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The video starts with a series of colorful doors — orange, pink, blue — opening onto idyllic beaches, sunflower fields, and cobblestone streets.
These are the iconic doors of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, and they serve as the entry point into Discover Puerto Rico’s newest marketing campaign, “Have We Met Yet?” Launched Wednesday across digital channels, the campaign paints the island as a vibrant and fundamentally welcoming place for travelers.
Discover Puerto Rico kicked off as the island’s destination marketing organization in July, about nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated the region. The team spent much of last year emphasizing the progress of recovery, as the island rebuilt itself. But after hitting the one-year anniversary of the storm in September, the organization began to shift towards more optimistic messaging.
“We wanted to pivot the narrative around Puerto Rico to focus on what the islands have to offer, rather than recovery,” said Leah Chandler, chief marketing officer of Discover Puerto Rico.
“Have We Met Yet?” hopes to emphasize the culture and history of the island in order to differentiate it from other destinations in the Caribbean.
“It is unlike any other island in the Caribbean,” Chandler said. “It has amazing culinary experiences, hospitable people, natural wonders. We’ve got all of this rich culture inherited, and that’s where we’re planting our roots.” She pointed to Puerto Rico’s rainforest as well as the 500-year-old historic district within the capital city.
In addition to that, the organization hopes to remind Americans that the island is a U.S. territory, and therefore uniquely accessible to them. They do not need a passport, they can use U.S. currency, and most can get around without knowing any Spanish.
This emphasis on what makes the island unique comes from research the organization conducted into consumer perception of the island. For the most part, the research team found that most residents of the U.S. mainland have a neutral view of Puerto Rico, not understanding why they should vacation there over other warm and sunny spots.
Chandler attributes this neutrality to a lack of consistency in past marketing campaigns, due to turnover in political administrations.
“Basically, no brand equity had been built for Puerto Rico,” she said. “Every time they would get a new administration, there’d be a lot of change in the tourism department. There would be new executive directors, new leadership in tourism. So often the brand identity would change, logos would change, and the messaging would change. ”
With this in mind, the Discover Puerto Rico team was established with the mission of keeping branding stable.
The just-launched campaign follows on the heels of Discover Puerto Rico’s new website, built with the help of tourism marketing company Miles Partnership, and which went live at the end of February.
The revamped website is a combination of the Puerto Rico tourism board’s leisure travel site, See Puerto Rico, and the meeting and events site, Meet Puerto Rico.
“Functionality [of the former websites] was severely lacking,” Chandler said. “We had a very high bounce rate and super limited content.”
In creating the site, the team added photos, videos and information about all of the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico, in an effort to draw people away from San Juan, and into lesser-known areas.
The organization also added thousands of business listings, from hotels to restaurants, to attractions, such as museums, festivals, and casinos. Business partners can add photos, videos, as well as related articles, with the aim of getting consumers to book directly on the company’s website.
Discover Puerto Rico plans to continue “Have We Met Yet?” throughout the rest of the year, and will be adding streaming options for branded content in what it identifies as key markets, or those with direct flights to the island.
“Everything is budget dependent, and we will have more details later on,” Chandler said. “We’re doing quarter-by-quarter marketing right now. Everything is rooted in consumer research.”
Disclosure: Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali serves on the 25-member advisory board to Destination Puerto Rico, as part of Skift Foundation‘s commitment to helping Puerto Rico in its tourism recovery.