Sylt is a strong destination brand, an idyllic island in the north of Germany that people love to visit. But Sylt has a problem, a massive bottleneck that is threating its tourism industry. Our campaign received lots of positive PR in a short period of time and its call to action engaged the very same people that love Sylt so much. The people responded positively and politicians were pressured to finally improve the situation.
Sylt is a major holiday destination island famous for its white sandy beaches. The German Hamptons. Every day, almost 5,000 commuters travel there. But, they depend on a single-tracked railroad built almost a century ago. A massive bottleneck. Sadly, delays and cancelations are standard, putting business and thousands of jobs in danger. Protests have been ignored for decades. Locals, commuters and the Sylt Marketing GmbH needed a powerful campaign to increase pressure on politicians and to call on people of the region to sign the petition for the railroad expansion.
Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)
Catapult Air. A fictional airline bringing people to the island of Sylt with a catapult. Much faster and more reliable than the German railroad. A lovingly staged two-minute film with island residents starring as airline staff and passengers. Ending with an appeal to rally supporters for Sylt’s railroad expansion petition.
Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)
The strategy portrayed a ridiculous and abstract solution to a very real problem to help raise awareness within the population and encourage them to sign the petition for the railroad expansion. It was designed using humour, rather than a negative approach, as a tool to connect with people from the region who long to visit the idyllic island. It was meant to address locals, commuters and Northern Germans. We needed to move fast to take advantage of the “Sommerloch” – the summer slump, a two-month period during which few things are reported on the news as most institutions and families are on holidays. We launched the video at a time where a majority was open to the message, thinking about holidays, maybe even planning their visit to Sylt.
Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)
The railroad expansion petition was created and the video was launched. Next, locals from Sylt shared it amongst themselves via WhatsApp and posted it on social media, at which point it spread like fire. Major German media reported about the video, creating lots of positive PR. A month later, once the initial wave subsided, Facebook ads ran for three weeks. They were addressed to five target groups. The petition was closed two months after the initial release, with nearly 50,000 signatures. So, our Catapult Air video – which didn’t feature professional actors, only island residents – organically conquered social media and made it to every major German media outlet in less than a week.
List the results (30% of vote)
After Catapult Air organically conquered social media and every major German media outlet, politicians couldn’t ignore the petition anymore. Only four months after releasing the video, the German minister of transport approved the railroad expansion with a budget of 221 million Euros. The island’s problem was solved with a super tiny budget and in a short period of time – achieving a 1.6 million Euros media value. The people’s longstanding fears and worries were finally gone. The creative strategy proved that a good idea can have a powerful political impact, without paying for lobbyists or an expensive campaign. It motivated people from all over the country to get involved and join those directly affected to create a positive outcome. In the end, the video increased the exposure of the brand Sylt and contributed to a better quality of life for residents and commuters.
Please tell us how you designed / adapted your campaign for the single country / region / market where it aired.
Since people from Northern Germany are quite famous for their dry humour and relaxed character, we wanted to represent them authentically. The tone should reflect this unpretentious way of living. We used humour as a tool to connect with people from the region who long to visit the idyllic island. Portraying a ridiculous and abstract solution to a very real problem helped to raise awareness within the population who demanded action from their politicians. A regional issue became a national one that politicians couldn’t ignore anymore.