Super Bowl Spot Limited To Florida

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What is 60 seconds worth?

For the Ministry of Tourism, the price is almost $200,000. That is the bill attached to the much-anticipated Super Bowl Sunday commercial, filmed on location in the Exumas with celebrities Rick Fox, Shakara Ledard and David Copperfield.

The coveted television spot left Bahamians buzzing. But just how many people saw it?

"The target was only the Florida area on Super Bowl Sunday," said Obie Wilchcombe, the minister of tourism.

"We are going to spread it out from there. This is only the beginning.”

The state of Florida has a population of less than 20 million people. Meanwhile, The Bahamas' "Behold" advertising campaign was noticeably absent from the official list of commercials.

However, since it aired on Sunday, Wilchcombe said it has appeared on major networks in other U.S. cities, including New York and Boston. Television spots will be followed by newspaper advertising, talk show appearances, radio promotions and billboards.

The minister also noted that the commercial has been well-received by industry partners and generated hot discussions on social networking sites.

The commercial features Ledard emerging from crystal blue waters and taking a stroll down the beach, followed by Fox reading on a sailboat before diving into the ocean. Copperfield completes the sequence by landing a plane on a beach, only to be greeted by beaming school children. The magician then captivates the onlookers by making a shell float in thin air.

Whether the average Bahamian was equally captivated remains to be seen.

While some viewers criticized the advertisement for not identifying Ledard and Fox as Bahamians, Wilchcombe explained that both celebrities will be appearing at future promotional events to make their connection to the country known.

The central theme of the campaign, however, is letting Americans know that The Bahamas represents far more than New Providence and Paradise Island. Ministry of Tourism officials are keen to expose travelers to the entire country.

Wilchcombe said "things have changed in the last 20 years" and marketing must move beyond established industry leaders such as Atlantis or Sandals.

"Bahamians will have a greater sense of pride with people knowing the gist we have, which so stretches far and wide. That our beaches are soft, our waters are beautiful and our people are beautiful," Wilchcombe told Guardian Business. "

This will capture attention. Now people can begin to talk."

The Ministry of Tourism released a statement yesterday saying the three celebrities in the commercial were strung together by the baritone narrative of Bahamian Greg Barrett, a former government employee. The soundtrack included voices from a choir in Grand Bahama.

“So everything in the advertisement was Bahamian, except Cooperfield. We wanted to show how all visitors come here as investors or guests,” Wilchcombe told Guardian Business.

Last month, the Ministry of Tourism announced in Exuma that it would spend $15 million on its 2013 advertising campaign. The government said it will be one of the most expensive campaign efforts in the country’s history.

The Bahamas is trying to attract around 400,000 additional airlift arrivals by the time the $3.5 billion Baha Mar mega resort opens in December 2014.

Jeffrey Todd
The Nassau Guardian
Published February 5, 2013