Banff Tourism – Small Squirrel Big Noise

Banff Tourism – Small Squirrel Big Noise

Have you seen the latest Banff Tourism social media campaign? A couple set up to  take their photo with an auto timer on their camera and a little inquisitive  squirrel popped in front of the camera in the last moment to see what’s making all that noise.

The original Crasher Squirrel photo was taken by Melissa and Jackson Brandts in Banff in late May. The image of the squirrel has gone viral since it appeared on the National Geographic's website on Aug. 7. (Melissa Brandts)

The original Crasher Squirrel photo was taken by Melissa and Jackson Brandts in Banff in late May. The image of the squirrel has gone viral since it appeared on the National Geographic's website on Aug. 7. (Melissa Brandts)

The photo became an instant online success following appearance in major media outlets, such as national channel CBC, photo of the day on National Geographic , Yahoo News and more.

Since then, people have been using Photoshop  to insert the little creature in their photos. Banff Tourism saw the opportunity and the whole world is buzzing with noise about the little squirrel – from Twitter feeds to Crasher Squirrel iPhone applications, people are creating photos and sharing them with everyone. created a specific channel for people to share their squirrel crasher photos. The response seems to be overwhelming.

A search on Google for Banff Tourism returned this page as number 3 before TripAdvisor reviews and The Official website for the town of Banff. This story just comes to show how powerful people could be when they find something interesting, engaging and fun. When people form a tribe and create a movement, when they have a leader (in this case their leader is Banff Tourism) very powerful campaigns are born.

I’m happy to see that Banff Tourism saw the value in this incident and capitalized on it well. A funny incident turned into a popular and authentic social media campaign that help carry the destination brand. As of the writing of this post, they have 1,778 people following the little squirrel on Twitter. In my opinion, Banff Tourism implemented very well the following 5 steps that are integral to any successful social media campaign:

1. Understand and listen to your audience

2. Be authentic

3. Make it fun

4. Engage your customers

5. Communicate your message

Too many visitors bureaus and destination properties can learn from this campaign and put their heads together as to how to create something engaging, funny and authentic for their own brands.   Have you seen anything similar? What do you think of this campaign? Do you think it works for their brand?

I’m editing this post a day after I posted it, to show you the ROI from the campaign. According to Media Canada, It reached over 80 million people for free, and generated over $3 million in publicity in print, TV and online. It was mentioned in 301 blogs across North America (they can change that number to 302), and generated over 5,000 Twitter mentions and 659 Facebook posts. The entire campaign cost Banff Tourism $5,000. Now are you impressed?

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About Milena Regos

Marketer, Consultant and Creator of the Simple Marketing Blueprint online marketing course for busy professionals.

Comments 5

  1. Michael Landau

      |   reply

    Hi Milena: This is great. Thanks for sharing. On a different note did you see the article in Las Vegas Sun about NCOT ski promo this year, the print is only Ruby Mt. Heli and Mt. Charleston, very lame. We need to have a concentrated effort to promote Lake Tahoe, we are really losing out without one. I see campaigns for Vail , Banff and Aspen, we need to kick it up a notch. We have 5 DMO and they are not coordinated at all. This is not good. I work with Travel Agent Magazine and trust me, we can do alot better if we all work together.

    • Milena Regos

        |   reply

      Hi Michael,
      Thank you for your comments. I completely agree with you. It should be One Lake – One Marketing Effort! There are too many excuses for why we are not doing it and I’m tired of it. In the meantime, we all lose to similar destinations. I haven’t seen the article you are referring to. I think we, the people, should just start a movement to promote Lake Tahoe as a destination. Then, they will either join in or not. What do you think?

  2. Pingback: How a Rural Tourism Town’s Social Media Campaign Went Viral |

  3. Mark D'Amico

      |   reply

    Hi Milena

    Very interesting and certainly impressive how much exposure resulted from social media!! I do think it would be interesting to understand success, ie to look at increase visits to the area, has anybody been able to track visits, tourism revenue to the area as a result of this social marketing effort? Thanks for an interesting post!

    • Milena Regos

        |   reply

      Hi Mark,
      thank you for your comment. I’m not sure if they were able to track visits back to the social media campaign. It would certainly make for a good research project. I’m starting to see travel brands tracking business levels back to social media efforts, so I know engagement works. I’ll see if I can follow up with someone in that area and get some more results. Thanks again!

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