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Tuesday, 20 April, 2010, 17 : 00 PM [IST]

Innovating Incredible India

`Incredible India’ campaign has put the country firmly on the global tourism map. While the campaign has evolved over the years with different themes there is a lot that the Ministry of Tourism can capitalise on, to further promote the destination. Krupa Vora analysis the success of the campaign and the need for new dimensions
A success story, which put the country on the global tourism map, the `Incredible India’ campaign launched in 2002 by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) was the first marketing initiative and branding exercise. Conceptualised with an objective of creating a distinct identity of the country in international source markets and domestic markets, the campaign with its iconic `Incredible India’  logo using the exclamation mark as the “I” of India was highly effective. The country registered an increase of 16 per cent in tourist traffic in the first year of the campaign, which was run through print and television advertisements.    

Over the years, the campaign evolved and started focusing on highlighting specific segments. Spiritual Tourism was the thrust in the second year (2003-2004) which resulted in 28.8 per cent increase in tourist traffic. In 2006-07, the diverse cultural spectrum of the country was highlighted through the `Colours of India’ campaign, which was launched globally in 71 leading newspapers and magazines.

200410_ms_2.jpgUsing traditional and interactive media - print, outdoor and the Internet - India was positioned as a unique and vibrant destination. The campaign conducted at Cannes 2007 focused on ‘Locations on Hire’ while `Incredible India@60’ campaign the same year, especially at ITB Berlin was used to showcase India on a grand scale in the international markets.

“Visually, it was the “!” symbol which was used most effectively to convey the mind boggling depth and intensity of the Indian experience. Every aspect of India – be it ever accelerating GDP, extreme geography, kaleidoscopic culture, deep-rooted spirituality or photogenic chaos is summed up by the simple yet profound exclamation mark,” explained V Sunil, Executive Creative Director, Wieden+Kennedy while talking about the success of the campaign. The `Incredible India’ campaign was further showcased through videos on You Tube thus increasing the reach of brand India. Other subsequent campaigns like `Atithi Devo Bhava’ were also promoted through the online medium.

200410_ms_3.jpgNeed for a new dimension  
While the `Incredible India’ campaign was a huge success in the international market, it was felt that the appeal, focus and promotion of the campaign in the domestic market was minimal. “The domestic market has increased to 532 million tourists per year while the international tourists account to slightly over five million. While the focus on international market is important, one cannot ignore the need to promote brand India within the country. The Ministry needs to look at aggressive promotion in Indian cities through various mediums like print, television, Internet, outdoor hoardings etc.” stated Rakesh Lamba, President, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of  India (ADTOI). Apart from greater exposure for the campaign in the domestic market there has been a growing demand to take a fresh look and revamp existing ideas and creatives of the campaign.  

“The branding exercise needs a lot of new dimensions and freshness in order to continue the momentum of attracting tourists. Its human psyche that over a period of time, the same images will loose its charm and that’s where there is a need to constantly innovate with the campaign,” opined Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor. A similar opinion was expressed by  Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel India who said, “The `Incredible India’ campaign has done an amazing job in positioning India as a serious player in the global travel market, but I think it is now time to take things to the next level and add a new dimension to the entire marketing campaign. The message is getting diluted and the excitement is wearing off. We need to go to the market with a new focus, a twist.”

200410_ms_4.jpgThere is also a line of thought that the campaign should highlight new tourism products and unknown destinations. “One thing that is constantly neglected and is necessary to be highlighted in the campaign is development of infrastructure like world class airports which enable seamless travel and development of hotels and special projects for tourism,” stated E M Najeeb, Chairman, Air Travel Enterprise Group. “I think extending the `Incredible India’ theme and taking it to micro levels and focus on things like “Incredible Cuisines,” “Incredible Dance,” “Incredible Forests” etc. just to name a few examples, could work. Generalisation needs to be backed up by specifics after a certain point,” explained Kohli. Industry players and experts also pointed out that apart from highlighting different facets of the destination, it is very important to maintain the face value of the campaign by assuring that the ground offerings are similar.

The way ahead
There is a dire need to analyse different markets, the travel patterns of those markets and its requirements and design campaigns accordingly. According to Najeeb, “A research wing will help identify the new products developed within the travel industry that could be highlighted by the Ministry.” It is time the campaign gets more focused on specific international markets and pays special attention to the domestic market. MoT should also highlight the safety of tourists in India. “I think we need to hire some serious world class PR companies and do serious image correction activities that dispel the fear people seem to have about travelling to India. We need to get greater coverage and positive stories in the world press about brand India,” opined Kohli. The next level of the `Incredible India’ campaign should be as diverse as the destination.
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