How Iceland opened its doors to the world
After the economic collapse in Iceland, tourism replaced banking as the most important industry for the country. But then the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in April 2010, and tourism to Iceland plummeted; The country, the size of Kentucky with a population of only 318,000, needed to turn the tide of negative opinion quickly and sparingly in time for the summer season.
The ‘Inspired by Iceland’ campaign was created to use the power of people to share their personal stories that would rapidly change perceptions. Through viral advertising, live webcam feeds, facebook and film featuring celebrities like Bjork, Damon Albarn and Stephen Fry, 22.5 million stories were spread worldwide and 60 million people responded. Planes were full and an additional £138.7 million tourism revenue was generated with an ROI of 61:1.
After a successful summer, Iceland continued to warm up their perception by becoming an all year round destination and inspiring hard to target ‘enlightened tourists’ to visit during the winter months.
In the fall of 2011, the campaign ‘Islander’ kicked off with a historic address from the President of Iceland to the nation in which he pledged to invite tourists into his home and urged his fellow citizens to do the same. The address was webcast live online and covered by almost every global news media.
Thousands of Icelanders pledged their support to the campaign on the Inspired by Iceland website and facebook, inviting tourists to be ‘honorary Icelanders’ and experience something totally unique. They opened their doors to welcome visitors with open arms, inviting them into their lives, sharing how they live and the hidden beauty of Iceland.
News spread across 57 countries; the idea generated 1.18 billion global media impressions. Consideration of Iceland as a winter holiday destination more than doubled (an increase of 124%) amongst 'enlightened tourists' exposed to the campaign. It became the most successful winter in Iceland's history with tourism experiencing double-digit growth, creating an additional £34m of incremental revenue to the Icelandic economy.
George Bryant, Strategy Partner and Founder of The Brooklyn Brothers in London, the creative agency behind the ‘Inspired by Iceland’ campaign said: “A remarkable country needed a remarkable idea that could move people in a very short time. We are delighted to be able to celebrate the success of Iceland's reinvention and more importantly the story of how a population of only 318,000 people created a new type of tourism campaign that used people power over traditional media."