The Barbados Tourism Authority took up a new look this past year, partnering with one of the island’s most well-known exports: pop superstar Rihanna.
With 63 million followers on Tumblr, 26.5 million followers on Twitter, and 62 million likes on Facebook, the BTA couldn’t have asked for a more well-known, well-connected and visible spokesperson. Of course, it helps that Rihanna is from Barbados, providing a layer of authenticity unmatched by the average campaign.
The campaign previewed some flirtatious and adventurous images, positioningÂ BarbadosÂ as a fun, playful and sexy place to experience.
The branding is interesting, most especially because it’s not immediately clear from the pictures alone that they are for a tourism campaign promoting Rihanna’s home country.
On Twitter and Instagram, the hashtag #barbados is the only indicator that this is destination-related, providing a bit of mystique to the previewed images.
On Facebook, the connection is more clear with Rihanna asking fans “Who wants to Visit Barbados,” linking to the official Barbados Facebook page and encouraging fans to consider a visit to her home country.
In the release announcing the next phase of the Rihanna-Barbados partnership, BTA’s Adrian Elcock touts Rihanna’s epic worldwide reach:
â€śWeâ€™re delighted to announce that the next phase of our strategic relationship with Rihanna has had such an immediate impact and we look forward to unveiling more details of our new campaign in the next few weeks.Â It is clear from every conversation we have had with our major travel partners that, in a time of economic austerity, we need to be creative to gain cut through in global markets.Â Our work with Rihanna will be a ground-breaking and world-leading social media initiative to give our nation a huge competitive advantage.â€ť
Interesting that Barbados feels the need to leverage Rihanna’s clout for a “competitive advantage,” given the fact that Barbados is already a gorgeous island destination coveted by many.
Nonetheless, tourism is the #1 source of income for Caribbean countries, and competition among the islands for visitors is fierce. One look at what Bob Marley did for Jamaica, and the path for Barbados makes perfect sense.