How the Faroe Islands laid the groundwork for a tourism recovery

A Pandemic-Proof Creative Idea

A Pandemic-Proof Creative Idea

A Pandemic-Proof Creative Idea

Oct 05, 2021

I had the pleasure of returning to Copenhagen recently, now that we are being allowed hop on planes again.   A client of ours is on the judging panel of Denmark’s national marketing awards, and she drew our attention to one of the big winners, a campaign for Visit Faroe Islands. 

Deprived of overseas visitors because of the pandemic, they decided to offer “Remote Tourism” – a virtual tour of the islands, using local islanders as the tour guides, each wearing an individual webcam.    The magic in the idea was that each user could remotely control the tour guide’s movements, sending them in whatever direction they wanted to go – giving them a personalised tour of a little portion of the islands.

What this idea shows is that responding to the pandemic is not just about futurology –  predicting what the “new normal” will be – but also about deepening our understanding of how consumers are feeling right now.     We have been cooped up and restricted to hanging around our own locality – and many of us have been yearning to re-explore the wider world – this neat little idea provides a meaningful way to do that, making you feel like you are really there - and of course, making you want to recreate the same experience for real when you get the chance to start travelling again.

But it also taps into the power of stories as integral to the tourist experience – and as my colleague Dermot O Reilly noted, the most compelling stories a tourist will experience are the ones where they are a lead character in the story.   And here is a story with fantastic social media currency, with the tourist and the local creating the story together in real time.

Dig a little deeper into the background however, and you find how this is the latest iteration of a powerful campaign idea which has yielded a rich vein of creativity over time.    In 2016, the Faroe Islands was one of the few places in the world not on Google Street View, so their idea was to overcome Google’s omission by giving the world the opportunity to see what was being hidden from them.   It started with Google Sheep View, a webcam strapped to a free-roaming local sheep, allowing him to share his realtime view of the islands

Next came a campaign to have Faroese included in Google Translate, while also offering a Faroese translation service, with locals replying directly to prospective tourists.  The creative work struck the perfect balance of being fresh and new each year, while also maintaining the consistency of the idea so that each year reinforced and built on the messaging of previous years.   And the idea itself tapped into an important tourist insight – the desire to discover the unknown and the unspoilt.

Some years ago, with Irishman Brian Kerr at the helm, the Faroe Island national football team caused a stir with a few surprise results against more heavily fancied opponents.  Nice to see the Faroese  punching above their weight on the marketing front too !