It’s been a while since our last blog about crazy marketing ideas that worked — and things have only gotten crazier. Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) near and far never seem to disappoint when it comes to out-of-the-box marketing. Aliens, sheep, a cocktail-themed vending machine, and even a spicy social media post about a certain box office hit — here are four crazy marketing ideas that worked.

1. VisitLEX — “Hey Aliens, look at Lexington”

VisitLex earned a spot in destination marketing history for their campaign, “Hey Aliens, look at Lexington.” It's no secret that people are obsessed with the mysteries of space and extraterrestrial beings — even Airbnb has jumped on the UFO bandwagon — but VisitLEX really took “one giant leap” by creating the world’s first interstellar tourism campaign. 


The World's First Interstellar Tourism Campain - VisitLEX


Complete with a countdown until the DMO’s message reaches its interstellar destination, the landing page is not just for aliens. Website visitors might have landed here to see the space campaign everyone is talking about — but many can become potential visitors as they stay, scroll, and learn about Lexington, Kentucky’s bluegrass, horses, bourbon, hotels, restaurants, retail, and arts and science attractions. 

The goal of this campaign is simple: “Aliens, if you’re out there, greetings! This is your guide to experiencing the Horse Capital of the Galaxy. We think it’s well worth the 235 trillion-mile trip.” 

Bonus: Visitors can write their own messages to aliens, either online or in person at the Lexington Visitors Center (hint, hint).

2. The Faroe Islands – Turning “Street View” into “Sheep View”

This one might be an oldie, but it sure is a goodie — and the fruit of the labor is still used to promote the destination today.

Visit Faroe Islands is located in between two always-popular tourist destinations — Iceland and Scotland. To boost its visibility to in-market travelers, the DMO petitioned Google to be featured on Google Street View by creating its own version of the mapping system, using cameras mounted on the backs of sheep. What’s its name? You guessed it: Sheep View

Not only were sheep equipped with solar-powered 360-degree cameras to collect images that could be uploaded to Google Maps, but when Google heard about the project, they supplied a Street View Trekker and 360-degree cameras for residents and tourists to capture the destination from their perspectives.

From selfie sticks, bikes, backpacks, cars, kayaks, horses, ships, and even wheelbarrows — the Faroe Islands are now on the map, drawing in flocks of travelers from around the world to get a view of the picture-perfect destination.

3. Visit Irving — “Irving on the Rocks”

What started as an idea from Visit Irving’s public relations team converted into a unique way to connect with visitors online and offline. Meet “Irving on the Rocks” — a walkable, app-guided tour of the most delicious cocktails and mocktails in Irving, Texas. 
Visit Irving's Cocktail Trail Map

It started as a punch card and quickly evolved into a mobile app complete with a trail map, incentives, and prizes. The results definitely shook things up — with 4,300 app downloads and 500 check-ins. Due to the success of the app, the DMO took the campaign one step further and added a vending machine to visit on the tour — one that dispenses “Rockstar Kits” to help hydrate and keep the fun going.

Talk about shaking things up!

Bonus: Pure Michigan’s Spicy Social Post

“Not to brag, but we were into Dunes before it was cool.”

Although it might not be a full-fledged marketing campaign, Pure Michigan still deserves a shoutout for its timely Instagram post, branded after the box office hit, Dune: Part Two. With 46,690 likes and 249 comments, it's safe to say they control the spice.

Does your DMO have a great marketing campaign to share? Drop us an email.

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