later disappeared, replaced by a page explaining that: “This is because it was advertisement feature content that was published as part of a commercial deal and funded by an advertiser. It is Guardian News and Media policy to take down paid-for content at the end of these deals.”
Self was the only writer whose name was credited as part of the “Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air” ad campaign, according to Fáilte Ireland, “the other articles were created by the Guardian’s ‘paid for content’ editorial team”.
The whole package, “which involved a combination of print, utilising the full portfolio of The Guardian and The Observer supplement, as well as digital by utilising The Guardian website and various advertising platforms within it”, cost £135,000, according to Fáilte Ireland.
(Self has not responded to a 14 December message sent to him through his website requesting an interview about his gig writing copy for this advertising campaign.)
The partnership with The Guardian was meant to target British visitors for short breaks during the “off-season”, particularly the “culturally curious market segment … we estimate that the total reach for the partnership was 6.3 million (including 2.5 million 45 – 64 year olds which was a specific focus for us)”, according to Fáilte Ireland.
Spending in 2016 also included wrapping some Dublin Bus buses. The company “allowed us to wrap their buses … free of charge”, according to Fáilte Ireland. “The design and print element was commissioned through our agency, Rothco at a cost of €3,000 including VAT, which was paid directly to them.”
But this wasn’t putting ads on the sides of the yellow buses in town as happened in 2015, according to Dublin Bus spokesperson Jennifer O’Brien. “We have a long-standing working relationship with Fáilte Ireland. Therefore, we facilitated the side-wrapping of two of our coastal tour buses for their advertising campaign,” she explained by email.
Doing this didn’t require Dublin Bus to forgo any paid advertising, O’Brien said. “Our commercial tour buses are not used as a source of advertising revenue,” she said.
Said Fáilte Ireland’s Fagan: “We only wrapped the coastal buses to improve the recognition of the new Dublin brand domestically. This wasn’t part of the international campaign, it was a separate initiative. In 2015, there was domestic outdoor and branding on buses, but not in 2016 as all the media buy was only in the UK. ”
The total spending on the campaign during the 11 months to 30 November, according to Fáilte Ireland, was:
- “Out of Home (OOH)” advertisements such as ads at train stations or on roadsides, €320,507;
- radio, €206,384;
- print, €192,857;
- digital, €171,429;
- social, €164,537;
- “rounding”, €1,196;
- VAT, and €243,089
That’s a total of €1,299,999.
Fáilte Ireland’s Fagan said that, in addition to the €250,000 that Dublin City Council contributed, the rest of the funding for the campaign included:
- €500,000 from Fáilte Ireland;
- €85,000 from South Dublin County Council;
- €83,000 from Fingal County Council;
- €83,000 from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council;
- €250,000 from “Dublin branch of the IHF [Irish Hotel Federation] and other Dublin hotels”; and
- €187,500 in “private funding”, of which €50,000 was “in-kind” (there’s a list of private supporters at the end of this document).
That’s a total of €1,438,500, just a touch short of the goal of €1,500,000.