TRAVEL & TOURISM
PUBLIC ART EVENTS
RHINO PROJECT AT ITB 2017
Botswana Tourism Organisation partnered with ITB Berlin as the first Sub Saharan Country ever to collaborate at the largest Tourism Trade show in the world. Although the partnership created multiple marketing and destination
awareness opportunities, as a country categorised as a “best kept secret”, BTO was looking for more innovative and lasting destination impressions than traditional outdoor and indoor advertising campaigns offered. The challenge
was to engage the 160,000 visitors on a 3 dimensional platform that was personally meaningful and interactive, whereby they could not only become engaged with the mission of “Tourism doing Good”, but also share the
message through social media channels for further reach.
Furthermore, as an organisation we felt that the global public perception of Botswana was directed solely at the luxury of safari travel market, and that the messaging of how Botswana’s tourism industry was contributing in a
large part to the conservation of many endangered species was not being recognised. By linking the very operators of luxury safari companies to important conservation work that they are doing, the public would have a greater understanding of their participation as travelers in the success story.
Lastly, the Tlhokomela Botswana Endangered Wildlife trust was set up under the umbrella of Botswana Tourism Organisation as a fundraising arm for all national activities in conservation, ITB was believed to be an excellent
global platform to unveil the Trust and possibly collect funds or donor recognition for its mandate.
ITB Berlin is saturated with advertising, and as a partner country with a smaller budget, Botswana Tourism Organisation risked becoming overshadowed by larger budget advertisers. The strategy to overcome this potential under-branding was to create an innovative campaign to compliment existing advertising.
Statistics from ITB showed that the South Entrance, coming from the underground and railway station was the most frequented entry into the 160,000 sq meter complex, with more than 60% of visitors passing through.
Traditionally the exhibition space in front of the South Entry was branded in outdoor advertising, such as posters, balloons and wording.
Botswana Tourism Organisation wanted to replicate the emotion of being surrounded by wildlife on a real scale. And therefore the strategy was utilise natural materials to assemble life size models of the key conservation species, the rhino to convey the emotion of standing in a herd of animals.
The structures were produced in Europe, but to capture the organic messaging of the tourism industry, each operation was offered the opportunity to “adopt” a rhino and brand the animal with messaging that demonstrates their organisation’s contribution to conservation and eco-tourism.
In order to capture and fortify the message of the rhino campaign, the rhino statues were created mobile and easily assembled, therefore they moved to feature in all major PR opportunities throughout the partnership period
including preITB Press Conferences, the official opening of the show and at the various Botswana stands in the form of miniture statues that could be designed at home. Furthermore, in line with public ownership of the campaign,
white rhinos were produced in life size and assembled during the major events for the public to sign their own message, reflecting their feelings – thus bringing the experience to life.
The plan is for the rhinos following ITB to either be homed in European offices belonging to the Botswana operators, or to return home for permanent display in Botswana Tourism Head Quarters, furthering reach and longevity of the
The rhino statues were created using light wood from sustainably sourced forests and were assembled using 100% natural glue. The transport was done to a minimum carbon footprint, by printing the artwork in Europe rather than
doing the work in Botswana and then transporting. The rhino were packed in a flat pack model and were basically assembled like a child’s jigsaw puzzle on site by the collaborating creative agency.
In line with the participatory element of the rhino campaign, a Facebook page was dedicated to the full story, from initial call to action, display of construction, assembly and public posting. Sharability was capitalised upon with links to the Tlhokomela Trust from the Rhino Project page, thus ensuring that the messaging always returned to the core objective of creating awareness for the conservation of endangered species in Botswana.
Each adoption came with a fee that would cover the cost of the statue construction as well as donate funds to the Tlhokomela Trust directly. As an objective the fee was not to raise money, but rather demonstrate the working
relationship between the tourism industry and the national conservation fund. Opportunities for fundraising were delivered by an inclusion of a Q code on each rhino leading to a donation page on the Tlhokomela Trust website.
On all official media communication on the ITB partnership, the rhino campaign featured in both text and visual representation, the objective was to cement the communication messaging in the rhinos and branch outward as a
eco-friendly, highly successful conservation story, country destination.
- 37 life sized rhino statues were adopted by Botswana based operators and non-governmental organisations.
- 4 life size rhinos were fully covered with public signatures and messaging towards conservation, including a signature by His Excellency the President of Botswana.
- 1000 children’s rhino puzzles were adopted and designed by ITB visitors
- The Tlhokomela Trust received Euro 3,700 in rhino adoption fees and Euro 2,800 in donations.
- Over 47 rhino were relocated to the country in 2017, mostly through tourism operation contributions.
- Botswana Tourism Organisation has later recognised by WTTC, Tourism for Tomorrow as the sustainable destination of the year and received a further 5 international awards/recognitions as a destination.
- Botswana Tourism Organisation was offered a pro bono country rebranding campaign through UNWTO and CNN
- Task to cement the messaging of conservation success in destination branding with aim to launch at ITB 2018.