Nothing like an engaging mountain farmer with a direct video link to capture the attention of stressed commuters in Zurich's main train station – and to suggest a quick getaway in an alpine idyll.
An interactive advertising spot for the eastern canton of Graubünden has drawn more than six million Internet views on YouTube and social networks. It features a farmer who talks with and sometimes yodels at passersby to come join him in the mountains – even on the same day.
Part of his affable pitch is that he’s willing to call up someone’s boss or teacher to give an excuse. He’s even able to print out a ticket. Then all that’s needed is to hop a train nearby.
The campaign is meant to target stressed urban commuters, many of whom react to the live ad with astonishment. Some agree to make the trip to Switzerland’s largest and easternmost canton, though the advertising agency behind the creative spot also uses accomplices to boost the numbers of those who react positively.
Bordering Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein, the canton is home to the Swiss National Park and claims pristine alpine forests, abundant wildlife, deep gorges and fast flowing rivers. It also is home to three of Switzerland's four official languages.
The Glacier Express, one of the most scenic alpine railway journeys, connects St Moritz and Davos with the Valais resort of Zermatt.
Véronique Kanel, a spokeswoman for Swiss tourism, told Swiss public radio, RTS, that the interactive ad was an extraordinary means of targeting Swiss consumers, though she said it was uncertain whether that could help turn around the declining number of overnight visitors to the canton. The strong Swiss franc remains a burden on Swiss exports and tourism.
Swiss tourism officials have worried about alpine and rural destinations heavily dependent on European tourists. The euro’s strength has declined against the franc since the Swiss National Bank surprised markets on Jan. 15 by abandoning its currency cap.
But this isn't the first such interactive stunt. Over the past few years Swiss tourism officials teamed with Hamburg, Germany-based advertising agency, Jung von Matt, to boost tourism in Graubünden by creating an international museum of friendship and global Facebook page for a mountain village.