"Roger motivated us to think big"

André Hefti and Martin Pally from Switzerland Tourism returned yesterday from the International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals in Valencia with two trophies in their luggage. On Werbewoche.ch they share their joy at their successes and provide insights into the outstanding impact of two campaigns and the creative collaboration with world stars.

Two awards and their proud recipients - André Hefti (left) and Martin Pally from Switzerland Tourism on the big stage in fine attire. (Image: Selfie by André Hefti)

Werbewoche.ch: Congratulations! How did it feel to receive the two Grand Prix trophies at the International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals in Valencia?

André Hefti, CMO Switzerland Tourism: We are thrilled that Switzerland, as a small country, is receiving so much attention. We see it as appreciation for the hard and good work of a big team. And of course, it's exciting to be on stage here in Valencia alongside so many other big nations.


Werbewoche has already reported on the awards. Click here for the corresponding article.


Who was your first well-wisher?

Martin Pally, Head of Campaigns Switzerland Tourism: Rocio Cibràn Barreiro, the Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Valencia. And of course many tourism professionals from all over the world, from Uganda to Greece, Indonesia, Poland, Turkey, Portugal and Spain.


What was the deciding factor for the victories - one attribute per campaign?

With "No Drama", it was the surprise effect! It was a completely new approach for little Switzerland to make a humorous, self-critical film with an international film star and the greatest tennis legend in history.

For "No One Upstages the Grand Tour", the incredible success in distribution was the decisive factor. Over 100 million views - very few brands had ever achieved that before.

Campaign with many success stories: 

The two recognitions in Valencia are not "one-hit wonders": the Grand Tour of Switzerland spot already achieved second place on the Cannes Ads Leaderboard in 2022. This awards the world's most successful commercials on YouTube. This success topped that of 2021, when "No Drama" had already taken seventh place on the Global YouTube Ads Leaderboard. Switzerland Tourism has thus repeatedly received recognition for its outstanding advertising performance, not only nationally but also internationally. These successes underline Switzerland's achievements in the field of tourism marketing and show that Switzerland Tourism's creative efforts not only receive praise from expert juries, but are also well received by the general public. 


(continuation of the interview)

What significance do the two tourism awards have for you both personally?

André Hefti: The fact that we can now hold the prize in our hands is fantastic - but only because it is an award for the great work of the whole team. We are delighted for each and every individual who has put their heart and soul into their work. However, the fact that Swiss tourism is doing better again after the pandemic is even more important to us all. Less than two years after the pandemic, we are back on course for record figures!

Shared joy, from left: Miguel Angel Perez Alba, Brand&Markets Director at VISIT VALENCIA, André Hefti, Martin Pally, Rocío Cibrán Barreiro - Switzerland Consul Honoraire from the Consulat de Suisse in Valencia and Alexander V. Kammel, CIFFT Director

How have the advertising campaigns helped to increase interest and demand for tourism offers in Switzerland?

Especially during the pandemic, it was crucial that we were able to keep Switzerland as a dream destination and "love brand" in the minds and hearts of our guests. The major campaigns with Roger and the co-stars were exactly the right tool for this. We can therefore also see that the return of international guests to Switzerland was stronger than those to other European countries. Touring and this year's Grand Train Tour of Switzerland are experiencing a real boom.


To what extent have you analyzed the impact of the campaigns on tourism figures and bookings?

Martin Pally: We have analyzed this in detail. Of course, it is not possible to say conclusively which bookings can be attributed to the films starring Robert de Niro or Anne Hathaway. But we know the effect of the campaigns on our marketing funnel quite well, and we can see, for example, that the US guest market has recovered at an above-average rate and is already showing an increase of 21.4 % this year compared to last year before the pandemic.


What further measures is Switzerland Tourism planning to maintain its current success in tourism marketing?

André Hefti: Following the two award-winning films, we have produced another campaign with Roger Federer (and Trevor Noah), which has also already won its first awards. Again on the subject of touring, with the Grand Train Tour taking center stage. And for 2024, we are planning to highlight the fall season together with Federer as an independent season. But Switzerland Tourism does much more than the Federer campaigns. For example, we are focusing on sustainability, digitalization, guest guidance both in terms of space and time, Bleisure. Extending the length of stay and so on.


Are there any specific experiences or lessons learned from the award-winning campaigns that you would like to share with other tourism organizations?

Martin Pally: Definitely not (both laugh). Nonsense! (seriously) In times of AI, the importance of human creativity increases massively once again. Creative approaches are needed more than ever to attract the attention of the target group.

The official winner picture with André Hefti and Martin Pally

How do you want to ensure that creative quality and innovation are maintained in future campaigns?

We will continue to follow our existing recipe: We want to create an environment where the best and most creative minds feel inspired to perform at their best. This applies both internally and with the best external partners - in the case of the two films as part of a great collaboration with WIRZ, Stories, Pumpkin Film and SiRMary.


What challenges and opportunities did the collaboration with Hollywood stars bring for the realization of the commercials?

André Hefti: Every collaboration with Hollywood stars is always a new challenge. Fortunately, the success of the first campaign was a great help for the follow-up campaigns. And Roger naturally opens one or two doors for us. The potential of these collaborations clearly lies in the multiplication of the effect through their organic reach (PR/social organic). That has to be the case, because we always engage stars for the cause and not for the cult of celebrity.


How does the collaboration with (Hollywood) stars such as Roger Federer, Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway work in terms of the creative design of the campaigns?

Roger was heavily involved right from the start and motivated us to think big. He has clear ideas and strong values and has always pushed us forward. But the Hollywood stars were also heavily involved in the campaigns. The same applies here: "Teamwork makes the dream work".


To the International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals (cifft): The International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals selects the best new tourism films (https://www.cifft.com/competition/) - Over 4,000 films were submitted. 110 films were nominated. At the gala in Valencia, the top 5 in each of five categories were honored. Switzerland Tourism took first place in two categories (tourism countries and tourism products).

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