Product / ServiceCENTRAL COAST
CategoryD02. Data-driven Targeting
Idea Creation AFFINITY Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Media Placement AFFINITY Sydney, AUSTRALIA


Name Company Position
Angela Smith AFFINITY Chief Strategy Officer
Jenna Duncan AFFINITY Head of Design
Laurette Douglas AFFINITY Head of Research
Leo Bajzert AFFINITY Creative Director

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

We were tasked with making the Central Coast (the Coast), a more desirable destination, and to drive visitation. However we had a big perception problem – our primary target of those living in Sydney Australia didn’t have anything good to say about the Coast. We used response-driven digital to directly target Sydney-based travel intenders, on a geographically segmented basis, to find out exactly what kind of messaging would make them not only have nice things to say, but to visit the Coast. Our data-driven, direct campaign underpinned an integrated campaign that generated $186M in additional tourism (an increase of 22.3%).


The Central Coast, just an hour north of Sydney in NSW Australia, had a big tourism problem. People had stopped coming, and tourism spend in the region had been declining in real terms since 2014. Extensive research showed that Sydneysiders, traditionally the Coast’s biggest source of visitors, regarded it as bit downmarket – “the Bogan capital of Australia”. We were tasked with reversing the decline in tourism through shifting perception of the Coast as a great place to visit. Objectives: 1. Improve perception of the Coast – Part 1. Improve at least 1 ranking position on most desirable destination list, from 12th position. 2. Improve perception of the Coast – Part 2. Improve prompted recall of Central Coast attributes by 1% at aggregate 3. Increase intention to travel. Increase by 1% intention to travel for holiday within the twelve months 4. Improve tourism spend by 1%

Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)

We created a series of simple, highly targeted ads with complementary landing pages – all designed to learn which strategic positioning would drive perception and behavioural change. Our direct campaign showed substantially more people were interested in the adventure creative, but not too adventurous. Through evolving our targeted digital campaign, we found that the adventure territory generated not only more interest, but actual purchase behaviour. Whilst it was now clear that Sydney visitors wanted adventure, it was a softer “little” adventure that would drive behavioural change. This allowed us to develop a fully integrated campaign based on Adventure, leading us to the core proposition of “Have a Little Adventure”. To be memorable, we needed to create an ownable asset for the Coast, something more than the usual montage of fabulous location shots every tourism campaign seems to favour. So, we borrowed from the quintessential holiday souvenir: the snow dome.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Our strategy was to tackle the perception problem. We used quantitative research to test four traveller archetypes: nature, escape, discovery and adventure. And people said “escape” would be the best motivator to get them to the Coast. But we knew that people aren’t great at predicting their own behaviour. So, we did something completely innovative. We built a Multi-Variant Positioning test (MVPT). An advertising campaign deisgned to measure real behaviour whilst simultaneously delivering tourism to the region. It reached over 300,000 people and delivered nearly 13,000 “research” partipicants. It told us that adventure was actually what people wanted from the Coast. It also showed our core targets were Gen X and Empty Nesters, where they lived in Sydney and how to reach them. It was synthesis of research, everything we’ve learnt about campaign optimisation, messaging options and conversion rate measurement (See how under the section Describe the use of data).

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

We combined TV, programmatic digital (video, banner), social and outdoor to power perception change, and native and PR to showcase the range of adventures to encourage usage occasion based on the data from the MVPT . We utilised television to talk to Sydney broadly, with a focus around travel programming and digital to target our core profitable audiences Generation X and Empty Nesters as part of a data-driven media strategy. And critically, rather than trying to talk to all people in Sydney through digital, we concentrated on our core segments and Sydneysiders that we detected were in market for a short break. The major campaign ran 24 June to 10 October 2018 and a “always on” social, native and SEM campaign started in December and ran through to March 2019.

List the results (30% of vote)

Despite all the challenges stacked against us, we smashed our objectives. By changing perception of the region, we increased desirability of the region’s brand. This led to both improved intention to travel but more importantly, actual visitation. We increased tourism on the Coast to deliver the highest tourist spend on record – $1,019,000,000. YE March 2019, we delivered significant behavioural change with 943,000 additional daytrip and overnight visitors (+19.5%) getting off their couches and going to the Coast. They stayed an additional 471,000 nights (+9.8%). And generated a huge business impact – an extra $186,000,000 in tourism spend (+22.3%) for the region. For context, this increase in tourism spend was over 600% higher than regional NSW. It wasn’t a category effect. Data-lead insight driven by new collection methods and clever analysis beats over-complication every time. As an extraordinary ROI of 186:1 shows